Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
All's not well at Camp Roadies. If the last two episodes saw just a small degree of bickering, Episode 3 was a full-blown battle.
Tamanna proved to be a scheming, tactful girl. A major spat over alleged attacks on her 'reputation,' an attempt to commit suicide and a nearly-physical fight with Palak: Tamanna could have put Ekta Kapoor to shame! If Nauman, the man in the eye of the storm, hadn't thrust himself in between the two girls, Tamanna would have surely needed Paulomi's makeup kit for a while. Sadly, the animosity seemed to linger on for the money task.
The task for the week was a celebration of ethnic Rajasthani dance. Now, some of the Roadies were quite good at dancing (kudos to Devarshi for his spirit) but that didn't mean they were good at traditional dancing. So with a lot of practice (which also saw quite a bit of fighting, courtesy Bobby and Sandeep), the Roadies were asked to dance before a large audience. While the judges observed them, the audience was asked to pelt them with shoes. And what colourful sandals flew! While the first set of girls were spared, the others faced a barrage of footwear, with Devarshi taking one right in his face. Eventually, the red Brats triumphed again, adding Rs. 30,000 to their account, now swelling at Rs. 80k. The Om Blues were left broke, and certainly weren't happy about it.
But the fighting didn't end there. Sandeep and Pradeep took it upon themselves to rag Devarshi, who took it without any visible signs of even caring. Being the target of several dares, being rudely ordered to stop smiling and being kicked in the stomach: Devarshi took it all. Sandeep made his hatred towards Devarshi clear, and he stoked the flames between Dev and Pradeep. Nauman chose to stay by Dev: a wise decision.
On Facebook, Tamanna has been condemned for treating this show like a pointless soap opera, and Pradeep condemned for being a bully. Devarshi won quite a lot of admirers for his resilience and Nauman lost a lover. The signs are clear: the audience is losing patience, and only a challenging, Roadies-style immunity task can keep the interest alive.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
“I have no doubt we will emerge from the current environment stronger, smarter, and better positioned to realize the full earnings power of this great franchise,” Mr. Pandit said in a statement with the results.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sankranti is a festival to celebrate the Earth, to thank Mother Nature for the bountiful harvest. It marks the New Year in Ancient India, even though Modern India sticks to the Gregorian Calendar. The spirit of celebration is in the air, on the streets and on OTFS!
Technology has caught India by the neck, and even politicians seem to have realised that the mobile phone and Internet are better techniques to reach out to the masses than rallies and road shows. Here is a very interesting SMS received on Jan. 5:
I also received an SMS from an ex-BJP MLA, who hurled curses at he UPA for failing to counter terrorism and wished me a happy new year that would used in 'change'!
To top it all of, Leader of the Opposition in the Centre Sri LK Advani has launched his own blog to connect with young voters. Looks like the 2009 elections are going to be fought on new ground!PS: If you haven't, I recommend you to read Lalu Yadav's blog as well. I just wish Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would also keep a blog. They are, after all, extremely respected by the youth. Oh, and I'm still waiting for the day a Presidential Blog would be announced!
The Ministry of Home Affairs
Headed formerly by Shivraj Patil, now by P Chidambaram
The Opposition and even some UPA allies described Shivraj Patil as India's most ineffective Home Minister ever. That description is quite accurate. Year after year, Shivraj Patil said that India's internal defences were not up to the mark. He made plans to improve intelligence gathering and coordination. But those plans remained just that. He did not do anything to improve conditions as India was facing a gigantic onslaught from jihadist forces from abroad and within. He did virtually nothing to make citizens in the North East safer, in fact, he virtually ignored the North East.
Mr. Patil refused to strengthen laws to counter terrorism, in fact, his ministry repealed the powerful Prevention of Terrorism Act. He made a case that India's laws to prevent terror were the best and most effective 'in the world,' in spite of huge evidence that they weren't. He consciously played votebank politics, equating terrorism with India's minority Muslim community. In that process, thousands of lives were lost and India was crowned third in the list of countries worst affected by terrorism, after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Patil had a terrible habit of tucking issues under the carpet by calling them 'law and order problems,' which come under the State List. He did not understand, or did not want to understand, that terrorism, insurgency and left-wing extremism could not be handled by States alone. The crisis created by his apathy reached a zenith in the summer of 2008, when the Indian Mujahideen detonated bombs after bombs in major Indian cities. It finally took the Gujarat Police to bust the entire racket. Odd, since Mr. Patil often looked upon Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a terrorist himself!
Mr. Patil refused to resign from the MoHA without pressure from his party. He put his party before the country. The entire mess reached a tipping point on 26/11, when Mumbai was slaughtered by terrorists who came by sea. The public outrage after the incident saw unparalleled vengeance against all politicians, and the Congress' political existence became threatened. It took such massive outrage for Shivraj Patil to finally quit, but not before he changed his attire five times during the Mumbai carnage! In fact, the media and the opposition chided him as being the Fashion Minster of India! Another failure of his was the issue of illegal Bangaldeshi migrants in India. In fact, he even told then Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje to round the migrants up in Gitmo-style camps!
After the debris of Mumbai began to settle, Mr. Patil was succeded by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. He has done quite a lot to bring some calm. The establishment of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) to coordinate intelligence, the establishment of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the powerful amendments made to terror-related laws all took place within a month of 26/11.
But the damage was already done. Families were killed, homes were razed and India became a very dangerous place to live in. It's not just terrorists and insurgents who are to blame: a spineless Home Minister who does not value Indian lives also led to the carnage. For this, Mr. Patil (and consequently, the entire Union Cabinet) stands accused of criminal negligence leading to death.
The Ministry of Home AffairsGeneral Performance: Horrible
THE MINISTRY OF CIVIL AVIATION
Headed by Minister of State (Independent Charge) Praful Patel
Praful Patel took over as Minister of Civil Aviation (MoCA) when it was boom time for Indian aviation. Airlines were looking at new routes and low-cost carriers made flying affordable for the masses. But towards the end of his tenure, Praful Patel faced a crisis that almost saw the collapse of some major airlines. And he handled both situations well.
The biggest achievement for Mr. Patel was undoubtedly the merger of India's state-run carriers, Indian (Airlines) and Air India, to form a new entity which is today one of Asia's largest carriers. The move faced stiff resistance from Unions, but the Minister held his own, sure that consolidation would mean growth and profits. The eventual merger would be his greatest achievement.
The Minister also saw the creation of new Greenfield airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore. These are unique in themselves, since they are the first Greenfield airports built in India by a private company. The Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport is South Asia's largest airport and boasts of modern technology, albeit with a few glitches. New airports have also been sanctioned in the north-east, creating better connectivity with the rest of India. This is another major achievement for the Minister.
The rise in ATF prices saw the virtual collapse of the Indian Aviation Industry. In these hard times, Praful Patel took it upon himself to protect the industry. He batted for air carriers with the Finance Ministry, demanding financial assistance. And he got it: an extended period of credit, a line of credit and a drop in regulated ATF prices. Without Mr. Patel's quick intervention, these companies would have collapsed. He also played a decisive role in helping sacked employees of Jet Airways get their jobs back, with some compromise on salaries. Thus, he not only worked for the industry but also for the people employed in it.
The only major failure of his was to increase security and technology standards in airports. His Ministry was not pro-active enough to force airports to beef up security, not was it strong enough to force carriers to train its pilots in flying in adverse conditions.
Overall, Praful Patel was an excellent Minister for Civil Aviation. The expos and kiosks set up by his ministry have brought a new, modern India to the world. His contributions will go a long way in putting India on the world's aviation map.
The Ministry of Civil AviationGeneral Performance: Very Good
The President of India, according to the Constitution, is the highest non-executive office in India. The President has a unifying role: a figure the whole country can look up to for inspiration. During its tenure, the UPA Government was faced with the task of building national consensus on the issue of the election of the 13th President of India.
The President is elected by an electoral college made up of legislators from across the country, through a multi-vote system. Now, the election of this President was unique because the incumbent was perhaps India's most popular President: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The country was clearly divided on one issue: whether President Kalam should be given a second term or not. This was also a matter of tradition, since no President apart from the first President Rajendra Prasad, had obtained a second term.
In all the political bickering, several names came up, including that of then Minister of Defense (and now Minister for External Affairs) Pranab Mukherjee. However, the UPA finally concluded that they would try to elect the Governor of Rajasthan Pratibha Patil to the post of President. The move received a great deal of support, since it would mark India's first female President. Women has always been discriminated against in India, and making a woman the First Citizen would send out a powerful message that women are equal.
It was with this message that the UPA approached other parties. The biggest support was received from Mayawati's BSP, which eventually proved crucial to her election. There were still some parties that favoured President Kalam for a second term, the BJP being the largest. The BJP also some startling revelations about a bank run by Governor Pratibha Patil's brother, Pratibha Bank, which has to be liquidated by the RBI on charges of fraud. They also started a new website - www.knowpratibhapatil.com - to tell citizens more about her. But eventually, President Kalam pulled out of any race for the Presidency, saying that he would not let the post be tarnished by politics.
Thus, facing almost no challenge, Pratibha Devisingh Patil was elected the first Female President of India,a historic event. Her husband, Sri Devisingh Shekhawat, became India's first-ever First Gentleman! Also keeping with tradition, Dr. Hamid Karzai, from the minority Muslim community, was elected the Vice-President of India. This was done to reflect India's pluralistic society.The election of the first female President did not happen without its fair share of controversy. But at the end, the UPA can look back proudly and say that they were instrumental in putting a woman in Rashtra[ati Bhavan and making history in the process.