March 25, 2005

New ArtWork "installed" at Krishnokoli in celebration of Holi Posted by Hello

March 18, 2005

Convergence >>> GSM Phone & Laptop :

I saw an advertisement of the Nokia 9300 and it floored me with its combination of a full functional keyboard … it is truly a combination of a cellphone as well as a full functional computer and that too a free of Microsoft technology .. who could ask for anything more ?

Actually I do ask for something more … I want the phone to be smaller and I want the screen and the keyboard to be bigger … but that is an inherent contradiction. The only way that we could overcome this is to have a real laptop ( big screen & keyboard & all ) that is connected to a tiny phone through a USB cable .. but that too is rather clumsy.

So here is my solution …

Let us design a small PC-card style device that can accommodate the SIM card of the GSM phone. When I am in pure cellphone mode, for example, when I am traveling, the SIM card stays within the cellphone … and I use the cellphone.

When I want to browse the internet, I pull out the SIM card from the phone and put in the PC-card style device and push it into the PC-card slot of my laptop. This brings network access to my laptop and I use it for internet access. When the SIM card is in the laptop should I need to make and receive phone calls on the number associated with my SIM card, I will use a telephone software … of the kind that is used for VoIP style calls using the microphone and speakers built into the laptop itself. And since this is software phone it can be easily upgraded to support a whole range of services like Answering Machine, call forwarding and so on.

Carrying things a little further why should I have to fiddle with the SIM card. Let us have the PC-card slot in the cellphone itself. The SIM card remains in the PC-card device .. and I push it into either (a) the cellphone or (b) the laptop depending on my current state of mobility.

Is Nokia listening ? Or will this idea be picked up by one of the Far Eastern companies that are adept at adapting existing technology for innovative use.

March 14, 2005

Back from Prantik ...

Though this is perhaps not the most important piece of news on the planet or even on the web, the fact is that we have just returned from our "place in the country" at Prantik. I hate to refer to it as Shantiniketan ... because that is what the Calcutta chatterati is always talking about .. being so very Rabindrik and artistic. For me, Prantik and Bolpur ( and of course SNK) is more interesting because of its proximity to the Shakti piths of Birbhum : Kankali, Sainthia, Fullora (Labhpur), Nalhati and Bakreshwar. Then of course there are the famous kali temples of Tarapith made famous by Bama-dev and Akalipur/Bhadrapur, the ancestral home of Nandakumar.

Anyway, to each his own.

We had a grand time at Prantik and the neighbourhood. We visited Kankali and Bakreshwar where we had a dip in the hot springs.

I have a particularly strong fascination for Bakreshwar because of it very strong Shaiva links. The Akhshaya BaatBriksha ... a truly gigantic banyan tree that covers a a large part of the hot springs is very, very auspicious ..... a kind of eerie auspiciousness that can make your skin crawl.

Shall write a more detailed account of Bakreshwar in future.

March 05, 2005

Subhas C Bose : The Mystery of his Disappearance

The "antardhan rahashya" or the mysterious disappearance of this charismatic and controversial political activist of pre-Independence India is a source of endless speculation. Let me add my twist to the tale ...

The "official" view is that he died in air-crash in Taiwan while flying from Saigon to "who knows where". In the dying days of the Second World War when the world was in turmoil there is not enough forensic evidence to come to this unambigous conclusion.

The conspiracy theorists believe that Subhas Bose fled to Russia and was held captive by Stalin at the instance of the British Government who did not want him back in India. This continued after India's independence because J N Nehru, the man who become the "king" of India after Independence did not want his erstwhile political rival to return as a pretender to the throne. He used his personal proximity with the Soviet leadership to keep Subhas Bose imprisoned in Russia and in return for this favour aligned himself with the Soviet regime under the garb of Non-alingment. These people believe that Subhas is still alive today ...

My personal view is more closely aligned towards the latter story but with a small twist.

I believe the air-crash never happened and Subhas faked it to throw the Allied powers of his trail. He subsequently tied up with a group of Japanese war-lords who, knowing that allied powers would capture Japan, had planned to set up a separate country in Manchuria. This would be the safe haven for the eastern Axis, just as Argentina and other South American countries were for the Nazi and western Axis.

These plan succeeded but only for a while. The Manchurian state was indeed set up and the conspirators along with Subhas Bose did reach with their bag and baggage. But their dreams of a safe haven were shattered by the Soviet army which along with the Chinese demolished this nasceant state [ my knowledge is a little fuzzy here .. not sure of the exact sequence of events but net-net Soviets overran the place]

Subhas Bose was either killed outright or died in prison.

The British were certainly aware of the fact but they did not wish to publicise it because Subhas was popular in India and it would not go down well if a British ally had murdered him.

Subsequenly J L Nehru learned of the same through diplomatic channels but even he did not want to embarass the Russians who were not only his bosom friends but also a (obviously flawed) role model for the new nation that he was ruling over

And of course the confirmed hypocrites of the Indian communist movement would never have had the guts to acknowledge that their glorious leaders in Russia had murdered one of the most charismatic characters of the Indian independence movement.

Net-net Subhas Bose died, not a heroic figure fighting to the last but a fugitive from the war who was killed in flight. Not a very honourable end ... which is why no one really wants to get to the truth.

"It was a candle in the wind that died long before the legend ever will ..."
P.S. Some more information has come to light about the last days of the WWII in Asia.
This article in the Japan Times documents how a massive Russian attack on Japan's territories in North East Asia, on the day of Nagasaki bomb finally demolished any hope that the Japanese military command had had of living to fight another day. Until this attack, the Japanese military still believed that even if their island was overrun, a negotiated settlement with Russia, their one time ally, will allow them to have a safe haven in Manchuria and Korea -- just as Subhas Bose believed.

March 03, 2005

Fringe Benefit : A view from Babudom

The "left" honourable Finance Minister has been advised by the bureaucrat-babu's of his department to levy a fringe benefit tax on corporates .. and he has duly imposed it on us ... for he is an honourable man.

But let us analyse the genesis of the tax, particularly when he considers foreign travel as fringe. No doubt our babu's view "phoren" travel as a fringe benefit. Never have these babu's ever travelled abroad for any worthwhile purpose. Tax payer money has always been used by these babus to visit "phoren" countries ... but never has any such travel resulted in a dollar of exports or a dollar of investment. It is always to see how other countries work, to learn how things are over there and so forth .... By extrapolating their own honest experiences, our babus have come to the conclusion that "phoren" travel is just another name for a "holiday" paid for by the employer ... in this case the hapless Indian tax payer.

On the other hand, for global companies -- of the sort that our Indian companies are or are trying to become, foreign travel is bread and butter of our existence. In the software services arena, 95% of foreign travel results in direct billing to the customer .... without travelling abroad we cannot earn money. For other companies that think global, but pay tax locally, managers must travel around to run the business on a day to day basis. An Indian manager has to manage projects that span multiple continents. He or she just cannot afford to sit back in Calcutta or Bangalore and run the business. For them a foriegn travel is not a perk but a pain in the butt to be endured if they wish to work. But since our babus can never conceive of this they continue to think that foreign travel is a perk to be taxed ... and of course they are all honourable men.

If we extend this analogy further, pilots and flight crew of airlines that operate on international routes must be thought of enjoying the perks of "phoren" travel ... and all expenditure incurred on their behalf by the airlines must be taxed as fringe benefit. But our babu's cannot understand this and they are all honourable men ..

So how do we drive some sense into the system ? Nasscom & Co must take up this point that our global dreams would be converted into local nightmares if our babus take this extremely myopic view of fringe benefits ...

What is fringe and what is core is something that is best left to those who are in the arena. Not the bystanders of the great Indian circus. Never mind the fact that they are all honourable men.