Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Indian media patterns

Have you noticed that there is always a phase when a particular story and different variants of it garner constant attention by the media. For example, the supposed racial attacks in Australia. The first time it appeared on the media, it created a furor. Then there was repeated mention of fresh attacks almost everyday. Why the sudden spurt? The current media fad is on Jaswant Singh's book and subsequent expulsion from the party. The headlines these days scream Arun Shourie is next,Vasundara Raje after that. It is like riding the wave and garnering public interest till it lasts but it can also get very annoying. Why focus only on issues that appeal to the emotional quotient. I prefer reading BBC News these days!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Indian drought

Pune is having a water shortage. The monsoon has been erratic both in terms of timing and location. The major dams constructed around Pune have received minimal water in their catchment areas while the city has been inundated. 70% of the Indian population have an Agro based livelihood and are very dependent on seasonal monsoon rains. Crops are sowed during a time every year and Gods are expected to water them. So there is drought every year the monsoon fails. Apart from water and food shortage, there are also wide spread power cuts leading to loss of productivity and inflation. Horrible isn't it?!

There are many short term actions being taken such as:
1) Water and power cuts.
2) Educating people
3) Releasing water through pipelines and using water tankers for transportation instead of releasing water into open canals from the dams

All good, but there must be viable and time-oriented long terms approaches such as:
1) River-linking project
2) Desalination plants

Desalination plants are good but cost and fuel prohibitive in spite of increasing use of reverse osmosis technology over traditional thermal distillation techniques. A bigger problem is the transportation of water from these plants to the remote areas of our country that need them most. This is where the river linking project would be most useful. They would also help mitigate the floods in the Brahmaputra, Kosi and Ganga river basins, if planned properly. The environmentalists will be crying their hearts out but should we rather watch people die? If they have an alternative to solve the problem, there are people ready to listen. But the problem must be solved rather then delayed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The 11 swine flu deaths in India is very unfortunate. There have also been a number of positive cases reported, majority of which are in Pune. There is only one testing center in Pune which is the National Institute of Virology(NIV) and some designated government and private hospitals that can collect swab samples that needs to be sent for testing. If tested positive, the patient is quarantined for at least a week and medication provided if symptoms become severe. Currently there is no specific medicine or vaccine for swine flu. There are a host of preventive measures one can take which include regularly washing hands, staying away from crowded areas, using masks etc.

There is pandemonium all around Pune. I see people wearing masks everywhere. Schools, colleges and other public institutions/businesses are shut. There is a wave of fear all over the place. The Indian media has gone all guns blazing screaming about daily counts of fresh cases, deaths, crowds flooding hospitals etc. When you read the paper or switch on the news channels, all you hear is this. The media is also spreading good awareness but fear is an easier way to get viewers hooked on. More the sensation, better the viewership.

With due respect and condolences to the families that have suffered because of Swine flu, there are deaths because of regular flu every year. Patients who develop other complications or whose immunity is weakened because of flu succumb. Majority of the affected recover by just taking rest for a week and getting treated for the symptoms that accompany flu. Pregnant women, children and people around them need to take extra precaution. But they should always be careful and not throw caution to the wind once they stop hearing about swine flu.

Be careful and do not panic. The words health practitioners and government use. I would add. Please behave responsibly. This is to both the callous who smirks around and to the individual/organization that creates unwarranted fear.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Rajakeeyam @ Kokum, Pune

Out here in Pune, South Indian restaurants are usually associated with snacks. Kokum recently opened at Viman Nagar is an exception. They cater to all the needs of your stomach. You get authentic and delicious South Indian food that includes beverages, starters, main course and dessert! A daily lunch buffet for Rs. 250/person is a good way to find out if the food is to your liking. If you do end up during other times you can order a la carte (a tad bit expensive) or go for their thali on a silver platter called Rajakeeyam. The veg costs Rs. 500 and the non veg Rs. 600.

I tried the non veg thali and it was a true royal feast. There are starters to nip your taste buds accompanied with coconut water with tulsi leaves. The main course includes a yummy assortment of chicken(dry and gravy), mutton, king prawns, fish(dry and gravy), duck roast, boiled egg fry and channa columbu. You can have them with an unlimited supply of appams, Kerala barotas, iddiyapams, idlis etc. If you are still hungry there is mouth watering chicken and mutton biryani. There is a variety of payasams to finish of. This is a meal not to be missed!