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India Was So Rich!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I have written the title this time, quite skeptically. We are always told that India was very rich in the medieval times. Please note the claim, ‘medieval times’, not the ‘ancient times’. Many exaggerations of the same are also spread, like ‘pots of gold used to exist in every home’, etc. and etc. In the ancient times, I am quite sure India along with many other nations of the present – day was super rich. But, as far as the medieval times go, most people would amalgamate the medieval era with the ancient era.

There remains a basic difference between the two. In ancient time, India was rich along with its people. In medieval era, India, and even China, for that matter, might be rich as compared to other then-existing world nations. But, were its people rich as compared to other nations of the time? The answer remains no.

In India, it is a common thought in the minds of the people that in the medieval era, the present day developed nations were all poor. That would include the United States, Canada, Oceania (Aus and NZ) and the whole of Europe, while same would have a favorable view on China’s prosperity. USA and Australia were definitely unheard places then but what can we say the same in case of Europe?

There was this interesting piece of read that I found in ‘The Post – American World’ by Fareed Zakaria. I am pasting the relevant passage here. The statistics that are cited are in turn taken from Angus Madison’s book, ‘The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective’. It reads:

We

have lived in a Western world for over half a millennium. Despite the rise of other nations and continents, the shadows of the West will be long and its legacies deep for decades to come, perhaps longer. It has become commonplace to say that actually China and India were as rich as the West right up until the 1800s. The dominance of the West, according to this perspective, has been a 200-year blip, and we are now returning to a more normal balance. This statement also implies that the West’s advantages may be largely accidental—the result of “coal and colonies,” that is, the discovery of a cheap energy source and the domination of the rich lands of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This view, which embraces a multicultural sensibility that denies any special status to the West, has its political advantages. But while it may be politically correct, it is historically incorrect.

One reason for this misinterpretation is that analysts often focus solely on the total size of the Chinese and Indian economies. Historically, this has been a misleading statistic.

Until the modern age, a country’s economy could not be mobilized, extracted, or put to use in any meaningful sense. The fact that in, say, the seventeenth century, millions of peasants in remote and unconnected corners of China were working the land in grinding poverty did not really contribute to the nation’s usable wealth or power, even though their output added up to a large number. Population was the main ingredient of GDP, and production was largely agricultural. Since China and India had four times the population of Western Europe in 1600, their GDP was, of course, larger. Even in 1913, when Britain was the world’s leading power, with cutting-edge technology and industrial production and trade many times larger than all of Asia’s, China could claim a greater total GDP. In studying the preindustrial age, before big government, communications, transport, and broad-based taxation, aggregate GDP alone tells us little about national power or a country’s level of advancement. It doesn’t say anything about the dynamism of the society or its ability to make new discoveries and inventions. And it was mastery in these areas that gave a country new ways to create wealth and its government power.

We get a much clearer picture of the real standing of countries if we consider economic growth and GDP per capita. Western European GDP per capita was higher than that of both China and India by 1500; by 1600, it was 50 percent higher than China’s. From there, the gap kept growing. Between 1350 and 1950—six hundred years—GDP per capita remained roughly constant in China and India (hovering around $600 for China and $550 for India). In the same period, Western European GDP per capita went from $662 to $4,594, a 594 percent increase.*

European travelers in the seventeenth century routinely pointed out that Chinese and Indian living conditions were well below those in northwestern Europe. The economist Gregory Clark calculates that in the eighteenth century the average daily wage of a laborer in Amsterdam could buy him 21 pounds of wheat, in London 16 pounds, and in Paris 10. In China, a day’s wages would buy about 6.6 pounds of wheat (or its equivalent). Clark has also examined records to determine differences in the number of famines, which points in the same direction. The West, in short, was more prosperous than the East long before the eighteenth century.

So, there are enough stats and facts kept out there in the passage to enlighten us on the same. The education, innovation, research what the Western countries produced ensured that they would stay ahead of the rest far easily. Even today, the same continues and I do not see India and China turning out the research centers anywhere remotely! That would require an altogether different post, as there was some interesting read on the same in ‘India Unbound’ by Gurucharan Das. Answer lies in education and innovation again though.

On an interesting note, China and India still do stand as the world’s 2nd and 4th largest economies of the world. One of my earlier posts is written on the same.

That was an interesting eye opener!

Some Cool and Useful Innovations

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Right from printing press, which spearheaded the flow of ideas, to railways, the single most impacting invention ever, to the recent computer and internet, we have had set of inventions. But, this is not really the age of inventions. It is dominated by small and big ‘innovations’ that ease the way our already established inventions work. Ahh, without getting much jargonic, let me put up what I want to say.

This was a nice email forward and is taken from ForwardedEmails.Com . Imagine, how much they will ease our life.

Real Smart and cool inventions

SMART CUP

smart1

Smart cup in which you can put 2-3 of your favourite cookies. You don’t need extra plates. It’s made for right handed and left handed.

BANANA GUARD

smart2

Are you fed up with bringing bananas to work or school only to find them bruised and squashed? Banana Guard allows you to safely transport and storage individual bananas letting you enjoy perfect bananas anytime, anywhere.

LOCK-CUP

smart3

Lock Cup – Anti-Theft Coffee Cup. Are you tired of others stealing your coffee cup? Well now there’s a solution. The Lock – Cup has a hole which prevents most people from using it. Only the owner of the cup can use his/hers shaped key to close the hole.

PENGUIN TEA TIMER

smart4

Making tea, though easy to do, is also time consuming. Once you pour the hot water into the cup, you must patiently hover over it, waiting for the tea to steep. Well, the Penguin Tea Timer happily does the waiting for you.

Place your tea cup under the beak and set it to the desired time. As you turn the timer dial, the beak lowers the tea into the hot water. When time is up, a bell sounds and the penguin automatically lifts his beak, removing the tea bag from the water.

TRANSPARENT TOASTER

smart5

You love toast, but you always burn it? Than, this invention us for you.
This transparent toaster allows you to see the bread while it is toasting so you just have to take it out when the colour is right. This idea is based on a transparent heating glass technology.

BUTTER CUTTER

smart6

One Click Butter Cutter controls your portion as an important part of staying healthy. This ingenious butter cutter delivers one standard pat with each click of the handle. I liked the name though, it sounds rhyming, ‘butter cutter’.

GIANT REMOTE

smart7

Never lose your remote again!
With giant buttons, this extra-large remote is easy to use and impossible to lose. It’s a 6-in-1 remote so you can use it to control your TV, VCR, DVD player, satellite, cable and auxiliary A/V device. It even features glow-in-the-dark buttons, so you can easily find the remote in the dark.

DAYCLOCK

smart8

What day is today? You don’t know? Then you need a DayClock. It’s uniquely designed to keep track of weekly events like your golf day, card night, movie night, and so much more. It’s ideal for vacations and cruises when it’s easy to lose track of the day.

CRIME SCENE TOWEL

smart9

Chalk outline crime scene beach towel – be the coolest person on the beach!

LASER SCISSORS

smart10

Laser ScissorsCutting a straight line has never been easier. Just aim the pin-point laser and follow the line. The scissor blades are stainless steel and cut very clean with a micro serrated edge.

ILUMINATING CAR SLIPPERS

smart11

Do you get up at night to drink water, go to the toilet…Do you wish you could see in the dark? Remarkably bright LED lights are triggered by your footsteps and light up the floor 30 feet in front of you; ultra-soft plush style are extra comfortable and cozy warm.

INFANT PILLOW

smart12

The Zaky is an ergonomic infant pillow designed by a mom to mimic the size, weight, touch, and feel of her hand and forearm to help her baby with comfort, support, protection, and development. The Zaky can help calm your baby and help your baby sleep better through the night.

TRAVELER’S PHRASE BOOK T-SHIRT

smart13

If you are traveling a lot and don’t always know the language of the country you are visiting, then this T-shirt is for you. It has a phrase book printed on it so just point a finger at the pictogram you need and then point it twice at the question mark, which means, “Where is it?” and in no time you have found what you were looking for… or not.

MODERN LADDER

smart14

Realy cool modern ladder. I am not sure whether it would balance itself as the person on it properly.

WHEEL-MOVING BENCH

smart16

Whether you want to sit on the sun or in the shade, near the river or under the tree… now you have your movable bench, to sit wherever you like.

Dooordarshan – Advertisements of the Doordarshan Times!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

First of all, happy new year and new decade to you, folks! 😀

This one proved to one of the best pass times on the internet in my case some time back. Watching old ads! The ads are not just simple and naïve, but they get you a nostalgic feeling too. Were they really good or not, I do not know, but that was the only option to view then! Some of them would still make for good ads in today’s world. Please have a look.

The Symbol!

Gold Spot Zing Thing

In the second ad in the video, it is Kitu Gidwani! Total YouTube hits: 15k approx.

LIRIL Ad 1985

This was the reshot of ad in 1975. The 1975 ad featured Karen Lunel, an airhostess with Indian Airlines in green bikini on the only national channel then! It was fine in those days as much as it is now. There were rumors that she died in a fatal accident. The accident did happen, but she survived after some stitches. This ad was only to ascertain that she is alive. Oh, and LIRIL is still my favorite soap, from childhood. I never knew the reason why I liked this soap particularly, but it seems this is the reason! Okay, there is a reason to bath daily now. Economic Times interviewed her in August 2009 and they contacted her through her son’s comment on her own YouTube video! She lives in New Zealand. Total YouTube hits: 2,22k approx.

DoodhDoodh Doodh

This was a much advanced ad compared to others but this had two different version of the ad. This one was shorter so I thought of embedding here. Total YouTube Hits: 31k approx.

Jalebee

Dhara Dhara Shudh Dhara! This was the famous ad where a boy wants to leave home but goes back home because of his temptation for Jalebees! Total YouTube hits: 275k

Surf Lalitaji

I don’t know in which years was this commercial famous, but noteworthy is its last line, ‘jee haan, Surf ke kharidari me hi samazadaari hain’ (Buying Surf makes sense). But at the same time, when the above line is being said; it shows two bottles of same size, one of half kg, and other of 1 kg! What makes sense? Total YouTube hits: 75k

Fevicol

The video shows Rajkumar Hirani as the model in it, who is also the director of the ad. He is the director of Munnabhai series. Total YouTube hits: 58k

Chal Meri Luna!

This one is my favorite. Small, simple and the jingle is melodious as well as it fits well with the rhyme used. But, I do not see any particular company name behind this! I think it was promoted by the Govt. to encourage more people to buy lunas. I don’t know! Total YouTube hits: Only 32k

Jab Main Chhota Bacha Thaa – Bajaj

This one is only 20 seconds long and you will suddenly recall the jingle of the ad. It is hard to forget it! It is from the times of ’80s. Total YouTube hits: Only 18k

Lijjat Papad

Karram kurram, kurram karram! This is the ad that featured the famous ‘speaking doll’ by Sharad Padhye of the ‘90s. Have a look. Total Youtube Hits: 20k approx.

Cadbury Cricket Ad!

Just watch this! The model doesn’t seem to dance naturally out of joy and not as a part of the commercial! There are many other good Cadbury ads with the same motivating lyrics, which you can get by clicking on the video below and then searching for ‘Related Videos’ in YouTube. Total YouTube hits: 11k approx.

There might be many more interesting ones out there on the web. These were just a sample!

Evidence Of Global Warming

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It is no slightest doubt that everyone in India has experienced what really is global warming. The average temperatures have gone up in the last few summers, and even the winters and rainy seasons are showing abnormalities from their behaviors over the last few years. Indeed, this is ‘global weirding’ or rather ‘climate crisis’ that would define the thing better.

But, what really caused global warming? Industrial revolution for one, heavy pollution caused by it another and there might be numerous such reasons. But, how do we know that we have landed in a state of global warming? Of course, anyone who has experienced summer in any part of India would know better. But, any symptoms that would convince the rational mind? Yes, in fact there are many. If you haven’t seen Al Gore’s documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ you must watch it once. I would rate it 5 stars, as it is a must watch for everyone today. From the official website of An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, I could get some science behind this. The symptoms are listed below and are sourced from the website climatecrisis.net (official website of An Inconvenient Truth). Do visit the website, it has a good music track played once the website is accessed. Other initiatives from Al Gore are the website of WeCanSolveIt, TakePart, RepowerAmerica.

Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising.

The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s already happening and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence.1 The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.

We’re already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts is increasing.


The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.2
Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Colombian Andes, 7,000 feet above sea level.3
The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade.4

At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles.5

Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years — to 300,000 people a year.6

Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide.7

Droughts and wildfires will occur more often.
The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050.8

 

More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.9

Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense.

1 According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this era of global warming “is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin” and “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence of the global climate.”
2 Emanuel, K. 2005. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature 436: 686-688.
3 World Health Organization
4 Krabill, W., E. Hanna, P. Huybrechts, W. Abdalati, J. Cappelen, B. Csatho, E. Frefick, S. Manizade, C. Martin, J, Sonntag, R. Swift, R. Thomas and J. Yungel. 2004. Greenland Ice Sheet: Increased coastal thinning. Geophysical Research Letters 31.
5 Nature.
6 World Health Organization
7 Washington Post, “Debate on Climate Shifts to Issue of Irreparable Change,” Juliet Eilperin, January 29, 2006, Page A1.
8 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. 2004. Impacts of a Warming Arctic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Also quoted in Time Magazine, Vicious Cycles, Missy Adams, March 26, 2006.
9 Time Magazine, Feeling the Heat, David Bjerklie, March 26, 2006.

Absurd Heights!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

> 1. What is height of Fashion?
> Ans : Dhoti with a zip .

>
> 2. What is height of Secrecy?
> Ans : Offering blank visiting cards.

>
> 3. What is height of Active laziness?
> Ans : Asking for a lift to house while on a morning walk.

>
> 4. What is height of Craziness?
> Ans : Getting a blank paper Xeroxed.

>
> 5. What is height of Forgetfulness?
> Ans : Seeing the mirror and trying to recollect when you
> saw him / her last.

>
> 6. What is height of Stupidity?
> Ans : A person looking through a keyhole of a glass door.

>
> 7. What is height of Honesty?
> Ans : A pregnant woman taking one and a half ticket.

>
> 8. What is height of Suicide?
> Ans : A dwarf jumping from the footpath on the road.

>
> 9. What is height of De-hydration?
> Ans : A cow giving milk powder.

> 10. What is Height of Kanjoosi ?
> Ans : Banta’s house has caught fire and he is giving
> miss calls to the Fire brigade!!!