Pre-Schools in Kondapur, Hyderabad


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Selecting a pre-school for a child is a task that requires mammoth effort from the side of the parents. For us it involved the following activities:

  • Collecting information about nearby schools
  • Shortlisting schools as per our criteria
  • Visiting each school and scouting around to see if school meets expectations
  • Speaking to directors of the concerned schools about the pedagogy followed
  • Talking to other parents

This can take up to a couple of months for laggards like us and at least a few weeks for you efficient folks out there.

I used to look for reviews, fee information, timings and the like on the internet before going to each school. However, I found only a few scattered parent discussion boards. There was little to no information about timings, fees, etc. So I thought of putting up this blog post, about the information we collected, so other parents can benefit from this.

Our Requirements:

  • Playgroup catering to children ~ 2 years of age
  • Clean and well ventilated environment
  • At least 1:10 Student Teacher Ratio
  • Play oriented teaching pedagogy
  • No typical classroom environment with black boards and benches
  • Provision for outdoor play
  • Activities to foster creativity and innovation
  • Affordable
  • Near our place of residence


School selected: Hello Kids, Kondapur

Schools in close contention: Sproutz, Sesame Street

Other schools we heard about after we selected the school for our kid:

  • Esperanza,
  • Globetrotters,
  • Polka Dots,
  • Appletree Preschool

Disclaimer: We visited the schools listed in the above table, personally. These views are based on our requirement, experiences and expectations. Please use this information as indicative and not absolute.

On 100% FDI in Defence Sector: India


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The World Bank defines FDI as ‘net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest (ten per cent or more of voting stock) in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor’.  FDI comprises funds provided by the foreign direct investor to the FDI enterprise as equity capital, reinvested earnings and intra-company loans. Attractiveness of a nation for foreign investments in any sector is judged by its ‘FDI Confidence Index’ which depends on various factors such as stable policy, favourable investment climate, structural adjustments, economic freedom and a fair market access. India fares rather poorly on this account.

Defence industry is generally considered to be an instrument of national sovereignty and pride. Today, India has 39 Ordnance Factories and eight DPSU. Till 2001, private sector was not allowed in the defence sector. Ammunition and spare parts were in short supply during the Kargil war due to international restrictions on selling arms while hostilities are on.  In May 2001, the defence industry was thrown open to the private sector. The Government permitted 100 per cent equity by the private sector with a maximum of 26 per cent FDI component, both subject to licensing.

A 26 per cent holding allows the foreign partner only a veto over major policy decisions. Were the FDI cap raised to 49 per cent, the foreign company would still not control the company or the board, but would be able to repatriate a higher share of the profit. A significant FDI limit rise would be if foreign companies were permitted 51 per cent or above. And were 100 per cent FDI permitted, foreign entities would be able to buy out Indian companies in full.

The policy environment framed around FDI in the defence sector was such that a prospective foreign investor is expected to invest his resources in a venture where he has no significant control, faces strict capacity/product constraints, gets no purchase guarantee and has no open access to other markets (including exports). As such, unattractiveness of the policy became evident in a short span of time. By 2004, Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to admit in the Lok Sabha that India had received no FDI proposal till then.

India’s defence spending, on the other hand has been increasing. Since there are no domestic arms manufacturing capabilities, imports increase, putting pressure on the current account deficit. See figure below:


In 2010, the Commerce Ministry circulated a note recommending the raising of FDI cap to 74 per cent to encourage ‘established players in the defence industry to set up manufacturing facilities and integration of systems in India’. It was vehemently opposed by the interested parties, with Ministry of Defence (MoD) insisting that the 26 per cent FDI limit should be retained. In May 2013, modifying his earlier proposal, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma suggested that the upper cap be raised to 49 per cent as a first step. It has also been shot down by the MoD. However, the MoD has suggested that higher FDI may be considered for modern and state-of-the-art technology by the Cabinet Committee on Security on a case to case basis.

There is no doubt that there is need for significant investment in the sector. FDI in defence during 2000-2014 has been a meagre $4.94 billion of the overall $322 billion inflow. Private sector participation is also unenthusiastic and the public sector is performing abysmally.

Being a sensitive issue, there are polarised opinions around the issue of 100% FDI in Defence sector. News reports show that stakeholders have taken stands that suit their interests. The ultimate question is ‘Should the government use the defence industry as another avenue for creating manufacturing jobs (and saving on arms imports) or should it continue to treat the defence industry as the overprotected and inefficient ‘national strategic objective’?

The proponents of 100% FDI in defence rubbish concerns such as security and protection of indigenous defence industry.

Security concerns:

Apprehensions are often expressed that during operational emergencies, foreign investors may shut down their factories and choke supplies to the armed forces.

Presently, India is procuring all critical weapon systems produced/integrated abroad. It is not understood as to how India’s security would get threatened if the same weapon systems are produced/integrated in India. As a matter of fact, indigenous production will insulate India from unilateral imposition of embargos on contracted supplies by whimsical foreign governments. 

As regards dependability during crisis situations, no foreign investor can risk loss of his total investment by shutting down his production facilities. Further, all major defence equipment producers follow ‘Global Factory’ concept, wherein various manufacturing functions are spread over a number of locations in different countries. When a major defence company invests in any country, it makes it an integral part of its overall production chain. In such a scenario, it is not easy for the company to shut down any facility and disrupt its worldwide production network.

Most importantly, adequate safeguards can be incorporated while issuing licenses. India can reserve the right to take over the licensed facility under certain extraordinary circumstances of national emergencies. Most nations include such an enabling provision. It is ridiculous that imports are considered more reliable than production in India.

Impact on Indigenous industries:

There are hardly any indigenous industries worth protecting in this sector. Despite getting preferential treatment from MoD, defence public sector, has failed to keep pace with technological developments. It thrives on periodic infusion of transferred technology and has developed no indigenous competence at all. Most unfortunately, the Indian military is a captive customer of the Indian public sector and is forced to buy what it produces. With assured orders in hand, the public sector carries on with its lethargic and inefficient manner, without bothering about the quality parameters or the time frame.

Indian private sector companies are not completely against the proposal. They are saying they should get reciprocal access to foreign markets and the government should make it mandatory for foreign companies to transfer technology. L&T (one of India’s biggest private defence companies, which produces critical components for missile systems) said 100 per cent FDI should not be allowed in India unless backed by transfer of technology and giving access to Indian companies in foreign markets.

In conclusion, if at all we want to encourage foreign investment in the defence sector, a controlling stake has to be given to the foreign investor. Foreign investors are not going to part with their closely guarded technology unless they have adequate control over the enterprise and are assured of sufficient autonomy as regards capacity enhancement and access to markets to ensure commercial viability through economies of scales.


Part 2 of Sojourn to Coastal Karnataka and Coorg: Scotland of India


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Click here for Part 1 of the trip

Day 5- Mangalore to Madikeri (Coorg)- 138 kms

Road conditions: There is only one route from Mangalore to Madikeri. The road was quite good initially but towards the end a 40 kms patch was under construction and took about 3 hrs to cover. The entire journey took us about 6 hrs.

This last patch really tired us out. So we couldn’t think of going anywhere except somewhere close by that day. It was a good decision. The sunset view from Raja’s seat was amazing.

A magnificent view

A magnificent view

Day 6- Tala Cauveri and Mandalpatti

We went to Tala Cauveri as we had heard a lot about the place. It s a temple from where river Kaveri, supposedly, originates. There is a set of some 370 stairs just next to the temple which leads to the top of brahmagiri peak. We were there for the view ofcourse. The bad part about this is that you have to take off all footwear outside the temple and the since the stairs go from inside the temple, you have to climb the stairs and hobble around the summit without shoes.

Mandalpatti is a paradise for trekkers, casual hikers, lazy bums who want to climb random hillocks. These hills look quite smooth, but only until you get close and see that they are ridden with rocks, making it hard to climb them. The place was many times better than tala cauveri. We could have visited a coffee plantation instead.

Mandalpatti is about 18-20 kms from Madikeri. The road reduces to mud, pebbles, sharp inclines for the last 5 kms. It is therefore advisable to hire a 4×4 from Madikeri bus stop. The standard charges are Rs. 1200. We started at 2 30 pm from Madikeri. It took us around 45 mins to reach the place. We spent 2 hours there and returned.

You can find information about these places in the links below. I will let the pictures do the talking.

Day 7- Dubare Elephant Camp and Namdroling Monastry (Golden Temple)

In order to enjoy Dubare, make sure that you reach at 8 30 in the morning. We started at 7 30 from Madikeri and drove through coffee plantations, with sunlight filtering through the canopy to reach Dubare. The first sight that greeted us was mist lifting off from the waters of river kavery. We were the first lot of visitors who crossed the river via ferry. Elephant bathing started at 9 30. After 10, tourists just poured in. Luckily we were done quickly enough to beat the rush. Instead of the much touted still river rafting, we chose the coracle ride. Absence of a loud engine and cacophony of tourists was the best part about the coracle ride.

Here are a couple of pics of Namdroling Golden Temple

There are tonnes of other things to do in Coorg. Trekking, fishing, camping, quad biking, etc. are some popular activities.

For trekking check or

Look at the activities these guys did:

Places to see in coorg:

Someone’s 2 day itinerary for coorg:

Day 8- Madikeri to Belgaum- 555 kms

We took the madikeri-Kushalnagar-Hassan-Chikmaglur-tarikeri-Honnali-Harihar-Belgaum

Road conditions: We encountered a 30 kms bad patch between Kushalnagar and Hassan. It took us 2-3 hours to cover it. At the next stop we asked a couple of locals who guided us and henceforth all the roads were in good condition.

Day 9- Belgaum to Pune- 336 kms

NH4 is flawless. It was a comfortable ride from Belgaum to Pune.

Sojourn to Coastal Karnataka; Karwar, Murudeshwar, Mangalore and Coorg – Part 1


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The arrival of December awakens a travelling bug in our family. We wanted to beat the end of year rush and so began our 9 day road trip to coastal Karnataka and Coorg.

The route we took

A distance of 2400 kms

A distance of 2400 kms

Day 1- Pune to Karwar-584 kms

Road Conditions: Pune to Belgaum on NH4 is a pretty smooth ride on NH4. From Belgaum we were going to take the Khanapur-Ramnagar-Ganeshgudi-Kadra-Karwar route. But at Ramnagar, people advised us to take the Alnavar-Haliyal-Kannigeri-Yellapur-Karwar route as the former route was less traversed, maintained and went through dense forests. So we ended up taking a slightly longer route. Until we hit SH 93, we were travelling on unmaintained roads. There were dense forest on each side and we saw innumerable ant hills and monkeys on the roadside.

However, if we were to repeat the journey, we would go until Hubli on NH 4 and then take SH 93 to reach Karwar. That’s a less circuitous and better route.

Welcome sunset at Karwar

Karwar is a sleepy and quiet town. It has got long stretches of beaches, coconut trees and colorful houses.

Devbagh Beach resort, water sports (canoe, kayak, snorkelling), Kurumagad island, sadashiv fort, Gokarn are some popular places to visit in Karwar. Click on this link for other popular destinations in Karwar.

We chilled out in Karwar for two days. Here are some snaps of our revelry.

Day 4- Karwar to Mangalore via Jog falls and Murudeshwar- 393 kms

Road conditions: Visit to Jog falls meant we had to take a 120 kms detour (60 kms to and fro from Honavar) from NH17. We drove through dense green forests on NH 206, at places the national highway was just a single lane road. The road was well maintained.

Once we got back on NH 17, the journey was unhampered until a little before Udupi. The highway was under repair, so the entire last leg of the journey was slow and tiring. We passed through a number of estuaries along this route. We were driving along the coast and the views were exhilarating. Endless clusters of coconut groves, lots of water and the sea in the distance.

They always say that the journey is better than the destination. Going to Jog falls just confirmed this. Although there was very little water in the falls, we enjoyed the meandering road, the greenery and the occasional glance of the river in the valley.

Once in Mangalore we went to Panambur beach near New Mangalore port.

Sunset and coal depot and more at Mangalore 

Click here for Part 2 of the trip

Uttarakhand; 15th – 20th June ’13: Caught in the Eye of the Storm


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This June, we planned an epic trip. A combination of trekking, camping and travelling in the little known stations of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. For weeks on end we planned, googled, read travelogues and collaborated with travelers on travel forums to came up with a foolproof itinerary. I left no room for error. Our accommodations were booked, we gained familiarity with the places we wanted to go to. We even kept enough flexibility in our plan to accommodate delays that are common in hilly areas. But little did we know that nature had other plans.

Here is the itinerary (originally planned):

Duration: 14th-23rd June

14th: Reach Delhi in the evening at 6 30- 7 pm. Catch New Delhi-Dehradun AC express and reach Haridwar around 5:00 am the next morning.

15th: Start from Haridwar by private taxi and reach Joshimath by evening. Stay overnight at Joshimath.

16th: Start from Joshimath around 6-7 am, reach Govindghat and trek up to Ghangharia on the same day. Stay overnight at Ghangharia.

17th: Valley of Flowers and back to Ghangharia. Stay overnight at Ghangharia. We knew there wont be many flowers there, but this was the only time available to us.

18th: Hemkund Sahib and back to Ghangharia. Stay overnight at Ghangharia.

19th: Start trekking back from Ghangharia to Govindghat. Reach by 11 am and take a shared taxi to Badrinath/Mana. We’ll visit the temple but main interest in mana and vasundhara falls. May or may not go to vasundhara fall on same day depending on level of tiredness. Overnight stay in badrinath/mana area.

20th: Spend day at Mana village, go to Vasundhara falls and a few kilometers beyond. Overnight stay in badrinath/mana area.

21st: Start for Chopta via Gopeshwar/chamoli around 7:00 am and reach chopta by 1:00 or so. Trek up to Tungnath on same day and stay there overnight at a prearranged accomodation.

22nd: Trek up to chandrashila to watch the sunrise. And spend the day exploring the area. Come down to chopta

23rd: Start for haridwar early in the morning and reach by evening. Catch an overnight bus/train to Delhi.

24th: Flight for Pune at 8:30 am.

What really happened…

On 15th morning, we started from Haridwar at around 7:30-8 and reached Joshimath at around 6 pm in the evening (prepaid taxi charged Rs. 4800). We saw a lot of rafting camps around Rishikesh, made a stop for Lichis and aloo paranthas, saw the river following us and reached Joshimath around 6:00 pm. It had started drizzling around 4:00 pm but the roads were fine. We were not worried. Light rains are the norm in June. However in a few hours, the drizzle had turned into a downpour. It was raining really hard and we were only a little concerned. We thought, the rain will stop by morning. But it got worse…

Time for a break from the morbid tone of this post. We saw some beautiful sights on our way to Joshimath. Here is a glimpse:

It was raining, our shoes were wet and a bit muddy so we took them off outside the one room cottage we had hired. When we came out for dinner at 8 30 pm, one shoe of mine was missing. We looked around the cottage but their was no sign of the shoe. We were upset. Losing a shoe meant unnecessary delay. We wouldn’t be able to leave early the next morning. We would have to wait for the market to open, buy a new pair of shoes and then proceed to Govindghat.

The next morning, we got up to discover that the rain had not let up. We waited till 9 30 am and then proceeded to the market which was some 3 kms away. I was wearing bathroom slippers, it was still raining hard, water was gushing down the slopes and it was bitterly cold. Within 10 minutes we were drenched. However, by 10 30 am we managed to buy a pair of shoes, some extra towels and raincoat pant-suits. Then we hired a taxi to take us back to the cottage.

We thought we were all set to proceed to Govindghat. However, our family had advised us that it would be better to start for Govindghat the next day as the rain and visibility become worse in the hills as the day proceeds. We were in a dilemma. The taxi driver asked us about our plans and soon became ready to ferry us to Govindghat, at 5: 30 am the next morning. Just as our ride was coming to an end, he added cryptically, ‘but you wont be able to reach Ghangharia because a critical bridge got washed away last night.’ He said it would take atleast 3-4 days for that bridge to be repaired.

By evening, we were still hopeful and were making plans to go to Badrinath or Chopta directly. And soon news started poring in. There were reports of land slides and road blockages between Joshimath and Badrinath. A 50 m segment of road between Joshimath and Chamoli had just slid off. The multi-story parking lot with a helipad on top was washed away in the rain along with many vehicles, a helicopter and people who had taken shelter in the lot. The nalla which runs along the trekking path from Govindghat to Ghangharia had turned into a roaring river fed by the rain and silt, flowing over the trekking path at a number of places . People were stuck without food, water or accomodations. Opportunists were selling packaged water and biscuits at 100x, 200x times the mrp. There were reports of lootings, people stranded at dam construction sights for days and entire villages swept away. A glacial lake above Kedarnath burst, sweeping away an entire market and hundreds of people toiling towards the temple.

There was no road to get away. We were stuck at Joshimath. There was no way out. We were stuck in the room, but we were warm, fed and had electricity most of the time. Needless to say we were mostly glued to the news channels.  It rained continuously till 18th afternoon. Then we went to the taxi stands and bus stops to enquire about the road conditions and find a way out of the hills.

The army was assisting in rescue operations. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were brought to Joshimath from nearby areas. However, there was no arrangement from the government’s side to ferry people out of Joshimath. People were protesting on the roads, holding dharnas and shouting slogans to be let out. The available taxis and buses filled in so fast that majority of the families with children and old people would be left standing.

We searched for hours and returned again the next day to look for a vehicle. We found a private taxi which charged us Rs. 12000 to take us to the plains. While returning we could not help but notice how different the landscape looked. Where we had seen houses, hotels and schools extending into the valley on our way up, there was nothing but a deep void filled with rubble and mud left by the gushing water. We took a different route from Pauri onwards, towards Kotdwar from where we went to Delhi.

P.S. We think that a dog was responsible for the missing shoe. But we never found the shoe, even after it stopped raining. If the shoe wasn’t lost we would have proceeded to Govindghat that very morning when the rain swept away the parking lot and bridges. Maybe it was divine providence…

Why Explore Space? A 1970 Letter to a Nun in Africa

Why do we have an expensive space program when the money could be used in ‘nobler’ causes? – Answered

Roger Launius's Blog

Ernst Stuhlinger wrote this letter on May 6, 1970, to Sister Mary Jucunda, a nun who worked among the starving children of Kabwe, Zambia, in Africa, who questioned the value of space exploration. At the time Dr. Stuhlinger was Associate Director for Science at the Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. Touched by Sister Mary’s concern and sincerity, his beliefs about the value of space exploration were expressed in his reply to Sister Mary. It remains, more than four decades later, an eloquent statement of the value of the space exploration endeavor. Born in Germany in 1913, Dr. Stuhlinger received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tuebingen in 1936. He was a member of the German rocket development team at Peenemünde, and came to the United States in 1946 to work for the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He moved to Huntsville in 1950 and continued…

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International Finance for MBA Students


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In this post I am covering International Finance for MBA students.

This presentation deals with general introductory topics such as globalization and its impact, WTO and its impact, Role of World Bank, IMF, Special Drawing Rights, Nature, scope and significance of international finance and Use of IT in international finance.

In this presentation we discuss definition of foreign currency and foreign transactions- trade and non trade, and Role of participants in Forex markets.

This presentation deals with exchange rate quotations, common currency symbols, direct and indirect quotes, American terms, European terms, cross rates, Bid and Ask rates, Mid rate, Spread and its determinants, Spot markets, Forward Markets, Premium and Discounts, various practices of writing quotations, calculating broken period forward rates, Speculation and arbitrage, Forex futures and Currency Options.

This document has various practice numericals on forex markets.

This presentation begins with reference to various exchange rate determination theories and explains purchasing power parity theory in detail.

This presentation discusses the impact of Euro currency, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen, US Dollar and emerging importance of Indian rupee

This presentation discusses regulatory framework of international finance from the Indian perspective-FEMA and FERA, foreign trade policy, role of RBI, rupee convertibility, EOU/STPI, SEZ, EPZ.

This presentation covers regulatory framework of international finance from an International Perspective – Federal Bank, European Central Bank and guidelines for international investments given by International Chambers of Commerce (ICC).

This presentation covers Trade Settlement Methods, Export Finance, Buyers credit and supplier’s credit, International receivables and cash management, and International Sources of Finance such as ECB, FCCB, ADR, GDR, FDI, Loan Syndication.

This presentation covers foreign exchange risk definition, types, management and measurement. Hedging tools and techniques; both internal and external are also discussed.

This presentations discusses International Accounting Standard on Foreign Transactions (IAS 21). Important definitions, functional currency, initial recognition, subsequent measurement & recognition of exchange difference at initial stage and use of temporal and net investment method at the time of consolidation of financial statements are covered.

Prakash Jha on Hurdles in Life, Reservations, Films, Corruption, Education and More…


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On Saturday; 8th December 2012, I got an opportunity to hear Prakash Jha, renowned film producer, director and screen-writer. He has made acclaimed political and socio-political films such as Damul (1984), Mrityudand (1997), Gangaajal (2003), Apaharan (2005), Raajneeti (2010), Aarakshan (2011) and Chakravyuh (2012).

As expected, Jha delivered a riveting speech. It made me think about social issues from a different perspective and I have reproduced parts of it in this post.

Hurdles in Life

Jha was asked that being a self made man, he must have faced many hurdles in life, so what advice would he give to the young generation for facing obstacles. He responded that he never faced any hurdles in life. He accepted whatever he got in life, learned from different situations and made the best of whatever resources he had.

Jha was born and raised at his family’s farm in Baraharwa, West Champaran, Bihar. He did his schooling from Sainik School and Kendriya Vidyalaya. Later, he joined Ramjas College, Delhi University to do B.Sc (Hons) in Physics. He said that in Bihar if you are a good student and go to a university, you face immense family and societal pressure to crack the IAS/IPS and settle down in a comfortable government job. However, Jha was not the guy to settle for the expected. His heart lay in painting and he he left studies after one year and decided to go to Bombay and become a painter, though while he was preparing for J.J. School of Arts, he happened to witness the shooting of the film ‘Dharma’ and got hooked on to filmmaking. He did odd jobs to survive from day to day, slept in beaches, pavements and worked in a restaurant kitchen for 9 months. By his own admission, he can cook professionally, thanks to his restaurant stint. He collected enough money to attend Film and Television Institute of India (Pune) in 1973 and has never looked back.

So in traditional terms, Jha faced several hurdles but the difference lay in his attitude.


Jha was asked that his movie ‘Aarakshan’ ended rather abruptly, focusing on coaching centers, and if the audience could expect a sequel to the movie that would address the ‘burning issue’ of caste-based reservations in greater detail. Jha responded that while some had identified the second part of the movie to be focused on coaching centers, the director’s motive had been to draw the attention of the audience towards the rise of a new class; the moneyed class. This class refers to people who have enough money to send their wards to coaching centers in Kota or to buy seats in medical colleges in Karnataka. In his opinion, this moneyed class is the issue that is to be addressed now.

Regarding caste based reservations, Jha said that the day the Supreme Court passed the ruling calling for 47% reservation in government jobs, colleges, etc., reservations ceased being an issue at all. They have become a reality, a truth, a fact of life that we have to live with. This was a front where some affirmative action was needed and whatever the basis (caste rather than finances), we have a law now and there is nothing that can be done against it. Therefore, it is best that we learn to accept it and fight against the reservation of the ‘moneyed class.’


Jha said that just as a singer expresses himself through his songs, an artist through his art and a dancer through his dance, he expressed himself through movies. Jha was asked if he would continue making movies that can lead to betterment of the society. He responded in his characteristic maverick manner saying,”Bhaisaab, movies paisa banane ke liye banati hai, samaj ki bhalai karne ke liye nahi.” He said that even he who made so many issue based movies, had to think about how he would keep the audience engaged for 2.5 hrs.

Jha said that we live in a country where 25 % of the wealth lies in the hands of the top 100 families, while 75% of the country lives in Rs. 30-35 per day. This difference is the root of all the problems that are plaguing this country. Remove this difference and corruption, naxalism, poverty and all other social vices would disappear. He elaborated further on naxalism saying that contrary to popular perception that all naxalites are anti-national illiterate tribals from the forests, some of the naxalites are recruited from among the educated crowd from universities as far as Nagpur.


As per Jha, corruption is something that is ingrained in our blood, as a society and as a polity. His solution to corruption is to legalize it. He says that corruption raises its ugly head only when there are rules against it. He compared it with the censor board. If all restrictions are removed and people decide what to watch, the market would automatically fall in line.

In his native state of Bihar and in much of India, he says that corruption has become an accepted way of life. They don’t view it as something detrimental to the common interest because they are more focused on day to day survival rather than lofty ideals. He cited the example of a certain ‘Dagru’ a labourer in his native village of Champaran, Bihar. One time when Mr. Jha was visiting Patna, the Dagru, Mukhiya and Sarpanch of his village came to visit him. He asked about the well being of Dagru and was told that Dagru recently married off his daughter with the help of the sarpanch and mukhiya, who had helped him get money from the government under KCC scheme and crop insurance. KCC means Kisan Credit Card scheme under which a farmer can get small loan from the government for farming and crop insurance claim is paid when the crop fails. Dagru is a landless labourer. The money that he got from the government treasury against false papers and with help from corrupt babus and chairholders of the village was distributed between all involved parties. All of this was done at the expense of the government and the tax payers. Do they feel even a little guilty for duping the government? No, because it is the norm for them.

He also cited the example of National Rural employment guarantee act (NREGA) which promises hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Jha’s research around the country indicated that corruption has permeated the Nregs system as well. Money is paid to nonexistent persons for nonexistent work. In some places the same roads, ponds and wells are built again and again. Only a fraction of the money reaches the deserving and there is a shortfall of agricultural labor in villages because of this act.

He says that the market or ‘bazarwaad’ is the single most influencing factor of our times. It is due to the demand of the market and the flow of bribes from the market to the decision-makers that FDI bill got passed in the legislative houses. The politicians don’t care about the poor farmer or the shopkeeper, they do what the market wants them to do. Jha said that the scenario in our society is such that if a learned person like Swami Vivekanand would stand in a square with all his knowledge, philosophy and gyan there would be no takers because no corporater would back him.

Jha said that twenty-thirty years ago who would have thought that industrial houses would buy Rajya Sabha seats at Rs. 50 crore each, to establish their presence at the center and lobby for bills that promote their interests. However, that is a reality now.


Market has its influence on the education system as well. In Jha’s opinion, engineers and managers are the only professionals that our educational system is churning out. There is no scope and no interest in humanities, core science programs or social sciences in the youth. Except for Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, which still has respect as a center of studies in subjects other than management and engineering, he reckons rest of the country has become stricken by a network of competitive exam coachings, engineering and business management schools. There isn’t a single university that has a reputation comparable to foreign universities for research in subjects like literature, history, etc.

Jha opined that nothing is more indicative of the rotten state of our education system than the respect accorded to the teaching profession. Nowadays the relationship between a teacher and student has become similar to the relationship between a service provider and a client. As a result only people who can’t make it in other professions come into this field. With the rise of private institutions the formerly noble profession of teaching has fallen into a state where teachers are torn between serving two masters; the institution and the students. Such is the state of affairs that we celebrate the money (annual package) that we get from our degree rather than knowledge itself.

He closed off his speech by saying, “Jis desh mein 75% log Rs. 30-35 daily par rehte hai, Mukesh Ambani Altamount road par Rs. 5000 crore ka ghar bana kar kya dikhana chahte hai?”


Falguni Pathak: Where art thou?


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Upon reading a reference to Falguni Pathak on my facebook feed, I immediately recalled some of her popular songs and videos. I also got curious about her current whereabouts.

A quick google search revealed that she was born in March 1964 and that she started her career as a Dandiya singer. She debuted as a professional singer in 1998. She must have been 34 then. What a surprise!! She looked younger in the videos.

Falguni Pathak debuted at a time that was the golden age of Hindi pop music (non-filmy music), when singers like Shaan, Sonu Nigam, Alisha Chenoy, Asha Bhosale, Baba Sehgal, Adnan Sami Lucky Ali, Suchitra, Daler Mehndi and bands like the band of boys, viva, etc. defined the hindi pop music industry. However with time music companies that promoted such solo albums went bankrupt (Indians prefer to download music for free; music piracy and changing delivery channels; from cassettes and CD’s to digital music), and the remaining music companies adopted a safer strategy of promoting film music only.

However, the good news is that pop music does not need the support of the record/music companies anymore, because the channels of delivery of the music have undergone a significant change. Once the artist invests in a video of the song, the same can be aired on music channels and radio shows and the song can be made available for download from the artist’s web page itself. Furthermore, social media can be used to make promotions easier and cost effective.

Coming back to  Falguni Pathak, currently she is based in Mumbai. She has been performing as at Dandiya venues across Mumbai and Gujarat for the past 2 decades. Given the present scenario of hindi pop music/music albums in India, the singer has been performing in stage shows, dandiya nights and tours both in India and abroad. Her music albums had made huge waves in the world of hindi pop music. She has also sung songs for bollywood movies. Even today her songs bring a smile to the lips and a feeling of nostalgia for the old days of Indie pop. Some of her songs:

This one is with Aisha Takiya.. looking so fresh and oh so pretty!!



There are more here.

Here’s a great post on why Indian Pop died.

Book Review: A Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling

If you have picked up this book in the hopes of reading something similar to the Harry Potter series, or thinking that you would like this book because you absolutely adore the Potter series, then you are in for a surprise.

The Casual Vacancy is nothing like the Potter series. Lovable characters, gripping storyline, fast moving plot are somethings that are conspicuous by their absence in this particular literary effort by Ms. Rowling.

It is only a co-incidence that the posthumous central character of the book is named ‘Barry Fairbrother’. No relation to Harry (wink wink) In the initial three-fifth part of the story the author has painstakingly developed several characters as in great detail. Such is the level of detail that skipping a few pages in  the initial part of the book would have no effect on one’s understanding of the plot.

However, you feel like you really know the characters if you can withstand this initial part. Towards the end though, the author seems to be running for closure. Poetic justice is meted out to the bad guys, a tragic heroine emerges and an underdog saves the day. Read it if you have a lot of time and patience on your hands.

The Plot: When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Rowling’s first book for adults!! more like first book for seniors…