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Sab's world
from house surgeon to insurgent .. 
indians generally are not known to participate in terrorism outside of india. but the recent bombing of glasgow airport by a bangalorean has changed that equation forever. dr. kafeel ahmed, from bangalore, is supposedly (using the word supposedly since it is proclaimed that 'innocent until proven guilty') the brain (did he really have brains??) behind this attack. the moron did not practise well (i know there cannot be rehearsals for suicide missions !!) and he was left almost fully burnt at the scene. all along we (indians) were happy that behind most of the international terrorism, it would be a pakistani or someone from the middle east and that it would cause a backlash against them by the world in general. now we have lost our standing.

people say poverty coupled with illiteracy breeds terrorism. is that really true ? many in the 9/11 attacks are .. oops.. were from elite families in their respective countries and were well educated. same here also. a doctor who is supposed to save common man from death is planning and executing bomb attacks aimed to kill innocent air travellers ! all in the name of religion ?? where in the world would this end up ?

this is sabs signing off with a deep sigh .. hoping someone will someday inject some wisdom to those people who think killing innocent non-believers is the shortest way to reach GOD.

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secularism ? 
i just happened to read an article (sent to me by raj of

There are as many as 2,07,000 temples in Karnataka and the total income of these temples amounts to 72 crores and only a sum of Rs. 6 crores is being spent by the Government for their upkeep. On the other hand, the Government spent a phenomenal amount of Rs.50 crores for the madrasas and Rs.10 crores for the churches, and for the Hindu temples only a partly sum of Rs.6 crores is being spent

complete article with more stats here

it is very interesting to note that while a section of indian citizens are taxed left right and center, the govt pays subsidy to another section of indian citizens (to the order of rs. 75 crores annually) to visit their holy place outside of india ! now that is what i define as true secularism. long live such secularism in india .. and long live their proponents ..

this is sabs signing off for today ..
  |   ( 2.9 / 432 )
letter from saddam ..  
i've been wanting to write about saddam's death for quite some time but time never permitted me. this image/doc from my cousin rajesh explains everything i had to say, especially about how the world (including keralites) reacted when saddam was given capital punishment. apologies to those who cannot read malayalam .. and sorry, i just cant do a good translation job ! :)

this is sabs signing off ..
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anti-national song ? 
before i post my political crap, just wanted to let you all know that i slightly re-organized the pictures section. classified it into albums with certain level of access rights to different people. i will be adding more albums during the weekend (if possible).

i had a chance to read many articles regarding the vande mataram controversy going on in india. one thing i really dont understand is that while every normal indian muslim can sing that song without any issues, why is it only syed bukhari (imam of juma masjid) and his cronies have big time issues with it ? if it is vande mataram today, who knows he will not come out tomorrow and say - oh, we dont want to sing national anthem jana gana mana because we dont have the concept of india as a nation ? will the same arjun singh and his congress come out and say sure, its not a problem, it is not mandatory at all for you guys (as long as you give us the votes) ? if ar rahman can sing/direct/product one of the best vande mataram videos, why not the rest ? or is ar rahman an anti-national ?

for those who dont know, it was rabindra nath tagore who gave the music to vande mataram !

this is sabs signing off ..
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colas - who is guilty ? 
here is an article which i read in economic times last week. this should be read in context with the much hurried recent banning of the two major colas (pepsi and coke) by the kerala govt.

Colas: The media are guilty too

Surprisingly, the dust may soon settle on the pesticides-in-cola issue. Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Friday that she agreed with this newspaper’s editorial line, that cola drinks should not be banned but should be regulated using scientific standards that are credible and enforceable.

The cola companies then agreed to pesticide standards for soft drinks — which they had opposed for years, saying only inputs should be tested — subject to appropriate testing protocols and validation. New standards will hopefully be notified by next April.

This lowering of temperature seemed unlikely when CSE declared last week that it had found pesticide levels in carbonated drinks of Coke and Pepsi that were far higher than the proposed but yet-to-be-issued norms of the Bureau of Industrial Standards (BIS). Kerala banned the sale and production of Coke and Pepsi. Several states banned sales in government canteens and schools.

The cola companies insisted that their drinks were safe. The business chambers, Ficci and CII, protested that the arbitrariness of the ban was a threat to every industry, not just fizzy drinks.

The BIS standards in question had yet to be notified. How could action be taken for violating standards that had not been notified? Besides, how could a state close down industries without independent confirmation of an NGO report?

This is why the US undersecretary for international trade says the cola ban may hit foreign investment in India. Americans do not think MNCs are above negligence and dirty tricks. MNCs are regularly found violating various laws in the US, and regularly fined. Many CEOs have been jailed.

So, foreign investors are used to strict enforcement of standards. What worries them is arbitrary action (like Kerala’s ban) unrelated to clear rules (like notified standards) or conclusive evidence (like government testing to confirm CSE’s findings). It worries Indian businesses too.

My position has long been that colas are safer than alternatives. The biggest health risk comes not from pesticides but bacteria, which kill millions. Cola has far less bacteria than most alternatives, including plain water. That is why many foreign tourists and NRIs drink Coke, Pepsi or bottled water, and nothing else. Ironically, these three drinks are the very ones targeted by CSE as being unsafe.

Besides, the actual pesticide level, according to government surveys, is 3,080 times higher in milk, 69,700 times higher in vegetables and 111,600 times higher in fruit than in the proposed cola standards. The maximum permitted level for tea leaves is almost 60,000 times higher.

These are treated as priority items in diet, and so are permitted high levels, unlike colas, which are held to be inessential. But even if colas exceed EU standards ten times, they will have far less pesticides than milk or fruit juice.

If you ban colas, what will people switch to? Water, tea, cane juice and fruit juices. All of them have more pesticides than colas, and I refuse to be consoled by CSE’s information that they have more nutrition.

Banning colas will increase pesticide intake, not decrease it. Nevertheless, I support CSE’s case for imposing much stricter standards on cola than fruit juice. It is practical to take pesticides out of colas, but not out of fruit. The cost is entirely bearable for cola companies.

When I met Sunita Narain after the cola ban last week, I expected her to be in a victorious mood. To my surprise, she said she was depressed. CSE had had been fighting for three years to get standards notified and implemented, and she was sick of the interminable delay. She had hoped for an early notification, but now everything had been put on hold because the health minister was appointing another committee.

The bans were temporary political expedients that would not work. She wanted the BIS standards notified immediately, so that she could move on to other environmental issues. She said her aim was not to target MNCs, but to use the MNC issue to raise awareness of the need for higher standards across the board.

This is a perfectly good argument for subjecting MNCs to stiff standards. It is not leftist extremism. Why then does she have such a strong image as an MNC-basher? It stems in part from her own beliefs and writings, but also from the fact that Press has built her up to be a desi David battling foreign Goliaths.

She relishes the publicity, and thinks it will help her improve environmental standards everywhere. Yet the media do very little to highlight her other green campaigns. The media gives top billing to her criticism of MNCs while largely ignoring her criticisms of the government or Indian companies.

How serious is this media bias? To test it, I went back to the pesticides-in-bottled water issue in 2003. The public remembers this mainly as the start of her campaign against the cola companies, which also sell bottled water (Kinley and Aquafina). Yet CSE’s actual findings were not an anti-MNC tirade.

The highest lindane level (45 times EU standards) was found in a brand called Hero, followed by No 1 McDowell (43 times), Paras (31 times) and Volga (29 times). Chlorpyrifos levels was highest in No 1 McDowell (370 times), but also high in Bisleri (109 times), Kinley (109 times) and Aquafina (23 times).

The highest levels of organochlorines and organophosphorus were in Aquaplus (104 times), a Delhi brand favoured by the Railways. Bisleri came third (79 times), and Kinley further down (14.6 times).

The data make it clear that CSE did not target MNCs. It pointed fingers at all manufacturers, ranging from small local brands to the biggest. Yet the public remembers mainly the accusations against Coke and Pepsi, and perhaps Bisleri.

This is at least partly due to media bias in highlighting the big fish, as opposed to the worst offenders. So, if many states have stupidly banned colas, do not blame just CSE and cynical politicians. The media deserve part of the blame too.

this is sabs signing off .. for today ..

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