Shah Rukh Khan as NASA Astronaut??

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Yes. I am VERY bitter. Instead of coming to a real NASA Engineer such as myself, they chose SRK for the part in their new movie Swades. Some things are just inexplicable. From The Times of India:

Can you imagine Shahrukh Khan doing a Kalpana Chawla, donning the space suit and taking off? If your upper factory’s done a pole vault trying to imagine the Dilli ka munda as a scientist, don’t bother.

Come December, and Ashutosh Gowariker will present the Badshah as a NASA engineer, who retraces his steps to Bharat land in the quest of fulfilling his dreams.

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Desibots on the Moon

I’m a tad skeptical, but hey – :: Xinhuanet – English ::

NEW DELHI, Sept. 26 (Xinhuanet) — India’s unmanned moon mission -Chandrayan – is expected to take place in 2007-08 as it is progressing smoothly, the country’s space agency chief G. MadhavanNair said here Sunday. “There has been a lot of debate in the scientific community whether we should do this because of the huge cost, but what I would like to say is that the total cost of the project is just Rs.3.8 billion (83 million US dollars),” Nair, chairman of the IndianSpace Research Organization (ISRO), told reporters.

$83M USD sounds insanely cheap but Nasa’s Lunar Prospector was done for only $62M so perhaps that’s the proper ballpark.

Prem or Not to Prem

Attention LA Desi’s – your opportunity to become the next reality TV star is at hand – Reality dating show with a desi twist – The Economic Times

INDIAWEST Champagne-soaked debauchery, fidgeting, uncomfortable good-night kisses, and brazen put-downs – in short, everything we love about TV dating shows – are soon to take on an Indian twist if the creators of a new TV show get their way. “Prem or Not to Prem” bills itself as the first South Asian reality dating show, and they’re looking for contestants in the Los Angeles area to audition this weekend.

Doh! But it appears we Mutineers didn’t get the scoop to our faithful readers quick enough -

Interested singles are invited to audition Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel at Towne Center, at 12725 Center Court Drive, Cerritos, California.

30 Min to decide if you want to pursue the relationship? Why do they need so much time?

Posted in TV

Jindal’s competition

Although the Republican Congressional candidate from Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District , Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, has the seat pretty much locked up accoriding to most experts, it isn’t stopping some of his five rivals from going after him. What do they have to say? From the Times-Picayune:

“I can’t imagine that someone who’s more to the extreme on some issues will be able to get bipartisan support for some of the needs Louisiana has, like coastal erosion,” [Dan] Zimmerman said, referring to Jindal’s conservative positions.

Opponents of Jindal include,

Roy Armstrong, an officer in Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization; Vinny Mendoza, a retired Air Force officer; Mike Rogers, a health care consultant; Jerry Watts, a retired orthopedic surgeon; and Daniel Zimmerman, a computer technician.

Apparently even existing Congress members are so sure of Jindal’s victory that they are already recruiting him for the House’s Energy Committee even before he’s been elected. From The Hill:

Six weeks before Louisiana voters decide if they want Bobby Jindal to become a member of the House, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) is already lobbying Republican leaders to put the former Bush administration official on a top congressional committee.

It is rare for a freshman lawmaker to be appointed to an “A” House committee, such as Appropriations, Ways and Means, or Energy and Commerce. But because of his extensive background in healthcare and the broad perception that the Indian-American is a rising star in the party, Jindal may be an exception to the rule.

Bollywood’s serendipitous reach

Barnard College is hosting a talk in Manhattan Tuesday about the preeminence of Bollywood films among the Hausa of Nigeria (via Mango Latte).

One of my fondest memories of Russia during the USSR is of dining with a newfound friend. His Tetris-like apartment had the look of violent meticulousness, a Tokyo sense of space. In that lockbox he had allocated a massive drawer jammed with carefully-filed Hindi films from the ’60s, which he showed off, blowing happy notes. We dined on cabbage and cold potato soup, but his Raj Kapoor impression was uncanny.

You’re only a goddess until you hit puberty …

kumari.jpg Every little girl is a goddess. Especially, if she’s Preeti Shakya, of Kathmandu.

“Preeti Shakya … [is] revered as the Kumari and incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess Durga. Each Kumari is chosen aged only three or four, always from the same Buddhist clan, and has to have 32 attributes, including thighs like those of a deer and a neck like a conch shell.”
“She lives a confined life, only coming out of her palace three or four times a year until she reaches puberty when another Kumari must be found.
This main outing coincides with a festival of thanks to the local rain god and as always, her feet must never touch the ground unless there is a red carpet beneath them. ”

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American Sikhs land Homeland Security contracts

AmericanSikhs.jpg Remember how lots of Americans are suspicious of guys in turbans? Now we’re actually hiring Sikhs to tote firepower around U.S. Army bases. It plays in Peoria, though, because these American Sikhs are white:

In the straight-laced world of the security business, where most people have a police or military background, Akal stands out. It is the only security company that anyone in the business, including Akal’s own executives, can think of that is owned by a nonprofit religious organization. “If we are in a room with 50 other contractors, you won’t remember the other guy, but you will remember us,” said Mr. Khalsa, who wears a white turban, has a long beard and refrains from cutting his hair.

In all fairness, although the owners are turbaned Sikhs, the guards generally are not. American Sikhs are an enterprising group with a CEO from Harvard Business School (thanks, Ennis) and a consumer products empire pulling in $60M annually:

Akal is just one of several for-profit and nonprofit entities that are part of a larger Sikh Dharma financial empire. These include Golden Temple, a natural foods company that makes Yogi herbal teas, Soothing Touch health and beauty products, Peace natural cereals, dietary supplements and private-label products for Trader Joe’s, the specialty food chain.

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How tigger got his bounce back

I really feel it is completely unecessary for me to make a joke about this one (although you guys can feel free). The facts provide all the humor needed. From Mid-day.com:

IndiaÂ’s first experiment of desi Viagra on animals is going to be tested on the Bihar tigers following the failure of the authorities of Sanjay Gandhi Zoological Garden to raise the tigersÂ’ libido in its bid to enhance their population in the state.

The zoo authority has decided that homeopathic aphrodisiacs and desi Viagra would be tried on tigers to make them impregnate tigresses.

A spokesman of the Garden said the tigers have become very unromantic. “When a tigress started following a white tiger, he bit the tigress’s right paw. This forced us to decide that the only way to do away with the impotency of male tigers is to administer desi Viagra,” he said.

Harvard doctor claims ethnic bias

I know a lot of students go abroad to medical school because they haven’t gained admittance to a U.S. school. The most popular location for Indians seems to be India or the Caribbean. I have heard however that because these schools have the reputation of being less rigorous, life can be very difficult for those that go abroad to study or for foreign born doctors who want to later practice in the U.S. The Boston Globe Reports:

A Harvard Medical School assistant professor who was training to be a psychiatrist filed a federal lawsuit this week alleging that while serving in a residency program run by Harvard at a Brockton veterans’ hospital, he was discriminated against because he is from India.

Rajendra Badgaiyan, an assistant radiology professor for Harvard at Massachusetts General Hospital, alleges in his suit that he may not get his license to practice psychiatry because the director of the residency program was biased against Indian doctors and therefore made false claims about his performance.

What was it that let Badgaiyan to claim discrimination? Continue reading

Axis’ allies

It’s not just Shashi Tharoor: India made a joint bid along with Germany and Japan, Brazil tagging along, for a permanent UN security council seat on Sep. 22. Sometimes history has a way of sneaking up on you: The U.S. pushed the UN to offer India the same seat, with veto power, in 1955, but Nehru unbelievably gave it up in favor of China, which invaded India seven years later (via the Acorn).

“…India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place, and then the question of India might be discussed separately.” –Jawaharlal Nehru

Ah, Nehru’s idea of realpolitik. India’s alignment with Axis powers is nothing new. During WWII, Indian nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose met with Hitler to get him to give up Indian POWs fighting for the British (thanks, Turbanhead). The plan was to convert them into an army fighting for Indian independence. The plan fell through, and Netaji eventually carried out a different plan with Japanese support:

the Indian Legion came to a rather sad end… the Germans would be unlikely to get anywhere near India. Second, after Bose left Germany in 1943, the Legion was left without an effective leader… Now they knew they weren’t going to be fighting for India’s freedom, and their morale and discipline disintegrated. Many deserted, some joined the French resistance, and the rest disappeared in the chaos of the German retreat.

Bose’s biggest frustration in Germany had to do with diplomatic recognition. He wanted Germany to officially recognize India as independent, and him as the leader of a government in exile. This the Germans refused to give him. The reasons lay partly in apathy, partly in the Master Race mentality, and partly in the peculiarities of Hitler’s vision of the post-war world.

Hitler was not entirely comfortable with the idea of helping Indians – whom he saw as racially inferior – to defeat the British. The British were Aryans, after all… He was perfectly willing to use Bose to make trouble for the British, but he had no long-term interest in India’s future, one way or another.

Prior to the independence movement, Indian soldiers fought for Britain in WWI, and there is a memorial in Hindi, Urdu and English in Brighton, England for these soldiers. In WWII, there was even a destroyer named the HMS Sikh, along with the HMS Gurkha. They should’ve made it an aircraft carrier — Sikhs have greater surface area up top :)