Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Left or Right - The Nuclear Debate

The recent signing of the 123 Civil Nuclear Co-operation agreement between India & the USA seems to have finally snapped the already building tension between the ruling UPA government & their supporting Left parties. The spark seems to have ignited by the comments of Sean McCormack, the US Spokesman that the nuclear co-operation would be off if India conducted tests. And the Indian side of the story is that India was a sovereign nation and had the right to conduct tests.

The left(communist) parties led by Prakash Karat have come out with an ultimatum to the government asking them to stop negotiations with IAEA or else they would withdraw their support to the government. The government, in its part has been adamant in its stand and is going ahead with the negotiations with IAEA starting in September. This could mean the end of the government & that India could be headed for mid-term polls. This could be disastrous for the Indian economy as the kind of money which is spend on polls goes into crores of rupees. It would mean an unstable political scenario which could lead to the stock markets going down even further as an unstable political environment would drive the FII's away from the country. As it is, the stock markets are witnessing one of their worst meltdowns because of the US Sub-prime mess.

It is very much imperative for the overall welfare of the Indian economy that the government at the center complete its term. The nuclear agreement is actually going to do only good for India and strengthen its position as a nuclear powerhouse. Not only this, India would get to use technology which could be used to produce nuclear energy with clean fuel in return for allowing IAEA officials access to our nuclear facilities. So, this agreement promises much to the Indian cause. The left stand seems more to be on terms with their opposition to everything american. Their claims that this agreement is part of a larger US designs to impose their foreign policy on India is a little immature. Let's consider the situation that would arise if India were to conduct nuclear tests after the agreement is operationalized. India has claimed that the agreement would still be in place. However, there is some ambiguity as far as the US position is concerned. There are reports that claim the agreement could be called "off" in such a scenario. Yet, another report claims that the agreement would be in affect even in the event of a nuclear test by India. So, what happens if the agreement is "off". India would be in a situation it was before the agreement was signed. Nothing alarming as far as the country is concerned. Also, when the government is signing such an agreement, there is going to be no need to conduct tests in the first place.

Hopefully, common sense would prevail and we will see light at the end of this dark tunnel and that the welfare of the Indian citizen is kept first and foremost in mind of those concerned, whatever happens in this saga between the left and the government.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not Quite Roger's Cup in Montreal

Immediately after his loss in the Rogers Masters Final to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, told in a Press Conference that the defeat was "insignificant" when compared to the big picture of his goals for the year. Federer expressed that his goal for the year was to retain the Wimbledon crown and try to stay number one in the ATP Rankings. So, he has achieved much more than what he had set out to achieve at the start of the season. And now, the aim is to defend his US Open crown, starting in a fortnight's time, and the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

To be fair to Federer, he was not at his best throughout the week-long event, just coming back from a 5-week rest after Wimbledon. And, we all know that Federer beats most players in the world even when he is playing only at 50%. In the final, he did show glimpses of his genius but they were just that, glimpses. There were two aspects in the match which could worry a Federer fan, though. One was the way Federer played the big points in the match. Rarely have we seen Federer missing on so many big points as he did today. And the other aspect is the way he played in the Tie-breaks. Its almost shocking when Federer loses a Tie-Break. Even if he is not able to close out a set with breaks of serve, he changes gears, almost effortlessly in the Tie-break. Rarely do we see him lose a tie-break and it was astonishing to see him lose two tie-breaks in the same match.

Credit to Djokovic, who looked really composed almost throughout the match. With the win against Federer, Djokovic beat the worlds top three players in the same tournament, Roddick & Nadal being his scalps in the Quarter-final & Semi-final. He does look the player capable of causing a lot of headaches to Federer & Nadal. Federer, still thinks that Nadal is the main threat to his throne, though he feels that Djokovic maybe closing in on a Grand Slam title. These are exciting times in men's tennis with a number of young players queueing up to be the number one contender to Federer's reign. Nadal, Djokovic,Murray & Gasquet could be the ones to challenge Federer. I for one, am waiting in anticipation of a 12th Grand Slam title for the great Federer in the City that never sleeps, New York.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Tale of The Bench

Definition of Bench :
1. a long seat for several persons: a bench in the park.
2. a seat occupied by an official, esp. a judge.

(Courtesy :-Dictionary.com)

These are the most common definitions that come to mind when you come across a bench. This holds true when you are not anywhere closely connected to the IT Industry. However, if you are someone who is well-versed with the IT Industry, this would be one of the most common terms you would be coming across apart from the other obvious words : meetings,bandwidth,deadlines,etc.

However, this post is only to discuss the dreaded word, Bench from the IT industry perspective. Non-IT people need not be too disinterested because they can learn a new meaning for a word. IT people who are not on bench can see the funny side of this post & IT people on bench can see the not-so-funny side of it.

So, what does someone mean when they ask you "Are you on Bench?". Well, they mean to know whether that person doesn't have any work. That means that that person is not billable to the company and that means that that person is not earning any revenue for the company. In short, it means that that person is getting salary for doing precisely, nothing. Now, all you non-IT guys must be thinking that you ought to join an IT company, right? No, guys, its not that easy being on the bench. Yes, there is no work when on bench but that feeling is not at all good. Trust me, I have lots of experience. Or else, ask the IT guys.

One of the worst fallouts of being on bench is that you are pointed continuously for not doing any work. This is the conversation I had with my PM,Swamy(name changed for obvious reasons!!) few days back.

"Hi,Swami. I just wanted to know whether the proposals which you were talking about got approved?"
"Er, I am sorry to say that they were rejected. We have submitted a couple of proposals. Let's see if it gets approved".
"So, any idea when that approval would come?"
"I think we should get an idea few weeks down the line".
"So, any idea what I should do till the project work comes?"
"Why don't you undergo some trainings".
"I have been taking trainings for so many times now. There are no more to be taken".
"Oh! Then do some certifications".
(Oh No, not again!!) " Well, thanks Swami. Thanks a lot for your suggestion".
"You are welcome.Best of luck with the certification".

And this kind of conversation goes on and on with the same person. And one fine day, the PM comes up to me and says that my performance appraisal rating would be affected because I have been on bench. Aren't you as baffled as myself at this reply? I was shocked. Ultimately, its my responsibility to get off the bench even though no work has been allocated to me after repeated discussions with my PM.

So, the next time you sit on that bench in your neighbourhood park and are having a generally relaxed time, do take a minute to pray for all the poor souls of this world who are not exactly having a fun time sitting on some different kind of a bench in some part of the world.

PS:- You don't exactly sit on a bench when you, well,eh.. sit on a bench. Its invisible!! :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The recent second test match between India & England at Trent Bridge proved once again that most of today's cricketers are hypocrites. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and everyone knows that and part of the charm of the game is because umpires make the decisions and so there is a human element involved.

Incorrect decisions are part and parcel of the game. If we cannot take it, then it is better not play the game in the first place. Simon Taufel has proved time and again that he is the best umpire in the world today without a shadow of a doubt. However, the best of umpires make mistakes because they are humans just like the cricketers themselves. The manner in which Taufel's name has been tarnished by the Indian & international media is a shameful act to say the least. Just because the batsmen at the receiving end of two wrong decisions were two (stroke makers) batsmen who have come to a stage in their careers when they are just playing to score runs for themselves & not for the team. If you take the strike rates of Tendulkar & Ganguly in recent times, you will get the picture I am trying to draw. It can be said that the two wickets were crucial and that the match could have gone England's way. However, how can anyone explain the numerous near-misses & lbw shouts against these players. Ryan Sidebottom would have missed Tendulkar's bat by less than an inch almost 50 times during his innings. And the fact was that when Tendulkar became out, he was padding up to the ball & not offering a shot. This sends out a wrong signal to the umpire.

The final point I am trying to make is that when batsmen who do not walk when they know 100% that they are out and the umpire does not give them out, do not have the right to show dissent when they are given out incorrectly.Tendulkar used to the first batsman who used to "walk" when he knew that he was out but gone are those days. In today's cricket Adam Gilchrist is the only cricketer who "walks". This is why I feel the first line in my post holds true.