Archive > May 2007

Came out the beauty

Ashwin » 22 May 2007 » In Uncategorized » Comments

Changu Lake, Sikkim, India

(A narration on Changu Lake, Sikkim, India)


I heard about the enchanting beauty, hiding in the woods

Traveled like a wind over the plains, then through the vales and the rocks

Still she eluded me like a moon under the clouds

But I persevered to have a glimpse at the beauty, unseen anywhere else on Earth

All the sudden she appeared and there stood I, breathless at her very sight

She lay stretched there like a Blue Carpet , with so much of beauty and calmness

She looked like a child born between the Earth and the Skies

Sure to make me feel happy, at every thought of her

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Tags: Poems


Ashwin » 15 May 2007 » In General, Social » Comments

The topic which interested me recently is - Microfinance

This is how the Wikipedia defines Microfinance - Providing financial service like microcredit, microinsurance and microsavings to the poor people.

But the actual meaning of Microfinance goes far beyond.  I realized this only after a detailed analysis.  Some key points about microfinance and how it can help the economically weaker sections.

  • Microfinance does not really target the poor people.  It actually targets the micro-entrepreneurs who lack access to conventional loans from financial institutions due to their economic and social status
  • Microfinance must not be confused with subsidies to the poor by the Government.  We can actually split the poor people into two categories - Those who are extremely poor that a loan would never do them any good and Those who are poor but capable of entrepreneurial activities, otherwise hampered by lack of finance.  Microfinance targets the second category
  • Reason is very simple.  Giving loans to the poor who cannot effectively use them, merely increases their burden
  • Commercial Financial Institutions are unwilling to lend smaller amounts of loans in the range of 50$ to 150$ due to high percentage of processing cost.  Also, interest rates on these loans are very high, thus making them less attractive from the customer perspective
  • Microfinance Institutions (MFI) play the lender role in the microfinance paradigm.  They lend smaller amounts to economically backward people and help them in their growth.  No collaterals are required in many cases.  Repayment cycles are extremely short like 6 months - 1 year
  • Loans are not given to individuals but to a peer group with similar economic status, say a group of 8-10 from the same village.  If anyone in the group defaults repayment, then a penalty is imposed on the entire group.  Thus the peers are more cautious in selecting the group members and prompt in repayment
  • Poor families are generally fed and survived by 1 or 2 family members.  Sudden life loss of any of these members will ruin the family.  So they are as much dependent on Life Insurance as ourselves.  Thus comes the concept of MicroInsurance.

Microfinance in short - Financial Services to the economically backward micro-entrepreneurs to sustain and develop their entrepreneurial activities, to the betterment of the individual and his/her family thereof.

It is high time that the Commercial Financial Institutions join hands with the MFI and help in the promulgation of Microfinancing in Indian Villages and Towns.

For more resources:

Microfinance Gateway


Microfinance - Wiki Entry

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Is there freedom of thoughts?

Ashwin » 14 May 2007 » In Social » Comments

Recent incidents involving the ransacking of Dinakaran Office in Madurai and arresting of Arts Students raises a question in my mind - Is there freedom of thoughts?

There is chaos in Tamil Nadu at the moment - supposedly triggered by the opinion polls published by the Tamil Daily ‘Dinakaran’ and publicized by the family owned television network ‘Sun TV’. I strongly feel that the media has all the rights to conduct and publish opinion polls as long as it is conducted in a legitimate manner. Intervention of State Government in media’s freedom is definitely condemnable. Ransacking the media office and setting them afire, clearly is a violation of their (media) freedom. Three innocent lives were lost in this family feud. All those who were responsible for this irrational behavior must be identified, irrespective of their political clout and appropriate punishment must be imposed on them. Media is the primary source of information to the public regarding the ins and outs of the politics in the country. Acts like these must be condemned to the core and appropriate action must be taken immediately.

Another incident involves the arrest of Chandra Mohan, the student of an Arts college in Baroda. He was charged of creating a controversial artwork and subsequently hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and Christians. This whole controversy looks absolutely stupid!! The artwork that has caused all the commotion, was created primarily as an academic artifact and its sole purpose was to be reviewed by the examiners. What this has to do with the public and other religious activists is extremely difficult to understand. In any society, voyeurism is considered illegal and obscene. This entire controversy, involving the private work of students specifically meant for academic purposes, is tantamount to voyeurism. Height of this comes in the form of arresting the concerned student. People who raise their voices against this, must understand the context and put an end to the commotion.

These two incidents clearly shows that India still has a long way to attain the Freedom of thoughts. Unless the religious and political masses understand context of each and every problem and act rationally, issues like these will keep springing often.

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Tags: Politics

BITS Clock Tower

Ashwin » 09 May 2007 » In Uncategorized » Comments

BITS Clock Tower

Time looks different when it is viewed here!!! :)

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High Speed Rails - When will it be a reality in India?

Ashwin » 08 May 2007 » In General » Comments

I read a recent article in Economic Times about the thought process that is running through the minds of the top officials in India’s largest PSU - Indian Railways. It is nothing but, the High Speed Rails.

This is a really welcome thought. With commercial rails touching the speeds of about 250 kmph around the world, super fast trains in India (exclude Rajdhani and Shatabdi) barely touch a high of 70 kmph on average, in a one-way trip. High Speed Rails should be the high priority on Railway’s agenda, if it has to complete with the low cost airlines.

For a person to travel from Chennai to Delhi on an AC(2-Tier) coach-Super fast train, it costs somewhere around 2500 Rupees. Couple it with the time it takes for this journey, which is well over 30 hours(1.25 days). Compare it with an air fare between the same destinations which comes around 3500 Rupees and a travel time of 2.5 hours. Thus, on a comparative basis, Air travel appears to be efficient for the middle class population.

So the only way by which the railways can lure customers from this segment, is by reducing the travel time. A high level plan must be drawn to connect all major Indian cities by high speed rails and reduce the travel time between any two destinations, by at least half the current time. Why would you not consider traveling from Chennai to Coimbatore in about 3.5 hours, at half the cost of a full service airline?

As a first step, the Indian Railways must perform a feasibility analysis on selected routes and prepare the estimates. India should take the help from Asian majors like Japan, Korea and China, who have pioneered the cause. With high speed rails, upgrading and reconstructing the ailing railway bridges becomes a mandate. Otherwise, we might invite disasters.

Some ideas for fund-raising to help this initiative:

  • Support from State and Central Government (State Governments must help in the funding process based on the proportion of High Speed Rails scheme falling within their territory)
  • Increase the travel cost but still keep them competitive when compared to the low cost airlines
  • Provide in-house entertainment facilities in these trains using LCD monitors and gain on advertising cost
  • Provide on-the-move internet connectivity and earn a considerable share

We have the largest rail network in the whole of this world. But when it comes to travel speed, we have a lot of distance to cover. It is high time, that the Indian Railways realize this fact and take steps to introduce the High Speed rails. This will not only improve the market share of Railways in the domestic travel segment but also strengthen the Indian Railway’s image worldwide.

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Ashwin » 08 May 2007 » In General » Comments


  • Recessive trait, inherited disease of the red blood cells (RBC)
  • Reduced rate of synthesis of normal globin chains
  • Blood cells are vulnerable to mechanical injury and die easily
  • Root of the word Thalassemia - Thalassa is the Greek for Sea and Haima is the Greek for blood (This disease has its geographical association with Mediterranean Sea and hence the name)

Different variations of the disease

  • Alpha Thalassemias
  • Beta Thalassemias
  • Delta Thalassemias
  • In combination with other hemoglobinopathies

How to detect?

3 types of blood tests with different accuracy and usefulness

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Haemoglobin Electrophoresis
  • DNA Testing

Treatment and Management (Thalassemia Major)

  •  Conventional Treatment - Blood Transfusion regularly every 2 to 3 weeks
  • Iron chelation - Regular blood Transfusion leads to iron overload.  Iron chelation helps in controlling damage to the other parts due to iron overload
  • Bone Marrow Transplant - Recent studies proved successful.  This can eliminate the need for regular blood transfusions

Thalassemia Major - Related ailments

  • Untreated can lead to heart failure and death
  • Prone to health complications that involve spleen and gall stones
  • Anemia

Thalassemia Minor

  • Should not avoid iron-rich foods by default
  • Not life threatening, but can cause mild to sever anemia
  • Other related diseases might include asthma and bipolar disorder


  • Birth Screening
  • Genetic counseling

How can we help? - DONATE BLOOD!!

Related Links: 

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