Uncategorized

1411 – The Tiger’s 9/11

The beautiful Tiger, such a majestic animal, may not be available for our next generation to see.  In India, there are only 1411 tigers left and has become an endangered species.  Tiger is our national animal.  Shame on us for calling it so.  It has been poached, hunted since history.

India is home to the world’s largest population of tigers in the wild.  According to the World Wildlife Fund, of the 3,500 tigers around the world, 1,400 are found in India.  A major concerted conservation effort, known as Project Tiger, has been underway since 1973, which was initially spearheaded by Indira Gandhi. The fundamental accomplishment has been the establishment of over 25 well-monitored tiger reserves in reclaimed land where human development is categorically forbidden. The program has been credited with tripling the number of wild Bengal tigers from roughly 1,200 in 1973 to over 3,500 in the 1990s. However, a tiger census carried out in 2007, whose report was published on February 12, 2008, stated that the wild tiger population in India declined by 60% to a shocking 1,411. It is noted in the report that the decrease of tiger population can be attributed directly to poaching.

The two main reasons for depleting number of tigers are:

  1. Deforestation
  2. Poaching (for supposedly medicinal and shopping purposes)

both of which are manmade.  Tigers are solitary animals and their natural habitats are being invaded by humans and as a result, they enter the human grounds for prey.  Tigers are not normally man-eaters, but due to depleting habitat and its usual preferred prey like deer, sambar etc., it has to hunt humans, which are easy prey.

The rapid disappearance of the wild tiger in India was, until recently, attributed almost exclusively to habitat loss. According to a report I read on the web, it has now become clear that the tiger faces an even greater threat from poachers. The outside demand for tiger bones and parts for use in oriental medicine has brought the tiger to the brink of extinction.  In India it is estimated that the tiger is being poached at the rate of 1 per day. At this rate the wild tiger in India will suffer the same fate as its cousins in the Far East and will disappear within the next 5 to 10 years unless serious measures are taken to protect it.  Poaching in India is organized and widespread and faces little opposition from ill equipped, unarmed and too few wardens and park rangers. A single warden can be responsible for patrolling up to 20 square kilometers a daunting task considering many of them don’t have any shoes to wear let alone binoculars, vehicles or guns.  Although India has enacted legislation to protect the tiger and created many tiger reserves, enforcement has been difficult, if not impossible, with the current means available. Wardens often risk their lives to enforce the law only to be frustrated in their efforts and to find themselves reassigned to other areas. Investigators are hampered by lack of funding and poor support.  In 1994 trade in tiger parts was banned in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and much of South East Asia, but the clandestine trade continues to flourish. The trade is still legal in Japan and North Korea. Although it is banned in North America the illegal trade of tiger parts and imported medicines containing tiger parts and bone continues in both Canada and the United States.

What can you do to save tigers?

  1. Roar Online:  From Facebook to YouTube, from Twitter to blogs, make the roar loud and clear.  Spread the message and share your concern.  I have done this bit now.
  2. Be informed:  Know your tigers… awareness goes a long way.
  3. Speak up: Gathering support by speaking up at the right forums can help save our tigers
  4. Donate:  Show our tigers, our support
  5. Be a responsible tourist:  Visit tiger sanctuaries and national parks and discover our country’s natural heritage. But please remember that the wilderness is to be experienced, not to be polluted by packets of chips, plastic, non-biodegradable waste or garbage etc.
  6. Preserve our natural resources:  Loss of habitat is one of our tigers’ biggest problems. We can reduce pressure on forests by avoiding unnecessary use of forest-derived products, such as paper and timber.
  7. Volunteer:  If you can, contact an NGO working for tiger conservation to volunteer for our tigers.

For more information, visit the site by clicking image below:

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Documentary, Movies and Others

Earthlings – Must…Must…Must watch documentary!!

I love eating non-vegetarian food.  I also use leather articles and enjoy going to circuses as well.  Who doesn’t?!  However after I saw this documentary called “Earthlings” by director Shaun Monson, and narrated by Academy award nominee Joaquin Phoenix.  I will never be the same.  This documentary contains images which are certainly not for the weak hearted.  It shows the holocaust inflicted on animals for food (meat), clothing (fur, leather), petting (pets), entertainment (circus, fighting, racing etc) and scientific research (medical, space, endurance testing etc).  This documentary shows that we are all earthlings.  Humans, animals alike have the right to live on this earth and each has its own space.  However, humans, being the most intelligent living thing, dominate the way other earthlings live. The sight of the slaughterhouses is very very disturbing.  The kind of pains inflicted on animals is unwatchable.  And all that is legal!!  When there is a homicide of humans, there is wide media coverage. Legally, foeticide, inflicting bodily harm to humans and the like is punishable.  But what about animals?  Don’t they feel pain? Just because they are dumb and innocent, doesn’t mean that they experience no pain!!  But thats another story!  There is genocide of animals taking place all over the world! Millions and millions of animals are slaughtered all over the world to meet humankind’s needs.  The sights of the concentration camps in Europe for mass killing of the Jews, gypsies by the Nazis, the mass killing of humans in Rwanda, Bangladesh brings nightmares to us, even today.  But the poor animals are still suffering from the same behind closed doors and opaque walls.  Its not only the slaughter, but also mental torture caused to animals. After watching this documentary, i felt ashamed to be called a human.  You will be ashamed of your humanity.  The documentary goes to say, “If we were to kill for meat, we would all be vegetarians”.  I have been having nightmares after watching this documentary.  I remember a scene where a beautiful furry Chinese wolf is skinned for its fur, when its still alive!  The sight of the still alive wolf after it is skinned is horrible!

Its true that Earthlings does not offer solutions to all of the problems it seeks to expose. Nor could it hope to do so. The viewer is challenged to seek their own answers and carry the voice of the voiceless to the lawmakers.  Buy or rent this DVD and watch it without shutting your eyes.


Visit the site of documentary:

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Documentary, Movies and Others

Top 15 documentaries

Here is a list of the top 15 documentaries and TV shows according to me:

  • Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist Addendum – This documentary is not for the faint-hearted.  It delves into the origins of religion and gives an interesting view on how a few american banks (and thus a few very powerful people) have seized worldpower at the beginning of the 20th century. It also describes the problems with what was told to us about the events surrounding Sept. 11 and and provides evidence to show who the writers believe really was responsible for the attacks.  Stunning!!!
  • BBC Planet Earth – This is indeed our planet as “never seen before”. Right from the outset you are witnessing the most amazing pictures modern technology has ever produced: Views from space, but close enough so we may see the glorious beauty of specific regions of our home planet. Birds of paradise of such beauty that can convince you this is the real paradise and you need not ask for anything more.  Visually stunning!!  Narrated by David Attenborough himself!!
  • Space Odyssey – Voyage to the Planets –  This two-part science fiction docu-drama examines the possibilities of a dangerous, manned space mission to explore the inner and outer planets of the Solar system.
  • The Triumph of the Nerds –  It’s all there: software, hardware, geeks, nerds, money, power, ambition, hunger, anxiety. Highly recommended viewing, without a doubt.  In fact, as you use computers every day of your life, did you know how it came to being?  Educate yourself with this documentary!
  • Enron – The smartest guys in the room –  A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.  A must watch for business world!!
  • Touching the Void – The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.  Gripping from the start to the finish!  One of the best survival docus seen by me.
  • Encounters at the end of the world –  Filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica to capture its landscape’s rarely seen beauty on film.
  • Man on wire –   Considered as “The artistic crime of the century”, tightrope walker Philippe Petit performs an illegal but daring high wire routine between the two towers of the World Trade Center.
  • Grizzly Man – A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska  
  • The Corporation – Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.                                                                              
  • Wild China –   Exploring the wild treasures of China, its flora and fauna and people.  Very well made documentary indeed!                                                                                                                    
  • Wild Russia – Exploring the wild treasures of Russia, its flora and fauna and people.  Stunning visual treat!
  • Heima –   Sigur Ros, an Icelandic band, perform unannounced concerts for the people of Iceland.  One of the most innovative bands I have heard.                                                                        
  • Metallica – Some kind of Monster –   A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink.
    • Metal – Headbanger’s journey –  A journey through the roots of heavy metal music, its evolution and cult status.  Metal as a lifestyle and not a passing trend, indeed!
    • The Story of India – Now saving the best for the last, BBC’s The Story of India.  A breathtaking journey through the history of India, the Maharajas, Mughals, Britishers, Aryans, Dravidians……PHEW!  Historian Michael Wood visits places and interviews experts all over India to cover the great chapters of the subcontinent’s long and impressive history.  This IS the Discovery of India and no other shows covers Indian history to the depths and details captured here.  A MUST watch to all the Indians and also people from abroad to learn from India’s glorious past.  Mera Bharat Mahaan!!

    Please comment and suggest what you would like to add to this list.

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    Travel

    Beware of Fuel Adulteration!!

    Fuel Adulteration – Caveat Emptor!!

    I recently purchased a new car Maruti Ritz.  The driving comfort was great.  However, 10 days back, I was travelling to Sangli and found that the car was running out of gas.  So, I stopped in a nearby gas station somewhere on the road to refuel.  Now, I deeply regret it!!  My car was sounding like I was driving an old Premier Padmini!  I showed it to an authorised Maruti service center and they found traces and smell of naphtha and kerosene in the fuel.  We completely emptied the fuel tank and refueled with good petrol.  Now I am happy that my car has regained its earlier comfort.  It made a huge noticeable difference.  It was what they say in Marathi “अक्कल खाते जमा”!

    All over the country, there are increasing cases of solvents, naptha and kerosene used to adulterate petrol.  I came across a news report that the Sangli police have so far arrested nine people, besides booking three others from different locations, for their suspected role in the illegal supply of naphtha for petrol adulteration.  Many people who buy motor spirit never know that they may be buying a product which is adulterated. Many of them are least bothered about it because their vehicles continue to run. That the contamination in petrol and diesel can corrode the engine of their automobile or that the exhaust fumes can be a cause for deadly diseases like cancer do not concern them.

    I recommend people to be careful and take following steps as far as possible:

    • Check that the petrol pump has displayed the density of petrol and the address of the Divisional Manager or Safety Officer.
    • Unadulterated petrol when dropped on an ordinary blotting / filter paper would evaporate within a minute or two. If it is adulterated, it would take more time for evaporation and leave a stain on the paper.  Petrol bunks are duty-bound to provide filter paper to the suspecting customers or conduct the density test if they ask for it. But no customer exercises his right in this regard.
    • You can lodge complaints online on http://retailcms.hpcl.co.in for HPCL products among various other sites.  I have lodged a complaint today.  Reply awaited.  There are also consumer complaint forums like http://www.consumer-voice.org and http://www.consumercomplaints.in/

    Come on, this is your hard earned money you have invested on your vehicle and you would not like it to go phut prematurely, would you?!

    Buyer Beware – Caveat Emptor and exercise your rights!!!

     

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    Software and Operating Systems, TechnoGazette

    Ubuntu Linux!!

    UBUNTU LINUX

    I am a huge fan of Ubuntu Linux ever since I installed it on my home desktop!!  It has never hung up on me since then except once (that too due to some hardware problem).  The GUI is very user friendly and is improving every time a new version is released.  Normally Ubuntu releases new versions twice every year, once in April and other in October.  The Operating System comes bundled with all the features like office, photo manager and editor, browser, email program, internet tools and much more – out of the box!!!  So once you install it, you can immediately start working (unlike in Windows, where you have to purchase and install software including drivers to ready the computer for use).  And like an icing on the cake — it is FREE!!  I am a huge supporter of Open Source software like Ubuntu.  I recommend people to come out of the Windows web and experience the freedom offered by Open Source.

    Advantages of Ubuntu are:

    1. It’s free of charge (seriously, you can download and install it for free!).  Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/ for more information.
    2. You’re free to do with it as you please (no proprietary / closed source apps, unless you install them yourself.)
    3. Support may cost.  However, you will not pay for help from forums and online chat, which I employ and all my problems till date are solved.
    4. Ubuntu comes with a huge store-house of applications called repositories, you can download and use via package managers that make installing things a breeze.
    5. Once it’s up and running the way you like it, it pretty much maintains itself. There’s no defragging, virus-scanning, spyware scanning, or other maintenance.   I am using 8.10 since October 2008 and have never had any problems whatsoever till date despite my computer runs throughout the day!!!!  A rarity in the Windows world.
    6. Linux makes good use of older hardware.  I’m running Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex with all the bells and whistles turned on on an old P4 2.4ghz box, and it runs smoothly and efficiently. Meanwhile, to get Win Vista running smoothly (with some of the bells and whistles on) I have to run it on on a dual-core 2.4ghz with 2gb ram.

    Disadvantages of Ubuntu are:

    1. You can’t just walk into the software store and buy software for Linux (rare cases, like some games now support Linux, but for the most part, no). Not being able to play the most recent comp games on it tends to be a major turn-off for younger folks.  However, now a days, Computers are mostly for file server/storage, internet, audio/video, etc these days instead of game playing.
    2. Things break-sometimes. Ubuntu tends to be “cutting edge”.  If you don’t like it, you can stick with an older version (Ex: Hardy Heron 8.04 was pretty solid).  Or, stick with their Long-term releases, which are more stable and supported for 3 years.
    3. Even when you install some things through their package managers (which have tons of different software), it can be a pain getting some of that installed software to work.  Ubuntu developers have to improve on that one.
    4. You usually HAVE to run it on older hardware (like a year or so old at least) since hardware support can be hit or miss, especially with cutting-edge hardware. The hardware manufacturers are still pretty anti-Linux, and usually don’t make Linux drivers for their hardware. So, the Linux crowd has to reverse engineer or ad-hoc build some themselves.

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    Movie Reviews, Movies and Others

    “Zenda” Marathi Movie – Timepass??!!

    After the unwarranted political censorship, Zenda was released on 22nd January 2010.  I made it a point to watch the movie on the first day.  So there I was, alone, coz Shantala doesn’t like political and serious movies (not that I like them very much).  The Movie was based on the splitting of ShivSena into MNS and the aftermath that follows viz: the dilemma faced by supporters to stay in ShivSena or join newly formed MNS.  The intention of writing this post is not a review, but an incident that i faced in the movie theatre.

    In the interval, i met a rogue like looking person aged around 30-35 years.  He asked me my opinion on the movie half-way.  I just replied “Timepass”.  He was shocked and perturbed and hated my reply.  He was accompanied by three other accomplices, equally rogue like looking.  He asked me, “Why did you find this movie “Timepass”?, did you ever go to Mumbai and see the plight of Marathi Manus.  Mumbai is being taken over by non-Maharashtrians.”  I did not say anything.   He also told me that he will reimburse the ticket fare if i saw the movie from the point of view of Marathi people.  He then said “You are not Marathi”.  I said “I am Marathi but from Karnataka” to which he further got agitated.  He told me that he will report me to Mr. Raj Thackeray directly.   Man! You should have been there!!  It was as if I am a terrorist stalking the theatre to blow it to smithereens.  I think he and his mates were drunk, but can’t say.  He called other unconcerned onlookers and started to insult me in front of the crowd.  When the movie resumed, he was talking over his mobile and telling his friends to come to the theatre.  But i continued to watch the movie.  Just 10 minutes before the movie finished, i got up from my seat, came out of the theatre without watching the ending and drove back home.  I thought after the movie, i will be beaten up.  Such was the situation!!

    The movie is just plain simple.  It doesn’t take anybody’s side nor does it try to justify Marathi Manus’ side.  It just goes to show that the whole issue of Marathi is simply political and nothing is present in the movie which should arouse hatred in the minds of the people for non-Maharashtrians.  So much ado about calling the movie “Timepass”.

    Jai Hind!!

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    Miscellaneous Topics, Professional Topics

    Mythbusting CA profession!!

    Myth busting CA profession

    The profession of a practicing Chartered Accountant is having a romance with Taxation (pun unintended), since its inception.  In early days of our Independence, tax rates were very high and there was a dire need for professionals like CA for tax planning.  But, 60 years hence, the CA is still viewed as a Tax consultant and expert.  Taxation, though influences Management decision making even today, is not the sole criteria to start, shut or run a business.  There are other areas where a CA proves to be of vital importance.  There are a galore of untapped areas waiting there in the wild to be harnessed, especially in a cities like Belgaum, Kolhapur etc. The object of this write up is to break a myth or two about a CA and make the general public aware of the type of services a CA is equipped to provide.  The various areas, which are illustrative only, where a CA can be helpful are:

    1. Information System Audit:  In this techonology era, a CA well equipped with IT skills (and it is part of the CA curriculum!), combined with his indepth knowledge of internal controls, can help Management to strengthen their IT structure to protect their organisation’s assets.
    2. Internal Audit:  Adds value and improve an organisation’s operations.  It is a valuable addition to an Enterprise’s internal control.  Includes Management audit, Operational audit, Compliance audit etc.
    3. Consultancy and Advisory services:  In the areas of Foreign Trade Policy and procedures; setting up or developing 100 % EOU, SEZ, etc; compliance with various national rules and regulations including but not only restricted to Taxation like FEMA, labour laws etc; Finance Management and many other multifarious areas.
    4. Corporate Governance:  Design code for the same, design Risk Management framework, Internal control framework
    5. Business valuations:  like for Mergers and Acquisitions and takeover of another business.
    6. Forensic accounting:  Which deal with Financial Fraud detection and investigation, misappropriation of assets, conflict of interests where a CA acts as a financial detective.
    7. ERP implementation and design: where a CA is an indispensable professional who can be relied right from the system design stage upto post-implementation.
    8. Various Audits:  Environment Audit, Health and Safety Audit, Business Process Modeling and many many others.
    9. Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO)

    The above are a few areas which I can muster up at the time of this writing.  The sheer scope of services provided is breathtaking.

    Aspiring and existing CAs should aim at providing such services and not only restrict to Taxation and traditional audits.

    The business community, irrespective of size or nature, who avail the services of a CA or not at present, should view the above services provided by a CA as a value addition and indispensable and benefit from the same.

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