ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Posts Tagged ‘US

Study in US: A new Reality

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I was talking to few of my friends who are pursuing Phd from US or have applied this year. The number of calls has become less with surprising number of rejects coming in. The situation seems grim.

Let me explain a bit. Every year Indian students apply for MS (Masters)/Phd in foreign universities (prominently US). Seats are offered to select students, often with scholarships. In case of IIT students, mostly, entire tuition fees is remitted. They are also paid stipend based on TA (Teaching Assistant) and RA (Research Assistant) work they do.

Due to the recession in recent times, universities have to cope up with reduced federal and private funding. They are no longer able to support large number of scholarship students. Coupled with the new protectionist approach of US, immigrant students feel no longer welcome, the way they were some time back.

Students need to submit a SOP (Statement Of Purpose) letter along with their admission form. They explain their education, expertise, research preference and the need for scholarship. I have seen a number of SOP’s and the end paragraph is full of blatant begs. “Coming from a poor country…I don’t have means to sustain the education fees…I am from an underdeveloped part of the world”, and more such lines.

For those who might consider me a skeptic, I want to stress that its not like a one way street. Universities also get to choose brilliant students who do research work ample times more than the money invested in. There is another side to it too. A bit harsh though.

The funda of scholarships was based on uplifting the poor. India was always perceived as full of talent. “The students don’t have money but they are brilliant, let’s help them and our research will prosper in return.” During last 25 years or so we have seen some path breaking work done by Indians in the US.

Past 5-10 years or so have seen an unparalleled growth in India. A new kind of generation has arrived which takes a new sense of pride in its country. No ruing the administration but striving towards change. This generation is Globally aware. Studying in US or going to London for a holiday is no longer the ultimate dream. The quantum of this generation is less but the impact is huge. This generation has IPL, the multi billion dollar cricket league, it stands up against racism in Australia, it voices against Ganesha on Chappals.

Here comes the catch. We no longer consider ourselves inferior. We have bred an arrogance on the likes of US, UK and Aus. Still we continue with the same set of SOP’s. How long can this work?

Lets see from the point of view of US citizens. They see Mumbai. They see Indians standing up for themselves. It is difficult for their Govt to explain spending money on students from such  a rapidly growing economy. There is also a lesser moral satisfaction to this philanthropic deed. Would be logical if they moved to poorer countries of Africa. Indians are also waking up to this new reality. I have seen a lot of people now applying for MS/Phd procuring bank loans.

Growth is restrained by this logical tool. The more you grow, the lesser is the growth rate, coz the competition is higher at the top, where the charity stops.

Who can God be?

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Over the years I have wondered about the existence of God. Is he here with us on earth or is he celestial? If he is on earth, what form has he taken? Is he a human, an animal, a tree, some inanimate object perhaps? I have come up with some logical deductions, like always, on who could God be. My assumptions are the qualities that we all believe God possesses. Armed with these traits of God, let us try and decipher the Holy Grail.

1.    God is the Creator: God is Lalit Modi

God created us humans from scratch. Lalit Modi created IPL from scratch. God created 9 planets, Modi created 8 IPL teams. Just because Modi forgot one team, poor Pluto was stripped of its planet tag, thus maintaining the order divine.


He created the Champions League. He created the position of IPL Commissioner. He created three children of his own. He created a new political divide between India and Pakistan and the prototype for the modern Indian working lady. God created the world in 6 days. Modi created a whole IPL-2 in S. Africa equally fast. Such is the might of God.

2.    God is Immortal: God is Afzal Guru

God is not subjected to death. He must be Afzal Guru for sure. Regardless of Supreme Court death sentence to him, he is still alive. Maybe it’s not Congress’ fault after all. It’s just God and his ways.

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3.    God is Omnipresent: God is China

China is present everywhere today. Look around, all you see is Chinese made goods. From head to toe you are covered in China. Chinese phones, Chinese toys, Chinese clothes, Chinese babies, Chinese dolls, Chinese food to name a few. In fact the Chinese themselves are all over the world. You look here, Chinese. You look there, Chinese. Next time you go to your home. Check the attic. I am sure Chinese would be there too. Next in line towards Godship are we Indians for all the obvious reasons.

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4.    God is Immutable: God is Govt. of Maharashtra.

If God is not susceptible to change, my deduction would be he is Maha. Govt. A year has passed since 26/11, still no change. Everything is same.

`                  RR Patil is still Home Minister.               Same old traffic problems.
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`                        Same old Security issues.           Pawar’s smile is the same since eternity. Go to hell price rise.
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5.    God is The Ultimate Truth and Ultimate Reality: God is Sach ka Saamna

What if God is a game show? Sach Ka saamna, which is the Ulimate reality show which brings out the Ultimate truth from the contestant. So is God a reality show and Rajeev Khandelwal is his agent?

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6.    God is Boundless: God is US thirst for Oil

Maybe God is not something animate or visible. It is something as abstract as US thirst for Oil. It’s not US fault that they invaded Iraq and killed thousands of innocent people. It’s just what God forced it to. This feeling is boundless and cannot be contained. Hence US is forced to quench the thirst of Oil, sometimes by the blood of innocent people.
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7.   God has vast, un-imaginative powers: God is Madhu Koda

Madhu Koda might not be corrupt after all. It’s just his un-imaginative powers that converted nothing into billions. Remember “Turn water to Wine”. It’s just God’s power that took effect. He is no crook.
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8.    God is Necessary (cannot do without): God is Mobile phone

We cannot live without mobile phone. The moment it is not in sight, we feel cut off from the world. We feel uneasy, itchy, dizzy and in despair. Better we died. Maybe this addiction is not our fault. It’s just that we cannot do without God. Long live Mobile!
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9.    God is Perfect: God is definitely not Microsoft Windows

One thing is sure, God is not Microsoft Windows. With so much defects clubbed together, it seems Windows was written with code collected from junk sale. Definitely not what God is made of!
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10.  God is our father: God is Genghis Khan

A study identified a Y-chromosomal lineage linked to Genghis Khan, present in about 8% of the men in a large region of Asia. We are descendants of Genghis Khan. In fact the slang, “Ghenghis Khan ki Chati aulaad” is not used just like that. Most of us are his children and he is our father. Gandhi is just father of a nation, Genghis fatherhood transcends all boundaries.
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11.  God is the Ruler: God is the media

Media has the complete dominion of the world.  It’s media that rules today. News media makes/breaks stories. It twists news for TRP’s. Maybe it’s just the act of God to show complete control and not some wrong doings on the part of media.

12.  God is Immaculate (free of stain, spotless, absolutely pure): God is Katrina Kaif

God! She is gorgeous. So spotless, so pure, so free from error. How gentle and lovely is she. If there is someone purer than Katrina, I reckon there is no God. I would not want to pursue my hunt any further for the God who made Kat inferior to anyone. I am ready to go to hell for her.

Deja vu: Life a universal struggle

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An American resident and an Indian taxi-driver in US.

American: Where are you from?
Indian: India.

American: Oh! India, I have heard a lot about it.
Indian: Really, what?

American: It has a great cultural heritage and history.
Indian: Yes, true.

American: I have also heard there is rampant poverty there.
Indian: Well, it’s not exactly so.

American: You are saying there is no poverty?
Indian: It’s not what I said. The things have improved.

American: Why were you forced to move out of your country to work here?
Indian: I was not forced. There are greater opportunities here.

American: You lack opportunities in your country?
Indian: A lot new opportunities have come up now.

American: What is the reason for poor state of affairs in India?
Indian: Oh it’s all because of corrupt politicians.

American: Why do you guys vote for such leaders?
Indian: People are illiterate and are duped on the basis of caste and religion.

American: It sounds too bad.
Indian: Not so, as I said the things have improved a lot.

American: Tell me.
Indian: Our economy is improving day by day. We have multi-stories, malls, discos and per capita has improved a lot.

American: I heard that you guys have very high crime rate and officials too corrupt.
Indian: No it’s not so. As I said, its improving as country is developing.

American: You guys work for cheap here, don’t you think you are exploited?
Indian: I save enough to send back home. It is enough for my family there.

American: Don’t you miss your family?
Indian: I miss them dearly.

American: Why don’t you bring them here then?
Indian: I won’t be able to afford it. I go and meet them once a year.

American: It all made me sad but I really like your spirit. Bye
Indian: Good Bye Sir.

Just change American by someone from say Mumbai/Delhi and Indian by someone say from UP/Bihar and the question/answers remains the same. Is struggle the essence of life? I fail to find an answer. All I can do is vow to work harder than ever to erase the need for such questions, the need for such answers and the existence of such differences.

Written by arpitgarg

April 9, 2009 at 7:01 am

Why fear when Obama is here

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Obama! Obama! Obama! This man has been all over for a good two years now. Be it television, news papers or just the talk round the corner. It seems as if no one has anything better to do. Obama keeps a Hanuman with him, Obama lived in Pakistan, Obama has a brother in Africa. Obama this, Obama that. I am simply fed up.

Our national news channels have portrayed Obama as the savior of mankind. As if he is not just the President of United States but of the entire world. Everyone loves Obama talk, his vision, his speech and his charisma. Obama is being seen as once and for all solution to the problems of one and all. So much so that a kid in my locality is quite sure of getting good marks in exams this year now that Obama is the President of US. My colleagues at office, who till now were weary of the financial depression, are looking up. Its like, “Why fear when Obama is here”.

A news channel went as far as comparing Dhoni with Obama. Apparently they both share a desire to win, flamboyancy and a never say die attitude. It went further to comment that both Dhoni and Obama looked similar when in white clothes. It looks as if everyone is enjoying his own bit of Obama. There was a discussion that the “New Leader”, predicted by Nostradamus, has arrived in the name of Obama. I have had it from this Nostradamus guy. Every year the book fattens. Can somebody please decipher what he predicted earlier than when it actually happens?

I sincerely hope, now that he has become the President, he would be busier in running the nation and we would be spared, him all the time on television. I read his book, “The Audacity of Hope”. Regardless of my being fed up with his face, I really liked the guy. I mean it really require some guts to joke about the rhyming of one’s name with Osama. He himself writes that people considered his political career all but over when the two planes crashed into the twin towers. Let me add something to all the hoopla surrounding Obama. I really admired the honesty in his writings, just like the one which was found in My Experiments with Truth and one which seemed missing in the recent writings from senior political leaders.

Written by arpitgarg

January 22, 2009 at 11:49 am

Terrorism Apologist: What does it really mean?

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Recently I was having a discussion with my friends over Mumbai terror attacks. It started from Taj, moved over to the usual Pak bashing to Jehadi terrorism to the sensitive topic of role of Indian Muslims. One suggestion was a stern action against the terrorists wiping out each and every sleeper cell in the country. It supported a free hand to security agencies to do what needs to be done. It was countered by equally deft argumnet that not all Muslims are terrorists and that terrorism has no religion. No sooner was this statement made than there was an off-cut remark about us being terrorism-apologists. I was very much intrigued with the term terrorism-apologist. I tried to Google it out but it seemed to be a relatively new term and not much could be found. I found few articles in which this term was used. No exact definition was found though.

From the articles and reports in which it was used, lets try and find the real meaning of the term terrorism-apologist.

During war on Iraq too, this term “terrorism-apologist” was much in circulation in US. There was a professor at UT-San Antonio who was termed a “terrorism-apologist” in an article. My understanding of the term goes something like this, terrorism-apologists don’t try and justify the terror attacks as the term might suggest. It’s clearly not their intention. What they do is raise some social issues in the support of the terrorists. According to them, it’s we who have made them terrorists (coz agar hum naa hote, toh yeh terrorist bhi naa hote waala funda), so it’s we who are to apologize for making a terrorist out of them. Let’s be fair, they don’t defend and justify the work of terrorists, they try and defend the terrorists instead. They invoke the cause and effect theory as an argument.

To quote the professor from the said article, “It is rejection of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East, not Islam, that has promoted terrorism against America…95 percent of Middle Easterners are Muslims…it is only natural that those opposing the United States and Britain in the region would be Muslims. In India, they would have been Hindu; in Latin America or Northern Ireland, they would have been Catholic.”

Their arguments that, “Islam does not preach terrorism” and “Not all Muslims are terrorists” is well respected and not much disputed, but usually they tend to overdo themselves, create a ruckus thereby posing as a hindrance to the security forces.

I found once such example in India recently. A leading lady from Bollywood tried to connect terrorism with the poor and illiterate state of Muslims, “Injustice to Muslims is the foundation of terrorism”, she commented. To quote her further, “Do you know what percent of Islamic population is living below the poverty line? It’s 40%…There are certain segments of the society which have not got its due, whether you agree or not…When people are poor and have no where to go, they have no choice but to turn into radicals…”.

Ideally her views should have created mixed feelings. However given the backdrop of Mumbai attacks, there was an outrage against her comments and she needed to tender an apology. One may find her to be a terrorism-apologist. After all, Naxalism and Terrorism are two different phenomenons. Let’s not try and mix them. Those who mix them may be termed terrorism apologists.

Some say that this whole idea is nothing but a figment of imagination of the right wing people. But again the issue is open for contention. Maybe next up for discussion should be Naxalism v/s Terrosim for us to get a clear answer to our Holy Grail.

Written by arpitgarg

January 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Bush Shoed: Why does nobody care?

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The President of the world’s strongest democracy; the leader of the free world; one who could demolish the whole world. I am talking about none other than George Bush. Amidst the election campaign and following elections in US, it struck me how politically irrelevant Bush has become today. He has become a bit dormant of late. Gone are the animated speeches, war on terror talks and all those gimmicks. Republicans might have forced him to become mellow, keeping anti-Bush sentiments in mind.

His irrelevancy became all more relevant when an Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at him. I mean come on; a President being thrown a shoe at should/would have evoked sharp feelings among the people. I don’t see much of such reactions, at least neither in the news nor on the blogosphere. Americans seem to have moved on. For them Obama is their man Friday.

What struck me is the fallibility of human being. Some 6 years ago, who would have thought that anyone, leave alone a Muslim would be able to throw a shoe at the President of USA. I read in an article that throwing a shoe is the ultimate insult in the Arab world. Was this anger and insult against President of USA or George Bush? Would Obama also be subjected to the similar treat? Let’s wait and watch. A person, however powerful he may be, has a particular shelf life. This is the biggest strength of nature against us humans. Everyone die one day. Bush era is over in US, so much so that people don’t even care anymore if he is shoed at. At least, not much. As for rest of the world and also liberals among the United States, we can surmise the reaction as, “Usne kaam toh Joote khane waala hi kiya tha”.

Written by arpitgarg

December 16, 2008 at 9:39 am

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