Showing posts from November, 2008

Somali pirates and the Indian Navy

Many years ago, the architect of India naval strategy, eminent historian and reluctant diplomat KM Panikkar said: "A navy is not meant for the defense of the coast. The coast has to be defended from the land. The objective of the navy is to secure the control of an area of the sea, thus preventing enemy ships from approaching the coast or interfering with trade and commerce and conversely after securing the control to blockade the enemy’s coast and destroy his shipping. The Indian navy, whether it be large or small, must learn this lesson. Its purpose is to protect the seas and not the land and if it cannot protect the seas vital to India’s defense, then it is better not to have navy at all”. He further argued that “while to other countries the Indian Ocean is only one of the important oceanic areas, to India it is a vital sea. Her lifelines are concentrated in that area, her freedom is dependent on the freedom of that water surface. No industrial development, no commercial growt…

Talpade's flight over Chowpathy

One of the conquests many attempted since Da-Vinci’s time or even earlier, is flight by man, powered or un-powered. There were people who attached wings to their backs, some even attaching feathers to their arms, but in the end injuries, hurt egos and even death were the results.

Historic documents such as the Vedas and some Indian epics do mention flight and structures termed Vimana’s but nobody seems to have taken them seriously (inspite of claims & rumors that NASA's ion engine is based on the vedic texts). The contents of the book Vimanika Sastra and all the innuendo put together by H Childress and Berlitz, were dismissed as hogwash by many learned scientists. Having read the “the anti-gravity handbook” and the Vaimanika Shastra translation myself, I should agree that both leave a number of new doubts and questions in the reader’s mind rather than answering them. It could be so since the original Sasthra text itself is considered incomplete.

1800-1900 was a period of inventi…


I read a lot and yes, as always, I simply enjoy the feel of the paperback in my hand. Hardbound editions are difficult to hold for a long time and even though the typeset is big, your wrists ache after a while. There are very many nice ebooks available (for which I am grateful to Googlebooks) and I find the compact Acer Aspire One Netbook competent enough to handle these. So now, many historical ebooks from Google books can now be read on it in peace. It is still tough on the eyes, even with the LED backlight and towards night you wonder how all that sand got into your eyes. But still nothing can beat a real book, even if yellowed with age, or smelling musty and allergic – sufficient reason to encourage a swig of Benadryl or some such antihistamine before the attempt. Sometimes I wonder why some cruel guys mark, underline and write cryptic comments on these book margins ( 2nd hand books) and then finally decide to sell it ‘as is’.

It is funny – Does development kill the need to read or…

Shanta P Nair Kerala’s Nightingale

Thumbi Thumbi va va…Picture a scene - a song from 1956, K Raghavan master’s music and Vayalar’s lyrics. The nervous Vayalar Rama Varma would have been sitting and listening to his very first lyrics for the movie ‘Koodapirappu’ being sung by Shanta Nair. After the opening lines, he would have finally relaxed, and allowed the magic of the experienced singers voice to take over. Or switch to another scene – The great MB Sreenivasan is tuning a song for Kalpaadukal. He asks ‘Shanta, do you think you can do a duet with a young newcomer’? Shanta says (a time when stalwarts usually refused to sing with newcomers) – ‘of course, why not’ – thus introducing Yesudas into the singing scene, singing the chirpy song ‘Attention penne’. Or the great Baburaj doing his very first movie ‘Minnaminungu’ with Shanta singing ‘Vallittu Kannezhuthanam’…or some years later, enthralling Salilda with her own composition for a ‘Salilda movie’.

Sadly, yet another great singer of yesteryears passed away recently (Ju…

The Mini CAT

Ah! This is not feline at all; CAT in this context stands for compressed air technology. Now, I had read about this development from newspapers some days back and I was wondering when and how the development will hit the streets what with the influence of the powerful oil & conventional automobile lobby.

A few days ago, I was listening to the LA 103.5 FM station and one of the RJ’s said, “know what India’s TATA is launching? an air powered car” and the lady DJ wise cracks “aha, so the car has windmills on it or what”. My blood pressure rose in a jiffy, but came down when the male DJ calmed her and me down by stating all the great things about the car. Of course the end of the clip was spoiled by another RJ who said well, “Nowadays Indians can also lay their hands on Jaguar and Range rover and all those high end cars”. I did feel he was a bit sanctimonious about the whole thing, but let’s let sleeping dogs lie.
Politely the others said wow! Fantastic! And all that…not remembering th…