Poll: In which country does this happen

It was depressing to see the Government of India, a beacon of democratic aspirations in Asia, act like a repressive monarchy, attacking peaceful citizen protesters. This is simply NOT done! And the gall of the ministers to justify their actions!

Time for a shaming poll. Take this poll and send a strong message to the secular fundamentalist Congress Party in India.


Poll: Who is letting India down?

After 63 years of Indian Independence, there is a sense amongst Indians and even the rest of the world, that India is not living up to its potential ‘completely.’ There is a lot more it could have done, but is unable to get it done.

What is the reason for this? Who is letting India down?

Video: Jana Gana Mana, List of Performers


With democracy comes a serious responsibility.
What are you doing with your democracy?

Happy Independence Day!


Continue reading “Video: Jana Gana Mana, List of Performers”

Scholarships for the Needy: 2009 – 2010

kumta needy students

That gift which is given, knowing it to be a duty, in a fit time and place, to a worthy person, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20

Several years ago we started these scholarships to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta. This year, more friends and family joined in helping us support 48 students (29 girls and 19 boys). We extended beyond our original charter and 40 of 48 students are from other schools in Kumta. With your support we will keep growing and eventually cover ALL needy students in Kumta!
Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy: 2009 – 2010”

Pragati – Revisiting Indian History

pragati Indian historyNow is such an exciting time for Indian History! New technologies from satellite imaging to DNA sequencing are bringing scientific curiosity to the understanding of our ancient history.

The latest findings are typically scattered in scientific journals and archaeological reports. In history books I find a sad disconnect between what they are still parroting and the latest findings. Thus it was such a joy to see the latest issue of Pragati, dedicated to early Indian History.

Nitin Pai, an Editor of Pragati, who blogs at Acorn, has done a masterful job of collecting related topics in one issue. Nitin was magnanimous in writing here a short introduction to Pragati: A Sense of History. He has also given permission to have the complete issue of Pragati available here as a PDF. Previous issues are available for download at Pragati.

Enjoy this issue of Pragati!
Continue reading “Pragati – Revisiting Indian History”

Scholarships for the Needy 2008-2009

Shanbhag High School Lunch Kumta

Hope you all had a wonderful “Makar Sankranti.” Now the Sun rises earlier each day and sets later, bringing light and warmth to all aspects of our lives. This year, I celebrated Sankranti in Mumbai with close family and overate “til-gul” and “til ladoo.” Too lazy to ask why this focus on sesame, I simply devour bags of those diminutive sesame balls held together with dark jaggery.

As we gorge ourselves, let’s turn our minds to the less fortunate amongst us and see how we can bring joy to their lives too.

This started as a desire to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, endowed in the name of my grandfather. Each year more friends and relatives joined in, and this year, Shanbhag Scholarships were awarded to 35 students (23 girls and 12 boys). We also extended scholarships to several other schools in Kumta. We hope to continue this trend within Kumta and one day I dream of supporting ALL needy girls in Kumta!

Years back, my graduate advisor retorted at another of my audacious ideas, “there’s nothing wrong with building castles in the air, as long as you build something below to hold it up there.” With all your goodwill, we will build it! Help me make this a very long list!

Scholarships were granted purely on the basis of need and included full tuition and a daily lunch at the school.

Read more about our Scholarships:



Appended are the names of students who received scholarships. The Saraswati Vidya Kendra and the Shanbhag High School are managed by the Konkan Education Trust, Kumta, India. Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy 2008-2009”

Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan

Complete Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan

Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, came under a heinous terrorist attack on November 26, 2008.

The terrorist attacks took place at many locations, especially at CST Railway Station; the Leopold Cafe; Taj Hotel; Oberoi Trident Hotel; and Nariman House. 165 Persons (civilians and security personnel) lost their lives and 304 were injured. Among the civilians killed were 26 foreigners belonging to many nationalities (Annexure-I).

So starts the 46-page dossier of evidence submitted to Pakistan by the Government of India. The dossier of evidence was also presented to representatives of 14 countries whose citizens were killed by terrorists in Mumbai (Nov 26-29 2008).

You can download and read the entire dossier. The entire dossier found at many Indian news sites is uploaded as four PDF files.

Continue reading “Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan”

Mumbai Blasts: One Month On

Its been a month, but seems like only yesterday that I woke to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai! So many vigils, memorials, speeches and even some saber rattling! But really, what is different?

Other than a few cosmetic changes, the same incompetent and corrupt politicians are running the show. Condi Rice made a trip and gave some stern warnings. Pakistan blows smoke! India, the supposedly emerging super power, appears impotent! Folks are getting back to their daily grind. The traffic is still horrible and Chalta Hai rules!

Just returned to winter in Boston, after an all consuming trip to India. Still catching up on my emails, but the snow has been cleared from the driveway! Organizing my pics is a big chore, made easier by munching on delicious mithai (sweets) we brought back.

Created a summary of my Mumbai Blast posts and it is now a top-level TAB: Mumbai Blasts! on my home page. Was surprised at the attention the blog got during the Mumbai blasts. Thanks to all my friends and you readers who directed my attention to the various mentions in the main-stream media. I have listed (and linked) to all media at the Mumbai Blasts! TAB. If you know of others, kindly send me a link.

Appreciate the kinds words that many friends and even complete strangers shared via comments and emails over the last month. I treasure them all and as I reread many comments, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of so many. We humans have such a magnificent capacity for love and compassion. Yet, some humans, inhumans actually, can be so cruel. Verily, tragedy brings us closer; but does it require a tragedy?

Soon I hope to get back to my regular postings on delicious foods, exotic travels and beautiful people. And soon too, I will start to visit your blogs and read your latest happenings.

Hope your Holidays have been as blessedly beautiful as ours has been!

And since you have made it so far: This is my 400th post! Yaay!

Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists

Columbia Journalism posted a discussion: How Should Journalists use Twitter?

Their Staff Writer Megan Garber critiqued a few of my tweets. Some of the criticisms were justified, others were, in my opinion, unstudied. Below, I have transcribed Ms Garber’s comments and my response.
Continue reading “Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists”

Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!

See Previous Posts Related to Mumbai Terror Strikes



Picture Update from ~ 5:30 pm onwards Indian Time; Monday Dec 1st from the Leopold Cafe!

Met fellow twitter organizer Netra at the Leopold Cafe, Mumbai. After the shooting on Wednesday night, it had opened for the first time. It was not as raucous inside and much fewer foreigners (understandably). Many onlookers had to be kept out by guys manning the several doors. Several media folks were inside taking pics as well.
Leopold Cafe Reopens
Continue reading “Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!”

Mumbai: Beloved City Reclaimed

Mumbaikars Reclaim Beloved City
Continued from
Mumbai Blasts: Mop up at the Taj
Mumbai Blasts: Day 2
Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Picture Update from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Indian Time; Sunday Nov 30th from the Leopold Cafe!

Here are a few pics from the crowds in front of the Leopold Cafe this afternoon.
The Leopold Cafe “did” open briefly this morning, but apparently the crowds showed an excessive enthusiasm to get in and see the battle scars. The Owners could not get private security quick enough and the Police asked the owners to close shop. Police also roped off the sidewalk in front of the Leopold; And surprisingly, there was a media circus with at least 5 TV vans and seemingly scores of reporters! Not fun! Meet a few tweople there! Good to finally put faces to names!

People were lighting candles and placing flowers just outside the Cafe
Leopold Cafe

I loved the little girl’s “UNBREAKABLE” Flag; exactly my thoughts!
Leopold Cafe

More Pics!
Continue reading “Mumbai: Beloved City Reclaimed”

Mumbai Blasts: Day 3, Mop Up at the Taj

Continued from
Mumbai Blasts: Day 2
Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Picture Update from ~ 9:15 am Indian Time; Saturday Nov 29th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Pics on FLickr! username “shanbhag”


Not to be deterred, I took a detour and reached the front of the Taj. I was on the sea face looking at the front of the Taj from its right!

Firemen had hoisted ladders and were climbing into the first floor

Police trying to provide a security cordon!

MORE Pics!
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Day 3, Mop Up at the Taj”

Mumbai Blasts: Day 2 Live Blogging

This Day 2 Post continues where I left off from Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Update: between 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm; Indian Time; Friday Nov 28th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Posting Pics on FLickr! username “shanbhag”


All these pics are from INSIDE the Secure Staging Cordon in front of the Taj; assembled here were fire engines, ambulances, Police forces, some of the Rapid Reaction Forces and some commandos; And ALL media types!

Scores of reporters looking at the Taj within the staging cordon in front of the Taj Intercontinental; Gateway of India in the back!
Reporters in front of Taj

Every time we heard a blast or gunfire, everyone looked at the Taj to try and figure out where it came from.
blasts at Taj

Scarred Beauty! Really! The Taj Still stands Tall!
Taj after the fire
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Day 2 Live Blogging”

Mumbai Blasts: Taj Burning; More pics from terrorist killing

This post is getting too long; See updates from Day Two at: Mumbai Blasts: Day 2

Follow the top level TAB; Mumbai Blasts for links to All related posts.

And, Previously Unseen pics from the 26/11 terrorist attacks.



Sorry, pic heavy post!
Revision ~ 12:15 – 12:30 am Indian Time; Friday Nov 28th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Posting all pics on FLickr! username “arunshanbhag”

Dome of the Taj is nearly all burn’t out! Only the central post remains; the base of the dome is still burning! TV Cameras are located on diagonally opposite side of Taj and cannot see the dome; TV coverage only shows glow from burning dome! TV is now saying that shots are heard inside the Taj and all the terrorists are NOT YET cleared!

Taj Dome burning



Revision ~ 10:30 – 11:00 pm Indian Time
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag

OMG! One of the domes of the Taj is on fire; It is burning like a bonfire! I can actually see the structs/frameworks under the tiles in full blaze. OMG! NO! This can’t be happening!
~ Hand held; rested my elbow on the sill!; Sorry for blurry images from ~ 10:45 pm
Taj Hotel Dome Fire

MORE PICS!
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Taj Burning; More pics from terrorist killing”

Scholarships for the Needy

I have previously written about the Shanbhag School, an academic beacon in Kumta and surrounding villages.

The Shanbhag High School, managed by the Konkan Education Trust does not receive any governmental aid. But it follows the state determined academic syllabus and guidelines. While we attract many students who can afford fees, our family wanted to make good education particularly accessible to the poor. Thus last year we gave 16 scholarships to very needy students to attend either the Shanbhag High School, or the affiliated primary school, Saraswati Vidya Kendra. At a new site dedicated to our Scholarship activities, (Shikshan.org), you can browse the list of Scholarship Recipients for 2007-2008.

You can also read about my personal challenges in identifying needy girls: Where are all the needy girls?

We did not rest, last December (2007) during my travels to Kumta I visited most of the scholarship recipients in their homes. The visit served two purposes: (a) to meet the families and convince them of our commitment to support their child’s education ~ and in turn expect them to make education a priority; and (b) to ensure that these were indeed needy families, which I could determine from their living conditions.

They lived in simple 1 or 2 room homes, or with relatives, and it was emotionally overwhelming to experience the gratitude of these families. Below, I share with you some of the scholarship recipients in their home settings. Appropriately I have omitted their names.


We supported the boy in the center, flanked by his father and cousin sister. Being poor, the girl was enrolled in the local government run Kannada language school. She wanted to attend our English school, but being in 8th std (grade) it would have been academically disastrous for her to switch the language of instruction a year before the State Board Exams. This was an important reason why we started giving scholarships to students in primary school!

Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy”

Reclaiming India

An interesting Editorial in the Times of India, by Tarun Vijay. I particularly liked his rebuttal to Omar Abdullah,

But he must stop to think why he can own a bungalow in Delhi or Bangalore and at the same time deny that privilege to a fellow Indian in Kashmir?

Do you think our elite, secular fundamentalists will brand him a patriot?

13 Dangerous Days of Monsoon

Following a newspaper tip:
The US Embassy has identified 13 days most likely to lead to flooding in Mumbai, during the monsoons.

This info is important for all Mumbaikars (not just US citizens), and the City Government should have been disseminating this info in the first place, rather than planning and sniping about a statue in the sea!

Excerpted from an email sent to registered US citizens. See the entire note from the Consulate here
Continue reading “13 Dangerous Days of Monsoon”

Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes

Looking for new recipes, you have likely browsed Aayi’s Recipes the uber popular food blog hosted by Shilpa. This is M’s favorite “go-to” site anytime she needs inspiration for her cooking.

During my travels to India, I look forward to visiting our ancestral town of Kumta – Jewel of the Konkan in coastal Karnataka. And when I read that Shilpa’s Aayi (mother) actually lives in Kodkani, a village near Kumta, I had to make the pilgrimage and take darshan of this Devi – the inspiration behind Aayi’s Recipe. I contacted Shilpa and asked to visit her parents. She readily agreed and gave me their contact details.

And on a beautiful Saturday, I hitched a ride on a school bus dropping kids off to kodkani. Now, that in itself needs a separate post.

As the bus pulled up at the designated place, Shilpa’s father was waiting and brought me to their beautiful home! Wow! A traditional style bungalow, which immediately transported me back to the home of my grandparents in Bhatkal. Terracotta tiled roof; an open ‘jagli’ and a tulsi vrindavan in the front yard. The magnificently blossoming tulsi gave me great vibes of the place (see pic later).

And what a joy it was to finally meet Shilpa’s Aayi! Yes, Aayi of “Aayi’s Recipes.” Hundreds of thousands have salivated at her dishes, as shared by Shilpa. Legions have been inspired to try her creations for their loved ones. And so many look forward each day to new posts to titillate the palate. And I was invited to a beautiful konkani lunch made by her! 😀

Look at the spread. I hurriedly captured it before wolfing everything down. By the time I was through, not a morsel was left. What is more beautiful than all those recipes Shilpa posts on AayisRecipes? Eating dishes lovingly made by her Aayi! … and I got to eat it! nyean, nyean, nyean, nyean!

Continue reading “Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes”

Man Who Moved a Mountain

Every morning, for 22 long years, a frail, diminutive man, barefoot and clad in a loin cloth, would trudge two kilometres to a hillock of solid rock and chip away at it with a hammer and chisel. Bemused onlookers thought he had lost his mind, and he was an object of great fun for village urchins. But the women of the village, young and old, admired him, for his was a labour of love.

Dasrath Manjhi was trying to clear this mountain so a road could be built leading to the nearby village with a hospital. His wife had died because he couldn’t get her to the hospital in time. This was a memorial to his wife.

Read the story from Outlook India: here

Bihar: India's Role Model?

Tell me I'm hallucinating; Could Bihar be a role model for other states? (edited)

The BBC reports:
For many years, Bihar in northern India has earned notoriety for being one of the poorest and most lawless states in the country.
Nobel-prize winning author VS Naipaul once described it as the place where “civilisation ends”.
But all is not lost, perhaps. We discover five areas where Bihar might consider itself to be ahead of other Indian states.
More here.

  • %50% reservation for women in the local Municipallties
  • Speedy Trials. Fastest was in 13 days after the incident!
  • Recruiting retired soldiers for an auxillary force
  • Turning around state enterprises
  • Model for Property Tax Evaluation receives a UN award!

All coz of Laloo 😛

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