Botched debate over poverty line: A Catch-22 for UPA? – Rediff.com Business


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Shashi Shekhar

The manner in which the government and the political opposition in Delhi have been guilt-tripped into this debate on the poverty line is a reflection of a broader phenomenon that has taken root within the minds of the thinking class at large, says Shashi Shekhar.

The botched debate over where to peg the poverty line, between the Planning Commission and the United Progressive Alliance Cabinet, reminds one of American author Joseph Heller’s famous fiction novel Catch-22 set in the Second World War.

The principal character in Heller’s dark war comedy is a delinquent air force bombardier Yossarian who had lost the will to fight. A riveting moment during Yossarian’s travails in trying to go AWOL is the mission over Bologna in Italy. Intense fear grips Yossarian over the scheduled mission to bomb Bologna, for he dreads not coming back alive.

The morbid fear takes a comical turn as day after day Yossarian and his colleagues stare at the ‘bombing line’ on a map under the awning of the unit’s intelligence tent. Faced with the inevitability of the mission, an irrational superstition takes root in the men’s mind that somehow the ‘bombing line’ would move itself past Bologna.

Then one fateful night Yossarian sneaks up to the intelligence tent to actually move the ‘bombing line’ over Bologna, causing a cascade of reactions leading all the way to the allied high command in that theatre to mistakenly think Bologna was captured, thus cancelling Yossarian’s much-dreaded mission.

Garibi Hatao or Garib Ko Hatao?

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DIY door safe – Holy Kaw!


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Looking for a novel place to stash some cash or other small treasures? Why not break out the tools this weekend and get crackin’ on this most ingenious idea from Sean Michael Ragan:

Tablet PCs under Rs 20k! Don’t miss – Rediff Getahead


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Techbung.com

Get Ahead reader Nadeem Taslim writes about 14 low-cost tablet PCs one must check out before buying the likes of iPads, Galaxy Tabs or Xooms.

Nadeem is a tech blogger and runs two technology blogs: techbung.com and aliengang.com.

Tablets are indeed the hottest things in technology. While the Apple iPad and iPad 2 are the big daddies of all tablets, Android tablets are giving tough competition for low prices plus loads of bells and whistles.

In fact, some Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and low-cost models like the Reliance Tab are giving serious competition to the iPad.

If you are looking for low-priced tablets available in India that you can use for web browsing, multimedia and applications then you must check these 14 tablets that come under Rs 20,000. (Prices of some tablets may vary a bit depending on various states).

1.Sakshat aka Aakash: Rs 1,500 (approximately)

Features

  • Display: 7-inch colour LCD/TFT
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 32GB
  • Connectivity: WiFi, USB 2.0 (2), Ethernet port.
  • Operating System: Android
  • Expandable Memory up to 8GB (SD Card)
  • VGA Port (For connecting to Projector)

The device is currently not available for sale in the market as government has decided to launch it for students in 2011.

Transform your iPhone into a microscope – Crave – CNET Asia


A shocking connection: film-maker uncovers Blood in the Mobile | Film | guardian.co.uk


A shocking connection: film-maker uncovers Blood in the Mobile

Frank Poulsen’s eye-opening new documentary exposes a link between the war in DR Congo and our mobile phones

Blood in the Mobile

Mining the truth … Frank Poulsen’s Blood in the Mobile. Photograph: Frank Poulsen/Take One Action film festival

We all love our mobile phones, and the smarter they get, the more we want them. There is, though, a dark side to this affair. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, our demand for phones has been helping to finance a civil war which has killed more than 5m people. There is, according to the title of Danish director Frank Poulsen’s eye-opening documentary, blood in the mobile. Minerals from mines under the control of warring factions have been making their way into our mobiles for years. The UN raised the issue a decade ago. But even though it involves more of us than, say, blood diamonds, how many of us know about it?

  1. Blood In The Mobile
  2. Production year: 2010
  3. Country: Rest of the world
  4. Runtime: 82 mins
  5. Directors: Frank Piasecki Poulsen
  6. More on this film

“I knew there was a war in Congo, but I didn’t know it had anything to do with my phone,” says Poulsen. “I think we often forget, or maybe don’t know, how closely connected we are. Things that go on in Africa seem to be very far away and have very little to do with us, but it has a lot to do with us. My mission, as a film-maker, is to make these connections.”

Poulsen arranged a research trip to Congo and successfully secured entry to the Bisie mine, located deep in the jungles of Walikale, where thousands of people, many of them children, were living and working in hellish conditions. “I have never seen anything like this,” says Poulsen. “This was really terrible.” Guards on a makeshift gate levied “taxes” on people going in and coming out. “And that’s how simple it is,” he says. “These armed groups are really stealing money from the poorest and most miserable people in the world.”

Inside the gate, conditions are “medieval”. “There’s no clean water anywhere. There’s thousands of people, and you think: ‘How do they survive here? How can they do this? How is it possible?'” Children as young as 12 work as deep as 100 metres below ground, and Poulsen tried seeing for himself what conditions were like inside the mine, but he didn’t get far. “I was simply too big and I had a camera that made it hard for me to get an everyday life atmosphere. People would just sit and look at me.”

The second – and final – time he visited Bisie, he gave a small camera to a young boy. The haunting images he captured, of men and children chiselling at rocks, grimly hark back to an age that seemed long gone, when Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo as a private slave colony.

In an attempt to connect the dots between the mine and the phone industry, Poulson approached Nokia – as well-known advocates of corporate social responsibility, he thought they would be keen to show him what they were doing to improve the situation. They told him by email that they didn’t have the “resources” to help him. He says he rang them once a week for almost a year, trying to arrange an interview with someone in power, but found himself fobbed off at every turn. When he did eventually get access, it was to mid-level people whose apparently sincere desire to do the right thing was not matched by their ability to make actual changes.

“Nokia had the chance of being the hero of this film, if they had opened up to me. It is a mystery why they didn’t. But it also shows why this issue isn’t being solved: people are turning a blind eye.”

Blood in the Mobile arrives in the UK at a time when recent legislation passed by Congress in the US requiring more transparency in the extractive industry seems to already be making an impact in Africa, even before its implementation. Similar legislation is now being sought at an EU level. “We can’t leave it up to the companies themselves to solve,” says Poulsen, “because they have had a fair chance at it.”

The casualties of war in the DR Congo have been, he says, like a “Haiti earthquake every third month for the last 15 years. This is an extraordinary problem, a catastrophe that we have to address right now. There are too many people dying.”

• Blood in the Mobile is released on 21 October

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