Monday, May 20, 2013

Why not Indian Indian??

I have often read the excellence of the Second or Third generation immigrant Indians abroad.  At various forums the question then arises Why is it American or British or Canadian preceding the word Indian when the praise is being showered? Why is it not the "Indian" for whom we here these words of praise.  The question is really not for the readers, but it certainly is hitting at the Education System and the Mad Race for the Marks / Percentages being forced on the young generation.

The reason why it is Indian American or Indian British or Indian Canadian rather than Indian Indian - In India the talent is suppressed under the weight of expectations to study and get better marks.  Away the kids are encouraged in their research, marks are not the only criteria, innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities are supported.  In India, if someone would want to do such a work, they would be ridiculed by close circle and would be called "Jerk or Maniac".

It is really ridiculous the way things work in India.  I remember a case where one of my known once developed an FM transceiver that could work in the periphery of 500 meters and could have been used to good effect for communication in the hostel, but he was ridiculed a lot by the rest of the hostel guys and college crowd. Why, because he was a Management stream student and developing such a device was not supposed to be in his study area.  He would have junked it right there, but we helped him by adopting it for our Biking trips where we fit it in our bikes and helmets to be able to communicate while going on Bike tours...yeah - low cost communication device that used to run on bike Battery...but where did that innovation go?? down the drain...

Another case where one of my colleague developed codes to lock screens permanently for interactive logins if someone tried to impersonate you.  This could have been hailed better had it taken up by some security company. But again the guy was ridiculed by his team members and the office staff for doing that, why because he was supposed to be a network administrator and not a programmer to do so.

These are just two of the many cases that I have witnessed in my span of life I spent in India till date.  Yeah - Interesting point I thought I should mention - Two of my papers that were ridiculed in India by a leading industry body were selected for presentation abroad in annual conference of a leading Non Profit Organization that has an ISO standard to its credit.  Funny, ain't it :))

Well now that's where we Indians are - excel abroad, but ridiculed in our own homeland...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

$45 Million Heist with Prepaid Card Duplication

I had been following the entire development on the big heist that was cracked by the US law enforcement.  The news in itself as lead to an interesting assessment for me on the way the Data Theft and duplication was carried out at mass scale.  I read various articles written across multiple news sites and went through even the comments that were made by various set of readers.  Some were pretty interesting and others were made out of hate for India and Indian service Providers as there were two card processors from India whose systems were breached.  The world as it sees may see it as a lapse of security measure implemented by the two payment processors from India, but then why shouldn't they look at the lapse of overall Risk Management System at the Banks as well as the Card network System in general??

There were articles and comments that pointed on the Core Banking Software in use, but then both the writer of the article as well as the comments need to understand that Core Banking Application has nothing to do with the Payment Cards that were compromised in this case. Before we point out the responsibility at the Core Banking Application or System or the People at the three types of organizations involved, we need to actually understand the modus operandi of the Gang Spread Across 27 Countries and specific Target being made at two Banks in Middle East.  Making a general Comment otherwise would simply be because you hate someone or because you have no knowledge either of the Baking System or the Pre-paid Card System for that purpose...Also, those trying to relate the software to this heist must first understand the it doesn't have any relation to the pre-paid cards, that is a different system that interacts with CORE BANKING Application....

One interesting point that I noted in the entire set of developments is the Lack of Controls around the Payment Cards that were compromised.  Why is it that the Banks when deploy enough controls on the Debit and Credit cards, they miss to deploy controls around the pre-paid cards that are mostly used as "Travel Currency Cards" or "Gift Cards" in most cases?  I am still perturbed as to how and why the Banks let the Payment Processors manage the Data on their local database without enforcing right set of controls required? Some additional questions that crept up to my mind - 
  1. Didn't the Payment Processor deploy layered security to ensure that the Database is in the most secured zone?
  2. Weren't Host base IDS/IPS systems deployed?
  3. Weren't transaction monitoring and logging systems deployed to create alert for fraudulent withdrawals?
  4. Weren't alerting system put in place for changes in database?
  5. Why would Visa and MasterCard let huge withdrawals go through multiple ATMs and that too from the same cards? Why were the patterns not monitored at their end?
  6. Why didn't the Banks whose ATMs were used ever sounded an alarm in the Banking Community about the huge transactions? Were they enjoying withdrawals from their ATMs and raising bills to the target Banks??
There are many such questions that need to be answered and probably we might never get an answer to these questions...for we would just read the development and arrests...What happens at the Banks, what happens at Visa and MasterCard and other organizations involved would never come to light...but, then its our Money and we must know if it is safeguarded...

Related Post - $45 Million Heist with Prepaid Card Duplication: Lessons Learned

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Senior Citizens: Respect Them

News that disheartened me today - Give us death over abuse at our son’s hand: Gujarat couple.  It is really sad to hear that children resort to such things against their parents.  I used to give example of the honor and traditional joint family culture in India, but such news only brings us shame.  When I read such news, I feel that the western culture (read: as in US) is better where the parents show their kids the door and tell them to find their own livelihood. The children too move out of the house and struggle their way in the society to make their life and livelihood.  The good result, Parents though feel alone at old age, but they don't have to go through the torturous life like this where the son beats them up or the daughter-in-law threatens to sue them for section 498A (Anti-Dowry Provision).

The reason to my feelings going negative in this case is - this news would become stale over a period of time and the young India would move on.  No one would even think on these terms and no NGO would come forward to help these or many other similar parents who are tortured by their own children.  What mistake they did? Just that they invested all their savings to make a life for their Son, bought a house to ensure that he gets proper shelter in the city they live and now they are dependent on him? 

I challenge the youth in India to step up to the Cause of Supporting the Senior Citizens, take an hour a day to or two in a week to help setup Senior Citizen support Cell. I would also love to see just or at least one NGO that would help run this support cells and similar other initiatives across the Country.

I know there are those who voice similar to what I opine and one such input that I got from the online forum is from a fellow reader Brian who beautifully worded the comment - 

"You are absolutely right, senior citizen and parents should be respected and should support them at all times. We should realize because of them we, the youth of India have come so far and our current position. We are standing on the ground which was created by our ancestors. We should be thank full to them at all times This 3 G world have change the life style and mindset of man kind in 2 ways,, one is prosperity, development in science and technology and rendered this life so convenient/ Beat by beat we are neglecting the forum of our culture, the foot step of our ancestors which involves love, care and high moral values, love respect towards the society. The other is because of this result everyone is trying to live a luxury life, don't want to work hard and live life with those moral values. W;e have become so selfish and greedy and the desire to have more and more..and to get this life style some people don't care about their parents who have been their back bone ever since they were young... They deserve to learn a good lessons of life. They should be punished."

But how many such voices would stand out from the crowd of billions who would support this cause is to be seen. How many candle light vigils be conducted not just in Ahmadabad or Gujarat, but across India in support of this couple and many more across India.  This one movement is required to ensure safety and rightful position of our Senior Citizens, our Parents and Our Loved ones across the country.

Please note - This is only one case that came to light because the Parents filed a request to be dead, however, there are multiple cases across country that even don't go reported and god knows how many of them result in "Suicides or even Murders"

Indian Passport: Tips Before you Visit PSK

After completing my previous article "Indian Passport: Prized Possession for Indians", I thought about the issues that are met by the aspirants at the Passport Seva Kendra. Recalling various Horror Stories from the various articles and personal discussions with those who suffered, I decided to write down few tips and tricks that would help you to get through the Passport Requests at the first appointment (though these may not work always as Babus might also read these tips and find ways to circumvent :P). So the minimum that I can do is to at least help you with the Checklist that would serve as the vital trick :)...
  1. Do cross verify the list of documents that are identified as Proof of Address. From the list available at the location, please ensure that you are carrying at least - 
    1. Aadhar Card - if you have one
    2. Ration Card - Must
    3. Voter ID Card - Must
    4. Telephone and Electricity Bill along with Rent Agreement Copy (if you are on rented accommodation)
  2. Proof of Date of Birth 
    1. School Leaving Certificate as well as the Marksheet / Certificate for Standard 10th - Must
    2. Birth Certificate - if you have it, please take it with you
  3. Documents required for Non-ECR Category
    1. Matriculation (Standard 10) Marksheet - Must
    2. Birth Certificate or SLC - For people above age of 50 
    3. Income Tax Payers - Proof of assessment of income tax and actual payment of income tax for last one year - Must
    4. Educational Qualification - Diploma / Degree Certificate as applicable in your case - Must
Though an exhaustive list is available at the GOI's official website - Passport Seva Consular, Passport & Visa Division, the ones listed above are most basic and mandatory to obtain the passport.  For other areas as change in address, adding spouse name etc the additional documents required are - 
  1. Marriage Certificate - For Spouse name add
  2. Spouse's Passport - For Spouse name add and / or address change
  3. Rental agreement or Property Certificate for the new address
  4. Letter from Employer - Though Not accepted in most of the cases., but sometimes may still serve
For Spouse name add it is always suggested to carry - 
  1. Marriage album - 10 or 15 Photographs, though they don't ask normally, but you never know if your case is being treated as different than normal
  2. Marriage Invitation cards - couple copies do the required help if they ask 

I guess this is more or less the maximum inputs I can gather at this point for you and suggest you to closely verify all your documents as and when you are going to the PSK.  

And well, these would work best only when you secure the appointment through online site...I don't have a trick to secure that :(....For that All I can say is "Best of Luck"

Health Sector Reforms

Indian Healthcare system is something that actually needs a overhaul.  The recent news that the GOI is focusing of revamping the Healthcare system in Maoist area and my question is Why only Specific Areas in the country?

Reading the article made me wonder and to me it seemed like Government is pretty narrow minded when it comes to Health Sector.  Few measures that GOI needs to take to revamp the Healthcare Sector with immediate effect are - 
  1. Revamp the Medical Supply system that is highly corrupted with people from grass root till top are involved in charging commission from the suppliers.  Those who don't are either killed or suspended or are kept under severe work pressure with top brass not letting them voice their points.  
  2. Scrutinize the Medical Supply orders for the Government / Civil Hospitals and conduct regular independent Audits supervised by CAG like body to ensure that the prices are not escalated / inflated to charge commission from the pharmacies listed.
  3. Regular Audits must be conducted at the Civil Hospitals for the maintenance of updated inventory and available medicines along with check of expired inventory that is duly disposed off.
  4. Making Rural / Sub-urban postings mandatory for all the medical graduates and serving at that level for at least 2 years before they could go for their Post Graduation.  
  5. A compulsorily 2 year posting at Civil Hospitals must be mandated for all the Post Graduates before they move out to private sector or to have their own clinics and practice.  
  6. Tax rebates may be considered for the Corporate Houses supplying medical equipment / supplies to the Civil Hospitals.  
  7. Tax free income may be ensured for the first year of Rural Posting for all the Medical Graduates and Post Graduates to encourage them to do so.  Further rebates may be considered to encourage their continued rural service.
  8. GOI may also consider seeking Private Organizations and NGOs help to conduct medical camps in the rural areas and address the growing need for medical support there
These are just a few points that come to my mind where Government can take initiatives to revamp the current Medical Infrastructure across the Country.  It is high time that the Health Ministry as well as GOI thought on these small steps to revolutionize the Health Services across the Country...
Related Posts -
  1. Healthcare System and Associated Malpractices
  2. Healthcare System and Associated Malpractices-I

Indian Passport: Prized Possession for Indians

Obtaining Passport in India has become an uphill task for the citizens who wish to travel abroad. It is pretty much a paramount task to first get an appointment through the online portal and then ensure that the paper work is complete or say is more than that is prescribed on the Govt's Passport Seva Site 

A really very nice and thought provoking article was published on Times of India -
No passage from India: Perhaps it's time we changed the names of our passports to 'stop-ports'

But I felt it lacked some points that need to be added to highlight the atrocities of babudom in this space of Passport Issuance.  A few of them are -

  1. At the major PSKs, there is always a lack of trained resources. Though the initial stage is outsourced to TCS for checking files and papers, but then either they do not have the resources to handle the influx or they do not well trained to understand the case
  2. As per the Mandatory Supporting papers required, either one of the Address Proof or Identity proof is required, but then height of babudom that they find ways to seek more supporting papers though the set submitted meets the requirements. e.g. - It for proof of residence Ration Card copy is attached they would still seek "Voter ID", even though you are carrying your old passport with yourself and that serves the purpose for many requirements, they would still seek "Identity Proof" as if the old passport issued from the same authority is not valid even though you have used it to travel international
  3. The Forms that are suddenly required to be filled up are either not available at the PSK or the staff that handles the counter is missing or the Form in itself is priced double than it is available at the shop outside the PSKs
  4. Appointment booking slots open after 6 PM (for online appointment booking) but then within another 5 minutes, either you are still struggling or never get that appointment you want, because someone has overbooked the slots (may be the babus have their clouts to ensure that enough appointments are not booked).
  5. To top it all, once you have completed all the formalities, the Babus to be approving your final stage of personal interview pose questions that are like - 
    1. "Can I see the Marriage Certificate?" 
    2. "Can I see the Marriage Invitation Card?" 
    3. "Can I see the declaration by the priest who performed the Marriage?"  
          Some really absurd questions to be honest.

I mean, the way I understand this is - You would be lucky if you got all your papers cleared and passport issued at the first time you get an appointment.  This is the level of harassment that the Babudom has ensured for Passport Issuance....I can make that statement as I know of around 15 or 20 such cases where the folks had to make at least 2 rounds to the PSK before getting their Passports...And if it is Tatkaal, you have had it for good.....more stuff awaits you at the PSKs

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chinese Incursion - My Viewpoint

The entire Border with China has always been under dispute with them. Be it Laddakh or Aurnachal.  Interesting point to note here is the Case of Aksai Chin that had been a long standing bone of contention between India and China.  Along with that the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Aksai Chin for that matter is critical for China with direct access to Pakistan by Land whereas their interest in Arunachal has always been a mystery for me......

The Current incident that is dubbed as localized doesn't seem to me as localized, but must be part of the larger game plan that Chinese would be brewing.  It is critical that Mr. Khurshid should have taken care of this in his talks and as treated this as a matter of Prime importance rather than dubbing this as a localized event/incident.

It was highly disappointing to read that Mr. Khurshid Didn’t ask why incursions took place: (Times of India report) in this discussions with his Chinese counterpart.  This raises numerous questions to us as the country of 1.25 billion+. We would like to know from GOI if - 
  1. National interest is of any importance to them?
  2. Was this discussion avoided as the Chinese Counterpart showed the carrot of 500 million?
  3. Was it that Mr. Khurshid didn't want to track back at his own statement where he pointed this out as "Localized Incident" in his earlier statement and then again making similar comment again?
  4. Shouldn't GOI look at the larger aspect of the Border dispute ranging from Aksai Chin to Arunachal with China?
  5. Why is GOI getting under pressure from China on revised bilateral treaty on Border?
  6. Why is GOI not taking the Border dispute with China as the Prime point to discuss? Please note that control over Aksai Chin would provide a strategic benefit to China and for them it would be easier access to Pakistan from that route.  That would mean Pakistan would be benefited at the same time and the trade between China and Pakistan (of nuclear as well as arms deal) would flourish more....this certainly would bring in more alarming situation for India and its Sovereignty 

Vande Mataram and the controversy

Another Controversy Fueled by yet another belligerent act to dishonor the national song of India "Vande Mataram by BSP MP".  I am not sure why these guys have to act in a manner they do to create News.  Well yes I do opine that this was a shameful act of creating a news to be in the news because the said MP had no other way to get noticed.

My point is - Why shouldn't he be suspended and barred from contesting election at all?  
I had the above opinion posted on an online forum and the sort of replies I got - 

Syed - "Tagore's Jana Gana Mana was chosen as the Nation Anthem of the 1947 Republic of India. Vande Mataram was rejected on the grounds that Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Arya Samajis and others who opposed idol worship felt offended by its depiction of the Nation as "Mother Durga", a Hindu goddess. Muslims abide Indian Constitution. This is controversial song being imposed. Better Play secular Song instead of Dummy God's Song. Song written by Dr. Iqbal is more Sweet."

Sikhview - "Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the paramount representative body in the Sikh Path requested that the Sikhs not sing "Vande Mataram" in the schools and Institutions on its centenary on Sept 7, 2006. SGPC head Avtar Singh Makkar expressed concern that "imposing a song that reflected just one religion was bound to hurt the sentiments of religious minorities. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has called singing "Vande Matram" against Sikh tenents as the Sikhs sought 'Sarbat da bhala (universal welfare) and did not believe in "devil and devta". DSGMC head H. S. Sarna also added that the song had been rejected long before by well known freedom fighter Sikhs like Baba Kharak Singh and Master Tara Singh"

(The Above viewpoints are of those who voice it and I have linked them to the comments section of Times of India.  They are neither mine nor do I support those views)

If I take Syed's point that Sare Jahan se achha Hindostaan hamara is sweet, then I would agree that it indeed is a very nice song, but does not stand a merit to be nominated for National song because it uses the word "Hindustan" to depict Bharat / India and that is not the official name of the country.  

In my personal opinion, Vande-Mataram is the national song and is in the heart of every patriot. Not sure why some communal forces try to depict it as a song where it is in praise of Goddess Durga. I am surprised at the other set of the communal forces who have worked their level best to depict our Mother Land - India as goddess Durga.  This is nothing but creation of utter chaos.  

It is time for all of us to get real and get practical.  Vande-Mataram was written by Bankim Chandra Chatopaddhyay in Bangla and then it was translated in Hindi.  It was Never written for any Hindu deity and depictions to relate it to Goddess Durga is not the right way to negate its worth as a National Song.

Author's Declaration
Please don't read this as my opposition to Goddess Durga. I respect her and worship her :) 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

India makes it easier to get visas on arrival

As usual habit of reading the News at the time I have some space to do so, I stumbled on the article that India extended the Visa on Arrival (VoA) to 9 of its International airports from existing 4. This has been done with the purpose of enhancing tourism industry. This had already brought success in past with an increased influx by 63%.  But will this be the only measure that would increase the influx of tourists?  The certain answer is "No" as there is a lack of Security Attribute for the visiting tourists. And this is not just my own concern, this is the concern of the readers of that article on Time of India.  It is imperative for the Government to enhance the Overall security measures to secure the tourists visiting India and at the same time train the Inland Security Forces (read Police Force) to NOT harass the Foreigners as they otherwise carry negative image of India and Indians with them creating Negative Publicity for India and thus hitting the Tourism Programs.

Another aspect that Indian Government needs to ensure is to enhance Additional Security Measures at the Airports with inclusion of Biometric measures to verify the identity of the foreign nationals as well as the citizens.  This is nothing new as the major countries in EU as well as USA and Canada have this implemented where they do collect the Finger prints and at times the iris patterns for identity establishment.  This by far is the best known solution and certainly least abusable one.  There can be counter points on how this can be bypassed, but please note that if someone tries to fake finger prints, the devices can highlight that pretty easily (if implemented in the correct fashion).  For I have been involved with Biometric device implementation studies and the corrective measures that can be brought in, I can vouch for the technology.  
(My Sincere thanks to Rajveer Singh - A fellow Reader on Times of India, to have ignited the idea on this side. Full credits to him).

So, as I conclude, I would like to summarize as two steps must be taken by the GOI - 
  1. Ramp us the overall Inland Security Posture in the country
  2. Implement the Biometric Technologies at the airports
Well and ensure that the Visa officers deployed at the Airports are NOT Corrupt...the most vital step for that matter.

Just to add - "The group VoA facility has been extended to all countries excluding Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan and foreigners of Pakistani origin." so that's a welcome step :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How one News Overrides Another

News is very volatile and one news overrides the other very fast. More-so with the convenience to politicians where they love to use one incident as the burning incident to cover up another news where their folly is being highlighted.  Media Houses on the other hand love to play with the public emotions more so to increase their own reader base and they love to highlight the controversies more so in their business. 

The glaring example of the recent time had been the way two cases happened simultaneously, but one glaring hole was covered by the massive response to the other one.  The two incidents that I am talking about are - 

  1. Attack on Sarabjeet Singh in Pakistan followed by his death with body returning to India sans vital organs
  2. Incursion of Chinese troops - 19 Kilometers inside Indian Territory in Laddakh and then setting up their tents there and demanding India to retreat and take down the temporary structures.
Here the Incident 2 is more alarming and a serious threat to the Nation and the National Interest. However, it was downplayed by the Honorable Foreign Minister as a Localized incident and then GA orders issued for the Govt officials to make any statement. Army was put on hold made to be waiting to take next steps on this side. Interesting huh....

Incident 1 which certainly had been dragging in the news for almost 22 years and now comes at the forefront with the Death of Sarabjeet Singh Succumbing to the injuries sustained in the attack on him by the Prison inmates in Lahore.  This certainly is a sad news.  But both the Opposition as well as the Ruling Party have pretty well used this to cover up the folly they made in Laddakh.  Media too conveniently shifted from the case in Laddakh to air/publish the news around Sarabjeet Singh's death.  Not sure why??? And well I am not downplaying the injustice and sufferings of Sarabjeet Singh, but trying to highlight the case where we may have more of it due to the Border dispute with China.

The Case in Laddakh is more alarming than the death of Pakistan because there can certainly be far reaching implications as they had been in case of the act by Chinese in 1987 in Arunachal.  We can also not take a step that would lead to a situation like 1962 or the case where we lost many brave hearts in Kargil. The politicians need to get to serious business leaving aside their politics on Sarabjeet's case.  Sarabjeet's case haunted us for these many years, but we certainly don't want the Laddakh case to haunt us or our successors in years to come.

The Case one is the case of mistaken identity and suffering of one person, but the case two is the case of threatened solidarity and challenge to national security.  I would leave it at the audience to decide which one should take priority for the Government.

I totally understand the sentiments involved in with the death of Sarabjeet and am totally praying for his soul to rest in peace for he at last achieved that freedom from his sufferings (though with brutality).  I also understand that the case happened in Pakistan and hence the public outcry would be more in this case.  But, please for god's sake, the Case 2 is happening right inside our borders and we can't let that happen to us and our country.

As I conclude - Please note that the incident 2 has happened just a month or so before Chinese Premiere visits India and just before when Indian Foreign Minister is to visit China.  So if some political B.S, is given to us that we can't take actions in this case and we need to be Patient enough for the thriving Indo-Sino relations, then please that is all Farce.  If only China was serious about this, they would not have done that idiotic act of incursion.