Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What about this terror?

As we mourn the death of 66 individuals in the serial blasts that hit Jaipur a few days back, very little attention seems to have been accorded to another tragedy that has killed more than double of those killed in Jaipur. About 150 people have died in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu after consuming poisonous illegal alcohol. This happened in a border town between the two states. Police now say the alcohol was illegally produced as bars and shops were sealed because of election in Karnataka. Would it be fair to assume that some political parties were behind this lethal concoction? If yes, are they any different from those who carried out the blasts in Jaipur?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why was a deadly cyclone called Nargis (daffodil)?

Not the kind of damage one would expect a daffodil to unleash: Image of the cyclone from BBC News

In this season of disasters, both natural and man-made, this thought may be inconsequential. Still, I have been wondering why the cyclone that devasted much of Burma was named after something as delicate and romantic as a daffodil (nargis is the Urdu word for the flower)?

There is an elaborate international system in place that allows countries to take turns at naming cyclones in the their regions. The India Meteorlogical Department is the coordinating centre of South Asia for the World Meteorlogical Organisation and receives entries from neighbouring countries. Nargis, the cyclone that hit Burma, was Pakistan's suggestion. But why? Did the Pakistani meterologists actually think the cyclone was going to downgrade itself before hitting land to a breeze that would end up caress Burma's treetops? Why not some of the firebrand stuff like the names of their missiles: Hatf, Ghauri, Ghaznawi, Abdali?

Bangladesh, when it was its turn, had recommended something more sensible: Ogni (fire). India too had an insipid name - Akash (sky). Fortunately, the latter didn't kill as many as Nargis. The next cyclone will be called Abe, as Sri Lanka wants it. Wonder what Abe means? Tried looking around but didn't come across something relevant.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Can a champion swimmer have a paunch?

Image from Mercury
I can't get over the brouhaha over Grant Hackett's muffin top. After pictures of him from Seville emerged, showing him with a well-endowed belly and excess flab spilling over his trunks, there's been a debate whether he can be a swimmer worthy enough to represent Australia. So much so that he had to strip himself down to his Speedos at a press conference back home and show off his abs. He even had to explain why that belly happened to be there: apparently, he had eaten 1200 gms and loads of liquid before that shot. And at the conference he got asked by journalists: "Grant, are you holding your stomach back?" Wonder why the guy isn’t put to a simple test in the pool rather than such a gimmick? If he makes it, the paunch may as trigger research to see if it helps slash lap timings!

Just a thought for our Indian sportsmen: if we were to put our cricketers to the flab test, I wonder if we'll be left with enough to form a team! More so, if the MC4R gene in Indians has now been proved to cause a 2cm expansion in waist circumference!

Do we need the governor?

As the Raj Bhavan in Calcutta switched off its lights for two hours to express "solidarity" with the ordinary folk who are forced to bear long power cuts, the ruling CPM has come alive with caustic comments for Gopal Krishna Gandhi's Gandhigiri act. Here's a sampling of the missives directed at Gandhi:

“He (the governor) should also walk to any non-government function within 10km of city limits. This will save fuel.” Shyamal Chakraborty, CPM leader

“If we save electricity, it is a good thing.” Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary

“It is high time the Centre ponders whether the post of governor is required. If need be, the Constitution should be amended to abolish the post. A non-elected person cannot judge elected representatives of the people.” Biman Bose, CPM state secretary

"Food scarcity is there in India. So it's a luxury to have two square meals a day. So easily his next step will be to skip at least one meal." Shyamal Chakraborty, CPM leader

The rhetoric aside, two valid questions:

1) Should a governor indulge in such publicity-gaining tactics that breach established protocol?

2) And, should we do away with the post altogether? Especially when the governor’s long been reduced to an agent of the ruling party in Delhi? More so, when posts are handed out to party loyalists and cronies?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fighting aliens with vada pav!

Vada pav: 100 per cent Marathi, Image from The Telegraph

The xenophobic Shiv Sena now wants to spruce up stands selling vada pav, the culinary epitome of what's Maharashtrian. This so that Marathis, selling the most authentic Marathi snack, have an edge over others. Little bother that the person helping them do so is a non-Maharashtrian! More here.