Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

It’s been a while since I did one of these, and with shorter days and Chewbacca curtailing my other activities (cycling mainly), it’s time to straighten up with a challenge.

Running has been my Achilles’ heel for quite a while, and something I need to get cracking on if I want to tick off the planned triathlon next summer.

So, this November, I plan to get on with with NHS’ Couch to 5K series and get started with running. It only takes 30 minutes, 3 days a week, so should be able to get that time out as well.

Since the Couch-to-5K plan doesn’t cover 4 days of the week, those will require at least 30 minutes of swimming, cycling or walking (with or without Chewbacca).

Also, as the title would’ve indicated, I’ll be growing a moustache and joining the Movember movement this year as well. Will post the donation link soon, in the forlorn hope that at least one of you will donate!

Been finding it interesting (more so intriguing) to note that after encountering efficient, non corrupt processes in countries like UK, the solutions for India from Indians here are still mostly on lines of:
‘shoot the leaders’,
‘Congress corrupt, BJP will bring ram rajya’,
‘Anna Hazare is the saviour’,
‘we need a dictatorship’ (which both the above options might easily deliver), my etc.

No one, not even the most intelligent, insightful IIM educated folk I’ve met / read, suggest what I find to be the obvious: ‘strong, independent government institutions’.

So, either I’m highly mistaken and misguided in my understanding, or most people I follow are getting something wrong.

If you think I’m wrong, would really like to hear your point of view, and feel free to skip everything below this. Just jump to comments.

The strength of western democracies isn’t derived from non-corrupt leaders (they are corrupt here too, just not in such an open manner), or from being led by a god anointed party or leader (highly religious states in eu do tilt towards higher corruption), or from a great leader who has lead them into a shining future.

The strength of western democracy is (IMHO) derived from its strong institutions – institutions which deliver what they are responsible for irrespective of government of the day, mood of the populace and mood of the boss. More importantly, institutions which, while consistently delivering their responsibilities, rarely over reach.

About time that we stopped thinking in terms of individuals and personalities, and started thinking in terms of institutions, organisations, structures and processes. Yes, it’s boring, it doesn’t let you (or anyone) be a hero. But, it delivers. Time, after time.

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Misc.

Do visit Steve’s blog for more brilliant posts…

Been some time since I saw a good article in The Economist, with equally good (mostly) comments. This was one.

Some quotes:

“Americans are more hostile toward the idea of an atheist presidential candidate than they are to a gay, adulterous, marijuana-using or utterly inexperienced candidate.”

“The problem is seldom with the religion but the religious”

In fact, eight states still officially ban atheists from holding public office.

Btw, this bit of JFK’s speech is must read. How I wish these words could be enshrined, strictly, in constitutions across the world (and speciall, my India).

…where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president—should he be Catholic—how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

Go read the article. And the comments. It’s worth your time, even if you are a jihadist / crusader / ram sene aspirant (tells you how the other side, we, feel).

<random thoughts to be ignored>

The world went from a decade when Muslims taking up arms got a largely sympathetic ear and a default label of ‘defenders against oppression‘ (Bosnia and Kosovo), to a decade (the noughties) when Muslims taking up arms got the most suspicious eye and default labels of ‘Islamic terrorists’ and ‘extremists‘.

Over a similar period, our neighbourhood troublemakers (NT) went from being a long-term strategic ally of the only super power, to having openly hostile relations with it. As a sign of their sinking economy, their GDP/capita went from ~50% higher than ours ($412 vs $218 in 19921) to 32% lower ($1007 vs $1476 in 2010).

Further, the neighbourhood troublemakers saw another democratic government thrown out and military take the reigns yet again, while J&K saw (relatively) successful elections and successive elected governments (something the NT rarely sees)

To repeat, over a period of 2 decades the instigators behind the troubles in J&K went from being a position of geo-political and economic strength to (almost) international outcasts and economic ruin. Their agents in the valley went from being considered defenders against oppression to extremist terrorists, and got banned in most countries. The valley itself went from being a violent hotspot ruled by a governor appointed by the centre running a largely police state, to a mostly peaceful state with successive democratic governments.

Seems to me like it was a damn good time2 to force negotiations, from a position of strength, and get the other parties to agree to a long term solution. Unfortunately, nothing like that seems to be happening, unless we agree that the best case long term solution for India is to freeze the conflict while establishing LoC as the accepted border.

Should the government have tried for more than just peace in the valley and banning of the terrorist groups? I believe yes. I would have sure liked to have them push for more, quite a bit more. I’m sure a lot of people, on both sides of the border would’ve like them to have tried a bit more and settled the issue once and for all.

Could the government have gotten more? Unlikely. The same factors that have lead the our NT from a position of strength in early 90s to such a position of weakness today – core interests of the populace, the military, and (lately) the Islamists running counter to each other – are also the ones that prevent them from behaving like rational, reliable actors on a negotiating table. That India’s domestic opposition, while largely agreeing on outline of final desired outcome, is always looking to score political points on any moves towards settlement, rather than support the government in achieving it, acts as a dampener as well.

Should this be considered a failing of the Indian government – for not pushing through a long term resolution – or a success – for pacifying a violent valley and establishing a stable democratic process in the state as a prelude to complete peace and normalcy? I can’t answer that, I don’t have all the facts and the insider info. May be the super powers of hindsight will help us answer this question in a decade or few.

</random thoughts to be ignored>

(more…)

I walk a …

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Misc.
Tags: , , , ,

Listening to an old favourite after a long time.

Lyrics:

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a-

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me
‘Til then I walk alone

Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ahhh-Ah
Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah

I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone

Read between the lines of what’s
Fucked up and everything’s all right
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
And I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a-

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me
‘Til then I’ll walk alone….

Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah
Ahhh-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah
I walk alone
I walk a-

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk a..

My shadows the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me
‘Til then I’ll walk alone

[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-walk-alone-lyrics-green-day.html ]

30 over 30 Challenge

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Cycling, Misc.
Tags:

Inspired by Chet, disappointed with my own laziness since returning from Barca, and in preparation for the December expedition, I’ve decided to take on the 30daychallenge:

Every day in November, I’ll be walking, jogging, running or cycling at least 30 mins. 30 days with at least 30 mins of activity each.

Yes, it could become hard if the winter sets in, but then what did I buy those training rollers for, if not to cycle indoors on bad days?

Keeping myself going irrespective of the weather, day of week and social or work engagements – That’s the challenge.