Sunday, December 30, 2012

A book on P Chidambaram - P. Chidambaram Oru Paarvai

A book on Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram was released by former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M Karunanidhi, giving the first copy to P Chidambaram’s mother Lakshmi Aachi. The event was attended by among others the superstars of Tamil Movie Industry Rajnikanth and Kamal.
Here is the speech Superstar Rajnikanth made on the occasion
Kamal’s speech
Karunanidhi’s speech
Hope this book will soon be translated to English.
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Before Implementing Death Penalty for Rapists…

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The girl who was brutally raped in New Delhi has died. The entire India is mourning the death of her daughter. Now, entire India wants law against rape to be made more stringent to include death penalty for all rapists.
But does death penalty or stricter rules alone prevent rapes from happening? Those six men arrested for brutally raping the girl have confessed that they don’t remember most of the things that happened on that night as they were under heavy influence of alcohol. Isn’t it the alcohol the main culprit in such cases? Don’t we need strict laws against the usage of alcohol and drugs?
We are now living in a society where drinking is part of social status. As long as this drinking culture prevails we will surely hear more such stories. Once you are drunk and lose your sense that is it – you do things which only animals do. At that time no one is going to think of death penalty or stricter laws.
We should not only advocate for stricter laws against domestic violence and rapists but also laws to reduce the sales of drugs and alcohol in India. If we can reduce the use of alcohol and drugs, naturally all these crimes will come down drastically.
Let us start from today. I have seen people on Facebook and Twitter requesting others to boycott Republic Day celebrations as a mark of respect to the departed soul. Let me request you all one thing – let us have an alcohol free New Year celebration on December 31st night as a mark of respect to that daughter of India who has lost her life to the cruel incident of rape.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What I Read in 2012...

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I always loved reading books. For me reading books use to give me lot of relaxation. There was a time when I use to read a book every week. But these days, with the amount of work and the time I spend with my family I rarely get chance to read at that pace. But still I make it a point to find time to read books that interest me. The books that interest me are mostly current affairs, politics and cricket. All the book I have read will fall under these three categories. I am creating this blog post to keep track of the books I read every month.
I have three books with me now. I am looking forward to reading them now.

December 2012 - PaxIndica by Shashi Tharoor
This book is a window for people like me to understand the relationship of India with other countries. Learned a lot reading this book. If you are interested to know the impact of foreign policies in India's development then you read this book.
Rating 9/10
December 2012 - Patriots and Partisans by Ramachandra Guha
I started reading this book sitting in Chennai airport on the way to Vizag. This book was so well written that in another 10 hours I finished reading it sitting in a hotel room in Vizag, time was 6:00 AM and I never realized it. If you are someone who likes to dwell more into the history of post independence India this is the book for you.
Rating 8.5/10
December 2012 - Dongri to Dubai - Six Decaded of the Mumbai Mafia by S.Hussain Zaidi
I have read a lot about in bits and pieces about Mumbai Mafia. This book gives you a great picture of the evolution of Mafia or the underworld in Mumbai. 
Rating 8.5/10
December 2012 - Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S Hussain Zaidi
Another book on Mubai underworld by Hussain Zaidi - narrates the story of 6 mafia queens of Mumbai. Not as engaging as Dongri to Duabi.
Rating 6/10
November 2012 - Conversations with Mani Ratnam by Baradwaj Rangan
I am not into watching lot of movies but still loved reading this book. This book has chapter dedicated to each of Mani Ratnam's movie and is written in the format of an interview. The questions are so deep to bring the best out of Mani Ratnam and gives as a picture of how much pain this Director takes to make a movie. Good job Baradwaj and must read if you are a fan of Mani Ratnam.
Rating 8.5/10
October 2012 - A Better India A Better World by N R Narayana Murthy
A must read book for every Indian. Compilation of speeches made by founder of Infosys N R Narayana Murthy, is a great read. 
Rating 8.5/10
September 2012 - No Easy Days by Mark Owen
After reading this book it is not the minute details about the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden that struck my mind but American brutality in two countries where they cannot appreciate and understand culture of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the name of wiping out terrorists, mighty Americans are killing lots and lots of innocent people. No wonder whole Muslim world is up against them
Rating 7.5/10

September 2012 - Poor Little Rich Slum by Rashmi Bansal
After reading this book, now I want to visit Dharavi in Mumbai. This book, that narrates the life of Dharavi through people living in Dharavi or having links to Dharavi gives as a glimpse of India and its people. Another significant thing about this book - its awesome photos.
Rating 8.5/10
September 2012 - Budget of Poverty, Poverty of Budget by Eza Sezhiyan
Compilation of 50 articles of Eza Sezhiyan former Member of Indian Parliament and a Janatha Dal leader, published in The Hindu from 1991-2011; Eza Sezhiyan, considered as one of the heros in the fight against emergency imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi deals with so many important issues India faces in those articles.
Rating 6.5/10
September 2012 - Jinnah India-Partition Independence by Jaswant Singh
I am now a big fan of Jaswant Singh. I salute Jaswant Singh for the courage he has shown to write this book. This book was a real eye openor for me. Mr Singh has beatifully narratived the shift of Jinnah as an Indian nationalist to Quaid-i-Azam of Pakistan. Looking forward to his next book that is getting released in October 2012.
Rating 10/10
September 2012 - Ettamathe Mothiram by K M Mathew
An excellent autobiography by K M Mathew who took Malayala Manorama to new heights. This book is the written history of Manorama, newspaper with largest circulation in Kerala. I bought this book from Kottayam railway station on my journey to Vellore from Trivandrum and almost finished it by the time I reached Vellore. A good book for any one interested in knowing Kerala better.
Rating 9/10
August 2012 - Olicamerakal Parayathathu by Berlin Kunjananthan Nair (Malayalam)
I never thought it will be such a good book when I bought this book; Kunhananthan Nair has written about the degradation that is happening in CPI(M) now; how the working of the party has changed after Pinarayi Vijayan has become the State Secretary of the party; he narrates how the present leadership hijacked the core principles of communism. A good read for all those who follow Kerala politics.
Rating 8.5/10
August 2012 - Sancharikkunna Vishwasi by Lonappan Nambadan (Malayalam)
Autobiography by a Kerala politician who has served the state as minister (2 times), 25 years as MLA and 5 years as MP. Nambadan, know for his simple living and high thinking narrates his political journey in this book. 
Rating 7/10
August 2012 - Obama's War by Bob Woodward
Whenever I read the work of Bob Woodward, I wish he was born in India - then Indian politics could have some great books - like a detail account of Babri Masjid demolition - who all were involved in the plot; what did the then Indian Prime Minister did on the day of demolition - all that we could have known. This book is all about how President Obama made his decision to increase the troop strength in Afghanistan. This book also shows us how different working style of George W Bush and Obama is.
Rating 9.5/10
August 2012 - Rahul Dravid Timeless Steel
A compilation of essays and interviews of Rahul Dravid that appeared in Cricinfo magazine till now. This book is as lovely as a technically perfect cover drive by "The Wall" of Indian cricket. 
Rating 9/10
July 2012 - Turning Points by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
A great description of those days when Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam was the President of India. The vision he tried to put into practice to make India developed by 2020 makes it a great read
Rating 8/10
July 2012 - A Grain of Sand in the Hourglass of Time by Arjun Singh
Compared to Western world, autobiographies of politicians is a rare commodity in India. Arjun Singh, who played a big role in Indian politics for more than 50 years have come out with his autobiography. In this book he gives us a glimpse of what has happened on the fateful night of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, day when Babri Masjid was demolished and so many other political incidents. I enjoyed reading this book.
Rating 8/10
July 2012 - Chinthayil Ninnu Veeshanathileeku by A P Abdullakutty (Malayalam)
It is a great feeling to know that a politician from Kerala, that too some one who came from Communist background is thinking so much about giving a new direction to development of Kerala. This book written by A P Abdullakutty MLA talks about the changes that needs to be made in our mindset to make real development happen in Kerala. Few of articles are well written while few of them deviate from the topic.
My Rating - 6.5/10
July 2012 - Decision Points by George W Bush
I always loved to read to autobiographies of politicians and this one also did not disappoint me. Decision Point talks about some of the major decision made by George Bush and how he made that decisions. This book gives a good insight into the way American President works. 
Rating - 8/10
June 2012 - Winning Way by Harsha Bhogle and Anitha Bhogle
What has sports and management has in common - many says Harsha and Anitha! A very well written book - for a novice like me in management subjects, I could understand the complicated management fundamentals as it was explained using well known sports anecdotes.
 Rating - 9/10
June 2012 - Keeping the Faith - Memories of a Parliamentarian by Somnath Chatterjee
A parliamentarian for close to four decades - this book gives a glimpse of everything Comrade Somnath Chatterjee fought for. Some of the great speeches he made in parliament is given in this book. The most interesting part of the book is the chapter describing the incidents that lead to his expulsion from the party he served for over four decades.
Rating 7/10
June 2012 - India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha 
The first question that came to my mind after reading this book - why the hell it took me so long to read this book? One of the best books I read about Indian history till now. If you are interested in understanding India after independence , I suggest you read this book.
Rating 9.5/10
May 2012 - Priyadarshan - Hittukalude Rajakumaran (Malayalam)
Biography of movie director Priyadarshan by Suku Palkulangara in Malayalam - narrates the life of one of the most successful movie maker from Kerala - his initial struggles, his love for reading and how he made it big in Malayalam and Bollywood. I finished reading this one in one go waiting for a bus in Bangalore  on my way to Madurai.
Rating 6.5/10
April 2012 - Nitish Kumar and the Rise of Bihar by Arun Sinha
A great read...A must read book for those who want to understand the contemporary politics of Bihar. The best thing I like about this book is that Arun Sinha in the second part of the book has narrated both sides - where all Nitish could go good as Chief Minister and which all areas he needs to make improvements. Also got a great idea about "Lalu Raj" where entire administration machinery was on standstill.
Rating - 9/10
March 2012 - My Unforgettable Memories by Mamata Banerjee
A compilation of articles written by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – helped me to understand the politics of West Bengal better.My Rating – 7/10
February 2012 - Men of Steel - India's business leaders in candid conversation with Vir Sanghvi
If you want to know more about the big names that drives Indian economy like Tata or Azim Premji – then this is the book for you. It is a compilation of articles Vir Sanghvi wrote in Sunday Times.My Rating – 7/10 
January 2012 - Out of the Blue: Rajasthan Road to the Ranji by Aakash Chopra
This book was so good that I finish reading it in one go. Here is a review I wrote of this book. My Rating – 9/10
Now you may have understood my taste in reading. Do you have any suggestions for me?

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why This Age Bar?

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Matt was 45 years old when I met him in Arizona State University (ASU). He was doing his 7th semester of his Bachelors in Civil Engineering while I was doing my second semester of my Masters in Civil Engineering. He had two kids of which one will be graduating from high school (12th grade) next year and may potentially join ASU (he ended up in University of Arizona). Both of us worked in the same project and we become very good friends. He was working with Federal Government as an Environmental Regulator for over 15 years after taking few courses related to that when he felt that he should do his Bachelors in Civil Engineering. He resigned the job and joined ASU full time for his Bachelors at the age of 41. He was a warehouse of knowledge with the tons of experience he had and I learned a lot from his association.
Moving forward 7 years – when I was about to finish my Ph.D and looking for a job, he recommended my name to his boss in his company and that got me the first job in US. Initially I was working with him and learned all the tricks of the trade.
Now another of my friend – Rick – he was 50 years old when I met him in the first semester of my Masters in one of the classes. We need to do a project and this professor formed the groups randomly. Rick and I were picked by the professor as a team to do the project. That was the start of a great friendship that is going strong even now. Being my first semester in US, his story was unbelievable for me. From the age of 18, Rick was a construction worker, married at the age of 19 and had four kids by the age of 24. Now here he is at the age of 50 doing his Civil Engineering Bachelors.
Eight years back at the age of 42 he felt that he should learn more about construction and joined a community college and took some courses related to construction. He found those courses interesting and at the age of 44 decided to enroll for engineering in ASU. He graduated with a CGPA of 3.8/4.0. His practical knowledge derived from 30 years of work experience was beyond words. 
Why am I talking about Matt and Rick now? If they were born in India, there dream of becoming a Civil Engineer could never has fulfilled. I was surprised to see that there is age restriction as well as restriction on number of attempts for all major exams in India. See below the advertisement of IIT entrance this year.  Only those born on or after October 1988 can appear for the exam!
If someone like Matt or Rick wants to study in IIT after few years of practical experience, they never can. Rick and Matt got admitted in ASU after going through the entire admission process of ASU for Bachelors degree. Shouldn’t we in India should also encourage such practice than restricting admission based on date of birth and number of chances?
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Friday, December 07, 2012

Chapters - An Engineering Entertainment

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"Chapters" - Malayalam Movie movie is produced by 41 of my undergraduateengineering batch mates from NSS College of Engineering who joined together and formed a production company "Campus Oaks". Great to see the flame of friendship and brotherhood that germinated 19 years back has grown into such an unique association. This kind of product coming out of friendship may be first in the world. Here is some videos and stills from that movie. Please do watch the movie and let us know your comments.
Whoo, 'Chapters' came as quite a surprise. I had a slight hope of this movie being really big and a doubt that the film might be a flop just after seeing the Trailer. But when I saw the film onscreen, my hopes bloomed. Debutant director - 'Sunil Ibrahim' has indeed opened a new Chapter in his career as well as in the Malayalam Film Industry with his new film 'Chapters' which is worth the go. Continue Reading
Chapters earn rave reviews, off to a flying start:
Starring young actors like Nivin Pauly, Hemanth Menon, Aju Varghese, Vineeth Kumar, Shine, Vijeesh, Gauthami Nair and Ria Saira and veterans like Sreenivasan, KPAC Lalitha and Lena, this film is a brilliant way to end a remarkably eventful cinematic year! Way to go, Sunil Ibrahim and team! Continue Reading
The potentials of experimental story telling are explored to the hilt in Sunil Ibrahim's debut directorial venture. 'Chapters' is a film that catches you totally off-guard and with its wrenching impact it announces the arrival of yet another gifted director in Mollywood. Continue ReadingSnehasallapam:
Chapters directed by new comer Sunil Ibrahim follows the style of the trendsetter ‘Traffic’. Though we can’t compare Chapters with Traffic, hardly any place the film goes out of the track and seldom bore the people. Here too the script is the real star. As the tag line goes In Every Person There Is A Story, chapters tells the story of each characters and connects all of them in different ways. Continue reading this review

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Saturday, December 01, 2012

The sharp edge of Terrorism’s Machete – A revelation

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The edge of the machete” by Abhisar Sharma makes a permanent mark of wonderment on the reader. Here is a masterpiece of  fiction on terrorism and Jihad told as a spine chilling story leaving one in awe and giving the creeps. But the wonderful ending restores one’s infinite faith on humanity. 
The story is about a CIA operative Eduardo Gomez wreaking vengeance on his buddy Jason’s gruesome killing by the edge of terrorist Aamir Sherzai’s Machete. Jason Wilson was the first CIA official to be caught and executed on Pakistani soil by the Tehreek , the most dreaded terrorist organization in Pakistan founded by Baitullah Mehsud , the man who was himself eliminated by a  US drone strike. The video of this gory murder is sent to the CIA and globally telecasted with biased comments and mixed reactions. Eduardo aka Sarfaraz Khan ,the first of the three, Shahid Khan aka Shaun Marsh ,the second of the three and Journalist Rahul Sharma  , the third one ,as designated by the author,  with different backgrounds arrive at the Beast in the Khyber., Pakistan. The Beast is the dwelling of the most ferocious terror outfits working for the common cause of Holy war. How the three confront and challenge the edge of the Machete, terrorism personified, in the Beast is the main story. 
The entire complex of the Beast ,in the story,was accidentally discovered by the Afghan Taliban men on the run from American forces. The entire structure is built in a mountain The Black Warriors, terrorists from Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban are keepers of the Beast The Dungeon in the Beast is where the prisoners are tortured. 
Abhisar Sharma’s hard work in researching and acquiring knowledge on the Talibans merits a standing ovation. The characters of Mohammed Akhund, Abu bin Shib, Anwar ul Haq, Fareed Khan, Abdul , Maqbool ,Dr.Samar Abbas, the scientist who is making a 10 kilotonne nuclear bomb and others are impressive and well arrayed. 
The geographical depictions of the Khyber, Torkham and the Beast is superb.The soft roles of the story are Amanda aka Meera , Shahid’s girlfriend and Rahul’s wife, Jane and Eliya. The sentimental adornment is offered by the reverential memories of their mothers by Aamir, Eduardo, Shahid and Rahul. 
The description of the combat aerial vehicle, Predator, armed with the multi spectral targeting system and missiles, the electro-optical infrared system, laser designator and the laser illuminator enlightens the reader of the technological advancement in modern   warfare. 
Abhisar Sharma ‘s novel surely exposes the readers to a different  world and improves their awareness of the new age nuances keeping the welfare of the mankind in the highest pedestal. A must buy for a classified collection.
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