Tag Archives: india

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.

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.

online remittance

For those of you who want to transfer funds from US/UK to India, the following information might be useful:

My preliminary research suggests that HDFC QuickRemit offers best rates for remittance from US to India.

The exchange rates are as of 16 Jun, 2008.

HDFC QuickRemit


11 – 1000 42.50 50 – 700 82.69 50 – 1000 65.72
1001 – 3500 42.59 701 – 3500 82.79 1001 – 3500 65.83
3501 – 5000 42.64 3501 – 5000 82.84 3501 – 5000 65.89

MSN India


50 – 1000 42.34 50 – 700 82.69 50 – 1000 65.38
1001 – 5000 42.46 701 – 3500 82.84 1001 – 5000 65.5
5001 – 10000 42.55 3501 – 5000 82.91 5001 – 7500 65.58
10001 – 25000 42.55 5001 – 10000 82.91 7501 – 200000 65.73
25001 – 200000 42.64 10001 – 200000 83.13    
    10001 – 400001 83.13    



50 – 1000 42.34 50 – 700 82.69 50 – 1000 65.38
1001 – 5000 42.46 701 – 3500 82.84 1001 – 5000 65.5
5001 – 10000 42.55 3501 – 5000 82.91 5001 – 7500 65.58
10001 – 25000 42.55 5001 – 10000 82.91 7501 & Above 65.73
25001 & Above 42.64 10001 & Above 83.13    




Currency INR GBP INR
50 – 1000 42.47 £50 – £900 Rs.82.91 
1001 – 2000 42.52 £901 – £2000 Rs.83.01 
2001 – 4000 42.57 £2001 – £3500 Rs.83.06 
4001 – 5000 42.62 £3501 – £5000 Rs.83.16 
5001 – 10000      42.62*  £5001 – £10000 Rs.83.16 * 


On July 01, 2008, I found that
ICICI provides an exchange rate of Rs.42.79339/USD  as against Rs.42.55 of HDFC Quick Remit, for $1000. However ICICI imposes additional $2 service charges. However for $2000, ICICI doesn’t impose the service charges.

Following table should clarify the picture.

Service USD Forex Rate Service Charge INR Remittance Fees INR INR
hdfc 1000 42.55 0.00 25.00 42,525.00
icici 1000 42.79 85.59 25.00 42,682.80
hdfc 2000 42.64 0.00 25.00 85,255.00
icici 2000 42.88865 0.00 25.00 85,752.30


http://www.icicibank.com/pfsuser/icicibank/ibank-nri/nrinewversion/m2i.htm and http://www.timesofmoney.com/remittance/jsp/hdfc_remithome.jsp#null




Mystery Spot – demystified

I visited Mystery Spot in Santa Cruza, CA a couple of weeks ago. The operators of this site claim that it is a place where the laws of physics and gravity do not apply. They provide a number of demonstrations in support of these claims.

Mystery Spot is a visual illusion. Similar illusions can be found elsewhere, including the identically named Mystery Spot near St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California; the Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Oregon; and Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Spook Hill in Lake Wales, Florida.
There are many videos on youtube which have demonstrations from Mystery Spot.

After this visit, I was reassured of one thing: US is very good at packaging and branding .. be it Pepsi, be it iPhone or be it Mystery Spot(s).

There are hundreds of known gravity hill locations around the world. Does any one know of Mystery Spot in Ladakh, India?

IIT/IISc – National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning

On the lines of MIT’s OpenCourseWare, top Indian institutes (IIT, IISc) have launched National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

The main objective of NPTEL program is to enhance the quality of engineering education in the country by developing curriculum based video and web courses.(Videos on YouTube)

Eklavya is similar effort by IITs and HRD Ministry.

Both are commendable effort and will benefit many people who are unable to make it to these highly competitive institutes. Opening up courseware has many other benefits too.

Open cousewares allow aspiring studens to study the subjects online before they can decide whether they actually like the courses, helping them make educated choices about their specialization and cirriculum.