No cell phones, jeans for girls, says Rajya Sabha member

This guy is a Rajya Sabha member:

Sharma’s gave vent to his thoughts while addressing a meeting of Brahmins in Ratlam district on Sunday. He termed cellphone usage by students, particularly young girls, as a big menace and the genesis of other evils. The BJP leader lambasted girls wearing jeans, saying it was the attire of American cowboys and in no way gelled with the Indian culture.

Time for the powers that be to realize that he’s languishing in a different age altogether, no? What is such a person doing trying to shape public policy?

Indian Army short on ammunition

Amazing, if accurate:

[…] in the event of war, it may run out of stocks in two days.

So… what’s going on here? This doesn’t sound like a good thing, however much we lament the fact that we spend too much money on wars. We should at least keep up minimal stocks, right?

From a defence forum:

On the use of ammunition, there is the Service Ammunition, Training or Practice Ammunition and the War Wastage Reserve (WWR).

The scales for the first two categories are laid down. WWR is measured in days based on the contact rates evolved statistically on past experiences of Wars.

The manner in which ammunition is used is that as the self life nears expiry, service ammunition (that is used during war) is downgraded and transferred into the Practice or Training category and the Service ammunition is replenished with stocks from either the WWR or the factory, depending upon the policy and likewise wherever there is a shortfall because of lateral shift, it is replenished.

Certain categories of ammunition, especially the imported variety, owing to lack of import, can run low, because of bureaucratic lethargy in sanction for import or for a variety of other reasons, be they financial or political!

So is it a question of how much ammunition to produce, only for it to rot on shelves (literally) until they’re thrown away? Do we have the capacity to ramp up production at short notice, if a war was to break out? It appears that even though we produce much of our ammunition, we don’t produce all of it. So there certainly exists the question of what and when to import.

If it wasn’t something to be worried about, though, would the Army Chief write to the Defense Minister about it?

The thing is, whenever something like this comes to the fore, we look through glasses unmistakebly tinted by a spate of recent scandals.

(Can you believe that there exists a Wikipedia page dealing only with scandals in India? I’ve linked to it above.)

Please, let this be an innocent occurence, and not another corruption scandal.

The ‘Loo’ Airline

Any guesses as to the latest in comfort brought to passengers of Pakistan International Airline? Under special circumstances, you can be invited to travel in the aircraft toilet!

Not kidding—this is true:

The plane was full but the toilet wasn’t. So, throwing all rules and caution to the wind, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) captain blithely decided to accommodate two passengers in the toilet of the Lahore-Karachi flight instead.

Amazing is the word.

A life lost. :(

First this:

In a shocking incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district, a 24-year-old woman is battling for her life after she threatened to expose those who kidnapped and raped her.

The victim, from the Shivpuri village of the district, had gone to a local market on Saturday when four men first waylaid and then gangraped her. After she threatened to go to the police, they poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze on Sunday.

This is what I wrote about it then:

Alas, this is what I found today:

The 20-year-old girl from Fatehpur in UP who was gangraped and set on fire on Sunday died in hospital on Wednesday evening. She had suffered about 95 per cent burns and had been in coma ever since.

A life lost. A life lost to violence, violence of an unthinkable degree.

The only positive (if that is possible), even though it’s not clear how many of the accused were arrested:

Three out of 4 suspects have been arrested. The Kanpur police claimed they had arrested one of the four accused in the crime.

But the most amazing sentence, I think, is this one:

The victim from Shivpuri village was allegedly picked up by four men from the local market and allegedly raped.

Is she also allegedly dead?! It’s one thing to protect the rights of the accused, but isn’t it fetching it a bit too far to be talking about the assault itself in this fashion??

Rest in Peace, Madam. Pray the local authorities have enough bones in their spine to see the case through—by putting the culprits behind bars for a long long time.

Football (soccer) players help clean cricket stadium

This happened in Indore, which will host the 4th ODI between India and West Indies in a few days:

But to beautify the stadium for the game, the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association has roped in a local A division football team that is made up of 5-7 state level players.
[…]
Such is the state of affairs that the footabllers are paid a petty Rs. 2.75 for every seat they clean in a stadium that can hold a 26,000 capacity crowd.

No, don’t tell me it’s about being a poor country with not enough money. It’s not about having the money. It’s about how we use the money that we already have [1,2]. I know, this isn’t a national club, but a local division team. But even they should have better sources of funds than “Rs. 2.75 per seat cleaned”.

Of course, no one watches football (soccer) in India as they watch cricket (edit: and of late, even the soccer craze has been hijacked to an extent by European and Latin American football, which is far superior in quality), but don’t blame cricket for the ailments of other sports either. Cricket is popular—and commercially successful—because we’re actually pretty good at it. We’re terrible at football; we’re terrible at hockey (this account of India’s Olympic successes stops at Moscow 1980—we’ve only recently begun to rediscover ourselves in the midst of a major overall in hockey administration); of course no one wants to watch their teams while they suck at their sport!

If one remembers, India was extremely interested in Tennis for a few years recently when we had players to be proud of—Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, followed by Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj. They were—or promised to be—good, and India flocked to their support. They haven’t been doing anything exceptional for the past few years, and once again, interest in tennis has waned in India. (edit: India even loves football, but how many prefer the Indian kind? How many would instead spend sleepless nights watching the EPL, for example?)

It takes great administration, and foresight, and grit, and patience, to invest in a sport in a country and develop it to a point where it becomes successful enough and commercially viable enough to sustain itself. We don’t lack the talent; we’re a big enough nation, with interests varied enough, to engage in a number of sports (heck, we even have a national rugby team!). But we need the right people to administer the sports—and think more of their charge than of their own pockets.

As we’ve already seen in politics, public service, and even daily life, we’re too corrupt for our own good [1, 2, 3]. The same applies for sport administration—which, of course, is done by the government, and its politicians. (Cricket administration is equally corrupt—they’ve just managed to be rich enough that they can function despite the corruption.)

And at the end, the people who suffer are those who have to perform manual labour, at the cost of their chosen profession, to buy supplies. Pathetic.

Orissa Caste bans cell phone use by girls

From the archives of articles I wanted to comment on, this is a classic piece of diktat: unmarried “girls” are banned from using cell phones, to prevent them from going astray:

“Girls fall in love after they come into contact with boys through mobile phones. This creates trouble,” Ganjam-based Paikali Khandayat Samaj said in a statement. “The Samaj feels there is no urgency for unmarried girls to use mobile phones.”

Brilliant piece of logic, no? First, not having cell phones will prevent girls from going astray? Do they really think the “going astray” part occurs over the phone? And of course, the responsibility is on the girls alone—boys, who are apparently the cause of said going astray—need not constrain themselves at all.

And these idiots are still in positions of responsibility, and capable of dictating societal behavior. And the sad thing is, things like this don’t even surprise us any more.

The only positive point:

“We have adopted a resolution making it compulsory for students of our caste to attend school at least till Class X. We have also advised our members to ensure their children continue their education, irrespective of their gender,” the Samaj chief said.

But, um—that should happen irrespective of people going astray, right? This education resolution is a good move—but it doesn’t absolve the leaders of stupidity.

The latest in Pakistan’s military security

This is what I had written previously about Pakistan’s internal military security. The gist being: the only way Pakistan could have been unaware of Osama Bin Laden’s presence in their country (that too in a posh, visible area of their military training city) is if their military intelligence was actually pretty bad.

Well, we all know that this has happened since then: terrorists attacked and made significant progress at the Naval Station Mehran, in Karachi. This was a terrible incident, but the most serious question is: how did the terrorists make such progress against a professional military installation, which should presumably have been on guard against—terrorist attacks?!

And now the latest:

The Pakistan Navy has moved its main battleships out of the Mehran naval base in Karachi to the Makran coast in Balochistan.

[…] The warships were sent away from their main base in Karachi to Ormara in Balochistan as a “precautionary measure”.

So, Pakistan’s military establishment is still not convinced of the security arrangements at their own naval base? Is that not—discouraging, to say the least?

Most troubling, I think, is this quote from a retired official:

Retired Vice-Admiral Javed Iqbal said there is another important benefit of the move: “Unlike many navy bases in Karachi, such as Mehran, that are in the centre of residential areas, Ormara is a far off base,” he said.

Proximity to “residential areas” would matter only if they’re afraid of more attacks, and are concerned about collateral damage, no? Hence—move things away from residential areas, so that civilians are not caught in the crossfire.

Does any of this inspire confidence at all in Pakistan’s security and intelligence establishment?

Sony gets hacked… again.

Sony has managed it again. Remember this?

Now this:

We recently broke into SonyPictures.com and compromised over 1,000,000 users personal information, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth, and all Sony opt-in data associated with their accounts. Among other things, we also compromised all admin details of Sony Pictures (including passwords) along with 75,000 “music codes” and 3.5 million “music coupons”.

[…]

What’s worse is that every bit of data we took wasn’t encrypted. Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext, which means it’s just a matter of taking it. This is disgraceful and insecure: they were asking for it.

Really, Sony? Having unbreachable security is a matter of expertise. But saving passwords and other sensitive data in plain text, without any encryption? The last time this happened, a little over a month ago, I was a little defensive towards Sony: after all, website hacks can and do occur sometimes.

But now I take that back. Sony IT is plain stupid.

Link via Lessien.