The Water Cooler
  • The President of Catchphrases

    There was a point in time not too long ago when there seemed to be no alternative to "Yes, we can".

    It took the current President of the United States a good two and a half years to come up with a catchphrase that might resonate even more strongly than his "Yes, we can" with Americans, but he's done it again - in style, with his trademark elan, shoulders straight, head held up high, eyes front and center, and with quiet conviction: "Justice has been done."

    The US government's historic achievement of nailing and executing the world's most wanted extremist bin Laden just under a decade of the most frightful terror attack on US soil is cause celebre enough for one of the most articulate leaders of the world to proudly proclaim to the world - "Yes, I did."

    After a promising contest at the 2008 elections, whipping up a frenzy of support from influential bigwigs of corporate and celebrity America and a rousing speech before assuming office post a thumping win at the

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  • Cutting Corners With Chai

    Greg Mortenson, mountaineer, founder of a charitable organisation that builds schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and co-author of a successful memoir, 'Three Cups of Tea' based on actual life involving mountaineering and his tryst with charity, might well be this year's James Frey.

    Remember Frey? His autobiographical 'A Million Little Pieces', based on his time in prison and subsequent life lessons, was found to contain 'facts' and 'incidents' that were a figment of his very active imagination and not really, well, life experiences. He was invited on Oprah Winfrey's show to present his defense, (where Oprah tore up his defense into pieces, more because his book was featured on Oprah's Book Club than anything else), but nothing could stop the chaos that followed - his book was pulled off bookshelves around the world, he was subjected to scathing criticism for having the gall to embellish his memoir with wild imaginations and his thereunto bestseller quickly

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  • Assembly elections: 70 million hold key in three states

    Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, which goes to polls today.

    Nearly 70 million people will be eligible to vote in assembly elections in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry where ruling parties are facing a stiff challenge from a determined opposition.

    Around 4.59 crore voters can pick 234 legislators from 2,748 candidates, including 141 women. There will be 54,016 polling booths spread all across Tamil Nadu.
    The prominent candidates in the fray are Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur), AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa (Srirangam) and actor-politician Vijaykanth of DMDK (Rishivandhiyam).

    The Tamil Nadu outcome is bound to cast a shadow on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition in New Delhi in which the DMK is a key ally.

    Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi is seeking election to the assembly for a record 12th time and as chief minster for the sixth time.

    The DMK is seeking

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  • The Indian aviation industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, with major contributions from the civil aviation segment.

    Currently the ninth largest in the world, the civil aviation market is anticipated to register more than 16 per cent growth between 2010-2013.

    But this phenomenal expansion faced the inevitable challenge of insufficient safety apparatus. While we crowed over our burgeoning fleet size and airport ratings, we paid little attention to safety surveillance. "With the growth of aviation, it is essential to enhance safety systems. In India the reverse happened", alleged Sanat Kaul, Chairman of IFFAAD.

    The result has been devastating: 158 passengers died in the Mangalore air crash, which safety advocates say was completely avoidable. But before blaming it all on the infrastructure, we need to consider the more appalling aspects of the problem.

    Chronology: Air accidents in India

    According to a DGCA report, pilot error caused the Mangalore crash. Data retrieved

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  • I overslept as it was my weekly off, and was a little late to hear about the awful quake that hit Japan. The catastrophic images I  saw on TV were worse than what Roland Emmerich depicted in 'Day After Tomorrow'. I wasted no time logging on to Facebook to check whether my friend Shyam Krishna who stays in Tokyo is fine. Minutes later, I saw his status that read: "Earthquake in Tokyo! The building is shaking!

    He told me that even while typing those words, the entire building kept shaking. The building where he works is strong enough to withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 9 Richter scale. I told him jokingly to keep updating about what has been happening around him, so that we'll know he is alive. Though he trembled with fear, he managed to keep updating his status and chatting all the while, narrating the incidents each passing second.

    His initial reaction soon gave way to fear as they got a clearer picture of the situation. He said:
    "Japan is no stranger to earth quakes, and we have

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  • Aarushi murder probe still drifting

    Nearly three years after the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi, no one is any wiser about what really happened to her that fateful night.

    In December 2010, the CBI closed the case saying it could come to no conclusion on who had bludgeoned her to death.  Two months later, a Ghaziabad court ordered the CBI to reinvestigate the case after charging her parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar with murder.

    But that's just the latest twist in the tragic case. The police and the CBI have repeatedly interrogated the Talwars, besides a man who worked  in their household and three of his friends. The investigators have put all suspects through narco tests in Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Yet, both the police and the CBI remain undecided on what happened on the night of May 15, 2008.

    In the initial days of the case, the Noida police, now painted as a goofy lot, reportedly caused the destruction of crucial evidence by allowing neighbours and the media to walk into the room where Aarushi had been

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