Thoughts of a relentless mind

Ban tobacco in India

Why doesn’t the Indian government ban tobacco totally? Is it really that hard?

It is a known fact that tobacco leads to a hell lot of health irregularities like heart attack and cancer. No way it is going to help anyone, except maybe those who are involved in tobacco farming who will be reaping huge profits.

Banning tobacco might affect the income of tobacco farmers, distributors and petty shop owners. But the government should take this risk and ban tobacco totally. It would even help us keep the city clean of tobacco product covers which are thrown around by people. It is really not hard to implement the ban. It just requires strong will and dedication by the people involved in law making. And yes, it will affect the votes for the ruling party in the forthcoming elections. Probably this is what prevents the government from making this a reality! Or am I wrong?

16/03/2012 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Traffic violation fee increase in Bangalore

Today morning I heard on a local FM channel that the traffic police department in Bangalore has decided to increase the fine for traffic violations by 5 times.

This is definitely a very good improvement. A wrong parking violation earlier attracted a fine of 100 bucks. Now people will have to shell out 500 bucks for the same violation.

I believe this will make drivers more cautious on roads and follow traffic rules in a better way than they were doing before. A person wouldn’t mind much paying 100 bucks, but would think twice before violating a rule when he knows that he has to cough up 500 bucks. Now parking of vehicles at non-parking zones and signal jumps might reduce a great deal.

However I believe that the traffic cops should actively track and fine arrogant and negligent drivers who keep changing lanes often. Not only do these drivers put their lives at risk, but they endanger other lives too. At the same time proper lanes have to be marked on the roads and the roads cleared of debris. Otherwise enforcing strict no-lane-change policy might not work.

For the betterment of the country, the traffic police department should start a whistle-blower policy, where individuals can report traffic violations with valid proof (a camera snap?). I appreciate the Bangalore Traffic Police team using a FB page that works almost on the same lines, but people who complain would like to be anonymous for safety reasons.

02/03/2012 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

How to complain against Auto drivers for refusal / over-charging?

Note: This is valid only for Bangalore location.

I really wonder if any action will be taken against errant auto drivers. Until the traffic department shows some proof of action taken against the errant drivers, I’m sure many wouldn’t bother complaining.

Source: Bangalore Traffic Police on FB

01/03/2012 Posted by | General | , | Leave a comment

Income levels in India

The income levels of Indian employees are quite low compared to our western counterparts. This is a well known fact. But is the low pay really justified?

The average pay of an Indian IT engineer is around 20k INR. This translates to roughly around 400 USD. Any westerner would be getting in excess of 2k to 2.5k USD per month as his take-home income after tax deductions. One might argue that the low pay is justified taking into consideration the standard of living in India.

India is a developing country and has one of the highest inflation rates. To maintain a above-decent standard of living in these times at a salary of 20k is un-imaginable. One might not be able to save his income for his future.

No wonder Indians prefer to go abroad and make some quick bucks. As the saying goes, “What really matters at the end of the day is your bank balance”.

I really appreciate the outcome of the 6th pay commission. Government employees are having a better pay scale now compared to their earlier pay scale. What this essentially means is that even the Government employees might now think about going to that posh restaurant on a weekend, which they were afraid to do before. A family trip to nearby Singapore or Hong Kong is possible. Admitting the children to top schools is now possible. One area where this will really help is for the students who need to make a career choice. Now engineering and medicine are not the only high-income earning streams. This has opened up new avenues for employee seekers.

I hope the Indian Government continues to revise the pay scale of Government employees at regular intervals considering the inflation rate and improved standard of living. Our lifestyle and standard of living has not yet reached the same level as that of the westerners. But some sections of the society have had a major overhaul in their way of life, and as a citizen I welcome this change.

29/02/2012 Posted by | General | , , | 1 Comment

“The Ugly Indians” group

Saw a video in yesterday about few employees of Netapp Bangalore taking the initiative to clean up the dirty footpath outside their office. Got to know about “The Ugly Indians” group after seeing this video:

This is really a very nice initiative by the citizens. One thing is clear: You cannot count on the Government to provide the basic infrastructure that we deserve. Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone to get what we need. And this is particularly true in a country like India where almost every person is aware of the corruption issue.

I have decided to do my bit and will contribute in whatever way possible toward the cause.

26/02/2012 Posted by | General | , | Leave a comment

Roaming around in South Korea

Even after spending 5 months in Korea, I still couldn’t figure out how to check for the bus that I need to take. Google Maps helps me to some extent. But even that is not sufficient since majority of the names are in Korean language. Google Maps even suggests the appropriate bus route, a great boon for non-Korean speaking folks.

If you’re not able to figure out the right bus to take, you have no other option but to use a taxi. Taxi fare in Korea is very cheap compared to Europe. I don’t remember a single instance where I had to pay more than 6000 Won (around $5 to $6), and I have used the taxi here a lot.

One tip for non-Korean folks who intend to use taxi in Korea. Always carry the address of the destination address in Korean language. I always carry a number of business and visiting cards of colleagues, restaurants and other shops. Quite helpful when dealing with taxi drivers.

It’s always helpful to carry the T-Money card in South Korea. This is a prepaid card which can be bought from the local GS25 stores or in the subway station. You can load some money onto this card and use this for travel in bus and metro. Using raw cash for travel is a real pain and you’ll struggle to find out where to get the ticket in the subway station. If you wish to use the bus service using local currency, you need to drop certain amount in the money-holder machine next to the driver seat. AFAIK the max amount is 1000 Won. Consider yourself lucky if the bus driver understands whatever you ask him in English 🙂

21/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Subway in South Korea

Public transportation system in South Korea is very well organized. However the ease of convenience doesn’t feel as good compared to the public transport system in Germany.

Having used the S-Bahn in Germany, I expected similar kind of system in Korea too. The subway trains are on schedule most of the times. But the real turn-off is the fact that there is no subway map shown in most of the stations. The S-Bahn system was very convenient to use mainly dude to the availability of the S-Bahn map in almost all of the stations, and the demarcation of various places into zones. The English version of the subway map of Seoul can be found in: http://www.smrt.co.kr/english_smrt/index.jsp

Advance planning is required if you intend to use the subway since you won’t have the map in the subway stations. You can get a hard-copy of the subway map in the tourist information centers for free. Folks from Suwon can make use of the tourist information center just next to the subway station on the outside. It is located just right to the station.

A copy of the subway map is available on almost all of the mobiles here. But the irony is that all these maps have station names in Korean language, which makes it difficult to use for outsiders.

21/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Help for foreigners in South Korea

Outsiders really have a tough time in South Korea. Life gets hard when you can’t communicate with others.ou run into this kind of problem.

I found out a free interpretation service in Seoul that you can use when in need. The number is 02-120. I have personally never tried this service, but got to know about this from a friend of mine. And yes, this service is absolutely free !

There is a helpline number for tourists too. Dial 02-1330 to reach the helpline number of Seoul, and 031-1330 for the helpline number of Suwon.

20/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Life in South Korea

I have been in South Korea for quite some time now. Have visited few places and am getting more and more comfortable with the people and the surroundings.

One thing is for sure: South Korea is not such an easy place to live compared to other countries. This uneasy feeling comes because as an outsider you find hard to interact with people. Most of the localites here do not speak English. Even few of them who do speak English cannot put across their opinion and take annoyingly long time to understand what we say. The main reason for this might be because of the fact that the people here give huge importance to their native language.

I have been told by my colleagues here that the situation is fast improving. Children here are being taught English from a very young age. And since Korea does not have many good English speaking people, schools are getting teachers from other countries to teach English here. No wonder I get to see people from many nations here.

20/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

The Last Castle : A Review

Just finished watching this movie. Not such a great movie, to be honest. The storyline goes like this: An army officer gets fired from his position for having ignored his superiors orders, and in doing so, gets his men killed. Hence he’s sent to a max-security prison.

Here he finds that the prisoners are ill-treated, and starts an uprising by building an army of prisoners. Finally he succeeds in his mission.

The movie has a lot of goof-ups. First of all, none of the prisoners bully this General when he’s brought there. Everyone calls him as either ‘Sir’ or ‘General’, which can happen only in the fantasy world. And two, all the prisoners listen to whatever this guy says to him, as though they worship him.

06/09/2008 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment