Wednesday, December 30, 2009


[Update: Bandage off. Feeling much better now. Check out my twitter page at for regular updates. Login NOT required.]

[Update 2: Met doc this morning. He says I am healing well, and I feel the same :). Flying back to Patna tomorrow morning (Jan 1st). A befitting beginning to a year that promises to be travel-filled.]

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa and the Eye

[Update: Doc appt postponed to 30th. Flying into Chennai on 27th, coming back on 1/1/10]

First of all, Happy Santa Day to you! May the bearded rep from Coca Cola grant you all your gift-related wishes :).

Moving on to the second topic - My eye. [those who don't know about my eye issues, please click the link]

On Monday, December 21, Dr. Lingam Gopal of the Sankara Nethralaya examined my eye. After looking at my fresh angiography, he said there there is more trouble in my eye than there was on Nov 3, when my last angio was done in Paris!

Apparently, there are new blood vessels forming behind my retina, or technically:
The fundus fluoresciene angiography was reviewed and showed very clearly a choroidal neovascular membrane beyond the existing chrioretinal scar.

Basically, if they don't stop this, my vision could further deteriorate.

The good news: treating this will only take three injections of Avastin, once a month.

The bad news: the injections need to be given directly in the eye!

So, yeah, on the 27th of Dec (this Sunday), Dad and I will go from Patna to Chennai so I can get a shot on the 28th. The other two will be given by my doc in France, who is in agreement with Dr. Gopal's diagnosis and proposed treatment.

Other than that, life is good. Had a good time at HiPC in Kochi, and then in Chennai. Currently enjoying with mom and dad at Patna. Let's see what eye-related gift Santa brings for me. Maybe this?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

First They Came for the Minarets

[Have been thinking of posting this for some time now, and R also reminded me. Here goes.]

Some weeks ago, O pointed me to a controversy in Switzerland, where there was a referendum happening, which would amend the Swiss constitution to ban the construction of minarets, the slender towers that often accompany mosques.

N, our group's concerned muslim, complained about how he had a bad feeling about this, and that things will be very bad if this ban passes. I, the ever optimist, asserted that the Swiss people are better than that, and they would certainly not allow such a stupid thing to come to pass. After all, their parliament had, on many occasions, thwarted similar efforts aimed at banning minarets at local levels.

Needless to say, I was wrong.

The referendum had a 53.4% turnout, and 57.5% people voted to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland.

Craziness I say! [and laziness, on behalf of those who did not vote]

Definitely makes me think of this epic poem from WW-2, and of what might soon be happening in other countries. N tells me there are similar discussions being launched in France too, and a French colleague of mine admitted, with sadness, that if a similar vote happened in France today, the results would be similar to the Swiss ones :-(.

And in case you have any doubts that this was an anti-islam or racist ballot, I present to you the "promotional" poster for this campaign.

[from wikipedia]

I guess my views and anger/frustration are best expressed by Jon Stewart in the clip below.


And as if this was not enough, I came across this wonderful piece in the LA Times which pointed out how (in)security about one's employment is a bigger contributor than (lack of) education in whether or not one will believe in conspiracy theories. Given stupid anti-people votes such as the Swiss one are a result of too many people believing in lies, and given that the world's economic situation isn't in its best shape, I can only shudder at the thought of what other "democratic" actions are to come.

So, what do _you_ think?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

French Dinner with Bhai

My bhai (brother) was visiting me in Paris this past week, and we ended his trip with a visit to the Loire valley, where we visited the chateaus of Chambord, Cheverny, and Chenonceau.

But more about that later.

For now, I want to talk about the wonderful local dinner we had at Cheverny, where we spent the night. Here is a slideshow for your viewing pleasure. If you cannot see it, click here to go to the album directly.

P.S. As a sneak peek for the pictures still to come, here is Tintin's home

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Today is world AIDS day [how you can help], and so I figured I will share with you one of the best street-play songs I have seen in a movie.

For the non-hindi speakers, they are singing about the "bumble-bee (bhanwra) of AIDS" who is not your friend, and can bite you if you are not careful. So swat it - FATAK!

Stay safe people, and remember this slogan "Check, and then mate" :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Showing Solidarity with 26/11

[update: Image now based on official Indian Flag Pantone colors]

A year has passed since the terrible events of 26/11/2008, when Mumbai was attacked by terrorists, and a billion people held hostage next to their TV sets for days.

And I still ask myself this question:

"What did _I_ do in this past year to help prevent the recurrence of such tragedies?"

Sadly, I don't have a satisfactory answer. Will need to introspect more.

and of course, there is the corollary:

"What will I do in the _next year_ towards that goal?"

While I seek answers to the questions above, here is what I have done for today. I have updated my profile pictures everywhere to the image below (thanks a lot to Raj for making the image)

So go ahead, feel free to right click -> save as, and use as your own profile pic.

/not sure what else to say.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Play with My Version of Google Chrome OS

[This post is dedicated to MP on his birthday today, one of the coolest hackers I have known :)]

As some of you might know, Google released Chrome OS on Thursday (I saw the video on my ride to work on Friday morning, thanks to Rachid). Khanna (and Gmail RSS Feeds) pointed me to this techcrunch post on how to use it with VirtualBox, but they also had this nasty warning (bold emphasis mine).

First, a few caveats: we didn’t create the Chrome OS build ourselves — it was downloaded from BitTorrent. In theory it could possibly have been tweaked by some malicious hacker to steal your Google account information (this is unlikely, but who knows). There’s an easy fix if you’re worried though: just go make a throwaway Gmail account, and use that to play around with the OS. Also note that because this is running in a virtual machine, you’re probably not going to be seeing great performance (like that 7 second boot time). But it’s more than good enough to get a feel for the OS for yourself.

So, I set out to build my own copy of the image, since I do have a AMD 64-bit PC with Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and 4GB of RAM :). All that was needed was to follow the instructions at the get and build page at Google's Chromium project, and it will all be done :).

Needless to say, there were some hiccups :). [read the Tech Notes below this post if you are interested]

How YOU can start playing with it

Anyways, if you are in a hurry, point your favorite bittorrent software to download this torrent file [certified legal and malice-free by me, Animesh :) ]. A detailed description of the torrent is at this page.
[don't know how to use bittorrent? Post a comment or email me for a direct link for this 800MB file]

After that, follow the instructions to use VirtualBox from this Techcrunch post.

Here are some Screenshots from my run (you should see something similar):

Initial Login Screen

Using Facebook

The Program Pane (or whatever they call it)

The detailed demo video from Google is reproduced below, in case you want to see the experience.

My Impressions

Here are some initial thoughts:

  • The goals are pretty lofty - provide an uber-secure OS for the netbook, which starts in under 7 seconds, and resumes from hibernation in 3. On top of that, make it so secure that anti-virus software is not needed.

  • As another requirement, they need to provide "richer" features to the users who are used to desktop apps [local storage, audio/video capabilities come to mind].

  • Using it on the VirtualBox will not be able to demonstrate the speed part, but one should be able to test the offline-storage and a/v aspects, and to a lesser extent. the security.

  • I like what I see so far, and maybe my happiness is amplified by the fact that I was able to build it myself from source. Who here can say the same about Apple Snow Leopard or Windows 7? :)

  • I did not test out all the features yet, but it was a bit slow, and froze sometimes. Will post more after I have done some experiments :)

  • This was also my first experience of creating and posting a torrent. I am seeding it, so please feel free to take it for a spin. Also, please try to seed (leave it running) once you finish downloading. Thanks.

So, what do you guys/gals think?

Tech Notes

  1. The backup user is and the shared pwd is googlechrome.

  2. If you try to build it yourself, and choose to NOT download the source for the Chrome browser part, you will note that the path to the zip file that you should download in lieu of the source of the browser is broken. The one that worked for me was

  3. If you try to build it yourself, after running , the image will give errors if you try the steps under "Check the contents of the image". Don't worry. Just proceed to build the vmware image and use it. That's what I did.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who uses more Internet?

Firstly, sorry for the long absence. Didn't realize how quickly the weeks went. I will be off to Sweden (Uppsala University) tomorrow for 4 days.

Anyways, here is the reason for the post. I just read on the Google Blog today that the World Bank has opened up its data APIs, and since you know how I love debate based on facts rather than guesses, I figured I'll give it a spin.

And here is some interesting data for you all to see
[Internet accessibility per capita, USA, World, Pakistan, and India]

You can play with this data yourself here.

So, what say?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

When Gabbar met Draupadi

4 years ago, in the fall of 2005, a band of theatre-lovers at USC got together and created "dibs", a skit about three desi students at USC who wake up after an open-bar party, and find a girl sleeping on their couch. Not being able to remember who got her home, each of them tried to tell the story of last night, and how she was charmed by him.

It had three song-and-dance sequences, loads of jokes, and a surprise ending (I wonder if a video was made).

The audience at the AIS Diwali show loved it, and we loved the high - and Vidushak was born - USC's own Indian comedy theatre troupe. Given that producing skits needed more long-term preps for one script, and "the hero's mom has a midterm" was not a valid excuse on performance day, we soon diversified into year-round improv comedy, while still doing one skit a year at the Diwali show.

I left USC in June last year, but have been extremely happy to see that the team has only improved - with more talent coming in, and leading the troupe to bigger successes.

The 5th and latest installment in that series is the skit "Piya Basanti", which does what B.R.Chopra and Ramesh Sippy could not - bring Gabbar and Draupadi together!

watch on!

You can watch all the recent videos (including improv) at the official Vidushak Blog.

Oh, how I wish I was able to be a part of it all again. Good times!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Bhai!

Today (Oct 28) is my elder brother's birthday.

All through my childhood I have drawn guidance [and many punches and kicks :) ] from him, whether on nuclear reactions in school (he taught me about fission when I was in 5th/6th grade, since he was in 11th/12th), computers (he installed Red Hat Linux 6.0 on my box back in high school), or girl-matters (<no disclosable details here ;) >).

So bhai, as you chill out in Atlanta, and perhaps go Rock Climbing in Atlanta after a hard day of software-architechting, keep this song in mind....


P.S. He will be here in Paris for a week from Nov 28. yay!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali

Obama Style

Bollywood style

and INRIA Style (click here to see whole album)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inspired by a 16-yr old

I was pointed to a BBC story this morning by @ShashiTharoor, and was immensely moved by it. Wanted to blog about it, but was kept from it by work.

I would like to tell the story by quotes from the article itself:
[16 year old]Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.

The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.

As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He's a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.

Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education.

So far so good. Lucky kid from poor family is able to raise enough money to pay for the transport costs (~1800 Rupees a year). Wants to study. OK. Heartwarming, but what is the big deal about this?

Well, this is.[emphasis mine]
The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village.

At four o'clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.

Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.

Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.

Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher.

Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day's work labouring in the fields.

800 students!! Holy Fscking crap!

The article goes on to say that there are a total of 10 teachers there now, all students at other schools or colleges, all voluntarily contributing their time.

The article also says that these kids do not have a roof to study under, so when it rains, classes stop.

But unlike (you and) me who was happy when school was off due to rains, these kids are surmounting HUGE odds to study, and to teach.

Seriously, read the article. There are videos there too.

Oh, how I wish I was able to take 6 months to a year off to do something like this :-|.

P.S. Another interesting post was made by Abi recently about the new NCERT books, which are making science and maths education more fun and relevant in Indian schools. Good to see some progress there.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Step into my Apartment

Here is a video I took of my apartment when I had moved in, some weeks ago. Finally, with my home internet line working properly, I was able to upload it.

The added coolness comes from the fact that the apartment is on "Boulevard Colbert" ;-)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Good Times

Yesterday was a good day by most counts.

First, the France telecom guys showed up (after their crazy SMS to me two days ago that they will come on the 9th of November at 00:00hrs!).

Turns out that the wire was disconnected in the circuit box outside my apartment. They attached it, and my Internet works! :)

The Second (and perhaps the biggest) piece of news was that my journal paper to the IEEE Transactions on Computers, which was under minor revision, has finally been accepted without any more changes. Now just a week more to upload all the files, and it will be done :).

Thirdly, I realized that neuf now allows free phone calls (using the VoIP phone that comes as part of my DSL plan) to INDIAN LANDLINES also!

Fourthly, I finally installed 64-bit Ubuntu Linux on my new desktop, (pre-assembly picture here) and can properly use its 4GB of RAM and 500GB Harddrive. And yes, portal is running well on it :). See screenshot below.

And the final good news came last night, when I realized that the free channels that come with my IPTV (again, part of my DSL plan), include Zee Music! Finally, auto-playing new bollywood video songs in the background :).

Life, in short, is good.

P.S. Tonight is nuit blanche, and I will be meeting Barman and Dalal from my ITBHU days. More good times :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Eye: Latest Update

[Those who are not aware about the context of this post, please check here for an older post with more detail]

Am writing this from the train to Versailles, my eyes still dilated.

Met Dr. Cassoux this morning. She is a retinal surgeon specializing in my ailment, and came highly recommended by my ophthalmologist, Dr. Zeghidi. (Huge thanks to @k_sam for accompanying me.)

After looking at my retina, she said, like the previous retinal surgeon, that my loss of vision is due to the scar itself, and in her opinion, it will not be wise to perform surgery, given how little it will possibly achieve for the many risks in the operation.

So yeah. I'm f*&ked.

But wait, there's more. Apparently there is a high chance (50%) of this infection's relapse, and she recommended I take an antibiotic (Bactrim) once every three days for the next two years to bring that risk down to 20%. 

Well, I guess that is a good motivation for me to eat right, exercise, and meditate to keep my immune system strong.

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Monday, September 14, 2009


Nebil was kind enough to invite Oleg and me to join him in Iftar today, the ritual breaking of the fast in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

After a usually-argumentative metro ride, with Nebil telling me about the virtues and rules of Islam and my maintaining that I dislike _any_ organized religion (except perhaps the church of the FSM :)], we reached Belleville, the Tunisian part of Paris. (yeah, we have pretty much the same argument every day at lunch time, and had been missing it due to his fasts)

The streets were full of vendors selling all sorts of stuff, which people were purchasing on their way home to break their daily fasts. And that is when I saw something that made my eyes widen.


Yes, the multi-layered flat bread we make in India from unleaved flour cooked with a dash of oil.

And it tasted very similar too (Oleg bought some to share). And then another shock.


Yes, the deep-fried flat bread made from leavened flour and eaten classically with chholey.

We then went to a Tunisian Jewish store, which sold pretty much the same stuff as the other stores in the area, with the difference being the presence of wine, and that of Kosher foods. I got some Harissa, which I am looking fwd to using as a mirchi-substitute.

The iftar meal itself was also interesting, and very different from the desi stuff I used to have at Salahuddin uncle's place as a child [I _so_ miss those pakoras and chana :-( ]. The start was with dates and fermented milk (very similar to the buttermilk I have had in India, and the fermented milk in the Netherlands), which was automatically followed by a soup of rice, chickpeas, and lamb stock flavored with turmeric and coriander/cilantro leaves. This was followed by bric, which you can think of as a flat samosa filled with an egg and fish. Pretty interesting, and heavy.

After this traditional fast-breaking meal (apparently this is an every-evening affair), we were nearly full, but ordered a lamb dish that was more baked than roasted. It was amazingly well-cooked, and the taste reminded of lamb curries made from the Shaan brand of spices here. We topped it all off with some Boga Lime cola, the Tunisian version of Sprite/7up (and the inspiration of the name of Obi-wan's steed). Interestingly enough (and lucky for me), there were no beef dishes at all in the restaurant, since apparently the Tunisians consider beef to be "cheap meat", and prefer lamb.

We had planned to have tea afterwards, but the super-heavy downpour forced us to cut our evening short. Ah well.

Another evening well spent, utilizing this unique opportunity I have here. Makes my belief stronger that traveling and sampling other cultures is absolutely essential, and that world peace will come through dining together :).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

New Maxims

Woh kehte hain na, sabr ka phal meetha hota hai.

Jhooth kehte hain!

[They say that the fruit of patience is sweet.

They lie.]

By most measures, this last week has been miserable.

For one, the eye situation is no better, although I _have_ gotten responses to my digital scans from some Doctors whom my friends contacted for me [HUGE thanks to them]. But nothing greatly positive. And then there are other, crazier things, about which we shall not talk here.

But I guess the part that has been bothering me the most are maxims such as the one above, which make very strong claims, which are not true, at least not to the extent they claim.

For example, there indeed _are_ instances when too much patience can mean you lose out on an opportunity, for no fault of your own than this "virtue" of patience.

As another case, take the following
Good things happen to good people.

or its much stronger cousin
Bad things do not happen to good people.

WTF?! That is _such_ a strong claim. How about saying
Bad things can happen to good people, but usually they have a strong social net of similarly good and understanding people to rely on, and that helps reduce the recovery time.

which, in my opinion, is much closer to the truth than its simple, absolute version.

Yes, I understand the above is hard to fit on a bumper sticker or a motivational poster, but some of us here are trying to lead more logically rigorous lives!

Well, enough of my rant. Have _you_ seen maxims that you think should be altered/improved/deleted?

And to end, I leave you with the song of the day, my favorite one from Ek Chalees ki Last Local (must watch, for desis and non-desis)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Futuristic Hotel Room

I am staying at the Citizen M hotel in Amsterdam, while attending the ESEC/FSE conference (I am presenting a demo here tomorrow of our sensor network toolkit).

My hotel here has won many design awards, and a look at the room explains why. [Note that the rooms are manufactured off-site, and plugged in to the main building. They also have a Philips moodpad to control the lights/sounds/TV of the room.]

Here is a video I took yesterday, as I arrived.

[Official page on room info, including flash tour is here]

Pretty unusual and futuristic, isn't it? Half of us here from INRIA love the room, while the other half hate it.

So, what do you think?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vers Amsterdam!

Yes, I am back in the Thalys/TGV, going to Amsterdam for a conference. Will be back on Sunday. Ciao!

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eye Update

In case you don't know about this yet, read the first and second posts on this issue.

Latest Developments
This past Tuesday, I went to see the eye surgeon, who did a full eye-scan, including visual acuity test and the whole shine-light-into-eye-after-dilating-pupil torture :-).

The Good News
She said that she will not be doing the surgery. No forceps will find their way into my right eyeball.

The Bad News
She said the above because she believe that surgery will NOT help my case at all! As far as she is concerned, I should go home, do nothing, and be watchful in case I have a relapse of toxoplasmosis and things get _worse_. Given she only spoke French and my knowledge of the language is not top grade, I was not able to ask her super detailed question. But the short version of the story is: "The scar from the toxoplasmosis in your eye is right on top of your fovea centralis (center of retina), and we cannot remove it by operation." (To be fair, she _did_ do her best to explain to me, and to keep me calm, despite the language barrier.)

Next Steps
Of course, I am not taking this lying down. I will be meeting my ophthalmologist soon, who had initially recommended surgery to me, to ask why there is a disagreement between him and the surgeon. I will also get an appointment at the eye hospital in Paris where PGR's dad was operated. And finally, I will get digital copies of all my scans on a USB key, to send them over to friends.

What _you_ can do
If you know someone who can have a look at my case and give a second/third/nth opinion, let me know. I will be happy to send over my scans.

The "Healing Prayer" Angle
Some of you have asked me if I have tried the healing-by-prayer approach. Given I am an agnostic, I don't think that will work for me, especially if it involved _me_ believing in an almighty God. I do, however, believe in _you_, and your love/care for me, and therefore won't stop you if you want to ask your favorite super-being for help :-). As far as I am concerned, I will focus on eating right, exercise, and meditation - the stuff I _know_ keeps the body strong and helps it heal.

That's it for now. See you later! ;-) [I think this particular smiley properly represents my current right-eye-blurry vision status]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Long Years Ago

we said that the time has come "to redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially".

Not sure how much we have redeemed it in the last 62 years. As for myself, I must say I have fallen short on various ends - NeverForget needs a lot more to be done, but at least Sanjha Choolha is in good shape (thanks to D, mostly), so something is happening on the desh-seva end.

Anyways, time to get back to work. Will keep you all posted about the eye, about which so many of you inquired (thanks for that).

Jai Hind!
P.S. Something to remember those days:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eye See You

This is what my right eye looks like right now (after dilation of pupil, so that the doc can see inside). After looking inside, the doc said that my condition is worse than before, and eye surgery is strongly recommended.

Will meet the surgeon next week.

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Where Joan of Arc was Burnt

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Friday, August 07, 2009

Something Funny is Coming to Indian Internet

I have talked earlier about the fact that it is time for India to have its own "Daily Show", and it seems that Abhigyan (of the Movers and Shakers fame) and Varun (my good friend from ITBHU, of the daily tamasha fame) were listening :-).

So here it is, Jay Hind (facebook page). They start (online only) on August 15th. Their first guest: Savita Bhabhi!

I hope this fills the void in good satirical Indian TV.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Protection Thread

or Raksha Bandhan is an ancient Indian tradition, and I am missing my sisters today :-|.

On the bright side, I got one rakhi in post yesterday, and many e-cards and e-mails today, so life is not so bad :-).

To my sisters, I give this:

miss you all.
-A (bhaiya)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I Have a (Google) Voice

830-448-DESI (or 830-448-3374)

that is the number you can call (or send SMS) to reach me in the USA.

Sorry, I won't be able to receive your calls myself, but you can leave me a voicemail, and I will be sure to listen in (and respond).

All this is thanks to Google Voice, using which I can check my voicemails online at its website. It also transcribes the calls for me :-).

(sadly, I cannot make it auto-forward calls to my France number, hence the voicemail trick)

And this is how a voicemail looks like on my dashboard [from Gaurav, my ex-roomie, who gave me my gmail ID :-)]

That's it for now. ciao!

P.S. Sorry, It is not possible to send friends "invites" like gmail, this service is only available if you go on their website and sign up for an (upcoming) invite.
P.P.S. Interestingly enough, I cannot set up my account if I am using a non-USA IP address, but can access it. How cool! :-)
P.P.P.S: Just discovered I can send SMSs to US numbers for free. From the web interface. Yay!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On Yesterday's Post, and the War-with-Pakistan Option

My post yesterday asking as to why the Indian govt. insists on keeping the military option off the table in its discussions with Pakistan caused quite a heated discussion, both here and (mostly) on facebook. In spite of various disclaimers in the post, some of my friends felt that I was advocating a war with Pakistan, and had no regard for the innocent lives lost in the horror that is war.

So, to (hopefully) make it clear once and for all, here are some points:

  1. I did NOT advocate war with Pakistan in my post, which I know will solve nothing. I did NOT even ask for it to be our primary talking point, which I know will only help the extremists on either side. My question was simply as to why that option is so categorically off the table. Not second option, not 100th option, but just _off the table_.

  2. To those who were anguished by my post, I apologize for not properly qualifying the question. It should have read "From a logistical/strategic point of view, why is war with Pakistan off the table?"

    Note that I have no misgivings about our Govt. being all innocent and peaceful. For FSM's sake, we still have the death penalty for the "rarest of the rare" cases! Given that I do not expect them to really keep the war option off the table for "humanitarian" reasons, I was wondering they are still not mentioning it. It was a question of (dry) strategy, nothing more.

  3. The above (logistical) question was best answered by Anupama, who convinced me that we cannot (militarily) risk a war with Pakistan due to the vastly superior capabilities of China. (detailed answer here). I now understand that keeping war off the table is not the "wimpy" option, but a strategic reality. And given that is true, the article by SG pointed out by Varun makes sense (although I share Varun's reservations about the competence of our govt.).

  4. I have NOTHING against the people of Pakistan, and in fact I have, on multiple occasions, advocated for a solution through peaceful approaches. If you do not believe me, have a look at my posts that mention Pakistan, especially this one, where I addressed my PoV of what India can do in light of the "failing country" narrative.

    No. Seriously. Go read that post before you make accusations about my having a hardline and violence-advocating approach towards the Pakistani people.

    And for those who dislike clicking links, here are some snippets from the above-mentioned blog post:
    When I think loudly about this issue, the following comes to mind.:

    Problem context/assumptions:

    2. The people of pakistan do not actively want to mess with India. They, like people everywhere, want to lead their lives and raise their kids.


    Assumption 2 above rules out options like nuking/war, not to mention the fact that they also have nukes :-).

    So the _way to go_ to address the situation there, in my opinion, is
    1. Figure out what action hurts their _government/army_. They don’t care if you send back their singers, hell it plays directly into their hands of “Indians are hegemonical, and we should hate them”. Until we hurt their establishment, there is no solving this problem. [focussed trade boycott anyone?]

    2. The only way out, in addition to finding the magic bullet in point 1 above, is to _encourage_ the moderates there. Lets face it, a pakistan which is ruled by the Taliban is not in India’s interest. But it is also _not_ in the interest of the moderates there. [I have pakistani friends, and have heard a lot about how they feel threatened by the taliban/moral-police as much as you feel threatened by the Senes]. The only long term way out for us is to help the moderates in Pakistan get a voice. If it means letting some of them even show up on our TV Channels to make their case, so be it.

    / these are initial thoughts, but I hope you see where I am going.
    // am not saying that allow any T,D&H from pakistan on Indian TV. But for a change, lets stop focussing on the crazies there who call us “hindu zionists”, and focus on the more moderate voices there. I know it makes for better TRP to give airtime to the former, but the latter are the ones whom _we_ should give visibility to.
    /// There are those who would say ‘just secure our borders, close all communications, and wait for it to implode’. I for one would _not_ want a Nuclear armed neighbor to implode, and last time I checked, we were nowhere near securing our borders completely.
    //// Reiterating: Lets _not_ break cultural ties. If anything, let their artists perform here. If they have a good welcome, they will go back and share their experiences, which will only work to dispel the lies that their govt. has told their people.

Anyways, this is what I had to say. If you still think that I am some extreme-right warmonger with no regard for human life, suit yourself.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Why is War with Pakistan off the Table?

[Update: I finally was able to find an answer to the question. Answer in the last comment.]

[Update 2: If you are reading this article, you MUST also read the follow up post to get a more complete picture.]


[ Those who know me well know how much of a non-war person I am, but here is some loud thinking on my part. Let me know what you think. ]

I was reading ShashiTharoor's tweets and other reports on the 10 year anniversary of the Kargil war, where we were left surprised by the large-scale incursion of the Pakistani forces mingled with "freedom fighters" in Kashmir. And then reports of how the deaths on the LoC continue due to firing from the other side.

M.J.Akbar has written another masterpiece today in the ToI, which, among other things, makes the following note (emph mine):
In 1965 Lal Bahadur Shastri thought a little give would purchase a lot of take at Tashkent. In 1972, Indira Gandhi bought Bhutto's plea that what remained of Pakistan would crumble without her sympathy. She did not insist on a written agreement ending the Kashmir dispute along the Line of Control. Atal Bihari Vajpayee reached out to shake Pakistan's hand at Lahore, and got slapped in the face at Kargil.

And asks this wonderful rhetorical question:
In the political calculus, Gilani does not have to do much more to survive. After all, what can India do if he does nothing? Start a war?

And I wonder to that, Why not?

I mean, during Kargil, the reason we didn't go into a full-fledged war was because we thought they could use the nukes. If we, in contrast, attack the terror camps in PoK, wouldn't Pakistan also be forced to fight a non-nuclear war, fearing that if they use their nukes, we will use ours too?

Note that I am NOT asking for war. However, I have begun to strongly feel that keeping the strike option (pre-emptive or not) completely off the table does us no good, and allows the govt. there to be in the state of "we oh-so-want to fix your terrorism problem too, not just ours" while doing absolutely nothing about it.

What do we stand to lose if we state to Pakistan in clear terms that "next time there is a terror attack (or if there is a delay in delivering those responsible for the 26/11 attacks), we won't ask you before bombing the regions where we believe the camps are located. Bring out your nukes. We got bigger ones."?

Any answers?

[P.S. Credit is due to P, who asked me a version of this question a while back]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phished! Beware of your ATM

[Update: A slideshow with pictures on how this could have been done is added to the bottom of this post now.]

[for those of you who are impatient, you can jump to the what should I do section]

The Incident

Last Friday evening, I was visiting the town of Antony, to see an apartment which I will be moving in come September, and M and I were passing close to a branch of my bank, Credit Agricole. So I thought "might as well withdraw some cash". So I went up the ATM attached to the bank wall, and put in my card.

Nothing happened.

The machine didn't even ask me for my PIN. It just ate my card.

So I pressed "cancel" a couple of times. Still nothing. Then I noticed a small notice with the bank's logo on it saying "sorry, this ATM is broken. The screen also won't show that. If your card is in there, please type your pin and press OK. Then type it twice and press cancel to get your card back. If it still does not work, come back tomorrow morning with your ID and check at the bank."

So I did that, and sadly, no dice. I guessed it was because I had pressed other keys. Ah well.

The next afternoon, I went to the bank, and asked for my ATM card. To my shock, the lady at the bank said that they cannot find my card! They asked me to call the bank's lost ATM line, and get a confirmation number, which I should then give to my _own_ branch (close to work) when it is open.

So (with M's help) I was able to lodge a complaint, and got a confirmation number.

The Surprize!

Today afternoon, I finally went to my bank (it is closed on Monday), and while the nice lady there was talking to me about opening an FD/savings account, I noticed that my bank balance had come down by around 1.5K Euros in the past 2 days!!

Turns out there was a contraption attached to the ATM machine that not only stole my card, but also my PIN number. The thieves had pulled out EUR 250 that same evening from the ATM (hitting the daily limit), and bought a bunch of stuff the next day. The total damage: EUR 1,278.

Following this revelation, I went to the police station with a copy of the bank records, gave my statement, came back to the bank and filed a claim for the missing money. I am told that I should get a new card in 10 days, and hopefully my money will be back in 15.

It is worth noting that the bank staff and the police people were very very helpful and comforting, especially given that my French is not that good :).

What YOU should do

Of course, this post will be useless without a set of action-items. So here they are:

  1. Do NOT use random, unknown ATMs. Prefer to use only the ones that are your bank's, or some other well-known bank's.

  2. Do NOT use ATMs attached to the wall and open to the road, even if they are outside your own bank (as I did). Always use the ones inside the bank. At least here in France, such ATMs are open 24x7, and since they have a ton of cameras pointing at them, hopefully the scamsters will avoid them.

  3. If your ATM eats your card, and the screen does not change, DO NOT MOVE. Call the cops, and tell them this happened. If the machine is broken, it will say so. If the monitor is faulty, the bank will NOT put a sticker below the machine, they will block the slot itself. Contrary to what I thought that evening, the banks are NOT that stupid.

  4. Re-read step 3. If this happens to you, CALL THE COPS.

Ah well, this is it. Feel free to forward this post as email to your friends (there should be an icon below this post). This, for one, is a true story. It happened to me!

More references:
1. [China and USA]
2. [Australia]

Update: A sent me a presentation on how the machine could have eaten my card. Still not sure how they got my PIN.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Riding the Wave

So I got access to the Google Wave Sandbox, about which I had talked about earlier here.

The system is fast, and buggy -- the first time Google has really released something in beta. They are calling it a "developer preview".

The interesting part was that everyone is auto-subscribed to the main discussion group, and chaos rules there as of now. But then that is also due to the fact that none of my friends are on wave yet. Think of this like the early days of twitter or facebook, except that there is an approval process for signing up, and there are no "invites" like gmail had.

In any case, if you get an account, send me a wave at (yeah, got my firstname, just like on gmail ;-) )


Friday, July 17, 2009

Internet Explorer's latest promo in France

... is on a take-out pizza (speed rabbit) menu!

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

To Indian Indie Music

My good friend, the immensely talented Amitanshu has embarked on the journey towards his true calling - music. Check out his first upload in the video below

More at the youtube channel of their musical team, antarnaad. Go check it out, and subscribe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Berthillon ice cream. Yum :-)

Picture taken right before I ate this double scoop (cocktail exotique and cassis) in a special dual-cone :-). The store website is here, and it is supposed to have the best ice-cream in Paris :-).

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Our lady, in the Parisian sun

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eiffel Tower Fireworks

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Indian military bands in Paris

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--


--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Do you see the tanks?

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Jeeps with guns

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

One of many plane groups

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Singh is here

In case you didn't know, dr. Singh is the chief guest of the French independence day parade. Am posting this from the venue. More to come later. Watch this space.

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Right to Cover-Up

There has been a lot of discussion on the proposed ban on the burqa -- the head-to-toe covering islamic garment for women -- by the French govt.

My only close encounter with a burqa was when as a child, I noticed that a friend's grandmother used to wear her burqa whenever she stepped out of the house. Inside the house, even with us present, she just wore a sari. I would have considered her old-fashioned, but it was her choice of what she wanted to wear when venturing out.

My personal beliefs are perhaps best expressed in this great Daily Show clip.

To summarize (and to paraphrase JS), the burqa should not be banned, much like it should not be compulsory.

Seriously, if I were a man who forces my wife to wear a burqa when she steps out, what do you think I will do when it is illegal? I will simply forbid her from ever stepping out! And if a girl really wants to wear a burqa, the state should not have the right to stop her, much like wearing goth makeup (or covering one's ankles) is not illegal.

What the state DOES need to do is to reach out to womenfolk and provide circumstances so that they are more comfortable in stepping out and reporting it if their men are forcing them to wear burqas, or miniskirts for that matter.

But you see, the above is a very complex action to perform, and will not get much press. So I guess we will only see knee-jerk and sensationalist all-or-nothing solutions from the govt.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bridging Distance with Music

They say music and technology can bridge barriers. But for those for whom seeing is believing, I present this "Hotel California" video, which I came across today while looking for music to play in the background while I worked. It was composed by two guys who are thousands of miles apart, using the internet to collaborate. Hear it below (choose HQ), or for a higher-quality audio-only version, check out the playlist at this page.

Do you know of any other such amazing videos, especially featuring Indian amateur artists? Please post links in the comments if so.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hello Mona darling :-)

Learning how to grow Diamonds

Nova Science NOW is in its 4th season, and makes for some amazing viewing.

This week: Growing perfect Diamonds, and much more

Here is the video, ref: Ninjavideo.

The host, Dr. Tyson, is also a very good sport. His latest interview with the coal-bear is here

And yes, happy 4th of July to my red-white-and-blue friends :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Helping us Never Forget

Update: This video was removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim by Channel 4. Viewable trailer posted. Also, an alt youtube link is posted in the comments.

The official link is at

and a short sample is at

*** Old Post ***

Thanks to D for the link to the playlist below, which is a documentary on the Mumbai terror attacks of last year.

'nuf said. Watch it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good News!

Dear all,

Today, I was informed that I have been selected for the position of "Chargés de Recherche 2e" (junior researcher) at INRIA Paris-Rocquencourt.

Thanks to all of you for your support ... more details coming in the coming days.

à plus!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time for Desi Pride

Today there are Gay Pride parades all over, and this is my tribute.

For some context, here is an excellent piece from the New York Times.
40 Years later, still second class Americans.

For those of you who like video, here is Colbert on the topic:

And finally, here is a heartwarming love story from India of two women in love with each other who were finally able to find a place and jobs and "get to be who they are".

Hopefully soon the Indian Govt. will repeal the law that keeps gay people in India from being themselves. Or maybe we need our own Stonewall incident?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Truth

XKCD is always witty, but sometimes it outdoes itself :).

Game Theory

bonus points for reference to WarGames.

Monday, June 22, 2009

4000 Words

When we last left our protagonist, he was enjoying free Wi-Fi in the super-fast Thalys train to Eindhoven, Netherlands. Here are some snaps from afterwards...

First, Lunch and laptop, at 250 kmph (yes, that is Salmon)

Wall of food at Eindhoven station

Basanti da dhaba, at Amsterdam Airport

and now, I am back at INRIA, where apparently there are too many cats!

and now, back to work, and sending out psychological support for the people of Iran.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The best part of my train ride to Netherlands

That and the wonderful food they are serving me in this super-fast Thalys train. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Iranian Elections

We have been talking about the Iranian elections for some weeks now, since one of our interns, Aamir, is from there. As most of the non-resident Iranians, he is not a supporter of President Ahmedinejad, and is pretty disappointed with the results that have been announced.

Given I am super swamped (doing to Eindhoven, Netherlands for a meeting tomorrow), I will leave you all with these two amazing video clips, in which Fareed Z covers Iran. Good stuff. [ref: HuffPo]

First, a report.

Then, a panel discussion.

My wishes are with the people of Iran. I hope their spirit prevails, but no one can say what will happen...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feeling the Magic

After much deliberation, and even more going-to-store-and-not-finding-it, I finally got my HTC Magic, the latest phone powered by the Google Android operating system, which allows me to easily deploy my own code to the phone, in addition to being snazzy :-).

Here are some pics, taken and uploaded from the phone (you may want to bookmark the album for getting updates when I upload more snaps)

and here is a video, again taken from the phone, and effortlessly uploaded to youtube.

All said and done, the best part for me are two apps: the metal detector, and the SSH client :). (I have installed a chess app, will post my comments once I use it)

more updates as I explore more features :)


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rebirth and Near-Future Plans

Yesterday was my rebirthday, (Those who do not know of my 7 year old car crash story, check this post out.) but I wasn't able to post due to the recent work-trip to Munich [preceded by work-trip to Pisa, and to be succeeded by work-trip to Eindhoven, Netherlands :-) ]. Happy rebirthday Ashish, Akshay, and Rahul!

Still pretty tied up with stuff, but wanted to let you all know that due to some recent developments, it is pretty certain that I will be at my current location (Paris, France) for three more years [till summer 2012].

at least.

P.S. Happy birthday, Karthik!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hanuman Laughs

No no, this is not like "Buddha Smiles" - India didn't just do another nuclear test (and neither did Kishkindha).

This is about some new research that claims that some apes (gorillas, chimps, bonobos), indeed laugh when tickled.

Go to the article, and click the "Listen Now" link at the top. You won't regret it.

I wonder if they would also laugh if they read the daily tamasha, which has become a regular source of chuckles for me :-).

Sunday, May 31, 2009


For those of you who are still unaware of Google Wave, here is the question they aim to answer:

"In the current world which is aware of IM, blogs, and microblogs, what if one was to re-invent email from scratch, using the experience gained from exposure to these communication paradigms"

The answer, created by the same guys who created google maps and wowed us, is below. I strongly recommend watching the whole video, it gets more amazing as it progresses.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Love: Math and Bio

N had this link to a very interesting NYTimes opinion piece on the Math behind love as her google status today. Some snippets

The premise:
suppose Romeo is in love with Juliet, but in our version of the story, Juliet is a fickle lover. The more Romeo loves her, the more she wants to run away and hide. But when he takes the hint and backs off, she begins to find him strangely attractive. He, on the other hand, tends to echo her: he warms up when she loves him and cools down when she hates him.

and then he goes to model them... using differential equations, no less
Add to those possibilities the two ways Romeo could react to Juliet’s affections — either increasing or decreasing his own — and you see that there are four personality types, each corresponding to a different romantic style.


Although these examples are whimsical, the equations that arise in them are of the far-reaching kind known as differential equations. They represent the most powerful tool humanity has ever created for making sense of the material world. Sir Isaac Newton used them to solve the ancient mystery of planetary motion. In so doing, he unified the heavens and the earth, showing that the same laws of motion applied to both.
And in the end, he shares with us what happened when he applied math to his own love-situation back in the day, and why math stopped working beyond a point, but only due to a clearly mathematical reason.

Seriously, go read it.

Moving on, another discussion today (with M) made me do a little googling, and brought me to this article about the biological aspects of love. (Sorry but their claims do not have citations).

First, the premise:
We call it love. It feels like love. But the most exhilarating of all human emotions is probably nature’s beautiful way of keeping the human species alive and reproducing.

With an irresistible cocktail of chemicals, our brain entices us to fall in love. We believe we’re choosing a partner. But we may merely be the happy victims of nature’s lovely plan.
Then, the interesting bit about how the body behaves, in reaction to hormones, during the phases of "love" - lust, attraction, and attachment. Among others, this gem:
Does love change the way you think?
A landmark experiment in Pisa, Italy showed that early love (the attraction phase) really changes the way you think.

Dr Donatella Marazziti, a psychiatrist at the University of Pisa advertised for twenty couples who'd been madly in love for less than six months. She wanted to see if the brain mechanisms that cause you to constantly think about your lover, were related to the brain mechanisms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

By analysing blood samples from the lovers, Dr Marazitti discovered that serotonin levels of new lovers were equivalent to the low serotonin levels of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients.
And finally, they talk about a fool-proof three step procedure titled "how to fall in love". But for that, you should read the article :).

So, what do _you_ think ? Feel free to comment anonymously if you so desire :-).
P.S. Another way to increase your dopamine level - sports! And I sure _love_ the fact that I have resumed playing tennis regularly :).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Ghazals

Will be posting about my trip to the center court on the opening day of the french open in a bit, but for now, here are some ghazals I am listening to.

My favorite, if one can choose among these gems, is ranjish hi sahi. The lyrics in the devnagri script are here, and in Roman script (with full translation) is here. A direct link to its video is here.

One of my fav. lines here
किस किस को बताएँगे जुदाई का सबब हम
kis kis ko bataayengay judaai kaa sabab ham
Who else must I explain the reason of separation

तू मुझ से ख़फ़ा है तो ज़माने के लिए आ ।
tu mujh se khafaa hai to zamaanay kay liyay aa
Come, despite your displeasure, to continue the ceremony

Friday, May 22, 2009

Power without God

I have often exclaimed how any serious political candidate in the USA has to repeatedly announce his/her Christian beliefs, while in India it is not so, apart from those who explicitly want to benefit from pandering to the people of their own faith.

My friends often countered this with the fact that while Indian masses already know your religion from your surname, they also _assume_ that you are a "believer" in a higher power. That if it came out that a politician was agnostic or atheist, they would never win in India.

Well, the cat (some cats, at least) are out of the bag! The ToI reports that as many as six cabinet ministers took their oaths of office only on the constitution, no "help me God". From the article:
Six cabinet ministers of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's new team are 'non-believers'. These ministers "solemnly affirmed" that they would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution while taking oath today.

The Prime Minister and 13 of his ministers took the oath in the name of God.

This who didn’t, are A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, M Veerappa Moily, S Jaipal Reddy and C P Joshi, a first-timer in the cabinet.

The other ministers who took oath in the name of God include Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Vayalar Ravi, S M Krishna, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath, Meira Kumar, Murli Deora, Kapil Sibal, Ambika Soni, B K Handique and Anand Sharma.

Given that our home minster is a non-believer, does that mean that God won't bless India?

In any case, this agnostic feels that it is a good sign for the country when a politician can openly acknowledge his lack of belief in a supernatural power, while still stressing their intention to do their duty in accordance with our governing document; one that didn't come to someone in a vision, or is not comprised of God's own words, but is a living, changing, evolving entity, much like our rich culture.

Amen to that!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One way for the Right

I wrote yesterday about the options in front of the BJP, and how "logically", it makes sense to go more to the right, although that would personally make me sad.

However, last night, as I was watching the Colbert Report, and Meghan McCain appeared on it. She is the daughter of Senator John McCain, and describes her as pro-sex, pro-life, and pro-gay-marriage republican.

'nuf said, watch the video.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meghan McCain
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

I don't agree with her PoVs, but she does infuse a fresh breath into the Republican party, and provides a voice to many people who want to be economically conservative and socially liberal.

Now, if LKA's frank, articulate, socially liberal beautiful daughter (not sure if Ms Pratibha Advani has appeared on TV yet) was to show up on TV... oh wait, the most famous women the BJP has got are these ladies.

So dear readers, what say? Who can become BJP's Meghan? Hai koi Meghana?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Right to go?

After my initial post about the election results, here is some analysis.

Well, I guess better writing has been done by the likes of M.J.Akbar, who wrote in this wonderful piece:
The BJP might want to consider a fundamental fact about our country. India is not a secular nation because Indian Muslims want it to be secular. India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular.
A similar PoV comes from this article on offstumped, a right-of-center blog [ref: abi]:
4. Riots have consequences we can no longer be in denial on VHP’s conduct. There has to be accountability for the rot in Orissa.


10. Last but not the least, it would be in complete denial if it did not ask tough questions of how Acts of Adharma in the name of Hindutva have been condoned and the relevance of Hindutva as an ideology to guide on Socio-Economic issues.
Now, I agree that these elections have shown that going extreme right-wing is not the way, and indeed the BJP experts were trying very hard for people to forget that the only thing that their "nidar neta" (fearless leader) had done to show his fearlessness was to whip up religious frenzy and demolish a mosque. However, Varun G served as a big jolt to the people who had begun to lean towards the NDA. Then they said "jab wohi development, wohi corruption, humein riots ke bageir mile, toh koi yeh kyun lein, woh na lein?" (paraphrasing the nirma super ad).

And this brings me to the big question - where does the BJP go from here? Clearly the question they face is very similar to what the republicans in the USA faced after their defeat in 2008. Behind all the explanatory interviews on how this was NOT a big defeat, there was definitely some soul searching going on. The BJP is undoubtedly in a similar situation, and if you see the comments on offstumped, you will see that far-right and the center-right people airing their differences.

I sure hope that their move more to the center in social terms, and work on creating a distinguishing brand for themselves devoid of religious connotations.

However, the thing that bothers me is this:

Unlike the Republicans in USA, who are both economically "and" socially on the right w.r.t the democrats ("tax cuts for the rich" and "no abortions no matter what, because God said so"), the BJP is _only_ socially on the right. Of course, no party can be economically be on the right and win in India.

But that leads to a problem - the desi masses seem to currently be OK with the UPA's economically--center-left and socially-left agenda. The only way that the BJP _can_ differentiate itself (without going economically right) is by going _more_ socially right. Going towards the center will need them to depend on the UPA to fail so that people think of them as the other viable centrist national party, and I think this version of the UPA govt. is more politically shrewd and less bound by 'allies' than the last one.

So, what else _can_ the BJP do but move more to the social/religious right?

P.S. this is not unlike the current US scenario, where being economically right is taboo, thanks to the crisis. As a results, the republicans have resorted to the only possible gambit - go extreme right on social aspects. Not saying it is working, but I can understand their reasons.

P.P.S. On Grover's demand, and to showcase the victory of "let's just do our work and forget about killing our fellows" over intolerance, here is the video of the day:

update post watching the song: Just to be clear, I LOVE the acknowledgment of national achievements and culture part in the lyrics, but disagree with the blatant "everything western is bad" allusion in the video. I especially support Saira Bano's right to bare her back and wear a wig :).