My Power Quote !

A good book on a rainy day is happiness for me - Ruskin Bond

Thursday, December 29, 2011

WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT ?


 He who knows others is clever; he who knows himself  is enlightened.
                                                 - Lao-tse

Life should not be viewed only from the prism of suffering.

No doubt that suffering would give you heavy pain, but it gives valuable lessons to make life stronger in terms of actions and future endeavors. In fact, seeing the sufferings of people has pushed Buddha as the path of enlightenment.

Many people wrongly connote that enlightenment is simply denying all the worldly pleasures and lead a hermit's life. This concept is totally ridiculous. Enlightenment is a possibility field to know the mechanics of life beyond physical realm and also to find our connection with the Creator.

The essence of enlightenment is respecting life in whatever the form it is. When we become sensitive to everything around us, it means we are perfectly in tune with the symphony of the universe.

We, the star-dust luminous beings should not dive deep into the material comforts of life.  Once you   know your position in the universe, you feel so humbled of your tininess. Astro-physicist Joel Primack, a pre-eminent cosmologist who pioneered the Double Dark Theory opines that about 70 % of the universe is dark energy, 25 % is Dark matter. There are 4 % of invisible atoms and interstellar space. Helium and Hydrogen is 0.5 %. Our stars and planets form less than 0.1 % of the Universe which includes us - humans.

Enlightenment happens in personal space and more so, it is a subjective experience. All the life situations should be thought out in the larger frame so that we get a better understanding of our slice due to us. Excessive wavering for the things which are not due to us is totally unwise. America’s famous talk-show host Oprah Winfrey suggests that we should write ‘Gratitude Journal’ daily so that we can count our daily blessings to lead a quality life.

One major road block in the path of enlightenment is our mindless comparison with others in material comforts of life. We are so obsessed with comparison mania that is the root cause of all sufferings. The easy escape route from this malady is just watching those who are in more agony and less fortunate. Then a big shift takes place. Being sensible to all problems of world would take you nearer to God. In fact enlightenment is not a ready-made commodity which we obtain from a super market. It is a natural state which is well within us and it could be reached only by ' Self Search'.

Monday, December 26, 2011

VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF RELIGION

 When the whole world is immersed in the thick of celebrations on Christmas Day on 25.12.2011, some lesser mortals (27 people) in Nigeria were ruthlessly massacred in a sectarian violence by some Islamic militants.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with a staggering 155 million population. The country's population is by and large evenly divided between Muslims ( 50%) and Christians (40 %). The brutality of incident reflects the deep-rooted religious fanaticism.

Religion has risen its ugly ahead in recent times and this is not an isolated incident that occurred in a corner of the world. We are witnessing the silent deaths of so many innocent people almost daily. Bomb incidents in religious places and shrines reflect the level of hatred feeling that tears the fabric of society. In all such violence, common people always become pawns in the hands of these fanatics. It is deplorable that these fundamentalists are not valuing precious life, rather giving credence only to their dogmas.

The root cause of problem lies in wrong understanding of scriptures and religion. Instead of attitude of a seeker to know the Creator, we are conditioned by belief which is based on somebody's word rather than our own experience. Anybody is free to choose his religion. You can't dictate others by force. Simply taking a birth in a particular family should not bind you to follow the religion of that family. India's secular credentials accommodate the diversity of all religions. That's why we have Sharukh Khans (married Hindu girl) and A.R. Rahmans (embraced Islam) But some vested interests play the foul game to disturb the peace and tranquillity.

Follow any religion. All great religions preach the same truth. Though the path may be different, but the destination is same. The Creator has no objection in what path you are reaching Him. Instead of understanding the scriptures in right spirit, some people are simply flaring up animosity and indulge in creating physical violence.

This kind of diktat by the religious fundamentalists needs to be condemned by all vehemently.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

BUSINESS STUNTS: GOLD-PLATED PEN DRIVE AND TENDULKAR'S 37-KG BIOGRAPHY

The other day when I flipped through a news magazine, I found a gadget that boiled my blood. It was a gold-plated 32 GB pen drive made from 24 carat gold i.e 99.9 percent pure gold leaf with a jaw-dropping price tag of Rs. 45,111.

Immediately, my mind echoed with the words of Sam Pitroda who in a seminar lambasted that the great minds of the world occupied themselves in solving the problems of few rich people who really don't have problems at all.
It made no sense to make such absurd products. I am even sceptical of marketability of such products. It is simply a news-grabbing event. Pen drives are such a huge necessity and are carried in a very routine fashion. Even if the elite class purchases them by impulse, they fear of product security more than the data security.

I question the very idea of making gold-plated pen-drives, which in my opinion, is simply sapping the creative energies for such non-sense products. In fact technology should help to make products at an affordable price. No doubt, the design should be elegant and cost-effective.

We are witnessing the unveiling of economy tablets in the country. The very idea of cheap tablet computer sustains in emerging markets like India. The nano car by Tata is another instance to think differently with a novel idea of providing middle class a budget car.

But some business enterprises employ nasty tricks to make quick bucks. See the bizarre marketing strategy of one of the publishers. A book is brought out with Sachin Tendulkar's blood to cost $75000. If we go into the detail, it is reported that a special edition of new biography of Indian cricketing god  Sachin Tendulkar contains drops of his blood. 10 copies are being printed containing a signature page mixed with his blood. The 37-year-old described the unusual tribute as "mindblowing. With more than 1,500 pictures, the book "Tendulkar Opus" biography will weigh 37 kgs and each of its 852 pages edged in gold leaf.

It is time to take a quick introspection and admonish all such acts vehemently so that precious resources are not wasted in mindless ventures.

Monday, December 19, 2011

DESPERATELY IN NEED OF PUBLICITY !!


My first brush with Sam Pitroda's rousing lectures is when I randomly surfed the internet on one day and landed up in IIM- A website (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad). It was a stunning video of Sam's valedictory lecture at the Institute titled "Nation Building". After I listened to that enticing lecture, I instantly became his fan. 

Sam is fantastic orator!   He always speaks with statistics. He craved to do something for his motherland that had driven him to come home and contribute immensely of his expertise on Information & Communication Technology. He shuttles between his US homes where he is having his own company: C-SAM Inc and India.

We all know him as Rajiv Gandhi's trusted lieutenant in bringing Telecom revolution to India in late 80s. Being head of Telecom Commission during Rajiv Gandhi era,  he contributed immensely for stupendous growth of Information and Communication Technology. When the 1st UPA Govt. was in power, he handled the job of Chairman, Knowledge Commission from 2005 to 2009 and after that he worked as Adviser to Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure during Manmohan Singh era. 

I watched his stunning video at a seminar organized by Tehelka News Magazine titled ‘THiNK – 2011’. The Topic given to him was "Technology Adventure in Democracy". This was one of my best inspiring lectures which had a sea of information on Government’s developmental programmes. His outburst of anger on the media for not reporting the developmental activities initiated by Government is palpable. We need to join on hands to strengthen the efforts of such selfless people who are silently doing their part and in nation building and no doubt Sam Pitroda is front runner.

The crux of his lecture is as follows:-

a) The best brains of world are busy in solving the problems of few Rich People who really don't have problems at all.

b) Technology has a sort of divine life and a social leveller second only to death.

c) I have been working for the last 47 years on technology mainly : Information & Communication Technology

d) Information Technology plays a pivotal role in defining India.

e) In early 80s, it was Rajiv Gandhi's political will to bring technology revolution to India.

f) Telephone density by that time was : 2 millions for a population of 750 million. It was10 years waiting time to get a new phone connection.

g) Steps taken in the last 20- 25 years had changed the landscape : Today we have 900 million telephone connections connecting a population of a billion.

h) Who told that degree should take 4 years ? Now we have to question the very idea of education in the present format.

i) The very idea of teacher creating the content and delivering the content began to crumble.

j) Now it is time to change nomenclature from teacher to mentor.

k) National Knowledge Commission was formed 7 years ago so as to improve the skill and ensure a growth rate of 9 -10 % .

l) National Knowledge Network is being built with 1500 nods connecting all our Universities, colleges and Research Institutes and libraries with 40 GB bandwidth for seamless connectivity with educational institutions within the country and US, Europe and Japan for sharing information/ data with an outlay of 3 to 4 billion dollars. So far 400 nods have been connected and work is going on.

m) 250 thousand panchayats are being connected with optical fibre cable with a capital outlay of 6 billion dollars for bringing all public services under one umbrella. It is simply to radicalize the democracy. UID is one such platform under Nandan Nilekani, GIS platform under Dr. Kasturi Rangan. Cyber Security , Application, Data Centres, Payment and Procurement portals. If end connectivity is made with these platforms, young talent will involve in making new applications and transform the delivery system.

n) We are having 32 million court cases pending. It will take 15 years to get justice in this country. With computerization the period will drastically reduce from 15 to 3 years, but we need domain experts, legal experts to work with us and technology is one piece of the jigsaw.

o) President of India declared 2010-20 as Decade of Innovation. National Innovation Council was formed by Prime Minister. As a part of exercise, National level, State level and Sectoral councils formed. Around 150 clusters have been formed in various segments of industry to bring innovation. 1 billion dollars have been earmarked for bottom of the pyramid for innovation.

p) Proud Moments of India : 2700 years ago we established the first University at Takshasila in Nalanda. Zero is invented by us ; In 1760 (before British Raj) , we are the largest economy of the world with 27 % global economy which is now reduced to 2 %. India will again become the world's largest economy by 2060.

q) University and industry interface is needed. We have scientists who don't teach and teachers who don't do research.

r) The syndrome of 'Glass half full' needs to be changed.

s) We have 3 challenges : Disparity - between rich and poor, between urban and rural and between educated and uneducated.

t) Demography: we have 550 million young Indians we are below the age 25 years. It is simply not workforce of India but workforce for the world. Whatever the programs we do, this shall be the targeted group.

u) In India, you don't need any talent to identify problems; equally also you don't need to have talent for suggesting solutions as well. What you need is courage, confidence to go forward and guts to get it done against all odds.

v) Corruption is a reflection of all of us. The guy who is a corrupt is also my cousin. Growing up, I know that the teacher does n't teach, my dad does n't pay tax, my uncle cheats, that's the way of life it is. 

w) We have to go beyond petty complaints.

x) If you want to solve the complex problems of the world, go to India which is a right place.

y) At the bottom of pyramid, we have 400 million who are below poverty line and 300 millions who are illiterate.

z) 20 years ago, I was told that we have 12 thousand unique herbal medicine plants. A foundation was established in Bangalore with 200 employees funded by Danish Govt and 11000 of them have been documented. We have digitized a million rare manuscripts and 10 million more to do.

aa) While dealing with core issues like Education, health, Roads/ infrastructure development, it is not either or, but all this and sum more !!

bb) Some of tech adventures in pipeline: Railway modernization, require 800 thousand cores of rupees: Semi conductor fab with 10 billion dollars outlay; Smart Grid.

cc) Pity, nobody knows all this.

dd) If we turn on Indian TV, we see only three things. Bollywood, Cricket and Political gossip. I am not interested in any of these.

ee) The seeds we already planted in 80s, I am seeing their fruits (communication revolution).

ff) The seeds we are planting today, I won't be around to see their fruits.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

MY MISSION : KNOWLEDGE MISSION


In India, English still rules the nation as the most vibrant and viable communication vehicle. There is no dispute in saying that English is still the mainstay language for our educational and communication needs.

The language has a special charm in Southern and North-Eastern parts of the country. Though, I was grown up with my mother tongue Telugu as a medium of instruction up to class 10, my father injected an irresistible charm in me to hone my English speaking and writing skills at the age of 6 or 7. Though English was not taught properly in my school at that time, it is my dad who had ignited an unflagging spirit and taught me the basics to hone my language skills. Till I entered into 1st year of my graduation, I was not good enough to write or speak better in English. Though I had taken English medium in my Intermediate (11th & 12th class) those two years had not helped much to concentrate on the language or power of expression. My father being qualified in stenography, but chose a different profession, used to cherish the career of stenographer which prompted me to learn stenography. So it was in 1988, I started my arduous journey of learning stenography and simultaneously started reading newspaper daily: The Hindu. As suggested by my father, I used to underline the difficult words in the editorial page and refer dictionary to improve my word power on daily basis. My father used to suggest me to write a passage on any topic on my own to improve my writing skills and power of expression. When I arduously followed my father’s word, the desire to excel in English reached to an unfathomable level that I dreamt of writing articles to newspapers/ magazines as a freelancer. An attempt was made by that time to write a letter to the editor of one prominent English newspaper regarding my opinion on certain political issue of that time. When I sent that letter, it was amazing that my piece of comments were published in that daily, my joy found no bounds.

The passing of stenography in the 2nd year of my graduation is very much a smooth sail as I put my body and soul on it. By the time I entered into my 3rd year of B.Com, one day I was asked by my mother to bring sugar from nearby provision store. Instead of purchasing sugar, my attention went to a nearby second-hand book/old newspaper seller who stacked and kept a bundle of old English books. When I went near and saw, I was perplexed to see the priceless collection of Vivekananda literature, all published by Ramakrishna Mission. There was hardly any choice and I made up my mind to take the old books with my sugar money. Perhaps, I could not take home sugar, but the sweetness of those books is still lingering in my mind.

When the books were brought home, a recurring dream of Swamy Vivekananda for some days put me in quandary to choose between my academic books and Vivekananda literature. I could not know what exactly happened to me. A sway of spirituality overpowered me and I find new delight in Indian philosophy with particular reference to Vivekananda literature. I started reading those books which made a firm foundation for spirituality in me. It further drove me to find some other books of Vivekananda in the local Triveni Publishers where I got Vivekandan's famous Chicago lecture book. That electrifying lecture swept my mind and tremendously improved my courage level. Mine, otherwise a shy guy who always feared to speak in English started talking in English as my friends by that time told me that I used to take long lectures on spirituality. Those books which I purchased occupied a proud place as a first collection in my personal library, started way back in 1989. I had been very kind enough that my parents who did not yell at me for diverting the money for books. Instead, they encouraged me to nurture my reading habit. Afterwards, my father used to give some money on the first of every month and I used to purchase a book thereby I slowly built up my treasure trove. Though I almost neglected my academic subjects in preference to Vivekananda literature, I had not felt hard to cope up with exam pressure and in fact I excelled in my 3rd year B.Com exams with more than 80 %.

After little over 2 years struggle in private jobs, Heaven smiled on me as I was selected as stenographer in Govt department. Though it seemed some sort of divine intervention of getting a government job so early at the age of 22, I forecast that I must have to sail in troubled waters ahead. Like I predicted, a major accident dislocated my father's thigh joint and the incident crippled not only our financial well-being but had also taken away my sheen in competing Civil Service Exam. Though, the dream of Civil Services could not materialize, but the charm for English did not diminish. I slowly built up my vocabulary by reading newspapers and other news magazines. India Today magazine has really helped me to hone my creative writing skills. Of course the The Hindu is my foundation to English.

There were so many mental challenges, mind wars and personal struggles which made my journey so fascinating and a new level of wisdom prevailed in me with each passing day. By the time, internet became part of daily life with broadband speeds, an idea swirled in my mind to build a website on my own and also have a blog to air my views. The need is felt to ventilate my power of expression as I did not find enough space in my professional life, because there is no such scope for heightened caliber and efficiency nor I did want to end up myself as a junk. To make the story short, I built my own website / blog with all software, designing tools with content churned out by me. I hosted website on free web hosting service from US server for some years (now defunct).

If you see my website: KNOWEB (Knowledge Web) with slogan for total edutainment, it is driven by one point agenda of empowering and enlightening the people with right kind of information with relevant links to other articles videos wherever required.

Considering the growing prominence of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, I also started sharing my article links and also best website links/interesting stuff.

I appreciate the good work of anybody. Earlier I wrote a blog post on one guy who came from lower strata of society but made his father's dream of becoming IAS true. I also devoted a space in my blog to Jimmy Wales, the founder of 5th most viewed website in the world: Wikipedia whose life mission is Knowledge Society without relying on the Ad revenue.

The journey is pleasant because of my association with so many inspiring personalities. Spreading knowledge is only my mission and money is not my motto. It is pure Knowledge Mission!

Friday, December 16, 2011

DO YOUR PART FOR GREAT INDIA

 West Bengal   is in the  spotlight for all wrong reasons, these days.  Less than a week after 93 lives (maximum patients)  went into thin  air in AMRI Hospital fire incident in Kolkata, another tragic incident struck the State yesterday (15.12.11).  This time the death is not accidental but a case of consuming spurious liquor in South 24 Parganas district which lead to the tragic death of 167 people who are mainly daily earners viz.  labourers, hawkers and rickshaw-pullers.   Preliminary investigations indicate that methyl alcohol toxicity caused to respiratory and cardiac failure.

This is not the case happened first time.  Past cases in some other States cast a slur on our enforcement mechanism. These recurring incidents are ringing alarming bells for quite some time.  Ignorance and poverty are root causes for death of these hapless victims who find raw enjoyment in taking hooch which is available cheaply.   Other than regulating such illicit liquor camps, a reformative approach need to be taken to go the message straight into their minds.   NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) should take active role in disseminating the message.  This class of people should be educated in such a way that they will not indulge in taking the low cost liquor for raw enjoyment, but find bliss through other modes to sooth their tired nerves.   A village level revolution would change the graph.

Sam Pitroda, the eminent technocrat who is largely credited with communication revolution in India feels that we don't   need any talent either to identify the problems in India or offer solutions for them.   What we need is courage, confidence and guts to go forward and get it done against all odds. We must also go beyond petty complaints.   We also need new mindset to solve the complex problems.

His lecture on "Tech Adventures in a Democracy"   organized by Tehelka Newsweeks THiNK 2011 is really mind blowing.   He says that nation building is an arduous task.    After watching his video, a new wisdom prevailed in me and   my mind swelled up with patriotism.   Instead of blaming the Government for all maladies, it is time for a quick introspection to do our part.  We must set apart certain time, at least in weekends to ponder about the social  ills plaguing  the society and work for them so that people in our area, especially the downtrodden don't  fall prey to alcoholism and doom their lives.

 I also think it is high time to propagate the achievements we made so that some of our fellow citizens who are cynical about our progress will change their mindset and fill their hearts with patriotism.    One immediate step needed at governmental level is to add a subject About India's Achievements in all elementary and high school education so that the children will be nurtured with  high degree of patriotism  which is quintessential to make a forward march.  

 Let us  take a pledge to do something even so  little to bring a  qualitative change in that direction.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The zing of Kolaveri Di Song

kolaveri di
Variety is  spice of life.  The reel life thrives more on it.  When the piracy and internet badly hit the revenues of  movies,  it is quite natural that the producers take a calibrated approach to get the cash registers ringing.

After Rahman's 'jai ho' song from Slumdog millionaire,   it is the song of this debutant: Anirudh Ravichander (nephew of Rajnikant)  from down South which grabbed the nation's attention with its phenomenal success.

The promotional song ' Kolaveri Di' from the Tamil Film 'Moondru' has all the necessary spicy stuffs to make the youth crazy. It was the song sung by hero Dhanush, the son-in-law of actor Rajnikanth.

The song  is  instantaneous and composing  took  just 5 minutes and lyrics were made by the singer himself which  are jest with broken English  of a drunkard lover  who failed in love with starting words ' flop song, soup song'.

We know  the music release of any movie is through Music launch programmes.   But the producer-director of the movie, Aishwarya, daughter of actor Rajnikant and wife of Dhanush  might have toyed the idea of  uploading the song  on You Tube, which not only earned the highest number of hits , but also made  a new paradigm of hitting headlines so swiftly with almost no bucks spent on advertisement.    Everybody went gaga on this song which can be better reflected from remake of the song sung by Sonu Nigam's son Nevaan with minor replacement of words like 'milk' in place of 'scotch'.  A twit (on the Twitter) summed up the whole song : " Half-Tamil, half-English and complete nonsense.  The musical styling of a young nation.   The film is slated to be released in 2012.

The song has won the gold award from You Tube for most number of hits in recent times.  By the time of writing this blogpost, the song made hits of  20,341,650 on You Tube.





Tuesday, December 06, 2011

International Youth Day : 12th August, 2011


Since 2000 onwards, 12th August of every year is being observed as 'International Youth Day' all over the world as per United Nation's declaration.  The theme chosen this year i.e. 2011 is ' Change Our World'.

 With a staggering 243 million population in the age group of 10-19 years, India stands tall as a country with highest youth population in the world.

 Youth symbolize energy, ambitions, and perseverance.   However, it is appalling that basic education and vocational training are still not being given adequate attention, thereby the youth are wandering rudderless settling with lesser fortune as unskilled workers and leading lives far below the standard.   We failed miserably to deliver even after 64 years of Independence.

 The nation is beleaguered with drought in most parts of the country and farmers with their failed crops are left with no option but to take their lives, because of mounting debts taken from village moneylenders on compound interest.   Orissa's Kalahandi district, Chattisgarh's Dantewada are top in line to  epitomizes the backwardness.     
 
 Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India in his key note address on 3rd August, 2011 at a seminar on Skill Development said:  " It is indeed a beautiful vision to think about the youth of India and their skill development. Learning is a continuous process and empowers skill and expertise. India has to evolve a unique skill development model with employability as focus. The country's growth is dependant on the individual's growth. Also, when we are imparting the skills, we should remember that these people have dreams as well. We need to make the skills meet the dreams. And, we also need to create job generators. I would like to see skill development especially focussed on the youth. My best wishes to the members to AIF, NSDC and all the bankers for achieving success in the mission of building global skills for a globally competitive nation."

 So the Government's broad policy should center on this target group to ensure robust growth in terms of their standard of living  A perceptible change in their lives can be made by giving  thrust in  areas are like basic and vocational education,  guaranteed employment for which the Govt. needs to put in place the required infrastructure like schools, vocational training institutes etc.

 As said by Gandhiji, India is living in villages.    We need to evaluate a strategy whereby, the district should be taken as coherent unit to monitor the implementation of government schemes.   The most backward districts need some kind of priority to compete with districts of rapid progress.    Then development becomes the buzzword in our rural India and youth  would  not run towards cities for jobs, rather they  remain settle in their own areas and contribute their part to  the nation's development.
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