Friday, June 10, 2011

Back to Square One

"NATO Secretary—General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was confident the U.S. troop withdrawals will not affect security Afghanistan."

I think he's kidding every reader of that statement. Increasing attacks in Afghanistan can, in general, mean a couple of things:
  1. Taliban is losing its rank and file; so, it wants to exert as much pressure as possible on its counterparts before it vanishes
  2. Taliban is acquiring both strength and intrepidity; so, it wants to kick everyone out and refill the void of arms with its own
Taliban, as every kid in the world (as Mr. Rasmussen thinks everyone is), knows that the US and NATO will start pulling out troops sooner than later. They can wait for a long time strengthening their ranks, as they once did until 2004 after their fall in 2001. So, if they are weak and burning their last reserves, they would rather wait for their enemies on the Afghan soil to retreat and then take over the government.

So, it is the second point stated above that becomes the reason for a spate in attacks. In such a case, what Mr. Rasmussen says is both naive and insulting to the general public of the world. I am neither suggesting that the NATO should stay there nor that it should pull out, either in phases or otherwise. It is probably too late for such suggestions. He's supposed to be an expert. Of course, he may have said so to prevent spread of panic. But, at least, make the wording a little more believable, less diplomatic and definitely, less stupid.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Honour" killing? [Update]

[Update] I'll leave analysis to experts of the field, but, it's satisfying to see the "system" working at least against some stupidity and crime. May be a death sentence is harsh, but, it's not for killing, I dare say, "just" three young people but also all their dreams for the future AND to send a message to everyone inclined to be or have been involved in any such brutal murders of their own kin.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Return

There have been many cross-roads in my life where I had to decide on the way that, not just mine, but entire lives of my family may lead. The decision of returning from the US was one such cross-roads. The "when" was decided long ago, just before going to the US. I even remember entering it as my goal on my Orkut profile: "Vision 2010: Back Home". It was a long-term goal back in 2007 when I landed on another cross-roads of my life, where I decided to go to the US, and the finer details had not yet emerged. I'm sure many read my vision to be back, and I'm sure only a few, if any, remember it now.

It was not an easy one to make, though, the decision. I loved my life there. I loved my friends there, some of whom did not know that they may "have to" head back. All of them wanted to be there, wanted to make a life there, at least for some time into the future. I was the only one that even they knew who had decided to be back without even searching for an option to be there.

Many of my important friends and relatives wanted me to stay there for a while. The money was there. My family's fortunes could have been turned by my presence in the US. I understand the truth behind the arguments that they made. They love me. They want me to be happy. They want my family up and running the way it did about 20 years in the past. I love them all for the care and affection they still shower upon us. I promise to them that my vision coincides with their vision of my family's future.

The most important ones did what they did the best all through, i.e., to understand, respect and support my feelings for my homeland and my decisions. Some of them reflected that it was one of their dreams, but, they could not make it, alas! It is in their sunshine that I bask; there are no more "words" necessary for them.

Finally, as I did all the times in the past, once again in my life, I followed my heart. It was not an impulsive decision and I testify today, almost two years since I'm back to India, that I am glad and proud for making it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Honour" killing?

Varna system, which gradually, but surely, devolved into the present day caste system, came into being only about 2000 years ago. In fact, there is very little evidence -- the physical division of settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation -- that there was a strict adherence to these rules. The system back then was, according to me, much more commendable than what it is, now. It was based on what a person does, rather than who he is. It is like what we see in corporations today -- a sincere relationship between the Chairman and the Peon. 

In this article, when people say, "We don't want a Constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition," I want to punch them in faces and say, "What about the millions of years, before the couple of thousands of years of formation of the bloody caste, when there was no segregation of society?"

[Update: 09/06/2011] I'll leave analysis to experts of the field, but, it's satisfying to see the "system" working at least against some stupidity and crime. May be a death sentence is harsh, but, it's not for killing, I dare say, "just" three young people but also all their dreams for the future AND to send a message to everyone inclined to be or have been involved in any such brutal murders of their own kin.

Friday, April 23, 2010


The last year had been the quickest of my life. (Hence,) The best too, as I love a busy life. Ironically, I had spent most of that year indoors, sometimes not stepping out of home for weeks! To know how my year can be "faster" than anyone else's year, refer the famous Einstein's relativity quote! :P

I always wanted to read something other than my own subjects in college. Due to various reasons, I could not. Preparation for my exam this time gave me an opportunity to take some time off, officially, from Civil Engineering or Infrastructure or Hydrology or Environmental Hydrology or Climate Change. The joy is not only that this reading is different from all of them, but also that most of it is probably what every Indian must know, and I finally got a chance to know it. Better late than never. It's so basic that it ought to have been thoroughly packed into my long-term memory, like my mother-tongue, by the end of my school life itself. It's about India!

It has now come to the last month for the beginning. The first exam is on May 23rd. With this huge syllabus, it's hard to say, "my preparation is going well." It's going on at its own pace. It had been a long journey. On the way, I met a lot of great people who helped me cut my way through to this point. I thank them all. There is still a lot more distance to cover than I already have. Wish me luck! :-)

Friday, October 23, 2009


Look at this now. I sincerely hope and pray that everyone involved be brought not just to justice but to gallows. My heart aches with uncontrollable anger and anguish.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hilarious, but, sad!

A major news in Hyderabad today is about the inauguration of a(n) (in)famous flyover to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. In reporting it, news channels and papers have been stating its length to be 11.633 km. Amazing, isn't it? Engineers gave them the length, which screams for perfection, while our respected politicians are all in for rounding things up. This news made me both laugh (for the last '3', at least) and plunge into deep thought about the workings of the system. The rounding up probably tells the way decisions are made. Decisions made purely politically, without consulting relevant experts, may have rounding up problems. Hilarious, but, sad.

One may argue that for relatively longer-term decisions, there's a larger probability of things going wrong, thanks to Lord Murphy. Again, I owe that argument to political will. For example, the flyover in question took 38 months against the planned 26.

Another round up example came up a few days after the recent floods. AP govt. announced building of 1 lakh houses for the displaced people. Now, shouldn't the number of houses built depend on, at least, an economic basis, if not on the basis of the exact number of people who got displaced? This is not even hilarious, pure sadness.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I am with you, Pak

  • Suicide bomb hits UN in Pakistan, killing 5
  • Suicide car bomb kills 49, wounds 100 in Peshawar
  • Gunmen attack Pak Army headquarters; 12 dead
  • At least 41 people, inlcuding six security officers, were killed and over 45 injured on Oct 12 in a suicide attack in a market
  • Teams of gunmen attacked three security sites killing a total of 39 people
  • Bomb kills 10 at Pakistan mosque, police station
Those are the headlines of various Taliban-related attacks in Pakistan territory for the last 12 days. At least 156 people dead, with attacks on the rise and disturbing news of possible coalitions and unprecedented coordination between Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Punjabi militants.

What should the world do when it hears of such blaring violence? It should sympathise. India, in particular, should empathise. India daresay that Pak is reaping her own seeds, because the attacks are headed for her, in some time and she must be prepared for the kind of guerrilla warfare of extremists. But, what is India doing? She is issuing statements on Kashmir and Mumbai attacks to bridge relations between Pak and herself. May I ask, with all due respect, who the hell is listening? Poor Pakistan is holding her breath, not able to predict nor being capable to stop the next attack on her innocent civilians. Again, no disrespect to Mumbai attack victims. But, now that India has submitted all the evidence she can to Pak, wait for her to first stand on her own legs and then expect the goods to be delivered.

Be a friend in these dire circumstances and Pak will understand the Indian culture, else, she'll think India as just another vulture! Think, bloody heads.

Monday, October 12, 2009

(C)lean(-)Ganga Mission and fun in rounding up!

The Centre, finally, resorts to the much-awaited work of cleaning the lifeline of the country, the great River Ganges. Much-awaited by me, at least. A move that it ought to make long ago, but, I got enough of my country's politics, its rhetoric and would take the "better late than never" stance.

What is still a bouncer to me is why it should take 11 years to add 2,000 mld (million litres per day = 1,000 m^3/d) water treatment plants to the existing 1,000 mld ones. What's more, the Govt. says it needs only 10 years to achieve the feat. Slight addition mistake I guess then, on our side. Prove that 2009 + 10 = 2020! What is really with this rounding up? Why the rounded 10 years in the first place? If there is political will, there are proven results even in our country that have stunned the world. The Cochin International Airport, for example, was operational in a record time of six years!

I am not underestimating the scale of the project. For example, the sixth largest city in India, Hyderabad, needs treatment facilities with a total capacity of about 40 mld. Such a plan requires a total area of about 21 acres. Extrapolating, for an added 2,000 mld, an area of about 1,050 acres is needed for the Clean Ganga Mission (CGM) (of course, assuming that they are going to build completely new ones, which will not be the case. The existing facilities will be used and expanded upon -- land needed will be less than 1,050 acres, but, chuck that for conservativeness). I am guessing a major fraction of the time asked of 11 years by the Centre will go in acquiring this area. The problem is not in acquiring the lands per se, but, in not remunerating displaced people with their actual losses. If I have to get into this, I will only say that the Govt. should make an offer that the displaced people cannot afford to reject. Is this going to happen? Why do you think the Centre has asked for 11 years then?

If there were real motive to work for the cause, neither will the time frame be set for 10 years from now, nor the deadline be set one year later than that 10 years from now to 2020. I simply hate the real snails.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Water water everywhere..

Retreating monsoon or North-East monsoon winds bring last-try rains over the Deccan Plateau and the Ghats of India. This happens every year. South-West monsoon that starts in early June brings rain to most parts of the Deccan Plateau, in general. This year, with an anomaly of a cumulative rainfall deficit of about 40% by mid-August and 23% by mid-September, governments got ready to devour on the National Calamity Fund as drought measures almost kicked in. They didn't know what Mother Nature had in store for them.

The retreating monsoon dumped a record-level water in the Krishna and Godavari catchments, which, along with probable poor management of water resources by irrigation officials, led to massive record-floods in the recorded history of the Krishna river. Reservoirs that were full enough to barely cater to the hydroelectric power production during this summer overfilled by a large margin. Over 550 villages drowned, 350+ people lost their lives, Rs. 16,000 Cr+ economic loss, enormous live-stock loss and over 100 million people affected. Stories of individual families are heart-rending. What caused this catastrophe?

Poor water management? Last year, when such rainfall was expected and reservoirs "prepared" for the same by emptying some of their capacities to fill them with flood waters, water managers made a blunder of not closing the gates at the right time, hence losing precious water, to be of use to the Rabi crop, and gaining the wrath of both the people and their "superior" political ranks. This time, may be the same officials had been more careful of emptying the reservoirs, gaining the same of surplus water. If, this is reality, corrections to last year's mistakes should have been made where the problem was, i.e. in timely closure of reservoir gates. However, if space is denied for surplus water in the first place, the havoc is indescribable and so is the stupidity of the officials.

Pure Force Majeure? It is long expected that due to global warming, summers (and winters, of course) will get hotter and rainy periods will receive less rain, overall, but with more number of high-intensity events! High-intensity events create large flows of water into stream and river networks. Water infrastructure is not designed to handle such large flows. It is similar to asking a being to eat more than what it generally takes, in a particular sitting. This is exactly what has happened now.

As I am writing about this, more levees are breached by muddy waters. As the flooded regions drain, officials are facing mud and silt as thick as 25 ft. at some places! It takes months, if not years, for life to get back to normal in some cases. Many lives, however, are permanently changed. In those months or years, it is guaranteed that such events will take place again.

The question that needs to be asked now is `Can we reduce the impact of a similar event?' Of course, by creating larger infrastructure to hold and transmit these flows! With a large number of towns and cities along the large rivers such as the Krishna, it is impossible to increase the width of a channel. Increasing the depth of the channels for them to act as additional reservoirs is technically impossible too. This argument is only technical; I am not even getting into who pays for such an ambitious project (talking about increasing the width of channel, concreting it at weaker sections to prevent breaches and maintaining it for eternity for over 2,000 km. This is only for a single river. Add to that a possibility that this kind of an event can happen anywhere in India and in case of the Brahmaputra, even outside India!). Therefore, the infrastructure remains the same. Does this mean that one needs to vacate the now-occupied lands for the terror of Nature?

The above question, in this regard, changes to `Can we reduce the impact of a similar event, given the existing infrastructure?' There is currently only one suggestion made purely based on strong logic that people, at a large scale, are not following. Rain-water harvesting. It is a broader concept than what most people understand, if at all, about it. I will talk about its depth in a few days. Meanwhile, delve into my scare: what if even the rain-water harvesting doesn't work?

P.S.: I still remember about my will to talk about the roads, but, immediate things first. If you cannot wait, refer to this beautifully written article on roads.