Mayan Calender : World will not end in 2012

The whole of the last 2 years people have been talking about Mayan Calender and how the world is on the brink of getting collapsed on itself and ending. But in fact, this is been spoken of more as a joke than anything else. I have not yet seen panic and mass hysteria as some of the people hopped. In fact I remember writing an article about the 7 ways the world might end and what I thought of it. You can see that here. One of them was the Mayan Calender ending signifying the end of earth as well know it. However what if we found evidence otherwise ? Here is some of that.

Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest-known Mayan calendar to date, that throws the apocalypse myth out of the window. So we can throw that myth out of the window. In a recently-excavated Maya megacity, a mural was found in an ancient Maya house, full of drawings and calculations—that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time—is said to predict the end of the world thousands of years into the future. Or another Mayan Calender.

What the team found, after a full excavation in 2011, is likely the ancient workroom of a Maya scribe, a record-keeper of Xultún. The reason this room’s so interesting is that; this was a workspace. People were seated on this bench painting books that have long since disintegrated. The books would have been filled with elaborate calculations intended to predict the city’s fortunes. The numbers on the wall were “fixed tabulations that they can then refer to—tables more or less like those in the back of your chemistry book. And those calculations reveal the true Mayan Calendar.

The researchers noticed several barely visible hieroglyphic texts, painted and etched along the east and north walls of the room. One is a lunar table, and the other is a “ring number”—something previously known only from much later Maya books, where it was used as part of a backward calculation in establishing a base date for planetary cycles. Nearby is a sequence of numbered intervals corresponding to key calendrical and planetary cycles.

The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.

 We can all breathe at last thinking that the world actually might not end this year, one of the 7 reasons the world might end is now debunked. What about the remaining 6 ? Only time will tell. Watch this space.

Via : Link 1 and Link 2.

The most bizzare Suicide ever

I try not to write things that are on some other sites, maybe some extracts but this was something so inquisitive that I felt that it should be shared here too. This is a Suicide story from 1994, and is so bizzare that I will let you choose if it was a suicide or it was something else, I would call it fate. And an extreme example of it. Read till the end, its a bit long but interesting nevertheless.

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story…

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this…

Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands…

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded…

But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident. That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her son’s financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus…

Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

Earth Hour activities to participate in Dubai, Dare to go Green – 2012

Earth Hour is back this year, which means. It’s lights out for the UAE come March 31, as residents unite in a global cause to combat climate change.

This year, Earth Hour will again witness landmarks across UAE, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Al Qasbah in Sharjah, as they plunge into darkness for one hour in support of the world’s largest environmental event in history.

However, the 2012 initiative will not just request a one-hour conservation pledge, but hopefully aims to target residents at the grassroots level by hosting a number of public events and social media campaigns to target the society at large to participate in the most essential cause.

“Earth Hour is not about turning off your lights for one hour, but an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how our everyday actions impact our environment”

So whats happening in Dubai

Candlelight march at Burj Park Downtown

Organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, families and friends are welcome to light the way for a better tomorrow as they bear witness to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, switching off its lights for one hour to commemorate Earth Hour.

The walk will commence from the Burj Plaza towards Burj Park. The event starts from 5pm, while the candlelight march will begin at 8:30pm.

Light up a lamp at Dubai Internet City

Canon Middle East is inviting environmentalists and those who love Mother Earth to join them in this global initiative as its employees and their families gather outside the office building in Dubai Internet City with lamps as a sign of solidarity for Earth Hour and to make a pledge that they will take long term actions towards environmental conservation.

Additionally, Canon has also announced a public photo competition entitled “My Earth, My Lens, where people will be required to take a photograph that best symbolises what the environment means to them.

Photographs could range from images of the ocean to pictures of gardens, and will need to be accompanied by a photo caption that best captures the essence of the image.

If you are at Abu Dhabi

Drumming on the Corniche

The ongoing Abu Dhabi Festival is inviting residents in the capital to join millions of people around the world in celebrating the annual Earth Hour. Abu Dhabi will celebrate the evening with a drumming spectacular on the Corniche aiming to spread the important message of environmental awareness to passers-by.

The event kicks off from 7pm until 9.30pm at the Sahil Al Maydan Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

Cycle to save the Earth

For the second year in a row, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi plans to go beyond 60 minutes by generating 24 hours of clean, renewable green energy through cycling to further support the biggest climate awareness campaign from the World Wildlife Foundation.

From 10.30am on Saturday, March 31 until 10.30am Sunday April 1, the lobby of the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr will be outfitted with stationary bicycles.

With the use of dynamo technology and a full 24 hours of cycling shared amongst residents in the community, guests and hotel colleague participants, this “pedal power” will activate an LED lighting structure, fashioned after the property’s iconic facade, with symmetrical LED lights designed to reflect the water patterns of the Abu Dhabi Creek.

Sharjah and Northern Emirates

Family fun day

In Sharjah, a family event is being planned in Al Majaz Park by the Environment and Protected Areas of Sharjah.

Residents can participate in a host of activities including environmental competitions and a musical performance. The event starts from 6pm.

Music for the soul

In Ras Al Khaimah, the emirate’s tourism development authority has partnered with Al Manar Mall to invite the residents to join a public gathering with an acoustic performance by Fusion Again music band. The performance will start at 8:30pm.

Light the way

In Fujairah, a low-key event will take place in front of the municipality building, with candles and floating lanterns to mark Earth Hour. The event will start at 8:30 pm.

On Social Media 

There is another massive campaign online for Earth Hour is taking place which is more interesting than the offline campaigns and something that encourages people to work on the grass roots level. I will if you will. Check out 2 of my fav RJ’s on radio Catboy and Georgdie Bird on this one. The concept is simple: inspire others by challenging them to commit to an environtmental action in exchange for a dare.

Some more Dare’s below:

Check out more challenges and dares here.

The 7th Sense and the Indian origin of Kung Fu

I love movies, I love the fact that we can be lost in the movie forgetting all the woes for a while. But then there are movies that make you think, and we would all agree that these type of movies seem to be the best.  I am not a person that usually enjoys movies in languages that I don’t understand. Yes, subtitles are a must but I always believe that Sub titles do not completely translate the dialog exactly.So, well when a close friend recommended a movie that too Tamil movie, I was initially a bit skeptical.

Anyway back to the movie in question, the name of the Movie is 7am arivu, literally translated it means the 7th sense. The movie is loosely based on facts and added fiction to come up with a decently gripping storyline. The movie follows the exploits of Bodhidharma. If you don’t know who that is, well like most Indians you would not. But according to history books, he was the third son to a South Indian King and is the founder of the Zen form of Buddhism along with wait for it, Kung Fu. Here is a trailer of the movie.

Yes, you read that right, Kung Fu. It is believed that Bodhidharma trained the monks at the Shaolin Temple seeing their bad state of health and the martial arts took shape. Interestingly most Indians are unaware of this, but this could be our biggest contribution to the Chinese world. Now well like usual the Inquisitive Mind went in to do some research about Bodhidharma and the truth of the situations, here are the findings.

Bodhidharma was born in Kanchipuram,Tamil Nadu.His original name was Bodhitara.He was born as a prince in pallava dynasty around 440 AD. Some accounts shows that he would’ve been came from Persia , but there was no manuscript evidence to prove it. He was the third child of King Pallava. Being a follower of Buddhism , be was religioussly became a buddisht monk during the 5th/6th century and also credited for zen arts. Hence starting the Zen form of Buddhism. He arrived to china during the Liu Song Dynasty founded by King Liu Yu.

In one legend, Bodhidharma refused to resume teaching until his would-be student, Dazu Huike, who had kept vigil for weeks in the deep snow outside of the monastery, cut off his own left arm to demonstrate sincerity. Shaolin monks and disciples follow a unique practice among Buddhists in that they greet each other using only their right hand.

There is a complete and interesting history and life of Bodhidharma put together at this link which will give more insights and a very fairy tale or storybook type line to Bodhidharma’s life. Interested people should check it out.

The movie however just touches on some highlights of his life, as well as tries to bring into the future the personality of Bodhidharma in the quest of relevance. Although the song and dance, provide the indian movie factor, the movie all in all does a fair job at keeping you interested in the plotline although it is a fairly anticipated ending. The movie also boldly enters into territories of Genetic Memory and such to provide some scientific touch in the movie, the interfaces on the computers etc provide some geek eye candy with Sruthi Hasan providing just the Eye candy.

The first section of the film detailing Bodhidharma’s exploits in China is definitely the best part of the film. There is very little dialogue and Surya makes the most of his very expressive eyes to convey the various trials Bodhidharma has to undergo. While copious amounts of research appear to have gone into the making of the film, in this section it has paid off and it makes for a strong opening. Sadly though this isn’t maintained. The story has a lot of potential as it mixes science fiction with a disaster movie theme and a dash of Indian masala romance but it doesn’t quite gel. The most overused part of the movie however is Hypnosis, and I am not too sure about it. Does make for an interesting movie plot though, oh enough with the spoilers, I can see some of you already not wanting to read the rest.

In my suggestion if you have not seen the movie, you probably should. If not for the movie itself, but for the attempt of the indian movie industry to move forward than just, boy meets girl fends off the world to get married. South Indian movies, especially Tamil and Telugu movies seem to provide the audience the mental stimulation along with entertainment, unlike a Akshay Kumar starred no brainer. Dashavataram (10 avatars) was another such attempt toying with the idea of Chaos Theory and such, but very badly executed. However, 7am arivu provides enough mental fodder for even the most critical cinema buffs.

The Best of the Best of 2011 and the prediction for 2012

It’s the end of the year and the beginning of the new year and during this time everyone posts about the best of 2011, the worst of 2011 and so on and so forth, it is also a time when tech companies make their predictions that will change the future and shape our next year. This for sure something that I need to work out for my blog and for the Inquisitive Mind.

Closer to home, this year saw the introduction of Inquisitive Interviews that ran for some time and closed down due to non activity from my side and as a lot of people started to turn down the offers of providing interviews as well. But mostly since I could not provide enough time for the blog. Additionally this year saw me realize a new hobby that I wanted to do for a long time, A Planted Aquarium. You can be rest assured that there are going to be a series of posts about the build (yes I built everything myself) so maybe you can make one yourself as well. On a professional side I managed to take charge of a team for the implementation of the SAS systems at the Airport, making it a very successful year professionally, and in turn the cause of me not finding time to write more often. I have promised myself I will try more and try to make time to write.

The End of the year prompted some home redecoration and the realization of Another Hobby, the Christmas Crib or the Nativity Scene or the Creche. Will share photos and build info for that as well in coming posts. On the front of technology 2011 introduced me to the Blackberry and BBM (a pest) if you can say, and also added the Samsung Tab 10.1 into my gadgetry. My review of that device and what I think of it also is something that is yet to be written at this stage. However back to the topic of this post, apart from managing to get myself into all of these activities and not being able to write about these things, one thing is certain 2011 was a year of action. From the Arab spring to the Jan Lokpal Bill, this year said go out and do it in more ways than one.

Now, to catch up on the best of 2011 and the predictions for 2012 here is my list of articles around the web that you probably should read if you haven’t already. A lot of the articles are from the usual suspects.

The Year that Was

TIME : Top 10 everything of 2011

MIT : Technology Review The Year in Numbers

Photography :: The year in Pictures Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Photography :: The best of Kalyan Verma’s Pics of 2011 (I attended a photography course with him)

Technology :: The 10 stories that defined tech in 2011

Technology :: 13 Biggest flops of the year 2011

Technology :: Best Android Games of 2011

Technology :: The year in Tech 2011 – TechCrunch

Lifehacker :: Best of Lifehacker, from Best How to Videos, Photography tips to Mobile Apps.

Predictions

Social Media :: Twitter in 2012

Technology :: Updates for Mobile in 2012

Technology :: 5 Tech trends to watch out in 2012

Medicine :: 6 Big HealthTech Ideas That Will Change Medicine In 2012

China ‘s Century or India’s ?

My list of things to do will include updating the theme of the blog, photo blog and writing more, try to get my hands on the Galaxy Nexus as well. All of you who wants to gift me  please note this now. With that I would again like to wish all the readers of this blog both regular and otherwise a very Happy and prosperous New Year 2012. Hopefully the world will not end J and we get to see more of each other even in 2013.

Wordless Thursday – Year in Review : You are what you Tweet

As the year comes to a close, we usually reflect upon the various changes and the hits and misses of the year. This year was the year of the celebrities and of the Arab Spring. If you ask me, the infographic below does not do enough justice for some of the other important discussions of the year, but such is.

Wordless Thursday for the uninitiated is this blogs attempt to bring some interesting graphics and some interestingness infographic.

2011 in review infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com

 

Why I do NOT support Anna Hazare ?

For starters I have been asked by quite a few people about what I think about the Anna Hazare case. And I have been telling everyone the same thing, I do not believe that it is right to support him, nor do I think what he is doing is right. As the days go on, and as people start adding into the fight, I can’t help but think that this is just going downhill from here. Days on end, news channels seem to have forgotten about everything than the ‘Fast’ by Anna Hazare, people are sending texts to each other to forward around, telling us how Indian we are if we support him and how unpatriotic we are if we do not support him and things like that. Yes, I do not support the entire fiasco behind it, and nor to I completely agree with the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ as it is called and here is why.

First things first, most people who are supporting Anna Hazare in this so called Revolution do not have a clue of what the Bill is actually about. Ask most of your friends who have sent you texts, posted Facebook Status updates about it, and they will actually tell you it’s about stopping corruption and bringing Black money back into the country. Yes, it is but has anyone looked beyond the objective, into the methods and the ways of making this happen ? Well I can bet, it would be 1 in 10 or even 1 in 50 who has taken time to read it. I actually did when the name Anna Hazare popped up a while back, out of the blue. This is after I wrote about him, being blinded by my sense of patriotism and effortless, protest.

I wanted to check who he was an what was the entire deal behind it ? So I went on to the website that has a lot of information about the campaign, India Against Corruption. To make my point I can go down the route of personal attack on Anna Hazare, from his RSS support right through to his treatment of “Harijans”, but I do not want to do that (you can research those for yourself). I want to open what I believe is the flaw in the entire campaign. I did a bit of a scrutiny of the campaign, like Arundathi Roy  who wrote about it in the Hindu, it’s a long but compelling read. Check it out here.

While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare’s demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy, with thousands of employees, with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister, the judiciary, members of Parliament, and all of the bureaucracy, down to the lowest government official. The Lokpal will have the powers of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution. Except for the fact that it won’t have its own prisons, it will function as an independent administration, meant to counter the bloated, unaccountable, corrupt one that we already have. Two oligarchies, instead of just one.

Yes, I got to reading the amendments to the bill as well as most of the bill myself. Here is what I think of it.

  • It is a good plan to convert our democracy into a machinery that would be under the control of a single person (sort of) rule. By giving all power to the Lok pal, he will be able to keep the government at ranson at any time he wants.
  • It is also a plan for certain people (ahem .. Anna supporters and successors) to become incredibly wealthy. By blackmailing the politicians who is planning to investigate.
  • Will not be limited to Government Departments, so does this mean that they will start scrutinizing the private companies, street hawkers into following the law of the land ?
  • Will be able to scrutinize the PM and the Judiciary. Interesting considering that the leader of the largest democracy In the world will now be answerable to this LokPal and not the people ?

I am not able to understand the actual intent of the “Merry men of Anna” they have put these constraints in the bill. Understandably they have their own justification of the terms mentioned. But this is the hind side of the same terms.

Take Karnataka for instance, the state has a LokAyukt, a similar committee as the LokPal in the central government, to curb corruption in the state. But over the past few years there have been unconfirmed whispers among the people of the LokAyukt blackmailing the ministers, extorting money in exchange of a no investigation. Whether it is true or not, the fact remains that it is possible with the bill. Imagine that now nation-wide, what this bill will provide is a open chit to those who will be in the Lokpals chair to extort and make more money through the very thing they have set out to stop; Corruption.

I am not suggesting that Anna is corrupt, I am saying that once he is done with his term it will be an open invitation to someone to take on that position and possibly misuse it. How long will Anna take the position of LokPal and try to protect us from his successor ? It’s not detailed in the LokPal Bill.

When it comes to the place where this system fails, will another Anna Hazare rise to form another governing body to monitor the LokPal and the Government ? Possibly. And how many of these do we need from corruption to stop happening in the country ? The only way we can stop corruption is to stop being a part of it. Our ministers and Politicians are hungry for money, as are the 1.2 Billion people in the country. If you are telling me you are completely satisfied with what you have and do not ever want any more money you are lying. So it does not matter who is in power they will make some money, either through bribes, or if they cannot they will make it legal like in the US and call it lobbying fees. But this will not stop.

As long as we are a nation of people ready to pay our way through inconvenience, we will always have corruption. Regardless of whether we have the LokPal bill passed or not. We need to take a stand and STOP paying bribes, only then can this be stopped and not through a sort of Mexican Showdown with the government using “Ghandism” and “Patriotism” as cover.

India will be against corruption only when we stop paying, nothing else will stop this. I am like always open to debate.

India Independence Day, celebrate cos it matters

“At midnight when the world sleeps, India will awake.“ The words of the first Prime Minister of India echo this Independence Day all over Facebook, a lot of my friends are showing their “patriotism” on Facebook by putting status messages of wishes. Then there are those who are insulting the neighbours of India as a “patriotic gesture” and the last kind are the ones with loads of speculation and negativity about the current state of affairs in the country making them quite angry and negative about the Independence Day. But really what is the right sentiment ? Has the Independence Day lost relevance in this day and age ? I try to answer some of these questions this time for the Independence Day.

An elderly person who I spoke to in India during my visit last week, was asking me about Facebook and I showed him. He was quite happy about what you could achieve and how you could communicate on Facebook and how the world is becoming a more connected place after social networks. Then he saw some negative status messages on Facebook about our Independence Day, from the younger generation. He was saddened.

He recalls with me his teenage days when India had just received Independence, and the days he celebrated his first few Independence Day’s. From being orphaned to losing an elder brother in the fight for Independence, he mentions how Gandhi was able to ensure that many more people were able to enjoy the Independence from the British, than through Violent methods.

He talks about when his mother used to complain about the fact that we would pay unreasonable amounts of tax to the British in their conquest to plunder our nation more and more. In the end he was glad that he got to see the country free from the British in his lifetime.

As he was speaking to me about the Independence Day, it dawned upon me that most people look at the Independence Day to be a Holiday these days, sit on their laptops at home and typing negative sentiments on their Facebook statuses, talking about the India today.

 Today is not about the present, it is about the triumph of a David over a Goliath. It was the riddance of tyranny of the British, by the timid Indians. It is a day to celebrate the success of many years and countless sacrifices of the countrymen towards driving the British out of India. Not a day to be angry about, but a day to feel proud and grateful for all the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, who these days are not even enquired about. It is unbelievable that at a time of no internet, Mobile Phones, telephones, emails, twitter and other communication medium as well as a planning resource such as the Internet, the Freedom fighters were able to coordinate strikes on the governance of the British.

 Independence day is as significant as it was on the day we got our independence. Just because time has passed does not mean that the relevance of the lives lost and the sacrifices made are reduced. Nor should they be marred by the in competence of the current politicians. The discussion on Independence Day should revolve thanking our freedom fighters for their dedication and commitment, and not pointing out the mistakes of the country.

 Would you not feel bad, if rather than wishing you Happy Birthday, your Parents or siblings just mentioned the bad marks you scored Or the fact that you lost in a race in school or some other competitive analysis about you, you would certainly feel disappointed and sad. So if that being the case, why are we still doing it to our country.  This Independence Day, let us celebrate the Independence Day correctly, let us all be happy for and wish the country Happy Birthday 64th time. We have the remaining 264 days to question the government and its workings. With that note, I wish you all a very Happy Independence Day.

The REAL ‘Emirates Palace’ is on its way

Frequenting the Internet, some of the information you find is stunning. Sometimes information of something so close to you is relayed from the internet and you haven’t heard about it. Is that just not the worst ? Well, here is another bit of information that might just give you that feeling, I stumbled on a website which had the details and information about the Real Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi, which is being constructed in Abu Dhabi. Since I work in construction and have worked n some of the best projects in the region, rarely new projects really do excite me. But this one really did. The Abu Dhabi Presidencies new Palace is definitely worth a second look.


This is the proposed presidential palace being built by the Presidential Affairs Department of Abu Dhabi. It is going to replace the existing palace in Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi. The project will be constructed over 2 plots and will include the main palace, smaller palaces, villas and other facilities. The main palace itself will be 160,000 square meters or over 1,700,000 square feet! Take, the new presidential palace,$490M project that was awarded to Greek construction firm Consolidated Contractors Company and Abu Dhabi-based architects Ewan Architectural & Engineering Consultancy last year. The compound will sit in good, sweet, ostentatious company beside the Emirates Palace Hotel, which made a name for itself around the holidays by hosting a Christmas tree dripping in $11M worth of jewelry.

While the Guggenheim labor controversy has shed negative energy on the Emirates city of Abu Dhabi, turns out there’s a whole lot of other stuff going on there. The Presidential Palace being maybe the crown jewel when it comes to it. All my reluctance in going to Abu Dhabi for a visit is not slowly being overcome to go see this behemoth coming to life.

More Information on Skyscraper City. More Pics here.

Anna Hazare – the New Gandhi ?

The biggest deterrent factor for small and medium businesses as well as larger companies in India is the prevalent corruption in the country. Wonderful technological innovations are coming out of the country and in the mean time, corruption is stemming the growth. It’s been a long time that someone in India has taken a strong initiative to battle corruption, Last week was the week of Anna Hazare. On Saturday morning (9th April 2010), Veteran social activist Anna Hazare broke his fast after over 90 hours of spearheading the campaign against corruption after government issued a gazette notification constituting a 10-member joint committee of ministers and civil society activists, including him, to draft an effective Lokpal Bill. But most of do not know who is this Man and What are the details of the bill, here is my attempt to provide some clarity.

1. Who is Anna Hazare?

An ex-army man. Fought 1965 Indo-Pak War

2. What’s so special about him?

He built a village Ralegaon Siddhi in Ahamad Nagar district, Maharashtra

3. A village, its not great right ?

This village is a self-sustained model village. Energy is produced in the village itself from solar power, biofuel and wind mills. In 1975, it used to be a poverty clad village. Now it is one of the richest village in India. It has become a model for self-sustained, eco-friendly & harmonic village.

4. Oh really,…?

This guy, Anna Hazare was awarded Padma Bhushan and is a known figure for his social activities.

5. What is he fighting for?

He is supporting a cause, the amendment of a law to curb corruption in India.

6. How that can be possible?

He is advocating for a Bill, The LokPal Bill (The Citizen Ombudsman Bill), that will form an autonomous authority who will make politicians (ministers), beurocrats (IAS/IPS) accountable for their deeds.

7. It’s an entirely new thing right..?

In 1972, the bill was proposed by then Law minister Mr. Shanti Bhushan. Since then it has been neglected by the politicians and some are trying to change the bill to suit their theft (corruption).

8. Oh.. He went on a hunger strike for that whole thing of passing a Bill ! How can that be possible in such a short span of time?

The first thing he is asking for is: the government should come forward and announce that the bill is going to be passed. Next, they make a joint committee to DRAFT the LOK PAL BILL. 50% goverment participation and 50% public participation. Because you can’t trust the government entirely for making such a bill which does not suit them.

9. Fine, What will happen when this bill is passed?

A LokPal will be appointed at the centre. He will have an autonomous charge, say like the Election Commission of India. In each and every state, Lokayukta will be appointed. The job is to bring all alleged party to trial in case of corruptions within 1 year. Within 2 years, the guilty will be punished. Not like, Bofors scam or Bhopal Gas Tragedy case, that has been going for last 25 years without any result.

10. Is he alone? Whoelse is there in the fight with Anna Hazare?

Baba Ramdev, Ex. IPS Kiran Bedi, Social Activist Swami Agnivesh, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and many more. Prominent personalities like Aamir Khan is supporting his cause. He needs more support. Here is a letter from Aamir Khan providing support for the movement.

Mumbai,
6th April, 2011.

Dear Mr. Hazare,

Over the last few days I have been following, through the media coverage,
news about your struggle against corruption and the fast that you have
undertaken.

I have been through your appeal.

I have been through the draft provided by the media of the government proposed Lokpal bill, which is under consideration of the government, which you are opposing.

Through the internet, I have also been through the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill as drafted by the members of the Civil Society, which you are supporting.

I would like you to know that I am amongst thousands who are fully supportive of your efforts. The crusade that you have begun is an extremely important one, and I would like to extend my support to you.

For your information, I have written to our Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh requesting him to pay heed to your appeal. I am attaching my letter to him for you to read.

You are an inspiration for the youth of this country and my prayers are with you.

Like the country has supported the Indian Cricket team in their struggle to win the World Cup, I hope and pray that your struggle, which is infinitely more important, and affects each and every one of us, will get an even greater support.

Jai Hind.

Yours sincerely,
Aamir Khan

For people in Karnataka, the Lokayukta is not really a new concept. Karnataka introduced a Lokayukta about 10 year ago, but the effectiveness of the gesture was reduced due to the powerlessness of the Lokayukta. On the other hand, some people within the Lokayukta began blackmailing politicians for personal gains, based on the position that they held. However, for lack of action, taking no action is even worse, Just to give a better idea on the Bill, here are some details of the bill noteworthy. This Bill is pending for over 42 years. The old bill needs to be amended and a stronger bill must be passed. some of the key points are mentioned below:

Existing System System Proposed by civil society
No politician or senior officer ever goes to jail despite huge evidence because Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) and CBI directly come under the government. Before starting investigation or initiating prosecution in any case, they have to take permission from the same bosses, against whom the case has to be investigated. Lokpal at centre and Lokayukta at state level will be independent bodies. ACB and CBI will be merged into these bodies. They will have power to initiate investigations and prosecution against any officer or politician without needing anyone’s permission. Investigation should be completed within 1 year and trial to get over in next 1 year. Within two years, the corrupt should go to jail.
No corrupt officer is dismissed from the job because Central Vigilance Commission, which is supposed to dismiss corrupt officers, is only an advisory body. Whenever it advises government to dismiss any senior corrupt officer, its advice is never implemented. Lokpal and Lokayukta will have complete powers to order dismissal of a corrupt officer. CVC and all departmental vigilance will be merged into Lokpal and state vigilance will be merged into Lokayukta.
No action is taken against corrupt judges because permission is required from the Chief Justice of India to even register an FIR against corrupt judges. Lokpal & Lokayukta shall have powers to investigate and prosecute any judge without needing anyone’s permission.
Nowhere to go – People expose corruption but no action is taken on their complaints. Lokpal & Lokayukta will have to enquire into and hear every complaint.
There is so much corruption within CBI and vigilance departments. Their functioning is so secret that it encourages corruption within these agencies. All investigations in Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be transparent. After completion of investigation, all case records shall be open to public.  Complaint against any staff of Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be enquired and punishment announced within two months.
Weak and corrupt people are appointed as heads of anti-corruption agencies. Politicians will have absolutely no say in selections of Chairperson and members of Lokpal & Lokayukta. Selections will take place through a transparent and public participatory process.
Citizens face harassment in government offices. Sometimes they are forced to pay bribes. One can only complaint to senior officers. No action is taken on complaints because senior officers also get their cut. Lokpal & Lokayukta will get public grievances resolved in time bound manner, impose a penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay to be deducted from the salary of guilty officer and award that amount as compensation to the aggrieved citizen.
Nothing in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money. Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.
Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years. Enhanced punishment – The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

More details on teh bill can be seen here : http://indiaagainstcorruption.org/

When you look at it, this Bill is really long overdue, and needs to be bought into action. What it also brings into notice is the Indian system which does not have a review system, no cause and effect analysis done, and not even internal scrutiny from senior members in the Government. All the politicians are hand in glove when it comes to corruption. Adopting a Gandhian model of Hunger Strike, Anna Hazare has shown the Mahatma’s ways are still applicable in a ever changing world.

Like the video says, “Be the Change you want to see” and for this we as Indians need to change, we should not give bribes and take them. Although small and insignificant, gestures like spreading awareness about this bill, providing support to Mr. Hazare, through status messages on FB, sharing links and videos to help him in this cause will only benefit from all of us. There is one among us who has decided that it’s time to take matters of cleaning up the house, in our own hands. He needs help, and we need to give it. I know this post is kinda off topic, but seriously the need of the hour for India to progress is to address Corruption, like a disease.

 

The Earthquake, Tsunami and how the world has changed

First of all, my heart felt condolences to all those who have lost lives and property in the earthquake that just happened in Japan today. It is considered the 5th largest one since 1900, from when we started keeping serious track of these earth quakes. This time however, the effect of something like the world’s 5th largest earthquake is not bringing in as much news of destruction and loss. Its an absolutely fantastic thing to happen, so what has changed ? A few years ago if there would have been an event like this one in a place like Japan, where cities have some of the highest density of people on the planet, there would be more loss of life and property.

What has had an impact is the engineering and the government codes and standards. These are the unsung heroes of Japan, who might or might not be recognized in the near future, but should be. Having spend the last 7 years in the building industry, I know how incredibly difficult it gets sometimes for engineers and architects to keep with the budgets, while maintaining budgets. Japanese architects and engineers have since mastered the art, with the infamous Japanese Engineering. Like testing entire building strengths for Earthquake proofing, or designs like the door above that works as a shield in terms of an earthquake.

Apart from the fact that the building codes and standards are helping with the incident, the other part is the way the digital world has evolved, from providing up to date information on the quake on Twitter right up until, videos on YouTube and Facebook. Videos Like these below have been showing up on Youtube and Facebook at the rate of  hundreds per hour.

But the real power of Social Media was not really shown by Twitter or Facebook, but the miracle of Social Media happened when Google showed up to help.

Unlike companies who are providing condolences on their website, Google has reacted to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan with a tool that helps you find a person or provide information on missing persons. The site also aggregates important resources, maps and other related information.

Google has previously used the Person Finder tool. The Japan earthquake version of the tool currently lists about 5,500 records, but the number is rising quickly as news about the catastrophe spreads around the world. Although the tool can be useful for finding information about a friend or a loved one, Google warns users that it doesn’t review or verify the accuracy of the data.

Google’s Crisis Center also shows a map of the earthquake, the latest related news and lists link to warning centers, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information. Another example of why I love Google, and how a complete City Wide Data Management can be achieved through some of Google’s tools.

Driverless Cars from Google

Yes you heard that right, Driver less cars are here, and guess who is working on them ? Its all of our beloved Google. Yes, Google has retro fitted a Toyota Prius to be the latest in the field of Car technologies. Autonomous Driving cars, used as part of their Street View program are going to ensure that the future that was dreamt for us, with automatic cars that drive themselves might just be a reality. Remember iRobot ?? Of course we are not quite there yet, but its a start. So before you asking questions in your head of why and How, I think you should read further.

First of all, what does this car look like ?? yes I have got a picture to picture the car as we look further into why and how are they making it possible.

The Why ?  – My Analogy

If there would be one company that stands by its motto of doing no evil, arguably I will say Google. I know there are many out there who would start talking about privacy concerns and the rest, but with Facebook around privacy is no where close to be the same as it was. So leaving the online role aside Google’s continued attempt at working out solutions in new and emerging markets is something of an astonishment. I am sure that there is no other organization around who tries to give back so much. If we do look, you will know people hate Google for not just privacy :) Here is a funny video that would throw some light :)

Getting back to the topic, with a view of giving back and in order to optimize fuel usage and space on the streets of the world, Google’s venture into autonomous cars, is a welcome breadth of fresh air, in the sales driven cars market.

As of 2010, Google has tested several vehicles equipped with the system, driving 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without any human intervention, in addition to 140,000 miles (230,000 km) with occasional human intervention, the only accident occurring when one of the cars was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Google anticipates that the increased accuracy of its automated driving system could help reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths, while using energy and space on roadways more efficiently.

The How ?

The modified cars’ most noticeable feature is a rotating sensor on the roof that scans 360 degrees for more than 200 feet in diameter, creating a 3D map of the car’s location. A sensor on the left rear wheel measures the car’s movements in detail and helps locate it on the map. A video camera on the windshield near the rearview mirror finds pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic lights and obstacles in the rod and sends that data to the car’s onboard computer. Radar sensors at front and back help locate more distant objects. A GPS receiver, a laser range finder and an inertial motion sensor complete the package.

There are a few videos that have started creeping up on youtube and the likes of the Google Automated Cars driving, like these below.

What’s the Google angle? Not surprisingly, the cars relate back to Google data centers to process the information the cars gather and need to use. Google says its goal, though, is “to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”

Google also says it has a “trained safety driver” behind the wheel at all times and a “trained software operator” in the passenger seat — and that the local police have been “briefed…on our work.” Read the information from the Horses mouth, here on the Google Blog.

Unlike a lot of people, I like driving. I’m sure there are others out there too who like driving, but a majority of people seem too busy to be bothered to enjoy the experience. Then again, I don’t have a hectic daily commute and I don’t deal with traffic very often. I worry that one day, driving a car yourself might actually be outlawed and driverless cars will be law, rather than an option. Getting these cars off the ground also will pose a problem, many people will have their own misgivings about trusting a car to deliver them safely to their destination, and manual override systems will be a must. There is also the cost; while Google hasn’t said what all this technology costs, I know it wasn’t cheap. It would probably be cheaper to just hire a chauffeur instead.

All that aside… the future is now, people. Driverless cars are possible within our lifetime, and we may one day find ourselves sitting shotgun as the computer takes us to work.