Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rama setu captured from a Plane

I had come across the following vedio clips on youtube. I would post an item on Setusamdram project shortly. Watch this space. Until then enjoy the clips

Another vedio

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Strong Rupee and its impact on IT companies

The Indian rupee has appreciated by nearly 10% since late 2006 the currency is now hovering just above the symbolic Rs 40:1 USD. It suggests that the country's attractiveness to foreign investors is increasing and signals optimism about the Indian economy more generally. However, the concerns of exporters, who are part of India's economic resurgence, are rising as their goods become more and more expensive for overseas buyers.

The main reason for the rupee's appreciation since late 2006 has been a flood of foreign-exchange inflows, especially US dollars. The surge of inflows into India has taken a variety of forms, foreign direct investment (FDI), investment and remittances sent home by Indian expatriates, External commercial borrowings (ECBs), foreign portfolio inflows (FIIs).

Buoyant export growth has also built up India's foreign-exchange holdings. IT and business-process outsourcing (BPO) exports have expanded at an especially robust pace. However, the rupee's appreciation is alarming exporters, as it makes their products more expensive in overseas markets and erodes their international competitiveness.

To protect their margins IT and ITeS companies are forced to think in different ways. Most of the companies are heavily depend on US market. They might look towards Europe, Fareast, SA and even domestic market. Majority of the Indian IT companies are now reducing no. of employees who are on bench to 20%. Some companies like Wipro and Infosys are even contemplating to introduce 6 day a week work regime at least in fixed price projects unofficially though and go slow or freeze on recruitments. Some of the MNC companies who don’t have ‘bench’ concept are contemplating the big question ‘retrenchment’. Though they might not take this decision as of now it is being discussed more frequently. However such steps would give out a wrong signal in the market which is facing a shortage of skilled man power in the middle and senior positions. Despite this some companies still recruit people to meet the requirements but the offers might not be meatier any more as they need to be prepared to wok long hours and even on Saturdays. If the appreciation of Rupee against the Dollar still continues one can expect small increments or ‘peanuts’ as increments as the famous advertisement of says.

Therefore it is now time to be cautious and focus on your work and performance and adopt a wait and watch policy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Terrorism knows no religion

It was a lazy Sunday morning in Melbourne. I woke up a bit late and looked out side the window. I noticed bright sunshine. “It is going to be a beautiful day”, I said to myself. Seldom had I known at that point of time that this feeling would be changed a couple of hours later.

Later I had been to a friend’s house for lunch along with a colleague of mine. Mood was good. Suddenly my friend inquired “hey there were a couple of blasts in your Hyderabad last evening”, I was stunned. Immediately I hooked to the internet and was going through the news websites to know more details. My mind went blank for a while. The blasts took place at the famous Gokul Chat eat out in central Hyderabad in Koti and at Lumbini Park. The two most frequented places by most of the Hyderabadis on a week end. 42 innocent people dead and 80 injured. Why Hyderabad again? That too within three months of Mecca Masjid blasts. If the target was only Hindu community then Mecca Masjid blast shouldn’t have occurred. Hyderabad is though sensitive area is secular. People live there in harmony. All the communal rites happened in the past were due to political reasons and nothing to do with the people of any community. Hyderabad is fastest growing city attracting investments in IT and ITeS related sectors. It is now a more prosperous city. The lifestyle of the people improved. For that matter even Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Mallapuram and Cochin they are all developing cities in the south. These cities have got sizable Muslim population and are growing at a faster pace than the northern cities. Hence a natural target for the terrorists. They are not keen on small towns or villages. Their aim is to incite communal violence and hinder the development and thus break the back bone of the Indian economy.

On Saturday, hours before the blasts, the city police seized Rupees 2.36 crore in counterfeit notes that they now say was smuggled into Hyderabad by an ISI-sponsored group linked to Dawood Ibrahim. “It has originated from Pakistan and via Dubai it has been brought to India,” says Hyderabad Police Commissioner. This indicates that the drug mafia and terror networks have merged. I believe terrorists who call themselves as Jihadis are not fighting for any cause. If they are then bomb blast at prayer halls of Islam would have never occurred in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Are they into some kind of business by terrorising Nations and get some mileage out of it? Everybody knew this including the government, police and intelligence agencies. Then why couldn’t they limit these incidents? Now politicians issue different statement blaming each other and the intelligence agencies. Why can’t they do something instead of blaming the intelligence? Can’t they be more responsible? They had definite inputs from these agencies on the impending attacks. Nobody can predict when and where such incidents can occur. These terrorists are striking at their will. Only if there is a sensible government who doesn’t care about their minority vote bank and acted tough aftermath of Mecca Masjid blasts may be this could have been prevented.

Muslims are not terrorists. Terrorists don’t follow a religion but majority of them are from Muslim community and that too from south Asia or third world countries. Entire South Asian region is bleeding because of terrorism. Is it because many people from this community are poor and illiterates and still depends on daily wages. Then what about Dr. Haneef’s cousins from Bangalore who are well educated one is a doctor and another is an aeronautical engineer. Why most of the communal rites involving Muslims happened on Friday after afternoon prayers? Certain elements are trying to manipulate the religious sentiments of this community and exploit their socio-economic status through madarasas. All over the world it is the Politics of Injustice that is creating the Unrest among the people and not the religion.

One of the possible answers lies in educating the people, to do something to improve their livelihood. This still doesn’t guarantee any results as long as certain religious fanatics like Imam Bhukhari exist. Just making mere issuing statements and providing some reservations in education and jobs for the community doesn’t help. We need to take some concrete steps than indulging vote bank politics. Until then we need to empower intelligence agencies with latest technology, should monitor all IM conversations, epower the intelligence agencies, give them a bit more freedom etc. We should take their cues seriously. Police should act fast. And moreover governments should use intelligence agencies for the security of the country and not against their political rivalries and should not indulge in their activities, should bring more stringent laws against organised crimes and against terrorism. There should be a National anti terrorism task force. All the terrorism cases needs to be handled by this cell and local police should assist it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

WANTED!...... Leaders

Leaders in Politics
Business Leaders
Sports Leaders
Technology Leaders
Spiritual Leaders

Do we Indians have one now? We had them before India attained independence. Now do we have one? When I search answer to this question hardly I get an answer. Except a few business leaders why don’t we see spiritual leaders, statesmen and politicians like Swami Vivekananda, MK Gandhi, Nehru, Vallabhai Patel, Subhash ChandraBose etc any more? We had great personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Subrahmanya Bharati, Gurajada Apparao, Gurram Jaashuva, Viswanatha Satyanarayana and many more in literature field. Now hardly any that can match the stature of the previous generation.

What went wrong after Independence? Pre Independence there was a cause. Everyone Intellectual be it educationalists, reformers, lawyers, Journalists or politicians took up the cause and motivated many others. People were less greedy not that selfish as most of us do today.

Once the goal is accomplished the generation after Independence didn’t had any major national goal, direction or guidance. Every one got busy in their personal livelihood. Politicians are interested in the power. Educated elite who got subsidised education from the premier institutes like IITs gone abroad in search of better life every one is busy in their own life trusting the government would do what it ought to do. People who are in the governance became greedy and selfish and gradually corruption became big menace. Almost every citizen is corrupted. They are corrupted by thoughts, corrupted by means and corrupted by their deeds. Hence it is never a big issue now. Every one tried to out score the other by hook or crock.

Population grew at faster pace put pressure on the available resources. This fuelled the competition and gave chance to few to exploit it in terms of castes, religion, social status and economic status. Politicians whose main agenda to stay in power exploited it further. Entire system became inefficient and corrupt. It also had a positive effect on few whose struggle to survive created a burning desire to achieve something on their own. It made them work hard and taste the success without any major support from anybody.

Compulsions made India to open up its markets. This led a rapid growth in some sectors. This also increased a gap between haves and have not’s While a section of society are becoming wealthier and started to enjoy better life style. People who immigrated to foreign lands are started coming back. Other sections of the society especially the rural population is struggling for the livelihood. After 60 years of Independence the government of Independent India failed to provide the basic enmities to all its citizens. The growth story which it is boasting of is not its own but it is the story of a few who made it possible.

Now almost everyone blames the politicians, the babus. It is a common drawing room discussion. The NRIs feel sorry for the country and would happy to donate some funds for some cause. And none is ready to jump and take up the responsibility or perform the duties. A major portion of the Indian population is middle class and yet only a small portion of this population votes. Upper class hardly cast their vote. So the politicians know very well about their vote bank. They promise the moon. They announce populist’s schemes which hardly make any economic sense. Anti social elements enter the politics to make more money. Politics became a next stage to the aging glamour stars to continue to be in the glory of the media without doing anything to the society. Politics became a family business to many more. The main agenda of all the political parties is power. By hook or crook get the power is the agenda of all the parties. For this some take up unnecessary and unwanted religious cause, some take up the cause of poor without any sincerity, some in the name of secularism. None has any vision for the country any goal for the country and guidance plan for the country.

Media role is also to be blamed. Earlier in pre Independence era it played a vital role. The journalism was at its best. News motivated many. Media took up many issues. Now do we see any of those? Every one is busy getting more viewer ship to his or her story. They side either one party or another. They take up issues which would increase the ratings hardly any valid vital issues. Some might argue that it is not 100% true by showing some news stories which indeed picked up certain issues. The question is how they handled it. They handle the issues with some bias. Selective in their sampling, selective in their presentation, glorify unwanted things and hardly any journalism is there. They also play to the galleries.

In this context I again ask this question to myself to every one do we have a real leader now. What we should do to get rid of the situation. A country, whose average age of the population is around 25-28 years, has got some 70-80+ olds as leaders. India appears to be facing a crisis of leadership. Public governance has all but collapsed. In critical areas such as public administration, education and healthcare, there's little or no confidence left in government's ability to deliver a modicum of service without having to grease a few palms. Corruption is endemic, the bureaucracy is a shadow of what it once was, and the political class for most part appears to have neither the vision nor the ability nor the stomach nor even the inclination to fix the system.

India is at a stage in its life where it's poised for greater glory. This sounds like a cliché, but the potential is truly limitless. What we need to do is move from India Poised to India Realised. We need to find the right buttons. We believe the multiplier effect of good governance will be mind-boggling. And it's the traditionally disenfranchised and neglected sections of society who stand to benefit the most --- people who survive on the margins of society, who have no access to housing, healthcare, education or even justice. The elite of our society can find ways around poor governance --- they can send their children to expensive schools and colleges at home or abroad; same with medical treatment; and they are less exposed to the injustices of the system compared to that child or woman who calls the pavement her home. But as a nation, true progress will continue to elude us until such time as we can integrate at least an overwhelming number of our people into the mainstream.

What is needed to change this situation? If we allow this to continue do we have a future? What would be the position of this country in the world? I heard many including the politicians saying young people should get in to the politics and take up the responsibility to clean up this system. Yes we are ready but does the present day system allow that? Even if the younger generation joins the politics can we see more leaders? The need of the hour is leadership. We need leaders not only in politics but in every other area.

Are Leaders are born are made? I don’t want to get in to this discussion. What I believe is you don't have to head a country, or a business empire, or even a sports team to be a leader. There's a leader within each one of us, just waiting for the right moment to emerge. A leader, who doesn't just make big promises, but keeps even the small ones, a leader who realises his dreams by helping others to fulfil theirs, a leader who believes in others even when they don't believe in themselves, a leader who doesn't just wring his hands impotently while blaming the system, but sets out to change it. even if the leaders are born they need to groomed or trained. What is needed then? We need an education that grooms the leadership abilities in oneself. Corporate sector is aware of this and run some leadership programmes from time to time that address their leadership needs. We need more such programmes to groom political leadership.
We need people with ability to conceive of a goal for the nation into specific, pragmatic action points, ability to rally people around ideas, ability to execute and resilience.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hinduism and the belief in rebirth

According to Hinduism a soul reincarnates again and again on earth till it becomes perfect and reunites with it Source. During this process the soul enters into many bodies, assumes many forms and passes through many births and deaths. This concept is summarily described in the following verse of the Bhagavad gita:

"Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones." (2.22)

According to Hinduism a being has to live many lives and under go many experiences before it attains perfection and becomes one with the Divine. The Hindu theory of creation suggests that creation begins when the individual souls becomes separated from the undifferentiated One. It continues as the evolution of life and consciousness in matter progresses. During this process some of souls journey back to God through the transformation of matter or prakriti in which they were hidden. The remaining souls continue their existence and rejoin Him in the end, not through transformation but through a process of great destruction. Thus the great cycle of creation, stretching over millions of years, comes to its logical end.

Once the creative process is switched on, the individual soul hides behind the false personality called jiva, the subtle body and an outer personality called the mind and the body or the ego. The is made up of the subtle body, the subtle mind and a little bit of discretionary intelligence called buddhi. The ego is made up of the gross physical body, the surface consciousness consisting of innumerable desires and impulses. Since the Jiva and the ego have no idea of Truth or reality, they suffers from ignorance and illusion. They succumbs to illusion and suffer from the delusion of the outer mind. They behave selfishly as if they are different from the rest of creation and end up with suffering, indulging in acts of self perpetuation.

At the end of each life, the physical body and the gross mind return to the elements of the earth. But the Jiva and the soul survive death. Depending upon the nature of their past deeds, and the number of subtle bodies it has developed, the Jiva either ascends to the heaven or descends into the hell. Hiding the indwelling spirit in its core, the Jiva stays in these worlds till it exhausts the fruits of its good or bad actions. Having learned some new lessons, it then returns to the earth again to take another birth.

Thus the Jiva undergoes innumerable births and deaths. It becomes bound to the mortal life and the laws of nature. Death provides temporary relief, but exposes the individual Jiva to the risk of falling into greater depths of suffering. Even the Buddha who founded Buddhism did not discard this theory, though he was silent on the existence of God and did not confirm the existence of soul. The Buddha preached that not soul but the ever changing individual character, which moves from one birth to another birth, till all changing and becoming comes to an end, through the transformation of character on the lines of the Eightfold path.

Hinduism speaks of the existence of heavens above and hells below. The former are sun filled, inhabited by gods and innumerable divine souls. The latter are dark worlds (asurya lokas) and populated by all the dark and demonic forces. The individual souls go into these worlds according to their deeds. But they do not stay there permanently till the end of destruction. They go there basically as a consequence of their actions, either to enjoy or to suffer. In either case they learn the lesson and come back to earth to start a new earthly life all over again.
Thus according to Hinduism, life in heaven may be longer, but still it is a mortal life only. There, a Jiva may enjoy extreme pleasures, but it would not last for ever. Once its karma is exhausted, the Jiva is thrown back from the heights of heavenly glory into the turmoil of unstable earthly life .

The Hindu concept of reincarnation is alien to western people. It is mostly misunderstood and misinterpreted, partly because of ignorance and partly because of some inherent mental blockage natural to the single minded pursuit of religious faith along rutted paths. It generated a lot of controversy because it directly challenges the western notion of one life, one heaven and the final day of judgement. Today this fundamental concept of Hinduism is finding many new adherents and believers all over the world. The reasons are many. Firstly, a great mass of evidence is gathering in favour of reincarnation through the personal experiences of many who chanced to remember their past lives and were able to record their experiences in stunning details for the posterity. Secondly the modern theories of hypnotic regression are gaining acceptance in many parts of the world. There are now many institutions, which help interested individuals to remember their past lives as a part of their spiritual awakening. Thirdly many enlightened psychic masters like Edgar Cayce confirmed beyond doubt that reincarnation is not just a theory or imagination, but a definite reality.

The Hindu concept of reincarnation is based upon the logical notion that life on earth did not emerge suddenly, but evolved gradually, involving great epoch of time and a vast multitude of beings. During this process the static and inert consciousness of matter yielded place to the dynamic movement of life and consciousness. The animal tendencies gave way to human reason and humane thoughts. Extending the same logic we may further say that in future, from this part animal, part human and part divine being, there would emerge a spiritual man of divine consciousness, the Superman of Sri Aurobindo, with supra mental consciousness. If you look at the personality of an ordinary human being, you will realize that there is a lot in him, that is grosser and denser which cannot be purified and transformed in the shorter time of one life span. What is a hundred years or less than a hundred of life on a scale of millions of years of continuous evolution of life on earth ? Does not it sound illogical to say that we would remain static from the evolutionary point of view, while change is the nature of life and every thing else all around us is changing and evolving constantly?

Hinduism does not accept the premise that under normal circumstances an individual soul can free itself completely from the entanglement with Samsara and unite with its Creator in just one life time. The Jiva has to progressively evolve through the cycle of innumerable births and deaths before the soul can liberate itself. From inert matter to inert consciousness and then to dynamic consciousness, from ignorance to semi awareness and then to self awareness, from attachment to detachment and then to complete freedom, from illusion to awareness and then to reality, from darkness to dawn and then into light, from mortality to immortality: this is the forward movement of life in the whole creation. And all this cannot happen just in a few hundred years.

It is very obvious that God did not create the worlds and the beings in His likeness, but in exact opposite to it. If He would have created everything in His true likeness then there would have been no differentiation and no possibility of any movement. Creation would have remained static, without an aim and purpose, offering no scope for movement and change. It is true that God is hidden in every aspect of His creation. But that which is visible and sensible is not His true self. It is His negative and false self, which tries to compete with Him and fight for its own individuality, and finally, having lost the battle, would move towards Him in total obedience.
Thus the whole drama of creation seems to start with the creation of His individual selves that hide themselves in His negative selves so that a movement away from Him and then again back to Him can be initiated and sustained. The Hindu scriptures describe this process variously with such expressions as:
"the true self hides behind the false self, God enters into Prakriti, self becomes enveloped with ignorance".

The awakening comes after wards. When the soul stirs and makes its vibrations felt by the ignorant consciousness, the seeds of spiritualization of the being are sown. The movement that began away from God now becomes reversed. It then starts moving away from illusion and ignorance towards God and Truth.

The inexorable law of karma operates through out this grand drama. Karma is the correction mechanism, the chisel with which the negative self, the inert stone, is chiselled away till the hidden deity comes out of it and enters the temple of God. In the ordinary circumstances, awakening of a sleeping self cannot take place through miracles but through trial and error. Good actions lead to good future, and bad actions to the opposite. An awareness of this very law is the first great awakening and the first sure leap towards the Light.

All this cannot take place in one simple life, but over a period of time involving many lives. It cannot happen on the strength of a life time's learning but in the light of a great mass of accumulated wisdom. It cannot happen if the purpose of whole life is to move towards light and truth. This is where the idea of reincarnation of soul perfectly fits in. If we accept the whole creation as a grand process stretching over a vast period of time, we cannot over look the importance and the role of man in it. Man cannot make a brief appearance on earth, live just one life and then disappear forever into the cozy corners of some safe heaven, or the vast dungeons of some burning hell, leaving creation, God and Nature to themselves.

At the individual level, the movement of creation and evolution need not universally progressive. Since the whole movement is regulated on the principle of trial and error, of learning and improvement through such learning, some times, a retrogressive movement may also take place. Due to some unfortunate error of judgment, instead moving towards the light, a being may move away from it.

Thus depending upon the merits of the previous deeds, a being may evolve into higher life forms or regress temporarily into a lower life form. However, due to some peculiar circumstances, if an individual takes birth as a lower life form, he can still reverse the process. He can change his present actions and establish a basis for his forward movement again. The Jiva thus drifts, sailing in the boat of his own karma, in a sea of worldly illusion (samsara sagaram), towards the shores of liberation, through trial and error, self effort and assisted by invisible laws and mysterious forces, with the soul remaining as its silent, witnessing companion. That the theory of reincarnation is not a mere theory, but an actual fact is being now established beyond reasonable doubt. Many instances have now come to light where individuals were able to recollect their past lives through a process of regression or by other means. The theory still baffles many, while many others refuse to acknowledge it because of intense prejudice.

An Essay on the Hindu way of Life

" The Hindu man drinks religiously, sleeps religiously, walks religiously, marries religiously, robs religiously." - Swami Vivekananda

Hinduism is not considered as a religion but a way of life, because religion is deeply interwoven into the life of a Hindu, the way nerves are interwoven in our bodies. It is very difficult to separate living and religion in the life of a devout Hindu. Both are inseparable. Both compliment each other. Both exist because of each other and both would lose their meaning and significance without the other. Religion is the center of living and living is the center of religion.

In this article we try to understand the philosophy hidden behind this beautiful and noble concept of human life. We will try to understand why a Hindu considers his religion as a way of life instead of calling it a way of worshipping God or following a particular set of beliefs.

Religion is there in every aspect of a Hindu's life. Religion is his inseparable companion, guide and philosopher. It is there, always, however modern or advanced he may be, whether he believes in God or not, at the back of his mind, like a tuft of hair on the head of a priest, deeply rooted in his subconscious, firmly entrenched in his being, from which he cannot escape even if he chooses to follow another religion. It is there when he is born, as if he comes into this world carrying with him the burden of his religion, with all his deeply rooted religious beliefs and practices, as if they are his traditional family tools from which he can never be separated, because his present life is but a continuation and result of his past one. And it stays with him till the end, influencing every action of his and helping him to adjust to the harsh realities of life in a rather philosophical and stoical way and accept suffering as a part of his self-purification and inner correction.

According to Hinduism, religion is not separate from living. It is living itself. God does not exist in temples and sacred places only. Going to the temples is a good practice, but that is not the only way to worship God. God does not exist in temples alone, in some particular altar or sacred place. He exists every where and can be approached in many ways, not just by performing some special yagnas and rituals, but also through the very process of living ones life and discharging ones responsibility towards oneself, ones family, ones society and ones own religion. Even helping other religions is not an abominable act.

The very life that we live on earth is divine. Every aspect of it is infused with Divine presence. Hidden behind the illusion of life is God's golden and immortal presence. If we are clever enough and careful enough in our thoughts and deeds, we can see His foot prints every where, in our lives and actions. We can realize Him right amidst our active living process. If we are careful, if we are intelligent, if we have the right discrimination, we can make the very process of living a kind of daily worship, a means to establish contact with the Divine, a way to purify ourselves and ennoble ourselves, and create, in this very life, amidst this very society, a strong foundation, a lasting basis, for our spiritual growth that would eventually lead us towards self-realization.
The Hindu way of life encourages us to accept living as a means of self-realization. Every activity that we perform while living and every aspect of life that we know and deal with becomes means to realize God. In this approach there is very little difference between living and worshipping. Life is but divine and sacred. The Divine does not exist elsewhere in some heavenly regions, separate and distinct from ours. He is right here, amidst us, at the centers of our very lives and activities. Every act that we perform in this life will either contribute towards our evolution or inhibit it.

Life is verily an opportunity to receive into our selves, the Divine force, the illuminating and enlightening awareness of God, the overwhelming and all encompassing soul consciousness. Life is an opportunity to discover our hidden selves. It is a great way to go beyond our limited vision and limited capacities. It is the best possible instrument with in our reach to realize Truth of ourselves and of God in the truest and grandest possible manner. Performing ones duties with a sense of detachment and as an offering to God, or worshipping God in a temple or during a ritual, are conceptually one and the same. Self-realization can be achieved not only by renouncing the world and performing tapas, but living amidst society, with a sense of detachment, untouched by the corruptions of life, like a lotus leaf in a pond. If we live with a divine sense of responsibility, every act that we perform in the course of our lives can lead us into the mysteries of divine life and into highest transcendental state of light and delight.

Every Hindu artist, who has been brought in the true traditions of Hinduism, knows this secret. For him his art is simply an inseparable from of divine worship. For him it is the best and the easiest way to be in touch with the heart of God. His devotion to God flows out of him in the form of an artistic expression. His art flourishes to the extent he is devoted to God. It is the same conviction, the same philosophy, the same approach, which prompts a karmayogi to perform his duties with a degree of detachment that is rare to come across elsewhere in the world.

The present life is but a continuation of the previous. It is another opportunity that we create for ourselves to continue our experiments with truth, to correct our past mistakes, cleanse our souls and make ourselves more qualified for the infusion of light and ascent into higher planes of existence. The present is so because of the deeds of the past. We are the creators of our own lives and destinies. We create them out of our right and wrong actions which have both positive and negative consequences. So if one has to change the conditions and secure a better future one has to live more responsibly and more carefully. And this has to be done right now, here and in this very life. This is the philosophy, the line of thinking, behind the concept of Hinduism as a way of life. The concepts of the omnipresence of God and his inviolable law of life (dharma) operating universally keeps the typical Hindu careful in his actions and responsible towards his own life. For the typical Hindu religion is thus a way of life, a means of self-purification and inner evolution.