Archive for August, 2012


Disclaimer – The opinion’s are mine. Statistics aren’t mine. They have been picked up from the internet and research work from various sources (links provided as and when). My political orientation, at present, is neutral. I have a growing discontent towards the congress government at the centre. However, that thought will only reflect on the initial lines of this post. Further down, I am going to speak only about the power reforms that happened in Gujarat. This is not propaganda. This story inspired me and I am sharing it. Period.

2012. Congress rules the country without a long-term vision. Congress does not have a solid development plan for the nation. The situation looks grim with inflation soaring high and money value falling low. The liberalization of trade or the so called trade reforms by Manmohan Singh have made the Indian manufacturers/farmers/companies to struggle against huge conglomerates that have international experience in trade. Manmohan keeps himself silent and the only time when he breaks his silence, he says – my silence is better than a thousand answers. You cannot get an justification for that statement from the Prime minister because it would take another 10 years to get that.

Meanwhile, a man called Narendra Damodardas Modi, Chief minister of Gujarat, gave an interview to Wall street journal on his state and development. Though Modi was not very methodical in answering few questions, he was very open in few. I don’t support Modi very blindly. I know he is a man with an accusation that holds him responsible for the 2002 Gujarat riots. However, a person who opens his mouth to say something is more a visionary than a man, who prefers to maintain silence, when he is answerable and accountable to 100 crore people.

Here are few excerpts from Modi’s interview to WSJ. They have been translated from Hindi.

WSJ: What was your reaction to India’s massive electricity blackouts at the end of July?

Modi:  The power and energy sectors are the biggest constituents of the infrastructure sector. If you ignore them, no development will happen. As far as the power blackout is concerned, I am embarrassed by it. This is a great loss for my nation. The situation was immediately compared to Gujarat. The world saw so much darkness that even a flicker of light caught their attention.

WSJ: Can Gujarat’s electricity reforms be a model for other states?

Modi: Villages (in Gujarat) didn’t used to get power at dinner time. They’d eat in the dark. Kids didn’t have light to study for exams; if mother was sick, there was no electricity…It disturbed me. Then I got involved. God helped me. He gave me a technical solution: separating the network so there are different power lines for agriculture and for domestic use. It became a huge success story – we completed it in 1,000 days.  All the states of India felt that this should be replicated in their states too.

WSJ: Should India remove foreign investment barriers in the multi-brand retail sector, allowing in companies like WalMart and Tesco? Would you support such a move?

Modi: When you bring in multi-brand retail items into the country, you’re not just bringing the products, but you’re also harming local manufacturers. You must strengthen your manufacturing sector and put it on a level playing field with the world. Any kind of items manufactured globally, like small pens, pencils, notebooks – our manufactured goods need to be on a level playing field. Then let them come. Have a competition. The biggest loss is going to be to manufacturers. Local traders will be fine; they will sell the stuff imported from outside and still earn profits.

I feel these answers, however politically oriented they may be, still prove that Modi is trying to do something to this nation. For the people, who question the radical Hindu-istic policy of Modi, that is a different topic and we will discuss it another post. For now, I am going to speak only about the power situation in Gujarat – Pre-Modi and Post-Modi.

2001 – The year, Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat. The next year, Gujarat was ravaged by communal riots that killed anywhere between 1000-2000 people. Gujarat was no better in developmental scenario too. In 2001, the power situation in Gujarat was very bad. Mr.Tarak Das from Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM-Ahmedabad) did a study on Gujarat Power scenario titled “Case study on – Gujarat State Electricity Board (GSEB) – A benchmark in the progress of SEB reforms.” IIPM’s authenticity may be questioned (we will do a separate post on this one)because they are an controversial organization but the figures and other research studies speak for the change. For an organization that reported an overall loss of INR 2542.98 crore in 2001 and to report a profit of INR 200 crore in 2006, something should have happened between 2001-2006. The something were the reforms suggested and implemented by N.D.Modi’s government.

To go into more details, GSEB was a failing organization in 2001. They had heavy losses (INR 2543 crore), their transmission and distribution (T&D) losses were high (35.2%) and the power purchase cost per unit from private players was high (INR 2.59). GSEB had no funds and was reeling in debt with interests alone summing up to a staggering INR 1227 crore (included in the loss). How would you revive the organization? The Gujarat government did it with aplomb. The story is interesting.

Its too late for the day. I will continue the story in subsequent posts. Good night. I dream big and I dream good. Do the same. They become true one day.

p.s – traveling over the weekend. The next post may be delayed by 3-4 days. Have a nice weekend.

Smile

Hi,

Link to previous post – the beginning.

Recoil was a fantastic game. It was an arcade game. You were a tank with many missions to destroy evil. I kept playing it. It also had a God mode. God mode meant that you will never die. Mission accomplished. I never completed the game without the God mode. I was that good a player.

One fine day, the CD did not work. I could have searched and downloaded the game but that did not work out because my internet bandwidth was just 64 Kbps. Yahoo took a full minute to open. So that option was out.

But newer CDs were available in the market. Grey market. I visited a friend’s place one fine day, and found him playing a game with little little men running around. There were few men cutting down trees, few were fishing, and few more were mining. There were many buildings. My friend controlled all those. I immediately wanted that game. No. Don’t imagine me as a 31 year old man jumping up and down for a game CD. I was just 19 then.

When AoE 2 released, my friend bought the AoE2 CD and I borrowed the AoE CD from him. Then it all began. I did not where to start. I did not know which civilization to start with. So I started with Random Map. Divine. It took me a long time to win one game. I did not know about cheat codes for AoE then. I only thought cheat codes were there for Ashes 97. Once I got the cheat codes, I mastered the random map games,  and moved to the Death Match. The game was tried with different difficulty levels and different number of opponents. I, at one stage, became such a good player that, I could win the game without cheat codes at maximum difficulty.

The beauty of AoE is the control it gives you. You are God in AoE. You create, conduct, and destroy the world that is under your total control. Starting from the interface and going until the credits, the efforts that have been put into this mammoth effort is not at all small.

When you say Age of Empires, three names should be remembered – Bruce Shelley, Tony Goodman, and Dave Pottinger.

A very short introduction of these three men is an absolute necessity.

Bruce Shelley – The face of Ensemble studios. Yes. The same man who worked along with Sid Meier in Civilization and Railroad Tycoon.

Tony Goodman – The founder of Ensemble Studios along with John Boog-Scott (He was with Anderson consulting which was renamed as Accenture later). He worked on the art in AoE.

Dave Pottinger – The man behind the awesome artificial intelligence (AI). A 33 year old graduate from the university of Arizona, this man worked in the entire series of AoE as the engine lead and AI specialist in Ensemble Studios.

Ensemble Studios, the maker of this great game, was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and continued to function as an internal wing until 2009. On 29 January 2009, Ensemble Studios was disbanded and the employees were laid off. Lot many employees from Ensemble joined together and currently work under the brand Zynga.

I have my resources from the internet and Airtel has messed up big time with my internet connection. So I am unable to gain more information on this topic. I will resume the posts once my internet gets okay.

This is not my original work. This is shared from the site of OPEN Magazine. This article was presented in OPEN in 2009. I remembered it today and hence, I share.

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Welcome to one of the most heavily militarised states of India. With 627 policemen for every 100,000 people, Manipur holds the unenviable record of the country’s highest police to citizen ratio. Add to the police strength another 55,000 or so Army and paramilitary personnel, and you have one security man for every 35-odd civilians. Ironically, there is no let-up in insurgency-related violence that has ravaged the state for over three decades.

For seven weeks now, all education institutions in Manipur have remained closed as a mark of protest over the killing of two persons (a surrendered militant and pregnant woman) in a fake encounter on 23 July. Civil society and rights organisations have been demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Ibobi Singh for his failure to prevent such fake encounters, which have been on the rise in the north-eastern state.

Kidnappings, extortions and killings by militant groups, coupled with extra-judicial detentions, torture and killings by security forces, have turned Manipur into a lawless state. Officially, last year 483 people died in militancy-related violence. Independent estimates, however, peg the toll at over 600 since many deaths and disappearances go unreported. The year also saw at least five major bomb blasts that claimed over 50 lives. The number of abductions for ransom crossed 150, according to independent estimates.

Endemic corruption, spiralling unemployment, a stagnant economy, political instability (since statehood in 1972 the state has seen 19 chief ministers and President’s Rule imposed seven times) and New Delhi’s myopic approach have driven this once prosperous and independent kingdom close to becoming a ‘failed’ state.

A small state of 22,327 sq. km, Manipur has close to two dozen militant groups waging a bloody battle against security forces that, armed with the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers (AFSP) Act, frequently target innocent civilians.

Here, everyone, including top bureaucrats and police officers, pay taxes to militants. And most of the politicians have some nexus or the other with insurgent groups.

Non-governmental organisations estimate that nearly 80 per cent of the funds allocated for developmental works get siphoned, and a substantial portion of that goes to fund militancy. Roads are pathetic even in the state capital that resembles a shantytown. All ten public sector undertakings (PSUs) are sick or being wound up, and the state government itself admits that small handicrafts and handloom units are the only industries worth the name.

Frequent bandhs and economic blockades mean there is no academic calendar here. Public water supply system is a mere trickle, and there is no sewage disposal network in the state. The public healthcare system is in shambles. And crime is rampant. “We all suffer from a sense of insecurity. Civil liberties remain suspended. The brain drain has been disastrous. Manipur is a huge mess. Manipuris are caught between the militants who extort money from everyone and security forces who arrest, torture and even kill helpless people for succumbing to militants’ demands,” says RK Anand, Manipur People’s Party (MPP) legislator.

But Manipur wasn’t always like this. It was a prosperous kingdom with a rich history and culture dating back to 33 AD. The state’s royal chronicle, or Cheitharol Kumpaba, lists Nongda Lairen Pakhangba as the first king who ruled from 33 to 121 AD, followed by 73 other rulers until 1890 when the British defeated Maharaja Kulachandra and appointed a political agent to rule the state while letting the Maharaja and his successors remain titular heads.

When the British left in 1947, the administration of the state was handed over to the king, Maharaja Bodhachandra, who initiated the move for a constitutional monarchy. Manipur was declared a sovereign country on 28 August 1947 and a constitution was drafted. In June the following year, elections were held under the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947. At the first session of the Assembly on 18 October 1948, a council of ministers was formed with the Maharaja’s younger brother, Kumar Priyobrata, as the chief minister. Maharaja Bodhachandra had devolved all his powers to the council of ministers in accordance with the 1947 Constitutional Act.

In September 1949, Maharaja Bodhachandra was invited by the Governor of Assam to Shillong, and asked to sign a document declaring the merger of Manipur with India. On refusal, he was put under house arrest; his plea that he had no authority to sign the document was ignored. His request to be allowed to return to Manipur and consult the Council of Ministers was also turned down. “He succumbed to the unbearable pressure and signed the so-called ‘merger agreement’ on 21 September 1949, and Manipur became part of India from October 15 that year. This grave injustice, the way our Maharaja was insulted and forced to sign on the dotted line, and the virtual annexation of Manipur by India, is what ultimately led to the birth of insurgency in 1964. We haven’t forgotten the way we were humiliated, and haven’t forgiven India for what it did in 1949,” says Khaidem Mani, a senior lawyer and chronicler of Manipur’s history.

But it wasn’t just the forced merger that rankles Manipuri’s. After becoming part of the Indian Union, Manipur’s status was downgraded from that of a sovereign country to a ‘Part C’ dominion to be ruled by a chief commissioner (a bureaucrat), and that too, without an Assembly or council of ministers. “No other princely state that became part of the Indian Union was downgraded to ‘Part C’ status. In 1975, when Sikkim merged with India, it was granted full statehood. Manipur became a Union Territory in November
1956, but the 30-member elected council only had an advisory role to play, with real powers resting with the Chief Commissioner. A mass movement for statehood gained momentum in 1953, but Delhi did not pay heed,” says Dr L Chandramani Singh, former deputy chief minister and MPP president.

“In 1963, New Delhi granted statehood to the Nagas in a futile gesture to placate Naga leader Phizo, who had started an insurgency. Naturally, Manipuri’s felt that taking up arms was the best way to achieve their demands. 1964 saw the first spark of insurgency in the state. Manipur was conferred full statehood in January 1972, but by then it was too late. Decades of criminal neglect, insult and humiliation suffered by Manipur had set it well on the road to militancy. If New Delhi had an iota of love, sympathy and consideration for the people of Manipur, our state would not have been in such a mess,” he adds.

New Delhi’s crackdown on insurgents has only complicated an already messy situation. The imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has, concede even ruling Congress leaders in the state, alienated the people further. “In 1980, there were only three militant groups in the state. Now, there are over 20. And despite the induction of so many Army and paramilitary personnel, and raising of armed police battalions and police commando units, the militants have increased their areas of influence and strength. No honest effort has been made to negotiate a ceasefire with the militants,” says a senior cabinet minister who does not want to be named for obvious reasons.

Caught in the crossfire, a desperate people have been appealing for the government—both the state and the Union—to initiate dialogues with insurgent groups. In fact, despite strong opposition from New Delhi, the state’s first elected MPP Government offered a general amnesty to militants who surrendered in 1973. “From 1973 to October 1979, there was no insurgency in Manipur. In 1973, soon after the militants responded to the MPP government’s offer, the government was dissolved by New Delhi and President’s Rule imposed. In elections held the next year, the MPP won and formed the government, which was again toppled by Indira Gandhi after six months. The Congress engineered defections and formed the government. These games played by New Delhi fuelled more resentment, and by November 1979, the militants had regrouped and gone underground. From the following year, killings started and continue till today,” says Chandramani Singh.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh admits that deep-rooted distrust of the Government of India exists. “Some actions and policies in the past were wrong. But we’re trying to turn a new leaf and want to negotiate peace with the insurgents. I am always ready to talk to them and have offered a blanket appeal to them to come for talks. But they’ll have to respond first,” he says.

Some accuse the CM of insincerity. “The government has to initiate confidence-building measures and respect the status of the militant outfits. No preconditions should be set for the dialogue, and it is imperative for the Government of India to understand and appreciate Manipur’s history, the genesis of the armed conflict here, and make sincere amends and gestures for the wrongs heaped upon the people of Manipur. This would create the right ground and atmosphere for a meaningful dialogue,” says Mani.

Most Manipuris demand the immediate withdrawal of the AFSP Act. Even some major militant groups have offered to lay down arms to a ‘neutral party’ if the AFSP Act and central security forces are withdrawn from the state. “All Manipuris want the withdrawal of the AFSP Act, so there is no reason why New Delhi should continue to subvert the will of the people. It makes sense to withdraw the central security forces as even the Army says it should not be engaged in internal security duties. The state police can replace the Army and Assam Rifles,” says Chandramani.

But the security establishment isn’t impressed. “Insurgency poses an extraordinary challenge that needs an extraordinary response and special powers for us to operate effectively. We need the AFSP Act and if we’re withdrawn from Manipur, the law and order situation will collapse immediately and militants will gain control of the state,” a top commander at the Army’s Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata told Open.

The CM too is dismissive of the insurgents’ offer: “They’re not serious and just want to buy time to regroup and recuperate, now that they’re on the run. We cannot accept preconditions from them. They’ll have to give up arms and agree to talk within the framework of the Indian Constitution.” It’s a phrase he tends to use frequently, almost habitually. As the face-off goes on, the crisis in Manipur assumes an increasing socio-political complexity.

And for the common man, life is what happens between extortion and the next gun battle.

Hey All,

Do you all love Age of Empires (AoE)? I love it. Rather, I loved it.

Those were the times of PII systems. For those who were born after 2000, the P is actually Pentium. We had Pentium processors first, then came Pentium II and then Pentium III and so on. My association with the computer game started during the times of Celeron processors which were inferior to the Pentium ones.

The year was 1997. I was in tenth standard. The exams were over and we did not have anything to do in the vacation. Beer and stuff were out of reach. Computer’s were the next big thing in life. People were speaking about jobs in computer companies that were paying huge amounts of money as salary. So computers were inviting and I joined a computer class around 2-3 kilometres from my house.

The fee was around 200 bucks. They taught me MS-DOS. Yes. Fricking MS-DOS. Everyday, I used to go there at around 09:30 am and sit and get the instructions done by 11:00am. Once the instruction session was over, we used to have the practical. Practical was interesting because it allowed us to handle the computer. The MS-DOS was not interesting. Ten days into the class, I had made friends there. A good friends taught me well and he taught me some tricks too.

The trick included accessing a folder called games and play a F1 game in a system with MS-DOS. With nothing else to do, that was the only option. Still, the game was very addictive and it just took me a day or two, to get addicted to it. I played the game until the summer holiday was over. Once the summer holidays were over, I did not get a chance to play a computer game until I met few more friends with computers at home.

Ashes 97 had been released. A friend of mine had the CD and we went in everyday to play the game at his house. He had a computer with Pentium processor. Super fast. However, he could not allow us to play the game in his computer for long because of some family issues. His family had issues with us sitting inside the house and playing. Ashes 97 CD was borrowed. We made new friends in tuitions. I used to go for a physics tuition and I was friends with the physics sir’s son. His brother had a computer. When his brother was not around, we went in and used the CD and played the game. We had cheat codes. 131 used to make the batsmen hit a lot of sixes and 321 made the players drop catches. What nice times those were.

But this honeymoon phase with the computer was short-lived because the system conked one day. My tryst with computers were over for good.

It was not until the April of 2000 that I touched the computer again. Dad bought us a computer – A Compaq Presario PII with 128 MB RAM. That was like rocket speed when compared to my friends systems. The system also came bundled with some CDs and games. I got an encyclopaedia and a tank game called Recoil. Recoil was my favourite game until Microsoft released AoE. That was a stunner!

I was madly in love with AoE until 2004. I used to create a huge map and do all sorts of nonsense customizing and create a lot of resources with cheat codes. I made many forts and lot of cavalry. Making the cavalry march towards the enemy fort with battering rams, Gatling guns, Catapults etc. was a beautiful sight. Achieving the victory was sweet. I had played many more strategy and simulation games after that, but nothing beats AoE. It was right royally a game for the kings! My exploration led me to a variety of games. You all must have forgotten those. I will take you back in a trip to the past.

Will continue! Got to clean the house as wifey’s seemantham/valaikappu is tomorrow. Entire house is being cleaned and I am being frowned upon.

Before I go, I am going to write about AoE in detail, in the next post. More games will come with subsequent posts.

Got to go. Bye.

Hey,

I have something to tell ya. I was born in Madurai. So was Vijayakanth. Those who already know Vijayakanth, skip the next paragraph. You haven’t heard that name? Never? Read the next paragraph.

Vijayakanth (born 25 August 1952 as Vijayaraj Prabhakar Alagarswami) is an Indian actor and politician. He is the founder of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and a Member of Legislative Assembly representing Rishivandiyam, Tamil Nadu, India. He is one of the leading actors of Tamil film industry. He was considered as an icon of Tamil movie industry after MGR, Rajinikanth, and Kamal Hassan.

That’s enough. About him. I am writing this post as a mark of respect to the creativity of directors and screenplay writers who used Vijayakanth to create some unforgettable scenes in Tamil movies. Vijayakanth deserves the credit to be mentioned because he accepted to act in those video’s even after he knew that they would look very stupid.

This post is not politically driven. It’s just pun intended. Enjoy the video links from YouTube.

First one –

After finding a dead body on the street and a culprit running away Vijayakanth gives chase to a fleeing baddie. The baddie enters his domain which happens to be a warehouse full of ladders, and hides. Along with over 15 men, can Vijayakanth stop this culprit and press him judgement for his crimes?

 

Second one –

I have no idea how could someone do this. You can see Vijayakanth typing in the keyboard while windows media player runs in the screen. He could also select a persons name from the video and get his bio-data. I am going to fight my OS provider because that company cheated me with a media player with very limited functionality. I am grieved.

Third one

I am a dentist. I have also seen surgeries. I have never seen one like this. Watch it. Hilarious.

 

Fourth one –

You would have seen bulletproof vest. This is unimaginable. Watch it to know it. I am stumped with the creativity.

 

and we have many more! Just google “Funny tamil movie scenes.”

Voila! You end up with a great source of “just for laughs: gags!”

You can share funny video’s in the comments! Please do. Laughter is the best medicine.

Hi,

Five years of age. The age at which a kid enters school. The age at which exploration starts as horizons expand. The age at which a kid leaves the protection of home and moves out into the real world.

I had a pretty bad experience of my first day of school. Back then, I was this tiny little guy. After the first day of school, I boarded the school bus to go home. I was waiting for my stop. I did not know how it would look like. All I knew was that my grandma will be waiting for me in the bus stop. Before I could know, the bus was in my stop. I could see my grandma searching for me anxiously. Before I could push through the crowd and move to the door, the bus moved. I thought “Ok! They will come back and drop me.”

Sadly, I was fooled. The bus showed no signs of return and was heading towards school. When the bus was empty without any student, of course except me, I went up to the driver and asked him to drop me home. Poor fella, that driver. He had the shock of his life. I did not know the name of my stop. He did not know which stop I was from. So they took me back to school. Meanwhile, my grandma had called up my mom, dad and a huge group of relatives, because I did not turn up in the school bus. They thought someone had kidnapped me for a ransom.

The driver took me back to school and we went into the office. They checked the office file for details and found out my home address. The driver said his house was near and he could drop me home. The teachers said yes and sent me along with the driver. The driver had a cycle and he also had an indigenous pram that could be attached to the cycle.

So up we went – against all odds to find my lost parents, grandma, and a huge group of relatives. Before that, I should also tell you about the snacks I ate. The driver, hungry after the trip, wanted to have a tea. So he and another chap made me sit in the cycle and took me to a tea shop. Unfortunately for him, the driver asked me what I wanted. I took two buns, two cream biscuit packets, few chocolates, and ordered a masala milk. I needed snacks to last for sometime until I meet my parent’s right?

So then we went towards my house. Meanwhile, there was a huge commotion/chaos/hullabaloo in our house. A kid is missing. Dad had gone to school and searched. They had told that I had left in the school bus because I had left in the school bus. When my Dad went, there were no teachers. When I returned to school, there were no office administrators. So we did not know that Dad had come to search for me in school. So Dad and other relatives panicked, ran around, and were about to go to the cops to file a complaint.

I had told that the driver picked up my address from the school. My grand mom’s house lies on the way to our house. So when we neared my grandma’s house, I could identify and told the driver to drop me there. Finally, they all let a sigh of relief when they got assured that no body had kidnapped me.

Outcome of this incident –

  1. I sat in the dashboard of the bus for the next 1 year. I never sat in the seats.
  2. I cried for 1 full year when I go to school. When I come back, I used to be my happy self.
  3. I hated school because of this incident. I used to be so scared that I always thought that the bus would leave me at school and go. Because of this, I used to always sit on the table (not the bench) and watch the bus that was parked next to the building. If it moved, I would start crying.

Coming to the most important part of the blog – How the title is related to this incident:

Answer is here!

I wanted to be a driver when I grew up. You know why – I would save a kid from getting lost. The driver was my hero, that day.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I did not become a driver. I am a dentist.

p.s – This is a true incident. My memory is very strong.

Open-mouthed smile

India and me–The Mobile Story

Hi All,

Mobile phones are everywhere today. It was not so, some ten years ago.

The mobile phone industry in India started hitting the right button only in the late 90′s. Before that, it was the dial by phones (land phones). Much before that, it was the trunk dialling wherein you call up the operator, request for a call to be placed, then wait until the call connects and then speak. It was expensive and it was with frequent disconnections. It was used only to inform very very important information.

When I was doing my schooling, the wired phone market was a big thing. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) was the sole provider of telephones then. I still remember the day when we got a phone connection to our house. It took two months to arrive after registration.  There was excitement. I was in my summer holidays and suddenly one fine morning, two technicians came home. They had brought with them a phone like this.

They connected the phone and went off, after taking a service charge of around 20 rupees. My Dad came out with an instruction – “The phone has to be used only for essential communication and not to chat with relatives/friends.” We all (Mom, me and sister) nodded. After an hour, I found Dad talking to someone in the phone and exclaiming the advent of technology. Essential communication example was set by the leader.

Next thing was – I had a phone and I had to boast to my friends. The problem was that none of my friends had a telephone at their home and even if they had, I was not even aware of its existence. There was no Facebook to inform others via a status. It was a very catch-22 situation. To call, you had to have the number. To have the number, you had to call and find out or wait until the summer holidays were over. How difficult. But then, life moved on.

After few years, my dad bought a Pager. It was one of the stupidest devices I have ever come across.  We had to call up the pager company and tell them the message and the paging company will send a short message to the pager. Very similar to voice messages of the present time but the biggest use of the Pager was to ask Dad to buy vegetables on the way home. I still have his pager with me, just for a vintage value.

Later cell phone came. The first one was like a brick. My Dad did not buy a cell phone immediately because of his bad experience with the Pager. My Uncle had bought a huge cell phone which was of such a size that I thought it was communicating with the satellite directly. Later, Dad bought one and was using it sparingly. By then, the landline charges had come down and I had also got the numbers from friends and “essential communications” were being shared.

It was not until college, I owned a cell phone myself. I was in my third year (2002) of dentistry when I had this problem. My girlfriends were on leave for 1 month, but I wasn’t having any holiday. They went home, I did not have a landline in my dorm and mobile phone was very much needed. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. So I invented ways to buy a mobile phone. One of my friends (quite a rich guy), had an Ericsson mobile phone.

The phone wasn’t cheap. He demanded 4K for it. I bargained down for 2K. The problem was not the initial investment. It was the recurring cost. The incoming calls were charged at INR 4 and outgoing calls were charged at INR 6 for each minute of usage. I was bankrupt in 1 month.

Slowly the prices started to come down. At one stage, the incoming was free and outgoing was at INR 1. It was then, the mobile market started to flourish in India. I ditched the good old Ericsson phone and moved to a Samsung C100.

On one fine day, I lost the Samsung C100. It again became a struggle to buy a phone. After that, I moved across various manufacturers and models – Reliance Nokia, Motorola C350, Sony Ericsson K750i, Nokia 5310, Samsung Corby, Nokia E63, and most recently, Samsung Galaxy Y. But the company I work for, does not allow camera mobiles to be brought inside my working area, so I have a blackberry phone without camera, a very primitive blackberry model, at present. Without me telling ya, you all know – it sucks!

When I see my friends boasting extreme connectivity with newer models and lovely features with android and iOS, I have a tinge of jealousy arising inside me, but the company pay check silences it. I am thinking of newer territories to exploit and if those work out, then my company-imposed camera phone ban will vanish. I can then own a good phone with which I can shoot pictures, share it, blog, and connect.

Getting back to the bills, the telecom industry in India has reaped millions and millions of money due to telecom auctions. Despite bribes in million’s, we still have to pay a maximum of 0.5 INR for an outgoing call and none for an incoming call. The internet has taken over the mobile phones too and I pay 950 bucks for 6 GB of 3G data. Now with the introduction of 4G, the 3G plans have come down. I should review and alter my 3G plan on October 01st. Hope that goes well.

Hi,

Just thought I will share this great short story with all you people.

Jeyamohan is a renowned writer in Tamil and Malayalam. He came into the limelight with his novel “Vishnupuram.” Though vishnupuram was critically acclaimed by many authors and critics, I never had the urge to read it. I had been influenced by few biased views and was of the opinion that Jeyamohan’s writings were not very good. How mistaken I was! I used to hate Jeyamohan at one point of time. All that changed when my sister gave me a book called “Aram” and asked me to read a short story called “Yaanai Doctor” (Elephant Doctor). I am very thankful to my sister for opening this world to me. The funny thing was, she hated Jeyamohan more than me. Someone else opened the world for her. That’s the magic of sharing.

Yaanai or Mathagam in Tamil means Elephant. Elephant’s play a crucial role in the story. So far the only two short stories I have read are “Yaanai doctor” and “Sotthu kanakku” (food account), and they have been very impressive.

The beauty of Yaanai Doctor is that it is a true story of Dr.V.Krishnamurthy, who has been portrayed as Dr.K in the story. Dr.K, as he was fondly called, was a veteran conservationist who was a legend in the elephant circles. Dr.K was a forest veterinary officer with the Government of Tamilnadu for over three decades, primarily concentrating on the health care of both domestic and wild elephants. He resurrected captive elephant healthcare and management to levels that have not been seen in Asia for the most of the last century. Following the media light created by Jeyamohan’s story, a separate website has been created for Dr.K.

Going into the story, the way Jeyamohan narrates the impact that is caused by human presence inside the jungle, I felt it was essential to share the information with a bigger sector. I am sure that I am no bigger than Jeyamohan when we see each other’s fame ratings, but I can reach where he cannot reach and he can reach where I cannot reach. Again, the magic of sharing.

When the narrator feels disgusted with worms, Dr.K explains him. He says – “Lot of people are scared/disgusted with worms. Turn back and look at the scare/disgust. It will go away. You should have seen a black insect in our house. The worm is the earlier stage of the insect. The insect is a grown adult. Worm is an infant! Why should you feel disgusted with an infant?”

Those words inspired me to read more. Jeyamohan goes on to explain the damage broken bottles cause to elephants. The way the end up dying a horrifying death because a broken glass piece goes into the leg of the elephant, is touchingly explained in Dr.K’s words.

I do not want to explain more. It IS a GOOD read.

For those, who like to read the ebook in Tamil, you can leave your email as a comment. I will send you a PDF file.

You can also contact vishnupuram.vattam@gmail.com for permissions regarding print needs. For an English version of Elephant Doctor – Click here.

Go on. Read it. What do you think?

Hi,

The invitation for the Tamil Blogger’s meet has been posted in Adrasakka.

Interested blogger’s can go. I am not yet sure about my plans on 26 Aug. I have a snake walk organized on that day. So it all depends on the time the snake walk gets over. Please find the invitation image below:

Cheers.

Hi All,

Finally a post related to my profession, that is Dentistry.

Dentistry, according to me, is the art of restoring smiles and functionality in a human being. People have a very common perception that dentist’s are expensive. I will try to clear out that notion in this blog post. This post is about the dental practice status in India only. Dentist’s and Patient’s from other countries, please relate in your own currency. The prices are directly proportionate.

Lets get into the intricacies involved in Dentistry. First of all, the admission to a dental college doesn’t come easy. Either you have to be a very good ranker in your high school exams to get through a government seat or you have to be rich enough to pay the capitation fee for a seat. A government seat, at present, has a fee structure of around 100,000 INR per year (400,000 INR for four years). A management seat has two components –a capitation fee (700,000 – 1,000,000 INR) and a yearly fee component (150,000 – 250,000 that amounts to a total cost of 600,000 to 1,000,000). Let us keep the minimal cost into counts. So a middle-class family which sends it’s kid to dental school via government seat shells out almost 400,000 as college fees. Imagine staying in a hostel in a metropolitan city like Chennai or a tier-2 city like Madurai. The per month expense for a kid nowadays is around 10,000. We have to purchase materials while we work in dental school. So the calculation is as follows:

  • College fee – 400,000
  • Monthly expense – 600,000 (10,000 x 60 months)
  • Materials purchased – 100,000
  • Miscellaneous expenses (conferences, trips, and exam fees) – 100,000

That amounts to a total of 1,200,000 INR for a five year study. My times were different. I spent a total of 550,000 for my entire study as the college fee during my times were 7000 and monthly expense was around 5000. Material costs have not increased much. They have come down a bit.

Next comes practice. A dentist needs quite a good amount of money to set up his private practice. Lets get the budgeting done considering that the dentist is a middle class man who does not own a place to start a practice.

  • Advance/Security money – 200,000 – 300,000 (depends on locality – Its commercial for a dental clinic)
  • Interior decorations – 200,000 (Of course, you won’t visit a dentist’s office that looks like trash)
  • Dental chair and hard equipment’s – 400,000 to 1,000,000 (Depends on variety of factors. This calculation is for a two chair practice. The equipment’s depreciate with time and have a life-time)
  • Soft equipment’s – 200,000 to 300,000 (Includes X-ray sensors, dental drills, and hand instruments which depreciates with time and have a life- time)
  • Recruitment, marketing, and working capital – 200,000

So how much that totals to? A whopping 1,200,000. Forget world-class dental equipment’s. These are bare minimum.

So to study for 5 years without an arrear or break, and to set up a decent two chair practice in a good commercial locality that won’t stop patients from coming into the dental office, the dentist invests around 2,400,000 INR. This is nothing compared to the set ups in US or Europe where they do the same, but in dollars/euros.

After the practice is up and running, the dentist also has further responsibilities. Obviously, the dental school teaches the dentists only the basics that is decided by the syllabus chosen by the university. But there are significant advances in practice which may be better for our patients. So a dentist has to keep himself updated on newer technological/medical/dental advances. That doesn’t come free. The equipment’s which are new are not cost effective. They cost a fortune. So this is an on-going process for which I am unable to decide on a price bracket.

Now let’s get into the cost of treatment. I am listing out the most common covering a price bracket ranging from hundreds to thousands.

Extraction 100-300

Extraction is done only when the tooth involved is damaged beyond repair. A dentist will not advice extraction to anyone without a valid reason because to replace a tooth with a root that has the sense of proprioception (when you chew on a stone in the food, proprioception is the sense that helps to locate it. People with dentures/artificial teeth cannot have proprioception and hence they cannot differentiate a stone and a bone) is going to cost a fortune. To extract, we need local anaesthesia, the syringe to inject it, the elevators to reflect the gums, the forceps to extract the teeth, drills in some cases, bone pliers in some cases, and finally loads and loads of cotton to arrest the bleeding. All these cost us. A good forceps costs us 1500 and they are different for different teeth. There is no universal forceps that can be used on all teeth because the morphology of each set of teeth (incisors, canines, premolars and molars) is different.

Scaling – 400-1000

Scaling is the process of cleaning the teeth. A dentist spends around 30-40 minutes to clean a person’s teeth. We use ultrasonic scaler which consumes power and water. The scaler also has scaler tips which wear away with use reducing their efficacy. A scaler tip costs 750 INR.

Fillings – 500-2000

Fillings are done to treat dental caries. The dental caries are removed and the cavity is filled by a material (metal or composite). A dental drill is used by the dentist to drill the teeth and remove the caries. The dental drill (called a hand piece) uses the cutting instruments called dental burs. Dental drills fail, burs get worn away and the filling material gets over. A dental drill cost anywhere between 4000 – 20000. A dental bur costs anywhere between 200-1000 and the filling materials range from 800 – 7000 for 3-5 grams. I am speaking about tooth coloured restorations here.

Root canal treatment (RCT) – 1000-5000

A RCT is performed when the caries in a tooth has invaded the pulp causing irreversible damage. This is the last attempt to save the tooth. For RCT, we again need dental drills, dental burs, endodontic files, temporary cements, numerous x-rays, gutta percha points to seal the root canals and permanent cements to close the cavity. Again the cost varies according to the quality of material used.

Crowns – 1500 – 12000

Crowns are the structures placed on the RC treated tooth to prevent fracture of the remaining tooth structure. This is of utmost importance as a RC treated tooth without a crown is prone to fracture and if it fractures, the entire rationale behind the RCT fails. Crowns range in price. You have plenty of options – Acrylic (low strength, low cost – 1000), Metal ceramic (Good strength, low aesthetics – 2000), All ceramic (good strength, good aesthetics – 4000), and super ceramic crowns (excellent strength, good aesthetics – 10000). All prices quoted are the minimum prices charged by a dentist with a good hearted laboratory technician. Laboratories have their own charge sheet with the types. The cost increases because dental ceramic is expensive.

Implants – 25000 – 30000

Implants are screw-like titanium roots that are drilled into the bone to support the artificial teeth. They implants are inserted into the bone and the crowns are mounted over the implants to bring a tooth like functionality. However, it doesn’t totally replace the natural tooth. There are disadvantages. I will do a separate post on each treatment dentistry offers! A simple two-stage implant costs around 4000. To insert implant, you need physiodispensors. We have two options here. Either we buy a physiodispensor or rent it out from the company selling implants. The cost of implants can range from 4000 to 30000. It’s your choice. The 4000 rupee implant has disadvantages when you compare the 30000 one. Its like having a I pad and a HCL tablet. The quality shows through.

Orthognathic surgery – 150,000 – 300,000

The surgery needs a theatre, instruments for single use, many specialists, and admission.

Despite these, we have rent, electricity bills, material purchase, salaries for assistants, payments to labs, payments to consultants, phone bills, and many more, which are recurring costs. We have inflation too.

So we have had a run through.

Apart from all this, we spend our time. We spend our time to upgrade our clinics, learn about new techniques, try out new products on our relatives before we try it on patients, get continuing education, to consult you, to call you up and remind you of the appointment, to plan your treatment, to treat you, and to continuously monitor your oral health and educate you.

And we charge only for the time. We can only treat your teeth. No one else can.

I could say the mistake is on you.

You allow your oral health to deteriorate. You don’t listen to advertisements that say “visit your dentist every 6 months.” You don’t do periodic check-ups. You allow your teeth to have cavities. You allow your teeth to be extracted. You don’t replace them on time. You ruin your oral cavity. Yet you call dental treatment costly.

You know why?

Because you have 28 teeth (the 4 wisdom teeth are not considered as an integral part of your teeth set. They are vestigial. It means that you can have full functionality with your 28 teeth. Loss of 4 wisdom teeth won’t hurt you in any way). If you had only two teeth, you will not be that generous with them. If you cannot see with one eye, you run to the ophthalmologist. If you pant when you climb up, you run to your cardiologist. Why? Because, you know they are important organs. Dentistry, in your eyes, will be affordable only when you start valuing your own teeth.

Next time, when you visit your cardiologist, ask him why Coronary artery bypass grafting is expensive. After all, the cardiologist takes your own blood vessels and replaces them in the position of blood vessels that are blocked. Why so expensive? Ask him/her. Come back and tell me how he/she looked at you.

Value your teeth. After all, you have only 28 left.

Go for regular dental check-ups. It won’t cost you much. All you need is cleaning and some fillings, if you have caries at the starting stage. Ask your dentist and teach your kids how to brush. Tell them the value of a good set of teeth. After all, smile is your first identity and having a good one is important.

Please do comment if you think otherwise. I can still justify.

Smile

durgamuthukumar

Crowdsourcing based nurtering

UYIRI

Nature writing in Tamil

செங்கொடி

கனவுகளுக்கு பதிலாக அறிவியல், கண்ணீருக்கு பதிலாக போராட்டம். போராட்டமே நம் இருத்தலுக்கான அடையாளம்.

cruzantonyhubert

experiences - travel - photography

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