Monday, March 19, 2007

Anticpatory Bail

All of us generally know what an Anticpatory Bail is - thanks to the frequent media coverage of prominent people getting Anticpatory Bail fearing being implicated in false cases by rivals - and therefore Arrest Warrants being issued against themselves.

Well what does this particula law tell about the state of our legal system?

  • That it is fairly easy to get arrest warrants issued against people based on trivial or trumped up charges or unauthenticated charges.
  • If it was not fairly easy - there would be no need for such an law - giving the accused a chance of anticipating arrest and getting the bail.
  • Such crafty laws come in handy - mostly for the rich and the powerful, or those with intricate knowledge of the IFs and BUTs of the law.
  • The very purpose of arrest warrant is kind of defeated because Police can no longer arrest the person if he has taken shelter under this law.
  • It is common to see news in media, that accused go absonding until Anticipatory Bail has been granted or refused.
  • One wing of legal system does not necessarily trust the other wing. So, one court of law gives an arrest warrant, another one grants Anticpatory Bail! Well...

Provision for grant of anticipatory bail does not exist anywhere else in the world. Not surprisingly.

Implementation of laws should never depend upon your crafty knowledge of the law Or how influential you are.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Cess Mess

So, what did the very erudite Finance Minister of India do to improve the Education Sector in India ?

He increased the Education Cess from 2% to 3%. What a Short Sighted Short Cut.

Consider this:

  • The decision to levy the new cess comes despite the fact that the Centre has spent only 39% of the funds under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, raised by the education cess in the first eight months of 2006-07 - as per this Financial Express Report! If this is not a JOKE, what else is it ? In any other country - such foolhardiness could land lawmakers in a court of law for wasting public money!
  • And in year 2005 what was the state of things? The Rs 13,000 crores cess collected over the previous two years was found unused for education. This is higher than the Rs 12,537 crores budget allocation to elementary education -- a crying shame what else!
  • Primay Education is a State Subject - collecting money in its name is not the going to solve anything other than filling govt. coffers. Unaccountable State Education Ministers will continue to sleep and do what they wish - while experts can keep crying hoarse - who cares - after all a few expert votes don't count for much. As long as majority can be hoodwinked thats good enough. What say?
  • It is more than likely this move is meant to collect money to fund reservations. Now, i wonder if the earlier statement about Short Sightedness was wrong after all. And true that is - Arjun Singh says: 'some good news for Muslims, they would benefit from additional one per cent education cess, apart from expansion of higher education and implementation of 27 per OBC quota'. Now dear sir - first you are unable to use the money you collected last year, next you want to use the collected money for your political gains - what is going on. It would be wise, if you act as HRD Minister for the whole country - and not your own chosen vote banks.

Well, South East Asian countries - Malaysia, Indonesia and Phillipines have raced ahead in literacy and primary education - because thats their real goal. Get to 100% literacy. We have doublespeak and short sightedness and empty boast, therefore, we sure do not achieve our goals of literacy - and therefore 30% of Worlds Illiterates are in India.

There is a whole bunch of such Cess crap floating around (Education is not the only one); which usually smack of: You pay for my Sins, And i will continue to Sin! huh.

Random Thought : An extra-ordinary number of Professional Colleges ( Engineering / Medical etc. ) are owned by Politicians in India.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Cell Phone Buyers Journey

A few days ago i decided to get myself a new CellPhone. The requirements were quite simple - the cell phone should preferably have:
  • Speaker
  • Camera (Picture/Video)

  • Less than Rs 10K
  • Reputed Brand, for easy access to after sales service.

  • Small/Flat/Sleek.

Pretty basic stuff you would say. But it took me a few days to figure out what was best available within budget.

So, here are the phones which came close to satisfying the requirements:

  • Motorola V3 - VGA Camera (Costs less than v3i)

  • Motorola V3i - 1.23 MegaPixel Camera

  • Nokia N Series - Much more costlier than Motorola V3i, and not as Sleek.

  • Samsung Slim - Could not find a sample model to check it out, but costlier than v3i.

Finally zeroed in on Motorola V3i, as it met most of the stated requirements. In my opinion it was the best available phone with the desired features, within that budget.

The Pluses:

  • Sleek, classy look. Available in two colors a Black and Reddish (for lack of a better name).

  • Flat, easily fits into your pocket. Big buttons - ease of use. A Nice Flap.

  • Transfer pictures etc. from phone to your computer using a simple USB cable that comes along with it (no need to install any software!).

The Minuses:

  • Highest Voice Volume is quite low. If you want to put it on speaker and do a conference call or listen to songs - forget it.

  • Voice Recording feature is not good. Again same problem, feeble voice playback.

  • The video files are in .3gp format - which is understood by Apple QuickTime. Windows Media Player cannot play this format. (anyone knows how to convert?).

  • Quite a broad phone (width/area). Wonder why it had to be so broad. I guess when you make things that flat, it becomes broad!

Overall a good Phone for the price. It has other features like BlueTooth etc., which i do not use. And i can send MMS emails, but perhaps for that i need some sort of internet connection or i need to contact my connection service provider to figure out how that can be done (gadget experts welcome to throw in your advice). So you see - this is a pretty ordinary phone user's journey - no expert - but a willing student!

Random Thought: Wonder what would be the state of Cell Phones in India, if govt. created a PSU to manufacture and give connections, and not allow private players. The number of cell phones added in less than a year in India now is more than it added in its entire history since independence.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Science - No Way.

Media would make you believe that India is on its way to becoming one of the greatest Scientific Powerhouses in next few years. After all Indian Software Companies are doing cutting edge work, we make and export world class cars, and have a couple of world class drug companies. And don't we have our IITs and IISCs to boast of?

Well - believing the above lines would be a mistake.

Feb 28th every year is celebrated as a Science Day. It came and went. Did you even hear about it? Yes you may have read a line or two hidden in some newspaper, or spoken casually on a television channel just before they blurted out weather report. Even uneducated people know about Valentine's Day now, but educated are unaware of Science Day. This is sign of the times we live in - this is what reflects the true prevalence of science in our society.

Why Feb 28th? Sir C.V. Raman announced the discovery of the Raman Effect on Feb 28th 1928.

Consider the following:

  • The last time an indian scientist won a major international award (forget Nobel!) is almost impossible to recall.
  • Rewards by itself are not so important, but what about breakthroughs. We are hard pressed to note any significant breakthrough in the field of science being made in India in last few decades. Homi Jahangir Bhabha was many decades ago.
  • Recent studies have ranked Indian Institute of Science beyond 250th position in the world. And IITs even lower. Some of these studies may be biased, but what have you got to prove otherwise? The fact is Indian Education System is not geared towards Science. Its geared towards rote learning.
  • According to Prime Minister's scientific advisor C N R Rao - The decreasing number of high impact papers from India, which is less than 1%, is of a serious concern." Terming the bureaucracy as "unbearable," Rao said, "We cannot have the department of personnel in Delhi deciding who is a good scientist or who is able to head an institution. So is Science on its Death Bed in India?
  • The miracle men - are more popular in india than top scientists. Sure you know that already!
  • And where is any reasonable research happening in our universities. For Research merit is necessary, not reservations.

So where do we go from here? Well... in a country where the HRD Minister is busy figuring out how to hoodwink people, and keep them entagled in reservations - talking about excellence in science seems like a joke.

Random Thought: Isn't India the same country where the digit zero, and decimal system was invented?