Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

India and China

The Economist has an interesting set of articles on China. As expected, there are comparisons with India. An important statistic is the literacy rate - China stands at 87% while India languishes in the 60% percent mark.

The 2001 census in India highlighted interesting facts about the literacy rate in India vis-a-vis the spread across various regions & disparities due to gender.

I. Literacy rate of males is 75.85% while that of females is 54.16%.

  1. the rate of growth of female literacy over the past decade is heartening. Karnataka grew from 45% literate (females) in 1991 to 54% in 2001. While males grew less spectacularly from 67% to 75%.
  2. Urban is better than rural. Urban areas have almost 20% greater literacy rates. The urban poor, miserable as they seem, are better off than their rural brethren. To give an example: Bangalore-Urban in 2001 had total literacy of 83.91% (88% male, 79% female), while Bangalore-Rural had 65% (74% male, 55% female). Clearly, urbanisation bodes well for reducing the gender-equality gap.

II. The disparity between states although well known, is still staggering. Bihar is the equivalent of sub-Saharan Africa in terms of statistics on development and its associated benefits. The literacy rate is a dismal 47% (60% male, 33% female). In other words, Bihar is half-as literate as western, northern or southern parts of India. Moreoever, its women have it worse. Roughly 20 million of Bihari women are illiterate. For comparison purposes that's like stating that the whole of Iraq (pop 25M) is illiterate.

  1. Even in Bihar, urbanisation has helped. Patna has a literacy level of 63% (73% male, 52% female). i.e. a 20% jump for females when compared to the state avg.

III. The 5 best states/UT to be, for a girl child, vis-a-vis literacy rates:
  • Kerala - 87%
  • Lakshadweep - 81%
  • Chandigarh - 76%
  • Andaman & Nic - 75%
  • Goa/Delhi - 75%
    The 5 worst
    • Bihar - 33%
    • Jharkhand - 39%
    • Dadra &NH - 42%
    • UP - 42%
    • Arunachal - 44%

    IV. As shocking as it may seem, slums in urban India have a higher literacy rate than (regular) rural India. [The govt is rechecking stats for Patna and Lucknow since the reported stats are dubious. Officially, only 1500 persons live in slums in Patna and no one in Lucknow!]

    The nation does have a long road ahead of it. Clearly, access to education in and of itself is not the sole factor. There are other factors at play: feudalism, non-urbanization (evidenced in the Economist articles as well) that is prolonged by agro-subsidies, supersition, and gender inequality. For instance, the high stats of Kerala could possibly be attributed to the benefits of a matriarchal society.

    The timing of the two census (censi?) is very relevant. While 1991 was the fag-end of a more-or-less closed economy, 2001 had the post-satellite tv generation. It would be interesting to determine if there is a correlation between that and education (largely as a causal factor attributable to increased aspiration levels).

    1. Census of India 2001.
    2. GIS maps on literacy, pop and other demographics
    3.Provisional literacy by state

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    Holy terror

    While there is an 'uplifting' side to the festival, I will always recall the horrifying experience of victims of the festival. While growing up in Mumbai, I witnessed the dark side of Holi. People throwing water ballons from the terraces of their buildings - 7 or 8 floors up. One can imagine how painful it must've been to the hapless college girls who were the target of these bombs.

    The Mumbai newspaper Mid-day sent its reporters out during Holi.

    Watching football

    For the last few days, all I've been doing is watching World Cup soccer. FIFA has added clips of great matches and great players. Heck, they've even included great matches - in their entirety. Including the incredible match that everyone has seen, but no one wants to see again - Ita vs Bra 1982.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Indian Govt guidelines on ART clinics

    My post on the guidelines for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) is at AnarCapLib.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Price intervention

    India may ban pharmaceutical firms from manufacturing generic forms of patented drugs. This is to comply with WTO rules. The quote of interest was made by Mr. Kamal Nath, Commerce Minister:
    "The government will have enormous powers to deal with any unusual price rise."
    The danger of price regulation should be evident to India's minsters. One wonders whether the government is willing to risk a shortage of drugs in order to keep prices at an artificial level.

    Needless to say, patent protection acts as an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to research and manufacture drugs that they perceive will reap them the most economic benefit. Even, if the firm deems a useful drug to be unprofitable, it often finds its way into the market due to the deals worked out with government, NGOs and pharmaceuticals.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Jerry Rao on Bush

    Jerry Rao writes an engaging article on Bush.
    My unsolicited advice to George W. and his advisors is simply this: “Please, please do not craft a strategy, a doctrine or even a slogan, let alone an operating plan to curry favour with the liberal media. That would not only be distinctly un-Napoleonic, but I predict would go down dimly with history. As a simple rule of thumb, it might be wise to do everything that is diametrically the opposite of what the liberal media suggest!”
    Read the full thing.

    Shakti Kapoor video

    It seems like a setup. Who are they to pass public judgments on an individual's morality? Notwithstanding the values of Kapoor (who cares?), India tv did the foll:
    - violated an individual's privacy
    - filmed him without his consent
    - possibly entraped him
    - took a selective instance of consensual behavior to generalize the ethical values of an entire industry
    - besmirched noted film personalities by publicising what was in essense, private bedroom gossip
    What Kapoor did was between his family and himself.

    On the other hand, if they had done a scoop on a producer actively creating an atmosphere where the ability to get a role in a film were to be conditional upon doing unacceptable actions, it would consitute harassment and would thus be illegal. Even then, scoops by their very nature are selective and vindictive. Shakti Kapoor was a minor fish.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    How to set this year's BE quiz

    In response to Kiruba's question, here's an old post of mine on quiznet dated Nov 11, 1999.
    This was created by a well respected veteran quizzer from the Calcutta/Bangalore circuit in October and circulated privately. By popular demand from Bangalore quiznetters, I'm putting it on the list. An aside, Bangalorians counted at least 4 kitchens yesterday. Cheers!


    Start with the score of the latest One Day Match between India and _____. Talk about how wonderful the people of this city/town/village are.

    a) what colour is the executive class boarding card on Indian airlines or what is the frequent flyer programme of ..... (replace with any airline) called?

    b) which dept do you call if you need fresh sheets (replace "fresh sheets" with flowers/champagne etc etc to get 15 other questions) in your hotel-bed

    c) what is the new restaurant at ...... (replace with any high class hotel in your city) called?

    d) what is the inflight magazine of .... (replace with any of the hundred odd airlines u know of) called?

    e) who wrote ,........... (replace with the name of that expensive book that u saw in the airport bookshop whose blurb u read but had no money or inclination to buy)

    f) show an ad ....any ad ....ask for

    i) the adventure sport depicted
    ii) the colour of .....(whatever object appears in the ad)
    iii) how long the commercial is (he actually did this once)
    iv) what is wrong with this ad
    v) any other question that the hotel bell-boy (..sorry your wife) can come up with

    g) who's sponsored the latest music album release of ....( Daler Mehndi, Anaiada or whatever....don't bother buying the cassette, just visit the local paan-walla for this)

    h) take 3 questions from quiznet

    i) two questions on underclothes - especially women's underclothes

    j) a question on a brand which is direct competition to the sponser (gives QM an opportunity to say "Videocon???????? In a BPL sponsored quiz..ha, ha, ha)

    k) insert one curry from the most famous kitchen in Calcutta. Example: What in internet parlance is known as ______(any verb/adjective that comes to mind during that moment)


    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Fringe Benefits

    Tavleen Singh has a nice article on Fringe Benefits provided to politicians and bureaucrats at the expense of taxpayers.

    The problem for us taxpayers is that this renders useless some of the most expensive real estate in India worth crores of rupees an acre. There are no modern, democratic countries I know of where this kind of fringe benefit is provided to politicians or bureaucrats. Our lot enjoyed them because of our uniquely Indian feudal socialism where we treated those who ruled us as socialist maharajahs instead of as servants of the people of India. The housing fringe benefit has allowed them to remain cocooned from the real India, in which a home of one’s own is still the ultimate dream for the rich and poor. For the poor our feudal socialist ways have been even more harmful. If cities like Mumbai and Delhi are to ever have the low-cost and middle-level housing they desperately need, our politicians need to experience the travails of finding a home of their own.

    Read the entire article.

    They really should amend the Salary Act. Why not pay MPs wages at prevailing market rates for employees of public sectors? In other words, a MP with a graduate degree and five years experience as a lawyer should be paid the same as public prosecutors with equivalent education and experience. A MP, with a primary school education should be provided the same wages as a tea-boy in his office. The academic credentials of the previous Lok Sabha was rather good. Let them arrange their own housing.

    Perhaps Dilip D'Souza can add this to his list.

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    The corporate type

    Heard this recently:
    Optimist: This glass is half-full
    Pessimist: This glass is half-empty
    Company Accountant: There's too much glass.

    Saturday, March 05, 2005

    G.R. Vishwanath b Imran

    1982. That ball. Those who saw it can never forget it as long as they live. Imran was unplayable in that series You can see a clip of that ball here.

    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Steroids in Indian sport

    The San Jose Mercury News has an interesting article on the use of steroids in Kabbadi.

    Gulu Ezekiel, a veteran Indian sports journalist based in Delhi, said Singh's story is not surprising.

    ``It is common knowledge that steroid use is rampant in Indian sport,'' Ezekiel wrote in an e-mail. ``In that respect I don't see how Kabaddi is any different.''

    It is time they enforced dope testing at all levels of Indian sport, including cricket. Cheats must be weeded out.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Johnners on Indira Gandhi

    Brian Johnston's recollection of a joke - in a book whose title I've forgotten - doing the rounds in the 1970s.

    Indian PM Indira Gandhi was inspecting a parade with the PM of Singapore. They were standing in a tent like structure,when a downpour hit the place. Everyone was drenched except the Singaporean PM. He asked Mrs G if she was all right. She replied, "I'm fine, although a bit wet, but I wonder why the water did not Lee Kwan Yew."


    SMG commentating in Sharjah, many years ago: "Charles, Did you know that wicketkeepers make good lovers?"

    Charles Colville: "Why is that, Sunny?"

    SMG: "Because they get up at the slightest opportunity"

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Down Memory Lane - Illustrated Weekly article II

    This article appeared in The Illustrated Weekly of India on Aug 23, 1970. The writer is a personal favorite, Ray Robinson. I recommend his book, "The Wildest Tests" which is a compilation of all tests which were stopped/interrupted due to crowd disturbance.(Sydney 1971, Cal 1969, Dacca 1969, Georgetown 1960's etc.). I had posted this article on r.s.c. in 1992, before the www days.

    The Romance of Australian Cricket - Ray Robinson.

    At the risk of being black-listed by every swimming club and tennis court, I believe that Australia's cricket has had more impact abroad than any other activity of my countrymen. Such a contention might make Dawn Fraser go in at the deep end, Ron Clarke run rings around it and Rod Laver contest the issue with an iresistable ace. But that is how it looks to me at the 200th anniversary of James Cook's mapping of Australia's east coast and his landing a few miles south of where Sydney Cricket Ground stands today.

    Australian Cricket was not born with a silver spoon in its mouth; it was more like a foundling. Judging, by the game's development, desire to play cricket should be listed among the primeval urges of man. It was so strong among the soldiery, the fettered convicts and the free citizenry who pioneered the country that it impelled them to play without proper grounds, wickets, bats or balls. Not a pad to protect their legs or a glove their knuckles.

    As a report of a match on the Victorian goldfields said: "Stumps were easily made but it took some time to form bats out of ironbark. After the whole diggings had been searched, a man was found with a good sized rubber ball." For another match the ball was of string, tightly knitted. The first real bats were discards from a club in England. From such adverse beginnings players were gradually developed who made Australia the first country to beat the English at their own game. The first proper match was played 15 years after the original penal settlement was set up beside Sydney harbour. By 1821 Governor Macquarie was ordering bats from His Majesty's lumber yard for his schoolboy son, Lachlan.

    Betting on a match between Soldiers ( 57th Regiment) and Natives (Civilians) went far beyond the 20 pound wager a side. Bets were made in sawn timber, fat pigs, maize, boots and snakeskin shoes. By 1832 a Sydney pub, "The Cricketers", hung out a painted sign, depicting a match on the town racecourse (now Hyde Park). Girls became keen watchers, as now but in more voluminous rigouts than the sunfrocks and miniskirts seen by the Nawab of Pataudi's team at
    Australian grounds three years ago. Beginning visits in 1861, English teams were too skilful, outclassing sides of 15 or more. So thirteen aborgines were trained to tour England in 1868. Their tribal names were too long and difficult for white man's toungues, so they were given nicknames such as "Bullocky", "Twopenny" "Cuzens", "Johnny Mullagh" and "Sundown". England was too cold for them. "King Cole" died and two others were sent home. Six men of aborginal or mixed blood have since played first class cricket; and two of the part bloods Ernie Toshack and Grahame Thomas, have represented their country on tour.

    The First Test
    Historians rank as the first test, an 1877 Melbourne match in which 11 New South Wales and Victorian colonials staggered everyone by defeating England by 45 runs. In a return match a few days later, the Englishmen won by four wickets, so they were able to lift their heads and escape social ostracism on their return home. Within a year the Australians formed a team to tackle the English on their own softer wickets in the first of the 25 tours at frequent intervals. On the last tour of England, Bill Lawry's men halved the rubber, thereby retaining the ashes, which England last held in 1956. For the seventeenth team in 1930, on the first tour of his four visits, Sir Donald Bradman totalled 974 runs in five tests and leg spinner Clarrie Grimmet took 29 wickets (by a wise piece of migration, Grimmet had moved to Australia from his birthplace New Zealand). Bradman's 974 is still the record for one series and Graham Mckenzie is the only
    Australian who has equalled Grimmet's 29 wickets in England.

    {Note: This article was written in 1973, Terry Alderman with 42 wickets in 1981/89 , Dennis Lillee with 39 in 1981 etc have long since erased the record - Arun}

    Interstate matches groom the best district club players for Test selection. In appreciation of a tour enjoyed by his English team of Australia in 1892, Lord Sheffield gave the cricket council 150 pounds. The council spent it on a silver shield - the equivalent of India's Ranji trophy. Originally New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia competed for this Sheffield shield, and now they have to contend with Queensland and Western Australia, while Tasmania awaits admittance.

    The first visit by the South Africans was in 1910 and by West Indians in 1930 (a West Indian living in Victoria, Sam Morris had played for Australia against England in 1884)

    The Select Five
    In all Australians have played 318 tests against six countries for 145 wins and 89 losses. Four series have been in India (1956-57, 64-65, 69-70) and two against India touring Australia. Only five visiting batsmen have scored a century in each innings of a test in Australia: Suttcliffe, Hammond, Compton, Hazare and Kanhai. On the strength of his 116 and 145 for Lala Amarnath's side in 1948, Vijay Hazare shares with Dennis Compton, the distinction of having done so against such a formidable fast pair as Lindwall and Miller.

    How stands Australian Cricket today? Most of the test players are enjoying a winter's relaxation, after suffering in South Africa the worst drubbing ever dealt to Australia's team.

    {Note: Aus lost 4-1 in SA (1971). In Durban Richards got 140 and Pollock got 274 in what is now known as the Durban massacre - Arun}

    Bill Lawry, who has led the team in 20 tests, is far from disconsolate. He believes the team will regain concentration and form for the coming series against England, who are due to arrive in November. Lawry would like to continue as captain but, when assked about reports that he might be relieved of the post, he calmly answered: "The selectors have plenty of time to think about these things and we will have to wait and see"

    {Note:Aus lost 0-2 in the 6+1 = 7 test series. This was the most notorious since the bodyline series of 1932-33. John Snow was hailed as the new Larwood. Lawry stepped down and a certain spectacular batsman called Ian Chappell took over to add some respectibility. Read John Snow's "Cricket Rebel" for a better understanding of this series. A young gun took over from Brian Taber as the Oz wicketkeeper. He was understandly nervous and made quite a few errors - resulting in an unenviable nickname; "Old Iron Gloves". Rod Marsh would retire many years later as a legend. - Arun}

    Though a triumphant Australian IX sharpens boy cricketers' enthusiasm, and gives the whole country's cricket a fillip, the test team's fortunes can be overestimated as an index to the game's health. Lower attendances are common at racecourses, cricket grounds and most other sports in a prosperous land where many prefer beaches, motoring and playing lawn- -bowls to watching cricketers, swimmers and tennis stars. Television viewers can see the last couple of hours of first-class matches in the comforts of their homes. The worst effect of smaller crowds is to lessen newspaper space for cricket - in the belief that public interest is falling. I believe a more thorough survey would show that thousands more twirl their telephone dials to get cricket scores than any other sport in the Post Office's services. This is in addition to the Australian Broadcasting Commision's network giving excellent descriptions and topnotch comments by Alan McGilvray, Lindsay Hassett, Frank Tyson, Bill Johnston and others.

    Cricket is in the first five of Australian spectator sports, the other four being all year horse-racing, trotting, dog-racing and half- year football. Cricketers have seen the word "test" taken up by football and other sports. The largest crowd at any Australian game watch football played on the cricket grounds of Melbourne and Sydney. Of all sports, cricket has done most to provide stands and other amenities for spectators.

    ---Some redundant stats about crowds deleted - Arun ----

    Sales of cricket equipment are the highest in Australia's history. About 106,000 bats a year are imported from England, India and Pakistan, in addtion to Australian made bats. Australian balls, pads and gloves have attained such a standard that few are imported. Half a million balls are used each year, three fifth's of them stitched leather. Players say the top quality balls outdo the best English makes in most conditions.

    Comparison with other sports shows another sign of health. Lawn Tennis has difficulty in financing teams' tours abroad, and Olympic and Commonwealth Games officials have to write begging letters to companies to raise athletes' and swimmers' expenses. Not so Australian cricketers who tour the world, attracting big crowds. From the recent tour of Ceylon, India and South Africa, 136,000 dollars have so far been shared among state cricket associations for ploughing back into the game.

    One day of the Melbourne Test against Sir Frank Worrell's West Indians in 1961 was watched by 90,800, a world record for cricket. From the 1963 Melbourne Test by Benaud's and Dexter's teams, the Englishmen's share 28,000 pounds, was the most they collected from a Test anywhere. Dull play immediately depresses gates, Sydney crowds have never fully recovered from the "horror" anticlimax test of 1963. the backwash of this disenchantment was being felt when India toured Australia five years later. No other group of sporting idols quite rival the prestige attained by the captains of Australia since World War I, especially Woodfull, Bradman and Benaud. Many people, who cannot name the last four generals, that commanded the army or the eight Prime Ministers since 1930, do much better recalling the regular skippers: Armstrong, Collins, Ryder, Woodfull, Bradman, Hassett, Ian Johnson, Benaud, Simpson and Lawry.

    As a national pattern, Australians mostly attempt more shots than Englishmen and bowl better on true, dry wickets, but are ouplayed if the ball is seaming off helpful surfaces. Benaud, Simpson and Lawry's sides earned a reputation for fielding and catching. Yet dropped catches did much to lose the last four tests. The coming series against the thirtieth team from England will probably be decided more by catching skill than anything else.