Quick steps to good English 10 — Our common errors

May 31, 2013 at 6:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Quick steps to good English 10 …

Find out the mistakes in the following sentences and correct them.

1. If you finish your studies early, then you can go to join your friends.

2. In the village, there are a few wealthy landlords living among very poor artisans who can never give up liquor completely.

3. Do not start until I show you the green light.


4. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.


5. What the poor farmer said about the politician is a true fact.


6. After taking the painkiller, I feel alright.


7. The visiting dignitaries were gathered altogether in the Governor’s House where they were to meet the Chief Minister soon.


8. After a lot of coaxing and prodding the driver agreed that he will drive his loaded truck through the muddy village road.


9. After I completed my graduation, I literally stood at the cross roads. I pondered if joining the village school would be a better idea than going to the city to work as a clerk with my father’s employer.


10. I am feeling so sleepy now after the long night journey.

Answers will be given in the next post.


Election Commission of India -Why the politicians dislike it

May 30, 2013 at 11:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Election Commission of India – The democracy bastion under attack


The sharp decline of ethics in India’s politics in the last ten years is common knowledge. It has brought immense disrepute to the country. ‘Win the election by any means,’ is the accepted norm of politics today. Even the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohasn Singh finds it expedient to get elected to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) by declaring himself as a resident of Assam, a state with which he has tenuous relations. The reason – the Constitution permits such bending of law. He, therefore, breaks no law, although a school child will mock at such a practice for its brazenness. The other reason – he is unsure of winning a Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Parliament) election. Dr. Singh manipulates residency records to prove his hailing from Assam. The Congress Party, the organization that spearheads the campaign to enfeeble the moral skeleton of this country, manages the paper work and the back-door whip issuing!

So benumbed the citizens of this country have become by the daily unraveling of vile conduct of the politicians that no one stands up to Dr. Singh to ask him why he took such a circuitous route to the parliament. Actually, no one bothers, not because no one cares, but because any such call would be drowned by the cacophony of self-serving politicians, each trying to outdo the other in immoral conduct. The country appears to be hurtling to set new benchmarks of dishonesty.

The Election Commission of India is the lone bastion trying to rein in the politicians who, during the election days, deploy muscle, money and the mike to coerce the voter to submission. The application of the Model Code of Conduct before and during the election fetters the government and opposition parties’ tendency to engage in obnoxious behaviour. The politicians do not like the Model Code of Conduct. They want a free-for-all atmosphere that would allow them to use the government machinery to aid their electioneering. Curiously, both the opposition and the government parties are unanimous in such a demand.

The Election Commission of India has done a fair job so far in putting a lid on politicians’ use of goons and cash to vitiate the election process. Given the torrent of ill wind the bamboozlers bring to blow on the nation’s face, the Commission has done a commendable job.

Quite predictably, the Election Commission runs afoul of the politicians, high and low, from across the political spectrum. Like the Supreme Court and the CAG, the Election Commission is a thorn in the path of the Indian politicians. This is because the power given to the Commission to suspend or altogether de-register habitually offending political parties or individuals appears to be draconian by the whole political establishment.

Seen in this light, a parliamentary panel’s suggestion to review the model code can only be construed as an onslaught meant to weaken the Election Commission’s hands. The Parliamentary Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, in its 58th report has specifically demanded curtailment of the Election Commission’s powers using which it can annul the registration of political parties that violate the code.

The Commission has time and again asserted that it cannot remain a mute spectator to the defilement of the electoral process. It must move proactively to advance the cause of electoral reforms and conduct of free and fair elections.

In the heat and dust of electioneering, candidates resort to illegal activities. The Election Commi9ssion needs powers to take summary action to deal with the offenders. The Representation of the People Act is slow and ineffective for such purpose. The EC uses, therefore, invokes its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to give appropriate and quick decisions in a highly fluid situation. It is regrettable that some 23 years after an All-Party Committee on Electoral Reforms submitted its report, no action has been to convert to statute the suggested reforms. The Election Commission, thus, is not empowered as yet. It is also a fact that giving the reforms the status of statute will bring the actions of the Commission under judicial review. It will impair the Election Commission’s effectiveness in the face of a turbulent situation. This might result in long stay orders and years of adjudication. The jury is still out on the question of giving statutory status to the code. With elections looming over as many as six states and the general election not far behind, the matter of the desirability of implementing the code has become matter of great urgency.

Readers are invited to give their views on this matter.

Creative Writing using right words in right places

May 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Creative writing example ..

Young Yunus from Bihar defies all odds to ride to success

Bihar has traditionally been a laggard among the states of India, thanks to decades of mis-rule (or no rule) by Lalu Prasad and his wife. So much so that it was considered a slur to be called a Bihari. It was the synonym for uncouth appearance, boorish language and a blunt brain. Happily, things are changing fast after Nitish Kumar became chief minister. The non-existent roads are coming back to life, schools are humming with students, offices are working and buses are plying with no ransom gangs way-laying them.

Here is the success story of a youth who defies the odds of his life, and rides to success. In this story, you will find the use of many good words, phrasal verbs and phrases. All these are underlined. Mark their use.

The story ….

There was a young journalist by the name Yunus, who had just graduated in Journalism from a college in Bihar. He worked for a fledgling English newspaper being printed in Patna. Being a beginner he had to be contented with a very ‘peanut’ salary. Happily though, he had some other talents. He could write stories, draw cartoons and coin slogans for campaigns.

He had his old ailing parents at home, and a younger sister studying in college. Naturally, he yearned for more money.

One day, after office hours, he dropped into an office of an advertisement company’s office that stood a few hundred yards from his office. The exterior of the ad company gave the impression that its fortunes were on the upswing.

It was a Saturday, and Yunus was allowed to leave office earlier than usual. While strolling past the ad company’s office, Yunus wondered if he was looking at a prospective employer. It appeared a wild dream to Yunus.

After thinking for a while, Yunus walked past the security guard and mustered courage to walk up to the receptionist with unsure steps. She gave him a cold, dismissive stare. Yunus was conditioned to such indifference from his childhood. His humble origin and poverty had made him rather used to such slights.

Yunus did not get unnerved, and drew himself up to tell her that he wanted a job. The receptionist tried to shoo Yunus away, but he persisted. Finally, he was ushered into the room of the Manager, who gave the job-seeker a quizzical look.

Soon after, the young man was asked to write a copy for a political party’s electioneering campaign. He was also asked to draw a few cartoons to lampoon the adversary of the politician whose campaign was on. It was baptism by fire for the young Yunus. He completed writing the copy and the drawing of the cartoon in less than an hour. With heart pounding in nervousness and hope, Yunus tiptoed his way to the Manager’s chamber. After nearly a miniute, he could discern approving smiles on the Manager’s face. The Manager grinned and looked at Yunus to say, ‘Well done’. Yunus heaved a huge sigh of relief. He knew he had come out with flying colours.

The Manager was indeed very impressed, and started a conversation. He heard Yunus out, and agreed to give him a part-time job in late evening hours. For the young man it was a giant stride in life, a god-send opportunity. The extra income could buy medicines for his parents and pay the sister’s college fees. It appeared as if he could now discharge a huge moral burden of life.

The young man did this moonlighting job for a year. Later, the Manager offered to take him in as a full-time employee. From this lowest rung of the career ladder, the man rose, step by step. Today he is the chief executive of a large advertisement company.


Bihar has begun to unravel its hidden talent. Young people like Yunus are finding their feet in modern India.


Quick steps to good English — All together and Altogether

May 28, 2013 at 7:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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All together and altogether … 

Read  these examples carefully; the usage will become clear.

1. My sister was getting married. We had to buy sarres for the groom’s family. There were 20 of them. My mother wanted me to buy all together 23 sarees, so that just in case any recipient grumbled about her saree, my mother could offer a choice. However, after I had bought 11 sarees, I discovered that I was left with altogether Rs.150, just enough to return home. Perhaps I had bought sarees which were costlier than what my mother had budgeted for.


2. Benazir had bought a top-of-the-line hair- drier. But it failed to work after a week. She went to the shop to return it and ask for a replacement. The shop keeper came out with so many excuses; one of them was an insinuation that Benazir did not know how to use such sophisticated gadgets. “I am not altogether a fool’, blurted out Benazir and stormed out of the shop promising to take the matter to the Consumer Court.


3. It was agreed that the groom would bring not more than 100 friends and relations for the marriage function. So the bride’s parents had made arrangements for all together 110 persons in the lunch area. But nearly 150 people descended on the bride’s home. Chaos resulted. There were altogether not enough chairs and food to entertain so many people.


4. Mrs. Janet had taken her two daughters to see ‘Anna Karenia’. On the way back home, her elder daughter commented, “It was altogether a sentimental film, very moving and somewhat disturbing. There were all together eight characters in the film, each competing with the others to hold the attention of the audience.”


5. The hotel room was meant to accommodate all together two adults and one child. When nearly 10 persons occupied the room and ran the air conditioner at full capacity, it began to groan after an hour, and failed altogether after four hours.


This topic is somewhat contentious. People have differing opinions about the use of these two words.

I would invite, readers’ valuable comments on this post.


Quick steps to good English 8 –Learning some uses of ‘draw’

May 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Quick steps to good English 8

Using the word ‘draw’ to enhance your writing’s draw ……..

a. From O Henry’s Best Sellers .. As the train drew in to the Powhatan Junction, John A. Pescud, who had dozed off on the bench, got up and hurried to get on board. (It means ‘moving slowly in’.)

b. When the Olympics draw to a close, athletes start receiving a flurry of invitations for lectures in schools and colleges, appearance in TV channels and interviews with newspaper editors. (It means ‘something ending formally.’)

c. Why do we respect the older people in our society? This is because they have long experiences in life. That makes them wiser when a difficult situation is confronted. During such times, we can draw on their long experiences for wise counsel and words of comfort. (It means ‘benefit from’.)

d. The judge heard out the arguments of both the opposing lawyers. He drew a long breath, paused for a few seconds, and read out his not-guilty verdict. (It means inhaling a good quantity of air before starting an important work.)

e. Making good quality tea is an art. After adding the tea leaves to boiling water, you must cover the pot and leave it for a few miniutes to draw. (It means to let the leaves pass on their flavour to the brew.)

f. The mild academic prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh of India faces very difficult times. In one side, he has to govern a large and complex country like India; in the other side, he has to contend with Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President who relentlessly breathes down his neck. As a result, the pliant prime minister draws all the fire from the media, where as Sonia escapes un-scathed. (It means ‘to attract something unpleasant.)

g. In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s fall, the CIA and the entire intelligence apparatus was pressed into service by the Bush administration to unearth Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq. But after scouring the length and breadth of the country for about two years, they drew a blank. (It means ‘becoming utterly unsuccessful in anything.)

h. Akbar was a dutiful husband who willingly lent a hand to Shakeela in doing domestic chores. But, when it came to sweeping the floor and cutting vegetables for the kitchen, he drew a line at these two jobs. He said the two were unbecoming of gents. It amused Shakeela more than it annoyed her. (It means ‘setting a limit on what one was willing to do or accept.)

Readers are requested to comment on the efficacy of this exercise in learning good articulation skills. Your suggestions will be most welcome.

O. Henry’s Best Seller — Full story paraphrased

May 26, 2013 at 6:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Paraphrasing and additional notes on

Best Seller
By O.Henry

Para 1 .. One day last summer, I (the narrator) went to Pittsburgh on business.

Para 2 .. The chair-car I was traveling on was almost packed to its capacity with rather well-to-do passengers. The ladies inside the car wore brown-silk dresses with square yokes with lace insertions and dotted veils. They didn’t like the idea of the windows slid up as they wanted the full unrestricted view of the outside. The men were an assorted lot of varying professions, heading towards different destinations. I reclined on the chair no. 7 and nonchalantly looked over towards chair no. 9. I could see small, black and bald-spotted head.

Para 3 .. Suddenly I saw that the man who sat in chair no.9 flung a book towards the window. The book was the best-seller – The Rose Lady and the Trevelyan. When the man turned towards the window, I could get a better view of him. I realized I had run into an old acquaintance of mine – John A. Pescud of Pittsburgh. He worked as a traveling salesman for a plate-glass company there. I was seeing him after nearly two years.

Para 4 .. We soon sat face to face enjoying the encounter. What followed was a good chat over many things – rain, prosperity, health, residence and destination we both were heading to. Happily for me, our conversation did not drift towards politics.

Para 5 .. Pescud was a robust man, small in height, with a broad grin. While talking, he fixed his gaze right on the face of the man he was speaking with.

Para 6 .. Pescud worked for Cambria Steel Works. He was proud of it and its product – the plate-glasses.  He was a local man, quite decent and law-abiding.

Para 7 .. I had never talked to Pescud earlier on such matters as romance, literature and ethics. Our interaction had remained centered around local topics.

Para 8 .. On this meeting aboard the train, I could get to talk to Pescud in more detail. He was upbeat about his business. He told me how the inflow of orders had improved after the party convention. Pescud was to get down at Coketown.

Para 9 .. Pescud was quite blunt when it came to his views on the book he was holding — The Rose Lady and the Trevelyan. Holding the book in his hand in a way that showed his disapproval of the book, he wondered if I had read any such book rated as bestsellers. He was alluding to the absurdity of the story that had an affluent well-dressed American who fell in love with a European princess traveling with an assumed name.

Para 10.. I added my comments to the stereotypical plot of the story – The American follows the princess to her father’s kingdom. The American finally meets the lady of his dreams in her home and engages in a long conversation with her apparently to win her heart. The lady draws the man’s attention towards the gulf that existed in their social backgrounds. Unnerved by this, the American makes a labourious attempt to assure the lady that America had no dearth of men of affluence and status.

Para 11 .. The masculine American “hero” kicks aside anyone coming in his way to the princess. Even the king’s guards suffer the ignonimity. Like this, we mocked the author of the books who weave such absurd stories.

Para 12 .. Pescud concurred to the idea and rubbished the book as nothing better than pulp fiction.

Para 13 .. Then, Pescud espouses his views about the compatibility between men and women proposing to tie the nuptial knot. In his view, men and women normally seek out their life partners from similar social backgrounds.

Para 14 .. Perhaps, to illustrate the point further, Pescud held the book in his hand and tried to open the page which had the most absurd description.

Para 15 .. Pescud read out the line, ‘Trevelyan is sitting with Princess Alwyna at the backend of the tulip-garden. He reads further …

Para 16 .. ‘Say not so, earth’s dearest and sweetest of earth’s fairest flowers. Would I aspire? You are a star set high above me in a royal heaven; I am only myself. Yet, I am a man, and I have a heart to do and dare. I have no title save that of an uncrowned sovereign; but I have an arm and a sword that yet might free Schutzenfestenstein from the plots of traitors.

Para 17 .. Pescud was quite derisive in his criticism of the plot. He said, ‘Just think of a Chicago man flaunting a sword to accomplish some imaginary saviour’s act.’

Para 18 .. I told Pescud that there was enough substance in his criticism of the story and the book. He felt that fiction-writers should not stray too much away from reality and invite ridicule from rational readers. They should not mix Turkish pashas with Vermont farmers or English dukes with Longisland clamdiggers or Cincinnati agents with the Rajas of India.

Para 19 .. Pescud added ‘plain businessmen must not be tagged with very well-placed, affluent social class.” Pescud was quite critical of people who buy the best-sellers in such good numbers. He was emphatic that books that have highly imaginary plots are low quality fiction which need to be shunned by people with even the minimum intelligence.

Para 20- .. Before Pescud’s vociferous condemnation of popular fiction that have highly-contrived plots, I looked powerless. I meekly submitted that I had not read such books for quite sometime.
Trying to steer away from the discussion which was stretching my patience by then, I broached another subject. I asked him about the way his business was going.

Para 21 .. The mention of his business buoyed up Pescud’s mood instantly. He said how he had two salary hikes already, and how he was expecting some good commission for his sales. He was also going to get some shares of the company. He had managed to buy a house – a sure sign that his fortunes were looking up.

Para 22 .. I asked him if he had met any girl yet with whom he could settle down.

Para 23 .. Pescud lighted up, as if he had a lot many things to say.

Para 24 .. It was quite a pleasant revelation for me. I joked about it saying my friend had delved into the world of romance from the world of plate-glass.

Para 25 .. Pescud seemed to be quite joyfully modest. He was more than willing to tell me all about his foray in to the domain of romance.

Para 26 .. Pescud said it all happened when he was traveling by train to Cincinnati eighteen months ago. He saw a girl who appeared to him to be so enchanting at first sight.

Para 27 .. The girl was reading a book. Pescud looked on at her, feasting his eyes on her beauty.

Para 28 .. The girl changed train at Cincinnati and headed towards Louisville by a sleeper class train. After reaching Louisville, she went on through Shelbyville, Frankford, and Lexigton. Along there, Pescud had difficulty in catching up with her. The trains all appeared to be running late, traveling languidly. The trains stopped at junctions instead of towns before drawing up.

Para 29 .. Pescud tried his utmost to stay out of the girl’s sight, but stalked her nonetheless. Finally, she got off at a nondescript place in Virginia – a place that had about fifty houses.

Para 30 .. In the background, there were mules, red mud, and speckled hounds.

Para 31 .. She was received by a tall old man with vanity. The escort took the girl’s sling bag from her. Then they walked along a steep uphill track. Pescud maintained a good distance from the duo posing as if he was doing something very innocuous like searching for the lost ring of his sister.

Para 32 .. On reaching the top of the hill, they entered a gate. What Pescud saw there left him utterly bewildered. A huge mansion with nearly thousand feet high pillars stood there. There was a surfeit of beautiful roses of many types. There were the beautiful lilacs too. The mansion along with its sprawling surroundings looked as imposing as the Capitol in Washington.

Para 33 .. Deciding to step back for a while, Pescud was relieved to find that the girl was fairly well off. He wondered who could be the owner of such a majestic building. Agog with curiosity, he decided to go back to the village to make inquiries about the building and its inmates.

Para 34 .. Pescud found a hotel in the village. Its signboard read ‘Bay View House’. The name appeared a little funny because there was no ‘bay’ any where near. There was a horse-grazing field though, stretching in front of the hotel. Pescud tried to put on the airs of a business person of some importance by giving his business card and declaring in somewhat pompous manner that he sold plate-glasses.

Para 35 .. With a little effort, Pescud got the inn-keeper talking.

Para 36 .. When Pescud made inquiries about the mansion and its occupants, the inn-keeper was somewhat amused to find that his guest knew little about the occupants of the land-mark house of the area. He told Pescud that Col. Allyn lived there. The Colonel was the most prominent man in the area. Being the oldest inhabitant of the village, he had gathered a lot of clout. The inn-keeper happened to know the daughter well, too. He told Pescud that she had been to Illinois to see her aunt.   It was possibly during her return train journey that Pescud had seen her.

Para 37 .. Pescud checked into the hotel. On the third day, he could get to see the lady of his dreams. She was taking a stroll in the front yard right to the paling fence. Pescud was overjoyed. As a mark of courtesy, he raised his hat. This was the only way he could communicate to a lady – a total stranger.

Para 38 .. Pescud asked, “Excuse me, can you tell me where Mr. Hinkle lives?”

Para 39 .. She looked almost with total indifference towards Pescud, but her glance said she was a bit amused too.

Para 40 .. She replied that to her knowledge there was no one by the name Mr. Hinkle in Birchton.

Para 41 .. For Pescud, this answer seemed to open a door for continuing the chat. He asserted that he was quite serious and would appreciate a more sincere answer. He said, “No kidding, I am not looking for smoke, even if I do come from Pittsburgh.”

Para 42 .. She replied, ‘You are quite distant from your home.’ Pescud was elated.

Para 43 .. He said, “I could have gone a thousand miles farther.” It was a cryptic remark, almost inviting her to ask the next question.

Para 44 .. In course of following her, he had dozed off on a bench at Shelbyville station. Fortunately for him, the sound of the incoming train made him sit up. He managed to get into the train which she too took. She had clearly noticed that he was stalking her. She found out that he had managed to get into her train.

Para 45 .. For Pescud, it was a plot that he had failed to hide from the girl’s eyes. Nevertheless, he ventured to disclose his intentions, very politely and honestly. He told about his profession, his income, and of course, the way he has been enamoured of her.

Para 46 .. She smiled and blushed at Pescud’s statement, but she never took his eyes of him –perhaps more as a trait than anything else.

Para 47 .. She told that it was the first time someone had spoken to her like that. She asked him about his first name again.

Para 48 .. ‘John A.’, said Pescud.

Para 49 .. She had another surprise to spring on Pescud. She knew that Pescud had almost missed his train at the Powhatan Junction. Saying this, she had a hearty laugh, much to the amusement and surprise of Pescud.

Para 50 .. Quite taken aback by the girl’s observation, Pescud asked her how she knew so much about his missing the train at the Powhatan Junction.

Para 51 .. She replied, “Men are very clumsy.” She virtually swept Pescud off his feet by disclosing that she knew he was following her. She had expected him to come forward to speak to her, but she was glad he didn’t.

Para 52 .. Both of them became quiet for a while. After that, she pointed her finger towards the large house she lived in.

Para 53 .. She said her family – the Allyns – had lived in Elmcroft for nearly a century. There was a degree of concealed pride in her voice. She said that her parental mansion had 50 rooms, a reception room and a large balcony. The ceilings of the ball room and the reception room were 28 feet high. She said her ancestors were the ‘belted earls’. (a ceremonial title given to eminent people before the 17th century)

Para 54 .. She proceeded to describe the enormous hold her father had over Elmcroft. Even a drummer could not come in without his permission. Then, more as humour than as threat, she said how she could get locked in her room for talking to a stranger.

Para 55 .. The first encounter had gone well for Pescud by any account. He ventured to ask her if he could drop in again to see her.

Para 56 .. She, however, cut short his surging optimism rather abruptly. Reluctant to talk to him any further as both of them had not been introduced till then, she said it was time to call it a day. She appeared to have forgotten his name in the meantime.

Para 57 .. He asked her to say his name.

Para 58 .. With a little irritation, she uttered ‘Pescud’.

Para 59 .. Not a bit nonplussed, he coaxed her to say his full name.

Para 60 .. She said, ‘John’.

Para 61 .. He asked, ‘John-what’.

Para 62 .. “‘John A.,’ said she, with her head held high. ‘Are you through, now?”.

Para 63 .. He declared he was coming to see her father, the ‘belted earl’ the next day.

Para 64 .. With some humour, she said that she was sure her father would set his fox-hounds on him.

Para 65 .. Pescud had a repartee ready. He said the dogs would have a lot of chasing to do as he was a hunter too, with quick feet.

Para 66 .. The girl wanted to end the dialogue fast. Suggesting that it was time for her to go back in, she wished him happy return journey. She was not sure whether Pescud was heading back to Minneapolis or to Pittsburgh.

Para 67 .. Minneapolis was not where he was heading, replied Pescud. He said good night to her, but before finally breaking off for the day, he asked what her name was.

Para 68 and 69 .. She hesitated for a moment. She playfully pulled a leaf from a plant, and told him that Jessie was her name.

Para 70 .. He said ‘Good-night’ to her, calling her by her name Miss Allyn.

Para 71 .. Next morning sharp at 11am, Pescud was there at the main door of World Fair main building. He rang the bell. After nearly 45 miniutes an old man appeared and asked him what he wanted. Pescud handed over his business card and told the old man that he wanted to see the colonel (Miss. Allyn’s father). The old man ushered Pescud in.

Para 72 .. Pescud went in looking intently at the interior. It gave the impression of being a house in decay. Old, aristocratic furniture lay there on the floor, all virtually crying for attention. Their number was also not much when compared to the size of the house. Framed photographs of ancestors adorned the walls reminding the visitor of the faded glory of the past and the waning fortunes of today.
Colonel Allyn made his appearance after a while. His gait was royal, and his exterior exuded vanity and dignity. His presence seemed to bring back to life the regalia and splendour of the days gone by. The Colonel’s frayed clothes did not dampen either his spirit or the aura of greatness he liked to wear around him for good.

The colonel’s presence made Pescud look rather small about himself. He grew nervous, very uncomfortable at the imposing presence of the old colonel. But, Pescud regained his composure soon. He was asked to be seated. Then, drawing himself up, he proceeded to apprise the colonel why he had come, how he had been enchanted by Miss Allyn’s charm, and how he had followed her from Cincinnati. He also told Col. Allyn everything about his salary, job, prospects and his moral moorings.

Pescud was indeed nervous wondering how the old man would react, but he continued with his bio-data presentation.

Para 73 .. To much relief of Pescud, the colonel gave a hearty laugh. He felt such occasions when the old man laughed must have been very few and far between indeed.

Para 74 .. Pescud’s encounter with the colonel lasted for two hours. After hearing out the prospective suitor of his daughter, the old man opened up, shooting questions at the visitor. Pescud answered all of them quite diligently.
He beseeched Colonel Allyn to give him a chance to try and win Miss Allyn’s heart. If he failed, he would retreat gracefully, the young visitor promised.

Para 75 .. The old man got into a reflective mood trying to take a journey down his memo0ry lane. He said, “There was a Sir Courtney Pescud in the time of Charles 1.” He was trying to find out if this Pescud was in any way related to the deceased Pescud.

Para 76 .. Pescud humbly denied any link with the family the colonel was referring to. He told the inquisitive old man that they were rooted to Pittsburgh where one of his uncles lived. He was into real estate. Another uncle on whom fortune had not smiled, lived in Kansas. He proceeds to narrate an anecdote about a captain of a whaling ship who made a sailor say his prayers.

Para 77 ..The colonel appeared to be getting into a jovial mood. He said he did not know such anecdote.

Para 78 .. Pescud narrated the anecdote. The colonel was all ears.

Para 79 .. The old man’s jovial interior was fast coming to the fore. He said he would narrate a fox-hunting story in which he himself had been an actor.

Para 80 .. Pescud got to meet Miss Jessie Allyn two evenings later. The three sat together in the porch.
He stole a moment with Jessie when the old man had paused to recollect another story from his past.

Para 81 .. Pescud enjoyed every moment of the evening.

Para 82 .. Jessie appeared to be in a light joyful mood too. With a cryptic smile on her face, she told Pescud that her old father was going to narrate another story of his – the one about the old African and the watermelons. There was a set pattern to it. Her father narrated his anecdotes in predetermined sequence. The Yankees first, the Game rooster second, and then came the African and the Watermelons. The one on Pulaski City could follow next.

Para 83 .. It was a tryst that lifted Pescud’s spirits greatly. While going down the steps, he nearly tripped. So excited he had become!

Para 84 .. Jessie seemed to know that the occasion had left Pescud swimming in a pool of joy.

Para 85 .. Jessie, too, was affected with the intoxicating moments of romance. She went back to the room, jumping the window with youthful energy.

Para 86 ..THE SCENE CHANGEs. The porter shouted ‘Coketown’.

Para 87 .. Pescud gathered his baggage and his hat with a great satisfaction of accomplishment.

Para 88 .. Pescud disclosed that he married Miss Allyn a year ago, built a house in East End and settled there along with his father inlaw, the colonel.

Para 89 .. I glanced at the surroundings of the sleepy Coketown. It looked so primitive and un-romantic with its huts all over the place and the mounds of slag and clinker. It was the ugly face of the industries that operated nearby.

Para 90 .. I asked Pescud why he was getting down at Coketown where there did not seem to be much scope for selling plate-glass.

Para 91 .. Pescud narrated how on one occasion, he had taken his wife Jessie to Philadelphia for an outing. While on their way back, in Coketown Jessie happend to see some petunias planted in a pot. She remembered that there were petunias in her parental home in Virginia. Pescud said he was getting off the train there to see if he could get some petunias for his lovely wife Jessie. It seemed the romance had not waned a bit long after the marriage.
Pescud got off the train, giving me the business card and inviting me to his house.

Para 92 .. It began to rain as the train moved on. A lady in the compartment wanted the windows raised to fend off the rain drops. The porter came, as usual, with his wand and lighted up the compartment.

Para 93 .. I (the narrator) glanced downwards to find the discarded book – The Rose and the Trevelyan – still on the floor. I carefully pushed it a little further so that the raindrops do not make it wet.

Para 94 .. In a sad reflective mood, I said, “Good luck to you Trevelyan, may you find the petunias for your princess.”

Readers are invited to comment on this. Tell me if you got a measure of O. Henry’s extraordinary talent to weave stories out of very mundane situations.

Hampi — Resurrecting it

May 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Resurrecting Hampi, pricelss heritage of Karnataka, (India)

As an archaeological site, Hampi possibly leaves all other Indian heritages far behind. Steeped in history, its sprawling complex and breath-taking beauty leaves a visitor flabbergasted. Caring for such a precious heritage by scientific conservation, protecting it from the onslaught of creeping urbanization, and ensuring that its attraction for tourists does not fade with time are daunting tasks. The Archaeology department at the centre, and the state government of Karnataka have, so far, dragged their feet over sanction of conservation proposals.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee has expressed its serious misgivings about the lack of any urgency on the part of the authorities to save this priceless heritage from the ravages of time and nature.

This historic monument was built between the14th and 16th centuries by the Vijayanagara kings as their capital. It was built as a very majestic city, perhaps to project the power and grandeur of the kings.

In 1982, the Unesco Heritages Selection Committee, while selecting the place as a Unesco heritage site, had insisted that many more monuments over and above the important 56 ones must be conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. It meant a much larger area had to be taken over for protection. The Unesco listing as World Heritage Site came in 1986.

A serious visitor to the place will quickly realize that Hampi is not just a cluster of prominent monuments, but a vast swathe of land which has some 1500 historical structures standing amid large number of living villages, farm lands and water-bodies. In reality, Hampi is a very large landscape with layers and layers of history embedded in it. Conserving Hampi will mean ensuring that the surrounding human settlements do not besmirch the heritage as they modernize and grow bigger with time.


Public clamour for Hampi’s conservation and its listing as an endangered heritage site in 1999 forced the government authorities to act. In 2003, the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (HWAMA) was formed. It was mandated to liase with the Archeological Society of India and other agencies to optimize and expedite conservation efforts. The HWAMA has declared an area of 210 square kilometers around the present site as the area that would receive focused attention for conservation. Sadly, this action has not been followed up by other necessary actions relating to mobility issues, environmental concerns, monument protection and community interests.


The state government of Karnataka has prepared a Master Plan for action. But such master plans really can not address the many complex conservation issues for a site like Hampi.


About two years back, the government evicted hundreds of families living in the dense market area in front of the Virupaksha temple. This is the only ‘living’ temple where worshipping rituals are still being carried out.


John Michell and John Fritz, the two distinguished experts, who have for years studied Hampi’s problems, have opined that forcible clearance of bazzar areas, or, alternatively, allowing settlements to grow unrestrictedly in the heritage area are two extreme solutions that are doomed to fail. Demolishing the existing congested settlements and building swanky hotels in their place to accommodate affluent tourists may look attractive in the short run, but will prove to be of dubious value in the years to come. What is needed is a policy through which the heritage and its surrounding settlements merge seamlessly and present an organic picture of the site to the visitors.


Hampi lovers are welcome to comment on this article. This blog welcomes informed discourse on this very important matter.

Civil Service examination questions –India specific

May 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Possible questions for Civil Service examinations in India

1. How did the housing mortgage crisis in the U.S begin? Why did it spread to other countries?

2. Why does Greece find itself deep in trouble? What steps are being taken to resurrect it?

3. Why similar problems are creeping towards France?

4. With the proliferation of shale gas wells, how will the global scenario change?

5. What is the difference between the IMF and the World Bank? When and why were they formed? How are they managed and what is the main criticism against them?

6. What impediments Afghanistan might face in its return to normalcy after the American and NATO forces leave the country?


Each answer must be thorough, well-researched and reasonably long. (two A4 size sheets typed in 14 size font)


If you need assistance in writing the answers, please write to broadbase.knowledge@gmail.com

Indian government errs again – in the selection of the new CAG

May 23, 2013 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Change of guard at the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) …

Vinod Rai, the CAG retires and the new CAG, S. D. Sharma comes in ….

The ruling UPA must have breathed a huge sigh of relief to see Vinod Rai demitting office. He is leaving behind an enduring legacy of forthrightness and fierce independence. Unable to take the CAG findings constructively, the ruling UPA went hammer and tongs in deriding Mr. Rai and the CAG as he unearthed scams of humongous proportions in periodic intervals. CAG reports on 2G and Coalgate brought to light loss to the treasury running to mind-boggling amounts. The disclosures shook the conscience of the nation and brought Dr. Manmohan Singh to great disrepute for either direct or indirect complicity in the loot of the government treasury.

The spokespersons of the ruling party added insult to injury to public conscience by pooh-poohing the CAG report.

Let us hope the new CAG continues the good work done by his predecessor. But, sadly, the appointment of Mr. Sharma has been mired in controversy even before he sits at the desk.

Mr. Sharma, an officer belonging to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre has a good reputation of integrity and efficiency. However, he was the Defense Secretary of India till the other day. The Department of Defense has come to be widely perceived as the foundation of corruption. The mega arms and ammunition purchases done under a shroud of secrecy offer ample opportunities for pocketing slices of the payments made to the overseas sellers. Claiming sensitive nature of the deals, the government holds back important information about the purchases. The army of swindlers consisting of senior officers of the armed forces, middle men, deal pushers, members of parliament, bureaucrats, ministers, and party officials right up to the highest level take their share of the booty. Scandals after scandals have surfaced, inquiries conducted, promises of rooting out middlemen from defense buying made, but the crooks have always succeeded in circumventing the system.

The CAG auditors are presently looking into the hugely scandalous Augusta Westland Helicopter purchase deal. Their report has not been presented to parliament yet. Mr. Sharma was holding influential positions related to defense purchases during the last few years. He was the Director General (Acquisitions) from August 2007 to September 2010, and he was the Defense Secretary from July 2011 till his appointment as the CAG.

Any insinuation that Mr. Sharma was complicit in the kick-back transactions relating to the Augusta Werstland Helicopter purchase will be totally unacceptable and gravely unfair at this stage. It is essential to stay away from such temptations to malign Mr. Sharma, in the effort to berate the government. An impartial inquiry to be conducted later will definitively establish who benefited from the deal.

However, a question that comes repeatedly to one’s mind is how Mr. Sharma, during whose tenure, the controversial helicopter purchase order was processed, can head the CAG that is entrusted with the work of unearthing the wrong-doings of various government functionaries in pushing the infamous deal. To the layman’s eyes, it is conflict of interest. The CAG report, however ruthlessly professional it might be, will come to be questioned because it will be signed by a person who authorized the purchase.

The Manmohan Singh government has a penchant for doing things that look questionable and often very indecent to the common citizens’ eyes. The list of his government’s acts of omission and commission is long. By selecting the ex-Defense Secretary to do the job of the CAG, he has added one more bead to his string of errors.

Coming back to this nomination, one is inclined to ask which were the other names in the short-list? Why were the other candidates not selected? What criteria did the government adopt to select the new CAG? The government will have little as answer for the questions.

The Constitution gives iron-clad protection to the CAG, so that it can operate as the financial watch-dog of the country. The people like Dr. Ambedkar, who wrote India’s Constitution went to great lengths to make the CAG fiercely independent. However, the selection for the post remained with the government. The constitution writers, perhaps, never imagined that the future governments would misuse their powers to go about the selection of CAG in an opaque and high-handed way.

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government has faced the wrath of the Supreme Court in the past in the case of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appointments. The government seems to have learnt nothing from the Court’s reprimands.

The damage this government has done to the country and the Congress Party is enormous. In 2014 elections, the government will see how unkindly the public has viewed its brazen behaviour.


For India-watchers abroad and the readers of my blog in India, I have one request. Would you please comment on this post’s content, language, and, of course, on my views?

I will be thankful if you forward this mail to your friends.

Answers to Quick steps to good English 7

May 22, 2013 at 7:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Answers to

Quick steps to good English 7 …

Fill in the gaps with the most suitable words, choosing it from the three choices given at the end of the sentence.

a. The new-comer Hollywood actor was quite handsome no doubt, but he was not so gifted when it came to acting talent. Frequently, he boasted about his looks before his peers, especially when women were around. He was immature too, unable to differentiate between platitudes and niceties. This made him look stupid. After some success, he started demanding exorbitant fees for taking up assignments in films. As a result, directors fought sigh of him gradually. Had he not been a narcissist, he would have possibly built up on his initial success and rode to glory in due course. (vainglorious, flamboyant, a narcissist)


b. Pakistan has just emerged from its general election, relieved and expectant. Happier days should return if the new prime minister succeeds in reining in the violent elements who kill innocents remorselessly. Majority of them say they are Taliban – the true follower of Islam. Seen dispassionately, these groups are neither religious, nor patriots. They are just frustrated violent thugs who think life is meaningless. In one word, we can say that they are nihilists. (nihilists, atheists, outlaws)

c. Iraq’s turbulent times began when American forces landed there to dislodge the dreaded despot Saddam Hussein. Many in the United States had foolishly thought that the change of guard would be smooth and bloodless. But what unfolded was very violent and chilling. A mixture of patriotic elements, Al Queda sympathizers, Shia and Sunni militants and plain thugs roamed the streets killing people, destroying property and ravaging towns and villages for days on end. Looking back, we can say that the interregnum was one of the bloodiest and longest in world history. (change-over, investiture, interregnum)

d. Nearly a year ago, India saw a very unsavoury attack by organized gangs on its citizens from its northeast. The modern IT city of Bangalore, famous for its tolerant, cosmopolitan heritage saw the most savage attack on the hapless northeasterners who come here in droves for study and jobs. The boys and girls fled the city by any means they could, by flight, train, bus etc. Railway stations were swamped by maelstrom of crowds. (multitude, maelstrom, avalanche)

e. The Chinese prime minister is on a state visit to India. As a result, the anti-Chinese passions in India caused by incursion of Chinese troops in Ladakh appear to ebb giving place to bonhomie and hope. Observers on both sides feel that the geniality now being seen will be lasting, not ephemeral. (transitory, brittle, ephemeral)

—————————————————————————–End————————————————————————————————– Readers are welcome to ask me for clarification on any of the suggested answers.

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