Thursday, April 28, 2011
a forwarded mail...
Raja Vikramaditya and Dr. Manmohan Singh
Once there lived an old and pious man, renowned for his honesty. One day his neighbor, a rich merchant comes to him with a request. The merchant was leaving on a voyage and wants the old man to safeguard his wealth, until his return. The old man agrees and with God as witness promises to protect and safeguard the merchant's wealth.
The old man then entrusts the safe keeping of the merchant's wealth to his son, from whom he takes an oath of propriety and honesty. Slowly the son starts dipping into the merchant's wealth; people notice this and warn the old man of the son's misdeeds. The old man calls his son asks him to explain, he also reminds him of his oath on following the right path. The son rubbishes the accusations as rumours and the idle gossip of jealous people, who could bear to see his prosperity. The old man accepts the son's explanation and things go on as before.
The merchant returns and demands his wealth back. The old man calls his son, who hands over only a fraction of the merchant's original wealth saying that is all there was. The merchant realising that he has been cheated approaches the King. The King listens to the merchant's complaint and summons the old man.
The old man comes to the court with his son and handing him over to the king says "your majesty, the merchant is right. My son has confessed to the crime. Please punish him."
The king has the son flogged and imprisoned. He then praises the old mans honesty and dismisses the case. But the merchant demands punishment for the old man saying, "I have still not received justice.
I had entrusted my wealth to the old man which he swore by God to safeguard. The old man's integrity is intact, but what of me, I have been robbed of my life's savings, and made a pauper. It was the old man's decision to entrust my wealth to the son for safe keeping. As far as I am concerned the old man is the culprit, and should be punished.
The king is astounded by this demand. The old man, was neither a party to the theft nor did he benefit from it. In fact, he had sent his son to jail. Yet, the merchant was asking for the old man's punishment.
The Betal asks Vikramaditya, "What should be the Kings decision?"
Vikramaditya replies, "Though the old man is innocent of the actual theft, he is guilty of dereliction of duty. The son's crime was a straight forward one, the old man's was a graver crime. He did nothing to protect the merchant's wealth. Far from being vigilant he failed to take action even when he was warned of his son's misdeeds. Because of his laxity the merchant is condemned to a life of penury. He should be punished."
"Itna sunkar Betal ped ki daal pe ulta ja baitha"
India 2010 , Dr. Manmohan Singh, esteemed economist, former Governor of RBI, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, former Finance Minister, a man whose personal ethics and integrity are unblemished, takes oath to protect and safeguard the Nation and its assets. He appoints Raja, as his Cabinet Minister for IT & Telecom.
Unlike the story, this heist of a precious national asset is carried out in full view of Dr. Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues. Newspapers across the country cry out at this outrage in front page headlines.
The Indian Constitution grants the Prime Minister absolute power in running the country. He is the head of the Government and the Union Cabinet functions at his pleasure. As per the Transaction of Business Rules the Prime Minister has the unrestricted right to demand and get any file, any record from any Ministry. Dr. Man Mohan Singh could have at any time stopped this heist of a national asset, yet he chose to remain silent. The Prime Minister's failure to exercise his constitutional rights has caused irreparable loss to the Nation.
Dr. Singh did not profit personally from Raja's shenanigans, but his failure to act, to honour the oath of office, to protect and safeguard the nation and its wealth is unforgivable. Like the old man, he has sacked Raja from his ministerial berth, but does his culpability end there.
The people of India had entrusted their faith and the future of the Nation to Dr. Manmohan Singh, believing him to be a man of integrity and honesty, and not to Raja. Does dismissing Raja absolve Dr. Singh or like the old man is he guilty of dereliction of duty and failure to safeguard the Nation and its citizens. Does he not deserve punishment?
When I'd said FB is becoming something of a religion, I never meant it should pan out this way! :P
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Firefox extensions I used when I had a limited account : Flashblock, and ImgLikeOpera. Now the latter is getting older, here's another one that works and blocks both:
Image and Flash blocker - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/image-and-flash-blocker/
Flashblock puts a handy play button on top of web video etc so you play it only when you want to.
It's also a good idea to block ads off completely to minimize wastage of your bandwidth, plus avoid evil cookies and this makes your pages load faster:
Opera browser has an inbuilt feature to be able to block/unblock images at a click, and is quite fast - on par with Chrome and isn't as heavy as Firefox. The button sits in the lower corner somewhere.
I don't know what's there for google chrome and IE : don't ask!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This has to be conveyed not through a big brother or threatening approach - because that makes the act even more desired and the defense cannot really be implemented, plus can be misused. Rather, a social disapproval of such behavior needs to be spread - men need to hear from their peers that it's cheap and uncool to play dirty tricks and that it's way cooler to score fair and square. If we can succeed doing that in sports and exams, why not here?
Monday, April 18, 2011
I started spreading the Kiwix version of Wikipedia for Schools (2008/09 edition - the only one out there at present) since Jan 2011 when I was looking for something of this sort to put in the net-less computer lab in a school I'm volunteering with. The Kiwix version it's a lot more portable, compact (4GB compressed to 2.8GB and only one file for all the content) and is available for download from http://download.kiwix.org/portable/
I've started a page and a map (for India) where volunteers can co-ordinate on spreading the package (I've christened it WFSOE - wikipedia for schools, offline edition)
http://tinyurl.com/WFSOE (a wikia education pg)
http://tinyurl.com/WFSOEIndiaMap (a google maps link pg)
I'll be joining a 2-yr fellowship programmed shortly where I'll work as a teacher at under-resourced schools in 3 cities in India, as part of a movement to battle educational inequity. The Wikipedia for Schools fills a huge gap and can turn any simple computer into a digital reference library for students, giving them access to information that would be otherwise too expensive for them. I will try to spread this to my cohort of 400+ young people when our training begins in 2 weeks time.
Damn, so many typos and logical errors! I won't be teaching in 3 different cities.. my TFI group will !
Read his post here: http://blog.jimmywales.com/2009/10/24/a-small-wedding-gift/
Make the world free from the slavery of economic, political, banking and religious orthodoxies and embrace Humane, Sustainable, Scientific & Strategic ways to save the planet.
We have answers for the entire humanity. Join The Zeitgeist Movement. http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/ ...
copy-pasting this from another Zeitgeist fan's email signature!
Teach For India Fellow, 2011-13
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Sunday, April 17, 2011
From: Tiina Urm
Subject: [Together] 400 000 volunteers clean garbage today in Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania
400 000 volunteers clean garbage today in Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania
More than 400 000 volunteers to participate in massive civic-led cleanup actions this saturday, April 16, taking place in Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania.
The country-wide cleanups are part of an international civic movement Let's do it! aiming to unite volunteers in many countries to clean up illegally dumped waste. Each of the actions is uniting public, private and third sector organizations and record amount of volunteers in a one day massive cleanup effort, covering the whole territory of the country.
Moldova's cleanup action is titled Hai Moldova! Professionals and students from different fields came together to form a cleanup organization team and start the preparation works in October last year. Today they are looking to bring together the efforts of 100 000 volunteers.
Ukraine had a first pilot cleanup in Kiew last september, attended by over 2000 volunteers. This time the cleanup is targeting illegal waste all over the country and 50 000 ukrainians are expected to show up today. To support the event, titled: "Зробимо Україну чистою!", a flashmob event was organized on the streets of Kiew on March 29th: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsVlNeDBikc
Lithuania is organizing a country-wide cleanup fourth time - the initiative titled "Darom!" has grown from 3000 people event in 2008 to a nation-wide effort, engaging 200 000 volunteers last year and aiming to bring 300 000 people together this time. The task is huge - to clean up 15 000 tons of illegally dumped waste from forests, lake- and riversides.
The Let's do it! cleanup action model was born on 3rd of May 2008 in Estonia, when 50 000 people came out to clean up the whole territory of the country in just 5 hours, collecting together 10 000 tons of waste. After that the initiative started to spread - to Latvia, Lithuania, India, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, where altogether 1,3 million people have participated in civic-led one-day cleanups.
Let's do it! homepage: www.letsdoitworld.org
Moldova homepage: http://www.hai.md/
Ukraine homepage: http://letsdoit.org.ua/
Lithuanian homepage: http://mesdarom.lt/
Communications & PR
Let's do it! World Cleanup 2012
Let's do it! Newsletter March 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
You may then well wonder whether we will soon see another Anna-type "movement" on the subject of refurbishing the governmental draft of a bill designed to eradicate communal mayhems, or an Anna putsch to seek the adoption of the Womens's Reservation Bill, pending in parliament now for aeons. Or to force the government to draft purposive legislations to eradicate female infanticide, atrocities on dalits and adivasis, or to enforce without nonsense the right to food and education. Or how about ensuring clean drinking water, affordable health-care and sanitation, and securing housing, and freedom from police atrocities to some eighty percent of Indians? Or easy and credible access to systems of justice and grievance redressal? Or justice for a Binayak Sen who rots in a Chattisgarh jail on a charge of sedition, and sentenced without a shred of proof for no less than life. Or indeed a "movement" in support of an Irom Sharmila in Manipur who has now entered the eleventh year of her fast (kept forcibly alive on drips by a terrified state) for the withdrawal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Not a chance.
It's true that there can be forces out there trying to hijack a movement. But it's also true that the state of technology present today is vastly different than what was present in Germany back then. We must support peer-to-peer and web 2.0 to ensure that no single entity can subvert democracy. Complete transparency wasn't possible back then; it is now and we should push for it as an effective counter to any fascist takeover.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Background : This is an open-source project underway in Mozilla Drumbeat to create a wiki-way of adding subtitles, in any language, to any video. It addresses the long-felt need to crowd-source and make easy the taks of adding subtitles to videos worth sharing with all the people even if they're deaf or can't understand the original language.
I submitted this feedback there; posting it here for my own record as well. Basically brainstorming on ways to take the project forward - it needs some fresh work.
Check out my speech over there: http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/videos/4R7tG8HlBO1C/
Thanks to this I could make several parts of it legible! (The audio was a bit obscure at places)
Feature Request: Please have a mode where I can simply enter the minute:seconds, enter the text, and specify either the duration or the end times, watching the video on the same page. Then in next stage I can simply make minute adjustments. (more ideas shared; expand this article to read all of them)
He did all he could to stop them - his letter begging the US not to use it on Japanese citizens lay unopened on the prez's desk the day Hiroshima was bombed. One message not reached in time brought so much suffering. People who say "Hey, that was the only way to end the war" -- are too unimaginative. There are always more creative ways to achieve a goal. Einstein was advocating that if they really wanted to demonstrate the a-bomb, they should do it over the sea, too far to harm but sufficient enough to scare. Anyways, seeing that ultimately 2 cities were destroyed, that too the second one happened without even giving the Japanese sufficient time to decide, it's obvious the Americans didn't exactly have the greater good in mind. Self-restraint is the mark of a civilized nation, not bullying.
The smartest man on the planet spent the later part of his life continuously opposing the nuclear arms race and making bold and controversial appeals for peace, including ratifying most of Gandhi's philosophies.
In hindsight, what makes you think we should not heed the advice of one the greatest minds to have done so much to make humanity leap-frog its progress?
What makes you think, whenever you say "ok" to anyone who advocates war or conflict or "extreme measures" against any "enemy", that the warmonger is smarter than Einstein?
If he/she is not, what stops you from throwing the warmonger's advice out of the window?
Peak Oil? Urban Farms? Cuba's Been There, Done It
And then watch this video, shot on a terrace in Mumbai, to see how we can convert Indian cities into self-sufficient food producers and DEFEAT inflation and rising prices!
Want to know more about how transformative self-help and organic living and farming can be? Take a look at the Lapodia Model, where just like Anna Hazare did, Laxman Singh from Lapodia village, Rajasthan gives a brilliant and refreshing talk on how they turned his defunct village into a model village :
Quoted from the article on top:
The plots were well-tended and bursting with food, there were shady spots to sit in, and none of the workers seemed too hard-pressed to stop what they were doing for a chat. One elderly farmer with a machete noticed how parched I was in the Caribbean sun and sliced me a delicious fresh coconut to drink. If this is the future of city food growing, I thought, bring it on.
"The world needs urban agriculture," Salcines said to put things in perspective.
Of course, it's not like we have much of a choice : http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Poverty_rises_as_food_prices_increase
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thanks to Rishi for uploading this! Please visit the youtube channel : http://www.youtube.com/user/rishigangoly
to see more such testimonials from ordinary people like you and me.
Want to know more about this thing? You can see short clips from the Zeitgiest movie (part 3 - moving forward) on my youtube channel :
And you'll find a lot more in write-ups, content and interactivity on http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.in
And relax - it's not any cult or anything - in fact there's no formal structure at all. The essence of the movement is to move from top-down to bottom-up systems, where order and prosperity emerge naturally rather than us having to fight each other over it.
Want to catch the next event and rub shoulders with more people in the movement to transition to the next stage of mankind? Stay in touch here.
1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up
2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month's time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
7. But won't the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won't be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.
System Proposed by civil society
No politician or senior officer ever goes to jail despite huge evidence because Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) and CBI directly come under the government. Before starting investigation or initiating prosecution in any case, they have to take permission from the same bosses, against whom the case has to be investigated.
Lokpal at centre and Lokayukta at state level will be independent bodies. ACB and CBI will be merged into these bodies. They will have power to initiate investigations and prosecution against any officer or politician without needing anyone's permission. Investigation should be completed within 1 year and trial to get over in next 1 year. Within two years, the corrupt should go to jail.
No corrupt officer is dismissed from the job because Central Vigilance Commission, which is supposed to dismiss corrupt officers, is only an advisory body. Whenever it advises government to dismiss any senior corrupt officer, its advice is never implemented.
Lokpal and Lokayukta will have complete powers to order dismissal of a corrupt officer. CVC and all departmental vigilance will be merged into Lokpal and state vigilance will be merged into Lokayukta.
No action is taken against corrupt judges because permission is required from the Chief Justice of India to even register an FIR against corrupt judges.
Lokpal & Lokayukta shall have powers to investigate and prosecute any judge without needing anyone's permission.
Nowhere to go - People expose corruption but no action is taken on their complaints.
Lokpal & Lokayukta will have to enquire into and hear every complaint.
There is so much corruption within CBI and vigilance departments. Their functioning is so secret that it encourages corruption within these agencies.
All investigations in Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be transparent. After completion of investigation, all case records shall be open to public. Complaint against any staff of Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be enquired and punishment announced within two months.
Weak and corrupt people are appointed as heads of anti-corruption agencies.
Politicians will have absolutely no say in selections of Chairperson and members of Lokpal & Lokayukta. Selections will take place through a transparent and public participatory process.
Citizens face harassment in government offices. Sometimes they are forced to pay bribes. One can only complaint to senior officers. No action is taken on complaints because senior officers also get their cut.
Lokpal & Lokayukta will get public grievances resolved in time bound manner, impose a penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay to be deducted from the salary of guilty officer and award that amount as compensation to the aggrieved citizen.
Nothing in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money.
Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.
Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.
Enhanced punishment - The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
Friday, April 1, 2011
This model can show the way towards the organic farming revolution that can cut out our over-dependence on petroleum-based fertilizers pesticides etc, reduce prices, increase corp yields, eliminate flood risks, and make our country healthy again! Bring it on, Lapodia!
Info: Laxman Singh from Lapodia village giving a brilliant and refreshing talk on how they turned his defunct village into a model village thanks to organic farming and sustainable community development.
Language : Hindi
Video shot during Renaissance 2011, a 3-day social entrepreneurship fest held at BITS Pilani
Share your thoughts by commenting.
(a conversation in a group "One thought can change India" on Facebook)
P2P - people to people is the only way, even in flame wars we see that they lead to comical acknowledgements of our own sillyness rather than prolonged conflict.
A great place to start is the EXPATRIATE population of both countries living in large numbers in the Gulf and the West.There, Indians and Pakistanis live comfortably with each other and have warm relations, with the kids occasionally playing Indo-Pak matches of their own! So, any government envoy of one country to the other, should ideally be a person who has grown up in such an environment of bonhomie and has childhood friends from the other country. If you have a childhood friend in a place, you are less likely to allow a war to happen there.
An even better option would be cross-border couples, but then you better be careful if they ever get divorced ;)
(PS: there's no ads or revenue sources of any kind on this blog)