Archive for August 17, 2011

By Chetan Bhagat

“Alright, this is not cool at all. A recent survey by Nielsen has revealed that Indian women are the most stressed out in the world: 87% of our women feel stressed out most of the time. This statistic alone has caused me to stress out. Even in workaholic America, only 53% women feel stressed.

What are we doing to our women? I’m biased, but Indian women are the most beautiful in the world. As mothers, sisters, daughters, colleagues, wives and girlfriends – we love them. Can you imagine life without the ladies?

For now, i want to give Indian women five suggestions to reduce their stress levels.

One, don’t ever think you are without power. Give it back to that mother-in-law. Be who you are, not someone she wished you would be. She doesn’t like you? That’s her problem.

Two, if you are doing a good job at work and your boss doesn’t value you – tell him that, or quit. Talented, hard-working people are much in demand.

Three, educate yourself, learn skills, network – figure out ways to be economically independent. So next time your husband tells you that you are not a good enough wife, mother or daughter-in-law, you can tell him to take a hike.

Four, do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work. It is difficult, but not impossible. The trick is not to expect an A+ in every aspect of your life. You are not taking an exam, and you frankly can’t score cent per cent (unless you are in SRCC, of course). It is okay if you don’t make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one. It is okay if you don’t work until midnight and don’t get a promotion. Nobody remembers their job designation on their dying day.

Five, most important, don’t get competitive with other women. Someone will make a better scrapbook for her school project than you. Another will lose more weight with a better diet. Your neighbour may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don’t – big deal. Do your best, but don’t keep looking out for the report card, and definitely don’t expect to top the class. There is no ideal woman in this world, and if you strive to become one, there will be only one thing you will achieve for certain – stress.

So breathe, chill, relax. Tell yourself you are beautiful, do your best and deserve a peaceful life. Anybody trying to take that away from you is making a mistake, not you. Your purpose of coming to this earth is not to please everyone. Your purpose is to offer what you have to the world, and have a good life in return. The next time this survey comes, i don’t want to see Indian women on top of the list. I want them to be the happiest women in the world. Now smile, before your mother-in-law shouts at you for wasting your time reading the newspaper.

Cherish Womanhood.”

(Source: The Times of India)

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New Delhi: Since the shock announcement on August 4 that India’s most powerful politician Sonia Gandhi was to undergo surgery in the US, barely a word has leaked out about her health.

The silence in most of the Indian media about the 64-year-old’s condition and the refusal of the ruling Congress Party to divulge information has raised some uncomfortable questions about transparency in the world’s biggest democracy.

The independence of the media and the country’s openness – it passed a Right to Information Act in 2005 – are a source of national pride, often contrasted with conditions in secretive regimes elsewhere in South Asia.

“I was really shocked to see in regular Congress Party briefings, the media present there did not seek information, did not demand information,” the editor of the Business Standard newspaper Sanjaya Baru says.

“We have had silence from the media… There is nothing about Mrs Gandhi’s health and she’s the most important politician in the country,” he said during a debate on the CNN-IBN news channel.

The Business Standard has been the most aggressive of the Indian newspapers – it demanded answers in an editorial – and Baru believes they are entitled to information.

On India’s boisterous cable news channels, which are normally quick to pressure and criticise the government, Gandhi has featured rarely, with news and debates focused on corruption or the national cricket team’s recent defeats.

Gandhi is the widow of assassinated former premier Rajiv Gandhi and wields enormous clout from her power-broking position as Congress Party president and coalition chairperson.
Since she was admitted to hospital, aides to the leader have confirmed she spent 24 hours in intensive care and was recovering from successful surgery at an undisclosed location, believed to be New York.

The government has argued that further disclosures would be made by the famously media-shy political boss if she desired.

“Only that much information would be shared which they would want to share,” Information Minister Ambika Soni said last week.

Speaking on Monday, Gandhi’s politician son Rahul, who has been left jointly in control during his mother’s convalescence, told journalists that “she is much better” without elaborating.
In the absence of concrete information about the woman who heads the ruling party and chairs the ruling coalition, speculation has been rife on social networks.

A few anonymously sourced news reports have attempted to fill the void.

The investigative current affairs magazine Tehelka reported that Gandhi was operated on at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, while the Deccan Herald newspaper said she had undergone surgery for cervical cancer.

“When you are in the public domain… you cannot claim the benefits of privacy of the private citizen,” the editor of The Hindu newspaper, Siddharth Varadarajan, told CNN-IBN.

“I think it is something that people have the right to know. What we have heard so far is wholly inadequate.”

Others have suggested that the cosy relationships between top journalists and politicians in India means the Congress Party has been able to impose a code of silence among senior editors.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a political analyst and journalist, said he believed the Indian media had done their best to cover the story, but were being wrongly starved of information.

“Do public figures have a right to private lives? Most journalists believe they do,” he said. “But as soon as your personal life in whatever way starts impinging on your public life then everyone has a right to know.”

He contrasted the handling of Gandhi’s problems to those of 78-year-old Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who underwent a highly publicised heart bypass operation in 2009 which was fully disclosed.

Singh, a diabetic, had previously undergone surgery for prostate cancer.

“Everybody speculates. Nobody has the foggiest idea,” Thakurta said of Gandhi’s condition.

(Source: AFP)

NEW YORK – If you’ve ever used a fake cellphone conversation to avoid real-life interactions, you’re not alone.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 13 percent of adult mobile phone owners in the United States have used the old “I’m on the phone’’ tactic. Thirty percent among those aged 18 to 29 did that at least once in the previous 30 days.

Just don’t forget to silence your ringer first.

In all, 83 percent of Americans reported owning some type of a mobile phone. Of these, more than half said they have used their phones at least once to get information they needed right away. Mobile phones are also becoming tools for handling emergencies. Forty percent of owners said their phones helped in an emergency.

Phones also proved useful when staving off boredom, as 42 percent of respondents said they used their phones for entertainment when they were bored.

It’s not that phones are all fun and games, though. Twenty percent of cellphone owners said they experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something, and 16 percent said they had problems reading small print on the phone screen.

In a sign that we are getting increasingly dependent on our mobile gadgets, 42 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 said they had trouble doing something because they didn’t have their phone with them.

(Source: AP)

It’s a tried-and-true marketing method: Slap a famous cartoon on food boxes and odds are children will be more likely to seek the food out at the store. But research now suggests that silly cartoons appearing on food boxes may also determine whether children will pester their mothers to buy the food and also the level of nagging parents are likely to experience.

Researchers analyzed surveys and interviews from 64 mothers who had children between the ages of 3 and 5. The mothers were asked questions about family eating and shopping habits, their use of media and how they dealt with their children’s nagging.

The study, published in the Journal of Children and Media, found that packaging, characters and commercials all contributed to whether children pestered their mothers. The children who watched more television commercials were more likely to nag for foods that included cartoons on the packaging, even if they didn’t like the food, researchers said.

“She picks up the characters by osmosis,” one mother who took part in the study said of her 4-year-old daughter.

The bind that many parents face is that many of the foods that advertise popular characters are oftentimes not healthy, said Dina Borzekowski, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-author of the study.

“We know marketing works, so the trick is to make it work for healthier products,” said Borzekowski.

Another mother of a 4-year-old boy said, “It really became clear to me how much TV impacts his preferences when he asked me to go to Burger King and I said, ‘Why Burger King?’ and he replied he had seen it on TV.”

While researchers did not cite specific packages, mothers who were interviewed said the characters or commercials that drew the most attention were Dora the Explorer, Elmo, Spongebob and Scooby Doo.

But the so-called “nag factor” didn’t stop there. The children who watched the most commercial TV also engaged almost equally in different types of nagging — juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries and manipulative nagging.

Juvenile nagging consists of repeatedly asking for items, whining and even flailing arms and stomping feet. Children nagged to test boundaries by throwing a public tantrum and putting items in the cart even as their mother said no. Manipulative nagging consists of sweet talking the mother, or even saying that other children possessed the item.

“Our study indicates that manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with age,” Holly Henry, a co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins said in a statement. Mothers of 5-year-olds recalled more negative nagging experiences, researchers said.

“It’s been a battle with my child,” said one mother. “No reward in whining.” “Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least-effective strategies,” said Henry.

Thirty-six percent of the mothers studied dealt with the nagging by limiting their child’s exposure to commercials. And researchers said that may be one of the most effective ways to limit a child’s nagging and consumption of potentially unhealthy foods.

Researchers also suggested not going to the store with a child, or trying to explain to a child before heading out why they would be tempted to buy certain types of foods and avoid buying others.

“I don’t’ think marketing is going away anytime soon, said Borzekowski. “We need to help parents deal with the current situation.”

(Source: ABC News)

Exercising for 15 minutes a day not only enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health, it also can extend lifespan by an average three years, a new study indicates.

Normally, doctors say exercising for at least half an hour a day will help a person prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss and stave off some diseases.

In fact, regular physical activity — ranging from gym workouts to vigorous walking — can help a person prevent or manage a wide range of health problems, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls, and decreases unhealthy triglycerides.

Although the World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week to stay fit, a new study by Taiwanese researchers has found that smaller bursts of exercise can have a number of health benefits.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Taiwan Department of Health, the Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and National Health Research Institutes.

About 35 per cent of U.S. adults exercise for at least 150 minutes a week or about 30 minutes a day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Still, one-third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and teens are obese, which can increase the risk for diabetes, cancer, stroke and other illnesses.

In many countries, physical activity often takes a nosedive during adulthood, according to researchers. In addition, a sizable number of people in chronically inactive populations work office jobs that have them hunched over a desk for at least eight hours a day or more.

“The 30 minutes a day for five or more days a week has been the golden rule for the last 15 years, but now we found even half that amount could be very beneficial,” lead author Chi-Pang Wen told ABC News. “As we all feel, finding a slot of 15 minutes is much easier than finding a 30-minute slot in most days of the week.”

The study focused on how much exercise was undertaken over eight years period by more than 400,000 people in Taiwan. The study results showed that even a little exercise can go a long way.

Researchers categorized participants as “inactive” ranging to “very high” based on their level of physical activity so they could directly compare health benefits and exercise levels. The study, however, found that more than half of those surveyed were classified as “inactive.”

Participants who exercise for an average of 92 minutes per week — about 15 minutes a day — had a reduced risk of mortality as well as a 10 percent reduced risk for cancer compared to the inactive group. Every additional 15 minutes of exercise reduced the risk of death by 4 percent and lowered the risk for cancer by 1 percent.

“These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks,” wrote the researchers. “Individuals who were inactive had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group.”

If the minimum exercise requirement of 15 minutes a day were followed, one in six deaths in Taiwan could be postponed, about the same reduction in mortality that experts believe could occur if the general population stopped smoking cigarettes, the researchers suggested.

“This low volume of physical activity could play a central part in the global war against non-communicable diseases, reducing medical costs and health disparities,” the authors wrote.

In addition, the researchers found that the participants who exercise at an average of 30 minutes a day can live four years longer than those who do less than one hour of moderate activity per week. The study was published in the journal The Lancet.

Additionally, physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave a person feeling happier and more relaxed, which can boost their confidence and improve self-esteem. Regular physical activity, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues, can improve muscle strength and boost endurance. It can also help a person to sleep faster and deepen the sleep when exercised much earlier to bedtime.

(Source: International Business Times)

Aloo Tikki

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Recipes
Tags: , , ,

Ingredients

Potatoes: 3-4 medium sized, boiled and peeled

Salt: As per taste

Black pepper: ½ tsp

For stuffing
Green peas: ½ cup, cooked well

Ginger: ½ tsp minced

Garam masala: ¼ tsp

Salt: As per taste

Red chili powder: ¼ tsp

Cumin: 1tsp, dry roasted, coarsely grounded

Oil: For frying

Method

Mash the cooked green peas. Add all the stuffing ingredients except oil and mash well. Divide the mixture into 10 equal portions and keep aside. Mash the potatoes very finely and add salt and pepper and knead until properly mixed. Divide it also into 10 equal portions. Rub your palms with little oil.  Take each portion of potato mixture and make a ball. Taking one at a time, gently flatten each ball into a round patty of about 1/2-inch thick and place a portion of stuffing in the centre and fold the edges together very finely so that the mixture does not come out. Very gently flatten the stuffed ball into a 2-inch patty. Repeat the procedure for all pieces. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan. Slip in the patties and pan-fry on both sides till crisp golden brown, adding oil if required, on a very low heat. Serve tikkis with tomato sauce or mint chutney.

Aloo Shami Kebab

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Recipes
Tags: , , , ,

Ingredients

Potatoes: 4-5

Chana dal: 1 cup

Garlic: 12 cloves

Cumin: 1 tsp

Black pepper: 1 tsp

Dry red chili: 10-12

Black cardamom: 1

Green cardamom: 3-4

Clove: 3-4

Cinnamon: 1 inch piece

Coriander leaves: 2-3 tsp

Onion: 2 tsp, finely chopped

Green chili: 1tsp

Lemon juice: 1 tsp

Saffron: A few strands

Sweet kewra: A few drops

Salt: As per taste

Method

Peel, wash and boil potatoes with chana dal, garlic, cumin, black pepper, dry red chili, black cardamom, green cardamom, salt, clove and cinnamon, together until chana dal becomes soft but not placid. The water level over the ingredients should be only 1 inch above the ingredients. Grind the cooked ingredients without adding any water. Check salt at this stage. Then add chopped green chili, chopped onion, chopped coriander leaves, kewra, saffron and lemon juice to the paste. Make small balls and flatten between your hands like an aloo tikki. Heat oil in frying pan and shallow fry kebabs till golden brown and serve with pudina chutney.

Note: If the paste becomes too soft, you can add some roasted gram flour as a binding agent.

Vegetable Kebab

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Recipes
Tags: , , ,

Ingredients

Potatoes: 2 medium sized, boiled and peeled

Paneer: 1 cup

Cauliflower: 1 cup

Cabbage: 1 cup

Green chili: 2, finely chopped

Coriander leaves: 2 tsp, finely chopped

Maida: 1 cup

Chili powder: 1 tsp

Ghee: 2 tsp

Salt: As per taste

Water: 1 cup

Oil: For deep frying

Method

Grate the boiled potatoes, paneer, cabbage and cauliflower. Heat ghee in a pan and fry both cabbage and cauliflower for 4-5 minutes. Then add potato, paneer, green chilies and salt. Check the salt at this stage and cook till all the water from the vegetables dries up. Remove from the fire and allow it to cool. Make small balls of the mixture and flatten between your hands and keep aside. Make a batter by mixing maida, ¼ tsp salt, chili powder in 1 cup of water. Heat oil in a frying pan, dip all the kebabs in the maida batter and deep fry them till golden brown. Serve them hot with pudina or tomato sauce.

Hara Bhara Kebab

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Recipes
Tags: ,

Ingredients

Potatoes: 4-5 medium sized, boiled

Green peas: 1 cup, boiled

Spinach: 1 bunch

Green chilies: 1 tsp, finely chopped

Coriander leaves: 2-3 tsp, finely chopped

Ginger: 1 tsp, finely chopped

Chaat masala powder: 1 tsp

Salt: As per taste

Corn flour: 2-3 tsp

Oil: For deep-frying

Method

Grate the boiled potatoes and mash the boiled green peas. Cook spinach leaves in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes and wash the partly cooked leaves in cold water and squeeze out the excess water before finely chopping the leaves. Mix grated potatoes, peas and spinach and add chopped green chilies, chopped coriander leaves, chopped ginger, chaat masala powder and salt. Add corn flour to the mixture for binding. Divide the mixture into 25 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball and then press it in between your palms and flatten it. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the kebabs in hot oil for three to four minutes.

Note: If you are too diet conscious, you can shallow fry the kebabs on a tawa. To make kebabs look dark green, you can add more spinach leaves, but have to add more corn flour for a good binding.

A man out of northeast England has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after he hacked his neighbors’ bank accounts using information they posted on Facebook and Friends Reunited, a U.K.-based social networking site.

According to The Telegraph, Iain Wood spent up to 18 hours per day using the personal information his acquaintances posted online to work out passwords for their bank accounts.

He used the personal details to get past security checks and steal more than 35,000 British pounds ($57,000) over two years, which he blew on gambling.

Wood typed the usernames of his Facebook friends on bank websites. After using the option that he couldn’t remember the password, he was asked security questions about date of births, mother’s maiden names, and other personal information and was able to answer them correctly in some cases. If he got into the bank account, he changed the address details and took out cash.

Most of the accounts he targeted were dormant, but he was able to exploit the overdraft limit before anyone noticed. He was caught when he changed his operation and directly transferred money out of one neighbor’s account into his own. The victim was contacted on a withdrawal of 1,500 British pounds, realized it was fraud and the police were called.

Police suspected this was Wood’s only victim until he blurted out, “Have you been on to me for a while?” A search of his place found bank account pin numbers, someone else’s passport, bills and other paperwork, much of which he took from his neighbors’ mailboxes, according to The Telegraph.

Wood pleaded guilty to seven counts of false representation and fraud.

Though Wood was a dedicated scammer, he didn’t use fake Facebook apps or malware-infested websites. Be careful what you click, whom you friend and what you share on Facebook — make good use of the privacy settings. If you’re sharing personal details, don’t use the same information for important online services like banking.

Readers, are you surprised that one man with no software could do such damage?

(Source: Mediabistro.com)