Category Archives: Misc

When I cannot figure where to put things.

Indian regional parties threatening national integrity

If any Indian does not know about Raj Thackeray, then he would have slept under a rock for the last five years. People across the political spectrum are condemning him – blaming him for damaging the national fabric. I do not condone his tactics but I am concerned about the asymmetric migration towards Mumbai in particular and urban centres in general. That is not the point of this post, however. Some of Raj’s most vocal detractors have voiced sentiments that make me wonder about who is actually damaging the national fabric.

Lets take them one by one.

Mamata Banerjee pulls out of UPA-2. Her complaint (besides her party’s stand on FDI and fuel subsidy) – the government does not treat her like a king-maker. Conducting elections in India is not a cheap affair. Guess nobody told her about it. Even with Trinamool Congress having just 19 seats – 3.4% – in the Lok Sabha, she wants to dictate the policy for the entire nation.

Then Mulayam Singh Yadav says

We will have to move into a decision-making role in the capital. We should ensure no government can come to New Delhi without SP.

UP has an impressive record as far as sending Prime Ministerial candidates is concerned – 8 out of 14 have been from UP. The Nehru-Gandhi family have their constituencies in UP; and for most of India’s independence, Congress has been in power. All that has not translated into much development though. The politicians have not learned their lessons yet, or they have a vested interest in keeping UP as it is. Assuming Samajwadi Party sweeps the state clean, they can get 80 seats – 14.5% – in the Lok Sabha. With that percentage, they want to be king-maker and extract their pound of flesh.

Finally, Nitish Kumar says that he

would support anyone in the formation of the next government at the Centre if it grants special category status to Bihar

Bihar has 40 seats. Assuming a clean sweep – 7.24% of the seats in Lok Sabha.

I am sure that other states (AIADMK, DMK in Tamil Nadu, BJD in Orissa, Telagana-affected parties in Andhra Pradesh) will soon turn up at the buffet.

Sitting in Maharashtra, I am troubled by the intent that these parties are proclaiming. The main culprit is coalition politics at the Centre. Regional parties should simply not be allowed to play havoc with the rest of the nation. The Election Commission should decide than any party not able to secure more than 50% votes in a multi-option  ballot held nation-wide will be in-eligible for the Parliament – because they do not have the mandate of  the people whose lives they are toying with.


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Indian solar panel industry being forced to used US components for cheaper loans

Here is proof of something I had complained about earlier.

The US has been using the fund to promote its own solar manufacturing. The US Exim Bank and the OPIC have been offering low-interest loans to Indian solar project developers on the mandatory condition that they buy the equipment, solar panels and cells from US companies. This has distorted the market completely in favour of US companies.



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freedom versus conformity in religion

A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook recently. It juxtaposed a nun next to a woman in full hijab and asked plaintively – why is one allowed and the other persecuted?

Oh, you  mean you really don’t know?

Well then, one is a uniform for women who are in service to their religious order. It is not forced on the entire general female populace. The other is a symbol of systemic oppression forced on the female populace by many religions and cultures. Of course, Islam is not the only religion that steps on the liberty of women. Hindu religion and culture are big in that department too. Just as Islam has the hijab, Indian cultures have purdah. Most societies in the world do it. It is a patriarchal society after all!

The well-polished explanations and reasons given for the hijab –

  • It is not by force. Really. Not by force!
  • It is to protect the modesty, innocence, chastity, etc.
  • Rewards in later life or heaven.

The friend’s wife then got into the act. Apparently she was under the impression that I was taking a shot at Islam, me being  (technically and/or legally) a Hindu and all –

  • A woman is free to decide on her clothing.
  • All religions (including – wait for itHinduism!) recommend that women should cover themselves modestly.
  • I should know that my religion has faults too, before commenting on such sensitive issues.

So –

  • I am a spiritual atheist. While I believe in a greater power beyond the grasp of science as it is now, I do not subscribe to any religion. I am Hindu by accident of birth; but I don’t practise Hinduism. Hence, I don’t take kindly to accusations of partisanship.
  • I don’t read religious texts nor do I undertake scholastic trips to understand the “deeper meaning” of various religions and their practices. I do have, however, a basic common sense of how religious and cultural norms violate  liberties of the mind and person.
  • When your maulvis issue fatwas and your religious brethren kill or maim women and girls for not adhering to your “modest dress” code, you lose all moral authority on the issue.
  • Your religion dictates your dress code. In a secular society, religion is a personal matter. Thus your religious dress code is effective only in your house. This is the basic premise for France outlawing the hijab in public and state premises.

I rest my case.


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Redmine + Thin + Nginx

Redmine, is by far, the best project management tool I have used. Earlier, I had deployed it using Apache and mod_passenger. This was on Debian 6. It was straight-forward, possible with just apt-get. Now I wanted to deploy it with Nginx, on Ubuntu 12.04.

There are two ways – use Phusion Passenger (similar to Apache’s mod_passenger) with Nginx or use an application server like Mongrel or Thin.

Phusion Passenger requires the user to recompile Nginx, since Nginx doesn’t have loadable modules.

Mongrel was the gold standard for Ruby on Rails deployment until Passenger came along. Development of Mongrel ceased in 2008. Those who still want to use application servers use Unicorn or Thin and put a reverse proxy/load balancer in front.

This is my take-away from four days (I am dumb – sue me!) of googling and reading. My requirements were clear – no compiling, no ruby gems, no installation outside of apt-get. Redmine + Thin met these criteria.

1. Get all the packages.

sudo apt-get install redmine redmine-mysql thin

2. dpkg will configure Redmine for us. We also have to configure the email delivery method. Redmine configuration is standard and well documented. We  now have to configure Thin. This will create two servers on sequential ports, beginning with 3000.

sudo thin config -C /etc/thin1.8/redmine.yml -c /usr/share/redmine/ --servers 2 -e production -a -p 3000

3. This will create the configuration file (redmine.yml) in the correct folder. The file looks like this:

timeout: 30
wait: 30
max_persistent_conns: 512
log: log/thin.log
chdir: /usr/share/redmine
servers: 2
require: []

daemonize: true
pid: tmp/pids/
environment: production
max_conns: 1024
port: 3000

4. Finally, use the Redmine template for Nginx, as explained on the Nginx wiki, to act as a proxy in front of the Thin servers.