Kunal Mukhopadhyay

Archive for the ‘Globalization’ Category

The largest scam in the history of 21st century.

In Blogging, Globalization, Politics on November 11, 2010 at 10:42 am

So now Scania is also accused of oil-for-food kickbacks. Volvo was already implicated earlier. I remember reading a while ago that many French industries also traded regularly with Saddam while the alleged “embargo” was still in place. Ha! Blithering opportunists.

While Saddam enjoyed the luxurious spoils of being pampered by the selfishly opportunistic companies in Europe and the US, sadly, the common mass suffered from the embargo imposed on Iraq. Medical equipment like X-ray machines were hard to get by but one could easily find a laser guided weapon in the country.

I recently was talking to a taxi driver in Stockholm, originally from Iran who narrated the practical hardships caused due to the current embargo on Iran. It was ridiculous to hear what transpires in this world in the name of justice and democracy. For example – Iran Air aircrafts are not allowed to fuel in Sweden due to the embargo. Specifically – Iran Air does not fuel at Stockholm due to the embargo. But apparently, there is a loophole in the rules/embargo that allows the aircraft to fly down to Gothenburg and re-fuel from a private company before returning to Iran. Or alternately stop-over at Geneva where Iran Air can fuel with no obstacles.

So guess who really feels the brunt of it at the end of the day? Yup – the poor passengers who need to sit and wait while the aircraft fuels up. Ordinarily the flight takes 4 hours from Stockholm to Teheran. With the detour it can take up to eight hours. And here’s the killer line – there are several European airlines that fly to Teheran.

The UN Independent Inquiry Committee set up in 2004 found enough, if not pretty damning, evidence to make any decent human being with any moral conscience to stand up and cry foul. Here is the UN_report_summary.

This may not be the first instance in history of such a scam. But I wonder if it isn’t the worst it terms of the number of nations and companies involved.

Truly a shame for the 20th AND the 21st century.

Personal Genomics Could Change Health Care

In Blogging, Globalization, Technology on May 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Several months after deciphering his genetic code last year, Stanford bioengineer Stephen Quake approached a cardiologist colleague. Early analysis of his DNA had flagged a rare genetic variant as potentially linked to heart problems. The variant, in fact, was located in a gene linked to sudden cardiac death in athletes, so physician Euan Ashley suggested Quake visit his office for some follow-up screening. Inspired by that meeting, the scientists spent the next year figuring out how to examine his genome in a way that would be meaningful to both Quake and his doctor. The result–published today in The Lancet–is the most comprehensive clinical analysis of a human genome to date, highlighting both the medical potential of genomics and the hurdles that remain. Scientists are moving their focus from the technical hurdles of sequencing itself to what they say that will be a much more difficult task: analyzing the content of genomes to better understand human disease and the health risks of the individual.

Maiden Voyage to Baltics

In Blogging, Globalization, Travel log on May 13, 2010 at 9:46 am

I’m on the plane, in Riga, on route to Stockholm. The aircraft is a Fokker100 operated by Carpatair which has a Romanian flag on it. On my way here, I flew on the same aircraft type but one operated by a Belgian or French company (Blue Air?).

The flight to and from Vilnius (from Riga) was on a Fokker50 owned and operated by airBaltic. The aircraft reeked of urine and was pretty tight. The warm temperatures outside weren’t helping either. I hope that is the last time I fly that aircraft on airBaltic. Or any other carrier for that matter.

It was an interesting experience to be in the Baltics. The experience at the airports (Riga and Vilnius) were unique. Internally they have been fairly modernized and one would think one was in any other European country. Then as the airplane taxied down airfield I saw old Migs and rusty Tupolovs scattered around. There were some classic Russian helicopters too. The ones you saw in Rambo-II! But these were silent. Parked – only a distant memory of the bygone Soviet era.

The weather in Vilnius was lovely. Warm and sunny. And so were the people I met. The roads were  probably a nasty reminder of the former communist influence here. Pot holes. Concrete blocks. Rough. But the cars on the road weren’t!

I somehow get the impression that there is still a lingering “air” from the Soviet era in the Baltics with respect to service. An attitude of – “this is what you get…take it or leave it”. But not so in the younger generation who are friendly, speak English and appear to be updated with the modern times. I wish I could somehow reward this lovely young lady at the business lounge in Riga, for her excellent service with a lovely smile. Maybe next time..

Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.

In Blogging, Globalization on May 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

I heard on the radio yesterday a very good comment made by an Estonian official (former government minister) on the recent news about Estonia having fulfilled (or close to) the requirement in order to switch to the EURO currency.

He remarked that the EURO nations should first take a closer look at their own members (reference to Greece, Spain and Portugal) before setting such high demands on prospective non-Euro countries. How true. The irony is that at the end of the day, countries like the Baltic nations may actually have a stronger economy than the so called  “stronger” nations (strong meaning those in the Euro zone).

Estonia is on its way. Lithuania and Latvia are working their way towards the goal. Maybe Greece, Spain and Portugal ought to be “degraded” back to non-euro status and the Baltic nations given their seats instead!!

The big three.

In Blogging, Globalization, India on February 14, 2007 at 10:06 am

I was chuckling at the caption on the BBC news website today, referring to China, India and Russia as the ‘Big Three’. In one way the description is apt indeed – the two most populous nations in the world, and the world’s largest country. What a formidable team. And what a formidable coalition if they were to join and form a unified entity of sorts. China and India with their super industrious economies that are already steering global economics in one way or the other. With the capitalization of their largest resource – human capital, they are indeed, the new ‘superpowers’ of the world (even though I hate that term). The challenge ahead of politicians in both nations is to be able to make the most of this advantage, striking while the iron is hot. There is a need to address the pressing needs of the country in the area of planning and development, poverty and healthcare for the masses.

It will be interesting to see with time, how and what roles the Big Three play in the world. Their global presence will definitely have a large and far reaching impact on other nations in some way or the other.

David and Goliath…… live happily together?

In Globalization, Social trend on February 13, 2007 at 3:34 pm

I started this text as a comment but didn’t want to take up whole page, so figured might as well post it here. It was in context to the post by Magnus on his blog, about the future of the idyllic town of Alingsås. The string of thought concerns itself with the “mega” construction project on Kungsgatan, of a new shopping mall with mostly (not all) chain store shops. Magnus worries about the implictions of such an endeavor with respect to the well being of the smaller idyllic shops in this historic town. It is this very unique character of finding a smaller town away from Göteborg, where one can spend the day enjoying the open market in the town square or sip a cup of coffee in one of several cosy cafés, walk the the narrow streets in town through some very pretty old houses, that attracts folk and business from all over.

An interesting observation to a classical dilemma. How does one preserve the richness and originality of a idyllic town while keeping abreast with the pace of modernization?

With globalization re-defining the fabric of lifestyle in almost every part of the world, it is a big challenge to ensure that the economy of the town does not collapse/stagnate in the wave of departmental stores and low price chain stores. One can study a whole lifetime of examples from history of a country like the US where “waves of trends” literally turned towns from tiny establishments to booming industrious wealthy hubs and subsequently to just a historic shell/ghost town/tourist destination (e.g. Jamestown, NY).

Having lived in the US – experienced the fast-paced big city lifestyle in Philly and New York as well as smaller rural setting (Centre county, PA), I find Alingsås the ideal compromise to big city and small town setting. Yet, who doesn’t want the latest, newest, hip and cool shopping experience? Especially when the targeted consumer segment is the 13-30 yr market!

So, yes Alingsås needs the modern shopping mall nested in the midst of all the cafés and small pretty shops. The challenge, I believe the politicians need to face upto, is finding a way to keep the smaller shops and premises to remain in business, perhaps by offering greater incentives and providing assistance in keeping up with the fierce competition. It is, in the end, a David and Goliath situation, only this Goliath is not as “evil” perhaps?