Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Stocks this Year

The stock markets have performed exceedingly well this year, beating all expectations. The BSE Sensex gave a return of 47% to close above 20,000, surpassing the pre-year expectations in 2006 by both CNBC TV-18 and NDTV Profit. Both had seen the SENSEX crossing at most 17,000, that too by a long shot.

The Fifty-share S&P CNX Nifty gave a better return at 53%. But nothing beat the flavour of the season: Small- and Midcaps. The NSE Smallcap Index gave a stunning return of 90% this year, with the CNX Midcap returning close to 70%. This stands in-line with expectations (well, much higher than that!)

In the blue-chip stocks, RPL was the best performer, gaining over 200% this year. BHEL gained 123%, L&T rose 125%. A large number of other SENSEX/Nifty shares rose by over 100%. However, India's former-best-company Infosys was down 19% this year.

The real action was in the smallcaps. A particular food company rose by a mammoth 12,000% this year. Others gave over 2000% returns. Indeed, some companies jumped from single-digit listing prices to tripel digit trading prices!

The year had several IPOs, the prominent among which was the DLF Initial Public Offering. DLF - India's largest Real Estate Company - saw its market cap multiply in a few sessions, which led it to oust DRL to join the SENSEX.
Idea was another big IPO this year, as was India Infoline.
However, the year came with its own blues. When SEBI decided to crack down on P-Notes (and OTFS has discussed this matter before), the markets fell by 4%. This was aggravated by record crude prices, which missed $100/bbl by a whisker. However, crude is still trading above $95/bbl. To deflect this, the government issued Oil Bonds to Oil Companies, including India's largest company in this sector: ONGC (which has done very well in the markets this year).

The Bombay Stock Exchange launched a dedicated Realty Index this year, which has given amazing returns. FII investments into India touched record highs, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 97% this year.

While inflation was high in the middle of the year, stringent monetary policies by the RBI not only lowered inflation but also helped India avoid the Subprime crisis in the US. Political instability also caused some major falls in the Stock markets.

In 2008, the target for the SENSEX is 25,000 (the Hong Kong Hang Seng closed the year at 28,000+). However, if GDP growth remains above 8% it could go even further up. This year has seen a slowdown in growth but it might not be so severe.

While most International markets have done well this year, with the Dow Industrials hitting record highs, Tokyo Stock Exchange's Nikkei-225 gave a negative return of 11%, closing at 15,300. It was in the second half of the year that the BSE Sensex overtook the Nikkei 225.

Rising rupee, inflation, US-woes and GDP will be some major factors determining the course of the markets next year. Another important matter will be political stability: with the Congress having lost in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the UPA Government might not go ahead with the Nuclear Deal.

The Devil Says

An Exclusive chat with the Devil on the eve of New Year.

What does New Year signify to the world?
Ah, New Year. In today's context, it is essential. You see, every new year means the world has aged by one year. So, every soul is a step closer to death. Now, we've heard many people talk about how overpopulation is destroying resources. Well, New Year brings hope that the population will fall, and hence resources may be saved.

But is killing people really a solution?
Well... no really. You see, it's not as if the world doesn't have enough resources. The problem is that everyone wants everything else. So even if we kill a hundred people, one person still wants everything that those hundred possessed.

So why celebrate getting older?
Well honey, it's big business for me!

How do you think students in Jr. Colleges should feel about New Year?
They must celebrate of course! After all, nothing but Jr. Colleges can actually replicate my abode! Now, since your target audience will be entering Second Year in 2008, I'm sure they can look forward to meeting with me several times.

Are you excited?
Oh yes, I am very excited! After all, I love meeting people. The more the merrier!

How will you be celebrating the New Year?
I have a lot of plans in store: I plan to revel with my French-model-turned-girlfriend in Egypt, ruin a candidate's chances in Iowa, play with a Nuclear Deal in India, hang some noble soul in China and perform sin in Milan, Shanghai, Tokyo, London and Mumbai.

What will be your key goals in 2008?
To bring down the UPA Government. I'm a communist at heart.

And what of people like Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King?
Ah, well, every man has his enemies. Why wouldn't I?

You seem to have been very active this year. Floods, storms, hurricanes, assassinations... how do you manage to do it all?
It takes a lot of hard work really. I have gone through rigorous management courses: I had to start with CAT. In fact, CAT was so inspiring, it's level of difficulty was so in tune with my ideals, that I feel that every students should write it.

Is CAT that simple?
Indeed: the moment you receive the question paper, I shall visit you. It gives me an excellent opportunity to understand youth. IIT-JEE also offers the same opportunities.

Isn't meeting you in the middle of an exam a bad thing?
Say that again [makes an angry face]

Uh, nothing. So do you think 2008 will be a historic year for the world?
Oh, I'm sure. And if it's not... well, I'm always there, aren't I?

So who's the Man or Woman of the Year?
Paris Hilton surely. She's a living Goddess.

Well, thank you Mr. Devil for talking to us.
But where do you think you're going?

Well, I have to go back and file this...

Hey, wait, don't do that...
[OTFS sadly lost the signal at this point]

Happy New Year!

Old Story: Holiday Declared Again


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 31: The college declared that tomorrow shall be a holiday on the occasion of New Year. This move has instantly pushed JIIT1 to being two and a half weeks behind their Physics syllabus.

The IPE Exam conducted today received a fairly uniform response on the Instant Poll. Maths and Chemistry were rated moderately easy, while Physics was moderate.

VP Mrs. Jhansi told JIIT1 to work towards scoring at least 460 of 470 in March's Board Exam. She also informed the class that although an AIEEE Exam would be held next week, the IIT UT-10 scheduled for Jan. 13 stands canceled, and would be held on Jan. 27 instead.

All lecturers wished students a prosperous New Year. Mr. Giribabu asked JIIT1 to practice the Gayatri Mantra everyday. He will be leaving for Sabrimala and his next class would only be on Jan. 9. (OTFS)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

State Government Declares Holiday


Sri Chaitanya, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 29: The state government has declared a holiday for public offices and educational offices within the limits of Greater Hyderabad. This is as a day of mourning for the demise of Congress leader P Janardhan Reddy. Consequently, the college will be closed today. Monday will be a full working day.

Now of course, the big question is whether Jan. 1 (New Year's Day) will be a holiday or not.

Also, a source in the AIEEE Campus told OTFS that it was not just SFI but also some loyalists of PJR who attacked the college yesterday. (OTFS)

A New Democracy is Born

Tomorrow will be a historic day for the Kingdom of Bhutan as it holds its first parliamentary elections. This would end a 100-year monarchy and usher in a new era for th small country.

The elections would be observed by delegates from the UNDP as well as some of the world's most stable democracies: India, the US and Australia.

On this historic occasion, we wish this land of many smiles a grand future in the arms of democracy.

Full story

Foot-over-bridge, Foot in Mouth

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation constructed, with much fanfare, seven foot-over-bridges - skywalks to non-Hyderabadis - aiming to hep pedestrians cross busy roads. But now, with the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, five of these will have to be demolished. The other two are hardly used anyway.

The reason for this waste of Rs. 7 crore of public money is lack of coordination, so say the GHMC Officials. The transport department simply sanctioned the FOBs, while the Metro Rail Project group laid out its plans for the rails, not realising that one was demolishing the other. Well, that's all well and good, but who's going to take blame for this squandering? Not the GHMC: they claim that the FOBs were started by the erstwhile MCH.

So with no one to take any blame for the fiasco, and crores washed down in the GHMC's public toilets, the common man will have to bear all. Nothing new there!

All I can say is that the Metro Rail better be one of the best in the world: only then can we call it पैसा वसूल!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Where I Come From

My life comes with a past. Goa was a far-away experience; the only few memories I have of Goa is shattering glass over my feet (ouch!), a birthday party next door, my sister breaking her front tooth and a faint outline of a dog and a slingshot.

No, my true life began in Mumbai: the city of dreams. I was born in June, supposedly a tricky month for getting admission into a school. When I came to Mumbai, I was supposed to be put in Naval KG School. However, my age was the problem for, although I had completed LKG, I was too young for UKG. Again, the June-effect. So I was admitted into Scholar High School (close to Gateway of India: we even went for a field trip there) in UKG. The school was ICSE. The reason for the choice was simple: nobody else would give me admission!

The first memory of it - and arguably my most powerful - is crying on the first day! Yes, crying! Somebody had locked the door from outside (I guess it was to keep the tiny tots under control): my over-imaginative mind had terrible images of being stuck for days, being forced to eat the chairs and tables and living without water. Of course, the class-help (who remains to date once of the nicest people I've ever met) opened the door in a few seconds and consoled me. And obviously, I was embarrassed, so I tried to pretend I was acting. Back then, my acting skills weren't very good I suppose.

Another memory I have of Scholar High School is being asked a question in class: which is the island-country near India? Well, I actually took a whole minute to say Sri Lanka! And in another incident, I actually dozed off in class! Now, of course, it's pretty common since I've completed 10th, but that was the first time I actually did that! I also remember the racks outside the class where we'd hang our water-bottles. And there was a little recess that was used for small demos near that! And another flight of steps upstairs would take me to my last destination: Class 4.

But before that, I'd have to go through Class 1. I remember my class teacher: Mrs. Minu Sahai (the spelling might be wrong). Now, I can't really say I liked her. But I suppose you always meet good and bad people. It was in Class 1 that I was placed in a class in the front of the building: it had these little stable doors which would open up to the outside. In no other school to date have I seen something as brilliant as that!

Class 1 was when we started music classes: a period a week with the sir who could play the piano. Now, I can't recall what songs I learned when (hey, this is nearly ten years ago!), but some of the memorable titles were K Sera Sera, Home on the Range, and some many others: I still have the notebook! Another new class was communication skills, in association with some company called Platform. What was the use of it? No idea...

In Class 2, I was introduced for the first time to a dictionary! How does one use it? Well, back then, I had no idea. Another new and controversial feature was that we would study our Class 2 and Class 3 English Readers in Class 2. In Class 3, we'd study Class 3 (again) and Class 4, and so on. Money-spending technique? Indeed.

Was I popular? Hardly... I was the quietest boy in class: I would never speak. Never. Even I can't remember my own voice! Was it shyness? Fear? Or both? I don't know. I never saw the need for friends: yeah, somebody to talk to if you're bored (and my imagination, fed with wholesome supplies of Cartoon Network, which I owe for my good English, never let me get bored), but never a friend. I never saw the need. And I was still like that all the way till Class 9: when I moved from loner to orator and finally to Headboy.

Computers began as a subject for us that year. I remember where the lab was: side-annexe (where I studied UKG), first floor. My first class was memorable in the lab: the teacher said 'spacebar' and immediately my mind was filled a a bar (on the lines of lounges and drinks) in a space shuttle! And to think, someday, I'd win an International Prize in Computers! I also remember waiting for my turn to play Prince of Persia: I would sit quietly, if the teacher wanted to give me a turn, I'd take it. Else I'd keep quiet. I did get a turn though, along with a classmate whose first name is all I remember: Aasma (may be misspelled). I had no idea what to do! I just made the Prince run around and die!

Then came Class 3: oh, I'll never forget that library class! It was the first time we were supposed to have library classes, where we'd be required to write out names on a slip in the book, put it in our library cards and hand it over. One week and we'd have to return it. Well, that was the first time I read Noddy, and I had the thought to read them all! Sadly, that was not to be. I borrowed a book once: Noddy and his Car. Short with yellow cover. Why do I remember it so well? Because I lost it! That was the first time ever I actually lost something that wasn't mine! I was scared!

I searched and searched at home. But alas, my then fear of cockroaches prevented me from checking a cupboard which I suspected of an infestation. Before I left Mumbai two years later, I discovered the book. I still have it. But my immediate concern was what I should do. Now, the Librarian was no sweet angel: she had a sharp tongue and simply seemed to hate me! So for three weeks I deferred from returning my book, I kept telling her I'd forgotten to bring it. My mom had written me a letter explaining the situation, but I didn't hand it over. Again, maybe it was shyness or fear or both. But eventually, I'd have to won up. I showed her the letter, and she went berserk! She shouted at me and told me she'd never let me borrow a book again unless I substituted the last book. So the next week, my mom somehow managed to get a copy of the very same book, and I tried handing it over to her. By luck or bad luck, another students also reported the loss of his book. But the Librarian called me a crook: she said I'd stolen another book which I was trying to give her now! She called a liar before the whole class! She eve told this other student "at least you are not a thief like him!" However, she cooled down and let me borrow something: I borrowed an Enid Blyton (and I would be glued to Enid Blyton for years to come, and this is another reason for my good English). I never wanted to read Noddy again. And I never did.

If anybody ever wondered why I dislike borrowing things today, why I always complete my assigned tasks in advance, why I never forgot to bring a library book on the due date, or I always check my bag for everything before I leave: this incident should've explained it.

A distinctive feature of Scholar was the Annual Fun Fair. My father, being in the Navy, was always asked to book the venue. Oh, and the school would ask students to pay Rs. 5o for it. Every year. The fair included some kiddie games that I did enjoy. The admission coupon system thing was hilarious: you had to buy a white admission coupon to get into the fair, and you could buy food coupons only outside, so every time you went out to buy more coupons, you;d have to buy another admission ticket!

The Fun Fair was held in the assembly 'hall' (an outdoor area, really). The assembly - compulsory everyday - included some Christian Prayers and the National Anthem. The fee counter was also in the hall behind a window-like thing.

The Activity Period after school was the only conscious effort for Physical Education in a school that had no ground. The period was held after school on different days for different classes: it was Thursday for Class 4. We'd have to wait for Class 5 and up to complete their assembly (the school had shifts) before we could play. We would wait in the nursery room or even in the corridor: straight line, and sometimes the PT Sir would check our shoes. We played various games: dogdeball, 'monkeys and donkeys' and the jungle gym (which was constructed shortly before Class 3 ended). I would never win, nobody wanted me in their team: I was and remain, a bummer at sports!

It was in Class 4 that we could start using pens rather than pencils. It was to begin during Second Term. I still remember my pen: black and silver in-pen designed for black ink. Well, I suppose any ink would've worked with it but we were supposed ti use only black. I remember my daily struggle refilling from the inkpot! The there was the first exam we were to write with our ink-pens: the teacher told us to write our names on all the sheets. One student asked her if we should write it on both sides of the sheet, to which she jokingly asked if one side of the sheet could disappear! And one absent-minded students even said 'yes, ma'am'!

There was this bully who would come in the break and dishevel our class. Once during a Hindi class, one boy said ' bada hokar gunda banega'!

The last three memories I have is of the school annual day. I was in some recitation called Block City, By RL Stevenson. The costume took the cake: white uniform, red ribbon and... red lipstick! That was the first and last time in my life that I put on lipstick! I still have a photo of that... :-)

The school sports day was another event: it was held in the Stadium near the Naval Area (My dad's handiwork again). Well, I don't remember what we did, but I do know that nobody would be allowed to cycle in the park in the evening for a week since they were laying chalk for 'some school's sports day!'

And lastly, the class picture: it was only in my last year in Class 4 that they took it. It was in the assembly hall, near the barn-like doors which opened up to higher classes. I stood somewhere on top. I still have the photograph: the white uniform, black tie and badge ('True be the Scholar'). The girls in a white gown.

Missing my musical debut on Christmas, Mrs. (Ms?) Alavia, a very cruel lady whom I feared, getting caught in the infamous Mumbai rains, waiting for my dad to pick me up after Activity Class, the front gate, the fear of being late for assembly, the 'Scholar Seat' on a bus full of St. Anne's girls (it was a naval bus), the kind conductor who gave me a chocolate before he left, the shopkeeper near the bus stop who'd trouble me and who also called up my mom when the bus came late and everybody but me was absent, the music sir leaving after Class 3, the field trips to Gateway of India, the BEST Office and the Mumabi Fire Department, a thief who stole my money... that was Mumbai. That was where my story began.

I won't say I was very happy there: I had no friends. None. However, that day in Class 10 when I saw my old school on a debate on NDTV 24x7 was when I realised that I too came with a past, and on meeting my past, I was amazed. Stunned. Scared. The past can be shocking. I recognised most of the students who participated in that debate. One of them (who's an albino) was desperate to become my best friend in Class 4 and whom I advised to save somebody's life and make them indebted forever (my imagination at work again!), and another was a boy named Jimesh I think. He was the most popular student in the class. I remember we had these Britannia Stars that the best students in the class would get. I got it in Class 2. And I broke it! And one day, Jimesh left it on the staircase and I took it: I don't know why. And I threw it away somewhere. He cried in class, the teacher tried to console him. Since then, I have abhorred people who steal, because I myself was tainted with that crime.

I had also written a story for the school magazine: Moby Dick, it was called. Not every original, I know. My class teacher in Class 3 was very kind. Though my grades were below average - especially in communication skills - she still encouraged me. She made be the 'class helper'! She helped me when I got bad marks. She helped me with homework. She made me the class monitor. me, the loneliest person in class. I remember how she once wrote a science answer on the board (one teacher would take all subjects except Hindi/Marathi) and used the word 'etc.' and I pronounced it 'etk' not knowing what it meant until my mom told me later!

Mumbai was my first bastion, my first home. But life moves on. After five years in that glorious city, I moved to Hyderabad. From there on, my life was a roller-coaster.

(To be continued...)
Scholar High School has a community on orkut which can be accessed here.

Half-Day Declared


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad: The college as well as the whole city came to a standstill today following the demise of Khairtabad MLA (Congress) P Janardhan Reddy.

Activists of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) stormed the college a little after 11:30 AM. This is the second time this month. However, unlike last time, this incident was serious. The activists up-ended benches in JIIT2 and cried SFI Zindabad (long live SFI). The Vice Principal herself looked highly concerned that it could lead to extreme violence. Following the exit of the AIEEE Campus, the IIT Campus was also emptied, and nobody - not even the ISB - was asked to return. Rather, students going by buses were asked to rush.

Local shops were also closed down, and violence has been reported by various agencies in different parts of the cities. Even Engineering colleges in the city's outskirts were on high alert. Locals tell us that PJR died of a heart attack. Furthermore, we have learned that the the state government has declared tomorrow a holiday as a day of mourning. Whether Jr. Colleges will respond to this and the consequences of not doing so will be seen only tomorrow, exclusively on OTFS.

Tribunal Against Mr. Swaminathan
Maths lecturer Mr. Swami faced some difficult times today. He has been accused of beating up a male student in SIIT2 (Sr. ICON, non-ISB) and his parents have demanded that action be taken against him or they would take the matter up with the Directors. The Principal was also present. Sources in JIIT3, which is located right next to the VP's room, told us that a lot of loud shouting could be heard.

Tough Week
The week has been difficult for the management. Already, two holidays have been declared, and the IIT Academy had IIT Unit Test-9 on Monday, due to which this week only had two regular functioning days. If tomorrow is a holiday, it would set a record, and JIIT1 would be two weeks behind their Physics Syllabus!

A Senior from ISB told OTFS that in spite of all of this, the VP is not expected to call for college on Sunday. Monday has an IPE Exam. This followed concerns from the political top-brass of JIIT1 (ISB) on how the VP would react if they went home again for the second time this month. (OTFS)

Blogpost 250: The things we do

This is Blogpost No. 250!
Opinions 24x7 began in February 2007 with a dream: a dream to awaken freedom on the World's Largest Democracy: the Internet. From sticking to political analysis, OTFS has covered genres ranging from movie reviews, event reviews, on-ground reports and even a special guest column from Vennela.

So why are we doing all this?
Because we have to. Freedom can never be curbed. Freedom is not given: men are born free. An Opinion is, after all, and expression of freedom.

It was in September this year that we hit 100 posts. Now, we have come to another milestone of 250 posts. The period in between has been critical for the development of OTFS.

In September, we furiously updated our SC 24x7 series. Further, we've included a few editorials and even declared our support for an Indian Idol contestant! We also did our first-ever spoof: we interviewed Counselor Mrs. Uma and learned how she joined Sri Chaitanya.

October saw 47 posts: the highest in any month as of the time this post was written. We launched our Weekly Quiz series, but sadly, we had to temporarily discontinue it due to technical constraints. However, in the second or third week on January, we will have another edition of it. Also in the same month, we posted our first and to-date only post from GMail. Our Business Desk also kept tabs on the market movements as Q2 ended. With the Dassera Holidays, we went into overdrive by declaring as the OTFS Web Awards Best site of the Year, against its rival, and also launching Inside NTSE: our series on the National Talent Search Exam. We celebrated the launch of NDTV Arabia and declared our interest in Kyle XY!

November was arguably the most important month for OTFS. We had a guest column movie review of OSO, a game review and a guest-video from Harsha. Most importantly, we announced the 2007 Opinions 24x7 Indian of the Year Awards. We also celebrated the announcement of NDTV Imagine, criticised the Vice Principal's policies on JIIT1 and reveled in Calvin and Hobbes!

In December, we earnestly took up the OTFS Editorial series, to go back to the original spirit with which this blog was started. Furthermore, we announced the nominated categories for the 2007 Opinions 24x7 Indian of the Year Awards. The remainder of the awards are non-competitive i.e., there will not be any nominees, but the winner will be chosen on overall merit. The final results will come out in January 2008.

We also mourned the assassination (now supposed accidental death) of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto. From an epitaph to her name to a discussion on the future of the nation, OTFS covered the story as it happened. Finally, we reviewed Angelina Jolie-starer Beowulf, reviewed the 2007 BVBPS Sports Day and wrote a poem in memory of those jailed in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

A distinctive feature of the blog over these months is that we have started changing our logo to fit events. We've had three special logos so far: one on International AIDS Day, one on climate change and the last one for Christmas. Indeed, our Christmas 2007 series was one of our most joyous: from carols to logos to plum cakes: OTFS had the Christmas spirit in it!

So has all this been worth it? Well, our ballot sheets are empty: since we decided NOT to use Google AdSense to put this blog on the market, we're non-profit, non-earning! But we've gained a lot: 5000 visitors, and counting, and that's only for half of our existence! Since we've used up only 4MB of our 1024 MB space, we needn't purchase anything for the blog. Perhaps, when we do use up all 1024 MB (and that's a long time away), we'll go commercial. Till then, quality is all we care for.

As we prepare to take OTFS through another year of turmoil - and 2008 promises to be difficult - we set ourselves the target of 500 Posts by the end of 2008. Till then, an we're prepared to hear the other side. That's democracy. That's freedom. That's Opinions 24x7.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lyrics: A Hero Comes Home

“A Hero Comes Home” (Beowulf OST)
Performed by Idina Menzel

Out of the mist of history he’ll come again
Sailing on ships across the sea to a wounded nation
Signs of a savior and fire on the water
It’s what we prayed for, one of our own

Just wait though wide he may roam
Always a hero comes home
He goes where no one has gone
But always a hero comes home

Deep in the heart of darkness sparks a dream of light
Surrounded by hopelessness he finds the will to fight
There’s no surrender, always remember
It doesn’t end here, we’re not alone

Just wait though wide he may roam
Always a hero comes home
He goes where no one has gone
But always a hero comes home

And he will come back on a crimson tide
Dead or alive
And even though we know the bridge has burned
He will return… He will return!

Just wait though wide he may roam
Always a hero comes home
He knows of places unknown
But always a hero comes home

Someday he may carve his stone
The hero comes home

He goes and comes back alone
But always a hero comes home
Just wait though wide he may roam
Always a hero comes home.

The video:

Director Visits College


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 27: The director of Sri Chaitanya - whose two daughters are supposedly divorcees - visited the SR Nagar Campus today, including the IIT Academy. Consequently, discipline was the top priority and the JLs had to ensure that no class made too much noise.

A Second Language test conducted today saw massive copying in all sections. The Instant Poll rated it as easy.

IPE Exam Details
Mr. Nandagopal, replying to OTFS on how circular motion - which is not part of the syllabus prescribed by the Telugu Akademi - could be tested for Monday's IPE Exam, said that it was extremely difficult to set the paper, and students need to learn only the basic concepts for the exam, probably from HC Verma.

In a similar query to Mr. Veeranjaneelu, he said that non-ideal behaviour of gases was not part of the syllabus and would not be tested.

State Rank
Abhiroop of JIIT1 secured the 10th Rank in the state for Monday's IIT UT-9 among ISB Sections. (OTFS)

Beyond Bhutto: The Next Steps

After the shocking assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the next few days in Pakistan are crucial for the stability of the nation and the subcontinent. OTFS presents its opinions on what the next steps should be.

Should elections be held or emergency re-instated?
Elections MUST go ahead. This is the most important move that President Musharraf must make. The opposition - now led solely by Nawaz Sharif - must come together and ensure that elections go on. If not, the terrorists would have won. This is the time to save a nation: political differences are immaterial.

Should Musharraf quit?
Eventually, yes. But not now. Especially not now. For better or worse, this man is the most important citizen of Pakistan. He alone can bring stability now. He must, at all costs, stay on and ensure that a government is elected. It is the only way out.

Should emergency be re-instated?
That depends on the next few days. If violence erupts on a large scale and the police is unable to handle it, and if it threatens the very stability of the nation, then the President will have to declare emergency. However, this is better avoided.

How should the West react?
By swallowing its pride. Don't expect Pakistan to magically erupt into democracy: it will be hard and it will not be pretty. Although only Bhutto died today, a bid on Nawaz Sharif's life was also made. The battle is not over, and the last thing the nation needs is America's diktat. Democracy will come, and it will come sans the military. And the US will have to live with that.

How should India react?
Step-up border patrols ASAP. The terrorists responsible for this have few options: either run into Afghanistan, Iran or PoK (and eventually Kashmir). And high alert needs to be declared in the major cities of the country. Benazir Bhutto's death has far reaching consequences for both nations.

How would investors react?
Obviously, if instability continues, Pakistan Sovereign Rating (S&P) of B+ would have to be lowered. Furthermore, oil and gold prices have spiked, fearing trouble in the middle east. However, this incident's effect on the markets will be short-lived, unlike its political implications. Investors best remain cautioned.

What does this shocking incident mean?
It means the forces opposed to democracy - the forces that have threatened to destroy Israel and India: Asia's two greatest democracies plagued by terrorism - will never rest until they are defeated. Weapons and threats will not do it: it will take democracy. Benazir Bhutto stood for democracy. That's her message to the world: that's how she would like to be remembered, as she rests in peace, next to her beloved father.


The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Full Report

January 8 was they day when Pakistan was to be welcomed as the latest democracy to join the world. But that was not to be without resistance from forces opposed to freedom.

December 27, 2007 will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days in the political history of South Asia, comparable in magnitude only to the assassination of Indira Gandhi. On this day, Benazir Bhutto, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, first woman head-of-government of an Islamic Republic, and the face of democracy in a war-torn nation, was assassinated by a suicide bomber. She suffered five shots to her head and neck.

Ironically, the assassination took place in Liaquat Bagh: the same place where Pakistan's first President Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated.

Benazir Bhutto stood for unity in the subcontinent. Her friendly relations with the Nehru-Gandhi family in India - which itself has lost too many members to hate and extremism - is well recorded. She had a dream: a dream to unite millions and even billions of minds and hearts. A dream for equality and development in all sections of society.

Benazir Bhutto loved her nation. It was her dream to see Pakistan as a successful democracy that respects rights and freedom. A life lost prematurely, a dream silenced.

As the world joins hands to condemn the assassination, let us remember that terrorists have today attacked that one weapon that CAN annihilate them: democracy. Let her demise not be for nothing: let her demise highlight the need for peace and democracy.

In Memory of The Prodigal Daughter

Benazir Bhutto, 21 June , 1953 - 27 December, 2007
Survived by her husband, children and the people of South Asia, who loved her

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz

I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Cannot remember my name.
Where have I come from?
What was my face, my honour, my fame?
What shall I utter, what shall I say?
Who shall I call, who shall I blame?
I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Cannot remember my name.

I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Cannot see the sun.
I cannot hear the laughter of kin
Nor partake in revelry and sin.
Will I ever see the bright sky glow
Will I ever hear the swan of snow?
Oh! What game has fate done?
I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Cannot see the sun.

I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Do not have a mother.
When was I born, I do not know.
When will I die, I do not know.
When will it end, the sport of death?
When will I be lifted,
Freed from cold, lightning and shudder?
I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Do not have a mother.

I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Do not know a God.
Nor a kind gesture, a courteous nod.
Who shall I pray to?
What shall I ask?
For freedom I know not,
For love I know not,
For beauty I know not,
For life I know not.
I, the Prisoner of Alcatraz,
Do not know a God.
- Sushobhan Sen

This ORIGINAL POEM is written in memory of the tortured souls trapped in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

IIT UT-9 Results In


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 26: The results of Monday's IIT UT-9 were declared today in ISB and non-ISB sections. Abhiroop in JIIT-1 was the top scorer with 374.

Some controversial questions were, however, not amended. Mr. Sarfaraz told OTFS that he had reported three controversial questions which need looking into.

Projects Submitted
A majority of students in J1 submitted their Environmental chemistry projects. Although the last day was today, projects may also be submitted tomorrow. (OTFS)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Salute to Sports

Event: The 2007 Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Public School, Jubilee Hills, Sports Day
Date: Dec. 1, 2007
Time: 2:00 PM
Venue: The sprawling BVBPS grounds
Invitees: parents, teachers, students and alumni
Rating: **** of 5 (Very Good)

The BVBPS Sports Day has a tradition of being the best event around. And this year, it lived up to that reputation. And how!

The Chief Guest this year was former Indian test cricketer Arshad Ayub, who flagged off the ceremony along with the Sports Captains, who performed their traditional torch run around the ground. This was followed by the march past by the students and prefects of Class 9 and 10. As in every year, the march past (which has the highest value in terms of points, owing to the large number of participants, nearly 600) was closely watched, as houses aimed to turn their destinies around.

For the alumni, the day was full of festivities: some bunked college, while others simply took a half day! But for the entire alumni group - who I swear could've fulled half the ground - this day brought back memories. This fact came alive when old prefects met their serving counterparts, and some communists became socialists.

The shows were excellent, the race hard fought. From managing 3,000 students to keeping a smile on their faces, the teachers performed brilliantly! The anchoring was superb. Gayatri ma'am showed off her talent with the mic while other students played their part. Rohita for one spoke with the same charm that she had when she hosted Children's Day last year as Asst. Head Girl.

And so the races ended, medals distributed and counting ceased. Then came the moment the whole school has been waiting for: the house cup! Last year's second place Sree Rama came last, while Karna broke into the top three for the first time in a decade! And as usual, the Apex Body got nothing!

The show was however, not perfect. The 'Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal' number at the end - starring Headboy Shoumik Bhattacharya - was performed in pitch darkness and nobody could see what was happening. And the Vote of Thanks - the most formal part of the event - was turned into a joke by making it a two-person skit by the Head Prefects. You NEVER make a mockery out of the vote of thanks. Future generations would do well to keep that in mind.

But apart from a few glitches, the show was the stuff of legend. The tradition of flying a mini-aeroplane over the school and dropping flowers continued once again (it began when I was in Class 9).

And the bus ride after the show was the stuff of dreams. Bhavan's rules!


Notice: we apologise for the delay in publishing this event review.

Movie Review: Beowulf

Movie: Beowulf (2007)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Production House: Paramount (Viacom, the same company that owns MTV, VH1 and Nick)
Genre: Mythology
Starring: Ray Winstone as Beowulf, Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother, Woody Schultz as Aesher, and others
Special Features: viewed in 3D
Rating: **** (Very Good) + ***** (Excellent) for 3D SFX
International Distributor: IMAX
The legendary tale of the warrior Beowulf, epitomized in an ancient poem, is brought to 3D life by director Robert Zemeckis. Set in 6th Century Denmark, the movie charts through the trials and tribulations of a small Danish Kingdom led by an incumbent, drunk king and cursed by the Grendel: the last child of the demons.

The story is filled with plots and sub-plots: treachery, lies, revelery, freshly prepared mead and a lot of that three lettered 'S' word.
However, the movie is overloaded with nudity and mild scenes of sexuality. The main character Beowulf, for instance, spends most of the first hour naked, his manhood subtly hidden behind candles, fog and even a sword: kudos to the director for this half-hearted attempt at pleasing the censor board!

This, of course, means that Beowulf is not a family flick (it's rated PG-13). That does not however, mean that it's not entertaining. With ultra-cool 3D effects (in which you can have a spear poking right at your nose and a tree's branch slicing through you!) and an excellent storyline, this movie hardly counts as a noshower.
Getting to the story, it's based on an ancient English poem that runs into more than 3,000 lines and shares the same name. A Kingdom in Denmark is under seige of the demon Grendel and Beowulf is the only person who manages to defeat it. However, the death of Grendel releases the horrific wrath of his mother (Angelina Jolie). When Beowulf tries to finish her off too, he finds himself enamoured by her beauty and the desire to bear her a child. So they do the smoochin' and the snoggin' and a contract is sealed wherein Beowulf's kingdom (he's just been made the new King) would be demon-free as long as Mommy Demon keeps a golden drum.
Then of course the movie follows the old trail: Beowulf becomes legend, conquerer of lands, vanquisher of demons and all that mumbo jumbo. Then his son returns and lays seige on his kingdom, and Beowulf kills his son and dies in the process. The End.
The music is just great: a song sung by the queen to the tune of a harp, it takes you to a mystical world. The tune itself is unforgettable.
As for constumes, I'd say the designer deserves an award. From clothing kinghts and kings to disguising Angelina Jolie's private parts (which he mostly fails at doing), the costumes fit perfectly. Of course, the easiest part must have been designing Beowulf's costume: he's naked most of the time!
But for the very art of storytelling, Beowulf deserves full points. You will never feel bored while you watch the movie. Either it's the hilarious (and at times vulgar) jokes, the mighty fighting scenes, the mystical music or simply the 3D-ness of it all, this movie is a must-see for all!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Stop the Music!

The entertainment industry has gone mad! Too many music shows, too many dance shows, the same channel doing three reality shows of the same kind one after the other! STOP!

While music and entertainment is good for everyone, we seem to have an overdose of it! Let's look at some cases.

The story begins with three shows on three rival channels: Indian Idol (Sony), Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2007 (Zee) and Amul Star Voice of India (Star).

So these three shows went about garnering SMSes and TRPs: how nice and sweet. And then Indian Idol ended. And it was a smash hit!

The problem started when the other two shows ended. Not to be left behind, Sahara One (I don't blame you if you've never heard of the channel) launched its celebrity music show Jjhoom India (yes, two Js), starring Mrs. Communist Shabana Azmi as judge!

The came the dance shows: Jhalak Dikhlaja (lifted from BBC, so it's good) and Nach Baliye, which is CHEAP with a capital C. You to
see STARS dancing in the high-tech light! WOW! How evry, very uninspiring...

And then, disaster struck! Adnan Sami (who does a very fine albeit BORING imitation of Amitabh Bacchan in KBC) came up with his own show Bol Baby Bol. Then Zee launched its next series: little champs. It's boring, senseless and the parents act like this music hunt is going to make them the President of Swaziland! But of course, the host is still the same: young Aditya Narayan, so tall, so boring, so redundant. If I were him, I'd fire his costume designer!

But wait, Adi Narayan is not the worst of the lot. There's the host of Amul Star Voice of India Chote Ustad: Star's rival show. Now this host - whose name I have hitherto been unable to by-heart - is the best example of what not to do while hosting a show. I am not interested as to who goes to "FAIRYLAND" or who lands up in "SCARYLAND". If I had my way, I'd drop 'em all into "UNEMPLOYEDLAND". But you have to give some credit to this guy... I never dreamed that somebody could be worse than Aditya Narayan... but he's proved me wrong! Gasp!

And now with 9X (Nominated for the 2007 OTFS Indian of the Year: Best New Channel Award) bringing in its own bouquet, God alone knows how much more we're going to have to stand this cacophony! Don't forget, Sony (and till this story broke I thought Sony had some class) is starting K FOR KISHORE... ill-timed, but unique. I guess.

With all this mayhem, I shudder to think of he oncoming tsunami by the name of NDTV Imagine. With two dance-music shows already set to launch in it... the people who make cotton swabs to stuff in your ears are going to mint some money!

Nominations for Car of the Year

Nominations for New Car Releases in India, 2007
  • Chevrolet Aveo, General Motors
  • Logan, Mahindra-Renault
  • Fabia, Skoda
  • Chevrolet Spark, General Motors
  • Swift, Maruti Udyog Ltd.
  • SX4, Maruti Udyog Ltd.

How to make a Plum Cake

Can a Christmas dinner ever be complete without the traditional plum cake? This year, instead of buying from a bakery, try baking one at home!

Upside-Down Plum Cake

(Serves 6 to 8)


1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup light cream
2 large egg whites, beaten stiff
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups sliced, peeled plums*
extra white sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Generously butter 9-inch cake pan; set aside

Place butter, granulated sugar, whole egg and vanilla in large bowl. Using electric hand mixer, beat 2 minutes or till thick.

Sift flour and baking powder. Using a spoon, mix half of flour into egg mixture.

Pour in cream and mix well. Add remaining flour and mix again.

Fold in beaten egg whites till no trace remains. Set batter aside.

Sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of prepared, buttered and floured pan. Cover with plums in circle pattern. Sprinkle more sugar over them along with dots of melted butter.

Pour in batter and bake 1 hour in middle of oven, till a knife comes up clean.

When done, remove cake from oven and let cool in pan. Turn out onto an oven proof serving platter and sprinkle with sugar. Place in oven, 6 inches from broiler element and broil for three to four minutes. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Blanch them a little over a minute in hot water, then let cool and peel off.

1 serving without ice cream has 290 calories and twelve grams of fat. To cut down on fat, use half-apple sauce and half-butter.

To make things simpler, here's how you can see how to do it:

The BJP has Lost!

And Narendra Modi has won! Clearly, the people of Gujarat have voted for Modi: the BJP won simply because Modi is in the BJP. The five odd candidates who had split from the Sangh Parivar to fight Modi in spite of being in the BJP, have lost.

So what's ahead? Obviously, Modi can look a larger role in the Federal Government. The man who had brought his party four consecutive victories in India's fastest-growing state is not somebody to take lightly. His economic policies are loved by industrialist - a fact that the stock markets have confirmed (the BSE Sensex was up 650 points today, led by any and all companies that were related to Gujarat).

On the other hand, the man who unleashed a wave of carnage in 2002 and brought shame to the state cannot be expected to be welcomed with open arms by the rest of the country. However, at a time when the UPA Government is arousing anger among the influential middle class because of its communal stance and quota regime, Modi is definitely somebody who could bring back some 'hindutva' to the nation. You decide if that's good or bad.

Another Holiday


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 24: The IIT Unit Test-9 invoked mixed response from students in the Instant Poll. In Paper 1, Physics was declared medium, chemistry easy and maths tough. In Paper 2, Physics was declared medium-easy, Chemistry easy and Maths easy. So far, the highest expectation has been at 360.

In the non-ISB Sections, the paper was overall declared moderate, although very high marks are not expected.

In last week's AIEEE Exam, Divya Ravi bagged the state-wide 6th rank and Sushobhan Sen the 8th rank. Divya Ravi also bagged the state-wide second rank in EAMCET.

Record Made
Mr. Giri Babu made a record today when he complete two chapters in JIIT1 in an hour! The reason for this speed is that he would be going to Sabrimala Temple next week and the syllabus would've been lagging otherwise.

IPE Test for JIIT1
JIIT1 has been included for the IPE Test to be conducted on Dec. 31. Students have of course, panicked, since this class is terribly unprepared for subjective exams, even as speculation looms as to whether

All Sri Chaitanya students have been given a holiday tomorrow on the occasion of Christmas. It follows a Saturday - Dec. 22 - in which a shocking twenty students were absent in JIIT1. The Vp took a tough stance on this and called up the absentees to scold them. She even told some students today not to make a compulsive habit out of it! (OTFS)

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it's that time of the year to bring out the stars, get the gifts and sing some carols! Christmas is here! And this is how the Web is celebrating...

Orkut's Christmas log is designed to to encourage some merry networking!

When it comes to great logos, Google rules!

OK, so Facebook isn't exactly festive... but it's a lot of fun once you're in there!

And of course, OTFS is celebrating too!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Nominations for State and City of the Year

Nominations for Best Indian State of the Year
  • Gujarat (BJP), for setting standards in infrastructure development and investment
  • Andhra Pradesh (CONG), for securing 10% growth to its farmers
  • Jammu and Kashmir (CONG+), for re-energising its economy in the face of terror
Nominations for Best City of the Year
  • Mumbai (MAHA), India's Economic Capital, for powering the Indian Economy
  • Hyderabad (AP), for setting religious differences aside and staying together in difficult times
  • Agra (UP), for being the home of one of the New 7 Wonders: The Taj Mahal

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Documentary and Actor of the Year

Nominations for Documentary of the Year (Global Television Networks)
  • Romanis's lost Children, CNN International
  • Kill or Cure: India's Plague, BBC World
  • The Many Faces of Madness: Deforestation in India, NDTV 24x7
Nominations for Indian Actor of the Year
  • Shahrukh Khan, for Chak De India
  • Rani Mukherjee, for Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
  • Aishwarya Rai, for Provoked

Tomorrow is a Holiday


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 20: The college has officially declared tomorrow a holiday on the occassion of Id-ul-Zuha (Bakrid). However, the counselor Mrs. Uma - who incidentally spent most of the day chatting with JIIT1 students - indicated that Monday's IIT Unit Test-9 may be held on Tuesday, effectively destroying a critical holiday. JIIT4 students have threatened to bunk the exam.

JUST IN| Project on Environmental Education
The projects on Environmental Education will need to be at least 15-20 pages long, and not a mere 5 as the Counselor had erroneously stated earlier. She told this to various classes. This is in accordance with certain new policies adopted by the BIE this year.

English Exam
A language test was conducted for all classes except JIIT1 today. The top section was given a chemistry assignment, which some students completed in a just five minutes, while others took the entire study hour! (OTFS)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Christmas Carol

The epic tale or redemption, charity and divine intervention on Christmas Eve, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, part of the CBSE Class 10 English (Communicative) Syllabus, is a tribute to the spirit of Christmas. This video is a short rendition of the musical version epic tale.

Download the Entire Tale

Joy to the World...

Christmas is my most favourite festival of the year (after Diwali, of course). And this Christmas means more to me than any of the others: it signifies the end of a year of suffering. It signifies hope: hope, that my turbulent life will go back to normal. Hope, that my friends will lead a life of their own choosing. Hope, that my near and dear ones are blessed. Hope, of a better tomorrow.

And strength: the strength to survive the most difficult year yet to come.

This is my favourite Christmas Carol: 'Joy to the World'

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Words: Isaac Watts, 1719
Music: Lowell Mason, 1848

Modi is RIght... for Once

When Narendra Modi says poverty is something that affects all people irrespective of caste or religion, the country looks up in shock: because he's right!

Manmohan Singh - for all his well-deserved praise of being the Pioneer of Globalisation in India - is dividing this country. Backing him is a mad old Chief Minister in Chennai and the weakest (and stupidest) opposition (and allies... Sitaram Yechury, I mean YOU) this country has ever seen.

Full Story

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sportsperson and New Channel of the Year

Nominations for Sportsperson of the Year 2007
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Indian Cricket Captain, for bringing India the T20 World Cup
  • Viswanathan Anand, Grandmaster, for putting India on the Chessboard of the World
  • Pankaj Advani, IBSF World Champion, for changing the face of Billiards and Snooker in India
  • Baichung Bhutia, Indian Football Captain, for bringing home the ONGC Nehru Cup 2007
  • Saina Nehwal, winner of the Philippines Open 2006 (Badminton), for showing youth the way ahead in badminton
Nominations for New Channel Launches of the Year
  • 9X, INOX Media Ltd., Hindi General Entertainment Channel
  • NDTV Good Times, New Delhi Television Ltd. and Kingfisher, India's First Lifestyle Channel
  • Zee Smile, Zee Enterprises Ltd., Comedy-based, Youth-centric Hindi Channel