Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Came across this interesting site buzztracker by following a link from this one. What this site does is gives a snapshot of places in the news today. The way it is done here is using the indexing approach followed in the Google search engine. The site assigns a weight to different locations, depending on how many newspapers referred to that location in their daily news. Higher the number of newspapers referring to the location, more the weight assigned (in this case a %) and bigger the red circle over that location in the global map. Different locations are linked by a line, this link depends on the number of times the news stories cross reference two locations. Higher the number of cross references, darker the line linking two locations. The idea is to capture places in the news and emphasise the effect of happenings in one place with the other. Overall, an interesting effort.

Monday, May 23, 2005

blast in delhi over screening of a movie. This again serves as a reminder that even after almost 60 years of democracy , we still have a long way to go before we truly become a democratic, open , modern society. We still have to learn that dissent is essential for the health of society & violence is not the right way to express disagreement.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

outraged beyond words

It takes a lot for an ordinary Indian to be outraged. I would imagine that most of us who are born and bred in India know how it is. Sure we are the largest democracy in the world, we have an independent judicial system and yes we have a rich & ancient culture as we love to tell every american over here. We have that and what we also have is a lot of superficiality, hypocrisy , corruption and utter apathy. Our democracy is a sham and we are a borderline banana republic if we have not crossed the boundary already. This example displays this ugly face of our political and civil system in all its naked glory.


Outrageous is the mildest word I can think of to describe this . It doesnot need any reminder to anybody that indian political class is as soulless and corrupt as one can imagine in one's wildest dream but I underestimated their boldness and lack of respect for public opinion. I am sure that even Buta Singh is not stupid enough to realize that this order is going to lead to a wave of protest from all over the world. The fact that he still dared and went ahead with it shows that public opinion does not have any meaning in Buta Singh's(or more appropriately Congress's) dictionary. This decision is a blow to morality & idealism of all right thinking individuals. Buta Singh has just told all honest and upright indians "To hell with you."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

So the summer is here and finally I am getting the chance to catch up on my reading. First on the list is Brian Greene's fascinating account of state of the art Theoretical Physics "Fabric of the Cosmos" written for a well-educated but more or less lay person on advanced physics. I have read only a quarter of some 500 odd pages of the book & to put it mildly I am fascinated beyond words. The concepts covered in the book are not at all easy to convey without use of heavy duty mathematics and mind bending jargon but Brian Greene does an extraordinarily difficult job outstandingly well. He conveys the essential features of such profound concepts as General Theory of Relativity , Special Theory of Relativity and entanglement with amazing clarity without dumbing down the ideas ( I think, or may be he did dumb them down without an explicit realization by dumbos like me:)). So far I have gone through about 120 pages and I feel like I know so much! I just cannot wait to cover the rest of the book. More on this topic will follow soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ours is a really ban loving country. You may be aware of fundamental rights given to us by the indian constitution like mundane rights of freedom, right of equality before law yada yada, but what you may not be aware of an even more fundmental right given to us as a birthright is the right to ban or atleast right to demand a ban. We really love that right, for most of the political parties it is their favourite right especially of the parties you don't even know exist. Now another of these nonexistent parties have come forward (pun intended) to exercise that right . This is what democracy is all about, right to ban things -doesn't matter whether you like those things or not. Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat and especially Bose must be really happy that they fought with British so that every once in a while some nonentities can wake up from their deep slumber & decide that they should demand a ban on some particular movie, book or whatever else they can think of. Our governments have also been very encouraging with the idea of bans. Whenever somebody demands a ban, they are more than happy to oblige. Some years ago some very 'religious' fellows decided that a particular book hurts their religious feelings way too much and they demand a ban. Indian central government was very happy to accede to that demand, how can people's most basic right be voilated. A very healthy precedent was set and since then our governments have either banned or censored numerous movies, TV shows, books, plays , onions, tomatos and what have you. We all hope that this great tradition will continue and we as a nation will find more & more things banworthy. As they say, if you can't beat them, ban them.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Indian Aviation ready for takeoff

A revolution is underway in the domestic aviation market.


Judging by a slew of new players entering the domestic aviation business it would seem a metamorphosis is forthcoming for this important sector of the economy. Consumers never had it so good, with airfares for some routes being 5oo Rupees($10). Are indian skies headed the same way as the mobile phone industry? It could but there are some serious bottlenecks. Airport Infrastructure in India is one of the worst in the world, which automatically increases the cost of flying. Fuel Prices have been hitting the roof which invariably hits private airlines the hardest. Indian market is still not big enough to support 10 doemstic carriers, so for a first few years most of the new entrants will be loss making enterprises.
Airline business is one of the most competitive business all over the world. Very few players have made profits consistently over the years (only one example comes to mind SouthWest Airline in US). Big Size is a big hindrance in this business , as the examples of American Airlines, United Airlines will amply demonstrate. Only a smaller, nimbler player has the best chance to survive in this highly volatile business. Indian private carriers will do well to learn the dos from the likes of SouthWest, JetBlue etc. and from American, United to learn the donts. In the short term, indian market should see a lot of bloodbath with mergers, acquistions, bankruptcies, consoildation but over the long term future is bright. Indian economy is growing at more than 7% a year so a lot of people are having a lot more money to spend. If airline prices can come close to the second class AC train prices in India, then the market would really explode. All in all future of aviation is really bright in Indian aviation sector. The civil aviation minsiter Prafful Patel has done a marvellous job in his brief tenure so far. Now if only he could make indian airports world class, allow more airlines to fly to India then the prices of ticket to & from India would also fall. This would give a big push to Indian tourism industry and international business. Going by his track record, that must be at top of his to-do list.

An addendum on this topic. How to run a low cost airline in India?