November 15, 2006

Al–Jazeera a welcome relief

Finally a non-western perspective on global news has arrived and I hope they will live up to their promise. Having literally grown up on BBC World and CNN, I am extremely excited about Al-Jazeera International. BBC is by far the more balanced perspective on global events, and unlike CNN or FOX does not seem to have a political agenda to fulfill. But Al-Jazeera is just what the world needs. While any military chief can criticize their coverage of the Iraq war, in my view it was journalism at its highest standard. As they claim’war is gruesome’ and I am glad there is a news channel out there willing to show just how gruesome and inhumane it is.
Al-Jazeera’s ultimate aim is to revolutionalize the way global news is reported, by highlighting the perspectives of the less economically developed world. It is a noble aim indeed, and I have full faith they will try their best to achieve it.

June 27, 2006

The World Cup so far

This year's World Cup has been exciting but could have been much much better with some sensible refereeing. As a "neutral" supporter (well I do want England to win) the best matches to me have unquestionably been those where the so called underdogs have given the big guns a lot to think about. Right now I'm watching what has been by far the best game of round two with Brazil playing Ghana and Ghana giving Brazil an excellent game, playing some absolutely brilliant football and giving the spectators something to cheer about.

One of the most disappointing parts of the world cup has been the pathetically dismal refereeing in a lot of games. Yesterday's decision to award Italy the penalty at absolutely the last second was completely unnecessary and a major blow to undoubtedly the most spirited team in the world cup. Australia has played with the passion, skill and technique and once again Guus Hiddik has proved that he is not a one time wonder.
Even in today's match Brazil gets a stupid second goal decision where Adriano is clearly offside. Its hard to iimagine how heartbreaking such stupid refereeing must be to such a skillful and entertaining side. As in 2002, Africa has shown us how crafty and ambitious they are in their game play. Its certainly a hell of a lot more entertaining to watch Ghana or Ivory coast play than it was to watch that long drawn boring football played by Ukraine and Switzerland. Switzerland is officially the most mundane team I have ever seen play football. They should never have gotten through to the world cup finals.
Portugal and Holland a match which would have been undoubtedly spectacular was another decent match fucked up by a pathetic referee. Although I must say the portugese players are really violent in their approach. They do not have the rythm of the south americans or the discipline of the Germans and as a result play okay football, mainly due to a few talented scorers. I really hope England find their form which has been ominously absent throughout the world cup and beat the living daylights out of Portugal.
To me, teams such as Australia Ghana, USA and Ivory Coast should be celebrated for their superb display. I loathe Italy, Switzerland and France for playing defensive and rubbish football in terms of entertainment value anyway. I know its not all about scoring goals but its certainly not all about defense either! One just has to remember the superb football played by USA against Italy where a 9 man USA held Italy to a 1–1 draw, again providing a superb game of football even though it was not high scoring.
Argentina and Germany should provide an excellent quarterfinal match, my money being on Germany who have been superb throughout the tournament. Although as in any world cup game its foolish to rule out Argentina.
For everyone's benefit I hope the remaining games are not decided by referees instead of the players.

May 24, 2006

A disastorous decision – one that will cost India dearly

The Indian Legislative committee has just approved a law that will guarantee seats to 50% of the lower caste communities in India's state funded colleges and universities. A worse decision could not have been made.
The government is approaching the issue in completely the wrong way. Instead of focussing on the key issue of providing more education facilities so that more people can be educated, al it has now done is to appease the poor in India by guaranteeing them seats no matter what their merit. That is absolute rubbish. I can understand that money can help richer students prepare better for universities so up to a 20% reservation of seats for poor people is acceptable, but reserving seats for castes is the worst political decision this government has taken.
Not only does the government now acknowledge that there IS a caste system, but it is also encouraging people to allign themselves to a particular caste so as to benefit from it. Instead of taking the mature route of non discrimination it has taken the immature and insensitive route of discrimination. Why is it not just possible to have a means tested ecucation system? Now the rich will just end up bribing officials in some caste committee to allign themselves to a "Backward caste" so they can get in and in the end the poor will not benefit anyway.
University has to be merit based. By taking in anyone from anywhere it just compromises the quality of the education provided at an institute. It makes people want to allign themselves to a caste for no good reason on top of that it takes away any incentive to study at all! why study if I can get in without doing so? Why should the middle class of any country be punished? My parents worked their butt off to get where they are, and instead of punishing them one should make it easier for poor people to do better at school rather than making it easier to do well in life without working for it at all!
Whats the solution ? Same as in the UK – Privatize education! If the government is going to be authoritarian and stupid when it comes to important decisions then the best decisions should be left to the market. The elite institutions of India are all state run and state funded, once private universities with decent professors and facilities start to spring up, they will definetely attract the brighter students and in doing so will take away value from the brand names of the top institutes. At least the government cannot control private institutes in a democratic country! (Thank god for that)
Yes – I acknowledge that poor people have a lower chance of getting into higher education and so entry should be reserved for them. This should result in means tested entry and NOT entry based on a worthless and vile caste system that does more harm to India than any other major social concern. Instead of just reserving entry how about building more institutes so that demand equals supply? obviously there is a net excess demand in India for higher educaton that is causing a problem. Private institutes will definetely help ease the burden on the government and will also help give employment to the hundreds of millions of Indians.
Nonetheless I have complete faith in the market system and I believe all education should be privatized for the good of society. More money means more scholarships and especially if entry is means tested it results in everyone paying the right price for education. Free education is never fair education because some people will always benefit more than others. Instead if everyone payed fees according to what their family can afford, it does indeed become a lot fairer.

May 21, 2006

Mired in controversy…...should it be???

In the long hours in between the sporadic revision, the BBCnews website has now become my favorite haunt, and their latest discussion topic is the Da Vinci Code! (surprise surprise).
After being delayed and censored in India, and booed in press screenings, the reaction to the film begs two questions…....Is the film really that bad??? Or is it soooo good that the church is now afraid it will create unnecessary doubt?

Personally, I think the church is right to object…and so are Christians in general, afterall one can't just take any old theory (written in what I admit is a good read) and then start questioning the morals of Jesus Christ….. Muslims were angry at the cartoons, and now Christians are angry at Da Vinci ….. it is in my opinion understandable.

On the other hand, it does generate a lot of interest in Christianity from followers and non–followers alike. Anyone reading the discussion on the BBC website will see comments ranging from "The Bible is a work of Fiction" to "The film is blasphemous!" but all would agree that it did generate a lot of interest. But is that a sufficient reason to not protest??? In some respects I say yes it is…..because even if the film has a disclaimer on it bing a work of fiction, it does promote a discussion of the history of christianity. And if someone does take the stance that Jesus married Magdalane, at least she would be accpeting that Jesus did exist. But as I have said before, it creates unnecessary tensions all around, especially when people start abusing each other for their views.
In my opinion what differentiates the Da Vinci Code from the cartoons of Mohammad is that it does not degrade Jesus Christ to being a terrorist, but rather questions the power of the church. Although I admit the focus has been on his relationship with Magdalane, which many people would find degrading.

At then end of the day I believe the film should be viewed as based on a very good work of fiction and should be enjoyed for its intoxicating story line, but I doubt it will be. After all we are all humans….and as is obvious nothing gets us going like religion…

May 13, 2006

Google is right and here's why.

I realize this may be a year too late for the debate, but nonetheless I think that Google was definetely right when it took the decision to censor its search engine in China .
As the world's largest search engine one might argue it has the responsibility to condem any form of censorship on the internet – a world, which although virtual provides unlimited opporunities for freedom of expression and opinion, and in most cases where the laws of the "real" world tend to not apply. However, in China the government has a very strong tendency to not realize this fact. I am sure that no matter how much every government believes in the Lockean ideal of a minimalist government, if it could legally have access to all the information on the web it bloody well would do so.
In China the situation that google is in is very precarious indeed. Whilst in democratic countries people to a large extent have free speech without consequences it is obviously not the case in China. If google allowed everyone to search for democratic ideals someday or the other it would definetely be approcahed by the Chinese government to hand over data of the individuals searching for these words, and sooner or later those individuals would conveniantly "disappear". Any society no matter how impoverished or resource laden needs to have freedom to progress. China has managed to achieve immense growth in economic terms, but it has consequently given rise to a population that has a hunger to progress spiritually and internally and indeed should do so, but the government will obviously lose any power it cdurrently exudes and therefore just cannot do so.
If google denied to hand over the information, they would be banned from China altogether, which makes no entreprenual sense whatsoever. Google realises the situation they are in and hence are not even providing email services to the Chinese people. I know that if I was to choose between saving the lives of revolutionary or simply curious people or condeming them to death or worse still a miserable life, I would choose to save them. More so because if I did not choose to do so the government would ban my organization – in other words Google is in a lose – lose situation with the current Chinese government.

April 22, 2006

Betrayal in the UK? surely not…

Writing about web page

A new ruling by the government now means that a lot of Doctors who came here with the promise of being treated fairly are just being denied any future and all their money is going to waste. What I dont understand i why the doctors currently studying here cannot be allowed to finish their qualification? Surely it is only a matter of ethics and decency to let someone finish what you encouraged them to start.

I have never ever viewed the UK as a discriminatory nation, but it does tend to baffle at times with decisions such as these for which there is no reasonable logic. These poor doctors (literally) now have a huge debt with NO degree…...hopefully someone will fight for their cause, unfortunately they are not of any concern to any of UKs policy makers.

April 18, 2006

"All options including the use of force are open

Bush is scaringly close to declaring war on another nation without properly exhausting all options. I hope he does not attack Iran, its a war this world can do without.

April 16, 2006

Why only one exam?

All that revision has got me angry now – why do we only have one exam every year? Wy can't we have mid-terms, regular test and quizzes which then take away this unusually high stress during the exam period
High-School was sooo much better, we had tests every two weeks, and quizzes every month, a mid-semester and an exam at the end of the semester and finally the final exam which counted for not more than 20%.
It just makes a lot lot more sense to have more regular tests/assignments/essays/work that actually counted, if you think about it. We should be doing most of our work year round anyway, and if all those essays and weekly assignments were made to count towards our grade not only would we put in more effort but actually learn something along the way

I hate this feeling of learning the whole course at the end of the year, this system sucks!

April 13, 2006

They're at it again

Yep its the french again, they've certainly gotten a lot harder to understand over the past few weeks. Anyone remotely interested in the news would have come across the near daily riots by french students over a new law – CPE , which essentially makes it easier to hire and fire workers especially since there is no need to give a reason when firing them.

Now its not so much the rioting thats new, but its the people that are doing so. I agree I am not french neither an expert on their economy, but if 45% of the people aged 18–26 do not have a job, I certainly would not be trying to burn cars if a new law made it easier for me to get a job. Yes I understand that there can be significant stress not knowing when you might be fired, but is that really any worse than being unemployed? The students protesting kept saying that as it is there are no jobs in France for them, neither is the future looking too bright but they dont want this law as it will make it easier for them to be fired. But what about the other side of the equation where it is also easier for them to be hired?

In my opinion france is going down the drain right now, their growth has been spearheaded by the free-market economy, trade liberalization and some good entrepreneurship, but with this continually socialist approach to everything they have forgotten why they are one of the top economies in Europe in the first place. The U.K. has a far stronger economy and is projected to achieve at least 3% growth in 2007, and it has also embraced liberalization much more enthusiastically. The U.K has an unemployment rate of 5.1% whereas France is in double figures…...surely despite their hatred for the British, common sense should prevail when it comes to following the right policy for the future of the country? Instead they have a list of 10 national companies that cannot be privatised and are increasingly wary of any other mergers or take-overs…..even though other countries across the world are quite open to French companies taking over local companies. Some times the right decision requires courage, France has failed yet again and with increasingly socialist attitudes and a desire to isolate themselves from the rest of the world (only 35% of the french believe free trade is good as opposed to 66% of the British), they certainly are not going to fare any better in the foreseeable future.

University students should know a hell of a lot better. Either way why should I be guaranteed a job just because I have a university degree? If I have a degree in a non technical subject why does that entitle me to any job, despite the technical expertise required? The students may have succeeded in blocking the law, but have certainly shown themselves to be disappointing in doing so.

March 04, 2006

I'm starting to like this Bush chap

His trip to India certainly has gotten my attention! A much needed partnership formed between the worlds largest and the worlds richest domocracies. I hope the nuclear deal comes through for the sake of India's energy needs and Global warming. Its a pleasant surprise.
Bush is also now not opposed to the Iran-Pakistan-India Gas pipeline! a $6 bn project which will definetely improve ties between India and Pakistan, something that the two countries desparately need.
This is definetely the recognition India deserves, for being one of the most stable democracies in the world and one of the very very few fast developing countries using democracy as a political model.
I'm happy with Bush, for once he has done more right than wrong… certainly is the way forward.

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