Thursday, December 19, 2013

A thought for electoral reforms in India

Something came to my mind looking at the results of last few elections. The last few elections we have seen that the country is ruled by a joint venture which has polled only say 42% of the votes. That means it was not elected by the majority. And this scenario also leads to the situation where parties are playing religion or caste based politics. The aim being somehow get support of any religion or caste having close to 20% population base and then the rest can be evenly distributed. What I say is India needs to rethink how it elects its representatives. India should have elections in two rounds close to each other or vote counting should be by transferable votes in order of preference. 
In the two round process, the process would be the same for first round as it is but for second round only 1 and 2 position holders will contest in second round. The places where one candidate gets more than 50% votes need not go to second round. The cost and the logistics will be an argument against this but seeing the monumental scams that congress has done the price will be small. The benefits of this system will be many fold. I am listing two that comes to my mind.
1. Just appeasing one section of society will not ensure your win
2. Chances of hung verdict like in Delhi may be reduced since people will then see that newcomers like AAP can make a difference.
In the transferable vote policy voters will be asked to mark the order of preference. In the first count only the first preference will be taken. The ballots belonging to candidate coming last will be taken and they will be allotted to remaining candidates in fray based on second choice. And this will go on till one candidate get more than 50% votes. This way everyone will have to look towards the whole constituency rather than just apleasing one section.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bread crumbs fry

Bread Slices (Large): 6
Eggs: 2
Meat masala: 2 Table spoon
Jeera powder: 1 Tea spoon
Flour: 3 Table spoon
Salt: to taste
Oil for frying

Soak the slices in a cup of water for 5-10 minutes. Once the bread is soft press the breads hard and get as much water out as possible. Knead the soaked breads in large bowl. Once the bread forms like a paste add the eggs, masalas and flour and need to get an uniform dough. Add a bit a water if the dough becomes too dry. The texture after kneading should not be too dry or too wet. Make small or medium sized patties for frying. Take a frying pan with little oil in it. Once the oil is hot release the patties and fry under low heat so that the inside of the patty is also cooked. Cook till both the sides of the patty have a deep brown colour. One can do many variations by adding other masalas or minced meat. Serve it hot with onions and lemon.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The strange case of advertisements and trailers

It has been almost six months that I have come to UK and took up my temporary position. As day goes by I learn new things, new rules and strange practices. I will write about one strange practice which I found excessive and bordering the limits of greediness. Just day before yesterday I went to watch a movie in the theater. Here the movie is not important but what went on before the movie is. The movie was around 90 mins like any standard Hollywood movie. The torturous part were the advertisements that went on for 35 minutes before the movie started making it over 120 mins affair. It made me wonder, if there are any rules and regulations in this country regarding the amount of advertisements and trailers they can show before the movie. It would be stranger if the theater was not breaking the rules by giving the viewers such a long display of advertisements. It feels like as if I am paying few times over to see theses ads. First in the cinema where I paid to get in and then when I buy the product as and when if ever I decide to do so. The things that seems funny is that they pride in rules and regulations but I guess there is non when it comes to capitalist advantage and greed. In that 35 mins saga of mine the most interesting part was the trailer of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ben Stiller came with is long monologue and then the trailer and in the end thanked us all for watching as if we had a choice. I felt like Alex DeLarge from Clockwork Orange forced to watch something though in my case I could shut my eyes and go to sleep if I could somehow ignore the loud sounds. There was another such trailer where Martin Freeman came to promote his movie Hobbits 2 but well he did not have a long monologue and the movie will be released in 3D so I guess he did not need a monologue. Finally I will end this short write up with the strangest part, that is, on the one hand the politicians are crying loud shedding crocodile tears over high rate of unemployment on the other hand places like this cinema gives you discount if you buy tickets online and so that they can hire less number of ticket vendors and maximize profit. What a strange practice Sir ji!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Simple Chicken fried my style

Today, I felt like having fried chicken but wanted to spice up a little bit. Put together a recipe which I am sharing here. 

Chicken: 400gms
Ginger paste: 1tbsp
Garlic Paste: 1tsp
Turmeric powder: 1tsp
Chilli Powder: 1tsp
Meat masala: 2tbsp
Gram flour: 2tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Chop the chicken into medium sized pieces and put it in a large bowl after washing properly. Put all the ingredients in the bowl and mix it well. One can also put coriander powder or cumin powder to spice a little more. Once mixed deep fry the chicken and fried chicken my style is ready. Garnish it with chat masala or lemon juice as you please. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chicken coconut curry in mashed potato

Chicken: 400gms (chopped into small pieces)
Potato: 3 large
Onion: 1 large
Ginger paste: 1 teaspoon
Garlic paste: 2 teaspoons
Coconut milk: 300ml
Coriander powder: 2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder: 1 teaspoon 
Red chilli powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Butter: 20gms
Garam masala: 2 teaspoons
Clove: 3 pieces
Cardamom: 2 nos
Cinnamon: 2 inch
Oil for frying
Salt to taste


  1. Boil the potatoes till they are soft. Peel the skin and mash them with butter and coconut milk.
  2. Make a fine paste of the onion.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon to the oil. Fry the spices a little and then add the onion, ginger and garlic paste. Add half a teaspoon of salt to it and then fry the paste till the water has dried and the paste looks oily.
  4. Add coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and cumin powder to the pan and fry a little.
  5. To this fried paste add the mashed potato and coconut milk mixture. Mix the ingredients in the saucepan nicely and cook for sometime. Add water to make the broth light. Add garam masala and cook for few minutes.
  6. Add the chopped chicken pieces and cover the pan to cook. Occasionally stir the broth so that it does not stick to the pan. Add water based on whether you want soup kind of texture or thick gravy.
  7. Add salt to taste and once the chicken is fully cooked serve with rice or bread as per your choice.

Friday, August 30, 2013

When plagiarism is concerned

Plagiarism according to Wikipedia, and I directly quote ''Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules.'' I am writing mostly in context to plagiarism in scientific research. In the past there have been many cases where texts from published work have been wilfully copied or the complete work has been reproduced. There have been investigations and some action taken etc etc. Those things are in the past and the effort has to be in the direction to curb such incidents. In that direction, many ethics code of conduct have been formulated and enforced. Still an area remains where accountability, when caught in the act, is always enforced on the junior authors or graduate students. The latest case being of Prof. CNR Rao where the blame was conveniently passed on to the PhD student ( even though the senior authors claimed to be the corresponding authors or lead authors. This is just one case which got highlighted in the media due to the stature of the people involved. So, the question to ask is what are the remedies against such incidents. IIT Bombay in this regard took a step in the form of signed ''Honour code"   but it was only a half hearted attempt as far as it is evident from the news item. It says that student have been asked to sign such an honour code. My question here is, why only the students who in most cases follow the whims and fancies of their supervisors, not out of intellectual or creative deficiency but due to a system which demands complete obedience, were asked to sign such a code. How the system demands that obedience can be a subject of another write up. If any system is serious about stopping plagiarism then all the players concerned should be asked to follow a strict code of ethics. It is not enough just to ask one particular section of the community to be accountable while another goes scot free. When a work is published and appreciated the major chunk of appreciation is reserved for the corresponding author or the lead author but when some wrong doing is caught every trick in the book is applied to pass the buck on somebody else. In this regard I would like to cite this scandal and would like to point at few of the first comments in the post. Just for the record I will quote a few of the comments here before finishing this write up. 

Argument: I personally know the 1st author and would like to believe this never happened. But i guess we’ll have to wait for the U investigation. It will be very hard to see if prof takes any responsibility. I don’t think the student would have the courage to do this without prof knowing it or him forcing them to do it. Maybe this part of the issues will never come out in open.
Counter argument: I know Dr. Pease as well and am surprised he would be involved in something like this. My personal opinion is his student did it and Dr. Pease didn’t catch it (although one could argue that he should have). I guess we’ll see what the investigation determines.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What I would have in a SLR if I can..

I am an amateur photographer taking pictures of various architecture or natural things like flowers and animals etc etc. I have a Pentax-Km which is an entry level DSLR. When I am using my auto focus lenses I mostly try using the auto-focus facility to take images faster. The results vary whether I pointed exactly at the subject or the camera picked up some other point for focus. Mostly it is difficult to say whether your focus was great or out of focus slightly on the small LED screen of the camera. It is only when you put the picture on a big screen that you find that your focus was few centimeters ahead or behind the subject you wanted. So, I felt that it would be great if my camera could automatically store data in one file for a picture where the focus has been varied few tens of centimeters say 20cm in front and back of my desired object. That way when I have the raw file on the computer I could just by sliding the focus bar can get my object of desire in focus. You can get rid of a bit of softness in the image by sharpening but it does not give you the same image as you may have got with the right focus. It might take out a lot of fun for people who want to do all the focusing and things but for some like me getting the end result right without doing too much photoshop or gimp is fun. Well, just an idea I had may be someday such cameras would be available at an affordable price.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Inferno - Dan Brown not Dante

Inferno is the latest book involving the Harvard University professor Robert Langdon. I got the book on the first day of its release having pre-ordered. I must admit, that in the series of books involving Robert Langdon Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code were really interesting and as far as I am concerned I was hooked to the books from page one. Even the third book, that is, Lost Symbol was good but not as nail biting as the other two and the ending was really disappointing. Felt like Dan Brown was making up for the controversy he created by writing Da Vinci Code. Anyway, based on the wonderful experiences I had reading Dan Brown's books, I had big expectations from the latest version involving Robert Langdon and even so more considering the fact that it shared the name with Dante's first part of Divine Comedy. Judging from the cover and design of the book available in UK, I must say I was impressed, specially the reproduction of Botticelli's Inferno was quite nice, which by the way is not there in the American edition (Got to know from a friend). With great anticipation I started reading the book, a man shot in the head stumbles into a hospital and a chase begins. In few words the whole book is about a chase and felt like reading the German movie Run Lola Run by Tom Tykwer. At times the author goes way off the plot to explain the city in which the plot is taking place and it has nothing to do with the plot. While reading, it feels more like reading Frommer's travel guide to Florence or Venice with a pinch of thriller. In fact, while pre-ordering the book from WH Smith, my local book store, they gave away Sanctus by Simon Toyne for free. I felt the free book was way better than the book I actually wanted to buy. Just for sake of information, Sanctus is about some secret hidden from the masses by the church and if it comes out Vatican's influence will be gone or something to that effect, I will not spell the story in case somebody wants to read though the plot is there on Wikipedia. In the end, I felt Dan Brown could have done much better job than writing a thrilling Frommer's travel guide. I would like to point out here that the concept of the new virus in the book is quite interesting and I believe a much more crisp story could have been woven around that concept without the boring details of Florence or Venice. So, next time another Dan Brown thriller is round the corner, I am not buying it without reading at least first fifty pages. (The opinion on this page is mine and others are free to disagree)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Age of Price tagging

On my recent trip to our neighborhood book store I figured a wonderful thing about the way the prices on the books are displayed. Generally a book comes with a small abstract about the story with key exciting points either on the inside flap of the dust cover for hardbound books or on the back cover of soft bound books. The price of the book is mostly quoted on the back cover along with other details. But apparently with the preference of hardbound books for new releases this has changed. Suppose, you are visiting a book store looking to buy a recently released book, you look in the inside flap to know a bit about the book, as an example I will take the latest Dan Brown book which I recently purchased (Thankfully pre-ordered it, cost me much less). I am not trying to advertise the book since I have not read it yet but I did like the placing of the price tag, which is common for all books these days. As usual I opened the inside flap and it started of with 'Seek and ye shall find.' And then goes for some length saying lots of things about the book and you read on, a small crescendo builds up inside you like a musical performance picking up momentum, you are probably saying in your mind "Oh yeah! This is interesting" and then the protagonist is probably going to fall into a deep trap and then there are sentences like "---A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon's knowledge of hidden....", you are already having a picture that too in color of two people running through ancient tunnels and all, pursued by crooked looking guys with guns in hand. In the mist of all a ray of hope in the form "...With only a few lines from Dante's dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, ...... save the world.....", you are almost there "Oh yeah! The world is in trouble again". Now the stakes are even high, before only America was at stake or may be some other country now invariably the world is at stake, feels like the world got smaller and then the final blow to make your picture 3D from colored "Set against an extraordinary landscape inspired by one of history's most ominous literary classics, Inferno is Dan Brown's most compelling and thought-provoking novel yet, a breathless race-against-time thriller that will grab you from page one and not let you go until you close the book...". Your picture is 3D, you are enjoying the feeling hoping to be able  to buy the book and then one small corner quietly in small letters it says £20, and your 3D picture just collapsed into a white canvas and you feel "Seek and ye shall find the price".

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Brand it at will

Funny how things are branded and how it works in reality. Bought item from flipkart. They shipped in due time using fedex. Received the mail that said "Your Shipment was sent through:- Standard Overnight ", I presume this is a service name from fedex. and then after few lines "You will receive your shipment in 2-3 working days.". How on earth did overnight become 2-3 working days or there is a new paradigm which says standard overnight is 2-3 working days. If the paradigm is true may be it can be used at our work place like, "I will complete the report in standard overnight, sir".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rubber band nation

One of my friends wrote in his blog that we are a Nation of Rhinos, quite evident from recent events as well. I think on top of that we are a nation who love to stretch things beyond any comprehensible limit. Let us start with our television series. One can find numerous examples where the story line keeps on stretching. To give you an idea as to how much it can stretch, let us assume that one of the stars had a baby while the series is in say its fiftieth episode. By the time the child grows up to watch and understand the series say in his/her mid-teens the show would be still running and no one would feel that they missed something. This is the scenario for say the regular mother-in-law daughter-in-law stories where episode numbers may run to even four digits. Lets take the case of comedy series, though after sometime you are forced to laugh watching them since there is hardly any comedy left. I have seen a few comedy series from American sitcoms and I find that each season does not stretch beyond say 30 episodes and the series may run for say 7 years making it a 200 episode series. And on top of that each scenario will be finished in a single episode. but if you take Indian comedy series each scenario will at least run for four or five episodes and on top of that some of the series have already made to 1000 episodes (e.g Tarak mehta ka ulta chasma). It seems though the public in this country are increasingly drawn towards 20-20 format of cricket our television directors and producers are keeping the five day format alive. This case of rubber band mentality is there not only in our television but in our culture as well. Be it ceremonies in festivals or marriages or births or deaths we can always see the presence of Mr. Rubber Band. It is not that we understand the meaning of all what we do but since it was being done before so keep doing. Somehow, it feels like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times where he is given two spanners and he keeps tightening the screws no matter what and it continues even during his break. This rubber band effect is seen in our academic system as well. I can understand if you keep stretching the rubber band philosophically beyond imagination or say literary but to stretch it historically is something I never got it. History is something that has already happened and what is there to stretch for school kid. While in school I found it on regular basis that if I can write that "India became an independent country on 15th August 1947" using considerable amount of paper and ink, I got more marks. Same is the story with our higher education in science. The common belief still exists that you have to suffer for at least 6 years before you are fit to be called a doctorate. The quality of work is not important but the time is. I can keep writing on and on like the rubber band effect and still there will not be any end to it. Amongst all these stretched scenarios the only thing short in this country is memory which for some reason does not stretch beyond ones single step. And this is quite evident from the kind of people we keep sending to our parliament year after year.