Google Pigeon Update increases traffic

On 24th July Google unleashed an update for its local search algorithm.  It was immediately dubbed as Pigeon Update by the SEO gurus at  The reasoning behind the name was explained as ‘this is a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home.’

Over the next few days, once again the people who practice, and are obsessed with SEO noticed a drop in traffic to their websites.  In spite of the fluctuations in traffic, many gurus do feel that it is not that significant for a major update.  But the best view was a comment in seoroundtable, which I quote, ‘assume you named it "Pigeon" because whenever we start to get a handle on things, Google comes in and craps all over it.’

While the giants of the search friendly techniques can have their debate and their take too, a doddering fool like me has only anxiety and Blogger stats to fall back on.  Quickly looking through the traffic graph through Blogger makes me happy.

Over the last 6 days or so, right after the Pigeon update rollout, the traffic seems to have improved by ~15%.  Which is a big, big jump.  Here is the snapshot of the traffic graph for the month of July 2014.

As you can see, after 24th July, the dark blue worm is in a climbing mood.  Let me point out the huge, scary trough on the 9th of July.  That was the post on the Germany win over Brazil in the FIFA World Cup.

Initially, I had captioned it as ‘German blitzkrieg stuns Brazil’, and the worm simply nose-dived.  A day later, guessing that the first two words together probably are distasteful to the search engines, I renamed the post as ‘Germany stuns Brazil’, to see the worm perk up.

Lessons worth learning.  For now, I am just happy that the pigeon is not pooping on my blog.


Aadi Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam in Tamil, English and Sanskrit

Tomorrow, 26 July 2014, is the monthly Amavasya (அமாவாசை ) or New Moon Day for the Tamil month of Aadi (ஆடி).  This Amavasya is a Sarva Amavasya (ஸர்வ-அமாவாசை), which means there is no separate Bhodanaya Amavasya occurring in the Tamil month of Aadi, or July 2014. 

For the first time the Sankalpa manthram is given in Tamil, English (IAST), and in Sanskrit/Devanagri scripts for the Amavasya Tharpanam for the Aadi month, occurring on 26 July 2014.

The Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam Generator version 0.5 beta is already with beta testers, and working fine - or at least, no one has complained - which I guess is the same thing.

Here is the snapshot of the Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam Generator for the Aadi Amavasya 2014.


The Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam Generator version 0.5 beta will also display the date and time in IST for the Thithi and Nakshatra, in the adjoining cells.  If you wish to contribute to the effort, use the PayPal button in this website to slip us a few dollars/rupees.  (Note: Since PayPal in India cannot provide ‘Donate’ options, your contribution will show up as an invoice).

For everyone, here is the Aadi Amavasya 2014 Tharpana Sankalpam in Tamil, English and Sanskrit scripts.
… ஜெய-நாம-ஸம்வத்ஸரே, தக்ஷிணாயணே க்ரீஷ்ம-ருதௌ, கடக-மாஸே, க்ருஷ்ண-பக்ஷே, அமாவாஸ்யாயாம் (till 27/7, 04:10 IST)-புண்யதிதௌ, ஸ்திர-வாஸர-யுக்த்தாயாம், புனர்வஸூ (till 26/7, 15:08 IST)-நக்ஷத்ர-யுக்த்தாயாம், ஸ்ரீ-விஷ்ணு-யோக ஸ்ரீ-விஷ்ணு-கரண சுபயோக சுபகரண ஏவங்குண விஷேஷன விஷிஷ்டாயாம், அஸ்யாம், அமாவாஸ்யாயாம் (till 27/7, 04:10 IST)-புண்யதிதௌ … (ப்ராசீநாவீதி - பூணூல் இடம்)

… jaya nāma saṁvatsare, dakṣiṇāyaṇe, grīṣma-ṛtau, kaṭaka-māse, kruṣṇa-pakṣe, amāvāsyāyāṁ (till 27/7, 04:10 IST) -puṇyatithau, stira-vāsara yuktāyāṁ, punarvasū (till 26/7, 15:08 IST)-nakṣatra yuktāyāṁ, śri-viśṇu-yoga, śri-viśṇu-karaṇa, śubhayogaśubhakaraṇa evaṁguṇa-viśeṣaṇa-viśiṣṭāyāṁ, asyāṁ, amāvāsyāyāṁ (till 27/7, 04:10 IST) puṇyatithau … (prācīnāvītī)

… जय नाम संवत्सरे, दक्षिणायणे, ग्रीष्म-ऋतौ, कटक-मासे, क्रुष्ण-पक्षे, अमावास्यायां (till 27/7, 04:10 IST)-पुण्यतिथौ, स्तिर-वासर युक्तायां, पुनर्वसू (till 26/7, 15:08 IST)-नक्षत्र युक्तायां, श्रि-विश्णु-योग, श्रि-विश्णु-करण, शुभयोगशुभकरण एवंगुण-विशेषण-विशिष्टायां, अस्यां, अमावास्यायां (till 27/7, 04:10 IST) पुण्यतिथौ … (प्राचीनावीती)

Read the post on Gayathri Japam 2014 procedure in Tamil, English and Sanskrit

Gayathri Japam 2014 procedure in Tamil, Sanskrit, English

If Rg, Yajur Sama Upakarma is the act of purifying the Brhman within oneself, the Gayathri Manthra Japam on next day (usually) is the act of renewing the shield.  In 2014, the Gayathri Mantra Japam is on 11 Aug 2014, one day after the Yajur Upakarma or Avani Avittam which is on 10 Aug 2014.

Though it is usual practice to include the Gayathri Japa Sankalpam and procedure as a paragraph, or an addendum to the Upakarma procedure itself, I chose not to do it.

For long, we have been treating Gayathri Manthra Japam as an addendum of the Upakarma or Avani Avittam.  In truth, Gayathri Mantra Japam is something special on its own.

Please do read important tips for observing Avani Avittam here and for Gayathri Japam here.  A full Gayathri Japam is not just a 2 line sankalpam.  The full procedure consists of:
  1. ஆசமனம், த்யானம், ப்ராணாயாமம் (आचमनम्, प्राणायामम्)
  2. ஸங்கல்பம் (संकल्प:))
  3. ப்ரணவஜபம், ப்ராணாயாமம் (प्रणवजप:-प्राणायाम:)
  4. காயத்ரி ஆவாஹனம் (गायत्री-आवाहनम्)
  5. காயத்ரி நியாஸம் (गायत्री-न्यासः)
  6. காயத்ரி ஜபம் (गायत्री-जपम्)
  7. ப்ராணாயாமம், காயத்ரி-உபஸ்தானம் (गायत्री-उपस्थानम्)
  8. ஸூர்ய-உபஸ்தானம் (सूर्य-उपस्थानम्)
  9. ப்ரஹ்மார்பணம், ஆசமனம் (ब्रह्मार्पणम)
That is the reason the full Gayathri Mantra Japam procedure in Tamil, English and Sanskrit (yes, in Sanskrit too) will be uploaded this weekend.  The Upakarama procedure for Yajur, Rg, and Sama Vedas, for Iyers and Iyengars will be uploaded next week.

If you wish to contribute to the effort, use the PayPal button in this website to slip us a few dollars/rupees.  (Note: Since PayPal in India cannot provide ‘Donate’ options, your contribution will show up as an invoice).

Please do not wait till the 10th of August to download, as there may be bandwidth problems - last year there were several thousand downloads, and a few hundred who were not able to do so.


Ganging up on India in WTO once again

My first article on politics after the India elections 2014, and there could not be a more appropriate topic than the concerns of India in World Trade Organisation.  If you are unaware, in December 2013, a round of negotiations took place at Bali, Indonesia, and a Trade Agreement was hammered out.

The Bali Package, as it is termed, is hailed as the 1st ever agreement reached through WTO which has been approved by all its members.  The Bali Package, it is claimed, would bring down the cost of international trade by 10 to 15%, bring about 21 million jobs, and stimulate $1 Trillion worth of global economic activity.
Sounds good, though everyone who talks about the jobs and the $1 Trillion fail to say where those jobs and money would accumulate.

Reality apart, there is a very big sting for India (and the other Developing and Least Developed Countries), as the Bali Package aims to dismantle Food Subsidies.  The primary target of US and other developed countries is said to be the Indian government stockpile of the food grains.  For without that stockpile, the developed countries (and their trading houses) can run riot manipulating the price of food grains creating havoc in economies whose staple food consists of rice or wheat. 

Ever heard of Bengal Famine?  Though the causes for the famine are thought to be 4-fold, it was the absence of food stockpile in then colonial India, and the efforts of the British to create a stockpile of their own for consumption after the war, exacerbated the famine in 1943.

Despite what the present BJP led administration might claim later in the year, the Congress led government adopted a tough negotiation style in the Bali Conference.  They managed to extract assurances that the concerns of India (and the developing world) on Food Security would be met with.

Under such circumstances it was a surprise to read an article in Reuters today, accusing India of erratic and exasperating behaviour. []

It might be a scare tactic, a sounding balloon, sent out to test the Narendra Modi government, which was expected to be more ‘friendly’ towards business, but has been kowtowing the same policies of the previous Manmohan Singh administration.

Reading the article made me guffaw on how two positions of inactivity, which are exactly the same, could be described as two different, and contrasting situation - one stark, and the other, a magic wand for all the world’s troubles.

Since the Bali Package of December 2013, India, understandably could not have moved to conceptualize the guarantees it yearns for its poor, because of the extended elections, and the change in leadership.  Thus it is India is accused of not providing ‘any clear description of exactly what changes it would like’ in the agreement.

But what has been the WTO Secretariat, and the gang of developed countries, who could manage the Bali deal only ‘after New Delhi extracted promises that its concerns related to food subsidies would be addressed’, have been doing over the last 6 months?

Neither side has even prepared a draft position paper on what and how to address the Food Security and allied issues.  But the inaction on the part of the WTO and Developed Nations is described as a position full with ‘patience’, while a similar lackadaisical activity on India’s part is described as ‘erratic’ and ‘hindering’ the progress.

During the Bengal Famine of 1943, the price of food grains - basically Wheat and Rice - is said to have quadrupled in 6 months between March and October 1943.  If the decision by Winston Churchill to divert food grains from Australia, Canada and the USA to other British territories (for the war effort) and to Britain herself (for after war efforts) was one of the 4 main factors of that Bengal Famine, the purely speculative Commodity Exchange of India is superbly duplicating his efforts seventy years later.  The only difference is there was no elected government in 1943 for the people to blame!


(image courtesy: Keystone, Hulton Archive, Getty Images)

Google relents on Pseudonym or fake names

Google, after holding out for a number of years, has finally relented, and will permit 'pseudonyms' on Google Plus.  It has always struck me as a a hypocritical, myopic insistence by Google to use only real names. 

Their own Eric Schmidt suggested in 2010 that kids might have to change their names on adulthood to disassociate from their teenage follies permanently recorded online.  He regretted in 2013 that Internet does not have a ‘delete’ button to wipe such data, in a talk with Nouriel Roubini.  Google, the company itself, is actively opposed to anti-privacy or intrusive laws like SOPA and CISPA.

So it was funny for the company to adopt a policy, firmly discouraging pseudonyms or nom-de-plumes.  Adopting a pseudonym itself is a disadvantage, even without Google getting into the act.  Many netziens do not take seriously, or do not interact seriously, with people who have adopted an unconventional pen name. 

To me, an obvious pen name like mine, is not as dangerous as adopting an ‘alias’ - a name which sounds lifelike - Solomon, Suleiman, Sukandan, or Swarup Anand.  Incidentally all the 4 names are related to peace, bliss, and content.  Is it not more dangerous for you to think of me as Sukandan rather than as mad.madrasi?

To be fair to Google, I never had any problems, despite their policy of not encouraging pseudonyms.  Even when Google offered custom URLs instead of those long numbers in G+ profile, it came through.  There was no problem with Google Authorship program too!

Though I am glad that particular 'Damocles Sword' is no more, saving me from anxiety.  Here is their announcement.  As you can see, there are many who supported the real-name-only policy.


(image courtesy