Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gullible common Man!

Of late I have begun appreciating what my 9th standard history teacher once said in class; “Democracy was our only choice. We chose democracy because it was the least flawed system….” I did not understand and I did not ask for clarification. However, for some reason, such a mundane issue like the choice of the political system at independence lingered on in my mind. I could not understand how democracy was flawed. So what was that “…..of the people, by the people, for the people…..” all about? What more than the common man controlling the destiny of the nation could be better? I was sure there was something amiss.

Over the past couple of decades, I started seeing (but not realizing) events and incidents that underline how flawed a system democracy is. It almost sounds like some crazy conspiracy theorist spewing anti establishment rant when I cite the helplessness of the common man in democracy and how that helplessness is engineered by the establishment.

What control does the average Indian citizen have? As control is a function of information, what information does an average Indian have? How many of us know how much about the most burning issues facing our nation today? Let us do a quick audit…..

·         What is the Maoist problem? Who are these people? What do they want? Why are they feeling alienated?

·         What is all this hullaballoo over some Liberhan Commission report? What happened in Ayodhya? Who did it?

·         What happened in New Delhi, then Punjab, Godhra, then Gujarat, Kandhamal, Mumbai, Coimbatore?

·         What is the Telengana?

·         What is the 123 agreement and what is our stand on it? Did you see what happened in Parliament?

·         What is our policy on Iran, Palestine, China, Pakistan…..?


The list can go on…… We are guided by history that has been decided by people. What we believe is history is nothing more than the most accepted version of the actual events. In many cases, accepted history has nothing in common with what happened. The establishment creates history, then uses media to whip up a frenzy when it seems appropriate. And it is funny to see even the supposedly educated people fall victims to such campaigns.

Consider the three links:

 A Discussion on Chinese Incursions on a travel forum

An Article Rgarding the 71 War

An Article regarding the Ayodhya Issue

The first is a well meaning discussion on a travel forum and the other two are articles on the website of The Dawn. Look at how people are reacting to “news” of Chinese incursions. Read the articles and ask yourself if you knew that about the 1971 war or what the article about Ayodhya talks of?

Then is it surprising that few are able to take an entire nation to ride and that too with such ease and so often?

Now look at the following recent events:

1.       We voted against Iran on the nuclear issue.

2.       We gave a “figure” for emission cuts.

3.       We made the right noises about Pakistan post 26/11.

4.       We made the right noises on China, Palestine and Israel.

5.       Canada jumped on to the great Indian nuclear bandwagon, France already has and Russia is about to.

6.       ULFA leadership suddenly drops in our lap.

7.       Suddenly FBI is closer to solving the 26/11 riddle than we ever were.

8.       Pakistan charges seven on the eve of 26/11 anniversary. All of a sudden!

9.       India asks for greater role in Afghanistan and USA grants it!

10.   Why not consider, USA signing the 123 agreement with a nation which has not signed the CTBT or even the NPT?


Again the list can go on…….. I know I may be seeing ghosts here but if you connect the dots, you see India making gradual changes in state policy and get "rewarded" in the process. I know, I know..... I know it sounds too much but consider it!

So much is happening without us ever coming to know or we ever bothering to know. All this lack of information coupled with sponsored dis-information and mis-information makes the common man the most useless variable in the equation of governance.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lens for EOS 500D

Based on an extensive and protracted research, I purchased Canon EOS 500D a couple of months ago. Now the quest has shifted to which lens solution will best suit my needs.

There are hundreds of web pages dedicated to the subject and some are incredibly detailed explanations and in some cases opinions and judgment of very experienced pros!

I found the following sites useful:

After all my research laced with my subjective judgment, I have decided that:

1.      Lens will be considered important investments and compromise lens will not be purchased.

2.      Will analyse my photography to identify the lens solution that best suits my style.

Considering lens as investment is important as DSLR Lens are not exactly cheap products and more than that I learnt that more than the camera, it is the lens that determines the quality of an image. Of course the creativity and the “eye” of the photographer is always a determining factor but as far as equipment is concerned, the lens will make or break quality.

An analysis of hundreds of pics clicked over the past decade with point and shoot cameras revealed that, I like taking the following kinds of pictures:

1.      Landscapes. 90% of all photos clicked by me have been and probably will remain landscapes.

2.      Portraits. I am expecting my portrait work to increase as after buying the 500D, portrait work has been on the increase. It may also be because after buying the 500D, I have not been able to afford a trip anywhere!!

3.      Some Macro. I guess the moment one lays hands on a DSLR, you suddenly feel the irresistible urge to close in on flowers and insects!!


So based on the above analysis, I decided I would need the following:

1.      A good general purpose walk around lens that would remain on the 500D till a specialized need arises.

2.      A good prime for Portraits.

3.      A wide angle

4.      A telephoto

5.      A macro


Now this solution did not factor in the budget. So for people like me who are perpetually cash starved the following two and three lens solutions can work too.

1.      AN ECONOMY CLASS TWO LENS SOLUTION: A general walk around with some wide angle and mow end telephoto capabilities, like the  Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS or EF-S 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS and a probably the most value for money lens on the market the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II.

2.      AN ECONOMY CLASS THREE LENS SOLUTION: A good walk around like the EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 USM IS with a EF 50mm f/1.8 for macro work and the EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM for the telephoto work.


If you do not want to mess around with lens changes and would prefer a single lens solution, my recommendations would be:

1.      Economy Class Single Lens Solution: Go for the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. Avoid the temptation of going in for longer zoom ranges like the 18-200. My research indicates that longer zoom ranges coupled with economy produces rather unacceptable aberrations and issues. Moreover, the non L class build with such long ranges will start giving problems after some wear and tear takes place. Moreover the 17-85 is optically superior to the 18-200.

2.      Best Single Lens Solution: For Canon, unquestionably the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. The lens is considered to be the most widely used always stay on lens by professionals.



As mentioned earlier, I had decided that all things considered, I will need a five lens solution and the following are my choices.

1.   EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

This would be the all purpose, stay on lens that would remain on my camera.

2.   Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM


For all telephoto and maybe some portrait work.

3.   Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens


For all the insects, flowers and any other macro work, I may fancy!

4.   Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM

This lens has been called by many as the best lens for portrait work by Canon!

5.   Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM


Even though not an L category lens, it is still supposed to be great for landscapes. I am assuming that most of landscape needs will be taken care of by the 24-70 but just in case I need a really wide perspective, this will come in handy.