Monday, March 30, 2009

BJP's reply to Jai Ho: Bhay Ho!



The BJP was scandalised after the Congress used twisted logic to take credit for Slumdog Millionaire's success. After the Congress purchased the rights for Jai Ho! to use for the elections, this video is the BJP's reply. 

In case you don't know Hindi, 'Bhay Ho!' means 'be afraid.'

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Economic (and Political) Future

On April 2, leaders of the world's 20 most industrialised and economically significant countries (called the G20) will come together to hold perhaps the most important conference of its kind in half a century.

The G20 conference will discuss and sign agreements (hopefully, anyway) on how to tackle the economic crisis. This would include anything from more 'stimulus' packages (which France, Germany and India are against) to more global financial regulation (which the US seems to be against, while the UK is sending mixed signals). However, for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the summit will be the tipping point of his career.

Prime Minister Brown was used a clever mix of rhetoric and facts to compare this summit to the historic Bretton Woods Conference, which created the economic order we see today. He has billed it as a 'now-or-never' conference. Given the hype, the opposition in the Commons seems to be ready to finish him off if the Conference is a dud. Already, there are rumours floating around, and they include David Miliband and a new post at the IMF for Mr. Brown.

Politics aside, the Conference is extremely important. While developed countries are contracting sharply, developing countries are also facing a lot of trouble. There are some key points that must be discussed and a decision must be taken on them. Some of them are:
  1. Increasing global financial regulation so that banks just do what they were meant to do: lend money and keep deposits, without turning to any financial hocus pocus.
  2. Increase by a substantial amount the emergency reserves of the IMF, which will have to bail out more countries as the crisis gets worse.
  3. Looking to create a more representative system of global governance, as this crisis has shown that creating groups of 'haves' and 'have-nots' will not solve anything.
  4. Working to reduce the global imbalance. The world cannot live off an American credit card: if a country exports some goods, it must import others instead of hoarding it away in wealth funds.
  5. Ensure, without a shade of a doubt, that protectionism will be avoided at all costs. Protectionism is the one thing that will complete the economic meltdown, it is a bane and it harms everyone. The developed countries must work to avoid it.
  6. As an added measure, the Summit could also try to develop a financial system that will promote green industries, as our environment is the next, and perhaps the last, bubble that will burst.
Of course, this is just a very small list. Leaders will add to it and subtract from it. But the G20 Summit must show something concrete, as close to Mr. Brown's 'Global New Deal' as we can get. It is essential not just for the G20 countries but also the rest of the 160-odd countries in the world.

Incidentally, Scotland Yard should also pull up its socks and be prepared for a mini battle with protesters. Clearly, everybody will have a say in this Summit.

AIEEE Hall Tickets Arrive



The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the All India Engineering/Architecture Entrance Examination (AIEEE) has begun dispatching hall tickets for the examination scheduled for April 26. 

While most students are yet to receive their HTs, those who have have found the choice of centres quite unexpected. This correspondent was placed in Army School, while others were allotted schools in Kukatpally and Jubilee Hills. However, in keeping with the usual system, only schools affiliated to CBSE were chosen as centres. 

The examination will be held on  Apr. 26 from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Students have been asked to be present at the centre a good 45 minutes prior to the commencement of the test. They will be allowed to carry only their hall ticket and a blue/black ball-point pen. Usage of pencils is strictly prohibited, a unique feature of AIEEE. As usual, cell phones and other electronic items, and also log tables, are banned. 

OTFS wishes all students good luck for the exam. We will be covering the examination from the centre on Apr. 26.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

One Week with the Cookie

Last week, I purchased my first mobile phone: the LG KP 500 'Cookie,' from Univercell. I've been using the little device quite a lot and I'm quite satisfied with it.

So, let's begin with why I chose the Cookie. In general, I have a good opinion of LG: my TV is from the same company, and I'm quite satisfied with it. So, when I heard that LG launched a low-cost touchscreen phone, I had my eyes set on it.

Here are some observations:
LG KP 500 'Cookie'
Cost: Rs. 13,300 + insurance (optional)
Includes integrated stylus, data cable, headphones and charger. 
Also includes a protective film for the touchscreen.

Once you buy the phone, you have to set the sensitivity of the touchscreen. I recommend you to use your fingers and not the stylus. Once the SIM card is pushed in, the phone is ready! Make sure you place your protective film only after cleaning the screen.

The screen is extremely responsive and the interface is very easy to use. The speakers are clear and the large range in volume makes for good music. The voice recorder is also good. But most importantly, the 3 MP cameras takes clear shots and loads fairly quickly. The photo gallery is just like the ad on TV, while the Muvee Studio is really useful.

The FM radio, complete with autoscan, is useful if, like me, you enjoy quirky RJs! Messaging - SMS, MMS, E-mail - comes with a variety of input options, including a QWERTY keypad and handwriting recognition. The motion-sensitive games make for endless hours of fun (although PIPES can get a bit frustrating). 

The Cookie has two desktops: one for your widgets and another for contacts. This makes it really easy for you to organise your work, although the 'shake-and-arrange' feature in the Widgets mode doesn't really work most of the time. The battery life is very good, although the phone takes a little while to start up (I suggest you not to turn off the phone unless necessary). And finally, there's a little button which allows you to quickly lock the phone.

The only disadvantages to the phone are the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity and 3G, but the price warrants that. The QWERTY keypad is a little difficult to use, but nothing that practice can't solve (or you could just use the neat stylus). And with a capacity for 50 FM stations, this is just the phone I was looking for.

Our 100th Post for 2009

It is quite auspicious to write our 100th post on Ugadi, the Telugu New Year. I admit, I don't know much about the festival, although similar 'New Years' exist in all cultures in India. However, the common feature of all these festivals is the coming of change.

In Indian culture, which I am very proud of, New Years' Day corresponds to the time when fields are harvested. This represents India's ancient roots in agriculture. It has been so for thousands of years, and even today's globalised youth participate in the celebrations.

Ugadi 2009 also marks the 100th post on OTFS for the year, and 970 since the blog was launched. Our projection is 1100 posts by the end of 2009. Also, out hit count has crossed 60,000 and we hope to end 2009 with over 80,000 hits!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Roadies 6: The Dubbo Conspiracy

Dubbo, Australia

This week, the Roadies played the game the old-fashioned way: a money task, followed by an immunity task and then a lot of politics. 

The episode started with their first money task in Australia: a game of blindfold Rugby. The Roadies would wear bells on their feet and run around a smaller version of a Rugby field, while the Dubbo Rugby Team (male for the boys and female for the girls) would stand, blindfolded, and try to stop them. Injured Sufi gave his turn away to Samrat. Then the game began. Samrat started off by successfully placing his ball across the goal, thus winning Rs. 75,000. But he earned just Rs. 30,000 on Sufi's turn, thus becoming the biggest earner yet. Nauman and Natasha made an honest attempt, Paulomi acted crazy but earned Rs. 20,000, and Palak simply got herself disqualified and earned nothing! This invited some sharp criticism from Rannvijay. At the end, the Roadies added Rs. 1.65 laks to their account.

Next came the immunity task. Now, this was a real 'Hell Down Under' task: crocodiles. Two of them! The task was to crawl around in a mud pit with two crocodiles and collect chips, which were colour-coded and worth a fixed number of points. The most-valuable black chips, worth 300 points each, we placed on the crocodiles' tails. Samrat and Sufi put up a spectacular show, Samrat in particular showing a great deal of courage. Nauman played smart and avoided the cros, thereby collecting several chips. But his last-ditch attempt to grab the black chips made him drop all the others, leaving him with just 150 points, the lowest tally. Palak moaned and whined as usual, but came out with 700 points. Natasha and Paulomi (who claimed to harbour affection for the crocs) also did a fair job. At the end, Samrat made 900 points and Sufi an unbeatable 1,950 points! Thus, the injured underdog won the immunity.

But that's not all he won. He was given the power to cancel one Roadie's vote during the voteout. He chose Palak, who began to sulk and moan and claimed that the world was conspiring against her. Samrat tried desperately to calm them down (he seems to have had a soft corner for Palak) but he failed. Little did Palak realise that she was being used: at the end, nobody voted for Palak and Samrat (christened Sam-Rat by Nauman) was voted out.

The ever-so-boyish Samrat took it in his stride and did not start a fight. Instead, he sang a couple of songs and some shayari. This amused the Roadies and the entire crew, who were not used to an exit like this one! The episode closed with Rannvijay warning Palak that she was way behind in the game and should wake up to reality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rain today, gone tomorrow!

Hyderabad's weather has been a lot like London's for the last few days: highly unpredictable. You'd expect that it would be unbearably hot in the summer. And you've been right until about three days ago.

Before that, it really was very hot: the daytime high was around 38C and the humidity was negligible. But one fine afternoon, all that changed. Winds of change, literally, began blowing over the city. After some strong wind and cloud growth, the city got a taste of the first summer shower.

People simply loved it: a respite from the unbearable heat and a chance to get drenched in March! It went on for two more days, with occasional afternoon showers, a lot of cloud, higher relative humidity and almost no sigh of the sun.

Until today, that is. The day began with overhanging clouds, but by 3:00 PM, the clouds disappeared and the sun shown in full glory. You can already feel the temperature rising and the humidity falling. It's back to square on, I suppose.

However, I am hoping for an easier summer this year, since I have to write entrance exams over the summer and need to travel around the city. Let's hope the Rain Gods come early!

Kaun Banega PM: For the Youth, not by the Youth

As the 2009 General Elections gain momentum, a big question for all political parties is that of Prime Ministership. According to the Constitution, the Prime Minister of India heads the Union Cabinet of Ministers, which helps the President run the Government. However, this is only formal language, since the President is just a ceremonial figure and the Prime Minister is the true leader of the Government. Thus, the question of who will be the next PM is one that affects every Indian.

Going by the political map, there are three primary political formations: the Congress-led UPA, the BJP-led NDA and the so-called Third Front. But even they are not very clear on who their Prime Ministerial candidate will be. 

The NDA is however, more or less sure. Lal Krishna Advani has been projected for a long time as the BJP and the NDA's candidate. His website, lkadvani.in, has published thousands of ads around cyberspace, which has made the octogenarian more appealing to young voters. However, many young voters, who have an inherent dislike forold people in politics, don't find his campaign impressive.

The UPA has serious contradictions within itself. The largest component, the Congress, has made it clear that the incumbent PM Manmohan Singh will be their candidate. Although the Congress has been slow to jump on the Internet bandwagon, Dr. Singh is looked upon with a great deal of respect by young voters. He might be old, but his pro-capitalist thoughts, clean image and humility make him a respected person. Even Ram Vilas Paswan (of the LJD) has said that Dr. Singh is the best choice for PM. OTFS agrees. But within the UPA, there are others who want to be the PM too. The most vocal of them if the NCP's Sharad Pawar, who uses the dumb logic that 'there is a desire to see a PM from Maharashtra,' completely forgetting the fact the President of India Pratibha Patil is already from Maharashtra!

There is also the rhetoric that Mayawati uses, that of the desire to see a Dalit PM. Ram Vilaw Paswan, speaking to Shekhar Gupta on NDTV, provided an excellent counter to the argument, stating that he and not Mayawati would be in a better position to represent Dalits. Indeed, Mr. Paswan is generally looked upon with a great deal of respect, mainly because of his clean image bu also because of the work he has done for the country for over a decade, being a member of every Cabinet.

Then there is the so-called Thrid Front: a rag-tag coalition of regional parties, including the Left and Mayawati's BSP, none of which has a clear long-term goal apart from projecting their leader as the next PM. While Mayawati's PM ambitions are infamous, those of Jayalalitha, Chandrababu Naidu and Deve Gowda are equally well-known. However, the chances for any of them to actually become the PM are abysmal at best: nothing short of an outright miracle would do it. Among the youth, these leaders, except Chandrababu Naidu, are not very popular. While Mayawati is seen as a casteist leader and the Left is generally considered an enemy of India's future, Mr. Naidu is known for his achievements in bringing IT to Hyderabad in a big way. However, of late, he seems to have taken a complete U-turn, shocking many of his supporters.

In the first ever General Elections held in India after Independence, there was a strong desire to see Pandit Nehru as the the Prime Minsiter. Today, we can see that vigour once again. The Westminster system might not have the high-voltage kick of the Presidential system, but the speculation of who will be the next PM makes up for that. The 2009 General Elections are already shaping up to be one of the most closely-followed. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roadies 6: Chandi aur No-Man

This week on Roadies 6, the team, was treated (!) to some water sports. Samrat and Sufi chose their teams (Sufi, Tamanna, Palak vs. Samrat, Nauman and Natasha; nobody took Paulomi!) and had to swing on a rope, fall into a muddy river, collect a flag and swim back ashore. Oh, and there was a time limit. By an amazing stroke of (bad) luck, both the teams caught brought back exactly the same number of effective flags - four. So, a tie-breaker was held, in which Samrat defeated Tamanna by a small margin. Thus, Samrat, Nauman and Natasha obtained an advantage, plus immunity.

Before they could find out what that advantage was, they had to spend a night camping. Paulomi, egged on by Tamanna, went berserk. She pestered Palak and demanded that she hit her! After a lot of provocation, Palak had had enough. She tore Paulomi apart, leaving her and the rest of the Roadies visibly stunned. But Paulo didn't stop there: she kept up the provocation until, Palak, ironically, cried!

Well, they were really crocodile tears, but lover-boy Samrat fell for it and took up her case, effectively ending all conversation for the night.

The next day was the 'advantage' task; the previous day's winners would have to choose three doors, which hid behind them a WWE wrestler (of the corresponding sex) two WWE wrestlers and a little girl with flowers! Whoever got the little girl would walk away with immunity... and the Karizma! Those who got the wrestlers would have to wrestle them. If they lose, they lose immunity and the Karizma.

Out of sheer luck, samrat got the little girl, and he was blushing a bright shade of red! Unfortunately, Natasha got a female wrestler, and Nauman got two male ones! Both of them backed out of the task, which made Raghu angry enough to strip them of their immunity. He let the other Roadies volunteer.

Sufi agreed to take on the male wrestlers, while Palak won a draw of lots to face the female one, for just two minutes in the ring without being pinned down more than five times. The ensuing matches were a mixed bag: Palak put up a fantastic show, not being pinned even once. even the wrestler said that she was good! Sufi, sadly, wasn't so lucky. His fifth pin came with just 5 seconds left, and he had a broken ligament too. But, both of them earned the others' respect, immunity and, most importantly, the bikes!

After the usual politics of the night, the voteout was held. Tamanna was voted out. Before she left, she hurled insults at her sworn enemy, Palak, and asked Nauman to be her boyfriend! Now, wasn't that sweet?

Last Exam Ends on a Bad Note

ipe09 WEEK 96 DAY 4

Babul Reddy Jr. College, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Mar. 19: The last of the 1b set 3Intermediate exams, Chemistry Paper -2, ended on a poor note as most students complained that the paper was too difficult, a manifestation of the fact that  the syllabus itself is too vast.

 

A number of questions took students by surprise. Q. 5 (Transition Elements) was outrageous: it is impossible for a student to remember the exact composition of an alloy, when they also have to learn a 600-page book. Similarly, Q. 6 (Polymers) and Q. 7 (Chemistry in Everyday Life) were too demanding. Their correction should be lenient. Q. 11 (Solutions) and Q. 13 (Electrochemistry) were simple, although the calculations involved were time-consuming. Q. 15 (Thermodynamics) was slightly ambiguous, as one cannot 'define' Hess' Law! Q. 17 (a) (Transition Elements) has a serious error: 'Co' was written as 'CO,' which changes the meaning of the question altogether.

 

Thankfully, Q. 19 (Chemical Equilibrium) was along expected lines, as was Q. 20 (b) (Group 17). However, Q. 21 (Organic Chemistry) took everyone by surprise, although it was simple enough. Lastly, Q. 18 (Biomolecules) was unexpected, though simple.

 

Overall, the paper was time-consuming and fairly difficult. This academic year, BIE revamped the syllabus and raw, sometimes wrong, data was copied from the Internet and students have been asked to learn all of it. Instead of raising the standard of its curriculum, BIE has made it a propaganda-machine for those who think that long answers mean correct answers. Hopefully, they will make amends in the near future.

 

Single Invigilator

Interestingly, Babul Reddy Jr. College seems to be hell-bent on flouting BIE norms, as for the second time in this series, there was only one invigilator in the room, as opposed to the mandated two. Also, loud music was playing throughout and the lack of lighting made it a matter of life and death to climb the staircase. I, for one, did not like the college at all, though some of the invigilators were friendly. All's well that ends well, I suppose. As of now, most students, even though they did badly today, are happy that their Intermediate course is over. This is a watershed event in any student's life.

 

EXCLUSIVESri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Mar. 19:  OTFS has learned that students of the IIT Campus will be writing IIT exams on Mar. 22 (1st Year), 26 (2nd Year), 30, May 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 (full syllabus). All other days are optional for attendance. Students who received their IIT Hall Tickets at home should contact the college and inform them of their Reg. No. and Centre.

 

Students of the AIEEE Campus will have classes from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM from Mar. 21 onwards. OTFS will be covering the final summer in Sri Chaitanya. (OTFS)

The Campaign Online

Barack Obama's successful online election campaign sent shockwaves through theinv09LOGO democratic world. This was a new, radical way of attracting voters, young voters in particular. India, with a modest online population of 60-80 million, has also been caught by this digital tidal wave.

 

LK Advani's website - www.lkadvani.in - along with his blog, is already famous. Flash-based banners with 'Advani for PM' written over them have become commonplace on Indian partisan websites, and even some foreign websites (check out www.dawn.com). But if Advani and the BJP started it, other parties soon followed. The Congress' scion Rahul Gandhi has a page on Facebook, where he interacts with young (future) voters.

 

Now, the CPI(M) has also launched its own website, complete with audio and video recordings of its leaders' speeches and election manifestos of the current and previous campaigns, along with some other propaganda.  ironically, the CPI(M) was the very party which opposed computerisation of Indian Industry in the first place! Hypocrisy? Absolutely, comrade.

 

Apart from party-based websites, individual representatives have their own sites as well. From D Purandeswari (incumbent Union Minister of State for Higher Education) to the AP CM's son, YS Jagan, all of them have websites, which give readers a look into their achievements and some of them even have interactive fora.

 

The 2009 General Elections will be remembered for many things and one of them will be the changing face of campaigning. A silent revolution, shall we say?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mixed Response to Not-so-Average Test

WEEK 96 DAY 2


Babul Reddy Jr. College, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Mar. 17: The IPE Physics-II paper for Sr. Inter students evoked a mixed response from students. While some opined that the paper was easy, though long, others felt that it was difficult and, at one
 point, ambiguous.

The choice of words in Q. 14 (Electrostatics) created a bit of confusion, as some felt that 'r increased by 3 times' could mean '3r' or 'r + 3r,' although grammatically, it means the former. In Q. 13 (Magnetism), the variably 'magnetic moment (M)' should have also been provided in the question. Q. 10 (Communication Systems) seemed too short to be worth two marks, forcing many students to add extra details to an otherwise short answer. 

One technical problem in the paper is the fact that the mark division for Section-C is not given. So, the value of the smaller question incorporated in Q. 19-21 is left unknown, which makes it difficult for students to gauge how much they actually have to right. For example, in Q. 19 (Wave Motion), the laws of transverse waves in strings are asked. If if were for 2-3 marks, simply stating the laws would be enough. But if it is 4 marks, an explanation would also have to be included. These subtle drawbacks in the paper made it challenging. Q. 1 (Magnetism) is vague: there is no way you can 'define' Tan A position, you can only describe it.

The paper was also quite long. Questions like Q. 11 (Optics), Q. 15 (Current Electricity) and Q. 21 (Nuclear Chemistry) are theoretical and very long, forcing students to allocate more time for them.

Overall, the paper was average, though time-consuming. Students are eagerly waiting for the last exam, Chemistry, on Thursday, after which they can start preparing for their competitive exams. (OTFS)

A Man of Dignity and Honour

politician

Somnath Chatterjee receives the Opinions 24x7 Indian of the Year: Politician of the Year for setting an outstanding example of how the Speaker of the Lok Sabha should conduct himself. He comes from the Left, but in his five years as Speaker, he devoted himself to maintaining neutrality and conducting business in the house.

He always looked upon the Lok Sabha as the centre of gravity of Indian democracy. He revered it, worshipped it through work and tirelessly rebuked erring politicians. On more than one occasion, he raised his voice when ill-mannered politicians made a mockery of the house. His serious nature coupled with his humour made him the darling of the media.

But his real test came late last year, when the Left withdrew support to the UPA over the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement. At this point of time, Speaker Chatterjee was pressurized to quit his post. In daring defiance of the party, for which he was eventually expelled, he refused to politicise the Office of the Speaker. He conducted the 2008 Trust Vote with neutrality, allowing both the benches to speak. He even let some of the young and often-ignored representatives speak.

Somnath Chatterjee's strong faith in Indian democracy and his ability to put duty above all else make him the recipient of this award.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will it? Won't it?

It's back! Or maybe it's not...

The world's most spectacular Twenty20 Cricket Tournament, the Indian Premier League Season 2, has stumbled. The problem with IPL2 is two-fold:

  1. The event coincides with the General Elections, and elections in one participating state (Andhra Pradesh), which means security agencies will have to be stretched beyond their limit.
  2. The recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, means that security needs to be enhanced like never before.
The two developments contradict each other: while each state's police force, along with Central paramilitary forces, will have to focus on the elections, IPL demands more security. Already, all the eight participating states have rejected IPL's revised schedule, after the initial one was rejected by the Union Home Ministry. 

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi is trying his best to salvage the tournament, while the broadcaster (SET-WSG) and the franchisees are sitting at the edge of their seats. The tournament cannot be postponed as there is no other window in the ICC's busy schedule. Postponing it would mean cancelling it, and that would amount to a net loss of INR 700 crores, a huge amount even for the financial behemoth we call the BCCI. Furthermore, cancelling the tournament would send out a false signal that India, like Pakistan, is unsafe for cricket, which the Home Ministry definitely doesn't want.

One solution might be to hold the tournament entirely in May, holding three matches a day in different (or maybe even the same) cities. Most states will probably be able to provide adequate security in May, since most of the election-related activities would have ended by then.

The Indian audience stands divided: they understand the importance of conducting free, fair and violence-free elections, but who can give up a cricket extravaganza? We'll have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for a compromise that suits both sides.

Bonus marks to be given

Deccan Chronicle reports that the Board of Intermediate Education has concluded that the erroneous Q. 20 in yesterday's Maths 2(B) paper, in which '-' was wrongly printed '+,' will be awarded as a bonus question to all students who attempt it.

The question carries 7 marks, and a students will be awarded the whole mark if they just write the question number and copy the given data. This has turned into a huge controversy, as 7 marks can change one's EMACET rank, not that one's IPE marks are also counted.

Also, CBSE has admitted to a mistake in yesterday's Mathematics paper. Q. 19 (worth 3 marks) has been declared unsolvable and the matter will be referred to a committed in charge or drawing up the marking scheme.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

CTS: The Next big Scam

TDP President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minsiter-hopeful Chandrababu Naidu's manifesto, released last week, contains an atrocious array of offers that clearly reveal that he has run out of ideas.

The first and most horrendous scheme is called the Cash Transfer Scheme (CTS). The scheme envisages the transfer of Rs. 2,000 to poor families through a bank account in the name of a female member of the family. On the face of it, it seems a novel idea. But in reality, it's the next big scam. 

CTS is not an unemployment allowance. While the latter helps unemployed people tide through difficult times while they search for more jobs. The former encourages people to stop looking for better opportunities. Rs. 2,000 will be nothing: chances are that the money will simply be used to buy cigarettes and alcohols (from the infamous 'belt shops'). There is no way the cash transfer can be supervised, which means it could land up in somebody else's bank account. Rs. 2,000 will not help the poor: better employment, better working conditions (which includes improved irrigation facilities) and better education for their children will. And the TDP leader failed on all these fronts in his nine years as CM. The CTS is a sham and should be rejected.

The second 'deadly' promise is one borrowed from neighbouring Tamil nadu: free TV sets to the poor. Again, this is nothing short of bribing the electorate. The LSP has already complained about it to the EC. I repeat, the poor need employment and education, not colour TVs. If Mr. Naidu is really so particular that the electorate watches more TV, he should ensure that farmers have access to good technology, all children complete college and Andhra Pradesh's infrastructure is strong enough to support industries. If he takes care of these, TVs, cars and mobile phones will come along on their own.

The TDP's manifesto should be rejected by the electorate. It lacks substance and is a formula for doom.

Too much debt?

The April G20 summit should not be about more stimulus and deficit-spending to re-create an economy that will go back to square one eventually. The United States is calling for a 'global stimulus package,' fuelled by Chinese reserves. But this idea will only be a short term fix: Americans will go back to living beyond their means, and the Chinese will go back to enjoying double-digit growth without spending a dime on themselves. Eastern Europe, Japan, Russia, Latin America and a host of other countries will go back to living off exports. And the poor will continue to suffer, as they always do. 

No, what the world needs is not more stimulus but a course-correction, an economy that does not build castles in the air, that does not see the prosperity of stock brokers as the measure of success. In short, the world needs an economy that really works. 

Major Error Detected

WEEK 95 DAY 6


Babul Reddy Jr. College, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Mar. 14: The last of the mathematics exams ended well, with most students saying that the paper was tricky but not
 all that tough. However, there was one serious mistake and a few ambiguities in the paper.

To start off, Q. 20 (Conics) is wrong: x² + y² = a² represents a circle, not a rectangular hyperbola. Students could have corrected the question by replacing 'rectangular hyperbola' with 'circle' or by replacing '+' with '-' (the latter is the right thing to do). But a mistake as serious warrants the question to be deleted and allocation of marks to be changed. 

There are other questions which could have multiple answers. In Q. 16 (Differential Equations), the constant could me modified as 2c or simply left as c, since 2c is also a constant, say c! In Q. 15 (Indefinite Integration), the answer could be left with a +(sine inverse) x or -(cosine inverse) x, since they differ only by a constant. Q. 8 (Definite Integration) was a major problem, the question contradicts itself. According to the question, x varies from 0 to 2, but the question also says that x>1! Whether the limits need to be modified or signs need to be altered or otherwise, is unclear. Lastly, Q. 23 (Indefinite Integration) leaves a lot to the student. Exactly how far should the answer be simplified? Should the sq. rt. (2) be taken to the denominator? These are things the examiners must keep in mind.

All in all, Maths 2(B) broke the chain of simple, error-free question papers. However, like all maths papers, it was by no means time consuming. However, I suspect that the final result will surprise quite a lot of students.

Musical College?
While writing the exam at Babul Reddy Jr. College, we were treated to some music from Life in a... Metro. I think it came from the bar (!) upstairs, but I could be wrong. Also, the electricity had just been restored, prior to which we were made to climb the stairs with illumination from mobile phones and flash lights! What an adventure! (OTFS) 

IITJEE Hall Ticket: Received



The hall tickets for IITJEE-2009 have begun to reach students by Speed Post. As of information currently available with OTFS, all students have been allotted test centres in Hyderabad. The actual centres differ: some were allotted CBIT or Sri Devi, which are somewhat far away, and others were allotted centres in closer-by Bharkatpura. 

IITJEE allows students to carry a variety of stationery in with them: a pencil, eraser, sharpener and a pen (AIEEE allows only a single pen). A number of instructions have been printed on the Hall Ticket. The Exam will be held on April 12, 9:00 AM to Noon (Paper 1) and 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (Paper 2). (OTFS)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peeved? Read this

A letter taken from The Hindu Downtown > March 12, 2009 > Page 4

I am also echoing Mr. Sethuraman's open letter published in Downtown. I am narrating a small incident. It was 7.30 p.m. on March 2 when the red light was on in Kothaguda Junction. An auto came very fast from Hitec City side and without stopping before the stop line, hit a motorbike in the mid of the road near the traffic umbrella and sped away.

Those who were waiting for the green signal were shocked and taken aback. This shows how much respect is given to the signals by people.

What I am telling you is only a "tip of the iceberg."

Traffic violations take place near the Whitefield/Botanical Garden signal at Kondapur. Most of the vehicles coming from Whitefield, Anjaiah Nagar and Gachibowli are coming in the wrong side. Really, it is a nightmare for pedestrians and senior citizens (I am 87 years) and school going children. It is shocking to see cars and two-wheelers coming in the wrong side during night time also and that too without giving horn. And without light also sometimes.

I request the higher authorities to keep few traffic police in plain clothes in this area from morning to night for few days. Then they will know the real picture at the spot itself. Unless stringent action is taken against them by confiscating their licenses, they will not mend. This type of traffic violation is taking place in most of the places in Hyderabad.

(Name withheld)

Clearly, a letter written with the right intent but not exactly conforming to the rules of grammar. 

A New Genre

The co-winners of the Opinions 24x7 Indian of the Year: New Channel of the Year award, NDTV Lumiere and UTV World Movies, will go down as revolutionaries. New channels have come and gone. Some have rekindled love for mythology, like NDTV Imagine, while others have dealt with social issues, such as Colors. But the co-winners have changed the way Indian audiences think about movies.

Traditionally, we Indians think of two genres of movies: Bollywood ('Hindi movies') and Hollywood ('English movies'). But there are thousands of other movies in hundreds of other language, which were previously neglected. World Movies started broadcasting them, and NDTV Lumiere followed soon. NDTV Lumiere went a step further and screened some movies in theatres and also released their DVDs in India. 

Initially, the idea of having to read a movie in subtitles drove away the audience. However, the quality and diversity of the movies made subtitles seem a small price to pay. From Japan to Germany, Russia to Israel, hundreds of movies have been screened on these channels, most of them never seen in India before. 

For creating a new genre and carving out a niche for themselves, NDTV Lumiere and World Movies jointly receive this award. 

Simple Paper with some Surprises

WEEK 95 DAY 4


Babul Reddy Jr. College, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Mar. 12: The first of the 'core subjects,'
 Maths 2(A) went of to a perfect start with all students reporting that they did well. 

The paper was free of errors, although some questions were unexpected. For example, the proof of the Binomial Theorem (Q. 21) took many by surprise, as did the slight 'twist' in the question from Bayes' Theorem (Q. 23(ii)). Note that Bayes' was incorrectly spelled 'Baye's' in the question paper. 

In keeping with the idea that the IPE paper would be of a slightly higher standard than the standard textbook, some questions were modified to make the answer less obvious. For example, Q. 22 (Binomial Theorem, application) is an extension of the same question in the textbook. 

One question, whose inclusion did not come as a surprise but certainly caused some trouble, was Q. 20 (Gauss-JORDAN Method; I have no idea why 'Jordan' is written as 'JORDAN'!). Although the question is not difficult as such, the method can be confusing without enough practice. However, the inclusion of this question affirmed a trend in the paper over the years. 

Only two discrepancies could be found vis-a-vis the textbook. Q. 11 (Quadratic Equations) is one in which the textbook's answer is incorrect. It mentions the range as R ~ (-2,2). But, {2} does not belong to the range (we end up with 4=5 if we try finding such a value of x). So, the answer should be R ~ (-2,2]. And in Q. 24 (Probability Distribution), the textbook provides a mix of formats for the answers: some in decimals, some as rational numbers. The best thing to do would be to express all of the answers in decimals. 

Apart from this, the paper was unexceptional. Most people are expected to do well, given the 4 days given to study for this exam. The next exam is Maths 2(B) on Saturday. In that one too, a fair degree of copying is expected. In spite of the fact that these marks count for EAMCET, most students seem willing to help their friends copy. 

PS: This could be a record of sorts, at least as far as I've witnessed: a student of Civics took 6 additionals! (OTFS)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rare Competition for Hyd LS Seat

The prestigious Hyderabad Lok Sabha Constituency, with it's unique demographic mixture, hasn't really been known for competition. For decades, one party, the MIM, has won the seat. Such is the party's stronghold that other parties are quite scared of fielding a serious candidate from there.

Currently, the seat is held by Asaduddin Owaisi. He has done quite a lot for his constituency, or so he says. A new sewage system, new schools, better roads: he claims to have used his MPLADS funds well. However, many people in the old city claim that they cannot see any of these projects in action. They feel that it's an eyewash.

But the MIM is still virtually assured of victory. The reason is simple, before and after delimitation, this constituency consists of more Muslims than any other group. In fact, as of 2009, they make up 70% of the population. The MIM frequently, if not always, uses religion as its poll plank. While this has prove fruitful for it in some other areas, many residents have become frustrated. While he seems to care for the religion, he seems unconcerned about the poeple. Indeed, the Old City has become virtually become a lawless area, and education levels are sinking.

In comes Mr. Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Urdu daily Siasat and staunch critic of the MIM. He has decided to enter the 2009 General Elections as an Independent, thus becoming the first member from the Muslim community who can truly take on the MIM. Mr. Khan, well-respected for his ideas on secularism and his commitment to democracy and education, has made his goals very clear. He does not want to attach himself to any party, so he will be contesting as an Independent candidate. He wants to create more schools to uplift Muslims, particularly in the Old City. he feels that the MIM only created a few Institutes of Higher Education, which were useless without proper primary/secondary education.

For the first time in over three decades, there will be strong competition in Hyderabad. The Congress will, implicitly or explicitly, support the MIM. But the TDP, TRS, Left and PR have decided not to field any candidate against Mr. Khan. This will definitely be an exciting contest. 

BJD is now 'secular'!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Roadies 6: The Revenge of the Voted outs

Episode 9: Adelaide

This week marked a historical episode for MTV Hero Honda Roadies, as the crew shot for the first time ever in Australia. The Roadies loves the city... until they met their first task. In true Roadies fashion, three Roadies, who were previously voted out, returned! Palak, Nauman and Sufi came back, ready to challenge one Roadie each (of the corresponding sex) to a match. The prize: a spot on Roadies.

The competitors were decided by a draw of chits: Sufi vs. Kiri, Nauman vs. Pradeep and Palak vs. Bobby. The first task was Sufi vs. Kiri in a race to climb up a large, steel frame. The task took physical agility and mental alertness. Sufi, who performed only one task before being voted out, defeated Kiri.

The second task was Nauman vs. Pradeep in a game of zorbing. Pradeep went first, and that proved to be his undoing. He made several critical mistakes, all of which Nauman picked up and worked over. At the end, Nauman defeated Pradeep by a wide margin.

The last contest was the zenith of the episode: Palak vs. Bobby, in a mechanical bull-riding contest. Each girl would get three chances, and the one who stays longest on the bull wins. Bobby faced a lot of problems because of her clothing. She tried trading clothes with Paulomi, but at the end, Natasha offered her jeans. But that didn't really help much, because Palak was a raging bull herself. Here again, she beat Bobby by a wide margin. Following this defeat, it was back to suqare one, with Palak and Bobby boxing each other to insanity. Rannvijay had to physically intervene. The girls had gone mad!

Before the episode ended, a voteout was held before the Adelaide Parliament, historic in itself. Nauman, Sufi and Palak were immune. So without much planning, the Roadies cast their votes. And Sandeep was voted out. That's what surprised everyone: Pradeep, Bobby and Sandeep gone in one episode!

On fb, most people were happy to see the Roadies, except Kiri, leave. But everybody is waiting for the next episode: the preview indicates that Palak is about to achieve her bi***iest moment yet!

Communism 101

North Korea is a small country with big, nay, very big, ambitions. That's why, in spite of being unable to afford food and fuel for its people without South Korean goodwill subsidies, has a full range of ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapon to boot. Now, the country's supreme ruler, Kim Jong Il-II, claims to be ready to launch the country's first satellite.

Neighbouring countries and the US believe that this is just a guise for a long-range nuclear-capable missile test. And there is a lot of reason to believe them: North Korea has a number of economic sanctions on it. Indeed, it wouldn't even be a viable country if the South didn't help it so much. With such sanctions in place, it would be impossible for it to obtain the technology needed to build and launch a satellite. And unlike nuclear fuel, there was never any known underground space black market. 

Call it communism in the truest sense: a country, which is run by a single, presumably hereditary ruler, where the State controls everything (and I mean everything) and can dump scarce money into weapons instead of feeding its own people. Now, the North has threatened to declare war with South Korea, Japan and the US if its 'satellite' is intercepted! This is typical North Korea: they behave as though they are the most developed country in history and act like it. What North Koreans themselves think I do not know: such is the state of the North Korean media. 

North Korea makes a good case study for those in India who demand a military dictatorship top 'solve our problems.' 

Also read this post I wrote before.

Hyd Weather Improves

Last week, the MET Department declared that Hyderabad was experiencing a heatwave. That announcement came after the conditions for a heatwave were satisfied viz., temperatures 3-5C above normal for five consecutive days. But for most Hyderabadis, the reality of a heatwave was already sinking in.

For over a week, the daytime high kept rising and stagnated around 38-39C, while the long-term average is around 34C! The min. temperature also rose steadily to 20C. That made things unbearably hot in the Capital city, a fact that was confirmed by the news that APGENCO, which provides electricity to the city, was touching new highs in demand and enforcing unscheduled power cuts, even in the 'core zone' of Ameerpet-Panjagutta. 

Thankfully, the scientists at the MET rightly determined that conditions would improve by Sunday. Sunday's daytime high fell to 35C, with a cool breeze blowing through the city. Conditions were much the same on Monday, and seem to be improving.

What really scared the citizens of Hyderabad was the thought that summer would last much longer than usual this year. With global warming speeding up, this idea took hold. However, despite conditions improving for now, the overall prediction is that this summer will be the hottest ever. And politicians are frightened of such a prospect, since elections are scheduled right in the middle of summer!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

IOTY08: And the Winners Are...

Indian of the Year: Hemant Karkare

For his selfless commitment to the nation, dying a martyr and for his dedication towards justice in the face of all odds.

Commemorative Award: Sulabh International

For their tireless march towards equality for the poorest of the poor and dedication to human rights and respectable work.

Political Awards

Troublemaker of the Year: Vaiko

For supporting a banned terrorist organisation, the LTTE, and threatening to go to war against the Indian Union.

Politician of the Year: Somnath Chatterjee

For upholding the dignity of the office of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and putting the country ahead of his party.

Commemorative Award: Pranab Mukherjee

For outstanding service to the nation as India's top diplomat.

Memorable Visit: Nepali PM visits India

For cementing a timeless relationship between the world's largest democracy and South Asia's newly-democratised country.

Community Awards

State of the Year: Sikkim

For using constitutional means to fight against unlawful trade barriers and being the most peaceful state in India.

City of the Year: Mumbai

For taking the war on terror head-on, and giving a sense of hope to the rest of the world.

Media Awards

Best Talk Show: The Devil's Advocate, CNN-IBN (Interview with Hamid Karzai)
For asking difficult question to understand the complexities of Afghan society and India's role in it.

General Entertainment Channel: Star One

For starting youth-centric shows that have become a rage around the world.

Best News Channel: Times Now

or unmatched coverage of 26/11 and the investigations that followed, and allowing opinions to freely flow in 'The Newshour Debate.'

Best Movie: Rock On!!

For capturing the spirit of change that has swept India over the last decade and for changing the way music is understood by audiences.

Best Actor: Priyanka Chopra, for Fashion

For leaving audiences spellbound with an intense portrayal of ambition, defeat and resurrection.

Documentary of the Year: Makom Shali: Where is Home? (NDTV 24x7)

For giving us a look into the lives of India's Jews in Mumbai and their hopes and desires for their children.

Best Ad: Jaago Re

For its simple, blunt message, asking people to vote.

Best New Channel: NDTV Lumiere & World Movies

For introducing Indian audiences to International cinema and ending the 'English movie-Hindi movie' cliche.

Sports Awards

Sportsperson of the Year: Abhinav Bindra

For making the country proud for winning India her first individual Olympic Gold Medal

Memorable Event: Indians bringing home three medals from the Beijing Olympics

Business Awards

Businessman of the Year: Nandan Nilekani

Or his book 'Imagining India,' which captures the power of entrepreneurial spirit in shaping a modern superpower.

Company of the Year: State Bank of India

For overtaking Citi's marketcap, embracing technology, exemplifying good financial management and leading Indian banks into the future.

OTFS Awards

Label of the Year: Documentary

For exploring the mysteries of mythology, understanding South America's oldest insurgency and standing up for the rights of whales.

Documentary of the Year: Murder in Antarctica

The most-read post of 2008, it denounced Japanese whaling that is wiping out an entire species.

Video of the Year: Dowry

For denouncing the evil practice of Dowry and putting to shame those husbands who torture their wives for wealth.

Commemorative Award: Picture titled 'Nuclear Fission of UNPA'

For its popular political humour.