Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama - The unknown commodity

Kashmir has remained one of the main problems that the Indian democracy is facing next to, poverty, corruption and bureaucracy. We all know what the basic issue is. Pakistan is claiming Kashmir. (In fact, the 'K' in 'Pakistan' represents Kashmir) But India says Kashmir belongs to India. And the problem still is going on. It seems like it will never end. We have already fought 3 full fledged wars and have faced numerous insurgencies. The Kashmir state is still consuming biggest chunk of Indian defense budget. Numerous soldiers have lost their life, both in India and Pakistan. People in Kashmir are constantly living under fear. If there were a peaceful period in Kashmir, it was during Musharaff rule in Pakistan. That is the only time, India had a decent oppurtunity to conduct talks about the Kashmir problem.

What exactly is the solution then? There is no peaceful solution. If Kashmir is merely a political issue, it can be sourted out. But it has become a nationalist issue. It is far from a normal border dispute. It has become Indians Vs Pakistanis. The general population itself is angry over this issue. Pakistani people are determined that Kashmir should be in Pakistan. Same goes to Indians as well. Many people have suggested that the LOC should be peacefully agreed as the international border between Pakistan and India. But i dont think that is gonna happen.

India is a diverse nation. Actually, to call india a diverse nation, is an under-statement. India is too diverse. India is so fragmented with respect to any cultural issue that you can possibly imagine. The regional politics in India is getting stronger, which in one way good, because it is a good signal that the Democray is more mature now. But also, is a bad signal, as there is not a central unification factor in India. This diversity is a crucial player in deciding who is gonna get Kashmir. If India is willing to give up Kashmir, it can create numerous violences around the country. Trust me, Kashmir is a liability for India. But giving up Kashmir can have serious repurcussions.

Enough said about India. Do you think Pakistan will give up Kashmir to India? Nope. Not gonna happen. So what is the solution then? I have no idea. My prediction is, the Kashmir problem will go on for years without a solution. Kashmir can be given more regional autonomy in the Indian constitution like the Kashmiri people want. But that is not completely feasible too.

But am afraid the US is gonna interfere in the Kashmir problem, which will undoubtedly be skewed towards Pakistan and which will seriously disturb the India-America relationship. India has always denied any support - nope intrusion is the right word - from foreigners when it comes to Kashmir issue. But am afraid, Obama is gonna push for a resolution for this problem, which will create tensions. As many analysts point out, India-Pakistan problem is the first reason for a rise in Islamic terrorism in the region. Above all, Obama had Afghanistan and 'killing Osama' as his cheif Campaign promises. To do that, he definitely needs Pakistan. If pakistan should cooperate and help the American troops, Kashmir issue should be solved or atleast American experts think so. There is a wide spread speculation that Obama will introduce a special position in his cabinet, a rather powerful one. It will be called the "South Asian envoy". People are speculating that the position will have extra ordinary powers and someone very knowledgeable will be appointed soon. In that case, trust me, that person will concentrate on Kashmir. In that case, as i said, Kashmir will once again become a major issue. According to Obama, Kashmir is part of the problem, rather than the part of a solution for the American resolve in Afghanistan.

And at the same time, there are also predictions that the US will continue to be an ally for india. If you think about it, they need India to have a check on China, which is slowly emerging as a powerful nation, which has already started demanding US for many things. Usually it the other way round. 

I read a related article in Reuters today. you can read it here. And you can read another interesting article here, about Indo-US relationships and foreign policy challenges for both India and US. The Indian govt and its top diplomats are calling Obama "the unknown commodity". Rightly so. Lets wait and see. The first 100 days of the president are very crucial.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Phd comic strip - Abstract

See the following phd comic. For some reason, it reminds me of my Final Year Project. Pretty funny. And honestly, i am going to use this for my forthcoming report. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

இனிய பொங்கல் திருநாள் வாழ்த்துக்கள்

I initially wanted to write this entire post in Tamil, in order to remind everyone, that it is indeed தமிழர் திருநாள். But i am seriously lagging behind in my Final Year Project. And so, i cant afford to waste time in blogging in Tamil. Let me proceed in English.

Something about Pongal, that makes me miss home. For many people, it is always the Diwali, when they miss home and crackers and stuff. But i dont care about diwali. In our house, we never really made a big deal about diwali. I hated crackers. 

But in our house, Pongal is a big deal. Even when we were in Salem, we used to travel 10 hrs to reach our village, கீழ்ச்சீவல்பட்டி.(The place is just 40 mins drive from my current place, pudukkottai) It is a small, but lively village. We have few farms there and a really big house, which i think should be more than 100 years old. Our house extends from one street to the other. It is not a big surprise really. Most of Chettinad houses are that big

  Our house in our village
If you wanna see the real pongal, come to our village. People in big cities cook pongal in rice cooker, and eat it while watching lousy Sun TV. Real pongal celebration is in the village. Have you ever watched a ஜல்லிக்கட்டு? That too, the அழகாபுரி ஜல்லிக்கட்டு is quite famous. அழகாபுரி is very close to my village. The scorching sun, the crowded land and the air filled with dust, adds something to the environment and your mind, that i cannot express in words.

For every pongal, we will get Sugarcane, Rice, Groundnuts,etc, form our own farm. We go to the temple in the morning and then to the lovely green farm in the afternoon, fresh tender coconuts in the evening. That is probably the day i would spend happily, without even thinking about TV. Man, i miss India so much.

Here I am in Singapore. It is 4 am in the morning and I am sitting in PGP study room(a residence in NUS), pretending to work for my project, thinking about my village and home. It is not always fun to live in a foreign country.

Anyways, Happy pongal everyone !

Monday, January 12, 2009

Windows 7

My desktop with Windows 7 OS

Finally after a series of bad Operating systems, Microsoft has come up with a pretty decent OS. (Check out the videos here)

I am currently using the Beta version of the Windows 7 OS and i gotta say, it is pretty damn good. I dont have a problem accepting that, inspite of the fact, that i am not a big fan of Microsoft products. (I mean, honestly, is there a bad Browser than IE and a bad media player than Windows Media player?)

My laptop has outdated hardware. Very bad configuration. 60 GB hard disk and a 512 mb ram. The OS calculated a performance score and said my PC score is 1.9, which is basically the lowest possible hardware. (The highest will be 8). Windows XP in my PC was painfully slow. So just tried out the new Windows 7. Even in my pc, with such poor hardware, it is faster than the usual XP. The bootup time is jus 45 secs in total. I am really surprised. In just 45 secs, you can access all your applications.

There are lots of good features in the OS, that will really make it easier for everyone to use the computers. My personal favorites are "Action center", "Dynamic Taskbar", and the "Aero shake effects".  They have adopted few methods from other OS like the "Synaptic Package manager" from Linux and the "Dock" from Apple. But still, you gotta admire the speed. I mean, Microsoft, good or bad, still has the biggest market share. I would say, this is the only time, when they have realized the responsibility and have understood what people want, rather than forcing everyone to use a crappy piece of software. This is what Vista was supposed to be. I read somewhere that the new version, is a very optimized version of Vista. I would say, this is the only time, when Microsoft product "Just works". Well, Windows 7 is still in Beta stage. Basic assumption is, it will be a lot better when the full version is released. So it should be the best windows ever, as the critics say.

Anyways, after years of suffering humiliation in the form of ads by Apple, Microsoft has a good chance to rebuild the image with the new OS. It will be available in the markets sometime next year.