Archive for March, 2013

HOLI and HOLA MOHALLA …

Posted on March 26, 2013. Filed under: Indian Thought |

Holi is celebrated because of a story in which the King of demons, who  had been granted a boon by Brahma, the Creator, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed “during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by a man nor an animal”. Consequently, he grew arrogant and demanded that people stop worshiping any one but him.

But his own son, Prahlad, was a devotee of Vishnu, the Preserver.  In spite of several threats from his father Prahlad continued offering prayers to Vishnu. He was first poisoned but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was then ordered to be trampled by elephants yet he remained unharmed. He was then put in a room with poisonous snakes but survived. All attempts to kill him failed. Finally, he was ordered to sit on a Pyre  in the lap of Holika, the the King’s demon sister, who also could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burned by fire.

Prahlad readily accepted his father’s orders, but prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived unharmed. The salvation of Prahlad and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.

Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hindu mythology.

Although it is the least religious holiday, it is probably one of the most exhilarating ones in existence. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildlyThe main day, Holi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival,

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month, which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

Hola Mahalla or simply Hola is a Sikh event, which is usually one day after Holi. Mahalia, derived from the Arabic root hal (alighting, descending), is a Punjabi word that implies an organized procession of an army column accompanied by war drums and standard-bearers, and proceeding to a given location or moving in state from one place to another.

This custom was originated by Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708) who held the first march at Anandpur on Chet vadi 1, 1757 Bk (22 February 1701).  The Guru made Hola Mahalla an occasion for Sikhs (and many Hindus who gave sons to Sikh families) to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles. This was probably done forestalling a grimmer struggle against the imperial power and channelizing the energy of folks to a more useful activity. Hola Mahalla became an annual event held in an open ground near Holgarh, a Fort across the rivulet Charan Ganga, northwest of Anandpur sahib.

The popularity of this festival may be judged from the fact that out of five Sikh public holidays requested by the Khalsa Diwan of Lahore in 1889, the Government approved only two – Hola Mahalla and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Hola Mahalla is presently the biggest festival at Anandpur. 

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Indira Gandhi’s ‘Emergency’ makes a Banker Stand Tall …

Posted on March 22, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Monday will mark the 37th anniversary of the imposition of “internal” Emergency, on June 25, 1975, with President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signing the proclamation late at night, even before it had Cabinet approval.

An important vignette about those days has come out, in a booklet written by N Vaghul to honour the memory of R K Talwar, the trail-blazing chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) from 1969 until his abrupt departure in 1976, at the height of the Emergency. The vignette that deserves a wider audience relates to Talwar’s ouster.

Mr Vaghul, who started his own distinguished banking career in SBI, recalls that a cement company to which the bank had given a loan became “sick”, with mounting losses. Seeing that the problem was mismanagement, the bank agreed to a restructuring package provided the company’s promoter, also its chairman and CEO, made way for a professional.

The promoter happened to be a friend of Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay called the finance minister (who, though unnamed, was C Subramaniam; Pranab Mukherjee (now President) was nominally under him as minister for revenue and banking), and asked him to direct the bank to waive the condition on change of management.

The minister phoned Talwar, who called for the details of the case, satisfied himself, and informed the minister that the condition could not be waived. The minister summoned Talwar to Delhi and told him that he had instructions from “the highest authority” in the country. Talwar stood his ground.

This was communicated to Sanjay, who called for Talwar. Talwar refused to meet him, saying he had no constitutional authority. Sanjay’s response was swift – Sack Talwar.

This was easier ordered than done, because under the State Bank of India Act the chairman could not be removed without sufficient cause. So the minister offered Talwar a different assignment, to chair the proposed Banking Commission.

Talwar said he would accept and could do that in addition to being the SBI chairman. The minister looked unhappy, so Talwar observed that the minister seemed to be “very particular” that Talwar not continue as the bank chairman.

The minister admitted that the problem was Talwar’s lack of flexibility on the cement company issue, and said that if he did not resign, he would have to be dismissed. Talwar said he had no intention of resigning, and the minister could decide on dismissal.

As Mr Vaghul tells it, Sanjay next asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look for grounds on which Talwar could be dismissed. It turned out that Talwar had sent appeals to many businessmen, seeking donations for the Auroville project to which he was devoted. But no businessman was willing to testify that Talwar had spoken to him or tried to persuade him to make a donation.

All that he had done was to forward an appeal signed by the prime minister and the secretary-general of the United Nations (U Thant), recommending the Auroville project for support. The CBI was forced to close the case.

Sanjay now lost all patience, and told the minister to amend the SBI Act so that Talwar could be dismissed without stating the reason. With opposition leaders in jail, Parliament rubber-stamped the Act’s amendment in no time.

The minister told Talwar one final time that if he did not resign he would be dismissed. Talwar remained defiant.

Finally, on August 4, 1976, Talwar was given 13 months’ leave and asked to hand over charge to the managing director of the bank.

Even after arming itself with the required powers, the government could not bring itself to sack Talwar.

Mr Vaghul records that there was hardly anyone to see off SBI’s greatest chairman that evening – so great was the atmosphere of fear at the time.

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Mother Teresa – thru the Eyes of a Researcher …

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: The Good Book |

Just proves Ben Franklin was Right when he said that ‘Admiration is the Daughter of Ignorance!’

MOTHER TERESA –
by Walter Wuellenweber 

The Angel of the poor died a year ago.

Donations still flow in to her Missionaries of Charity like to no
other cause. But the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize vowed to live in
poverty. What then, happened to so much money?

If there is a heaven, then she is surely there: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu
from Skopje in Macedonia, better known as Mother Teresa. She came to
Calcutta on the 6th of Januray 1929 as an 18 year old sister of the
Order of Loreto. 68 years later luminaries from all over the world
assembled in Calcutta in order to honour her with a state funeral. In
these 68 years she had founded the most successful order in the
history of the Catholic church, received the Nobel Peace Prize and
became the most famous Catholic of our time.

Are doubts permitted, regarding this “monument”?

In Calcutta, one meets many doubters.

For example, Samity, a man of around 30 with no teeth, who lives in
the slums. He is one of the “poorest of the poor” to whom Mother
Teresa was supposed to have dedicated her life. With a plastic bag in
hand, he stands in a kilometre long queue in Calcutta’s Park Street.
The poor wait patiently, until the helpers shovel some rice and
lentils into their bags. But Samity does not get his grub from Mother
Teresa’s institution, but instead from the Assembly of God, an
American charity, that serves 18000 meals here daily.

“Mother Teresa?”says Samity, “We have not received anything from her
here. Ask in the slums — who has received anything from the sisters
here — you will find hardly anybody.”

Pannalal Manik also has doubts. “I don’t understand why you educated
people in the West have made this woman into such a goddess!” Manik
was born some 56 years ago in the Rambagan slum, which at about 300
years of age, is Calcutta’s oldest. What Manik has achieved, can well
be called a “miracle”. He has built 16 apartment buildings in the
midst of the slum — living space for 4000 people. Money for the
building materials — equivalent to DM 10000 per apartment building —
was begged for by Manik from the Ramakrishna Mission [a Indian/Hindu
charity], the largest assistance-organisation in India. The
slum-dwellers built the buildings themselves. It has become a model
for the whole of India. But what about Mother Teresa? “I went to her
place 3 times,” said Manik. “She did not even listen to what I had to
say. Everyone on earth knows that the sisters have a lot of money. But
no one knows what they do with it!”

In Calcutta there are about 200 charitable organisations helping the
poor. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity are not amongst the
biggest helpers: that contradicts the image of the organisation. The
name “Mother Teresa” was and is tied to the city of Calcutta. All over
the world admirers and supporters of the Nobel Prize winner believe
that it must be there that her organisation is particularly active in
the fight against poverty. “All lies,” says Aroup Chatterjee . The
doctor who lives in London was born and brought up in Calcutta.
Chatterjee who has been working for years on a book on the myth of
Mother Teresa, speaks to the poor in the slums of Calcutta, or combs
through the speeches of the Nobel Prize winner. “No matter where I
search, I only find lies. For example the lies about schools. Mother T
has often stated that she runs a school in Calcutta for more than 5000
children. 5000 children! — that would have to be a huge school, one
of the
biggest in all of India. But where is this school? I have never found
it, nor do I know anybody who has seen it!” says Chatterjee.

Compared to other charitable organisations in Calcutta, the nuns with
the 3 blue stripes are ahead in two respects: they are world famous,
and, they have the most money. But how much exactly, has always been a
closely guarded secret of the organisation. Indian law requires
charitable organisations to publish their accounts. Mother Teresa’s
organisation ignores this prescription! It is not known if the Finance
Ministry in Delhi who would be responsible for charities’ accounts,
have the actual figures. Upon STERN’s inquiry, the Ministry informed
us that this particular query was listed as “classified information”.

The organisation has 6 branches in Germany. Here too financial matters
are a strict secret. “It’s nobody’s business how much money we have, I
mean to say how little we have,” says Sr Pauline, head of the German
operations. Maria Tingelhoff had had handled the organisation’s
book-keeping on a voluntary basis until 1981. “We did see 3 million a
year,” she remembers. But Mother Teresa never quite trusted the
worldly helpers completely. So the sisters took over the financial
management themselves in 1981. “Of course I don’t know how much money
went in, in the years after that, but it must be many multiples of 3
million,” estimates Mrs Tingelhoff. “Mother was always very pleased
with the Germans.”

Perhaps the most lucrative branch of the organisation is the “Holy
Ghost” House in New York’s Bronx. Susan Shields served the order there
for a total of nine and a half years as Sister Virgin. “We spent a
large part of each day writing thank you letters and processing
cheques,” she says. “Every night around 25 sisters had to spend many
hours preparing receipts for donations. It was a conveyor belt
process: some sisters typed, others made lists of the amounts, stuffed
letters into envelopes, or sorted the cheques. Values were between $5
and $100.000. Donors often dropped their envelopes filled with money
at the door. Before Christmas the flow of donations was often totally
out of control. The postman brought sackfuls of letters — cheques for
$50000 were no rarity.” Sister Virgin remebers that one year there was
about $50 million in a New York bank account. $50 million in one year!
— in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then, were they
collecting in Europe or the world? It is estimated that worldwide
they collected at least $100 million per year — and that has been
going on for many many years.

While the income is utter secret, the expenditures are equally
mysterious. The order is hardly able to spend large amounts. The
establishments supported by the nuns are so tiny (inconspicuous) that
even the locals have difficulty tracing them. Often “Mother Teresa’s
Home” means just a living accomodation for the sisters, with no
charitable funstion. Conspicuous or useful assistance cannot be
provided there. The order often receives huge donations in kind, in
addition to the monetary munificence. Boxes of medicines land at
Indian airports. Donated foograins and powdered milk arrive in
containers at Calcutta port. Clothing donations from Europe and the US
arrive in unimaginable quantities. On Calcutta’s pavement stalls,
traders can be seen sellin used western labels for 25 rupees (DM1)
apiece. Numerous traders call out, “Shirts from Mother, trousers from
Mother.”

Unlike with other charities, the Missionaries of Charity spend very
little on their own management, since the organisation is run at
practically no cost. The approximately 4000 sisters in 150 countries
form the most treasured workforce of all global multi-million dollar
operations. Having taken vows of poverty and obedience, they work for
no pay, supported by 300,000 good citizen helpers.

By their own admission, Mother Teresa’s organisation has about 500
locations worldwide. But for purchase or rent of property, the sisters
do not need to touch their bank accounts. “Mother always said, we
don’t spend for that,” remembers Sunita Kumar, one the richest women
in Calcutta and supposedly Mother T’s closest associate outside the
order. “If Mother needed a house, she went straight to the owner,
whether it was the State or a private person, and worked on him for so
long that she eventually got it free.”

Her method was also successful in Germany.In March the “Bethlehem
House” was dedicated in Hamburg, a shelter for homeless women. Four
sisters work there. The archtecturally conspicuous building cost DM2.5
million. The fortunes of the order have not spent a penny toward the
amount. The money was collected by a Christian association in Hamburg.
With Mother T as figure head it was naturally short work to collect
the millions.

Mother Teresa saw it as as her God given right never to have to pay
anyone for anything. Once she bought food for her nuns in London for
GB£500. When she was told she’d have to pay at the till, the
diminutive seemingly harmless nun showed her Balkan temper and
shouted, “This is for the work of God!” She raged so loud and so long
that eventually a businessman waiting in the queue paid up on her
behalf.

England is one of the few countries where the sisters allow the
authorities at least a quick glance at their accounts. Here the order
took in DM5.3 million in 1991. And expenses (including charitable
expenses)? — around DM360,000 or less than 7%. Whatever happened to
the rest of the money? Sister Teresina, the head for England,
defensively states, “Sorry we can’t tell you that.” Every year,
according to the returns filed with the British authorities, a portion
of the fortune is sent to accounts of the order in other countries.
How much to which countries is not declared. One of the recipients is
however, always Rome. The fortune of this famous charitable
organistaion is controlled from Rome, — from an account at the
Vatican bank. And what happens with monies at the Vatican Bank is so
secret that even God is not allowed to know about it. One thing is
sure however — Mother’s outlets in poor countries do not benefit from
largesse of the rich countries.
The official biographer of Mother Teresa, Kathryn Spink, writes, “As
soon as the sisters became established in a certain country, Mother
normally withdrew all financial support.” Branches in very needy
countries therefore only receive start-up assistance. Most of the
money remains in the Vatican Bank.

STERN asked the Missionaries of Charity numerous times for information
about location of the donations, both in writing as well in person
during a visit to Mother Teresa’s house in Calcutta. The order has
never answered.

“You should visit the House in New York, then you’ll understand what
happens to donations,” sayssays Eva Kolodziej. The Polish lady was a
Missionary of Charity for 5 years. “In the cellar of the homeless
shelter there are valuable books, jewellery and gold. What happens to
them? — The sisters receive them with smiles, and keep them. Most of
these lie around uselessly forever.”

The millions that are donated to the order have a similar fate. Susan
Shields (formerly Sr Virgin) says, “The money was not misused, but the
largest part of it wasn’t used at all. When there was a famine in
Ethiopia, many cheques arrived marked ‘for the hungry in Ethiopia’.
Once I asked the sister who was in charge of accounts if I should add
up all those very many cheques and send the total to Ethiopia. The
sister answered, ‘No, we don’t send money to Africa.’ But I continued
to make receipts to the donors, ‘For Ethiopia’.”

By the accounts of former sisters, the finances are a one way street.
“We were always told, the fact that we receive more than other orders,
shows that God loves Mother Teresa more. ,” says Susan Shields.
Donations and hefty bank balances are a measure of God’s love. Taking
is holier than giving.

The sufferers are the ones for whom the donations were originally
intended. The nuns run a soup kitchen in New York’s Bronx. Or, to put
in straight, they have it run for them, since volunteer helpers
organise everything, including food. The sisters might distribute it.
Once, Shields remembers, the helpers made an organisational mistake,
so they could not deliver bread with their meals. The sisters asked
their superior if they could buy the bread. “Out of the question — we
are a poor organisation.” came the reply. “In the end, the poor did
not get their bread,” says Shields. Shields has experienced countless
such incidents. One girl from communion class did not appear for her
first communion because her mothet could not buy her a white communion
dress. So she had to wait another year; but as that particular Sunday
approached, she had the same problem again. Shields (Sr Virgin) asked
the superior if the order could buy the girl a white dress. Again, she
was turned down — gruffly. The girl never had her first communion.

Because of the tightfistedness of the rich order, the “poorest of the
poor” — orphans in India — suffer the most. The nuns run a home in
Delhi, in which the orphans wait to be adopted by, in many cases, by
foreigners. As usual, the costs of running the home are borne not by
the order, but by the future adoptive parents. In Germany the
organisation called Pro Infante has the monopoly of mediation role for
these children. The head, Carla Wiedeking, a personal friend of Mother
Teresa’s, wrote a letter to Donors, Supporters and Friends which ran:

“On my September vist I had to witness 2 or 3 children lying in the
same cot, in totally overcrowded rooms with not a square inch of
playing space. The behavioural problems arising as a result cannot be
overlooked.” Mrs Wiedeking appeals to the generosity of supporters in
view of her powerlessness in the face of the children’s great needs.
Powerlessness?! In an organisation with a billion-fortune, which has 3
times as much money available to it as UNICEF is able to spend in all
of India? The Missionaries of Charity has have the means to buy cots
and build orphanages, — with playgrounds. And they have enoungh money
not only for a handful orphans in Delhi but for many thousand orphans
who struggle for survival in the streets of Delhi, Bombay and
Calcutta.

Saving, in Mother Teresa’s philosophy, was a central value in itself.
All very well, but as her poor organisation quickly grew into a rich
one, what did she do with her pictures, jewels, inherited houses,
cheques or suitcases full of money? If she wished to she could now
cater to people not by obsessively indulging in saving, but instead
through well thought-out spending. But the Nobel Prize winner did not
want an efficient organisation that helped people efficiently. Full of
pride, she called the Missionaries of Charity the “most disorganised
organisation in the world”. Computers, typewriters, photocopiers are
not allowed. Even when they are donated, they are not allowed to be
installed. For book-keeping the sisters use school notebooks, in which
they write in cramped pencilled figures. Until they are full. Then
everything is erased and the notebook used again. All in order to
save.

For a sustainable charitable system, it would have been sensible to
train the nuns to become nurses, teachers or managers. But a
Missionary of Charity nun is never trained for anything further.

Fueklled by her desire for un-professionalism, Mother Teresa decisions
from year to year became even more bizarre. Once, says Susan Shields,
the order bought am empty building from the City of New York in order
to look after AIDS patients. Purchase price: 1 dollar. But since
handicapped people would also be using the house, NY City management
insisted on the installation of a lift (elevator). The offer of the
lift was declined: to Mother they were a sign of wealth. Finally the
nuns gave the building back to the City of New York.

While the Missionaries of Charity have already witheld help from the
starving in Ethiopia or the orphans in India — despite having
received donations in their names — there are others who are being
actively harmed by the organisation’s ideology of disorganisation. In
1994, Robin Fox, editor of the prestigious medical journal Lancet, in
a commentary on the catastrophic conditions prevailing in Mother
Teresa’s homes, shocked the professional world by saying that any
systematic operation was foreign to the running of the homes in India:
TB patients were not isolated, and syringes were washed in lukewarm
water before being used again. Even patients in unbearable pain were
refused strong painkillers, not because the order did not have them,
but on principle. “The most beautiful gift for a person is that he can
participate in the suffering of Christ,” said Mother Teresa. Once she
had tried to comfort a screaming sufferer, “You are suffering, that
means Jesus
is kissing you.” The sufferer screamed back, furious, “Then tell your
Jesus to stop kissing me.”

The English doctor Jack Preger once worked in the home for the dying.
He says, “If one wants to give love, understanding and care, one uses
sterile needles. This is probably the richest order in the world. Many
of the dying there do not have to be dying in a strictly medical
sense.” The British newspaper Guardian described the hospice as an
“organised form of neglectful assistance”.

It seems that the medical care of the orphans is hardly any better. In
1991 the head of Pro Infante in Germany sent a newsletter to adoptive
parents:”Please check the validity of the vaccinations of your
children. We assume that in some case they have been vaccinated with
expired vaccines, or with vaccines that had been rendered useless by
improper strotage conditions.” All this points to one thing, something
that Mother Teresa reiterated very frequently in her speeches and
addresses — that she far more concerened with life after death than
the mortal life.

Mother Teresa’s business was : Money for a good conscience. The donors
benefitted the most from this. The poor hardly. Whosoever believed
that Mother Teresa wanted to cahnge the world, eliminate suffering or
fight poverty, simply wanted to believe it for their own sakes. Such
people did not listen to her. To be poor, to suffer was a goal, almost
an ambition or an achievement for her and she imposed this goal upon
those under her wings; her actual ordained goal was the hereafter.

With growing fame, the founder of the order became somewhat conscious
of the misconceptioons on which the Mother Teresa phenomenon was
based. She wrote a few words and hung them outside Mother House:

“Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are
religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not
doctors. We are nuns.”

One question then remains: For what, in that case, do nuns need so much money?

__._,_.___

 

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Maybe this is why India chugs along …

Posted on March 16, 2013. Filed under: Indian Thought, Personalities |

This is an old piece by film director Shekhar Kapoor –
.
 A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the
top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors
crowding the Juhu Market in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my
innate sense of adventure made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not
more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.
‘Can you fix a Blackberry ?”
‘Of course, show me”
”How old are you” ‘Sixteen’
Bullshit. He was no more than 10.
Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn
T-shirt and pyjamas! At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the
data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.
‘What’s wrong with it?”
‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I
cannot operate it”
He grabs it from my hand and looks at it
“You should wash your hands.
Many customers have same problem.
Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’
Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for
10days, I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back..
” You come back in one hour and I fix it’.
I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an
hour. No way.
“Who will fix it?”
‘Big brother’
‘How big is ‘big brother?’
‘big …. Umm ..thirty’
Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.
‘What problem?’ He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his
greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail
store manager.
‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash
your hand before you use this’. What is this about me washing my hands
suddenly??
19 year old big brother rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and
fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper.
Originalpart? I doubt it.  But by now I am in the lap of the real India and
there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screwdrivers and sets about
opening my Blackberry.
“How long will this take?”
”Six minutes”
This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a
Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone
in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his
grubby cramped work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my
stored data vanish into virtual space. People crowd around to see what’s
happening. I am not breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an
adventure and literallyhave to stop myself grabbing my precious Blackberry
back and making a quickescape. But in exactly six minutes this kid handed
my Blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the
whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on
there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked
at him with such hostility that he stepped back.
‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?”
‘yes’.
‘backed up?’
‘no’
‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up’
‘You tell me that now?’
But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching
laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show. I asked
him how much.
‘500 rupees’ He ventured uncertainly. People around watched in glee
expecting a negotiation.
That’s $10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was about to spend on
new Blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably
shocked at his ‘high price’ but calmly paid him. Much to the disappointment
of the expectant crowd
‘do you have an I-Phone ? Even the new ‘4D one ?
‘no, why”
‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or film you want. I give you
10 film on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small
fee’
I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what
we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of
course it is, but what can you say about two uneducated and untrained
brothers aged 10 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall’ shop and can fix
any technology that the greatest technologists in the world can throw at
them. I smiled at the future of our country. If only we could learn to
harness this potential.
‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am
feeling seriously unclean.
.
And
.
I recall back in the late 70s in Assam, when my Jeep hit a big pot hole and caused the radiator to get cut by the fan, causing it to leak from one big cut and hundreds of tiny ones.
.
In the small village an old Sikh was working in his tiny workshop. He removed the rad and first soldered the big cut and a couple of smaller ones. He then poured water into the rad where hundreds of leaks  spouted out.
.
He now put some turmeric-powder in the rad, poured more water and presto, no leaks.
Cost me Rs.55/-  
And he provided me with a cup of tea!
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That’s the Services for U …

Posted on March 5, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career |

In an recent interview, General Norman Schwarzkopf was asked if he thought there was room for forgiveness toward the people who have harbored and abetted the terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on America. 
His answer was classic Schwarzkopf. 
The General said, “I believe that
forgiving them is God ‘s function … 
OUR job is to arrange the meeting.”
xxx

Dana Perino (FOX News) describing an interview she recently had with a Navy SEAL. After discussing all the countries that he had been sent to, she asked if they had to learn several languages? 

“Oh, no ma’am, we don’t go there to talk.”

 xxx

Conversation overheard on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai .

Iranian Air Defense Site: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself. ‘
Aircraft: ‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace. ‘
Air Defense Site: ‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft! ‘

Aircraft: ‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 Fighter. Send’em up, I’ll wait!’
Air Defense Site: ( … total silence)

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Yiddish Proverbs …

Posted on March 4, 2013. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Personalities, Quotes, The Good Book |

Here are proverbs from the race that, percentage wise, has produced more Nobel Laureates  than any other! And a few observations from the recent Great of that Race!

If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.

The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks.

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.

A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.

One old friend is better than two new ones.

Lifee’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

A wise man hears one word and understands two.

You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

Golda Meir (1898-1978)

“Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.” 

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

There are only two infinites – the Universe and human stupidity.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
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The Real Hedy Lamarr Stands Tall …

Posted on March 3, 2013. Filed under: Movies |

It all started with a skin flick.

In 1933, a beautiful, young Austrian woman took off her clothes for a movie director. She ran through the woods, naked. She swam in a lake, naked. Pushing well beyond the social norms of the period, the movie also featured a simulated orgasm. To make the scene “vivid,” the director reportedly stabbed the actress with a sharp pin just off-screen.

The most popular movie in 1933 was King Kong. But everyone in Hollywood was talking about that scandalous movie with the gorgeous, young Austrian woman.

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Louis B. Mayer, of the giant studio MGM, said she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The film was banned practically everywhere, which of course made it even more popular and valuable. Mussolini reportedly refused to sell his copy at any price.

The star of the film, called Ecstasy, was Hedwig Kiesler. She said the secret of her beauty was “to stand there and look stupid.” In reality, Kiesler was anything but stupid. She was a genius. She’d grown up as the only child of a prominent Jewish banker. She was a math prodigy. She excelled at science. As she grew older, she became ruthless, using all the power her body and mind gave her.

Between the sexual roles she played, her tremendous beauty, and the power of her intellect, Kiesler would confound the men in her life, including her six husbands, two of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century, and one of the greatest movie producers in history.

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Her beauty made her rich for a time. She is said to have made – and spent – $30 million in her life. And went to jail for stealing a sandwich when she went broke! But her greatest accomplishment resulted from her intellect, and her invention continues to shape the world we live in today.

You see, this young Austrian starlet would take one of the most valuable technologies ever developed right from under Hitler’s nose. After fleeing to America , she not only became a major Hollywood star, her name sits on one of the most important patents ever granted by the U.S. Patent Office.

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Today, when you use your cell phone or, over the next few years, as you experience super-fast wireless Internet access (via something called “long-term evolution” or “LTE” technology), you’ll be using an extension of the technology a 20- year-old actress first conceived while sitting at dinner with Hitler. ……………………………………………………………..

At the time she made Ecstasy, Kiesler was married to one of the richest men in Austria . Friedrich Mandl was Austria ‘s leading arms maker. His firm would become a key supplier to the Nazis   …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Mandl used his beautiful young wife as a showpiece at important business dinners with representatives of the Austrian, Italian, and German fascist forces. One of Mandl’s favorite topics at these gatherings – which included meals with Hitler and Mussolini – was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes. Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives that prevailed at the time.

Kiesler sat through these dinners “looking stupid,” while absorbing everything she heard.

As a Jew, Kiesler hated the Nazis. She abhorred her husband’s business ambitions. Mandl responded to his wilful wife by imprisoning her in his castle, Schloss Schwarzenau. In 1937, she managed to escape. She drugged her maid, snuck out of the castle wearing the maid’s clothes, and sold her jewelry to finance a trip to London .

She signed a long-term contract with Louis B Mayer, becoming one of MGM’s biggest stars. She appeared in more than 20 films. She was a co-star to Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and even Bob Hope. Each of her first seven MGM movies was a blockbuster.

But Kiesler cared far more about fighting the Nazis than about making movies. At the height of her fame, in 1942, she developed a new kind of communications system, optimized for sending coded messages that couldn’t be “jammed.” She was building a system that would allow torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their targets. She was building a system to kill Nazis.

 

By the 1940s, both the Nazis and the Allied forces were using the kind of single- frequency radio-controlled technology Kiesler’s ex-husband had been peddling. The drawback of this technology was that the enemy could find the appropriate frequency and “jam” or intercept the signal, thereby interfering with the missile’s intended path.

Kiesler’s key innovation was to “change the channel.” It was a way of encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum. If one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through on one of the other frequencies being used. The problem was, she could not figure out how to synchronize the frequency changes on both the receiver and the transmitter. To solve the problem, she turned to perhaps the world’s first techno-musician, George Anthiel.

 

Anthiel was an acquaintance of Kiesler who achieved some notoriety for creating intricate musical compositions. He synchronized his melodies across twelve player pianos, producing stereophonic sounds no one had ever heard before. Kiesler incorporated Anthiel’s technology for synchronizing his player pianos. Then, she was able to synchronize the frequency changes between a weapon’s receiver and its transmitter.

On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and “Hedy Kiesler Markey,” which was Kiesler’s married name at the time.

Most of you won’t recognize the name Kiesler. And no one would remember the name Hedy Markey. But it’s a fair bet than anyone reading this newsletter of a certain age will remember one of the great beauties of Hollywood’s golden age ~ Hedy Lamarr. That’s the name Louis B. Mayer gave to his prize actress. That’s the name his movie company made famous.

Meanwhile, almost no one knows Hedwig Kiesler – aka Hedy Lamarr – was one of the great pioneers of wireless communications. Her technology was developed by the U.S. Navy, which has used it ever since.

 

You’re probably using Lamarr’s technology, too. Her patent sits at the foundation of “spread spectrum technology,” which you use every day when you log on to a wi- fi network or make calls with your Bluetooth-enabled phone. It lies at the heart of the massive investments being made right now in so-called fourth-generation “LTE” wireless technology. This next generation of cell phones and cell towers will provide tremendous increases to wireless network speed and quality, by spreading wireless signals across the entire available spectrum. This kind of encoding is only possible using the kind of frequency switching that Hedwig Kiesler invented.

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