India's Lost Southern Border: Somewhere near the town of Mandapam on peninsular India, India's vast rail network is at its closest to the sea-coast; indeed, it crosses a 2.4 kilometre stretch of the sea, and then extends for another 12 kilometres, before terminating in an ancient temple town, Rameswaram(YouTube), close to the impressive Ramanatha Swamy temple around which the town is centered. Another 20 kilometres through an increasingly rough terrain brings us to a forgotten fishing hamlet, Moonram Chathiram, before bringing us to some ruined buildings, abandoned rain-tracks, a submerged temple and a ruined church. Welcome to Dhanushkodi(YouTube). Till tragedy struck on the night of December 22nd 1964, this was India's only border-town in the south. [more inside]
Mansoor 'Tiger' Ali Khan, erstwhile Indian cricket captain, has died. His legacy evokes a previous era in Indian history: a last-generation Royal blinded in one eye as a young man, he captained the Oxford then the Indian teams (his father had played for Oxford and England before captaining India), and married movie actress Sharmila Tagore with whom he had children who went on to become movie stars themselves. Some memories of a man known for his cricketing skill, style and charisma.
Democracy’s Saintly Challenger India is no stranger to protest movements, hunger strikes, and the mass mobilization of citizens for a popular cause. But the recent fast by the Gandhian leader Anna Hazare, culminating in an extraordinary Saturday session of Parliament to pass a resolution acceding to his main demands, marked a dramatic departure in the country’s politics. The Anna phenomenon reflects a “perfect storm” of converging factors: widespread disgust with corruption, particularly after two recent high-profile cases of wrongdoing (in allocating telecoms spectrum and awarding contracts for the Commonwealth Games); the organizational skill of a small group of activists committed to transforming India’s governance practices; the mass media’s perennial search for a compelling story; and the availability of a saintly figure to embody the cause. It also raises important questions about civil society’s role in a democracy.
Which countries match the GDP and population of ● Brazil's States? ● China's Provinces? ● India's States and Territories? [more inside]
The typewriter lives on in India. 'India's typewriter culture survives the age of computers in offices where bureaucracy demands typed forms and in rural areas where many homes don't have electricity.' [more inside]
Massive Biometric Project Gives Crores of Indians an ID: Aadhaar faces titanic physical and technical challenges: reaching millions of illiterate Indians who have never seen a computer, persuading them to have their irises scanned, ensuring that their information is accurate, and safeguarding the resulting ocean of data. This is India, after all—a country notorious for corruption and for failing to complete major public projects. And the whole idea horrifies civil libertarians. But if Aadhaar’s organizers pull it off, the initiative could boost the fortunes of India’s poorest citizens and turbocharge the already booming national economy. [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
জয় হে : So you have seven swara's, or musical notes, each associated with elements, animals, chakra's and Hindu gods. Linearly arranged swara's, or sur's in Hindi, form a swaramalika, a chain of swara's. Mixing yours and my swara's, for instance, produces our sur(YT) (text). Once again,(YT) on a Continuum Fingerboard. The seven swara's together are also called a 'sargam', a Devnaagri acronym formed by taking the first letter of each note. Sargam mix with each other and form raaga's, melodic modes that depict the colours, hues and moods in Indian classical music. Assembling known maestros from every corner of the nation, and asking them to play their sargam's, you get desh raag(YT): the Sound of a Nation. [more inside]
Samosapedia "The definitive guide to South Asian lingo". Eg., Enthu Cutlet: An enthu cutlet is an earnest eager beaver who is able to muster up inordinate amounts of energy, inspiration and enthusiasm towards a variety of things. (via)
In August-September 1965, India and Pakistan went to war for the second time since their independence in 1947. On September 19, a civilian aircraft (Beechcraft Model 18) carrying the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat (bordering Pakistan) was shot down by a Pakistani Air Force pilot (flying an F-86F). Now, 46 years later, the Pakistani pilot has written a condolence letter to the daughter of the pilot of the Indian civilian aircraft.
The African Presence in India: A Photo Essay : The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental answers. This series of articles, "The African Presence in India: An Historical Overview," is designed to provide some of those answers.
The Age of Dissolution. "Walking the Ganga river, from holy bacterial stews to crystalline glaciers: Shiva, eclipses, and the IPCC." [Via]
Leprosy in India has officially been eliminated since 2005 as prevalence of the disease has fallen to historic lows. But what was once a public health issue sometimes looks more like a political or religious one as some of the Christian charities that treat victims come under sustained pressure. [more inside]
Job searchers have begun outsourcing the process of applying for jobs to companies in India. The results have been mixed.
Le Figaro has a great article with photographs of the journey of human hair obtained as offerings to the gods by pilgrims in Tirupati to the beauty salons of New York and the heads of such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Since its in French, here's Mother Jones covering the same in English. A Spaniard in London does a photo essay while exporters show you a flowchart of the entire process. Highly valued and in short supply, remy hair, as it is known, is very different from the stuff you find being used in pesticides, pizza base and deer repellent (warning: Fox News link).
India's vultures are vanishing. Populations of three species on the sub-continent have plummeted since the 1980s from 50 million to less than 60,000. Their disappearance could lead to widespread increase in human diseases.
Fast food in South India is fast | in Thailand iced tea is really cool | in Sri Lanka tea is cooled with dramatic effect | in Delhi the bread is made fast too | in Calcutta it puffs up magically | tea serenely | singly | or two at a time | in China tea is served with a long spout, acrobatically. [more inside]
A court-mandated opening of some secret chambers at the Sree Padmanabhaswami temple in Kerala - family temple of the ruling royals of the former Kingdom of Travancore - has led to the discovery of a treasure estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power "A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High" by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously)
With the NFL and NBA potentially going dark in the fall, Michael Schur and Nate DiMeo of Grantland.com decide to watch the India-Pakistan cricket match to see if it can be a suitable replacement.
The two year long saga of how McDonalds engineered the perfect cottage cheese filet for the McSpicy Paneer burger. McD has a turbulent history in India where its processes, practices and products, successfully developed over decades, have been turned upside down and redesigned, often from scratch. [more inside]
M.F. Husain, Indian painter, passed away at age 95 in England, on the 9th of June 2011. [more inside]
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
What to do about Pakistan? The Economist urges the west to focus on the Kashmir issue in order to help stabilize the region. Christopher Hitches urges the US to stand more firmly behind India.
Mad skillz with simple things: balancing sticks |Ouka - Ringarts | blind people seeing with echolocation | Rajnikanth at the pick-up counter | cat at a shell game.
With the help of Bill Gates, the World's efforts to eradicate polio (PDF) have over the last few years gained a great deal of new hope (TED) [more inside]
So far this year there have been 118 cases of measles reported in the United States. [more inside]
The last hand-written newspaper in the world - A brief film about The Musalman, which has been penned in Urdu calligraphy every day since 1927. via CreativeRoots [more inside]
"For the progress of humanity, work alone is not adequate, but the work should be associated with love, compassion, right conduct, truthfulness and sympathy. Without the above qualities, selfless service cannot be performed."On Sunday morning, Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away. He leaves behind a massive empire, several million mourning devotees worldwide, an extensive religious philosophy, a great deal of controversy and a legacy of large-scale philanthropic projects in India, including free hospitals and mobile medical facilities, a free university and schools, and other efforts which included supplying clean water to hundreds of rural villages. [more inside]
The Sabich is a popular Israeli pita sandwich based on the traditional Babylonian-Jewish Shabbat morning meal. It it is usually seasoned with Amba, the mango pickle condiment of Indian Origin which the Baghdadi Jewish community of India brought to Baghdad (along with Sambusak, a variant of the Simosa). [more inside]
The IOWEYOU project. You can't go to a shop and buy these clothes. Because each textile is unique they have an app that allows you to trace your garment right back through the production process to the actual weaver that hand-wove the fabric. You can see some of the delightful people involved in the project at their YouTube channel.
Indian prison authorities in Hyderabad have opened up a call centre inside the jail with hopes of servicing customers from the UK.
"The paper puts forward a small but novel idea of how we can cut down the incidence of bribery. There are different kinds of bribes and what this paper is concerned with are bribes that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. I shall call these 'harassment bribes'. Suppose an income tax refund is held back from a taxpayer till he pays some cash to the officer. Suppose government allots subsidized land to a person but when the person goes to get her paperwork done and receive documents for this land, she is asked to pay a hefty bribe. These are all illustrations of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society. The central message of this paper is that we should declare the act of giving a bribe in all such cases as legitimate activity [PDF]. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state." [more inside]
"I've never been in a stadium that feels like this one. Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, people from different castes and classes, speakers of a dozen languages, all citizens in the Republic of Sachin. The stern cops give wide smiles and thumbs-ups. The chant goes from "Sachin! Sachin!" to "Hoo … ha … IN-DI-A!" They are interchangeable." [more inside]
"Among the Hagiographers": The Wall Street Journal's review of a new biography questions our supposed deification of Mohandas Gandhi.
Holi is a wild, sexy celebration in India. People wear white and then throw or squirt colored powders and water at each other. There are bonfires, marijuana drink parties, mischief, all kinds of sweet pastries, venting of sexual heat, dancing in the streets and happy, colorful mayhem. [more inside]
Welcome to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages On these pages, I present solid information on (currently) 117 different spice plants. Emphasis is on their usage in ethnic cuisines, particularly in Asia; furthermore, I discuss their history, chemical constituents, and the etymology of their names. Last but not least, there are numerous photos featuring the live plants or the dried spices.
"No Toilet, No Bride": Count the number of public toilets for women in India, or the availability of something as basic as low-cost sanitary napkins, and the invisibility of women’s needs becomes apparent." Private toilets may increase in number: "There are signs of change, though, and one of the most surprising may be in the matrimonial market. Four years ago, the Haryana government started its "No Toilet, No Bride" campaign, painting walls across the state with the slogan: 'I won’t allow my daughter to marry into a home without toilets.'
Is India an oligarchy? Late last year, when India's income tax office tapped the phone of well-connected lobbyist, Niira Radia, they were looking for evidence of tax evasion and money laundering. But what they found instead was what many consider evidence of an even bigger problem: "[T]he tapes reveal that the country that prides itself on being the world's largest democracy is really ruled by a small coterie of powerful people." Some of the leaked tapes that sparked the scandal are available online, on the website of the weekly magazine that first broke the story, as well as a few transcripts. [more inside]
Air India (in collaboration with Indian Airlines, the Indian Air Force and Aeroflot) is in the Guinness Book of World Records for their airlift in 1990 when they successfully evacuated 111,711 Indian citizens from Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan by operating 488 refugee flights over a period of 59 days. While they have never quite managed to break that record in the intervening years and subsequent strife, Air India in collaboration with any available merchant ships is at it again after Egypt to deal with the largest evacuation since then ongoing right now from Libya.
For me, this was a first experience of seeing India play at home, and of Sachin Tendulkar playing in front of his own people. I chose a good game with which to start. I can think of few, if any, experiences in sport to match watching Tendulkar succeed in a home game. Roger Federer may occupy a similar status of universally-acknowledged greatness within tennis, but I think it is fair to say that Switzerland is not quite as passionate about tennis as India is about cricket. If Federer were to simultaneously play tennis whilst hoarding gold and providing banking facilities for dubious dictators, perhaps the fervour of his support would match that for Sachin. But the Swiss population is unlikely ever to top the one billion mark.Don't know a thing about cricket? Wouldn't know a wicket from a googly? Don't worry, you won't have to know a thing to enjoy Andy Zaltzman's World Cup Blog. He is traveling around Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka attending various games. Zaltzman is best known to the world for the fabulous podcast The Bugle which he does with John Oliver. Therefore it should come as no surprise that he also does a cricket podcast. And he tweets about cricket too.
ISRO scientists think they have found a horizontal uncollapsed lava tube on the moon, 1.7 km long, 360 m wide, and 120 m high (roughly 1 mile x 1200 ft x 400 ft) which could be used as a lunar base by astronauts for inter-planetary missions. [more inside]