Friday, December 31, 2004

In Memoriam: P.V.Narasimha Rao

Last week, we failed to note the passing of a giant personality in the politics of Modern India. Former Prime Minister Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao died of cardiac arrest last Thursday, December 23, 2004. He was 83.

It is said that there are politicians and there are statesmen. Somehow, the two are talked of as if they are exclusive. Mr.Rao was one heck of a proof that they are not necessarily so. One of the very few scholars among the politicians of the past two decades, Mr.Rao was noted for his astute, and many times dangerously unpopular, handling of the economy, all the while keeping his minority government alive by sheer cunning of playing the left against the right and vice versa.

He assumed the leadership of the country when it was at its lowest point - both in morale and in economic morass. Some unjustly claim that Mr.Rao was, at best, a reluctant reformer, who became the accidental hero for simply surrendering to the diktats of the World Bank. Take their view with a huge ladle of salt. We must remember that it took great courage to even surrender (if that is what you insist calling it) in face of such huge hardship that it was bound to entail, and the prevailing political atmosphere. And Mr.Rao dared.

Though a multilinguist, he was never known for a silver tongue. In fact, in the current atmosphere, dominated by politicians who talk loud and do nothing, the sphinx-like Rao, who silently ushered in such a big revolution as the economic reforms, could not but be remembered with nostalgia.

In spite of all his wily machinations to keep his government alive, Mr.Rao is remembered by erstwhile political opponents, including his personal friend, Mr.Vajpayee with respect (Vajpayee acknowledged Mr.Rao's big contribution to Pokhran II in his condolence message) Even after his government attained majority in the Parliament (conceded, by unsavory means), Mr.Rao reached out across the aisle. If, today, there is reasonable consesus on the economic reforms agenda, that is the legacy of Mr.Rao.

Sure, there are numerous things that could be said to sully his memory. But remember that it is more a reflection of us, and not him, if we choose to let those overshadow his great contribution to India.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004
NOAA Animation of the Tsunami

Donate towards Tsunami Relief

Some volunteer relief orgs match your donation dollar-for-dollar (upto $50,000). You can make your donation online using Paypal.

IDRF (India Development and Relief Fund)

Donate on-line through your VISA/MasterCard or Direct Debit from checking account

Use their PAYPAL link to make any small donation.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

You must have heard that a powerful earthquake hit Southeast Asia today. Latest estimates say that 10,000 people have been killed. Countless more would have been rendered homeless, or would have had their homes rendered terribly unsafe. Most of the affected are, as it happens in the case of most disasters, the poorest segments of the societies.

Please, find it in your heart to aid relief and rehabilitation efforts. Contributions to Indian Prime Minister's Relief Fund can be sent to the nearest Consulate or directly to the PMRF accounts:
* U.S. $: A/C No. 000-03847-4 with HSBC BANK,USA, New York.( SWIFT Code :- MRMD US 33 )
* Pound Sterling: A/C No. 203253-80412368 with,BARCLAYS BANK PLC, London.( SWIFT Code :- BARCGB 22 )
* EURO: A/C No. 4112222001 with CITI BANK,Frankfurt.( SWIFT Code :- CITI DE FF )

I will post more links (such as the Red Cross and Intl Medical Corps) as they become available.

You could also get a trove of news/links here.

If you are in the habit of giving during the yuletide, nothing would be better than giving to those in need: "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matt 25:41).

Saturday, December 25, 2004
Merry Christmas!

Forget all the controversy about how to wish some one. I am not Christian. But you know what? I am just not going to mind if some one wishes me a Merry day - and in the process, honours a noble icon like Jesus.

Come on, folks. Let your hair down, and celebrate the Yuletide!

Friday, December 24, 2004
Ah, the Moral Values!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
What "Family Research Council?"

Did any one notice that the President did not utter a single word in his entire press conference?

Monday, December 20, 2004
The whole Baazee.com episode is a shameful event for Indian business and shows what a long way India has to go - both from a societal and a business perspective. As soon as Baazee realized its ignorance, it took the clip off its website and that really should have been the end of it. Perhaps a fine would have been in order if the offence was found to be grave. Its ridiculous to see a respected CEO treated like a common criminal housed in Tihar Jail. One of the ironies where films and music videos are more blatant and get away with worse.

And BJP - please stay out of it. You have no right to be the moral torch bearers of society. It is precisely this attitude of the BJP that has converted me from being a supporter to a staunch critic. This party truly does not want to see a progressive Indian society.

Saturday, December 18, 2004
A Very Good Movie

I am just back from Swades, and I am glad to say that this is easily one of the best movies I have seen... it quite agreed with my taste, and ideas.

Okay, if you want to keep the suspense (it is no thriller), stop reading this post now - and just go watch it. It's worth it.

What I liked the best was that the movie did not try masking narrow chauvinism as patriotism. In one scene, in fact, the hero pointedly says that he does not believe that India is the greatest country in the world, while definitely believing that it is a nation of great potential, and that it is wrong to condemn people of other culture as cultureless - a pejorative vrey often, and wrongly, attributed to Americans in many parts of the world.

Neither does it portray the hero's ultimate decision to return to India as a kind of emotional decision that he takes - in fact, he returns to the US, gets his work done, and then returns - after quite clearly explaining to his friend why he is doing so. Our usual potboilers would have had him see the poor and the naked, see the girl, decide to throw off his job (and shirk his responsibility towards his employers) and take on the plough, after marrying the girl. Nopes. Here, he acts quite responsibly, though under considerable emotional strain. He is steadfast, and hence patient.

And, the hero does not make an impractical choice of, say, becoming a farmer. He is quite clear that he would not waste his talent, would work for somebody like the Vikram Sarabhai Research Center. There is also a recognition here that even if you are a rocket scientist (literally), you could contribute in a positive way to the betterment of those in need.

There was no self-righteous indignation at those who do not return (though there is, I daresay, good-natured ribbing in calling NRIs Non-Returning Indians). A skeptic would say that it was with the NRI market in mind... but hey, let's give the maker the benefit of the doubt ;-).

To sum up, I would say this movie is a celebration of the human spirit, and dignity, and a call for everyone to dare, and live by their values, and aspirations. A message that well resonates with me. Bravo!

PS: Shah Rukh's acting was simply superb - no overacting! And the actress was more than just an eye candy (but, boy, that she was!) ;-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The Beauty of the Soul
If you never understood when many of her fans, or devotees, talked about their inner being getting pacified by the voice, and appearance, of Late Dr. Subbulakshmi, here is the explanation - better than a million words of mine.

Monday, December 13, 2004
Father sacrifices daughter to goddess - Newindpress.com

This is terrible! I am shocked that such a thing can happen in the 21st Century. And the kind of superstition some parts of India is steeped in is incomprehensible. All those sorcerers must be punished so that they do not mislead gullible, uneducated and obviously stupid people into killing a fellow human in the name of prosperity.

Sunday, December 12, 2004
Shankaracharya case

What horrifies me most is that the likely motive that Jayalalita has in this plot is sheer hubris, in humiliating a public personage who did not kowtow to her. The fact that this person is a symbol of all that is noble to a significant section of people meant nothing to her. Fact is that Indian politics is no longer simply about dirty corruption for material motives. Dangerous ideology and paranoid delusions of grandeur have added yet another layer to the sordid scene, a triumph of demoniac false-ego.

Saturday, December 11, 2004
It was not sushi after all!

Yushchenko Poisoned With Dioxin

No Regrets, My Lord...

MS lived a life that many of us could only awe at. Her voice is now irrevocably embossed in the hearts of many. Many kids of my generation can think of Venkatesha Suprabhatham or Vishnu Sahasranamam or Bhaja Govindham only in her voice. Many days, her voice, and the moving spirituality of her emotional rendition of the songs, have left me in tears.

In her last days, unfortunately, MS was rumored to have not been happy with her life. After the passing of her husband, Sri Sadasivam, who was all that an ideal spouse could be, she stopped singing in public. It is rumored that she was not treated well by her adopted son, and was in financial difficulties because of that. Many times, I have felt deeply sorrowful about it.

But now, she will have her peace, and the company of her friend, phiolospher, and guru, Sri Sadasivam. I am sure she would have said, as this famous song rendered by her goes, I have no regrets my Lord, as You have always been there with me.

MS Passes Away

MS's death is indeed a great loss to the Carnatic world as well as to India! May her soul rest in peace and her melodious voice resonate in all our minds forever.

Wrong, Andrew, wrong

I was personally opposed to the war in Iraq. But, I have respect those who supported the war for reasons other than the BS that Bush admn kept throwing at us. One could even say that I am with the neocons in spirit - though I disagree with their actions - in that I believe that democracy is superior to any other system of governance. The neo-cons tend to emphasise the importance of democratic values - freedom, respect for fellow humans, etc, that I deeply believe in. I also consider it valid agenda for democracies - India, France, Australia, Canada, the EU or, especially, the US - to promote more democracies around the world. (But is a war, especially one justified by pulling wool over the eyes of people, scaring them out of their wits, the way to do it? Well, I do not agree with that. But I degress.)

Among those who were pro-war were people like Thomas Friedman, and Andrew Sullivan, whom I quote quite often. So, I was deeply dismayed by this article by him. Essentially, he argues that there is a marked movement towards democracy in Iraq, though there are many challenges - not something we have not heard - but he mentions a few things that show how deeply mistaken the thought process involved in this is.

First, Andrew has written reams (or Megabytes) on how bad French and German attitudes and intentions are. Even in the current article, he calls the states prickly, and bemoans the fact that no one is singing hosannas about James Baker's diplomatic triumph. But, Andrew, who is singing praise of the French and German benevolence either? Have you so much as nodded at what they are doing? Okay, let's forget the Frogs, for now.

And then comes the whopper: "They're not unhappy to see Sunni and Baathist rebels get pummeled by American arms. In that, you see the beginning of the new Iraqi reality: a place where 80 percent of the country wants the democratic transition to succeed."

So, let me see, if 80% of a country secretly enjoys the rest 20% getting "pummeled," that is indication that the society is moving towards democracy? Sure, democracy IS competitive, where one man's victory is built on another's defeat. But, don't we all rally to their aid when one part of our society is affected? Is that also not part of the democratic mindset, and values, that is supposed to lie at the heart of this war?

And from there, Andrew goes further down. Now, divide-and-rule is a laudible credo, coming to understand which, the Americans are doing better. Andrew, in case you missed it, we do not want to rule them. We want them to rule themselves - peacefully. That is not what divide-and-rule does. This is not something Andrew does not understand either. In fact, he warns us that "it's a potentially dangerous ploy." So, what is his excuse? That two-thirds of Iraqis do not think that civil war is gonna happen. I am worried that every third Iraqi is bracing for a civil war.

Andrew's assumption is that the movement towards civil war is somekind of disciplined process, the rise of which can easily be felt by the common people. Wrong. Before every civil war, there are smouldering communal tensions. But the actual descent into war has always been a swift and uncontrollable meltdown. We see the first now in Iraq - and ironically, Andrew is mistaking it was progress.

Sure, Zarqawi might be gasping for breath. But we must remember that he is not surrendering. He still knows that if he can get the support of the clergy, he can survive, and fight back. In other words, our hopes are on the Sunni clerics not coming to the aid of Zarqawi, and his band of insurgents. That is the problem. As long as we have that hanging sword over our head, there is no bright side.

Andrew is a smart guy, which is why I do not understand why he did not grasp the irony of that sweet little anecdote about a bunch of people filing to contest in the elections. Tell me, Andrew, after almost 18 months of occupation, with the new admistrators crowing about America being there to liberate, yadda yadda yadda, why is it that even such deep-thinking people like them feared for their lives when they decided to go file for the election - and they were fearing, not the terrorists, but the administration. Seriously, don't you think there is something wrong with this picture? To me, it looks like the Bush admn has failed as much in Iraq as Kerry in Middle America, to get the message across. And we all know what happened to Kerry.

Andrew, yes, I do want to join the Iraqis in their hope. Whether one supported the war or not, it is a war we all have a responsibility for - and here, I mean not just America, but all the democratic countries of the world. All of them have a stake in democracy succeed in Iraq. I just do not see much reason to join just now.

Friday, December 10, 2004
Hardly had I posted that message....

...when gay marriage reached India - in a way that is so strange, and weird, that it could happen only in India - To save his lesbian spouse's life, man marries her 'lover'

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Three More

This week, three countries - I means ones that many would readily be able to place on the map - recognized that same-sex couples should also enjoy the same freedoms, and respect that opposite-sex couples do - Canada, New Zealand, and Israel.

And, in the world's largest democracy, you can get rigorous imprisonment for "the unspeakable crime against nature," and go to jail for so much as talking to people indulging in such nefarious crimes about AIDS.


Seer case: Police interrogate columnist Gurumurthy - Newindpress.com

A free, fair trial please! First it was the acharya, now it is sympathizers. Seems very typical of Amma's guidelines on initimidation.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Indian laws on Granting Bail

Here is a detailed note on the procedures of granting bail in a criminal case in India.

Now, the Shankaracharya is accused of a crime that carries a death penalty or life imprisonment. It is a non-bailable offence - which does not mean that bail cannot be granted - it is upto the court to decide whether or not to grant the bail.

Now, the court has said that there exists prima facie evidence against the Acharya. That merely means that the police report leads the judge to believe that he smells something fishy. It does not mean he is guilty. Based on that, under the subclause 1(i) in that page, the court is refusing bail.

However, it is indeed shocking that the court is repeatedly ignoring the fact that many pieces of the so-called evidence have turned turtle, and that the police are now relying on hear-say to fix something on the Acharya.

CNN.com - Troops put thorny questions to Rumsfeld - Dec 8, 2004: "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine this were pre-election days, when the Bushmen are going after Kerry for voting against the armor (after voting for it, of course). Now, Kerry says that the problem in the front is bad planning, and no amount of technology, or armor, can save the soldiers. Perfect logic, agreed.

But do you think the Bushmen would spare him? Their hordes baying for his blood for being unpatriotic, and disrespectful towards to those in the harm's way. But since it's Rummy, the incredible success story that earned a second term, it's all okay.

Kanchi Seer Case - Points to Ponder

Kanchi Sathya (www.kanchi-sathya.org) is a site launched by the Mutt devotees in an effort to counter the massive media offensive against the Acharya.

Also, today's denial of bail by Justice Balasubramaniam comes as a slap in the face for the defense. His reasoning that the Prima Facie evidence points to the guilt of the Acharya in the murder is facetious, especially when more dangerous people, proven guilty at the end of a trial process, not only walk free, but appeal in a higher court and have the conviction overturned. My question is - What prima facie evidence? All the police and government have been harping about is 'rock-solid evidence' against the Acharya in the case but have failed to produce anything credible. (Honestly, I don't understand the judicial process in India. Is it like the US process?)

They apparently relied on the arrest and torture-to-confession of Appu, which a newsitem did say that he was apprehended in AP but this week's scoop is that Appu is absconding.

Wonder how much a judge costs in Chennai? I think I have enough saved up!

CNN.com - Church shock at Beckham 'Nativity' - Dec 8, 2004
This has nothing to do with my respect for Christianity or Jesus... but what I find most strange/offensive is that Bush was portrayed as a wise man. He is clever, intelligent, say what you may.... and I may agree to various extents. But wise?

Karl Rove Nods

"In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us."
--Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk, activist and writer.

Re: SS reform

Turns out, Krugman is wrong on the basics - or that is how it seems, from what President (then candidate) Bush said on Nov 2, 2000:
"They want the federal government controlling social security, like it's some kind of federal program."

Too bad my pops is not around to give me dressing down - I seriously need it!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
If you are very down...

Here is for some good laughs (Tip: click on the Bush Picture).

SS Reform

I would love to hear what our in-house fiscal conservative and supporter of Social Security reform, , Rachit, thinks about this piece by Paul Krugman.

Let me make it clear - I do not accept wholly. I do see some holes in his argument. The fact that his arguments are totally based on the CBO report - and not on the SSA's assessment is, for starters, a problem. He says that the SSA's report was over-cautious. One man's over-caution is another man's realistic analysis. But, even if we assume that the true figures are somewhere between SSA's report and the CBO's report, where does the analysis lead us? And why is there such a difference between the assessments?

A question of Faith

Rachit was offended by a temple for actress Kushbu in Tamil Nadu.... c'est la vie - all over the world.

(Thanks, Prof.Drezner, for errr... the pointer)

Serious Witchhunt

I have been writing on this blog that the Tamil Nadu Police was not treating the Sankaracharya case properly - that he has been unreasonably denied bail and that he should have been lodged in a guest house. However, I was shying away from calling the cases outright framing. But now, I think I am ready to do just that.

Through a reliable friend, I came across this case - a close family friend had a son who used to study in the Kanchi Mutt's Patashala (seminary). About fifteen years back, the son, who was home, had committed suicide. The reason was unknown. Now, the cops have been visiting this person, and urging them to file a complaint saying that the Mutt was responsible for it. The family has now approached the Mutt with this information, and the Mutt has referred them to their lawyers.

First off, the police ought to know that even if the family does lodge a complaint, the validity of the claim would be extremely tenuous. Why then, are they doing this? They are searching for any, and every, suspicious thing that could have happened to anyone associated with the Mutt in the last fifty years (since Sri Jayendrar became a Sankaracharya). But why? It is not a far-fetched theory that knowing that their main case is falling apart, they are hoping to find something - essentially, fix the blame for something on the Acharya, and get a conviction. A classic case of framing.

But I am not willing to believe that it is the police dept that is doing this. There is a more powerful player who is orchestrating the whole thing. Could be. I am skeptical of the allegation by Uma Bharti that Sonia Gandhi is behind all this - it is too far fetched, lack clear motive, and, it is Uma Bharti speaking. In fact, I can not think of any one in Delhi having any motive.

Jayalalithaa - now, that is a name that is known for playing politics with the cops. One can easily remember any number of instances when the police pounced on people who failed to placate the Puratchi Thalaivi with whatever it is she fancied - mostly, bribes. My suspicion is that the Shankaracharya, in his involvement in so many projects - from Kanchi Tech city to Tirupati constructions, was in a position to be a immense source of profit to Amma, and refused to play ball.

I think the best thing to do, from the Mutt's perspective, is to proactively demand a CBI probe. That would put paid to Amma's efforts. Of course, the other fox of the forest - Karunanidhi - has to be handled. But I do not think he is out to get the Mutt - he wants to get only Jayalalithaa.

CNN.com - Company lets U.S. travelers 'Go Canadian' - Dec 7, 2004
Pretty Cool :-)

Taking Bushisms too far

Will somebody (Condi?) PLEASE tell the President that Pakistan is not the billion people democracy in South Asia, and it is I-N-D-I-A? I mean, either this guy is seriously deluded (which, in my belief, is also true), or he is just confusing the two countries - the result of many folks up in DC thiking the two countries are some kind of Siamese Twins. Here is a quote from the New Teddy Roosevelt:
"One of the interesting lessons that the world can look at is Pakistan. You see, there are some in the world who do not believe that a Muslim society can self-govern. Some believe that the only solution for government in parts of the world is for there to be tyranny or despotism. I don't believe that. The Pakistan people have proven that those cynics are wrong. And where President Musharraf can help in world peace is to help remind people what is possible. And the solution in the Middle East is for there to be a world effort to help the Palestinians develop a state that is truly free--one that's got an independent judiciary, one that's got a civil society, one that's got the capacity to fight off the terrorists, one that allows for dissent, one in which people can vote. And President Musharraf can play a big role in helping achieve that objective."

Or, wait, wait, wait.... do you think he knows that Pakistan and Palestine are different places? I mean, they are very similar sounding, you know....

Monday, December 06, 2004
Balamurali refuses Jayendra Saraswati award - Looks like even if the Acharya is proven innocent in a court of law, the social stigma of the allegations of murder and assault will not leave him be.

(I have no basis that Dr. Balamurali Krishna turned down the award because of the Seer's incarceration or may be he had other reasons)

LJWorld.com : LHS grad gets legal notice in D.C.
It is interesting, and heartening, to note that a person with the name Shanmugam is going to be arguing in the Supreme Court (I guess he is of Indian descent, though it could be Sri Lankan, or even Malaysian). I would be wishing him all the best, if only he were arguing for the opposite side :-).

Anyway, the point of the post is that there is a popular belief that Indian-Americans, in general, restrict themselves to the greenback pastures of Computer Science and Engineering. There used to be a bit of truth in that - when I came to Columbus six years back, almost all students were in the big five engineering disciplines - CS, Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial and Chemical. But now, I see a good amount of diversity - heck, I know one Indian grad student in Geography, right here in OSU! That, in my opinion, is good.

(hat tip: folks at How Appealing)

Saturday, December 04, 2004
Where am I headed?

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished me to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how I matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Friday, December 03, 2004
Kanchi Case

Chief Minister JJ claims that arresting the Shankaracharya was one of the most difficult decisions she has taken. Turns out, posting an officer who has a history of ill-treating religious persona, including stripping and assaulting nuns, was comparatively easy. To think that the man holding the Shankaracharya without bail himself had non-bailable warrants issued against him... and, the TN government moved him into that post after the arrest of the Acharya, makes one question the motives of the government.

Thursday, December 02, 2004
Do we have similar stats about R&D outsourcing to India

Cashing in on research boom

LI WEITAO,China Business Weekly staff 2004-12-02

Du Yonggang is elated with his elite team. A wireless communications
research programme, headed by Du, at Philips Research East Asia in Shanghai,
produced 90 patents last year. That is amazing: It amounts to three patents per
person on average. And nearly half of the team's members are Chinese. The
achievements may best describe the rewards of Philips' efforts to build a
research and development (R&D) network in China. It also underlines the
rapid rise of China as a global corporate R&D base - and as a major source
of innovation. Foreign technology firms, which have long been looking at China
as a major manufacturing workshop and a big market, are now aggressively tapping
the nation's scientific brainpower. The world-class lab where Du works employs
more than 80 researchers or scientists, 90 per cent of whom are Chinese. Philips
has 15 R&D centres in China, which, combined, employ about 1,000 people.
Most of those workers are Chinese. Xu Chengkai, vice-president at Philips'
China, said the firm plans to recruit about 1,500 people in China next year.
That would represent a 120-per-cent increase over the number of workers
recruited in China by the firm last year. A number of the new employees will
work on R&D. "What we need most are employees who majored in
semiconductors," Xu said. Rapid business growth is driving the recruitment, the
vice-president said recently during an interview with China Business Weekly.
Philips' revenues in China, composed of sales in the country and exports from
the country, surged nearly 12 per cent last year, to reach US$7.5 billion. And
Philips's business has grown even faster this year: Its revenues in China soared
more than 30 per cent, year-on-year, in the year's first three quarters. "The
huge size of the local market and the talent pool are also reasons for our
expanded recruitment in China," Xu said. Philips this year also plans to recruit
numerous graduates from leading Chinese universities to quench its thirst for
talent. China's universities, spurred by better education and the nation's rapid
economic growth, are now producing an increasing number of talented engineers,
who are being courted by foreign firms. "It is noteworthy that the number of
university graduates, majoring in engineering with a bachelor's degree in China,
is already larger than the combined total of Japan and the United States," said
Josephine Cheng, director of IBM's China Software Development Laboratory (CSDL).
"China is producing a greater number of brilliant talents." CSDL plans to
recruit 200 more software engineers in China by year's end, Cheng said. That
will raise the lab's headcount to 2,000. CSDL is one of IBM's top five software
laboratories in the world. IBM earlier this month said it plans to recruit 400
graduates from top-notch Chinese universities. That, if accomplished, will be a
record number. It will also double, from last year, the number of IBM's
recruitment on campuses in China. University graduates are expected to account
for half of the firm's total recruitment this year in China. Industry
professionals said many university graduates in China prefer to go abroad, but
they are also inclined to work in China for foreign companies. To lure Chinese
students, foreign technology firms have tied up with leading Chinese
universities in such initiatives as making donations to improve education and
co-establishing institutes. For example, Cisco Systems has spent US$38 million
since 1998 to set up university training centres for software programmers in
China. Meanwhile, Philips has been co-operating with several major Chinese
universities on numerous technology projects. Xu said Philips will send its new
employees to Asian and European countries for various training programmes. The
training could involve a great deal of investment. Siemens plans to more than
double, to 800, the number of engineers in its mobile phone R&D centre in
Beijing next year. And the firm will spend approximately 200,000 euros
(US$260,000) each to train the 500 engineers, Wolfgang Klebsch, vice-president
and head of the company's Beijing R&D Product Development Centre, told China
Business Weekly. John Chambers, Cisco System's president and chief executive
officer, said China's excellent infrastructure, large pool of talents and
business-friendly policies implemented by the country's government have prompted
Cisco to increase its R&D activities in China. Chambers announced last
September that Cisco will open a US$32-million R&D centre in Shanghai. It is
scheduled to open next year. The centre will employ about 100 people. Cisco is
now localizing both its R&D and manufacturing in China, due in part to fend
off competition from local players. "What we're trying to do is outline an
entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company," Chambers said. In addition to
Philips, some other technology giants have begun reaping the benefits of
localized R&D in China. About 30 per cent of Siemens mobile phones sold
globally are based on models developed in its Beijing R&D centre. And 40 per
cent of the handsets sold by Nokia's Mobile Phones Business Group globally are
designed and developed in its Beijing Product Creation Centre. "China has become
a very important part of Nokia's global R&D network," said David Ho,
president of Nokia (China) Investment Co Ltd. "Our deepened localized R&D
effort is already bearing fruit." Nokia earlier this month said it would double
the headcount at its global R&D centre in Hangzhou, capital of East China's
Zhejiang Province, within 18 months. The centre is focusing on the R&D of
third-generation (3G) mobile communications technology. Some technology firms -
concerned about the difficulties in protecting their intellectual property
rights (IPRs) - had resisted the temptation to move their R&D facilities to
China. But now many are running full-scale labs that work on their most-advanced
products. A report released by the European Commission last Thursday said China
is emerging as a low-cost rival to the European Union in high-skill industries.
The commission attributed China's success, in a large part, to the government's
policy to actively encourage investment which allows it to tap into foreign
technology. Ericsson last Thursday announced it had begun providing European
customers with 3G WCDMA wireless base stations. The stations are fully
researched, developed and manufactured in China. The firm said 15 per cent of
its employees in China are working on R&D, and its investment in R&D in
the country has been growing 25 per cent annually since 2000. Impacts US and
European technology firms are facing criticism and opposition in their home
countries for increasing R&D activities and expanding recruitment efforts in
China. Some critics feel such moves by the firms are leading to job losses in
the United States and Europe. Many technology firms are increasing employment in
China and India, but cutting jobs in their home countries. German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder has verbally attacked German firms that have moved jobs
abroad. Reuters has quoted Schroeder as calling the firms "unpatriotic." But
China remains a magnet. For example, increasing R&D staffing will help
Siemens cut substantial costs in an increasingly competitive market. Gerard
Kleisterlee, chief executive officer of Philips, said productivity per dollar
labour cost was five times higher in China than in Germany. "It is such a big
advantage to conduct R&D in China," Klebsch said. In responding to critics
of outsourcing jobs, Kleisterlee said people should "stop clinging to outdated
standpoints." "Many people in this part of the world still seem unable to grasp
the full implications of the dramatic rise of dynamic growth economies in Asia,
such as China and India," Kleisterlee has been quoted by Reuters as saying. "In
order to remain competitive, companies are shifting jobs from the West to Asia.
Initially it was in manufacturing, but increasingly it has come to include
support functions in services and research and development. "(China) is quickly
becoming the electronics factory of the world. Increasingly, however, it is also
becoming a base for research and development, driven by the availability of a
vast number of highly educated engineers and scientists." Xu said it is natural
for businesses to seek low-cost talents, and China is a market that
multinationals cannot afford to ignore. "But you know the average salary of
Chinese people has also been increasing very rapidly in recent years," he said.
"Maybe in 10 years, China will not be the country with the lowest labour costs."
Kleisterlee said his firm will "step up R&D activities, hire more R&D
engineers and transfer more business management activities to China." The firm
plans to employ or nurture 100 more senior Chinese executives by 2007, Xu said.
Currently, Chinese account for 30 per cent of Philips' management team in the
country. By 2007, the figure will exceed 50 per cent. That is in line with a
vision outlined by Kleisterlee, who has said Asian people should account for at
least 10 per cent of the firm's top managers. Localization of its management
team in China is also expected to boost the firm's business growth in China.
Philips has been aiming to increase its annual revenues in China, to
approximately US$12 billion by 2007.

(Business Weekly 11/30/2004 page16)

It is interesting to scan the hot topics in Chinese publications, blogs, and forums worldwide. The topics there center on economics, geostrategy, domestic socio-economic problems, and international relations. Meanwhile in India, its all about ideological rhetoric, tragi-comic domestic politics, Pakistan, Sankaracharyas, etc

Quote Ramki: 'And "blasi"?!!'

Desi Dork Media (DDM) at its best. Worse than the above blooper is the headline -- using the plural for God (with a capital G).

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Hopefully, it's just him...

Good ol' Alabama is in news... yet again. For having a self-righteous politician fighting the "homosexual agenda," yet again. So, what's new, you ask? Not much, I should say. But just a piece of trivia - a Rep in Alabama Legislature wants all books that have gay protagonists, and even straight characters indulging in "bad behavior" (you know what I mean!!) buried a mile under the earth's crust.

Just where do these guys get their idea of the constitution? If this kind of ban is not a violation of Amendment 1, nothing is. And even Scalia would agree, I think. Not that Allen would not know it. But, you know, jus' makin' a point - surely, a Gawd-fearin' Alabaman could do that! Ain't that righ'?!

What Liberal media?!

Thru Josh Marshall, we learn that CBS and NBC are refusing to air an ad for the United Church of the Christ... because it shows the Church's policy of inclusion of gays, and same-sex couples in their congregation. The ad itself has this message: "if Jesus did not turn away any one, why should we?" Innocuous? Well, not for the networks! You know, the Big Bro is watching!!

This is the Liberal media?!

If you think CBS and NBC are being stupid, and should stop cowering, you are in my club.

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