Monday, December 6, 2010

FEAST FOR THE EYES! - THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM













A FEAST FOR THE EYES
THE BRAHMA KAMAL (FLOWER OF BRAHMA) OR THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM (SO CALLED BECAUSE OF THE LITTLE POLLEN CRIB WITH THE STAR!) IS SAID TO BLOOM ONCE A YEAR SOMETIME AROUND AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER! CONSIDERED AUSPICIOUS BY MOST PEOPLE THIS LOVELY FLOWER SIMPLY REFUSES TO GROW EVERYWHERE (ATLEAST THATS WHAT I'VE BEEN TOLD!!)
THIS BEAUTY BLOOMS POST 8pm IN THE EVENING AND LOOKS GORGEOUS WHEN IT BLOOMS FULLY AT MIDNIGHT! THE FRAGRANCE IS SCINTILLATING AND COULD ALSO GIVE YOU A HEADACHE IF YOU AREN'T USED TO IT!!
WE WERE REALLY FORTUNATE BECAUSE WE HAVE HAD ALMOST 160 FLOWERS BLOOMING THIS YEAR AND THESE LAST SET OF FLOWERS BLOOMED ON FRIDAY, 3RD DECEMBER!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BBC Have you read these books???? BBC Challenge

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book lovers.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (English)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Economc Crisis: Essay entry to the Frasier Institute

WHAT SHOULD GOVERNMENTS DO IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC CRISIS –
THE DO OR DIE ISSUE!

By Katherine. Abraham

As I peruse the alarming news that the newspapers convey each day about the catharsis of the Global Economic Crisis, I am forced to recall the words of the biologist Edward Wilson who observed that, ‘We are the first species in the history of life to go out of control on a global scale.’ Although the statement may seem astonishing it is painfully true.

Two significant periods of History that challenged the existence of and ensured the survival of the fittest in human civilization include the Great Depression of 1929 and the Economic Recession of 2009. Both these years became turning points in the economic History of the modern civilized world and challenged the major economic powers around the globe to re- think their policy statements especially to ensure that the economic status of the citizens would not and in fact should not spiral down further. With the US trade plummeting from a whopping 16 trillion dollar trade in the year 2008 to a meager 5.8 trillion dollar trade in the first half of 2009 and the fall of the Lehman Brothers, the country needed some serious re-assessment to be done in terms of Finance. To make matters worse the World Trade Organization predicted a nine per cent decline in global trade which could be the highest in sixty years.

Now, Economics essentially is said to be ‘a study of how individuals and groups make conscious decisions with limited resources as to best satisfy their wants, needs and desires.’ On another level, the study of this subject could also be defined as ‘the study of choice and decision making in a world with limited resources.’ But this choice and decision making can lead to a scarcity for individual and the society at large. With the decline of the economic position in the countries and the impending pressures on the numerous State Treasuries the world over, people began to re-think and
re- assess their needs. Suddenly many were forced to leave the lap of luxury and thrust into the miseries of an economic downturn. They were now left with no option but to reduce their expenditures on everything including the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter and education. Routine purchases were soon unimaginable with their inflated prices. It became virtually impossible now to even live off loans. With the interest rates soaring mortgages and liquidity became the trend.


The financial nemesis that the governments around the world are facing today has culminated from the lack of fore- thought on the part of the governments leading to a moral and economic panic. According to the Mercy Corps, today's food prices are 60 percent higher than in 2006, the impact of which is felt at a maximum in the under- developed countries. In some countries a litre of oil which costed 1.66 dollars is today sold at 3.57 dollars. The unemployment rates are soaring. The inflation rates have reached an astounding 231 million percent in some countries like Zimbabwe.

The paramount question thus arises, ‘How do we untangle ourselves from the clutches of financial disparity?’

One of the less expected countries to grow frugally at the time when markets around the world were hitting an all time low was the emerging economy of India. While the world battled the Global meltdown, India has continued to grow in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is one of the primary indicators of a country’s overall financial health. The growth rate was recorded to have grown from 6.7% in 2008- 2009 to 7.9% in 2009-2010. A noteworthy achievement on the economic front was the Indian government’s initiative to be the first to adopt a ‘counter- cyclic package’ to avert an acute economic crisis in the country.

The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) had forecasted that the economy is expected to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2009-10, with the industrial and the service sectors growing at 8.2 and 8.7 per cent respectively. Today in the first quarter of 2010 India has a GDP of 8.6%.

With the assistance of stalwart economists like the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and the Home Minister Mr. P. C Chidambaram the country stands a chance of harnessing economic growth to cross the ‘double- digit’ barrier in 2010.




This Financial year i.e 2010-2011 the Indian Budget included the following aims:

a. Review Public Spending and mobilize resources for increase in productivity.
b. For the very first time the Indian Government targeted the explicit reduction in domestic public debt.
c. A Nutrient Based Subsidy was announced to strengthen not only the Agricultural production which is also the backbone of the Indian Economy but also to increase the amount of returns for the farmers.
d. Other initiatives that the Government decided to utilize as effective measures included additional banking licenses, providing capital to Rural banks and strengthen transparency of the finances.


At this time it becomes necessary to show where India too faces major challenges. Thomas Malthus believed that ‘there is a tendency for human population to grow more rapidly than the food supply.’ Although there has been tremendous development in the technology related with Agricultural production it cannot be denied that thirty per cent of the world’s population is still living in abject poverty. With a population of 1.35 billion people India still has a lot to cope up with. However India is sorting out these issues by addressing the weakness of these institutions with a heavy hand.

Another country worthy of mention is the world’s biggest island-continent ‘Australia.’ It is the only developed country in the world to forestall the imminent global emergency from hitting the Australian soil. Australia avoided a technical recession in 2009, and had positive growth against the overall global economic downturn. Unemployment however is a constant reminder to the government that they too are trudging in unstability. On the flip side however the country recorded a growth rate of 2.5 per cent in the second half of 2009. The Australian growth was accelerated by Chinese interest in their Mineral Reserves and these investments have, to an extent allowed the Australians to keep their head above the water. Stability was regulated through public bank guarantees on deposits. Prime Minister Rudd has promised to allocate funds worth 52 billion dollars to sustain the industry.

Alongwith these countries another small but significant country which successfully avoided much harm to its economic health was the tiny island of Mauritius. After the trade of the country was eclipsed in 2005, the country employed some much needed economic reforms in 2006. The key reforms included: fiscal consolidation and public sector efficiency; trade competitiveness; an improved investment climate; and social inclusion. These policies were backed by the International Bank for Re-Construction and Development (IBRD) which shelled out a sum of 210 million dollars for the same. It is truly one of the ‘Transforming’ economies of the world.

The aim of citing the above examples are to show a glimpse of a comprehensive analysis of three less talked about countries as a ray of hope in this time of emergency that has affected the populace all over the globe. It now becomes vital to understand what the possible problems apart from unemployment, poverty and education could be that could hinder the countries on the path of what can be termed as a ‘Global Recovery.’

China, one of the Super- powers of the world has speculated after the Spanish collapse in the international markets, that the Recovery could be further supplemented by a ‘Debt- ridden’ crisis which could lead to further cut- backs in investments, cost- cutting which could lead to a rise in the unemployment rates. Other possibilities include reduction in fiscal surplus and repercussions of the failure of regulators and excess liquidity.

A few possible measures that could be used by affected governments include organizing the facts of the existent status of the nation’s financial potency. This could be followed by tax- cuts to reduce the burden of the common man, cutting interest rates so as to enable the consumer to spend without much worry, devaluing the dollar which seems difficult but if done it could avoid the hampering of the economy. The governments must include policies which could ensure the security of a substantial amount of money. Policy makers must include High Growth yielding policies along with High Growth investments. Moderate taxation could also help. There must be a stringent framework of policies to ensure the benefit of the society as a whole. Another measure could include reduction in the number of banks too. The Credit Card markets also could be effectively controlled to ensure the ability of repayments on the part of the borrower. Counter- cyclic packages could be adopted.

Above all the transparency in financial dealings on the part of the Government and the individual citizen could end up making a world of difference to the Economic Recovery rate.

REFERENCES


www.mcdwn.org/ECONOMICS/ EcoGlossary.html

THE INDIAN BUDGET 2010

The Economist

Article by Jan Stanford : The Globe and Mail September, 2009

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Response toDNA article on 25th July 2010:Media Naivete at its Best

MEDIA NAIVETE AT ITS BEST!

Early Sunday morning, I half expected to encounter an article on the supposed ‘Return of Dr. Shashi Tharoor’ on Twitter! Being an avid Tweeter and one who is following Dr. Tharoor on Twitter, I was surprised that the media had skillfully erred twice in their report. Firstly, Dr. Tharoor never quit Twitter even after resigning from his post in the External Affairs Ministry! Secondly, the comment quoted to be an ‘Adverse Cryptic remark’ on the Indo- Pak relations was in fact merely Retweeted and not a direct comment which should have been scrutinized with a little more responsibility on the Media’s part. (For the benefit of non- tweeters, Retweeting is merely a way of forwarding another’s comment!)

It is high time we realize that everyone including personalities have a Fundamental Right to express their opinions. Eliciting views on an International personality’s personal or public life must be dealt with great sensitivity and discretion on the part of the Media. The fact remains that although the media has successfully discredited the image of a person who represented India in the International circles for 29 years, they have failed to mention that citizens of the Thiruvananthapuram constituency have actually found a direct platform to talk to their Representative, a privilege that most of us are yet to enjoy!

My request to the Media : report both the sides of the Story and in this case, the right sides of the ‘Tweet’!