Wednesday, January 25, 2006

my respects to 2005 and physics..Two birds with one blog eh????

also, a picture of my latest muse..chitrangada singh...

Ave Maria!!!!!

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at
the hour of our death.

There are a few reasons why I am penning down my thoughts under such a heading. I'll cover them in no particular order.

The word Ave Maria forms part of the email id of one of my friends geoffrey anthony thomas. whereever u are ultimate psycho, 'Hi!!!' from me, the 'penultimate psycho'!!!!

The second reason is the cranberries, specially darling Dolores. What a voice!!! and that too considering the fact that this song came about as a solo for that classic movie, 'The passion of the Christ'when the Cranberries had decided to go quiet for some time. The way her voice moves along in an undulating fashion, filled with utmost devotion, tingling that special feeling in the grossly unused religious corner of my heart. Sometimes i wonder, why is it that i am so non-religious. Don't get me wrong here. I am not an atheist (Except when my project is not running or i don't get enough marks...). I generally visit temples on festival days. Churches I have visited i Goa and the only time i have been inside a mosque is when Rajesh, Nithya and me stepped into one thinking that it was the bada Imambara of Lucknow. The fundas that we got from the maulvi there about 'Angreji and Amrici Dusman', 'Hindu Muslim unity' etc increased my respect tremendously for Lucknow. My dear warring Hindu-Moslem brothers in other parts of the country, you have an example to follow.

Anyway, coming back to the topic on hand, its only when I go into a church that i have observed the strange hush that falls over the assembly. everyone talks in whispers, why, even the usual boisterous, PJ cracking bangies of NITK Surathkal were reduced to mute admirers of the murals and the stained glasses of the Bom Basillica, Panjim when we had gone there (there as in Goa) on a 'refreshing, mind stimulating erotic' trip. Of course we did see the nude babes and 3 of us- me, MSK and Bhatta even went out at 2 AM to verify if baga beach was awash with prostitutes. (any female reading this, please note that this was a kind of journalistic expedition and not a carnal one, I am not a sex crazed maniac.)

OK, the church.....i feel all the hushed tones arises from an inborn feeling in mankind to respect the dead. The church, though is a symbol of hope and joy for many a person, the 'foundation of its foundation' i.e. Christianity is built upon the principle of sacrifice, bloodshed etc. Add to this the fact that every church has some patron saints buried or encapsulated in their vaults or premises to be general. And the dead, are considered to be more powerful than the living.

temples on the other hand are built upon the deeds of Gods/dedicated by men to Gods in return for some favours and they generally don't go into the details of how the deeds were accomplished. For example, Raja raja Chola built the Brihadeeshwara temple to commemorate his victories, which were no doubt achieved by bloodshed, but u will hardly find people brooding over this fact. instead, u will find pattu-podavai (silk saree) clad mamis (aunties), pattu-pavadai (silk skirt) clad girls, veshti (silk dhoti) clad mamas discussing issues like the latest gossip, the latest Hindu editorial or in case of the girls discussing some latest handsome sensational guy who might have moved into the neighbourhood, with coy glances thrown in his direction. Add to this the guys with the 'I dont care' attitude, but at the same time trying to impress the female whom he has set his heart on and more important her parents....

to be honest, i used to have a very negative image of islam. but all that changed with a documentary titled 'islam, The Empire of faith'. this beautifully tracked the growth of the religion from the time of Mohammad, through Saladin and the Ottoman turks. The exploits of Saladin, Mehmet and Suleiman filled me with wonder. The capture of Jerusalem and Constantinople helped me frame many a strategy in AOE and what made me realise that even islam is a religion with heart is the action of Saladin in not harming the people of Jerusalem who were not Muslims, when on the other hand the crusaders had butchered muslim men and ravaged muslim girls and pillaged their towns!!!!

i have had very less exposure to Other religions.Sikhism is the only other faith i have seen from close quarters. I am very impressed by the service mindedness of th Sikhs at the Golden Temple. A lack of close friends among parsis, buddhists and jains has certainly hampered me from experiencing the innards of those religions. Hope i get a chance sometime!!!!

Signing off for now.............

PS: In the early days of the babri masjid demolition when as young kids in the 3rd or 4th standard, we were fed a lot of bad propaganda by the media, a refreshing concept in secularism and acronym formation was introduced by my friend Ganesh, who transformed his nickname GANIS to read as George Abdul Narayan Iyengar Singh!!! He was different then, and still is, being one of the few who had the real guts to say no to science and instead took up the arts.. way to go pal!!

This rubbed off on some mischievous, restless kids like me and one more fella called Ashwin who started introducing league cricket with teams like Qutubia, Mohammads, Sanskrit Scholars..with even wierder players like Qutubuddin, Mark Deepak, Tobacco-del-Piero, Jupiter Jones (i know, i flicked this from the three investigators),Pepsi Khan, Allauddin Khilji, Maha pandita, koti pandita, manketi rama,kamasutra sharma (beat this name)..those were the summers which involved home and away series in each others'homes with varying pitch and ground conditions. The gala cricket came to a sensational close in the summer of 2000, when the students of SKA (Ridham, if you are reading this, u know what u missed out on) used to assemble in the Milk Colony Ground for some high voltage cricket. Ah, the days when people used to sit down and watch my batting and respect my bowling.....All this fell apart when the 'Band of SKA Brothers' went their own ways.

More on the Milk Colony and Lepakshi cricket in another blog......all i can say now is, u have to play there to believe the quality of the matches.

Monday, January 23, 2006

'The best minds are in India'

Liked this article very much. So, decided to be a 'flicking blogger' and copy it as it is:
January 23, 2006 13:56 IST
"Reservation in the private sector is a retrograde step. Any system that is not based on meritocracy is not a good system. Nowhere else in the world has it ever been attempted," says Lakshmi Narayanan, president and CEO, Cognizant, which is all set be a billion-dollar company this year. By recruiting more than 8,000 engineers in 2005, Cognizant became one of the largest recruiters in India. Founded in 1994 as a division of Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, Cognizant in headquartered in New Jersey, USA, with sales offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, London and Frankfurt, and development facilities in Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore in India. In a freewheeling interview with Shobha Warrier, Narayanan expresses his views on infrastructure in India, elucidates how the perception of the world on India has changed over the years,and highlights the attitude of different Indian states to investment proposals.

You have offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and in Germany. In India, you have offices in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata. How do you compare these cities?
From Cognizant's perspective, the profile of the people working in these offices is different. The overseas offices are our front-end offices working closely with customers, and they are senior people who participate in the day-to-day activities of decision-making. But those working in India are in the development centres, so they are technology-oriented people with some business orientation. In short, the back-office functions in India and the intensity of the work are very, very high.

How will you compare the infrastructure of the Indian cities?
Infosys chief Narayana Murthy had recently remarked that the infrastructure in Bangalore has almost collapsed, and if nothing was done, there may be an exodus to countries like China. About 99% of the people working in the Indian cities are local Indians who are used to the conditions here. When you bring someone from outside and get them to work here, they may not be able to adjust. Each city in the world has its advantages and disadvantages. But if you look at specific cities within India, again, there are advantages and disadvantages. An individual needs a good society to live in and needs time to spend with the society, which is pretty much the same in most of the cities except that Bangalore is a little divergent. In Chennai, you can talk about a social fabric, a culture, and you see a homogeneous set of people working here although there are a number of migrants from outside. But the culture in Bangalore is very heterogeneous and there is no sense of belonging, as there is no local culture there. When it comes to the much talked-about physical infrastructure, the roads and commuting, clearly the commuting time has increased in all the places. So, we need to reduce the commuting time so that people can be more productive. We (Cognizant) have the largest number of people in Chennai, and clearly the condition of the people working in Chennai is better as compared to the other cities from the societal and infrastructure perspective.

Do you think that the infrastructure in cities like Bangalore is collapsing?
You really have to look at what infrastructure is. To me, the foremost infrastructure I look at are in this order: educational infrastructure, law and order infrastructure, network connectivity and bandwidth infrastructure. Only then comes the road infrastructure and, finally, the airports, ports and railways. It doesn't really matter to me even if the airport is not the best as those who working in Chennai do not go to airport everyday. So, it is of less importance to me. Since Cognizant is not a manufacturing company, I don't need ports. Road infrastructure impacts me because it increases the commuting time and causes inconvenience. Bandwidth clearly impacts us more. I have no complaints in this regard. Educational infrastructure has the higher order of impact, and it is very good here. I am surrounded by engineering colleges with bright people coming out of these places every year. Law and order, and work ethic are important. They should feel safe moving around, I believe the cities are safe. Although people talk about the deteriorating road infrastructure, and traffic jams, if you look at the overall context, that is relatively lower in priority. But certainly, that is an important issue that can be improved.

Does that mean you are satisfied with the available infrastructure in India? So, there is no threat of you moving to China because you are unhappy with the infrastructure in India?
Yes, we are satisfied being here. People understand the way India is, with all its pros and cons, its dichotomy. It has the richest and poorest people. It has the best and worst hotels. It has the best and worst roads. It's accepted. I don't think suddenly, we need to create a Singapore to succeed.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of India from a business perspective?
In a service-oriented business, the people, their attitude and their talent are the positive aspects, which is the reason for our economic growth. We have hard working people with great and average intelligence, which I guess is much above the world average.

There is a criticism that 70 per cent of the engineers from Indian colleges are unemployable. As one of the largest recruiters of freshers in India, do you agree with this view? Do you have to pump in a lot of money, time and energy to make them employable?
It is all a process of elimination. Two lakh (200,000) students appear for an examination and the top 2,000 get to the best colleges. And, they are directly employable. But if you go to the next 2,000, they are also employable although they require certain additional inputs before they can be ready for the industry. The next 2,000 may require some more inputs. So, it depends on the number of people you require. If you can take from the top bracket, it is easy.

Do your feel that 70-80 per cent is an exaggerated figure?
Clearly, the number is exaggerated. Even if 70 per cent is not employable, it doesn't bother me because even if they are employable, we won't be able to employ all of them.

How does the US and the rest of the world perceive India? Is it as an IT superpower in the making? Or, is India just a place where cheap labour is available?
India was considered as a destination for cheap labour till a few years ago. Now, there is a clear transformation. They think India has the capability to go far beyond mere programming, they can do higher order of things in technology. They would like to collaborate with India in the area of space technology. It could be in the area of space research, agriculture and stem cell research. The potency of human mind in India has been realised. IT was the forerunner in terms of creating that visibility much more than any other area.

As far as IT is concerned, where does India stand, when compared to China or countries like the US or Germany?
You have to look at it in two areas. When it comes to technology innovation, the United States tops the charts. They continue to innovate and introduce new products. When it comes to applications, India is a topper. India's 8 per cent GDP growth is driven mainly by the IT sector.

Do you feel our growth is lopsided?
I don't think so. The service sector is growing very rapidly. It contributes more than 15 per cent of the GDP, but it employs only about 20 per cent of the people. To that extent, the employment generation from the service sector perspective is less. The manufacturing sector may be contributing 20-25 per cent and employs about 30-35 per cent of the people. Agriculture, which employs 70 per cent of the people contributes only about 20-25 per cent in terms of the overall GDP. So, if you make agriculture a little more efficient, the same 70 per cent of the people in the rural sector can contribute more and the overall growth will go up.

Once the Chinese master the English language, do you think India will lose many outsourcing projects to them. Do you feel China will be a big threat to India's BPO industry?
You cannot compare the way India and China are growing. I always say China is ahead of us already in terms of overall growth rate, in terms of social infrastructure and in physical infrastructure. We are only trying to catch up with them! The demand on the service side is so high that I don't think we need to worry about things going from here to China. From all over the world, manufacturing is shifting to China. Are we worried about all the manufacturing from India going away? We still continue to manufacture here.

What kind of bureaucratic hassles have you faced ever since you came here to set up Cognizant? Has it come down over the years?
It has certainly reduced. When we came here first, we had to deal with many people to get work done, and it was not that they didn't want to help. Everything was very procedure oriented, and there was no precedence. Now, the bureaucracy is more aggressive and ready to take risks. Their attitude is a little more positive.

Is the attitude different in different states?
Yes, a state like West Bengal, in an effort to catch up with the rest of the states, is far more aggressive than any other state in the country today. They open up and lay no conditions. There are some states like Karnataka that have reached a point of saturation that they are indifferent to any more new companies coming there, which is reflected in the bureaucracy. Tamil Nadu has always been very, very balanced. They never swung from one extreme to the other. Their attitude is, 'We want you here but we will not roll out a red carpet for you. We will be helpful to you. You come and establish yourself.' I think this balanced approach is very nice. Andhra Pradesh is also proactive but it is not as big as these two states in terms of size.

What are your views on reservation in the private sector?
It is not a good move. It is a retrograde step. Any system that is not based on meritocracy is not a good system. For us to remain the best, we need the best and the brightest people, no matter what their social status is, no matter what any other parameter is. We can come up only through merit, and sustain this growth. The government's mandate is different and the corporate mandate is different. In our case, whatever we produce, has to be the best in the world.

If the government enforces reservation, how will a private player like Cognizant deal with it?
From the customer's perspective, he will back off a little bit. He may say, I thought I was getting the best capability in India. The reason why I came to India is because the best minds are in India. This is going to impact not just the company but the country as a whole. From our perspective, if we have to live with that, we have to make extra investments, extra caution to take these challenges. We will have to settle for something that can be done by a broad mix of people. This is not going to help job creation in the country. This will not help individuals working in the industry who thrive on challenges. They are not going to be excited anymore. If you want to help the under-privileged, provide them with education and other opportunities so that they become as capable as the others and compete with them. So, from a company perspective, it is not a good move. From a country perspective too, we will be sending the wrong messages.

Will India's private sector be able to send this message across to the government?
The private sector can reason it out (with the government) and I think the government will listen. Nowhere else in the world, such a thing has ever been attempted.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"This is a beautifully crafted goal...."

The beautiful game!! Who has not been affected by it in their lifetime? Whole nations go crazy over it and some rivalries are so fierce that they spill over into the streets after the match ends.

Somehow, I got bitten by the football bug after watching my friend badly spraining his ankle yesterday. (What a sadist I am!!). I decided that come what may, I would play this game and test what I was made of.

The initial warm up was well within my running and exercise limits. The real fun started when the game commenced. A sudden desire to play 'Total Football' like Franz Beckenbauer, 'The Kaiser' saw the daylights snuffed out of me. I soon started seeing double and sometimes even triple after i took a header on my head instead of the forehead. It felt like a drill boring into hard rock violently. The opposition took full advantage of this and scored nearly a dozen goals. (Yes, my dear reader I was the hapless goalie).

My lungs, chest and legs were begging for a timeout. I soon started seeing 100s of floodlights when there were actually four. Thats when i decided to stop being macho and respect my body.

The rest was galvanizing. I soon returned to the field and this time allowed our French striker to setup the goal and me and the other striker would take shots at the goal. During one such opportunity, i was face to face with the goalie. Slammed a left footer into the net and celebrated the first goal of my life. The second one was even simpler. The goalie rushed out leaving the goal exposed and all i had to do was to tap it in.

Frenchie was amused to see such crass inefficiency on the field, but he was also very appreciative of these baby steps that i took. All the while, the only thing going on in my mind was the piece of commentary from the Euro 2004 match between the Czech republic and The Netherlands..."This is a beautifully crafted goal by the Czech republic'......I was repeating those lines but replacing an entire nation with myself....My lungs were bursting and my head was throbbing, but the joy of the moment took them all away!!!

In the end i would like to say that though this may seem like personal trumpeting, it isn't. It is just a self-realisation....

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Erotica in Tamil:Why do vulgar lyric writers despise poetesses?

The first edition of The Hindu on jan 1st 2006 had a wonderful article in its supplement, The Literary Review called 'The Filming of Poetry'. This is essentially about a short 55 minute movie about female poets in Tamil nadu, their works and the prejudices that they have to face in their personal and profesisonal life.

The details of the movie are worth giving out because the article rates it highly, and as per the Golden Rule in India, it has ben accepted by an audience in some US university and hence is fit for consumption by us too. We better do it unless we want Uncle Sam labelling us as savage brutes and decides to invade us.
Title: SheWrite
Details: colour, 55 minutes, Tamil/English
Direction: Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayashankar
Music: L. Vaidyanathan
Camera: K.P. Jayashankar
Sound: Elangovan

A singularly interesting incident in the movie concerns the character of a poetess named Kutti Revathi (Little Revathi if you please). The lady had written a poem titled Mulaigal (Breasts) whose English translation will be provided at the end of this blog. Now, as is the case in TN nowadays, the male erotica bastion feels threatened. If you have been observing, the porn/erotica industry so far has been run by males. I take Playboy and Penthouse as examples. A desi example can be Mast Ram who is idolised by all North Indian males. i have been asked quite frequently 'Tune Mast Ram nahi padhi hai? To zindagi main kuch miss kiya hai yaar'. Of course the 'madams' of brothel houses as shown in movies like Umrao Jaan have been there, but even they have been under the overall control of some big shot male. It is only recently that a female is shown as a top honcho of the porn industry, kalyug being the movie in question.

Well, i fear I am diverting into some unnecessary details. Coming back to the topic, my intention is not to classify men or women as erotica specialists. What I wished to say was that most of the lyricists in tamil movies are males, and they have no qualms in belting out lyrics like:

"Adi Thangi Sumai Thangi" from Sivakasi which is an oblique reference to Vijay crooning to Asin "Can ur slender waist take the blows of my prick? Can u bear the weight that is bound to develop?"

Compared to this, the poem Mulaigal is a mature reflection on the roles of breasts for a woman. In a non-vulgar, but poetic way Kutti Revathi makes a statement has to be taken as erotica, read and forgotten or remembered as you please. Remember, even kalidasa's Abhignana Shakuntalam has lots of erotica in it. Specially references to how Shakuntala's breasts are too large for her deerskin to fit etc. In such a scenario, if males in tamil nadu take offence to everything they had better switch to the 'Naan Katu vanga ponen oru kavithai vangi vanden' type of lyrics.

have a look at the poem and decide for urself whether tamil nadu is on the way to complete talibanisation or not:

Breasts: (original 'Mulaigal' by Kutti Revathi), translated by N. Kalyan Raman

Breasts are bubbles, rising
In wet marshlands
I wondrously watched- and guarded-
Their gradual swell and blooming
At the edges of my youth's season
Saying nothing to anyone else,
They sing along
With me alone, always:
Of Love,
To the nurseries of my turning seasons,
They never once failed or forgot
To bring arousal
During penance, they swell, as if
To break free; and in the fierce tug of
They soar, recalling the ecstasy of music
From the crush of embrace, they distil
The essence of love; and in the shock
Of childbirth, milk from coursing blood
Like two teardrops from an unfulfilled
That cannot ever be wiped away,
They well up, as if in grief, and spill over

Ref: Literery review, The Hindu, January 1st 2006