Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mullai Periyar - my thoughts

In a blog post earlier in 2008, I had lamented about Hogenakkal water issue that came to trouble the farmers of Tamil Nadu. Like most of the water issues that has befallen on TN, it also, unfortunately, had to deal with excesses from the neighboring sister states.

In that post, I had explained in simpler terms 3 things:

1) Geography of TN is such that it is the lowest state in the Indian subcontinent and it depends on water from top to flow down to its borders.

2) How, sister states have started building more dams and reservoirs within their borders to hold more water and use TN as a conduit ONLY when they have all they need and more. Their demands have increased due to increased urban population, which needs water to drink. No denial in that but what will the poor farmer in the downstream do if he doesn't get the water?

3) How, TN also has faulted in not taking care of the small ponds and ground water resources within its soil.

I titled that post as "Now it is Hogenakkal - what next and what more?expressing my exhaustion at all these water issues the state of TN has to go through every time, time and again. But, never have I ever expected that another issue would come to trouble this water starved land even more.

The facts about TN, which is not very well know to people outside of this state are given below.

1) The most Urban state in the India (more than 50% of this state lives in Urban-semiUrban areas). They live in all these areas for the lack of water to do vegetation in rural areas.

2) The state with less than the national average of mandatory Tree cover. Please see the link for the same.

3) If rains fail, even for one season, the whole of TN faces drinking water shortage. That is the hard fact. If rains fail one season, there will be water shortage in all cities and towns across TN. Last few years 7-8 years had been beneficial for TN, in terms of rain fall - it has had expected rain fall, not excess, just expected. And, we are happy for that. But it has never been that way before that - famine and drought have occurred in regular interval for every 2 years all through last 2-3 decades.

4) It is well captured by the this movie (1981) - just the introduction of this move captures the essence of the situation. Just see first 3 -4 minutes, you will know the enormity of the issue back then that director Balachander took a movie on this.

Coming to Mullai Periyar, it is a river that originates within TN-kerala border, and flowing westwards and flowing in to the ocean. In order to prevent the Famine and drought, dating even back to 18 the century (and also continuing as shown in the above scene), The Mullai periyar dam is envisioned and constructed to hold the water and push it back to TN via Gravity mechanism as the dam is perched at a height to do that. That is how it works and British designed it that way.

I don't want to elaborate on the how the Dam is built or how the deals were made back in those days. As enough has already been said about it.

But, I do want to talk about the safety issue. Lime may not be the strongest building substance known to mankind, but it has withstood the time for 100 years before Kerala govt brought any concerns. Agreed. Concerns have to be addressed. And, it was addressed with strengthening of that dam in three stages and completed by TN. And, in 2006, Supreme court, highest court in Indian constitution gave a verdict asking TN to raise the water level to 142. The dam is safe. And, restricted Kerala govt and police to prevent any obstacle for TN for further maintenance of dam. 

Immediately after this - Kerala made amendments to its existing Rule/law of 2003 saying no govt- state or Central or no court can control this law. And, by their law, they determine the height of dam as 136 ft. And, kerala has full control over that Dam. That is outrageous to an honorable contract that is in place, reviewed again in 1971.

I understand that there have been tremors (count of which has to be verified) in this year and people are really worried about the dam safety. Again, a valid concern. It has to be addressed appropriately. Appropriate is checking if dam is strong again by today's standards and by neutral folks. Technical and otherwise. Then, let us see the next course of action. 

Questions to Kerala:

1) Why did you refuse to agree to highest court in India in 2006 and agree to that order? 

2) Coming to present day, Tremors happened, but let us wait for a proper study. Before that, why to arouse the fear of people more even before the strength of dam is tested again?

I have Keralite friends all over my life. I like the Kerala girls too for their long hair and munda kannu (big big eyes :D ). And, Keralites and Tamilian are one of the closely associated people of India, with barely no or very less difference between them. So, I value their life, in the down stream. Their fear after the recent tremores is valid and living with fear is worst than living at all. I can empathize with the situation. But, to add more fear stating dam will collapse, is not the right step forward for a govt. It can be the agenda of rumor mongers but not of responsible elected people of a state. They should be pacified and we should wait for a neutral, valid, technical study and have to see what to do next.

Also, no structure in the world, is designed to withstand mother nature fury. We can only hope it is and prepare for the worst and leave it at that. And, in case of Mullai Periyar dam, that preparation was also done by strengthening and we have to leave it at that. God forbid any worst eventuality, the downstream river bunds are high enough to hold the water flowing at full level (per what I read about the river bunds down stream) and Idukki dam can withhold the overflown water. The loss of lives as feared by people may not happen at all.

The intentions of Kerala govt, as expressed by it as safety may not be the real issue here. If one looks back at this issue from last 30 years, one can see a pattern. They revoked rights established by that contract one by one including right of TN on the entire stream and the fishing right, right of TN to determine the water height in the dam and various other rights that were part of the original deal. Now, the only thing that is left standing is the Dam and they want to remove that also. Why? So that TN's right on anything will not be left there. 

Why don't they say that Dam is weak, we will build a new dam and give you back the same contract and deal as before? Your only concern was safety, right? Why don't you say that way? Coz, it is not entirely about safety. Underneath the safety bandwagon, lies the human ego and the need to establish rights over something on the kerala border. This is infact not even human trait, this is animal trait - territorial rights and demarcation. Humans are all animals and I didn't quote animal traits to demean Kerala govt nor the people of Kerala. Coz, all humans including TN folks, Andhara and America and everybody have this territorial behavior. If not, how can we define the wars we have fought over ever since we came in to being in to this land. I quoted that human character to just establish that it may not be safety at issue here but something more which is control and rights of property in Kerala land. And, even that character comes to Humans from Animals as we are all one. :)

If we get this reason behind all these clear, even a TN folk will not feel so much hatred or animosity towards Keralite due to this issue. And, vice versa. One fighting for territory, another fighting for resource. We have to accept this is human, to avoid falling victims to hating and hitting each other.

Now, how do I see this issue pan out?

1) Supreme court will again come out with a valid technical detail and the Dam wil be saved.

2) Else, if they find issue, technical or anything, considerable steps need to be determined to establish the safety of Dam again.

3) If it is found to be so grave as portrayed by Kerala - let Supreme court say so. Lets see the next steps after that. TN, would still like to follow Supreme court order; Unlike Karnataka which is not following the order on Cauvery. Kerala which didn't follow on Mullai Periyar.

If some mishap of Kerala govt or otherwise would happen to the DAM or some miscommunication lead to a bad decisions or policies of Central or Kerala govt that would result in TN being snatched of its right to water - I foresee the following.

- TN will block any goods to Kerala from within its border
- TN will stake a claim for bringing the Idukki district to be with in TN. Change the border so that TN shall claim full responsibility for the down stream people. Request and voices in this direction are already being heard in TN. If UP can redraw its state to 4 different states, why can't we revisit the border issue with Central govt so that Kerala govt can feel the pressure of them on the safety issue.

At a humanitarian level, a land, that is once the rice bed of India, the land that gave three yields of rice (unlike any other land in the world) would be left to dry by people who claim to be sister states but refuse to give water for TN. Tamilnadu is already one of the dry beds of India.

Govt of India, better watch out - this will be a wake up call for integrity of the nation itself. If two states (Karnataka and Kerala) can disobey the supreme court order and another (AP) building dams across Palar river to let less and less water to TN, where is the Unity in diversity or Integrity of the nation?

Where are your policies? Isn't water a universal requirement of all people? Shouldn't that be under control of central govt? Instead of state govt which has obligation with only that state?

These issues need to be discussed; water rich states will never understand the seriousness of this issue being faced in down south.

Let me end this by saying this much. I'm not a farmer. Neither my dad is. Or, my grandparents. I have never lived outside of Chennai while in TN. But, if I can feel the gross cumulative atrocities and injustice handed out to state of TN in water issues this much, imagine the rage of a farmer who is ploughing the field for his life? Imagine the bleak future that is dawning on them? Imagine the rage and plight of his son.

Below is the video of Vaiko - I'm posting his video coz I find his speech to be based on facts and listed without any bias. He is even requesting Kerala people to see the new dam approach will not lead to the water through Gravity mechanisms. A very neutral speech with facts from TNPWD engineers on stage. (please see all three parts of the video)

What we ask is Water (and the honoring of existing contract; contract leads to obligation and we will only oblige when we have a contract as this is a multi centuries trust) and what will be ensured is safety and precautionary steps of dam and emergency mitigation steps. 

Fear psychosis will lead to more fear. More "if else" question will come and it is a never ending cycle. What it needs is better awareness and a assured plan for any contingency. Slowly, life will move on without fear.

But life cannot, without water - the elixir of life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Steve Jobs

I mentioned about Steve Jobs in one of my earlier post last year. Even then, I decided to save off writing about him for later time. I wasn't really sure on how to capture all about him in a post. I have been fighting the same question in the last couple of days as well. Alas, I have decided to just list down all I think of him and leave it at that.

But, never did I think in my horrible thoughts that I will be writing about him after his passing away.iSad. Really, really really sad.

I didn't know much about Steve jobs before my college. Well, I didn't have a personal computer before college and so no clue of him. But, what I did come to know of Apple were the colorful machines and apple computer with their apple logo in colors. Thats all I ever knew then.

But later on my curiosity grew on apple, to know more that Macintosh is different from PC, it doesn't run on windows but on something much much better. But, thats all about Macintosh and me till I owned one myself. But, I become aware of iPod much more earlier and in detail than Mac, thanks to Music and what iPod meant for music. It was this mystical costly player that I could never own, alas I choose to spend a lot of money on it. Thankfully, I got the first generation iPod shuffle as a gift from my uncle and boy didn't I love it. stuffing in my pocket and flashing the white earpieces and the chord. Wow, I will stand out in a crowded bus where all used to have black ear pieces and chord. Though it didn't have any visual, I still loved the portability and the way in which I can throw it, and still nothing can happen to it. I throw my stuff - thats me. 

Then came the iPod Touch; a lucky break in a portal competition in bangalore. I was not the original winner, I was a close second. But they chose to give to me a prize coz they liked the way I designed that portal and also had a story to tell for that portal. Others only did the compliance check to showcase the portal. I actually chose to ignore few of the compliance thing coz it was too cumbersome to find and win that point to win the competition. Instead I designed what I liked and explained it in a way I liked. Well, they liked too :). Thats how iPod touch came to me. The first time I could pinch to zoom a picture - aaahhh. What a happy feeling to do what I saw Steve Jobs do in the iPhone presentation a year back. It was indeed magical to pinch a zoom a picture. Now, it has become a standard but boy isn't it a wonderful thing to have in a touch device. The technical side of it is one of so many things we should be thankful to apple for.

To touch a device and communicate - you need to have the following things working.

- touch capable screens, location mapping of your fingers, observing the action that you are doing (say you are scrolling swipe or pinch swipe), then pass this information to the OS which actually determines the swipe functionality I said above, then seeing what screen you are and doing corresponding action. Coz a picture pinch to zoom is different from the browser pinch to zoom, functionality same, app is different and OS has to determine that as well. All this and may be more may be happening just for the pinch to zoom. 

And, all of these have to happen simultaneously, so that you can see the picture zoom in front of your eyes, as you do it. Wow :)

Then came my mac - to have a PC that can boot fast is sufficient enough reason for a mac :). Enough said.

Steve Jobs - to me, he summed up one thing. Be yourself. At the core, he never really changed. He did things he wanted to do and did it well. Everything else, he didn't care. He just didn't care.

[There is a tonne of material out there in the net that talks about his visionary skills, drive and how he created things. Im not even going to touch upon those qualities with my writing skills and constrain them. ]

Apart from being oneself, he also symbolized what drive can do. He loved what he did and coz of that, did it well. He was brutally honest in some of his/apple's failures or shortcoming and didn't try to hide behind few good things. He wanted all of them to be good, even the minute details of anything apple, to be good.

A read of the below post by Vic of Google would say how much he cared for the tiniest of tiny things.

Or, what is the need for a CEO, to come down and explain his store to the world like he did? Explaining isle, products etc..

Everything apple meant to him - he was ready to do everything to anything of apple and knew everything of apple.

One of the very few people in the world who can solely claim their entire career is their own. And, the one of the only handful ceos who can do whatever they want with the company - coz it is theirs. Every other CEO in world is off late appointed for few years tenure and they have no connect with company as Steve did with Apple.

Apple has its fair share of questionable policy, platform initiatives, but off late, what I come to understand is that, they are excessively supremely controllable of anything that is apple, coz they love their products even beyond the sale. I dont like their restriction of iOS environment or OS, but they want to make sure that the device doesn't break once it reaches consumer hands. I dont agree with this stand, greatly. But, I have stopped questioning their intent off late.

And, only a person like Steve jobs can choose to be so outrageous with his demands and still pull it off. Who can ever forget the iPod deals?

Apart from being a successful product, iPod needed a legitimate way to download music to make sure that product is sale-able in the market. Till then, music industry refused to accept MP3 downloads as a valid way to get the music and even that format. iPod changed all that. He was famously quoted as saying to all the 6 big music labels, "If I can't sell a song for 99 cents in iTunes store, then there is no deal". Music labels agreed. And, now we have legitimate and easy music downloadable industry in the world.

Same applies with iPhone. Before iPhone, a phone's price, data plan, and the Tenure were all determined by Cellular carrier. When Steve Jobs launched iPhone, he had stuck a deal with AT&T to launch it at 199$ price, for two year contract and unlimited data plan. What you have to notice is that, Apple, a device manufacturer, is dictating a Carrier business when they are launching their product. The status quo till that time was other way around. 

A vegan.

And believer in heart and instincts, he did mistakes and corrections. Never one to be ashamed of his actions, he did one of the greatest comeback in history of the world business to turn a company on the verge of bankruptcy to be the most valuable company in 14 years time. Wow.

How respected would you have to be to have your competitors mourn your loss? Google paying tribute in the home page, blacking out its entire page. Google and samsung celling their own mobile event due to the untimely passing of Steve Jobs.

I still cannot believe he is gone - Im really pained and shocked.

[Im giving links to some of the most wonderful Steve Jobs video, article around now.]

A tribute to Steve Jobs below

Think different Ad with Steve Jobs own voice

Im not an apple fan boy, but of Steven P Jobs. iRespect. iLove. iMiss.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dil to bacha hai ji

One of the most wonderful songs that I have heard recently is the one above. I first heard this song while going in a friends car and found it to be so melodious and nice to listen to. I also thought to myself, may be it is from 1980's or earlier. Coz it was so melodious.So much so that, I started recollecting this song and humming just after the first time I heard it. And, when I heard it the next time in his car after 2 weeks, I asked it to be played again.

It is a quality of really good song and singer, when it makes one to like the song so much to go and see its video. Rahat fateh ali khan is one such singer - wow, what a melodious voice, so soothing.

After having seen the video, I like this sone even more. :)

-  The reaction of the girl at 0:06 and hence forward till Naseerudin shah sit, is so subtle, and wonderful.
   She looks simple, nice, and speaks with her eyes and smile, without even uttering a word.
-  The look of Vidya balan at 0:48, was beautiful :). So, is at 02:00.
-  Arshad Warsi, standing with flower - hilarious :).

Such a wonderful song !! Even if the video was a crap, it is worth to be heard over and over again. But, they made video, even better by keeping it so human and natural and nice.

Dil to bacha hai ji :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How one generation loves....the next generation learns.

There are very few videos that will move you - above is one of them. 

Being young and brazen, I had been similar ways to the moments expressed in this video. Luckily for me, realization also dawned soon of my stupid or ignorant ways and had the opportunity to mend it as well. However, in life, there would be people who would do most to us but we may never be able to repay or offer them the same things that they offered us. And, we continue repaying everybody else in our life the way we would have probably done for the few, in gratitude as well as also as a lesson we learnt from the very same people who offered us the most.

The last quite was the highlight of this video - may be the strand that keeps our species (or all the species) going in this earth as well.

How one generation loves...the next generation learns.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The only un-changing thing is change. Whether it is my life or your life or our life or the life of other living organisms in this planet or elsewhere, there is change. What is change? Is it just a word? If change is the very nature of everything that is, why not have change renamed as nature?

I have observed that certain songs, when I listen to them, immediately transport me back to some other time. Likewise, with few events or some activity, that if I do or am involved, takes back to the last time I was doing the same activity or the related activity. In getting transported to that particular time, I look at my life then and now - to see that I'm pretty much the same guy that I could recollect back myself to.

The things that I enjoyed doing, that I wanted, that I did - have all kinda remained the same, un changed. Yes, due to exposure amongst other things, the gamut of things have increased. May be something got added, few things fell off, blame it on the benefit of time and exposure with life more. Yes, it did bring understanding of few new things and how to handle them - people, the most important of it all. How to handle them, and let them handle me is something I'm learning, may be will continue to learn as well.

But, one thing I wish to refuse, and that is, not being what I'm. Not for any reason that it might be. Not for the age, growth, expectation or what not. Agreed, we need to be according to the norm or atleast limits of its boundary for major part of the time. As that makes exploring new things, experiences, events and responsibilities and everything that comes with it - a great opportunity to grow oneself and change. And, that is important too - something that cannot be substituted at all.

To see this exposure, time and learning as something that will enable the growth amidst the realization of un-changing me, is what the reality is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Movies ~ Films ~ Reflection ~ Life

Movies - one of the common industry across all of the nations in the world, yet very different in the content of it. The reason for existence of movie industry is very simple - Humans love stories. Yes, we do. When we are young, we had mom and people around to tell stories. Beyond a point, we have movies. This I believe is the single most important reason for the success of this industry.

This is an industry that spawned out of our need for imagination - coz stories are imaginative. Some are factual, some are reflective, some are imaginative. In a way, all the things we do in life comes out of imagination and movies offer us to experience it - visual medium.

I dont know the exact history, well, not much of it at all - but dont know how and where this medium came to existence. It can be traced to drama or puppet show or what not. However, from what I know, they have been a powerful medium, coz they involve people. For the people, by the people, to the people (again, come to think of it, everything is for/by/to the people in the world - where am I going ? ) Movies have been used to pass down messages to the people, for instance in Indian freedom struggle, movies played a role. Even now in life, some movies send across inspirations messages/feel/vibe to the point of being the inception of something ;).

And - movies are also separated out for their content off late. Some of them are called realistic, some documentary, some entertaining, time pass and what not. For eg: A movie like slumdog millionaire may be entertaining, inspiring and treat to watch for many people all over the world. However, it may not be the same way for the guys who live the life of the roles played in that movie. For eg: a guide in Taj Mahal or the waiter person in the hotel. For them, the slumdog movie may not be their cup of tea as they dont want to see what they go through everyday also illustrated in screen with more music and dramatization.

Preferences, separation of movie in to different genre and other things also reflect something else about ourselves as well. The difference that is in all of us - reflects in different genres and preferences and choices. All these difference come in to existence coz we ain't struggling for basic amenities anymore (well we are at one higher level, but not at individual level in most countries barring few). For instance in a poverty stricken country, eg a country in African continent or war torn country in middle east - the choices and preferences may not exist for the movies - coz they are happy with whatever is available as the priorities are elsewhere. An individual can have the liberty of having the option of having options or choices - when his/her needs are met or basic necessary thing for each of the individual is taken care of.

Same logic applies for movie genre or what people enjoy - if the society at large is stressed out or living in a dire straits, a documentary movie may not appeal as their life itself is may currently be documentary types. Movies also reflect the same - the taste preferences of what an audience can afford to accomodate. 

Well, all said and done - its still our stories, our figment of imagination and we choose what we want to imagine in the larger screen and be told ;-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Urad dhal rice and Vegetable cabbage kootu :)

Uradh dhal rice (also called as karrupu uzhundu sadham at home) is a very nutritious food, one that I got to eat very often all my life. Well that is until I have to cook for myself as now.

What started as casual discussion over skype with mummy on how to prepare cabbage kootu soon turned it a cooking lesson through skype.

Uradh dhal rice and Cabbage kootu both came out well and as a bonus, ended up preparing rasam real quick too (it can be made really quick anyways :D ). I added more turmeric and hence the color of the kootu.

Hmmm...Easy and nice things. Protein power :)