Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cabinet formation for dummies

Recently concluded parliament elections in India have proven one thing, that it is much easier to win an election than forming a cabinet. Here I would like to give few tips to my readers on how to form a union cabinet quickly, in the unlikely event of any of them being asked to take up the job of prime minister of their country. Please note that these tips should be experimented only under the guidance of professional politicians, DO NOT try them at home, unless you run your own political party from home.

Firstly, always form a coalition government. This reduces your cabinet formation job considerably because you then have to worry about fewer positions to fill yourself. Choose parties that are patriarchal/matriarchal troops as partners so that even if they have more MPs than the ministries you set aside, the patriarch/matriarch has the last word there. Your job is to convince aspirants from your party that you got to give a reasonable amount of portfolios to the coalition partners for the government to survive. Being politicians, most of them will agree because they know that sitting on a treasury bench is a better proposition than going back to the ruthless voters who can change their mind any time.

Next, let’s look at how to distribute the remaining positions among your party members. Here, always take two ‘bottom-up’ approaches. First, keep your bottom up while dealing with the aspirants, will help you keep your cool. Secondly, start with setting aside one ministry each for all known biological/social/linguistic anthropological group (also known as yakuza) in your country. Now this depends on your knowledge on your country, so always keep a copy of Lonely Planet guidebook, not that it will be of any help here, but later when you want to take a break, it will be useful.

Here, some of you might end up in a situation where there is a yakuza, but no MP from that mafia to make a minister. Don’t worry, go ahead and choose any one random thug from the group; amend your constitution so that you can have them for six months without being an MP. Within that time have your intelligence team follow them closely, since they are on the treasury benches, will soon get into treasure hunting, nab them on the spot and throw out. Under normal circumstances the yakuza won’t make immediate claims, and when they do so repeat the said process again. After reaching this level, you will normally be left with only a handful of cabinet ministries which you can allocate to few capable senior members from your party.

Now if none of the above work out and you are in real pressure from the media to have a ministry appointed in few seconds after the election results are declared, there is an easy way out as well - induct all those MPs who can repeat ‘prime minister’s prerogative’ rapidly fifty times as a minister of states. Give independent charges to those who could also correctly pronounce ‘conscientiously’.

Being done the selection of ministers, your next task will be to allocate them portfolios. This job is comparatively easy, put 2 – 3 in each of your ministries as assistant ministers; once labeled a minister, most of them will be least interested in knowing whether bureaucrats working under them will be doing urban development or water resources management. For all those important cabinet portfolios you will anyway have seasoned politicians around, and if you don’t have any, the best thing to do is to make human cloning legal, kidnap Pranab Mukherjee from India, clone and place in each ministry.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Few missing links

Welcome back to the self-syndicated weekly news analysis column that looks at the key events with socio-economic consequences that happen in our country. First, on the parliament election results. After conducting exhaustive psephologic researches and socio-political analysis - by watching the ever breaking TV news flashes -, I have come to a conclusion that two important factors worked in favour of the Congress party this time. They are a) People voted for its candidates b) The electronic voting machines actually worked, which again is largely attributed to having government officials in charge of them instead of techies, which would have given the others some hope at least, even if they are the Republican Party or the Kuomintang party.

Moving on to the economic impact of this verdict, we saw the stock markets booming at an unprecedented pace post-results, and for the first time in the history of Indian stock markets, trading was halted due to markets hitting the upper limit; of greed. Analysts and experts see this as a very healthy sign because they could not only make more money but also appear more time on TV that day. Another positive thing to note is the change in mindset of Indian voters this time - they have elected many young MPs to the parliament and also ensured their parents are elected too, so that the youngsters won’t be left unattended in parliament. From an economic angle too, this is good because we now need only one minister in charge of both parliamentary affairs and family welfare.

Though many experts say the noticeable trends this time are the left parties being left out, the right party proven wrong, the center party getting the edge, the bollywood bloopers party** having to go back to what they were good at – making pornographically palatable pranks - etc, in my view, the most significant change is that our news channels who are otherwise suffering from a dreaded disease called ‘Paid News Syndrome' are becoming good in one thing – prognostication; they can now perform a job that was hitherto possible only by astrologers - make wrong predictions, yet appear right. For example, certain channel predicted 220 seats for UPA; which they claim is very close to the actual number of 260; they are right, on a scale of 1 – 10000000 it is.

If you have read this babbling so far, that means you are either a) A member of the third/fourth front, who got nothing else to do at the moment b)Google search crawler who got it as a job. Either way, I shall switch from politics to some other significant developments during the week to have this analysis a balanced one - between media hype and reality that is. Here is a court verdict that will have far reaching consequences – the supreme court has ruled that ‘One who obeys his wife rules the world’. A landmark verdict indeed, those who are up to conquering the world now know where to start from and those who are getting married know what awaits them.

Before I wind-up, being a person of science I got to mention one of the landmark discoveries/inventions of the week, which is one of the biggest ever as well according to many experts. Scientists have found ‘the missing link’ in human evolution, which turns out to be a lemur, and not a typical monkey as many of us thought wrongly. Some scientists said this is the “closest thing we can get to a direct ancestor”. Now that confirms my theories on our relationship with lemurs on two key aspects, One - they too exhibit female social dominance; you remember the court verdict, don’t you? Two - they use their tails to communicate with each other, and that’s why this discovery is called the ‘missing’ link which obviously is the tail.

**If this party doesn't exist now, somebody from the six-packs khan-daan can think of launching it, future will be thigh thy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Healthcare tips - for men, women and yoga enthusiasts

As a concerned citizen, I think it’s my duty to give my readers (which currently is you and the Google crawler) few healthcare tips once in a while. This post is dedicated to that and I would like to start with giving all my male readers few yoga tips(womenfolk, don’t feel left out, your tips follow). My yoga advice for men today is on ‘nakhun gharshan’, the yoga practice of rubbing the nails of both your hands against each other. Though this is a great yoga technique for making a croaky noise, care should be taken when/where you perform it. Never practice it in front of sports equipment shops, you can end up in jail, that's exactly what happened to these yoga practitioners .

Now if you are wondering why sports equipment shops, remember, everything in yoga has a scientific reason, and in this case it is the one [and only one] place where men shop while their women wait outside. Your practicing such gestural yoga techniques before the waiting women can be misinterpreted as obscenity because 1) They are already too upset with their men inside 2) They are not yoga experts 3) For most women, anything men do with their hands other than picking nose is suggestive/obscene. Another tip that I want give my fellowmen here is that if you are so tempted to show some of your asanas in public, choose something that’s more commonly understandable; nakhun charwan(a yoga technique of chewing up nails of both your hands) for example.

Next to a ground breaking discovery/invention of the week in the healthcare domain, which is also my health tip for women this week - A study by Dr. Maya Saleh, of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre “shows that women have a more powerful immune system than men”. That explains…well, pretty much everything, including why women are so ignorant about the yoga techniques that men practice to improve their ever deteriorating immune system.

To conclude this healthy debate, I’ll give one more tip, this is gender neutral in the sense that it is useful for both men who are forced to take bath at an unreasonably high frequency and women who force them to do so thinking it will improve their health. Here is a story of a very healthy man who hasn’t had a bath for over 35 years, the point to note here is that he does take a ‘fire bath’ – by standing on one leg in front of a bonfire smoking marijuana(that’s right, marijuana). Men can adopt this to be healthy, keep a bottle of rum in case smoking marijuana is not that legalized in your part of the world, I’m sure no woman will ever pester you to bathe thereafter.

[Before I wind up, a word on the dilemma that the election results have put me in - it's now clear that Congress party is returning to power, my problem is how to celebrate it, whether by having a drink or by abstaining from the same, after all its Gandhi's party. Or on a second thought, Gandhi never said anywhere that you should not consume alcohol while celebrating electoral victory. Prove me wrong, I watched all those ten thousand election speeches he did last month, nor did his sister in any of those tele-snippet interviews , then why should I not have a drink?]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Abicloud and Nimbus

Past couple of weeks I had been looking at few of the open source cloud computing environments, primarily Infrastructure as a service offerings. I’ve already mentioned about Eucalyptus in an earlier post, this time I’m going to mention two other offerings in this space – abiquo Abicloud and Nimbus. Though I don’t have the ‘bandwidth’ to evaluate each and give a feature comparison etc, here are few aspects of these environments that I found interesting.


Infrastructure software, for creating and managing cloud infrastructure, where you can create and manage ‘virtual datacenters’, a heterogeneous environment that facilitate private-public clouds to be managed from a single point. Typical cloud infrastructure features such as dynamic provisioning, de-provisioning, scaling etc are promised(I’m yet to try it, my Fedora 9 is giving me a tough time setting up VirtualBox, a pre-requisite for abiCloud). The virtual datacenter concept is what I liked here, a good way to organize and manage your enterprise I.T infrastructure


An aggregation of tools facilitating Infrastructure as a service. Claims they are primarily looking at building clouds/grids for scientific research, but since science and enterprise go hand in hand, I think we can use them too. I’m yet to have a closer look at this, as like any other ‘scientific’ software, looks not very ‘user friendly’ for us who spent too much time in business computing environments, have a look if any of you are interested in getting things done the hard way, but the right way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Essential Indian Highway Etiquettes

With the golden quadrilateral and other not so golden national highways getting converted into multi-lane speedways, I’m convinced that things are improving in our country - I mean for the contractor mafia and motor accident solicitors. My expeditions on some of these Camino Reals taught me a lot of things including the fact that if you ever manage to drive back home safely, you indeed have done something good in your previous incarnation, even if you were a religious/political leader or a bloodsucking leech or both in that. This post is for anybody who is planning to take up a trip on our new multi-lane multi-tolled highways; few things if kept in mind could save them many lives, including their own if they are that lucky.

The first thing to learn – whether you like it or not - is that your primary job while driving on our highways is NOT to drive and reach your destination, but to serve and protect the numerous cyclists, bikers, bullock carts, tractors human jaywalkers and animal jaystrollers. Being children of the soil/tar, they can appear anywhere, move from anywhere to anywhere in any which direction they want and you are in charge of safeguarding them from both yourself as well as other motorists around you. From my experience, the most effective approach to deal with them is to pray to the god in charge of traffic affairs in your religion that you will spot them in advance. If your religion doesn’t have a god for transportation or if you don’t use prayer as a means to get things done your way, be doomed. Also remember that you are at fault for any casualty that happen, no matter whether it’s your mistake or not and will be burned alive along with your car by the omnipresent mob.

Now to your secondary job – which again is NOT to drive to your destination as you thought wrongly - is to protect you and your companions from trucks and buses that will drive only on the fastest line on your side and ALWAYS in your opposite direction with equal or more velocity. (Newton never traveled on Indian highways, else he sure would have postulated one more law of motion for school kids to by-heart). Though no scientific study has been done on this primate behavior of truckers, it’s believed that they either genetically inherited this trait from some of their ape ancestors or they are suffering from something called ‘Acute Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome’ or AIDS. Some of them will have their headlights on, again a behavior inherited from the said ancestors to establish and maintain their alpha male position over you. When on an Indian multi-lane highway, always be on the lookout for them and when encountered, move away as early as possible so that your insurance company will save some money.

Accepting that driving to your destination is one of your goals, that’s NOT your third priority as a driver on our highways – it is to protect(and if possible serve as well) novice highway drivers, also known as ‘headless chicken’(HCs here after) in automotive terminology. These could be virtually anybody who owns an Indian driving license, which typically gets issued based on one’s bribe-ability factor, and not the driving skills. So you must keep in mind that HCs neither know driving, nor are they aware of things like lanes, rear-view mirrors, indicators etc, because in our driving curriculum, driving(money into the inspector’s pocket) is more important, how you do that is immaterial. You can spot them very easily, unless you are - a) one of them b) blind c)brain-dead d) all of the above. Dealing with them is comparatively easy – follow your gut feeling, trust me it works at times.

Next comes the actual driving part. Let’s see some of the roadblocks that you will come across and how to tackle them. First is about how to deal with the parallel slow moving trucks on all the lanes on your side of the highway – this is called ‘para-snailing’ in automotive terminology, the best approach is to follow them, in few hours one of them sure will move away to answer natures call, and that means your time has come, move on. Till then sit back, relax and enjoy thinking about green house gases, carbon footprint and stuff like that, after all we are green people. You can also read the commandments written behind the trucks on diverse subjects like family planning, rain water harvesting and even patriotic edicts such as “Mera Bharat Mahan…Highly inflammable”(Old joke in new blog).

Next is about dealing with speed breakers which are known as ‘humps’ in my part of the world. Some people - especially those who are more ‘westernized’ - misunderstand this word because its also a colloquial term for an essential adaptation given by mother nature - for camels to survive in deserts as you guessed rightly. If you encounter a warning on the highway that states ‘hump ahead’, read the first word as a noun and not a verb, you could end up in a lot of trouble if you do so, we are still a conservative society. Now humps are of many types, some are officially installed and warning assisted which are easy for you to deal with. There are another set of humps that locals create with primitive raw materials and like mud(which is abundant within their skulls) and stones and are assisted with no official warnings. They are intended to kill you; there is no escape, unless you are driving a Patton Tank.

There may be other protocols and know-hows that you as a more learned, experienced individual might know, please do throw light on them by commenting here so that I can publish this as a book titled “The Essential Indian Highway Etiquettes Guide”. I shall acknowledge your contribution with the smallest possible font in the book’s last page(or in the page after that), which will be your royalty.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Those who are looking for establishing a hybrid cloud environment(a combination of public and private ‘clouds’) must look at the latest developments happening with Eucalyptus, the open cloud platform. Apart from the elastic computing capabilities, it now has an interface to Amazon EC2 as well(I understand that the latest one is also compatible with S3), making it possible for customers to leverage both internal and external cloud capabilities. I always feel this is an important aspect of on-demand computing environments so that users can get the best services, irrespective of whether the resources are internal or external.

Though I’ve not experimented with it yet(shall do that next week on), this open source environment from what I gather is evolving in the right direction, to become a standards based, hybrid, services based cloud platform and more importantly it’s an open platform, means if you are worried about getting ‘locked-in’, it will be to yourself, a safer bet after all. Documentation on Eucalyptus here for those who are interested.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buffalos of Bangalore

Our ancient philosophers I think had a lot of time for doing all the thinking. Firstly because cubicles were not invented then and secondly because they (cunningly) abstained from the then accepted institution called family. Barring all the confusing, contradicting and crude philosophies and mantras they had written in their life-long happy hours, they made some useful contributions as well to mankind(and kind women). Proverbs is one of them. In the wake of the Obama administration’s new mantra of “Say no to Bangalore, yes to Buffalo”, one such proverb that comes to my mind is – “Vinaasha kale vipareetha budhi”.

Now what I want to know from you, especially if you are an economist with a presidentially misspelled surname is whether this can be translated to English as “When in recession, be protectionist”. If not what is an apt translation of this? Please enlighten this economically weak - both physically and in knowledge - person.

Friday, May 1, 2009

You are what you fling

This week as well, newspapers and TV are full of reports about a new epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, with new cases being reported every day from different geopolitical landscapes. Health care experts suspect this as a case of bio-terrorism, especially because it's origin is tracked back to Iraq. I'm talking about the shoe-hurling that's making waves across the country, with many Indians using it as an opportunity to walk into the hall of fame without having to take birth in a bollywood or political family, or in a combination of both. I’m extremely disappointed that I don’t have a French beard or ponytail; else by now I could have published a #1 best seller management book titled “50 reasons to hurl your sole - and all are not politicians”.

We celebrated ‘Akshaya Tritiya' this week, we mean gold merchants and not you and me literally. For those of my readers who are from other planets, it is the biggest festival of a tribe that’s considered one of the fastest growing in the world – the Indian middleclass. Historians differ on the origin of the festival and its name, one hypothesis is that it originated as a harvest time gala by a cult called Bombay Bullion Brotherhood in the 20th century AD while others say it was started by a group of medieval traders called Malayalee Metal Merchants in 2007 AD, but all of them agree on one thing, that both are good names for IPL teams in future. The name of the festival according to some experts stands for ‘times of unlimited treachery’, while others say ‘tithi’ stands for lunar day and hence might also means ‘festival of lunatics’. Celebrated with multiple activities such as spending time with friends and family in the jewelry shop, getting fooled by their pricing methods, drinking the hot tea served, emptying bank accounts and things like that.

One of the biggest excavations ever undertaken in the Deccan plateau had some success finally during this week. Archeologists have unearthed an ingenious device invented and employed by The Rajus of Bhagyanagaram in the 20th or 21st century AD and was never known to the outside world, until they(The Rajus) started riding a tiger not knowing how to sell it’s skin without getting down. Historians are of the opinion that this shows how advanced and rich ancient Indian corporate governance mechanisms were, even before American inventor Bernard Madoff created the much talked about Ponzi device that changed the face (and back) of companies around the world. Soon this device will be made open for public viewing in the famous ‘Salary Junk’ museum in Hyderabad. Historians also see this as a landmark discovery that might throw more light into the customs, values, beliefs, arts, behavior and material habits of the people of this once thriving empire.

Before I go, here is another horrifying news on the latest impact of the economic turmoil in our society . Though not mentioned in the report, I think recession is what makes people to take such extreme steps to find a way to make both ends meet.

[This weekend I’m off for a short vacation, hence the ground breaking events that happened towards the end of the week may not be covered here, even if they measure 7 on Richter scale. Next week too I’ll be available from the second half only and hence if any of you are newsmakers and would like to appear in my column, hold it till Wednesday bearing the constipation, else try your luck elsewhere such as the national tabloids]