Friday, March 25, 2005

Listen to the new audio sample..

Excerpts from Alaapanai
Raagam: Shubhapantuvarali
Artist: M.S.Gopalakrishnan
Time: 00.02.25

Please go to the section Click play to listen on the right column - below the shoutbox.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cricket Diplomacy

Mr.Natwar Singh said,"We are willing to discuss any issue with Musharraf...Mr. Musharraf is arriving here on April 16 to witness the cricket match on April 17. Besides cricket, we would talk on any issue if he wished to..." and he added,"At no stage, have we stopped telling them that the real success of composite dialogue will be when terrorism is stopped because the structure for terrorism still continues there..."
I imagine a discussion like this on April 17 between them and the press meet that follows:
NS: "General, I told the house that we are willing to discuss any issue."
M: "Very nice of you. I thought you would bring again only Kargil and terrorism."
NS: "I also informed the house that we never stopped telling you the importance of stopping terrorism."
M: "Is it? Very kind of you to have said that discussion would be on topic of my choice."
NS:"When will you stop aiding terrorist groups?"
M: "I am also worried about.."
NS:"Thank you, General. I can then announce that our discussion is a great success.."
M:"Wait.Wait. I am worried that my boys should play well today.."
NS(with a smile):"!!!"
M:"But they should hit the target.."
NS(jumping with joy):"Ah! Another great diplomatic victory. General has agreed to target the terrorist camps."
M:"What? Is this the way to treat your guest? Afridi and others should hit Pathan and Balaji for sixes and fours so that they lose their confidence."
NS(with a smile):"!!!"
M:"We should also tighten our field placing to avoid giving easy runs.."
NS(with a beamish face):"How nice! We never thought you also wanted to make these hard core terrorists to run away.."
M:"This is the limit. I have come here to enjoy the cricket match. And the last thing I want to hear is any of your usual complaints. You better treat your guest well. Else I can put a word to my big brother Bush and will prevent you all from visiting any other countries. You know that? Let me enjoy cricket here.."
NS(with a serious face):"Yes, General. Inzamam is a quality player,isn't it?"
M nodded.
After the match, when asked by media about the discussion, Natwar Singh proudly announced that he never stopped telling the General on the importance of stopping terrorism. Media was curious to know General's response. Natwar Singh said the general too responded appropriately and announced happily that the next diplomatic discussion would be during the coming World Cup matches.

Friday, March 18, 2005

New Feature - Shoutbox

I have added one shoutbox in the sidebar. You can now post your brief comments without much effort.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

After a while...Comes the dawn...

My friend showed this poem to me few hours back.

After a while (a.k.a. Comes the dawn)

Veronica Shoffstall

After a while, you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning

And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn

That kisses aren't contracts

And presents aren't promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman,

Not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads

On today, because tomorrow's ground

Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have

A way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate

Your own soul instead of waiting

For someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...

That you really are strong
And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn...

With every goodbye you learn.

You learn, with every goodbye,
Comes the dawn.

©1971,Veronica Shoffstall

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"The Hindu" editorial on Micro-finance

This was published in The Hindu on March 14, 2005. The link is here.

The slew of measures announced in the Union budget will go a considerable way in bolstering the system of dispensing credit by micro-finance institutions (MFIs) in conjunction with self-help groups (SHGs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There is a welcome recognition in the Finance Minister's speech of the role MFIs have played in catering to the credit needs of the poorer sections of rural society. This is a function mainline banks in India and most other countries have been unable to do on their own. Since February 2000 when the Reserve Bank of India gave priority sector status to loans provided by banks to the MFIs, the activity has been mainstream. Experience of operating a micro-credit model pioneered by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) during 1991-92 has shown that establishing a linkage between an SHG and a bank is the best method for bringing SHGs into the ambit of formal banking especially because it infuses a degree of professionalism into the services offered to the rural poor.
The budget has ambitious plans to extend the target of credit linking for 2005-06 from 200,000 self-help groups to 250,000. The Government hopes to enhance the beneficial role of the MFIs as an intermediary between banks and rural borrowers. Commercial banks will be allowed to appoint MFIs as their "banking correspondents" for providing a variety of services on their behalf. That will vastly increase their reach and remove some of the intractable rigidities that have stood in the way of the spread of rural banking. Close to 70 per cent of the rural poor do not have a bank account and 87 per cent do not have access to credit from a formal source. The proposal to appoint MFIs as agents for micro-insurance products will help spread the insurance habit and enable them to earn a fee income. Another significant proposal is to let the eligible MFIs seek equity support from the redesignated Micro Finance Development and Equity Fund, which has a corpus of Rs. 200 crore.
Originally confined to the southern States, micro-finance is fast spreading to the rest of India. For the banking system, the SHG linkage has been a winning proposition. It has resulted in lower transaction costs, negligible defaults, and the generation of enormous goodwill. The MFIs have been adept at providing customised solutions based on their understanding of local conditions. However, a number of weaknesses remain. Banks have not yet standardised their approach towards micro-lending. A lack of infrastructure and design facilities and also worthwhile distribution channels for marketing the products has constrained growth. A number of initiatives are needed to keep the micro-finance system on track. The goal is to make it a dispenser not just of credit but of a variety of social goods and services to the rural poor.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A stirring in the heart

I was walking slowly under the hot sun. Not many people were around. Leaves were too bright in the light. My feet could feel the heat of the earth on the footwear. My footwear could feel the heat below and the weight above. I saw a playground. There was a school next to it. The school was small. It was not a convent. Though boys and girls were in school uniform, one could immediately sense their financial background. Small boys and girls were sitting in different groups under the shadow of the trees that were lined up by the side. Some were talking aloud. Some were silently having lunch. Some were playing. Very noisy but not a disturbing one. The sky was very clear. There was only one group of thin clouds, very far, moving slowly like me. They were looking for cool shades to rest. A single crow moved very swiftly from one tree to the next one. Some leaves fluttered because of this. Someone might have disturbed its rest there.
It was a hot lazy afternoon.
I was just walking. Suddenly I noticed that I was not thinking anything. My thoughts were also taking rest. Heart was also, like a calm river, flowing from inside to outside spreading itself all over. I was walking effortlessly. I saw two school girls walking in front of me. Our walking pace was almost uniform that the distance was same. It was close enough that I could overhear them. They were walking without speaking to each other. Looked like it would be like that forever. One of them turned back to see something or someone. Her face was round and she had very expressive eyes. I thought her eyes were more mature than her face. But why did those eyes have few drops of tears? There was a slight disturbance in that calm river. Small ripples were formed by the fall of those small drops of tears. Tears borne out of pain were getting dissolved in that river. Heart was taking everything in its flow. Suddenly, the girl said to her friend,"My father beat my mother yesterday."
There was a silence. A meaningful silence.
The girl now asked,"Have you seen your father beating your mother?"
The other girl with a heavy heart said,"mm..I have seen."
"I feel like crying when I think of my mother."
"me too."
"must be painful for her?"
Ripples grew into huge waves. Nothing was calm anymore. Why these small innocent girls had to discuss such things? What a hurt these young hearts were burdened with!
At a distance, one flower was falling. All of us noticed that.
One girl said to the other,"I will catch that."
But the other said,"No, I will catch. It's for me."
I saw them running ahead. The flower was moving down spiralling its way. Both of them tried to catch it. But the flower did not yield to their efforts and fell on the ground majestically. Did it smile at us? The girls laughed heartily for their failure. My heart, like a calm river, rejoiced in their laughter.

Monday, March 07, 2005

New feature

"Listen to the clipping" is added. I will hopefully be able to update it regularly. You can now listen to a small clipping from M.S. Subbulakshmi's rendition. Please see inside the 'listen' window for details of the clipping.