4000 year old Indus Valley skeletons found in India

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Archaeologists digging around in Haryana, India reveal the unearthing of four human skeletons dating back to the oldest civilization in the subcontinent, and one of the oldest in the World.

The ancient civilization earlier termed Indus Valley Civilization, but now more commonly referred to as the Harappan Civilization dates back around 4,000 years and was first discovered at Mohenjo Daro in present day Pakistan in the 1920s.

The present finds have been recovered from a cemetery in the northern state of Haryana, and consist of 2 adult males, a female and a child.

Scholars believe these finds will shed new light on the Harappan people, about whom nothing much is known. The present excavation is a joint operation by archaeologists from India and South Korea at the cemetery at Rakhigarhi village in Hissar district of Haryana.

They have been at it since January 2015.

(image courtesy Manoj Dhaka / BBC)

Original report at the BBC link http://j.mp/1CZvrdJ

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April Showers at Chennai

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After being hot and sweaty for 3 weeks or more, this Vishu Day, is a pleasant surprise for Madras, that is Chennai.  It was overcast in the morning, but later brightened up a little.  Though we have had a few drizzles over the last couple of days, it was not much.  But today is different.

A big, big Thunderstorm has moved in from Vellore and is dumping a few centimetres worth of moisture on the city.  April Showers are a rare phenomenon at Chennai and today will be one of those.

OTOH, people of Chennai have to be prepared for a spell of really hot, sweltering which usually follows up these finicky thunder storms.

Here are some snapshots of the Chennai sky before the storm burst.  Had to snap off a few quick snaps as the growling was ominous, and I suddenly realised that I was probably on (one of) the tallest structures around.

This is a view looking due North:

chennai-sky-looking-North-15-Apr-2015

The is a view of the South East:

chennai-sky-looking-SouthEast-15-Apr-2015

Does this little bit of April Showers mean a short bloom of May Flowers?
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Moodle for Doodle this Tamil New Year 2015

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Today, 14 April 2015, is the Tamil New Year.  Tomorrow is the Malayalam New Year or Vishu.  A unique aspect of these two days in the luni-solar calendar is that people from many more cultures celebrate their respective new year at this time.  Apart from the Tamil and the Malayali, people from Punab, Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Tulus also celebrate their New Year today or tomorrow.

It is not just people of India, but people from adjoining nations, like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Kampuchea also celebrate their new year.

Google will not, did not, put up a Doodle for the Tamil New Year.  So what?  Let us have a Moodle instead.

moodle-tamil-new-year-2015

Thus for the Tamil New Year, Vishu, Vaishaki, and for all the others people who are celebrating the New Year in Bengal, Assam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Kampuchea – Best Wishes for a nice year ahead.

Addendum 15 Apr 2015:
Wait a moment.  Google did put up a doodle, or 3 New Year Doodles for the occasion.  Only none of them were India specific.

Songkran or the Thai and Burmese New Year on 13 Apr 2015

Khmer New Year on 14 Apr 2015


Bangladesh New Year on 14 Apr 2015


Too bad they did not put up one for the Tamil New Year, but then, we have our Moodle, do we not?

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How Dassault fooled PM Narendra Modi on Rafale

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Defence Minister Parrikar went to town how ‘oxygen’ was breathed into the Indian Air Force by signing the deal for 36, yes Thirty Six, Dassault Rafale fighters by Narendra Modi after meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Friday, for about $4 billion.  The truth is Dassault, basically made a fool of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The facts are:
There was a proposal in 2006 PTI report dated 22 Feb 2006, wherein then CEO of Dassault Edelstenne (part of delegation with Jacques Chirac) to then MoS Defence Rao Inderjit Singh to sell 40 (yes Forty) Rafale's in fly-away condition - not as part of MMRCA - but as a separate deal.  [http://www.stratpost.com/an-alternate-theory-of-the-mmrca-process-i]. 

Before we go into that 2006 proposal and its ramifications, the same Rao Inderjit Singh, has switched sides, and he is now part of the BJP government.  Let us for a moment keep aside the fact why that original offer was rejected.  The point is the same Rao Inderjit Singh is today, MoS (Independent Charge) of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Planning and Defence.  Yes, you read it right, he is also MoS Defence.  The point is whether Rao Inderjit Singh had informed the PM about the original 2006 offer, if so why that and the rejection was not taken into account, and even worse, if he had not done so, why?

Obviously the then PM Manmohan Singh refused to fall for it - as it would not involve any Technology Transfer or ‘Make in India’, though that phrase was not in vogue before the present PM Narendra Modi made a big hue-and-cry about it - and rejected the original Dassault offer of 40 Rafale in fly-away condition.

Now the same Dassault had offered almost the same proposal, with cost increase obviously, but other conditions like non-technology-transfer and no Make-in-India, but with only 36 as against the original 40 aircraft.

This opens up 3 disadvantages for India.
a) We are caught in the loop with Dassault and closed other options under MMRCA.  We cannot threaten to go for Eurofighter.
b) Our position has become weaker even on price and technology transfer negotiation.
c) Even within MMRCA, 1/2 to 1 squadron 20 - 40 Rafales were to be French manufacture and rest by HAL.  So now instead of only 20-40 French built, we are going to have (36+20 or 40) 56 - 76 fly-aways, and only 50 or so for HAL.

My querulous side queries, what happened to the missing FOUR from the original offer of 40.  Where did the 4 go?  Did they fly into Switzerland on the sly?  No wonder the PM is saluting the French.

PM-Modi-saluting-French-for36-instead-of-40-Rafales
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Tamil New Year, Mesha Ravi Tharpanam 2015 procedure in Tamil

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The new Tamil Year will bring us cheer on 14 April 2015.  It is also the practice to perform the Mesha Ravi Tharpanam on the day.  In 2015 the Tamil New Year commences at 12:17 IST on 14 April 2015, so the Tharpanam should be performed before that time.

As usual the procedure for Tharpanam as PDF and EPUB are uploaded, along with the shortest procedure for those who do not know all the details, yet do want to perform the Tharpanam.

Here is the screenshot of the Sankalpam in FB Reader on the desktop.

mesha-ravi-tharpanam-2015

PDF: Mesha Ravi Tharpanam on Tamil New Year 2015 – PDF file [ download link ] ~140 KB
EPUB: Mesha Ravi Tharpanam on Tamil New Year 2015 – EPUB file [ download link ] ~ 72 KB
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SHORT [Not for normal users] Mesha Ravi Tharpanam SHORT – PDF file [ download ] ~108 KB
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Join the Internet Vote and Against TRAI by 23 April 2015

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The US Congress is going ahead with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership.  Fight For The Future is spearheading a Vote against it on 23 April.  For Indians, TRAI released a consultation paper ‘Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top Services’ which aims to break Net Neutrality.  Deadline for public response is, surprise, surprise, 24 April 2015!  So time to join and do something about both.

First from the Fight For the Future website which says ‘(The US) Congress is about to introduce a bill to fast track a secret deal that could lead to global censorship. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  We think Internet users everywhere should have a say in decisions that affect the Internet — but if “Fast Track” legislation passes, there is no chance that the public will see the text before the deal is approved.  Join the Internet Vote on April 23rd and let’s make it clear to DC how we’re voting: against Fast Track and against Internet censorship.’

Next from the standard letter (which I have signed and emailed) by Save The Internet, ‘(regarding the) consultation paper published by TRAI on March 27, 2015 titled "Regulatory Framework For Over-the-Top (OTT) Services”, worried … makes sweeping assumptions about the Internet, and does not take a neutral and balanced view of  … Net Neutrality.

TRAI (should be) outlining measures to protect and advance net neutrality for all Indians. Net neutrality (means) Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.  TRAI must … safeguard the interests of citizens … over claims made by some corporate interests.’

As a reminder this blog will keep displaying the ‘Join the Internet Vote’ with the ‘Vote Now’ one time pop-up till the deadline.  I hope Save the Internet also manages a pop-up like the BFF or someone can work out a 2 button solution to merge the two coinciding interests.

So, I urge you to immediately sign the Save the Internet letter at [http://www.savetheinternet.in/] without waiting for the 24 April deadline.

I also equally urge you not to forget to vote at the Fight for the Future at [https://www.battleforthenet.com/internetvote/] and vote on 23 April.

But please spread the word – for both Fight for the Future and Save the Internet, on your FB, Twitter or G+ pages.

vote-against-TPP-save-netneutrality-India
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Richie Benaud moves on to the Great Commentary Box

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The incomparable Richie Benaud has passed away.  The man who probably has seen more live Cricket than anyone else – more than 500 Test matches by one count – has taken his place in the Eternal Commentary Box up there.

Richie Beanud bowled leg-spin in 63 Tests he played, 28 of them as captain, before retiring in 1964 to pursue a career in journalism and broadcasting.  Benaud was the first man to achieve 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in Test Cricket. He was also a brilliant tactical skipper and never lost a Test series, winning five and drawing two.

To me his best ever line was ‘And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just ninety-eight runs short of his century’.

RIP Richie Benaud.

richie-benaud-1930-2015


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Batman from Chennai is Bruceothaman Waynekatraman

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ROFL /really/ Don't know how long +Warner Bros. UK would allow this on YouTube, but have a laugh while you can.  What if Batman was from Chennai?

For those who don’t understand Tamil, there are subtitles in English.

Though I confess it took me a minute to catch the ‘hello brother, Happy Holi’ quip to Joker on the opening scene.
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#Presstitutes lands Gen VK Singh in fresh controversy

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Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh yesterday termed the media as 'presstitutes'. On Tuesday V.K. Singh stirred a fresh controversy with political parties and editors slamming him for calling the media 'presstitutes'.

"Friends what do you you expect from presstitutes," the controversial General tweeted. Then he added to it with another tweet, 'clarifying' what he exactly meant by it - as if anyone could be in doubt about the word with "last time the news anchor thought there was 'O' in place of 'E'."

This is the same General who controversially questioned his own Date of Birth, so as to wrangle an extension for a couple of years, allegedly to thwart a successor from becoming Chief of Army. After he lost the case, never bothered to institute a correctional mechanism to avoid such controversies in future - as suggested in my post - which doubly vilified him.

UPA had #ShashiTharoor as its Joker. Guess V.K. Singh is the Joker in this BJP regime.

 Minister in #Presstitutes tweet controversy is the Joker of BJP. Original report at http://j.mp/1E3IJeC.

Mind you, this is not the first time a politician uses the 'ho' word against others - in media or in politics, but all those instances were 'abroad'. This must be the first time a senior level politician, a Central Minister at that, has used the 'ho' word in India.

  • in March 2015, the Zambian Minister for Education Michael Kaingu called the Namwala MP Moono Lubezhi a ‘prostitute; 
  • in Nov 2014, Iceland's Progressive MP Þorsteinn Sæmundsson termed artist Snorri Ásmundsson as Iceland's biggest attention whore; 
  • in Oct 2014, Queensland's acting Integrity Commissioner has likened selling access to ministers through political fundraisers to prostitution; 
  • in Nov 2013, Canada's CBC reporter was called out for terming Conservative cabinet minister Michelle Rempel's photo on her Twitter was 'slutty'; 
  • in Aug 2012, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia Deputy Prime Minister, Calls Madonna Moralizing 'Slut' After Support For Pussy Riot; 



(image courtesy India Today & cartoonist Narsim)
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Watch PSLV C27 launch with IRNSS-1D

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India on Saturday, 28 Mar 2015, moved one significant step closer to its  ambition to establish an independent regional navigation satellite system, as ISRO’s PSLV C-27 successfully launched Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) 1-D satellite into the intended orbit.

While the existing GPS belonging to the USA is global, the IRNSS is more modest, with the aim limited to provide a precision positioning system for the South Asian region.  IRNSS 1-D is the fourth of the series of seven satellites, which would form ISRO’s IRNSS.

Here is the video of the launch of the PSLV C27 from my rooftop at Chennai.

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