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January 28, 2015

Kashmir's Forgotten Plebiscite- History, Opinions, Solutions !

It has been 67 years since UN passed a resolution to held a plebscite in Kashmir and 68 years since our Independence! But today, that is 28th January, 2015, just 2 days after our Republic Day I feel shameful to tell you about a forgotten plebiscite in Kashmir. Lets start from the beginning-

HIसTORY
 India's partition took place in 1947, when according to the Mountbatten Plan all the princely states had the choice to join either Pakistan or India. It was a time when diplomacy stood as the prime strategy. There were more than 500 princely states and Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel stood successful to convince most of them to join India. However, the nawab of Kashmir declined and wanted to be an independent state. All went well till Pakistan attacked Kashmir. Kashmir being a weak state asked for help from India. This was the time when an agreement was signed between India and Kashmir which stated that Kashmir will become a part of India if India helps Kashmir in the war. However, the agreement also stated that Kashmir will become a part of India on the condition that some special rights will be given to the people of Kashmir. Soon, Kashmir became a part of India with some special rights given to Kashmiris and Kashmir state stated in Article 370. But, sadly a part of Kashmir remained under Pakistan which is called as PoK (Pak Occupied Kashmir). 

KASHMIR- WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT?
Kashmir is state which has a very strategic location in terms of defense. Kashmir's borders are adjacent to that of China and Pakistan, two nations with whom India has never had good relations. A year ago, I met Lt. Manoj Pandey who was a courageous soldier and played a very important role in the Kargil war. He told us that if Kashmir wasn't a part of India then it would have heavily affected the cost of goods in the Northern states and the exported goods because of long distance transportation. Also, Kashmir is called the heaven of India. Its natural beauty and culture attracts millions of tourists each year. Kashmir being the major tourist attraction of India, brings huge profits to the Indian economy. Kashmir has an ideal climate and soil for the growth of fruits such as apple and also saffron. Therefore, Kashmir is a state which is important economically as well as militarily and hence, is sought after by China, Pakistan and India. However, today India has control over largely half the size of the princely state Jammu and Kashmir. 
THE STORY OF KASHMIR'S FORGOTTEN PLEBISCITE?                                                      Even after Kashmir's agreement with India, Pakistan's troops took control of some land of Kashmir. When the news reached Delhi, Nehruji went to the United Nations to discuss this conflict. In October 1948, UNO passed a resolution stating a plebiscite in Kashmir. But conducting a plebiscite in the still disputed state of Kashmir to decide its fate is still a question.

WHAT !NDIA SAYS?
India says that the region of PoK is under Pakistan and votes can be influenced by the troops over there. Therefore, conducting a plebiscite with PoK would be biased towards Pakistan. Also, that Kashmir, due to high risk of terrorism, is taken care by the army and not the police. According to UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council), some fundamental rights of the citizens of Kashmir are violated. Also to maintain security and peace, the troops in Kashmir have the right to violate the rights of the citizens of Kashmir. This is another reason why the citizens of Kashmir are against India and Indians and hence, the plebiscite would be biased. Another problem to this Kashmir plebiscite is that a lot of Kashmiri pandits migrated to different places in India. To conduct an unbiased plebiscite, the opinion of the original residents of Kashmir i.e. the Kashmiri pandits is very precious and it is practically impossible to get them together once again.  
Therefore, India would conduct the plebiscite only when Pakistan clears PoK. But since then, Pakistan has not cleared PoK. India, since then, puts forward this problem in every UN meeting but a solution still seems a distant hope! 

OPINIONS
Nehruji and his witty decision 
Talking about History, "Congress' haters" say it was a mere mistake to make an agreement with Kashmir. but when I turn back and look at it, it looks as if the wittiest decision because Kashmir is a major tourist attraction in India !ncredible India. Kashmir makes India an exporter of fruits which otherwise would have been an importer. Numerable reasons are stated above and still if the "Congress' haters" say NO then that's highly unethical and that comes straight from the pen of a person who isn't a Congress supporter nor a BJP supporter but someone who supports his (my) ethics and morals.
People say, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru was foolish to go the UN when he didn't want to make this matter, a matter of global interference. A pretty strong debate, however, could there have been any progress in the Kashmir problem if would not have gone to the UN. What he dreamt of was a peaceful and safe India and not of a disputed and unsafe India. And that comes from the same pen!!!            
                         
SOLUTION- STILL A DISTANT DREAM
Even after 68 years of our Independence, a solution still remains a distant dream. In my hunt to find the best solution for this problem, I found some sensible enough to be shared. The best solution which I could find is that Kashmir's territory has to remain with India but the residents of Kashmir will be given the choice to opt for either migrating to Pakistan or staying in India. Though this seems right but would never be agreed by Pakistan who is greedy of land (and why not). Second, the Arms Act should be removed and then, further proceeding should take place. Third, the current boundaries should be made international boundaries and PoK should be given to Pakistan. Though this too seems right but India would never agree and why should India agree? It would be like declaring robbery legal! In a hunt to find solutions, above all these solutions was one single solution called COMPROMISE ! But that seems so unethical ;-)       

January 21, 2015

Air Force One- World's Most Sophisticated Airplane!

   
US president Barack Obama will be the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations. He will travel to India in his presidential plane, Air Force One. Here's what you need to know about the plane:

* The 'Air Force One' call sign was created after a 1953 incident during which a flight, carrying President Elsenhower, entered the same airspace as a commercial airline flight using the same call sign.

* The aircraft has fully equipped office areas with telecommunication system, including 87 telephones and 19 televisions.

* There are two identical Boeing 747-200Bs to act as decoys and a third chartered jumbo jet for office staff and security personnel.

* The aircraft is self-sufficient and all meals are prepared in two galleys.

The aircraft has: 

* A Medical Office which includes a fold-out operating table emergency medical supplies, and a wellstocked pharmacy.

* A Communication centre, with 386km of wiring shielded from elctromagnetic interference caused by nuclear explosions.

* Every flight is staffed by a doctor and a nurse President's private office, or the 'Oval Office Aboard Air Force One' from where the President can address the nation The President's suite includes sleeping quarters, lavatory, shower, vanity and a double sink

* A conference room, originally designed as a situation room, with a plasma screen TV that can be used for teleconferencing

Defence system of the aircraft

Directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system directs an infrared beam onto the missile's IR seeker of an incoming missile. It then tries a variety of jamming algorithms, to disturb the set path of the missile.




An Astronaut Reveals What Life in Space Is Really Like

Space and universe have always been two things which have fascinated me. I have always wondered how were things in space ? When you live in a spaceship with zero gravity how does it feel like? Apart from its scientific face, I also thought that how lucky these astronauts were as there was no one who would say, "Go and keep your clothes in the wardrobe!" or their wives would would say,"Go and pay your telephone bill." A year or a half without any noise and complete silence. "Space," I thought, "a place where you can pleasure of hearing your own breath for months and years." When I started hunting for these questions, I got an article written by an astronaut. Excerpts:   

There’s no way to anticipate the emotional impact of leaving your home planet. You look down at Earth and realize: You’re not on it. It’s breathtaking. It’s surreal. It’s a “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” kind of feeling. But I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space, over the course of five missions for NASA, and I’ve learned that being out there isn’t just a series of breathtaking moments. It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic. It can be crowded, noisy, and occasionally uncomfortable. Space travel—at least the way we do it today—isn’t glamorous. But you can’t beat the view!

Everyone imagines that when you’re sitting on the launchpad atop 7 million pounds of explosive rocket fuel, you’re nervous and worried; but the truth is, there isn’t much to do for those two hours after you climb into the shuttle. Many astronauts just take a nap. You’re strapped in like a sack of potatoes while the system goes through thousands of pre-launch checks. Occasionally you have to wake up and say “Roger” or “Loud and clear.” But the launch itself is a whole other thing—from the pad to orbit in 8.5 minutes, accelerating the entire time until you reach the orbital velocity of 17,500 mph. That is a ride.

It turns out that once you’re actually in orbit, zero-g has some upsides. Without gravity, bodily fluids move toward your head. It’s a great face-lift. Your stomach gets flat. You feel long, because you grow an inch or two. (I thought, “Oh cool, I’ll be tall,” but of course everybody else was taller too.)
But zero-g also has some disadvantages. As that fluid shifts north, you get an enormous headache. Your body compensates and loses about a liter of fluid in the first couple of days. The way to feel better is to “lose up,” to convince your visual system that “up” is wherever you point your head and “down” is where your feet are. When you can do that, and go headfirst or earlobe-first wherever you want, then you’re getting adapted to zero-g. On each flight this adaptation happens more quickly—your body remembers having been in space. But it can take a few days before your stomach finally settles down and says, “OK, what’s for lunch?”
I didn’t eat much on any of my flights. I don’t have a big appetite even on Earth, but between the lack of gravity and the shifting fluids, things can taste different in space. I’d bring great chocolate with me and it would taste like wax—it was very disappointing. But you don’t go to space for the gourmet dining. There’s no way to cook, on the shuttle or on the ISS. Space food is already cooked and then either freeze-dried and vacuum-packed—so you add water and put it in the oven to warm up—or it’s thermo-stabilized, like a military MRE. With no refrigerator on board, fresh food won’t keep. So on the shuttle we’d have to eat anything fresh—usually fruit like apples, oranges, and grapefruit—early in the mission.
One of the strangest experiences in space is one of the simplest on Earth: sleeping. On the shuttle, you strap your sleeping bag to the wall or the ceiling or the floor, wherever you want, and you get in. It’s like camping. The bag has armholes, so you stick your arms through, reaching outside the bag to zip it up. You tighten the Velcro straps around you to make you feel like you’re tucked in. Then you strap your head to the pillow—a block of foam—with another Velcro strap, to allow your neck to relax. If you don’t tuck your arms into the bag, they drift out in front of you. Sometimes you wake up in the morning to see an arm floating in front of your face and think, “Whoa! What is that?” until you realize it’s yours.
Astronaut Marsha Ivins on board the space shuttle Atlantis in 2001, her fifth mission. NASAPhoto by: Dan Winters
On most of my flights, I slept in the airlock, in the middeck of the shuttle. Nobody worked in there when we weren’t doing an EVA (extra-vehicular activity), so it was like my own private bedroom. The downside? It was also the coldest part of the shuttle by about 20 degrees. I would tuck my arms into the bag and wear four layers of clothes; sometimes I’d warm up a package of food in the oven and throw it in my sleeping bag like a hot-water bottle. On the last two nights of my final flight, I slept on the flight deck, my sleeping bag strapped beneath the overhead windows. The position of the shuttle put Earth in those windows, so when I woke up the whole world was out there in front of me—in that moment, just for me alone.
The most amazing thing about my spaceflights was how relaxing they were. New astronauts get so worried about fulfilling their duties that they sometimes get hours or days into a mission before stopping to watch the sun rise, even though it happens 16 times a day on orbit. Shuttle flights were always busy—experiments, daily maintenance, EVAs, robotic operations. It was incredibly hard work, stressful in its own way, and scary—if you screwed up, you screwed up with people all over the world watching. But at the same time I found it all very relaxing. When you travel on Earth, you’re almost never out of touch. Anyone can reach you if they need to. But going to space, you are really out of reach. You have comm with the ground and email, sure, but there’s not much you can do about those everyday worries: Did I pay the bills? Did I feed the dog? I felt like everyday things just stopped at the edge of the atmosphere. I was totally liberated from Earth. But all those earthly concerns reattached as soon as we reentered. By the time I landed, my brain was mapping out a to-do list.
I never got sick going to space, but I never felt great coming home. When you return, your inner ear—which keeps you balanced on Earth and which has been essentially turned off for the duration of your trip—feels a little gravity and becomes unbelievably sensitive. Your balance is off and you have to relearn how to move in a gravity field. If I turned my head, I would fall over. Muscles you haven’t used in weeks have to reengage to help you do everyday stuff like walk, stand, and hold things. It can take days or weeks to get your Earth legs back.
It was hard, it was exciting, it was scary, it was indescribable. And yes, I’d go back in a heartbeat.

January 2, 2015

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam! Why Is He Widely Loved?

While surfing, I came across an article written by Balaji Viswanathan,Political Observer and product manager at a Venture funded startup - creating new markets. The whole article is very convincing and well- written clearly showing the greatness and down-to-Earth attitude of our x-president Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam! His ideology is something which will surely illuminate innumerable minds for a thousand more years. It is quite rare to see one of the greatest scientists on Earth becoming a President and rarer to see a good leader in scientist.This article is surely worth a read!!   
I have met President Kalam four times. In those times I have come to understand why he is so highly revered. Here are some of my experiences. 

April 2001: The   first of the meetings came in when we he was a National Security   Adviser and visited our college for inspecting some of the student   projects. Our college had a deep relationship with DRDO - India's   defense research organization and he wanted to apprise himself of some   of the new developments. 

The   night before he was supposed to come, at around 10pm he just came over   in his jeep with no security and thrilled the students doing the  decoration & settings for the following day's event. People were   stunned to see an eminent guy with a massive security threat just   walking like that and asking people what they were working on. He said  he wanted to meet the real hardworking people who were relegated to the  back on the event day. 

There   was a big commotion in the hostel that night as everybody ran to grab   some paper or the other to get his autograph. Then on the event day, he   patiently listened to all our ideas, even though many of our ideas  were  too impractical if I think about it now. He acted as though he was  our buddy, and not the highest ranking scientist in India.  



February 2003: By this time, Kalam had already become India's President. I was in IIT Delhi for a student event. A couple of months before that, I got an award from the Institution of Engineers on a defense related idea and wanted to tell our President that. So, I walked up to Rashtrapathi Bhavan (President's Office) and wrote a poorly written handnote in the front desk saying I want to meet the President for some of the ideas I was working on how to develop India. They thought it was weird and said they will send the note to his secretary. You don't just walk to meet the President of 1.2 billion people. It was crazy, but I was just a stupid teenager who had a more simplistic view of the world. 

Actually,it was my grandfather who moulded me a lot who gave this idea of directly writing to the President. He had a keen sense of people and thought the President Kalam might read it. 

The next day evening as I came back from my competition, my uncle with whom I stayed in Delhi looked very excited. He said the President's office called and they asked if I was free the following day. Free? I would run in the middle of a highway to meet the President of India, revered by a billion people. That was the most positive shocking news I had ever heard. The President wanted to meet some random teenager in response to a poorly handwritten note. My uncle told me not to get my hopes too much and maybe someone in President's office wanted to meet me. But, if I ever get a chance to meet his excellency, I should try to take a photograph with him.  




The next day, I took an autorickshaw to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan and still didn't know that I will meet the President. I got out of the Autorickshaw and told the guard that I was here to meet the President. Looking at me and the autorickshaw he was barely able to contain a laughter. He then called up the office to confirm and let me walk. 

After 30 minutes of security checks, I was outside his office. Then couple of his assistants came and trained me on how to act when I'm with the President. They told me how to eat, how to respond, etc. My heart started to pant. I was totally unprepared as I didn't expect to meet him. I didn't even have a good set of formal shirts for that event. I looked totally out of place and didn't have anyone to ask my silly questions on how to behave. I was alone and afraid. As a teenager, life didn't prepare me for that day. 

Then the moment came. I was asked to enter the President's Office. I expected to see a huge coterie of assistants and a few security guys. Stunned to see that there was none. The President was alone in his desk working. I closed the door and stood. The President offered me a seat and asked me to explain my ideas.

In the next 30 minutes, I talked about all the various science papers I had written and the President not just put up with that, but kept making notes & comments on my papers. It was like a dream and was tempted to pinch myself to realize what was happening. Within a few minutes he drilled into the ideas and went into the minute details of the papers, while still keeping the talk jovial. He even joked about how the President was forced to wear these formals, while he would have preferred to wear the folded fullsleeve shirts. At the end of 30 minutes, his secretary came in and said it was time for his next appointment. 

So, I stood up, thanked him and went out. Oops, I forgot to take a photograph with him. I then gently asked his secretary, if I can take a photograph with him. The secretary replied that it is not a custom to take a Photograph with visitors in that office and President was to be there at an another event in 1 hour. The President heard that and called for his photographer. I was clumsily dressed and looked awkwardly and entered his office once again. (Give that he is never late for any appointments that 5 extra minutes probably took away his rest time before he went on to meet business leaders at FICCI.)

(I dressed like a complete idiot during the teenage times)

After I came out, his secretary asked about the next time I will be in Delhi. I told him that I will be around for independence day (August 15). He just made a note of it and left. This is the greatest day of my little life. I got to chat with my hero for more than half hour. 
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August 12, 2003: I was in Delhi again at my uncle's place. Once again, the President's office called. I was even more shocked this time, as I didn't even write a stupid note this time. I was called once again to meet, remembering the previous conversation. It seems the President wanted to meet a couple of teenagers on the eve of our Independence day. This time it was a shorter meeting at 15 minutes and the President once again put up with my impractical ideas on how to change the nation. 
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Later, I had seen him a couple of times at Microsoft in 2008 after his Presidential term. He was there for an event and although I didn't get a chance to meet him one on one, it was great to see His Excellency. In one of the events - a dinner hosted by Bill Gates Sr (father of Microsoft founder), Gates Sr remarked that we should call Kalam always a President (in the US, once a President always a President). I agree.
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A lot of people claim down to earth, but our President was in a different level. He had a an extraordinary memory, patience, attention to details and more importantly kindness. While at office, he had almost turned the massive President's office into a science & social lab, inviting ideas from all over the nation. He was in in his 70s and was past his peak. Even then his mind was relentlessly working on science & language. He seemed to do his work by himself and inspired others to do the same. 

He was a quintessential Gandhi in a scientist robe and the greatest President we had ever had. In a nation where politicians act like pigs looking for the next avenue to rob, he was sitting there building bridges with common people, doing research, writing books and talking science. Our nation was gifted to have him.

Credits- Quora.com
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