All posts tagged: World

Incredible India: A social experiment in travel.

Update: Thanks everyone for getting in touch. Keep up the enthusiasm! I’m working with a small bunch of you to refine the idea. If you’ve indicated your interest, I’ll keep you in the loop of developments. If you’re interested to join the initiative, feel free to drop me an email or a comment :) India is a beautiful country. It’s richness of culture, natural wonders, people, traditions, festivals, landscapes, history, art, food, languages and wildlife, is as stunning as it is overwhelming. Even for an Indian, it’s impossible to explain in detail the diversity of India’s travel offerings or the riches in its every nook and corner. So here I am, excited at the thought of a social experiment, aching to make my contribution to India’s economy, with an idea to facilitate tourism in India through social & social media collaboration. Here I am, inviting you to join me in this social experiment, because I know you’re aching to be that spark for India too.

Remembering August 6th

Today marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and continues to send shivers down the spines of those that dare to reminisce. 64 years later, the world is still a cradle of hatred, cruelty and destruction. Although we probably had our first tryst with World War II in 6th grade history textbooks, I deeply encountered the implications of war, weapons & death only in 9th grade literature. It tragically transformed historical numbers, facts and figures into real people, emotions and scars. A doctor’s journal entry for August 6, 1945 – Vikram Seth The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm. Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly A strong flash, then another, startled me. I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit. Magnesium flares? While I debated it, The roof, the walls and, as it seemed, the world Collapsed in timber and debris, dust swirled Around me – in the garden now – and, weird, My drawers and undershirt disappeared. A splinter jutted from my mangled thigh. …

The moral microscope

Life is filled with contradictions, cliches, constants and conflicts. There are no absolutes, no black & whites. We tend to govern our lives with fundamental principles, but the rate at which these principles evolve is also the rate at which we mature. And with maturity comes a sense of incredulity at the things we have believed in,  prioritised and valued. Personally, whenever I muse about moralities, and more now than ever, my arguments scatter on uneven grounds. On the one hand, life is way too short to assess each situation under the moral microscope and do what seems “right”, than simply embrace a moment and flow with it. This is particularly true when you purely believe in science, or disbelieve in any form of rebirth. Karma, I suppose, comes into play only in matters which exert an influence, good or bad, on others. On the other hand, however, a society devoid of morals will undoubtedly become a chaos fest, and the guilt does bear a certain inexplicable weight on the mind. I guess my dilemma is …

Advertising bites, 2009

Creativity can never be drained out of advertising. I don’t know if sales will increase post these ads, but smiles definitely will. An incredible Incredible India TV commercial by Nirvana films. A wonderfully executed TV commercial by TATA Communications for its foreign markets (hence not featured on Indian TV). A glocalized Intel ad for an Indian audience. An Amul billboard I spotted in Bombay, targeting the 90% reservation proposal for SSC students by the Maharashra government. Never doubt the power of the freedom of speech in a democracy! What are your favorites this year?

Education reforms in India

The Congress came to power with big promises this year (as all governments post all elections), and much to the credit of the academic party that it is, I am proud to say that I see hope for India, believing, rather optimistically, that Kapil Sibal’s proposed education reforms will be implemented. I must confess that I am an Indian news channels’ addict, despite the trash that they feature and hype, and have followed all day, the vision of Kapil Sibal, India’s HRD minister and a Harvard alumni. My rants on education finally find some relief, at least in acceptance of the fact that our education system is a breeding ground for stress, due to its superficial emphasis on results. The man who led India’s first expedition to the Arctic and represented the country at the Davos economic forum, has now become the harbinger of relief in the Indian student life. In an NDTV exclusive with Barkha Dutt, Kapil Sibal proposed the following: Scrap the compulsory class 10 board exam, for it is merely a source …

Justice shining?

I am trying to stifle the fan within me as I write this post, because objectivity is important. There is a 4-letter word doing the rounds on Indian news channels and I cannot hold my silence any more. My intention here is merely to weigh the arguments I have been constructing in my head since June 16, rant about the media, and assess the state of affairs in my dear country. If you haven’t figured out yet, I am talking about Shiney Ahuja. The 4-letter word is rape. I quote from Wikipedia (which I am way more tempted to trust as a source than everything that appears as breaking news on CNN IBN, NDTV, Headlines Today and the like): On the evening of Sunday, June 14 2009, a household maid working at Ahuja’s house lodged a compliant with the Mumbai Police alleging that Ahuja raped her when they were alone that same afternoon. She further claimed that he threatened her life to prevent her from disclosing the incident. At first glance, or if you have …

Of Rural India & The Aasha Build

The soul of an Indian is incomplete without a journey into the heart of rural India. The 2 weeks I spent in the slum region of Hegdenagar / Kamanahalli (to which I partly owe my long absence from the blogosphere) has transformed my perspective on India’s development, and my own ambitions and issues. Hegdenagar is an ignored little village, about an hour’s distance from Bangalore city, and a few decades’ development. Honestly though, I had imagined a replica of the Dharavi slums, and Hegnenagar’s cemented, albiet small and dilapidated houses, alleviated, if only for the shortest time, my anticipation of the living standards of our rural countrymen. I learnt later that most Dharavi-styled slums stand on illegal land, and Habitat India has fought its fair battle to abide by the law and take Hegdenagar through its first stage of development. The same houses which teased us with a heartening peek into rural life, home 8-10 families in their 300-350 sq-ft boundaries, math that left me bewildered. Constructing new homes for such families that could afford …

Tagaytay City, Philippines

Somewhere among the clouds lie the highlands of Tagaytay, green and misty, 2 hours away from the busy city life of Manila, the capital. It is here that I spent the weekend, treated to a gorgeous view of the Taal lake, and among people so warm and friendly that it almost felt like home. The trip was sponsored by Accenture, for a 3-day Student Leadership Conference (SLC), during which all of Taal Vista was filled with what I believe to be some of the brightest minds in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me that despite our geographical remoteness, the journey we undertake as students tends to bind us in no time at all, like we were always in it together. The SLC was styled with seminars conducted by senior Accenture executives, and intersparsed with team activities that made me feel like a college freshie again! The highlight of the stay was the post-conference bonding with students from different parts of the Philippines, including Baguio, Cebu and Manila. It took me less than a …

Off the beaten track

College degrees are analogous to fashion trends. The ones that manage to attain critical mass sell like hot cakes, albiet periodically. The 80s were for med schools, the 90s saw students flock to engineering, the early 2000s started the fad of computer wizards, the last 4-5 years have generated an inordinate number of bankers, and the next few, I predict, will see the masses revert back to the doctors and engineers. In fact, fancy foreign banking experience, which once scored points for eligible bachelors (particularly Indian, since the arranged marriage concept is almost alien to other nationalities), has become quite the tabboo this season. During my own time in college, I have seen many a talent wasted in the race for the most popular college degree. Off beat degrees, it seems, are still only for the daredevils, the rich & hence financially secure, and those who can’t make the academic cutoff of mainstream courses. Of course, there are those who discover only midway through college that they are not cut out for the rat race. …

Saturn & Stargazing

2009 is a special year in the night sky. The Earth is exactly at the same level as Saturn in space, allowing us Earthlings to catch a vertical view of the second largest planet in our solar system, a one in 15 years phenomenon. To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the Science Center in Singapore has opened up its Observatory for free stargazing sessions every Friday night. This week, the main telescope was aligned to focus on Saturn and its moons, and it made for a spectacular sight. In the magnified view of the telescope, Saturn appears exactly like it was depicted in secondary school geography textbooks, complete with the rings. The rings, which are really pieces of dust and ice moving at tremendous speeds, look gorgeous! Of the 62 moons of Saturn, only 4 of the brighter ones were visible through the telescope, and appeared as though they were protecting the rings of Saturn. To the naked eye, or through a pair of binoculars, Saturn only appears as a bright star in the sky. …