Even God can’t help India: SC

Aug 6, 2008; ToI – Even God can’t help India: SC


Kashmir Issue

The concept of partition is anathema to Indians. Kashmir’s symbolism to India is as critical a consideration as any security significance associated with this fragment of ice and rock threaded by a beautiful valley. New Delhi is also concerned that Kashmiri autonomy would set a precedent for breakaway movements in other Indian states (e.g., Punjab or Assam).

To Pakistan, Kashmir is symbolic of its national ethos and commitment to protect Muslim interests against Indian encroachment. It believes that the creation of a separate, strongly sectarian nation is incomplete without contiguous Kashmir.

Kashmir, in brief, symbolizes the enmity that Hindus and Muslims harbour for one another.

The earliest recorded history of Kashmir by Kalhana begins at the time of the Mahabharata war. In the 3rd century BC, emperor Ashoka introduced Buddhism in the valley. Kashmir became a major hub of Hindu culture by the 9th century AD. It was the birthplace of the Hindu sect called Kashmiri ‘Shaivism’, and a haven for the greatest Sanskrit scholars. (http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa010102b.htm).

Kashmir indeed is a land of learning – or is it? (http://sakooterspeaks.wordpress.com/2007/05/23/kashmir-%E2%80%93-education-at-its-best/)

In the past 61 years of Indian Independence, what has mainland India (and Indians) done anything to help average Kashmiri feel proud of being Indian and feel connected with the mainland India?

Symbolic announcements that Babus and Netas make in New Delhi do not make the day-to-day life of the citizen better. We need action, not of the defence forces, but the human touch. There is no perennial connectivity between Kashmir and the rest of India. Probably disputed regions of Kashmir are better connected to Pakistan than with India, how ironic?

I looked up the Internet to find out
* Average per-capita-income of Kashmir vs. the rest of the states in India
* Education, health care, economic statistics of Kashmir vs. the rest of the states in India

I wasn’t able to find anything worth mentioning.
It has been suggested (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/399026.stm) that India could incur daily expenses of $2.3 million to keep a watch on disputed stretches in Kashmir.

If we can use the same funds (a portion of it, to start with) to foster, economic and social development in Kashmir, most of the issues facing India would be reduced if not resolved completely. Under the given circumstances and also because of geographic conditions, it is difficult to attract heavy industries. Generate local employment – Kashmiris are dependent on agriculture, tourism and small scale industries for their livelihood. Create framework to support these activities – use technology to solve to solve problems of transportation, connectivity.

A happy well-fed society would rarely engage in riots and terrorism. Have you heard of a Swiss group engaging in religious war, terrorism or riots? Why do such things happen in Asia, Africa or Middle east ?

Such riots are more to do with growing unrest as a result of socio-economic inequalities (to the extent of seclusion and deprivation) than the religious beliefs.

Browser wars brewing

Browsers have graduated from a simple tool into a platform. For example, Mozilla Firefox has a build in database (starting with v3), support for plugins/add-ons. With appropriate add-on installed, Mozilla becomes a web browser, chat/IM client, VoIP client, RSS Reader, email client etc etc.

At present, various browser components (add-ons, plugins) and web services exists are disconnected entities. If these can be integrated, browser can be the window to the Wide Web World! Flock is trying do it, but still the components are held very loosely. Interaction between various browser components has to be seem less and the browser (through web services) should be able to react to user needs more intelligently.

The video posted below is a glimpse of what next browser might look like.
Source: http://gigaom.com/2008/05/29/the-new-new-browser-wars/

Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Online movie streaming

SurfTheChannel (STC) has links to some Bollywood movies as well. STC

Jab We Met : http://www.surfthechannel.com/info/Movies/56315/Jab+We+Met.html?aid=52402

They have a huge collection of TV Series, Anime and hollywood movies. Most of the video is streamed from Chinese websites (tudou.com). I found that videos streamed from veoh aer much better than tudou.

STC uses Agriya FLV player to stream and play movies. One of the things that sucks about this player is, it doesn’t let you seek the video forward, which is very annoying if I want to watch the movie in multiple sessions. Another much needed addition would be ability to automatically play all the parts of the video (typically a movie spans multiple parts, possibly from different sources).

Be warned that all the videos/movies listed on STC are most likely violating copyrights.

If they can come up legitimitate way of online streaming infrastructure to deliver iTunes style low cost/high quality movies (PPV), there may be a decent market. Netflix is already delivering movie titles online for a small fee.

European players are toying with the idea of using P2P technologies (“p2pnext”) for streaming videos. This would enable delivering high quality videos with optimal bandwidth usage.

Axe your long distance call rates with jax

Jaxtr, the company that links your phone to the Web, now offers local phone numbers in India. Jaxtr is the first and only company to offer its members the ability to bypass expensive international toll charges by calling a local Indian number to reach friends and family abroad-cheaply and easily-from any ordinary mobile or landline phone. (Press Release)

With the local numbers, India jaxtr members can call for as little as 0.43 Indian rupees (43 paisa or 0.01 USD) per minute.

For Indians in US, the reversal of calling patterns can result in tremendous savings.


I use StanaCard or Reliance Calling Card to call home. Both of these cost almost 6 cents per minute. (Apart from this, I also use my operator’s tariff minutes).

If I consume about 320-360 mins/month calling India. 70% of thse minutes are calls to my immediate family. Rest of the minutes are divided between friends and relatives.

I’m trying to analyse the cost savings if I purchase jaxtr India number(s) where my family can call me. Calling US from India is much cheaper (on Jaxtr) that calling India from US, this should result in considerable savings.

The following table should explain the scenario in detail.

  Minutes Jaxtr Others Jaxtr Others
Phone#1 120 1.2 7.2
Phone#2 90 0.9 5.4
Phone#3 30 1.8 1.8
Others# 60 3.6 3.6
    2.1 5.4   18
Total 300 $7.5   $18  

Wow! this cuts down my long distance charges by more than half! The only downside being, for each of my phone in India (from where calls are made), I need jax minutes since sharing of minutes across multiple phone numbers may not be allowed by Jaxtr.

Subprime Primer

What is subprime lending

The term subprime lending refers to the practice of making loans to borrowers who do not qualify for market interest rates owing to various risk factors, such as income level, size of the down payment made, credit history, and employment status.

In general, subprime lending (also known as B-paper, near-prime, non-prime, or second chance lending) is lending at a higher rate than the prime rate.

However, in U.S. mortgage lending specifically, the term “subprime” simply refers to loans that do not meet Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. It may or may not reflect credit status of the borrower as being less than ideal and may not even reflect the interest rate on the loan itself. The phrase also refers to bank loans taken on property that cannot be sold on the primary market, including loans on certain types of investment properties and to certain types of self-employed persons.

How the Subprime Mortgage Problem Developed

The problem now challenging financial markets and the economy stems from historically low interest rates that encouraged millions of Americans to refinance their fixed rate mortgages. The lower interest rates meant that buyers could afford larger mortgages. Effectively, a bidding war broke out that raised the prices of homes. While some markets had larger price appreciation than others, higher prices limited the number of potential buyers. In response, the home financing industry developed new products that allowed otherwise unqualified individuals (by income, assets, and/or credit history) to receive loans to buy or refinance a house.

These same products also allowed creditworthy households to buy more expensive houses or to refinance their current houses to obtain cash for other uses. These riskier mortgage instruments, referred to as “subprime” loans, in recent years have come to account for an ever larger share of the mortgage finance market.

The hedge fund trade and stock market crisis

The typical subprime mortgage hedge fund trade goes like this:

Borrow at lower rates and invest that money into high interest bearing financial instruments.


1. Borrow in Japan paying 2% interest, then convert to US dollars.
2. Invest US dollars in US CMO (collateralized mortgage obligations) paying 8% (subprime mortgages get higher yields).

If that was all that the hedge funds did they would have lost money, but a credit crisis could have been averted.

To maximize the returns (“the greed”), the fund manager asked for a loan to increase his leverage…like buying on margin. This increased leverage on an already leveraged investment increased the hedge funds yield to over 15%!

But as with all over-leveraged positions, this also carries an inherent risk – the dreaded “margin call”.

The underlying value of the CMOs started dropping as a result of the defaults on the underlying mortgages (picture below). Since the CMO itself was devalued, the hedge fund gets the dreaded “margin call” to cover his positions.  The hedge fund manager doesn’t have a Billion dollars sitting idly by so he must look at selling the CMOs themselves to cover his margin…but because everyone is now worried about how deep the defaults go inside the CMO’s, no one is a buyer.

So now the hedge fund manager needing to raise cash fast is forced into selling other stocks, bonds, etc….and the stock market takes a beating.

Mortgage Fraud Rate

Mortgage Loan Fraud

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bash script to check if a process instance is running

if [ $# -ne 2 ]
echo "$0 process_name instances_count"
exit 1

function count_match {
echo Count Match #Your code goes here

function count_mismatch {
echo Count Mismatch #Your code goes here


run_count=`ps eax | grep ${process} | grep -v grep | wc -l`

if [ ${exp_count} -eq ${run_count} ]

Please note “grep -v grep” is not be required for cygwin, but even if you retain it, it doesn’t alter the behavior.