Give, and let live!

giveIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I thought it important to share information on some very interesting NGOs/charities I’ve come across [recently]. I understand the India has a huge number of NGOs (read a debate about the legitimacy of some of these NGOs a while back!), and it’s rather difficult to find good NGOs/charities on a regular basis. I do get badgered by enthusiastic management trainees from the popular NGOs once in a while, and I often turn them away since I like to donate to more obscure and upcoming charities rather than established ones (I also suspect they have more ‘overheads’, like paying the salaries for the MTs!).

I must emphasise that is very important for each one of us to give; we all have [one or more of] a roof over our head, good clothes to wear, and the luxury of a bike/car and smartphones, tablets and laptops. Let’s try to help others educate themselves, lead a healthy life and sustain themselves in changing and challenging circumstances. I think there’s an adage that 1/6th of one’s salary must be spent in ‘good deeds'; assuming that the taxes we pay are part of this, I am sure we can still part with a few thousands every year to help the needy. I also think that many of us are happy to donate, but aren’t aware of the best charities. All of us can’t become Bill and Melinda Gates (दाता लक्षेषु जायते), but I think a little help here and there can go make a big difference to at least a few people!

I think we all have causes we’d really like to support (mine are usually health, education, food, culture), so it’s good to share the word and let people know. I even toyed with the idea of a social portal for sharing, rating and ranking NGOs, but here goes my first effort. Here’s a list of NGOs which I have donated to in the past and I firmly believe to be sincere and doing good work, in their chosen sphere (I hope to have a dedicated post about each of them, and hope to update the links below):

  1. Deepam Trust (email; no webpage as far as I know for this Deepam trust)
  2. National Trust Niramaya: A Health Insurance Scheme for the welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (web)
  3. Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups (web)
  4. Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home (web)
  5. Madras Sanskrit College/V. Krishnaswami Iyer Sanskrit Educational Trust (web)
  6. Sevalaya (web)
  7. Samskrita Bharati (web)
  8. Teach for India (web)
  9. Wikipedia!
  10. Blood! Check out http://bloodlinelabs.com/

There are any number of sayings about the importance of giving, and here’s a large collection of Sanskrit sayings!

Anne Frank  “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Jagadanandakaraka!

Vishakha Hari mentioned in one of her discourses on पञ्चरत्न वैभवम् that this great kriti actually contains a 100 names of Lord Rama. One can only marvel at Tyagaraja’s genius and the grace bestowed upon him by Lord Rama!

Here is a link to the namavalis: http://stotrasamhita.net/wiki/Jagadanandakaraka_Shatanamavali

I must acknowledge http://sahityam.net/wiki/Jagadanandakaraka and all the contributors there for help in discerning the different names in the Kriti, through the translations and word-splittings.

See also: http://karthikr.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/jaya-janakiprananayaka/

IPL, Money Mania

We’ve all been fretting and fuming about the IPL. I’ve been wanting to write some nasty posts about Lalit Modi, the strategy break and so on… but haven’t found the time. Thankfully, cricinfo’s new Page 2 has some irate cricket fans, who also have time to write such stuff:

Let’s take a moment (or 75) – A nice spoof of the strategy break (as though all the other money was never enough)

Excerpt:

1. The Dog-Running-Onto-The-Ground Break
After some six overs of the first game, the first dog – second only to rain as cricket’s constant companion – arrived. The advertisements during the ensuing break apparently took care of the salaries of half the Chennai team.

2. The Injury-Break Break
One player is nominated during each match to fake an injury. The cameras then move away from the action, and television viewers are treated to a whole cycle of advertisements. The time is not important, timing is.

Money, money, money – Songs on Lalit Modi’s Ipod

Excerpt:

1. “For the Love of Money”, The O-Jays
Donald Trump took the 1974 No. 9 hit from soul/R&B group the O-Jays and made it into an anthem of sorts on his smash reality show The Apprentice. You can almost picture Modi hitting “repeat” for this catchy tune. Especially when he gets out of one of those fancy imported cars, entourage in tow.

2. “Money”, Pink Floyd
The definitive money song, complete with cash register and coin sound effects. A must on Modi’s list of beats to play in the office, while travelling, on the treadmill, before business meetings, and during power naps. Cha-ching.

Commentary Humour [sic]:

“You talk of Citi Moments of Success, but when you get five wickets in four overs like that, that’s very special indeed.”
Robin Jackman describes how unique Anil Kumble’s feat on day one is, failing to account for the inconvenient fact that normal human beings do not, in fact, actually talk of Citi Moments of Success

Rules from hell:

Any team owner or official who even casually mentions any sum of money less than US$100,000 will have to pay a fine of one million dollars. As further punishment, the sum mentioned will be enforced as a salary cap for that team for the next IPL season.

Any words that contain the three letters IPL in sequence, such as “triplet”, “gripless” and “whiplash”, cannot be used in any form, printed or in verbal communication, without paying royalties to the IPL.


Mocking at the IPL Hype:

Lalit Modi, at the opening ceremony: “As I stand here before this excited, committed and [following phrase delivered in a shriek] sold out crowd in one of cricket’s most spectacular arenas for our opening day of Season 2009 of the DLF Indian Premier League , I feel joy, humility, pride and gratitude.” Joy, no doubt yes, but humility? Surely you jest, Mr Commissioner?

GQ magazine, India: Columnist Prashant Agarwal has seen the future and is suitably impressed. “Mark my words: in 2020, the most expensive commercial spot in the world will be a 30-second ad screened during IPL footage.”
[For heaven’s sake, I hope this doesn’t come true]

WHY I HATE THE IPL:

1. IPL = ICL + Money (+ Money + Money ..) + BCCI roping in Indian cricketers

2. Lalit Modi

3. Who the hell is BCCI to declare ICL illegal?

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from watching IPL :( (only on cricinfo, of course!)

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, but I just had to write about this new-found obsession of mine, with Jagadanandakaraka. I keep humming it all the time these days, despite my scanty knowledge of Carnatic music. I have always been a fan of Nata ragam, but Jagadanandakaraka is not just about music. It is about Sri Rama, Sri Tyagaraja and much more than even Srimati Vishakha Hariji had so beautifully put forth, in her discourse on the Pancharatna Kritis.

(You can find the notation for Jagadanandakaraka here.)

Over the last couple of days, I have been so fascinated by the commentary I heard, that I found it too difficult to resist blogging on it.

Some quick highlights from the discourse:

  1. Sadkavihridalaya: Story of Tulasidas, and how Lord Kasi Viswanatha instructed him to write in pradesha Hindi bhasha, rather thank Samskritam.
  2. Pada-vijita-mauni-sapa: Whole of Balakandam in one charanam
  3. Purahara-Sarojabhava-Keshavadirupa : Vishakha narrated a lovely story about a goldsmith from Pandarpur, who was a great Shiva bhakta, but would not even utter the name of Panduranga and how Panduranga so beautifully opened his eyes!
  4. One can recite the whole of Jagadanandakaraka as ashtottara namavaLi! (I am trying to get the right count; I am certain there are close to a 100 namas!)

Obviously, Maharshi Valmiki was not satiated just by writing Srimad Ramayanam, he had to ‘sing’ it again in various verses as Tyagaraja, for the benefit of one and all!

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

TATA Star Bazaar — good, but obnoxious

Been putting off writing this post for four months now. Better late than never, huh?

16-March-2008

Being a Sunday morning, we had planned to go out to Forum. Too early to eat at Gramin (wanted to post about this lovely restaurant too), we walked around a bit. Croma, the electronics store near forum had already caught my eye, and so did Star Bazaar. Though I am a big fan of TATA’s vis-à-vis Reliance (there’s a smart Reliance Mart that has come up on Bannerghatta Road (abt 2km past IIMB), that I liked a little better), what put me off (or drove me out) of this Bazaar was the obnoxious smell of meat cooking in the open. I have already seen my dose of non-vegetarianism in Bangalore and seen how it’s catching up across various quarters of India, but this was too much to put up with. It was even worse than walking across the Marry Brown corridor in Ispahani Centre (Nungambakkam, Chennai). Grrrr, why don’t people remember that there are still some (many?) vegetarians left behind in this nation? One thing the smell did was to drive me out, at least from the ground floor, which had a lot of provisions and groceries, to the first, which stocked more of clothing, as well as applicances and stuff. The clothing variety was good, but I would put Reliance Mart ahead, where you get decent looking polo T-shirts for 200 rupees! To give the devil it’s due, I did really like the way stuff was laid out in the first floor — and if I recall right, there was even a Landmark. But the moment I got back to the ground floor, the smell easily chased me out! All in all, I would not recommend STAR Bazaar, more as a retaliation, in principle, to their lack of respect for vegetarians!

That brings me to the whole issue of vegetarianism, an issue that requires much more discussion than I now have time for. I write this being provoked by the stupidest of Tamil magazines, which appears to be running a debate on whether vegetables are vegetarian [sic]?! The Indian concept of vegetarianism is quite different, from the Western viewpoint; it’s not just about animals and animal products. Food is only classified as saattvic, raajasic or taamasic — thus, while milk is classifed as a saattvic food, meat is classified as taamasic, as are onions, garlics or mushrooms (not that I even intend to equate anything with the himsa involved in producing meat). To add a point here, one must look back [and deep] into the rich tradition of our ancestors of atonement for killing (of microbes and tiny living beings, presumably) at the five places such as the cooking vessel, grinder/mixer, mincer etc (ammi, aattukkal, jalapatram etc) by the performance of the pancha mahayagnyas, and the vaishvadeva, to account for the ‘living’ vegetables etc. I am just giving a sketchy picture from the little I know here — do ask your [grand]parents for more fundaes :). Ok, have digressed enough. May vegetarianism be revived!

Another silly quip is the fact that they seal the plastic covers, as you leave the store! That’s disgusting, because it defeats the purpose of re-using plastic bags (postponing recycling or junking them outright), if you have to tear the sealed bag open when you get back home. Reliance was far better, using plastic wires to knot the bags.

Disclaimer: I am a bit intolerant towards molecules noxious to my olfactory system, but I believe this was too much. Nevertheless, pay a visit to STAR Bazaar — I hope they have improved, for their own good — and take your pick!

BrahMos

Hehe, just close on the heels of yesterday’s post ridiculing Pratibha, here we have Dr Kalam handing over the BrahMos to the army. Read the Hindu article here. Let’s hope for a miracle to have Kalam at the helm for another term!

 

For once, I agree with Jayalalithaa, who happens to be heading to Delhi today to see what strings she can pull!

 

And as Alexandre Dumas once put it, “Wait and Hope”.

 

 

New Delhi, June 21 (PTI)

 

President A P J Abdul Kalam today suggested that the country should move ahead with developing a “hypersonic” version of the supersonic cruise missile Brahmos to maintain supremacy in force levels. “Time has come for BrahMos Aerospace to work on Mark-II version of Brahmos,” Kalam, himself a missile scientist, said adding it would enable India to be a market leader in hypersonic cruise missiles.


Turning Brahmos into a hypersonic missile entails incorporating scramjet technology, on which Indian defence scientists are already working to give it capability to attain Mach 8 speeds and to enhance its range considerably Inducting the surface-to-surface version of missile into the army, Kalam, who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, suggested to scientists to develop re-usable class of cruise missiles.

“I visualise long range hypersonic cruise missiles not only delivering pay loads, but also returning to base after the mission,” Kalam said while handing over a replica of the missile to the Army Chief General J J Singh.

India, he said, should within next decade develop re-usable missiles emphasising that the three services should work as a team to evolve the Qualitative requirements for such a system in a time bound manner.

Supporting the idea of export of Brahmos missiles, the President called for aggressive marketing of this world class product saying it was must as the missile only had a short shelf life of five years. He warned that otherwise there would be competitors who would be developing contemporary products.

 

— PTI

 

The Presidential Joke

As the hunt to fill in Kalam’s shoes is on, I just thought I might write some of my views on one of the sadder jokes in Indian politics. Last time we had a certain Lakshmi Sahgal contesting alongside Kalam. If her credentials were dubious (versus Kalam), now we have yet another joke (post-quotas :D) that’s being played by the ill-humoured UPA (I’m apolitical mostly, I’d criticse NDA and UNPA any day too), who is backing a certain Pratibha Patil (who did not even have a wikipedia article in her name until it was put forth by UPA).

Considering especially that it’s Kalam’s shoes that need to be filled, it’s hilarious to see such names doing the rounds. I write this post hurriedly, for if I wait a fortnight, I might be guilty of throwing eggs at the National President (which is orthogonal to our culture: to see what I mean, you could google for miserable failure :D). Kalam is indeed the favourite of the masses, but unfortunately, the so-called representatives of the masses have different ideas!

Kalam had enough of confrontations with Sonia, and to hope for Sonia to be an all-forgiving saint wiping out the Prime-Minister fiasco (remember Tyaag Divas?) and the office of profit bill from her memory would tantamount to hoping that Australia would stop sledging from their next test (forgive me, cricket has to figure in every post i write).

For five years, we’ve been proud to have a renowned scientist and more than that, a great human being as our President. But, don’t they say “Pride goes before a fall?

To sum it, I think Cho has a nice cartoon in today’s Tughlaq (his tamizh magazine):

tughlaq-cover.jpg

For the benefit of those who can’t read tamil, it goes thus:
Rabri: In what way am I inferior to that lady? Why did you not propose my name for president?
Laloo: That lady has only been a minister, whereas you have been a chief minister! Won’t [Sonia] be scared that you would know a few things?! That’s why I hesitated.

Jai Hind!

India Rising…

My Sunday’s been wonderfully brightened by two posts on rediff:

I think all of us have been witness to the mobile phone revolution and the telecom revolution in general in this country. Village or city, the connectivity has improved drastically. The new expressways, improved roads as part of the golden quadrilateral project etc, have helped to facelift the roadways. With the advent of the low cost domestic airlines, air traffic has increased sufficiently and been extended even to the common man many times. And the railways silently keeps carrying efficiently, crores of people. It is really heartening to see the intelligent design of the new railway coaches, the e-ticket concept and all other railway improvements…

Just for a moment though, let’s not believe that the situation is all too rosy and get our feet back to the ground: Mumbai still struggles to live with its monsoon rains, Chennai still has sporadic water problems and Bangalore, as the PM Manmohan Singh just almost said has become the proverbial hare: just struggling to live up after a bright start, with pathetic infrastructure, esp. roads and traffic. Delhi remains the unsafest place in the country, esp. for women. If this is the scenario with the metros, where are we headed? It’s more or less the case of the proverbial drunkard who steps 4 paces ahead and falls back 3. At least, there is progress! However, the situation is not bleak and only a bright future for India seems to beckon! Companies like Reliance, TATA’s, Infy are all making big strides and the economy has been in a bull run (though with hiccups) for long. Let’s hope things only improve! JAI HIND!

  1. US, $12.46 tn
  2. Japan, $4.51 tn
  3. Germany, $2.78 tn
  4. China, $2.23
  5. Britain, $2.19 tn
  6. France, $2.11 tn
  7. Italy, $1.72 tn
  8. Spain, $1.124 tn
  9. Canada, $1.115 tn
  10. Brazil, $794.10 bn
  11. South Korea, $787.62 bn
  12. INDIA, $785.47 bn

    Though I am not a great fan of these numbers, I guess wealth/GDP is one of the important indicators to at least the quality of life. Of course, contentment should rank higher, and I do think such a study (of satisfaction) was done sometime back, though I fail to recall the results. The important goals for India should be the creation of a caste-free, reservation-free society, with sufficient social security and justice, with an emphasis of primary education and food for all.

    Let’s hope we can indeed become a developed nation by 2020 (or even earlier :D)

    Why Are Nails On A Blackboard Irritating?

    “Fingernails on a blackboard. Why does the very phrase send chills down one’s back? The question has annoyed scientists for at least 2,300 years. Aristotle mentioned “hard sounds”, but didn’t try very hard to explain them.”

    Amusing that this is such a common phenomenon…. eeeeks… Check out the whole digg story.. quite interesting :D!

    read more | digg story