Categories
Gyaan

The science behind Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

I will be honest. I didn’t read up much about the tragic accident that took place in Beirut, when I first heard of it. But last night, I read briefly in The Economist that Ammonium Nitrate (AN) has been causing major such explosive accidents regularly since the beginning of the 20th century! And then today morning I read in the papers that ~700 tonnes of seized Ammonium Nitrate is stored in a Container Freight Station in Manali – not the hill station but an industrial region north of Chennai . And this bit of news is definitely scary. Could that explode too? What is the science behind the AN explosion anyway?

As a wedding photographer / film-maker, this clip hits me harder

As I am writing this blog, I’ve just discovered a new information:

18,000 tonnes? Wow! But the NewsMinute article above doesn’t mention if this AN is explosive grade or not. I hope not! Anyway, I just got interested in reading up a bit on the science behind this explosion – sharing it here.

Ammonium Nitrate (AN) is a fertilizer. Why does it explode?

In general, AN (or NH4NO3) is a stable compound and doesn’t explode. You may have read / heard that it also used as an explosive material in mines and landslide clearance – but that is not just AN. That explosive is a mixture of AN and FO (fuel oil, usually diesel) – in short ANFO. The typical ratio of AN and FO is 96:04

But there have been multiple instances of AN explosion too – starting from the beginning of the 20th century.

Wikipedia has a tabulated list of each major AN related disaster.

Anyway, so what causes AN explosion even without the FO? Typically fire. Overall, there are only so many ways to trigger any ‘explosive’ material:

  • heat (or sometimes just spark)
  • impact
  • friction
  • electromagnetic radiations

The quantum of the above parameters needed to make a chemical / compound explode tells us how ‘sensitive’ the material is (and different materials could be differently sensitive to different parameters).

One one of the most sensitive materials that exists is NI3 – Nitrogen Tri-iodide. See for yourself in the video below.

As you can see, NI3 is pretty extreme. But there are several other more usable highly sensitive chemicals like Mercury Fulminate or Lead Azide – they are called primary explosives. They explode by decomposition and it is easy to trigger them to explode.

Then we have the secondary explosives that require relatively more amount of energy to get triggered. Guess what, AN is not even that!

AN (and even ANFO) is a tertiary explosive.You simply cannot make it explode easily. In fact for ANFO, explosion occurs from ‘combination’ instead of ‘decomposition’.

But yes, beyond a certain temperature (or massive force of impact) AN does decompose and explosion can happen – the way it did in Beirut (and in all the other instances listed in The Economist’s chart shared above).

Once a temperature of 170 C is reached, ammonium nitrate starts breaking down, emitting nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Any sudden ignition causes ammonium nitrate to decompose directly into water, nitrogen and oxygen, which explains the enormous explosive power of the salt.

DW, 05 Aug 2020

What’s up with the terrifying white cloudy ‘shock-wave’ that that we see in the videos from Beirut?

To understand the answer to this question, you need to know the two phases of decomposition of an explosive material.

In the first phase, a “chemical reaction wave” travels through the material, slower than the speed of sound. The term for it is deflagration. In many explosive materials, the chemical reaction wave speed will never cross this limit (they are called low explosives – propane, gasoline, gunpowder etc.).

But AN is a high explosive (note: not highly). Here as the chemical reaction wave continues to travel, eventually its speed crosses that of sound (detonation), transforming the chemical reaction wave into what we call a “shock wave”.

Shock-waves are high pressure waves that travel through air (or water). The white misty wave thing that you see in the big explosion in the Beirut videos is basically water vapor condensing out of the air, because of really low pressure right behind the high-pressure shock wave. And then you see it disappear right away as the condensed mist evaporates back, once the pressure equalizes (to atmospheric pressure).

Anyway, so that’s the science behind the explosion. What happened really sucks. Other than the 130+ dead, a single explosion has rendered 3 lakh folks homeless (houses damaged or outright destroyed). 3 lakh! In just few seconds!

***

Research sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-could-the-beirut-explosion-happen-experts-explain/

Categories
Gyaan VATSANALYSIS

The three theories that explain China’s border aggression with India.

You an also listen to this post below.

Has the below question crossed your mind too?

Of course, it is not just India that China has been messing up with. The list is long and growing – the Philippines, Australia, Europe, the US, and Canada.

The puzzle is why China is choosing aggression over magnanimity, or even over mere inaction. After all, China’s current leaders probably view America as a declining power that will soon organically vacate the hegemonic position that China seeks to occupy. If so, just as Deng Xiaoping, the father of China’s reforms 40 years ago, advised geopolitical patience until China became stronger, a Dengian strategy today would be to wait for the US to become weaker.

Arvind Subramanian, Business Standard 21 Jul 2020

Theory 1 – This shall unite the Chinese citizens.

One of the first few persons who I found had a theory to explain this behaviour by China, was Sonam Wangchuk.

Sonam theorizes that China is probably doing what it is doing to project the country in some kind of a big global fight with rest of the world. This perception of a common enemy (many common enemies rather) will unite all the Chinese and keep their support for CCP intact.

Why does CCP need to unite the Chinese? Are they not united already?

Sonam claims that there is a growing unrest within the Chinese populace. That may eventually lead to civil protests bigger than what China has seen in its recent history (unless of course CCP succeeds in its strategy). In the later part of his video, Sonam gets into the ‘what do we do about’ mode, which I’d like to avoid addressing.

By the way an astrologer (who did his B.Tech from IIT Madras long time ago) proclaims that China will soon get split into smaller countries (like what happened to USSR). Don’t ask me why I watch such astrology videos – let’s just call me super curious. 🙂 This same astrologer also predicts that Modi will come back to power for a third term, but will leave midway and take sanyas!

Coming back to China, one day I randomly stumbled upon a Youtuber (Winston aka serpentza) who’d published a video titled “Why I left China for Good”.

The above embedded video should play from 06:45 – where he basically says that from his personal experience of having lived in China (he is originally from South Africa), CCP does not let any criticism of the government come out in public. That to him was a very stifling environment to live in – so he decided to move out.

Most of you would instinctively agree with this claim. Me too. Of course one may say that the way a person from SA (or US, UK, even India) sees this situation – stifling – may be very different from how it is probably viewed by an average Chinese citizen. The Chinese citizens are – may be – used to such behavior from Govt. and don’t mind it as much.

Of course this view is debatable. In any case, it is something I will skip getting into, for now. All that even the internet offers on this, are just anecdotes – some Chinese tell you they don’t like their Govt., others say they are okay with it. How does one even find out what the “average” Chinese opinion is?

On a side-note, what definitely felt weird to me while watching the above video was this realization – that the very words this Youtuber chose to express his feelings for CCP, can as well be used to describe the present Indian Govt! Again, some of you may not agree with me, but let’s discuss that some other time!

Theory 2 – Message to India.

Shekhar Gupta (the below video should play from 09:41) talks about China’s need to give India a ‘message’ that it is the big boss (they apparently got triggered by major infra development by India along the border).

It sure is a theory, but a little too simple, isn’t it? A better, more plausible theory comes from Arvind Subramanian, who I quoted earlier.

Theory 3 – The time to rule the world has come.

Arvind sums it up nicely:

Perhaps China’s leaders once again see the world through a victim’s lens. As they perceive it, the powerful West had kept a weak China in check since the early 1800s. Now that the roles are reversed, the regime believes it is time to correct historical injustices. With Xi’s aggressive insecurity having replaced Deng’s calm confidence, China now places a premium on settling its borders and returning to the glory days of the Middle Kingdom.

Arvind Subramanian, Business Standard 21 Jul 2020

So yeah, these are the three theories that I have come to find so far. Do you have any other theory? Have you heard of anything else that explains why China is doing what it is doing with India? Do let me know.

If you want a quick refresher on the Indo-China border conflict, I created a 10-slider illustration some time back (mostly relying on a NY times summary article).

I had made the above deck when the Galwan valley thing had just started. As of now (24 Jul 2020), what we know is that in spite of all the talks about de-escalation and disengagement, things haven’t really cooled down.

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We all make choices. Choose to share?

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Anyway, other than getting inspired to draw informative illustrations and satirical cartoons, I also had the urge to read up more about China. So I got hold of few books.

I am reading the first one – by Job Fenby – on Kindle and listening to the second one on Audible (When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques). Both are insightful.

I’ll see if I ever get to the third book – ‘Has China Won’ – that I came to know about when I randomly stumbled upon the below video (where the author is interviewed). This is the second time I used the phrase “randomly stumbled upon”, didn’t I? But is anything ‘random’ on Youtube anymore? 🙂

This is not a contest between a democracy & a communist party system. It’s a contest between a plutocracy (US) and a meritocracy (CCP).

Kishore Mahbubani (in the video above)

Are you reading anything on China too? Do let me know. That will be all for this post.

Categories
Gyaan

Why has India not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture ?

United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) is an international human rights treaty, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

-Wikipedia

A week or two ago, I saw an insightful video. Sonali, a young law student explains in there, how most of us demanding justice for the shopkeeper father-son from Tamil Nadu (tortured to death by police), were demanding something that had already been provided.

In her IGTV video, she then suggests some specific demands that we should probably make if we really care about improvement of the policing system in India:

  1. setting up of a Police Complaint Authority
  2. making CCTV mandatory in police stations
  3. better training & sensitization of police officers
  4. signing of UNCAT

She explains how there are only 9 countries in the world that have not yet signed the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) – India is one of them. There is a slight inaccuracy in this statement that I will clarify in a bit. Hold on.

Anyway, so her video made me wonder – have tortures gone down in countries that have signed the Convention? But even before that, I needed to figure out an explanation to the obvious question.

Why has India not yet signed the UNCAT?

Like most things, I found the answer on Youtube.

It so happens that India has signed the convention. It did so in 1997 itself. What it has not done is – ratify the same.

‘Ratification’ is the next step after signing, where in the country becomes legally obliged to adhere to the rules of the Convention. Signing just shows intent – there is no legal obligation as such. It’s been 23 years since the signing. India has not yet ratified UNCAT. Why?

Most of our Indian laws are borrowed from Britishers – we modified and adapted them once we got independence. Even today, in 2020, most Indian states follow the Indian Police Act 1861 (with few modifications).

Since they were the Britishers who set up the policing system, they didn’t see any issue in ingraining a culture of torture in there. It probably made sense – they were the ‘rulers’, the Indians their subjects.

The issue is – the overall ideology of how policing should happen, has continued till date.

What this means is, if and when India chooses to ratify the UN convention against torture – it will have to fundamentally redesign the policing structure / ideology (across all states – each state has its own policing regulation). And this probably is too much of work! And so India has done nothing about it! Since 23 years!

I also came across an interesting and a very recent video where Karan Thapar interviews India’s former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar (AK held this position for about six months during the second term of Congress Govt. under Dr. Manmohan Singh).

I learnt two important things from watching the video:

  1. The Congress Govt. did spend 3 months preparing an anti-torture bill (in 2010) but didn’t do enough to get it enacted (I’ve linked the bill for you to read, it’s only few pages).
  2. At some point, Arun Kumar took up this issue with Supreme Court, requesting the court to ‘nudge’ the present Modi Govt. to do something about ratifying UNCAT. The Supreme Court however said in 2019 that this wasn’t something it should be doing (in the video, you can see AK expressing how this is a weird thing for SC to say because it has taken up similar issues earlier where it did ‘nudge’ the Govt. to act, like for mob-lynching related laws).

Do we have enough laws already? Would more laws change anything? One can debate for years I guess. But let me come to my million dollar question.

When a country ratifies the UN convention against torture, do incidences of torture go down?

Because if the above is not happening, what’s even the point?

I tried hard to find an answer but there is nothing really. The best I could discover was this book from early 2000 that tries to assess UNCAT. But you can only read few pages in here, and those pages don’t answer my question. The book doesn’t seem to be available anywhere (either in print or as an e-book).

So let me just go ahead and raise another question.

Why does police torture anyway?

Primarily, two reasons:

  1. to show the victim who the boss is (display of power); and
  2. to extract useful information that can help in an investigation (possibly saving innocent lives as a result).

Point 1 is about mentality. Britishers probably designed the policing system in this way because it was important for them not just to extract information, but also, once in a while to show who the boss was.

The fact that this mentality still exists in the police force, is shameful. At least that’s what I think.

On point 2 – many studies show that it’s not so clear that torture really works (if you click on the link, you can read for yourself; there’s a book too if you really want to dig deep).

Intuitively, many of us certainly believe that torture must work because what else explains this statistic: over 70% of Indians (& Chinese) are okay with torture as long as the bigger objective of ‘protecting the public’ is met.

Whether or not ratifying the UNCAT brings down the cases of torture in India, it will be nice if policing system is reformed. Attempts to reform don’t always lead to any real change as was observed in Tanzania, but it’s worth trying at least? It’s not that no reform has happened in India.

The first National Police Commission in 1981 delivered eight reports addressing a range of police issues. In 2005, the Police Drafting Committee drafted a Model Police Act to replace the existing and archaic Police Act, 1861. Most recently, last year, the Supreme Court issued new directives to state governments to implement the directives that the apex court had recommended in 2006. Thus, both the problems and potential solutions to India’s police problems are well-understood.

What has perhaps stymied the implementation of these reforms is the lack of political will, which in turn could be linked to the growing criminalization of politics. When lawmakers increasingly feature serious criminal charges in their resume, they have very little incentive to professionalize the police force.

Sriharsha Devulapalli, Vishnu Padmanabhan, LiveMint

As far as I could find out, the draft of “Model Police Act” remains just that – a draft. And our police personnel continue to torture and execute ‘encounters’ as they please. There will always be good cops who will never do this, but the system allows and approves of the killings if and when a cop (or the politician s/he reports to) wants to.

We, the citizens, outrage when we feel that the person tortured / killed was innocent. But we are okay, even somewhat relieved when we feel that the person killed were anyway criminal / terrorist / rapist.

Sahi hai!

***
References:

1. Sonali’s video (watch from 5:30 onwards if you just want to listen to what else we can demand from our government)

2. Explanation of why India has not yet ratified the UNCAT.

3. Karan Thapar’s interview with Ashwani Kumar

Categories
general Gyaan

How do you survive 450 million years as a species? Have beach orgies!

I am not kidding. Watch this NatGeo video below (even if you watch it later, notice the title of the video – Horseshoe Crabs Mate in Massive Beach “Orgy”).

Horseshoe crabs have been around for 450 million years. To put that in perspective, our ancestors have been around only for about 6 million years (and the modern form of humans evolved just 200,000 years ago). May be we weren’t having enough beach orgies!

Jokes aside, something happened last month that made BBC publish this article yesterday, which then showed up in my inbox today (I have a Google Alert set for “Covid vaccine”, yes).

So how is a 450 million year old crab species connected to Covid vaccine?

It’s not just Covid. Since 1977, it is mandatory in US for any vaccine / drug / surgical instrument (that can come in contact with blood) to pass something called a ‘LAL’ test that depends upon the blue blood of horseshoe crabs.

Their blood is blue because it is rich in copper (there are several other organisms with blue blood). LAL has nothing to do with copper though.

L: limulus (short for Limulus polyphemus – the biological name of these crabs – which btw are not really crabs but belong to a different species of anthropods – closer to scorpions and spiders)

A: amebocyte – a kind of cell found in these crabs that contains…

L: lysate

When a bacteria (with endotoxin) comes in contact with this lysate, clotting occurs immediately and you know that the bacteria is there. Endotoxins can kill humans if not detected.

So to make sure a vaccine will not cause any infection when injected, you drop a small quantity of LAL in it and if the LAL doesn’t coagulate – you are good to go. Simple! But I told you this was approved in 1977. So how did we manage before that?

Before LAL, the only way to test the toxicity of any new vaccine (or experimental drug) was to inject lab rabbits and monitor their symptoms. It was a time consuming manual process that sucked big time. And if you are into animations and all that, the below video is fun to watch – shows cute rabbits.

So who came up with this briLALiant idea?

Although the LAL test was approved by US in 1977, research started almost twenty years earlier by this guy called Fred Bang, who btw received some sort of an award only in 2019 (that’s pretty much the only thing you will find about him in the Wiki page linked to his name).

Fred Bang

Today, around 400k to 500k of these crabs are caught (once a year) and taken to labs where ~30% of their blue blood is removed from a vein near their heart. They are then released back to the beach / ocean.

In the 1980s and through the early 1990s, the process seemed sustainable. The pharma industry claimed that only 3% of the crabs died. But in recent years, it’s been estimated that upto 30% may be dying from this process.

The number of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay (NJ) for example dipped from 1.2 million in 1990 to just 300k+ by 2003, but has thankfully hovered around that figure since then.

By the way, lysate is super expensive. Present estimates seem to range anywhere between 13,000 to 16,000 USD per liter of the blue blood!

Is there no alternative?

Actually there is. Back in 1997 itself, scientists at the National University of Singapore – Ling Ding Jeak and Bo How
(husband-wife), created something called an rFC test (using only lab made formulations) that could also detect endotoxin (in bacteria) just like the LAL test.

There have been several more studies since then. It took a lot of time for anything to change as the world at large continued to rely on the blue blood sucked from these crabs (which are not crabs).

It was only four years ago, in 2016 that the synthetic alternative to crab lysate was approved in Europe (which I guess is still valid) and it seemed that US would go down that route too but eventually it didn’t. And this brings me back to the BBC article that I wrote about in the beginning.

The article shares how last month (June 2020), US stated that the safety of the synthetic alternative is ‘unproven’ and so, any new drug / vaccine must continue to use LAL test (or else FDA will not approve it).

What about India?

I tried to find if the LAL test is mandatory in India, only to realize there is no way to search for this keyword. All Google shows me are sites that mention Dr. Lal labs! LOL!

By the way if you want to read up more on what went behind creating the synthetic lysate – here is a great article. Bloomberg also did a mini-doc on Prof. Ding’s breakthrough – see below (will play from 3:29 when she shows up with her husband – they are cute).

That’s it for this blog – hope you learnt something new and if you are up to learn even more, how about this – horseshoe crabs have two compounded eyes and seven simple eyes – a total of nine eyes! Ok, byes, byes. Need to plan this beach orgy thing now. Gotta live long!

***

Research source:

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53333096

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/horseshoe-crab-blood-essential-in-making-coronavirus-vaccine-wef.html

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/horseshoe-crab-blood-is-key-to-making-a-covid-19-vaccine-but-the-ecosystem-may-suffer/ar-BB16gou5?li=BBnbcA1#image=3

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/blood-in-the-water/559229/

Categories
Gyaan videos

Breaking down the storytelling of “The Evolution Of Michael Phelps”

I saw a short 15 minute documentary video on the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps just now. One of my Facebook friends had shared it on his timeline. And because I loved the way the film was made, I thought of breaking down the storytelling bit (my newest obsession – every time I see a good story, whether it be a documentary – short or otherwise, or a Hollywood movie).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVgTYmBMBD8

1. Protagonist

  • From whose point of view is the story being told (or in other words, who is the protagonist)? Michael Phelps – he is the protagonist. He knows what he wants, it’s not easy for him to get what he wants, and he never totally gives up.
  • What does the protagonist want? To figure out his ultimate purpose in life.
  • Protagonist’s motivation? We all want to figure this out, right? This is a basic human nature.

2. Empathy

So why does the audience care about what the protagonist wants?

If the record holder of the highest number of Olympic medals is not sure what the purpose of his life is and is fucked up in any way, we all want to know why! It’s difficult not to care about his journey to see if he can figure things out (which he most likely will, we kind of know that), but more importantly, how exactly does he figure things out? Did someone help him in this journey? Did he bump into something (by accident or choice) that opened his eyes? ‘Tell us all’, the audience screams.

3. The challenge & what’s at stake?

What makes it difficult for Michael to figure out what he truly wants from his life is what makes it difficult for any of us – there is no well defined way of finding this out really! We also get to know about his estranged relationship with his father, which was not easy to sort out.

At stake was a) his reputation as a celebrity Olympic champ and b) his life. Two pretty high stakes really!

4. Visual-flow

Unfortunately, this story lacks a visual flow. There is no connecting start and end. Do I think having a visual flow would have elevated the story? Yes, absolutely.

5. Insights gained?

Following, methinks, are main ones:

  • Even Olympic champions can get suicidal – and not because they have stopped doing well professionally but for reasons as relate-able as unresolved personal relationships.
  • Life is not about how low you get – it’s about how you bounce back.
  • We all need that helping hand in our lives, in times of despair and self-doubt. And if we hang on, things eventually do get better.

6. The end and summary

  • What happens in the end? In the end, Phelps’ life is more or less sorted (and the viewers know how it happened). With help from those who cared about him, he came out of his depression, sorted issues with his dad, got married, became a father and is now ready to compete again – in this year’s Olympics!
  • Summary of the story in one or two sentences – this was the story of how one of the biggest Olympic champions of all times, dealt with his depression and came out of it successfully.

Whether you are writing a story (doesn’t really matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction) or making a film, do make sure you story answers these questions! Because every good watchable story, generally does! You can read more about the importance of each of these questions in another detailed blog here.

Feature image source.

Categories
Gyaan travel

The couple that went climbing – part 6

Link to part [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Let met post some statistics on my batch. There were 80 students in our batch overall, we were told. But I could jot down names of only 76. Based on that, and based on additional information that I had collected during the course, following are some of the graphs that I could generate.

Before you get confused, Local means Darjiling / Siliguri; Army / Navy / IAF are the ones who keep on moving all the time – so location is not applicable to them; West Bengal refers to people from the state of WB other than the local ones; similarly Karnataka refers to people from Karnataka other than those from Bangalore (apply the same logic to Maharashtra-Mumbai); Firangi means all non-Indians except Bangladeshis; and North-East includes Sikkim.

Some of the key-take away from the above chart are:

  • the local residents and defense personnel alone accounted for almost 1/3rd of the entire batch
  • If you include the local residents, West Bengal as a state alone accounted for 31% of all students – followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka, contributing 10% and 9% respectively
  • amongst the metros, the cities that contributed maximum students can be ranked in the following order: Mumbai (9%) > Delhi (5%)> Hyderabad (4%) > Bangalore = Chennai (~2% each)

HMI has a lower age limit of 16 and an upper age limit of 40. Maximum students were in the age-group of 25-30 years, followed very closely by 20-25 and 15-20.

Once again, before you get confused, college students includes both those who were in college and those who had just graduated – except the MBA students; all the school students had just written their Xth or XIIth; Regular corporate includes everyone working in the regular corporate world except software professionals; although we had two doctors in our batch, one of them had just finished his MBBS  and was ready to pursue higher studies – so has been included in ‘college students’ by me.

If there indeed were 80 students, I am pretty sure that the four missing names were all males and none of them successfully completed the course. In that case, if I revise my figures (the above two charts show percentage as %age of 76 students), both the percentage of females and percentage of successful completion will fall down slightly to say about 10% and about 81-82% respectively.

Categories
events Gyaan

My new hero

I will be frank. I am pretty much illiterate when it comes to international affairs. I keep getting confused between Israel and Iran. To me, they are one and the same. One of them is always at war with Palestine. But I don’t know which one and I definitely don’t know what the two countries are fighting for anyway.

So when suddenly pictures of protestors crowding cities in Egypt started pouring all over newspapers, internet and television screens, I wondered what the fuss was all about. Till I did some reading and stuff, all I knew about Egypt was that it is the same place that has pyramids and stuff.

My reading tells me that, what has essentially happened in Egypt in the past few days is that the common citizens took to streets and squares and kept protesting until, two days ago, this Mubarak guy – the president of the country, quit. That is what the common citizens had been demanding for, since all these days of protest that started on 25th January 2011.

So this is what my reading told me and then I got curious. How often does it really happen that common citizens take to streets and squares, raise slogans and then lo – the president resigns? I understand military coups. I understand the opposition bringing down a parliament. And I understand US attacking a country saying – ‘we want to straighten things out in this country by sending our soldiers to replace the existing crazy government by one that listens to us, and therefore is the most democratic government in this world’. But I do not understand how a bunch of common citizens ambling and shouting on the streets, can ever force the President of a nation, in his thirty-bloody-eth year of rule, to leave.

So I dug deeper. I wanted to know how Mubarak got fucked up after nearly 30 years of continuous rule? Since when had the common citizens been trying to get rid of him – certainly not since he first became the president? Who organized these protests – is there an Egyptian Mahatma Gandhi behind this Egyptian civil disobedience movement?

As a starting point of my investigation, it was important to figure out if there was a clear ‘trigger’ for this civil revolt. In other words, I wanted to know what was the Egyptian equivalent of the gunpowder cartridge from our very own Revolt of 1857. By the way on this note, hi5 to all ya ICSE mates. Well, yeah , so was there a trigger for this one in Egypt? The answer is – yes. And what freaks me out is that the trigger is a Youtube video. Come back to read this post after you have seen the video.

If you have seen Rang de Basani, the entire imbroglio in Egypt is almost straight out of the movie. Yes, it did help that Cairo (and other cities where protests took place) had enough unemployed people who had all the time in this world to be on streets for days. Yes, it did help that just few weeks ago, similar civil protests in Tunisia had actually been successful in ousting it’s hated and corrupt leader. But what really brought a fucking million people on the streets of Egypt was the video that you just saw. And now that I know that, Asmaa Mahfouz is my new hero.

Categories
Gyaan

Are you Steel thinking?

I just read somewhere that Japan’s biggest steelmaker and another Japanese steel company are set to merge together to become world’s second largest steelmaker. If you remember, arcelor-mittal – world’s largest steelmaker – came into existence from a similar super duper merger. What is this between steelmakers and this trend of such big ticket mergers? Do you have an answer to this? And like me, do you see arcelor-mittal and this would be Japanese company eventually becoming one? How much do you think they would be contributing to the global steel production if they become one?

Categories
Gyaan

How much do you need to get rich statistically?

An income of just slightly over USD 100,000 puts an American household in the top 10% of American families. To get into the top 5%, you need to earn less than $150,000.
(Source)
To put things in perspective, an indian salary of Rs. ten lakh an year is almost equal to USD 20,000. Neat.

Categories
Gyaan

First mobile phone post

I never thought I was going to write a post ever from a mobile phone but I must declare it that the world has changed. the ability to write fast on phone has changed. The kind of things I have been doing with my phone since the last two days has been insane in every sense of the word insane. This is totally humbly delightfully awesome.