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Rants of an angry Indian over the incidents in the last few weeks!

In Thoughts on December 31, 2012 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , ,

423319_10151368624512139_1391968885_nThe World will End – It probably did!

It was said the “World will end”! Probably nobody ever thought about the magnitude of the statement. It was not the world itself in the physical sense but it probably was referring to erosion of cultural and human values – the compassion towards fellow human beings, the core human values and the sheer lack of patience and virtue.

Month of December 2012 and how it affected me:

This whole month of December 2012 was really painful. At one point I stopped reading the newspapers, stopped watching the news channels, stopped discussing about it with anyone and actually stopped people from talking about it in my presence. It was probably not the wise thing to do, but it was just overwhelming with so much negativity going on and it was getting toxic to the extent it was beginning to affect my spirit, my ability to focus on what I was doing all stemming from my anger at my own helplessness to be able to make a difference. As much as I tried to stay away from it the more I was hearing, as much as I assured myself things will get better, it only got worse.  I was no more the person I was which became more evident to others than to me. It was all very depressing! I am sure it is not just me but thousands of other Indians and others across the globe that must have been feeling the same or much worse. I decided to put down my thoughts as a way to positively and constructively drive my anger and disappointment. So here it is. If there is at least one person who reads this and takes a vow to make this place a better one, I will feel much better.

Why? What is causing this?

Before we try to jump into what can be done, it is imperative at this point that we also try to understand what is causing this in the first place? Because chasing the wrong problem will not help us solve it. As much as we say the victims are one amongst us, it is important to face the bitter truth that the perpetrators of crime are also one of us. That being the case, we as a society have blood stains in our hands and have been a reason directly or indirectly for all these crimes. There is no point blaming just the government and its agencies for all the incidents. We the people, the media, the agencies of the government have all been hand in gloves in letting happen what has happened. This is not something new today, as Aurobindo wrote on August 21,1893 when returned to India at the age of 20.

Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism. 1

The People:

In the hyper-kinetic world that we live in, everyone craves for recognition, attention, care and love. Our lives have become more materialistic and less holistic. We fail to see the people and their souls instead decide to see their position in the society and our materialistic gains from that. We have ceased to respect people as people but begun objectifying people as a means to selfish gains. There is a mad rush for wealth, fame, power and what not and in the process the value for one’s principles, values and virtues are lost and that vacuum is giving space to demonic thoughts!

The Media:

The media for their part knowingly or unknowingly glorify the criminal’s and help them get their shot at stardom. Then they keep moving on to news stories that kept their TRP running and would cover a story if and only if it would generate the TRPs and the necessary sponsorship to keep their boats afloat. Such is the sorry state that the media house is just another business where profit and loss statements are driving the content rather than the collective responsibility they carry towards the society. To all the Rajdeep Sardesai’s and Arnab Goswamis’s trying to keep a story alive for a few more days is not going to help achieve any action on ground. Media houses have to completely rework the way news items are being gathered and reported. There is more to news reporting than the “breaking news”, or to get in front of the cameras from on site and shout at the top of the voice, or to sit in the studio with a bunch of people arguing over a ton of things which translate to nothing, or to simply spread negativism around which makes people angry and brings down the energy levels of the entire society. The print media are not far behind either! Right now I hate to go pick up the newspaper every morning.

The government and its agencies:

I think it is a waste of time to even expect our government and its agencies to deliver anything given the lackadaisical nature of people and also the media houses of this country. Understood, the government is not doing enough, but when has it in the last 65 years of Indian Independence? Now that it is clear that the change is not flowing top-down it is time for us to take the change bottom up.

What can I do? What can we do?

That brought me to the question, what can I do? What can we do? Right now, a lot of negative energy is being created and channelized into protests, prayers, memorials, candle light vigils and tons of post of social networks like Facebook, twitter etc., etc., The media houses do their part by inviting guests to talk about the things and end up raising the decibels in every home ending up causing more headaches. While all of these have a lot of potential and I respect people taking part in these shows of solidarity to the victim and their families, I get the feeling none of this is translating into anything actionable on ground to prevent these from happening again and make it a better place to live in.

If people take some solace from posting to Facebook or taking to the road to protest, so be it, but if they really believe that this will trigger a change in the society then everyone is going to be plain disappointed! I saw a lot of posts on the day of the incident and a couple of days after that and on the black Saturday with messages like RIP, condolences and even some with crude language. I can understand the anger, but all of this is just negative channelizing of the anger. Also, all that is gone a few days after and we all get back living our lives believing all is well; while it is not. It is just a time bomb waiting to tick! We need that anger; we need that disappointment; all to be channelized in a positive manner resulting in concrete steps to curtail such activities. So what can we do?

As people: As a common man we cannot pass new laws, we cannot enforce laws, we cannot change the world overnight. But we can do some of the following:

  • Teach the next generation to respect Women and people in general.
  • Teach the kids the ill effects of violence and hatred in any form.
  • More importantly get them to “think” rationally. Help them see the big picture and not be narrow minded to what they just see or experience.
  • Channelize their failures into positive energy that will help them take on the different obstacles in life and carve success stories.
  • Include such horrific stories of in their syllabus and give them a perspective, today’s younger generation are smart enough that they can differentiate between the good and the bad and this will help building strong values at a very young age which is the key to a person’s integrity.

This way at least the coming generations will behave more rationally and don’t turn into demons and devils at the slightest taste of bitterness in their lives.

To try and address what is happening today, we have to take a bigger role than being a passive spectator. We need to

  • Take a vow that we will never be passive spectators to these unjust incidents if it happens in front of us.
  • Never encourage incorrect thoughts or words against women or anyone for that matter from people we know even if it is just for fun. A very common mistake the society commits is to laugh at lewd remarks and statements at women or other people which gives the impression it is a funny or a brave thing to do. They are not funny, they are not brave! They are hurtful and exhibit cowardice! This is what is commonly referred to as harassment or eve-teasing. Take a vow to oppose any such statements even the slightest ones.
  • For some reason I cannot comprehend, our society is not broad minded towards woman! I am totally ashamed and disappointed at this but that is the bitter truth. Most matured of men and women get shaky when having to deal with anything to do with women, be it looking at a relationship, their success stories or anything for that matter. Whatever the reason might be: insecurity, jealousness or even the fox’s story of the fruits are sour, this has to change! There is no other way! A society cannot progress when it is narrow-minded! It just cannot! See the big picture! Be holistic in your views not materialistic!
  • Shun the media houses that do not do a good job at news reporting. Let them know, that quality of content is important, show them that shouting in the studio and reporting racy news doesn’t necessarily mean better TRPs. Turn your TV sets off if that is what it takes. Once the message reaches I am sure we will get better content.
  • We probably have a chance only once in 5 years to have our say on the government. Make sure that doesn’t go wasted. We research for hours together before we want to buy anything as simple as a cell phone to things as big as a house. But do we research before casting our votes to a candidate? Have we checked how many criminal cases are pending against the candidates and what type of cases those are? We better begin doing that, it might not take more than possibly a couple of hours to see what is going on with the candidates in our constituency.
  • Finally, make good use of the social media. In the current circumstances, with the lack for good media houses, social media can be a very powerful medium if used properly. Agreed, there is a mismatch in the society in terms of wealth, power and fame. Let us not knowingly or unknowingly enlarge this problem through the social media. Share good positive things, positive energy is contagious. Refrain from sharing negative thoughts, negative energy is toxic!

As Media people:

  • The media today has a good financial backing and far and wide network coverage. They have access to information which is not available to general public. The technology has evolved so much that the media if they wish to, can put them to good use. If Obama’s campaign could use data to find out what people wanted to hear and target the audience accordingly, I am sure we can use the same data to find out what is causing this behavioral anomaly in these perpetrators of crime. That will go a long way in understanding the “Problem” and then in turn actually “solve” it. I am sure there are a number of NGOs who will be willing to partner in such studies for the welfare of the society. This will be quality content from the media houses. This will be positive use of their reach into the society.
  • Stop giving bigger than life coverage to these perpetrators of crime. You are not shaming these criminals in any way, in fact the exact opposite is happening. Instead focus on the success stories of the victims who have fought back into their lives. That will indeed shame the criminals and spread positive energy in the society.

As Government Agencies:

Again, I am not going to waste my time on this one, but if there is one thing I wish for, a little bit more sincerity towards the work government agencies do. Just that will go a long way in making this a better place to live.

References:

1 – Thanks to my friend Sudharshun for his post on FB for this quote from Aurobindo!

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European GrandPrix – What to expect?

In Opinion on June 22, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

It has been a week since the Canadian Grand prix, which was one the most memorable races in F1 history. There is already a huge frenzy around the upcoming European Grand prix in Valencia. The foremost question in mind is what to expect? Well, Formula One this year has been anything but predictable and Valencia is going be no different. With ‘Fog’ as the forecast for the entire race weekend, it is going to be interesting to watch how the race pans out for Formula One cars do not have headlights and neither is the track prepared for lighting unlike Singapore.

After the race weekends of Monaco and Canada, one would like to believe that Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes probably have it in them to take the race to the red bulls. However, we have to remember if we move ahead of the last 2 races, the only other race a Red Bull has not won is the Chinese Grand Prix. That was also because of Hamilton had an extra set of ‘new’ options to switch to.

At the outset, I think it is clear we can rule out Ferrari and Mercedes from the equation because they have not been consistent enough. Michael Schumacher showed some of his class, but I still think Mercedes is still not at the top of its game. Ferrari have been on and off the pace and at Valencia they will have to bring all the aerodynamic package that they can put their hands on. With Fernando piloting the car, one cannot write them off, but it appears less probable now.

That said, the only strong contender to the Bulls seem to the Mclarens of Hamilton and Button. While Hamilton will be under a lot of pressure to finish the race, leave alone winning it will be interesting to watch his strategy. In the past, he has delivered when it mattered the most. The kind of talent he is and with the car that is only next to the Red Bull, he stand a very good chance to topple the Bulls. It is interesting to note that Hamilton finished just 0.6 seconds behind Vettel in the race.

The other McLaren of Jenson Button has been amazing the last two races, thanks to his totally different strategy of more tyre changes and faster lap times. It is interesting to note that, even though he has been adopting this strategy from the second race, he was successful only in Monaco and Canada, where there were a record number of Safety cars. Assuming, there are no safety cars, like we had in the first few races, his strategy might lead to being lapped by the race leader. Even in the Spanish Grand Prix, the leading pack was lapping Fernando Alonso who finished fifth. Such is the pace generated by the bulls.

While it appears that McLaren have closed in on the gap, the last 3 races were clearly not favorable to the red bulls, both in terms of the incidents in the race as well the circuit layout. Valencia is a known Red Bull strong hold and even this year, they seem to be ahead on the aerodynamic package. It will be a acid test for McLarens if they really have it in them to give Red Bull a run for their money, or if it is going to be game Red Bull.

My bet would be on Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel. Whom would you lay your bets on? Do drop your thoughts in the comments below.

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Frustrated with “USB device cannot be stopped now” message? Here is some remedy!

In Review on June 21, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How many times have we tried to eject an USB device when we are in a hurry and see the following message:

USB eject error

It varies from being an inconvenience to irritation based on the circumstances. Nevertheless, it is a headache most of us face one time or the other. Well, what most of us do is to just unplug the USB and take it. Thanks to a paper presentation that we did along with my friend Sudharshun, we understand that though this might work most of the times, this could damage your USB drive permanently which is certainly not the desired outcome, more so if it contains some important documents.

I was sure there will be a solution for this somewhere out in this complex world of web and did what we do for any other problem. Google! Well as usual it came up with a number of different suggestions, but the one that seem to be simple enough was this.

There is a free utility called Unlocker. What this does is, it checks which process in our computer is locking the USB device and gives us the option to Unlock from the process or kill the process itself.

unlocker screen

It is fairly simple from here on, go ahead and Unlock the process and try ejecting the USB device, voila it is done. I now have one less problem :)

You can find the download file here. I have installed it on my PC and have not faced any virus/malware attacks. However please download and install at your own risk.

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An Experience – The Bay Bridge Time lapse Photography

In Photography on June 21, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We had just completed another round of shooting in San Francisco around places like Golden Gate Bridge, Treasure Island, Hwy 280, Lombard Street (which you can check out here) and were driving back home. We were driving through the bay bridge discussing that enough has been captured of the bridges in San Francisco from various different perspectives and it was time to do something different. Something more intensive, interesting and the output should be way different from what of was done before.

That is when it occurred to me that I should try my hands at Time lapse photography. I had immediately decided that I would indeed do time lapse photography. So my friend pops up the question, what is this time lapse? Well, I explained what I had read in Wikipedia, this is what it said..

Time-lapse photography is a cinematography technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that which will be used to play the sequence back. When replayed at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing. For example, an image of a scene may be captured once every second, and then played back at 30 frames per second; the result would be an apparent increase of speed by 30 times. Time-lapse photography can be considered to be the opposite of high speed photography.

What was left to be decided is only when and where would I do this?

While we had a number of locations in mind that we had previously scouted, we were keen to do something with Bay Bridge in it, since it has the San Francisco downtown as its backdrop. We knew the only place where we could locate a spot like that would be on the Treasure Island. Treasure Island was not just a private area, it was also a federal establishment, since there was a naval base out there. We did not want to risk straying into unwanted territory and get ourselves into trouble.

Treasure Island Map

We spent hours on Google without much luck. Then we pulled up the Google map and tried to see if there was any place that would give an amazing view of the bay bridge with the SFO sky line in the background. The map did show a couple of spots which might work. However there was this construction of the new Bay bridge which was in progress which more or less closed down the spots we had zeroed in on. We then decided that we will go the following Friday evening to scout for locations. If anything works out, we will return the following day to carry out the actual shoot.

In the meanwhile, I had to ensure I had all the necessary gear to ensure the shoot proceeded as thought. I figured out one important gear was still missing, that is the interval-o-meter. Interval-o-meter is the device used to automate firing of the shots from a camera in a preset interval. While in the past I had used Nikon camera pro software, coupled with a laptop and connecting cable, it proved too much of a hassle and too much to take care of on a dark night at a place which I still don’t know anything about. So I got back to our savior “Google”. After a lot of digging in and a lot of second thought and consideration, I took some risk and went in for this generic interval-o-meter. Well, this thing never had a proper review, but after some deep digging, I figured out it is the same product as several others, except for the nameplate. I was easily saving anywhere between $20-$70 bucks. I took the risk and amazoned it.

I am of the firm opinion that higher price does not always translate to higher quality, so except for the camera and the glass, everything else is carefully selected to give good value for money. While there are a number of tripods running into hundreds of dollars, I picked up a sub $50 tripod back in 2008 and I am very happy with my purchase. Same is the case with the rain cover and a number of other gear in my camera bag. Thankfully, so far those stuff have been working fine and I have no qualms.

Camera Gear used:

  • Nikon D90 dSLR Camera – The ultimate in camera body.
  • Nikon 18-105mm VR lens – the versatile Glass for most occasions.
  • Sturdy Tripod Stand – Anything that is sturdy enough to take wind speeds up to 30 mph.
  • Rain cover for the camera and lens – Essential since you never know when it is going to rain in the bay area.
  • Interval-o-meter – To automate photo taking every few seconds (basis of time lapse).
  • Cleaning Kit – To defog the glass, again a must have in the bay area.
  • High speed and Large capacity memory cards – since the camera is going to chunk out about 60 images per minute, each of it of the highest JPEG quality possible.
  • Fully charged batteries with as much backup juice as possible.

Amazon site showed that it is not expected to be delivered until the following Monday, a week in which heavy rains were predicted. But then, Amazon never ceases to surprise you. On Thursday evening, I noticed the voicemail lamp blinking on my phone, checked up at the front desk only to find out the interval-o-meter had arrived early.. woo hoo! I called up my friend and decided that we would leave work early the next day and try our luck with the time lapse photography. So again we were on the bay bridge driving towards treasure island discussing the possible outcomes of tonight’s adventure. We took the exit off bay bridge towards treasure island and from that instant on were scanning left and right for the right spot, only to get honked by fellow drivers slowed down by our enthusiasm to find a spot. We had to move on, we then took the right towards the Naval Base and wandered back and forth for about 45 minutes without much luck. I was also ready to pay fine for parking the car in unallocated spaces. But then nothing was getting us the view that we had envisioned.

We had almost given up, since the light was falling off quickly now, but my GPS (Nokia N95 8GB phone) had not given up, it kept spelling out instructions to nowhere (or so it appeared to us). We decided that as a last try we will follow the GPS. We got back into the car and drove as the GPS instructed only to find a small road to the right, we did take it with a lot of speculation, but then voila.. there it was. It was truly a breathtaking view, straight out of a holly wood movie. There was only one problem left, parking the car. We just pulled over onto the dirt surface, and parked the car along the slope, it was delicately hanging in there, but who cared about a rental car? More so when the view in front of us was mesmerizing at the least to worry about anything else. GPS photo

I set up the gear quickly, fired out some test shots, adjusted the camera settings and set off the interval-o-meter and relaxed a bit. But then, this was just beginning and over the course of the next 90 minutes or so, I was checking in on the light every few minutes to ensure that it was not getting too dark.  This was the first time I was trying a proper time lapse photography and few minutes into the shoot, I realized that I had chosen a very tricky subject. With light changing every minute, it was getting very difficult to control the exposures and I was concerned how the final results would be. Because every time I increase the EV value, the scene gets brighter than the previous shot, whereas the expectation is in dusk the video should progressively darken out. Nevertheless, I kept aggressively changing the settings to compensate for the deteriorating light conditions. Thankfully, it appears those changes helped and though the final video does have some flicker and shakes, the video did come out decent enough. More on the settings and time lapse photography techniques in another blog.

In the meantime, we setup my friend’s camera to take some long exposure shots and try out various different experiments. I must mention this about him, he was absolutely patient and supportive not just that evening but on previous occasions and the following morning when we shot another time lapse of the sunrise from Twin peaks. Thanks Saurabh! You were awesome company!

Oh well what an evening it had been, while we are yet to ingest the awesome view that we have in front of us, we saw 2 guys walking towards us, our hearts were pounding wondering if those 2 were cops. Thank god, they were just fellow photographers, trying to get a view of the city. Understanding they were, they never came anywhere close to our setup knowing that we were working on a time lapse. And yeah, we did end up without getting copped.

Having a very clear sky, we did not end our day here, we proceeded to Twin peaks, to do some panoramic shots, then proceeded to have dinner at New Delhi Restaurant and then returned to Treasure Island on the way back to do more shots of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco downtown skyline.

I wanted to do something more than just a timelapse video, that is when I put together the following image. I selected about 9 images from about 4000+ images, depicting each 10 minute period of the total 90 minute period. Picked up portions of the image and stitched them together to make the final image has seen here. I have to admit, that this is not a completely original idea and I have seen something similar elsewhere, I am just glad that it came back to me at the right time and I was able to put it together neat and clean.

Baybridge Timelapse

There is no end to the joy provided by San Francisco to the eager residents and visitors alike. There are endless possibilities and opportunities to photograph and each day is a different experience in itself. Hope I get more opportunities to visit this great city and capture such marvelous sights through my lens.

Hope you enjoyed reading and watching. Here are few more of my time lapse and motion stop photography. All of these videos are in HD, please make sure you choose the HD quality.

Here is the Bay bridge Time lapse Video:

Here is the sunrise from Twin peaks, that we shot the following day:

And finally, a different attempt. This time a Motion stop photography, on I880 Northbound on the way to work.

Thanks for watching and do drop in your comments below.

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Class Prevails over aggressiveness… Formula One gets as interesting as it can get!!!

In Thoughts on June 13, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

You self admit that your chances in this Grand Prix are minimal and go on to explain how Mercedes are best suited to compete, qualify behind your team mate at 7th Position. On race day find out it is a completely wet track, once the race starts, you collide with your team mate in which he is out of the race, move on to intermediate tyres only to find out that heaviest of rains are yet to come, get a drive through penalty for over speeding behind the safety car, go into change to wet weather tyres only to find out the race is red flagged, once the race restarts you make the first move to switch to intermediate only to have a puncture and limp your way to the pit stop, to get another set of intermediate only to find out again that a safety car is deployed, all in all making a record 5 pit stops… after all of this, yes indeed after all of this.. only in the wildest of dreams you go on to win the race.. unbelievable isn’t it? This is exactly what Jenson Button did in Canadian Grand Prix!!! Indeed a very sweet win. A classic example of class is permanent and form is temporary!!!

Following the opening 5 races where there was not a single Safety car deployment, the last 2 races at Monaco and Montreal have made up for the shortage of safety cars in the first few races. Both the races red flagged and had multiple instances of safety car deployment. At the end makes F1 the spectacle it is expected to be. Accidents, mechanical failures, punctures, over-takings, contact incidents, rain, shine, chases everything was there to seen in the last 2 races.

Thanks to the DRS and KERS, while the safety has also improved, the racing has reached new heights with results being undecided until the last moment. A great example of this was the fight between Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi for the 6th and 7th position, which Massa eventually won right down at the chequered flag. Ofcourse, the spanish grand prix was an entertainer too, moving away from the dull and monotonous race it used to be: courtesy the DRS and KERS.

In Canadian Grand Prix, we saw another master racer show his master class. Michael Schumacher was at his racing best and showed his class and mastery over his skill, that is racing. If only Mercedes can provide a fighting machine to this master, he still can reach greater heights. He showed he still prevails in wet conditions and he still has it in him. The way he stole the 2nd position away from Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa just goes on to show his experience and that his burning desire to race is still left in him. Though it is disappointing to see him not making to the podium and had to see him settle down for the 4th position, I wonder where he would he if Mercedes had not goofed up the two initial pit stops before the race was red flagged.

Well Schumacher clearly was not thinking like a champion in the initial stages of the race when he pitted twice to switch to intermediate and back to wet weather tyres only to find out that the race would be eventually red flagged. I think that is where he must have put to use his enormous experience. Clearly, if Schumi had stayed back on the track without pitting at all, there was a good chance that, he would have won this race. Another reason why he lost out 2 positions towards the end of the race was because of DRS. The DRS advantage is already huge for the car behind, giving that advantage twice, pretty much closes the door for the other car to mount a fight back. As was evident in Canadian Grand Prix, Button was able to gain an advantage of about 4 seconds in the 2 DRS zones over Schumacher, which IMO is a unfair advantage over the other driver and can turn out to be a spoil sport going forward into the season. Nevertheless, for now, that is what it is and the drivers and fans alike have to learn to live with it.

Away from the leaders, Force India was another big disappointment, where the lack of experience clearly showed in both the drivers who went on to spoil the races for themselves from very strong positions. Elsewhere, Kamui Kobayashi showed that he is indeed championship material in terms of both strategy and track racing, however was a bit unlucky as Massa, stole the 6th position and 2 valuable points away from him, thanks to the DRS.

Clearly, this was a race of Buttons and Schumachers; they showed that class prevails over pure aggressiveness. Hamilton and Alonso, both just gave away what could have turned out to be very strong finishes for both of them. Hamilton has been a bomb ticking since Monaco, now he has had 4 serious incidents in 2 races. Nicki Lauda was very vocal against Lewis suggesting that, if, he keeps going at this rate, he is going to get someone killed soon. There is a thin line between aggressive driving and foolish driving and I think both these drivers crossed that line today. Ironically, the driver who was disadvantaged by both these driver’s actions, kept his calm and went on to win the race.

Though Sebastian Vettel was almost perfect for the most part of the race, he lost his cool when it mattered the most and lost out on the race. While he is still way ahead on the championship points, this championship is anybody’s guess. So stay tuned in to the rest of the season which has a long way with 12 races to go!!!

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Button excited after the Win.

hamilton damaged car

Hamilton’s damaged car after collision with Teammate Button

safety car 

Safety car being deployed in the race

 

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Hamilton’s shunt with Webber

 

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Vettel was leading the race for all laps except for the lap that mattered the most!

 

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Schumacher in a pit stop

 

image  The race is red flagged.

 

All images are the copyrights of the respective owners and are posted here only for representation purposes.

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Fuel prices in India – Demystified!

In Opinion on May 17, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Petrol costs more than what Aviation fuel costs, thereby putting it right up there in the most valuable commodities. If this keeps going up like this, the so called “Middle Class” families will soon be families below the poverty line. Agreed that the price of oil is rising at the international market, however still why is this disparity between the prices of Petrol and Diesel and more so between and India and other non Oil producing nations?

Reports suggests that the actual cost of importing, refining and distributing petrol works out to approx Rs.36 per litre. If that is the case where is the remaining cost coming from. Are they profits? no… they are excise duties and levies imposed by the government. These work out to about Rs.30 per litre of petrol. In contrast, while Diesel costs a little higher in the international market, it is sold cheaper in India, courtesy lesser levies and

petrol-price-hike

taxes. It is suggested that the levies on Diesel is about Rs.10-Rs.15 per litre.

Why Diesel is getting this Partiality? Some people say it is because of the fact that Diesel is used in farm lands and that is a vote garnering measure. Also, that Petrol is the rich people’s fuel. While all of this was true in the 80’s and 90’s things have changed dramatically at the turn of the millennium. Diesel guzzling SUV’s are the rich men’s favourites and two wheelers and compact cars running petrol is the Middle class families friend. Even official data supports this fact by reporting that Diesel consumed in the country is 5 times more than Petrol. So a simple Rs.2 increase in diesel in enough to negate a Rs.10 decrease in Petrol. It is time the policy makers get realistic and give petrol its due.

Another funny thing the government does with fuel prices is that, it levies a custom duty on crude oil and then subsidizes the prices of refined products like LPG, diesel and kerosene. Why levy a custom duty in the first from the oil companies and then follow it with a subsidy? It only leads to financial pressure on the oil companies who have to first pay the duty and wait for the subsidy. Collecting money from the government is monumental task, and for the period in-between unwanted interest rates are paid, there by affecting the bottom lines of the already sunk oil companies. After all, oil companies are not privately held, so who is actually losing the money? I think the answer is very clear to every taxpayer in the country.

So what can the government do? The simplest of free crude oil imports from duties and the retail sales of petrol and diesel from all forms of taxes and levies. After all, who is the government fooling by adding a custom duty to show income to the government and then giving out a subsidy and billing it as an expense.

Or Alternatively, they could sell ads for every liter of petrol so that at the petrol pump, so that we get to see ads like “this liter of petrol brought to you by blah blah blah” – zoo zoo can show its super power by offering free petrol in its super weeks..and Abhishek Bachchan can suggest using aviation fuel instead of regular gasoline and claim ‘what an idea sir ji’!!!

Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

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What does Pakistan want after all?

In Thoughts on May 16, 2011 by shsmani Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Pakistan was successful in projecting an image of inability in controlling the terror network all along. Post OBL, that is getting increasingly difficult. The entire episode of Osama Bin Laden’s “assassination” by the US forces in Pakistan has come as a complete embarrassment to the Pakistan government and military. It is funny, that unable to do anything about the US presence, one after another Pakistan officials both from the government and military establishment are threatening India with dire consequences if they try something similar.

This is after India’s Prime Minister clearly rejecting any such ideas himself. Even going by the track record of India, irrespective of the ability of the armed forces, the political circles do not have it in them to take up such an action. So why is Pakistan barking against an empty sky??? Thankfully, India has shown some maturity by not responding to such unwarranted statements from the Pakistani establishment.

Pakistan cannot do anything about the US forces, for everything in Pakistan is funded by the US. They do not have an economy. I don’t think they even have a development plan in place to take care of their country’s growth.

United States, wants to be the most dominant force in the world, India and China are vying for top spots in GDP growth, and while other countries are having similar growth goals, I guess Pakistan has a singular goal, to be the No.1 terror state in the world. I must admit they are being very successful in that.

One can certainly understand if a group of fanatics want violence and death, which is detrimental to their own growth, leave alone destroying others, but how could one nation as a whole have such a degenerative motive. India and Pakistan achieved freedom at the same time, technically, Pakistan got it earlier than India. Still, Pakistan has largely remained an under developed country thriving on financial support from US on one hand and China on the other.

Year after year ISI trained militants are push into the Indian side of LOC and ensure peace does not prevail in the region. After all, what does Pakistan want? Kashmir? I don’t think they will stop at that. Yes, Indira Gandhi did play a pivotal role in the separation of Bangladesh as a separate state, so what? Pakistan wants freedom for Kashmir, but what have they done to their own freedom? Where is the 70 years worth of freedom gone? At least Bangladesh, after being an independent state, is trying to make some economic progress, and now they are known for their textile industry and are fast catching up in a number of other segments as well. Where is Pakistan heading?

Sorry but one cannot think of Pakistan in anything but terror links and that occasional Onion export to India. How much ever one wants to de link Pakistan from terror, that is the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind. I completely fail to understand the mind set and thought process that must be going on in the minds of the Pakistani officials who are running the government and the army. For one, Pakistan is being “Used” by vested interests, who don’t want peace in the region, China and US included, so that they can keep supplying defense supplies to both the countries and their economies can thrive on that. Secondly, the religious fanatics have been influencing the Pakistan top brass, as the various terror organization now don’t have a number of options after Saudi Arabia denounced all form of terrorism and Afghanistan coming under American super vision. Can’t the Pakistan establishment really not see the ‘Big Picture’ or just turning a blind eye towards all of that and leading Pakistan towards a point of no return?

I have interacted with a number of different people of Pakistani origin, all of them have come across as very soft, friendly and likeable people. After all, they are our own distant cousins. It is sad to note, how much of a difference it makes to one’s life style and living being on different sides of the border. There seems to be fundamentally wrong with Pakistan, right from the days of partition up until today. There seem to be a lack of visionary. May be education is making the difference between the two countries, the lack of awareness and the lack of rational thinking to decide between right and wrong is making a huge impact.

I can only wish, that some day Pakistan gets a visionary who would lead them from darkness to light. Yes, being an Indian, there is a selfish motive to see peace in the region, but more so, for the millions of good souls in Pakistan who are helpless and are far from being on the same thought plane as the military leaders and other government official who are leading Pakistan into a point of no return.

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