11 December, 2013

The Congress strategy after the "Semi-Finals" ?

What will the Indian National Congress be doing now ?  Will Rahul Gandhi be allowed to continue with his long-term plan of changing the party ?  Or will he be cut short ?  Will the coterie of power-brokers "put him in his place" ?

There was an amusing article in todays ToI / ET :  That Nandan Nilekani may be put forward as the Congress's PM candidate.  That gave my a laugh.  What a crazy idea !

How will the Congress counter the "Modi-wave" that they deny ?

Time will tell ..............


18 September, 2013

Amazon Service

I got great service from Amazon.  Here's the transcript of the online chat with Amazon Customer Support :

Initial Question: For my order (#108-3021598-2760208), I am being charged $24.95 for Shipping.
My understanding is that for Orders to Singapore where the amount exceeds $125 (this order amounts to $130.92), shipping is free. Yet, I am being charted for shipping.
Can you confirm why ?
05:15 AM(GMT) Raj Shekhar(CSA): Hello, my name is Raj. I'll be happy to help you today.
05:16 AM(GMT) Raj Shekhar(CSA): Hemant, I have changed the shipping speed to free shipping and now your order total is $130.92, you can see this update at this order under your account now.
05:17 AM(GMT) Hemant K Chitale: Thank you.
I appreciate this.
05:18 AM(GMT) Raj Shekhar(CSA):
Is there anything else I can help you with today?
05:19 AM(GMT) Hemant K Chitale: That's all. Thank you !
05:19 AM(GMT) Raj Shekhar(CSA): You're welcome Hemant .
05:19 AM(GMT) Hemant K Chitale: Bye
05:19 AM(GMT) Raj Shekhar(CSA):
Thanks for visiting Amazon.com. We hope to see you again soon!
Bye. Take care.

19 May, 2013

Useful Videos

19-May-13  You can change the world  (Nancy Duarte)

19-May-13  What makes us feel good about our work   (Dan Ariely)

19-May-13  Do schools kill creativity ?   (Sir Ken Robinson)

03-Jun-13  The Puzzle of Motivation   (Dan Pink)

03-Jun-13  Are we in control of our decisions ?  (Dan Ariely)

10-Jun-13  The Paradox of Choice  (Barry Schwartz)

29-Jun-13  Unweaving the Rainbow  (Richard Dawkins)

28-Jul-13   Global Corruption  (Charmian Gooch)

28-Jul-13  How to spot a liar  (Pamela Mayer)

07-Jan-14 A better democracy will need a better press  (Lord David Puttnam)

05-Jul-14  Language  (Stephen Fry)

02-Nov014  Why Privacy Matters  (Glenn Greenwald)

23 February, 2013


I have been running BOINC projects for a number of years on my personal desktops.

BOINC is the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

BOINC is a way of allowing CPU cycles (and some memory and I/O) on laptops, desktops and servers to be used as shared resources for compute intensive tasks that are in the public domain and are executed as distributed applications.

BOINC users get credits ("Work done") for units of work for various projects.

My current credits (23-Feb-13) are :

  • Einstein@Home  :       119,886
  • SETI@Home      :        72,030
  • Milkyway@Home  :        70,586
  • climateprediction.net : 48,333
  • malariacontrol.net :    24,766
  • Spinhenge@home :        13,514

09 February, 2013

Financial Journalists as Heros

In India, it has become regular conduct to publish exposes and reveal "scams".

However we must sometimes wonder if the journalists do undertake due diligence.

Take the case of Reliance Life ULIP mis-selling: Justice served.

Here are a few points I wish to make :

a.  It is not clear if the refund was following an order by IRDA (which wouldn't be issuing such an order) or the Insurance Ombudsman.  The magazine claims that "The issue was top in the list of life insurance memorandum submitted to IRDA chairman when he addressed the Moneylife Foundation event on 16 May 2012" .  Now, why would the IRDA chairman look at such a case ?  If there is suspicion of mis-selling in an individual case, shouldn't the issue go to the Insurance Ombudsman ?  Why did the magazine approach the wrong person ?  So that it could highlight that it has access to the most important person in the industry ?

b. Mr Injamuri, according to the article, is a resident of Solapur who buys policies from the Colaba ("in south Mumbai") branch of Reliance Life.  Now, why would he be buying policies from that branch ?  Who was the agent who sold these policies ?  Which branch was he affiliated to ?  Not Solapur ?  If I were in Solapur, I would be more comfortable with an agent from Solapur !  (Yes, I've checked Reliance Life Insurance's website which does list the address of a Solapur branch).  I smell something strange here.

c. The company "shared with him the very lucrative “Fantastic Contest” that it was running for its advisors".  And he bought into it ?  He's not an advisor.  OK, let's say that he ("a standard 9th failed") is not educated enough to understand that he is not an advisor or agent or distributor but a *customer* !  Nevertheless, didn't he get suspicious ?

d. I don't understand the sentence : "He was seriously, and correctly, worried about inaccurate personal details, wrong or unidentifiable photos, PAN details of sister when she had never applied for one and forged signatures in the policy documents have rendered them worthless, since there are bound to be issues if and when a claim has to be made.".  It starts with something and then walks down another path.  Syntactically, too, it isn't consistent. What does the magazine wish to assert with this sentence ?  That he knew that some of the applications were forged ?

e. Reliance's reply "The customer has purchased and cancelled a total of 18 policies in a period of four months. His pattern of buying and cancelling policies in quick succession falls under ‘unusual’ transaction category and is being investigated."  raises a HUGE RED FLAG.  18 policies in 4 months ? Purchased and cancelled ?  Who was playing the game ? Mr Injamuri ?  The Agent ?  Is Reliance Life alone culpable of ... yes... suspicious behaviour, not just unusual behaviour ?  Wasn't the magazne or it's journalist interested in asking Mr Injamuri and/or his agent more probing questions ?

f.  Reliance also then says "As of today, nine policies are active, five have been cancelled under the Free Look period, and the customer issued “stop payment” advice on four applications.". We are talking of someone who is "a standard 9th failed" and who has ostensibly purchased 18 policies.  He has also gone on to issue stop payments on four applications.  If not the journalist, I am very curious about the modus operandi.

What say you ?

31 January, 2013

A reading of the Mahabharata

I have been reading "The Difficulty Of Being Good" by Gurcharan Das. He brings out episodes from the epic, highlighting the question(s) of Dharma.

Dharma is subtle.

The question of Dharma is raised repeatedly ; by Draupadi, by Arjun, by Yudhisthir, by Bhishma, by Karna. It is never clearly answered. 

It is for each of us to understand our Dharma, our duties, our responsibilities.