Friday, October 16, 2009

Hands off Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, India tells China

A day after China protested Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and in a departure from its usual stand that simply restates the Indian position, New Delhi yesterday (October 15) criticised China for deciding to help Islamabad set up projects in those areas of Jammu and Kashmir 'illegally' occupied by Pakistan.

Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee also categorically rejected Chinese denunciation of Singh's Arunachal trip, asserting that the state is an integral part of the country, and the Prime Minister has every right to visit it.

The Indian response came even as a Chinese official newspaper yesterday said that an “overwhelming majority” of its web users were against the “frequent” visits to the “disputed area” by Indian leaders.

"We hope that the Chinese side will take a long term view of the India-China relations, and cease such activities in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan," external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

During a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on October 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao had talked about upgrading the Karakoram highway that connects China and Pakistan and help with a hydroelectric project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

"We have seen the Xinhua report quoting the president of China as stating that China will continue to engage in projects with Pakistan inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," Prakash said.

In India's eyes, Pakistan was in "illegal occupation" of parts of Jammu and Kashmir since 1947, he said. "The Chinese side is fully aware of India's position and our concerns about Chinese activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, speaking in Kolkata, made it clear that "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India" and that the just-concluded Assembly elections were held under the Indian constitution.
"It was therefore appropriate that the Prime Minister of the country should visit Arunachal Pradesh as leader of the Congress for election campaign," Mukherjee said.

Beijing on October 14 had come out with an unusually strong criticism of Singh's visit to the border state on October 3 to campaign for the just concluded Assembly elections there, a statement that India rejected immediately.

On October 14, it appeared to up the ante, with the government-run Global Times reporting that 96 per cent of respondents of an Online poll conducted by, the website of its Chinese edition were against the “frequent” visits to the “disputed area” by Indian leaders.

Meanwhile, Indian Air Force vice-chief Air Marshal PK Barbora said the IAF does not “fear” the Chinese military and that the neighbour should not have any problem with India’s upgrading of airstrips in the North-East. Air Marshal Barbora said Chinese reactions to the PM's visit to the border state should be “read between the lines,” as democratic elections were taking place in the state.

He noted that China had made no comment when Indian President Pratibha Patil went to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year.

Home minister P Chidambaram, in Srinagar, Kashmir told reporters that India has made it clear to China it will only issue employment visas to its highly skilled workers and that it has decided against giving business visas.

The Opposition BJP termed the government's response to China's remarks on Dr Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh as “timid” and demanded an all-party meeting on the Chinese issue which will discuss the entire gamut of India's relationship with the country.

US Ambassador to India, Mr Timothy Roemer, who is visiting Kolkata, declined to comment on the ongoing diplomatic spat between India and China on the question of Arunachal Pradesh, but said the USA “respects the participation and the verdict of so many people of Arunachal Pradesh in the elections there.”

In Shimla, the Tibetan government-in-exile said China's objection to Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh was “absurd”. Mr Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the government-in-exile, also said the visit of the Dalai Lama to the state next month would be as per schedule.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Would you lie to get your dream job?

Lying on resume is very common in India. We’ve observed lot of people mention projects that they never were part of. People also show fake work experience to hide gaps in employment history. In fact, this practice is so common that most employers assume that there is some level of exaggeration in every resume. At, we decided to conduct Business Ethics Survey to understand the conduct of jobseekers in existing business environment.
Thirty Seven percent of the respondent said that they have lied on their resume at some stage in their careers, according to the study conducted by Twenty Six percent respondents confessed to lying about employment history and projects in their previous organisations while Six percent of the respondent said that they’ve lied about their academic credentials.
“There is no doubt that job seekers lie on their resume. It can go from lying about roles, responsibilities and accomplishments to marks and academic qualifications. Not every organization can afford background checks and it becomes very difficult to catch these lies. I’ve never seen a job seeker get the job if he is caught lying on resume, how trivial the lie may be”, said a recruitment manager with a large media company.
Sixty three percent of the respondents said that they search for new job listings at workplace using their employer’s resources. There is nothing wrong with looking for a job while being employed but using employer’s resources is questionable and risky given that it could be monitored
Eighty seven percent of the respondent said that they consider employer’s previous record of business ethics at the time of accepting job offers. Only Six percent of the respondent said they didn’t care about employer’s previous record. “The organisation’s past record is important but the problem is that it’s very difficult to find such information unless you know someone who is working there for a while”, said Ramesh Patil an IIM A graduate working with a large telecom operator. Business Ethics Survey
The survey was conducted from September 21 to October 5, 2009 with over 1700 MBAs from top business schools participating in the survey. Median age of respondents was around 28 years.
What do you think? Would you ever lie to get your dream job?

Climate Politics

This week, I attended a conference on climate change hosted by a Delhi-based think tank. They'd invited spokesmen from the Congress and the BJP. The Congress chap didn't show up. The BJP guy did. He should've saved himself the embarrassment. I won't name him because he's an active and 'visible' member of the party. But here is just some of what he had to say about climate change (the bold is his, the italics are my comments).The Speech- (at the start of his speech) All 1 billion Indians know about climate change. He's clearly not one of them as you will see. - The Montreal Protocol failed to control climate change. We need a new protocol at Copenhagen Totally agree, especially since 'Montreal' was meant to control ozone-depleting substances, not CO2. - The global 2 degree limit from the MEF declaration is unfair. Developed countries should have a 1 degree limit, while developing countries must have a 3 degree limit. Sure. let's set the temperature above India to a nice 24 degrees. To compensate, perhaps the US can set its temperature to 23? Oh wait, we share the atmosphere. My bad. - (at the end of his speech) 1 billion Indians don't know about climate change. Oh my, did someone go out there and erase their memories while you were speaking for the past 20 minutes? Q&A with the un-informedDuring the Q&A round, not one of the so-called experts called his bluff out of fear of angering him. So I did. "Sir," I asked, "India seeks to emulate China in many areas. If China has invested $221b in green tech through their economic stimulus, why can't India do something similar?" His answer: "That's a difficult question for me to answer". So I asked again, "Then perhaps as a member of the oppostion party, you could ask your colleagues to question the government". His reply, "Um, yes, it's hard for me to answer. I don't know. I'm not part of the government". The only thing this man was right about all afternoon was the fact that he was no longer part of the government, having lost his seat in the last Lok Sabha elections.If this is the quality of debate in our parliament, how exactly is India supposed to achieve national consensus on climate change. I am no longer surprised when people tell me that bureaucrats have have hijacked India's position on climate change. It must be so easy for them to do that, seeing how ill-informed our politicians are on the single-most important crisis of our time.However, I am encouraged that the new Environment Minister has managed to hammer through the log-jam by sheer force of his personality.

Cybersecurity starts at home and in the office

When swine flu broke out, the government revved up a massive information campaign centered on three words: Wash your hands.

The Obama administration now wants to convey similarly clear and concise guidance about one of the biggest national security threats in your home and office - the computer.

Think before you click. Know who's on the other side of that instant message. What you say or do in cyberspace stays in cyberspace - for many to see, steal and use against you or your government.

The Internet, said former national intelligence director Michael McConnell, "is the soft underbelly" of the US today. Speaking at a new cybersecurity exhibit at the International Spy Museum in Washington, McConnell said the Internet has "introduced a level of vulnerability that is unprecedented."

The Pentagon's computer systems are probed 360 million times a day, and one prominent power company has acknowledged that its networks see up to 70,000 scans a day, according to cybersecurity expert James Lewis.

For the most part, those probes of government and critical infrastructure networks are benign. Many, said McConnell, are a nuisance and some are crimes. But the most dangerous are probes aimed at espionage or tampering with or destroying data.

The attackers could be terrorists aiming at the US culture and economy, or nation-states looking to insert malicious computer code into the electrical grid that could be activated weeks or years from now.

"We are the fat kid in the race," said Lewis. "We are the biggest target, we have the most to steal, and everybody wants to get us."

And if, for example, the US gets into a conflict with China over Taiwan, "expect the lights to go out," he said. The exhibit at the Spy Museum - "Weapons of Mass Disruption" - tries to bring that threat to life.

A network of neon lights zigzags across the ceiling. Along the walls computer screens light up with harrowing headlines outlining the country's digital dependence.

Drinking water, sewer systems, phone lines, banks, air traffic, government systems, all depend on the electric grid, and losing them for weeks would plunge the country into the 1800s.

Suddenly, the lights go out and the room is plunged into silent darkness. Seconds later as the sound system crackles, a video ticks off a pretend crisis: no food, no water, system shutdown.

That faux threat has become a prime concern for the government, but fully protecting the grid and other critical computer systems are problems still waiting a solution.

Federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, are pouring more money into hiring computer experts and protecting their networks.

But there are persistent questions about how to ensure that Internet traffic is safe without violating personal privacy.

One answer, experts said last week, is to begin a broader public dialogue about cybersecurity, making people more aware of the risks and how individuals can do their part at home and at work.

Some will find it easier than others.

Much of the younger generation has grown up online and are more likely to know about secure passwords, antivirus software and dangerous spam e-mails that look to steal identities, bank accounts and government secrets.

Older people moved into the digital universe as it began to evolve and most have not grown up thinking about how to protect themselves online.

"Detection and prevention are fast, but crime is still faster," said Phil Reitinger, director of the National Cybersecurity Center. The key, he said, "is to make sure that we're all getting the word out about not only the seriousness of the threat, but the fairly simple steps that people can take to help secure their systems and their lives and families from the threats that are out there."

In the computer world, "wash your hands" is less about tossing your keyboard into the dishwasher - although some have tried - and more about exercising caution.

Those steps include:

* Using antivirus software, spam filters, parental controls and firewalls.

* Regularly backing up important files to external computer drives.

* Thinking twice before sending information over the Internet, particularly when using wireless or unsecured public networks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

LinkedIn rides on India

Liz O’Donnell, Director, International, LinkedIn swung by India recently and she was gushing about the success of the professional networking site in the country. “There are over one million members of the site with India given as their country of residence”, she said. That is the site’s second-largest international user base after the United Kingdom, and O’Donnell predicts that within the year, India will exceed the UK and be second only to the US, which still accounts for half of LinkedIn’s approximately 25 million user base.Explaining why she was in India, O’Donnell spoke about how the site was looking at expanding its reach in India and also looking at ways of leveraging advertising opportunities here. “We offer advertisers an extremely targeted demographic”, she said. Unlike other networking sites, LinkedIn does know about the industry that its members work in. “So if say, a car company wants to advertise to lawyers and dentists and we can deliver those demographics to them.” In fact, O’Donnell spoke about how the site is looking for new opportunities in India for both tie-ups and advertising.

“I would like to think that we are a different sort of networking site, we don’t crowd our pages with applications”, she says, but added that LinkedIn would soon start offering some applications to its users. And she also says that the site does not encourage ‘number games’, “If you look closely you will see that once people cross 500 connections we just put 500+”, she mentions, “Not that we don’t encourage connections, but making contacts for numbers is plain silly.”

'Brutal attack by the enemies'

Hours after the suicide blast near the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday morning (October 8) that killed at least 9 local Afghanis and injured scores, world reactions are coming in thick and fast.

While the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the explosion a 'heinous act of terror', US envoy to India, Timothy Roemer also condemned the attack and said America supports India against terror.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the bomb blast outside the Indian Embassy, saying it was "heinous act of terror" planned to kill innocent civilians. Karzai said the perpetrators of the attack were vicious terrorists who were killing innocents to gain their malicious goals.

"This heinous act of terror was an obvious attack on civilians and the perpetrators of this attack and those who planned it are vicious terrorists who kill innocent people for their malicious goals."

Officials from the Afghan government have confirmed the attack was aimed at the Indian embassy. The latest suicide blast comes one year and 3 months after a blast of the same intensity rocked the Indian embassy premises on July 7.

In July 2008 a suicide car bomber had rammed the front wall of the Indian Embassy killing 41 people and wounding 147 in one of the deadliest attacks in the Afghan capital.

In August 2009 four civilians were killed in a suicide bomb attack near the American embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. About 20 others were injured when a man driving a car blew himself up.

A month later in September a suicide car bomber struck near the front gate of NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing seven people and wounding nearly 100 in a brazen daylight attack.
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