Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is "State of the Union address"?

After reading US President Barack Obama's statement, one would be curious to know more about "State of the Union address".

Some extracts from wikipedia:

State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the US Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to the Congress.

The State of the Union is typically given before a joint session of the United States Congress and is held in the House of Representatives chamber at the United States Capitol.

Modeled after the monarch's Speech from the Throne during the State Opening of Parliament in the United Kingdom, such a report is required by the United States Constitution. The Constitution does not require that the report take the form of a speech; although virtually every president since Woodrow Wilson has made the State of the Union report in the form of a speech delivered personally before a joint session of Congress. By tradition, the President makes this report annually, even though the clause "from time to time" leaves the matter open to interpretation:

“ He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. ”
— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

Some interesting facts:

George Washington gave the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital.

Since 1934, the message or address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. Today, the speech is typically delivered on the last Wednesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and it varies from year to year. In 2008, the speech was given on the last Monday of January.

The Twentieth Amendment also established January 20 as the beginning of the presidential term.

The website contains the full transcript of the State of the Union Address of all the US Presidents...

Won't accept 'second place' says Obama

US President Barack Obama, in his first State of the Union address, has remarked that the US won't accept second place citing India, China & Germany as the countries that are going ahead with economic reforms.

Don't worry, President...If India, China & Germany march ahead of US, then obviously US won't be in the second place. US will be in fourth place, naa :-)   So, no need to worry, President...just relax... :-)

Wish to read the full transcript of Obama's address...? Click here...

IPL Pakistan controversy

There is lot of controversy over the exclusion of all the Pakistani players in the IPL3 auction. Now, the Indian Government has blamed the IPL management in strong words. Mr. P. Chidambaram, Home Minister has remarked in an interview that the IPL has done "disservice to cricket" by not selecting any of the Pakistani players.

The Indo-Pak diplomatic relations is an on-off affair. It will continue to remain so as Pakistan is an "adventurous" country. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr.Yousuf Raza Gilani has openly commented that the Pak Government can't assure that another 26/11-type attack will not happen again in India. That's true. When his own country is not in his control, it's absurd to expect such a guarantee from him. Even if he has the control, then too, it's absurd to expect such a guarantee as terrorism is a part & parcel of Pak's foreign policy.

In such a scenario, how can anyone expect the franchisees to risk "buying" the Pakistani players (cricket players have become a commodity that they are being auctioned & bought; players have no complaints, why will they? when they are getting paid in millions of dollars for going under the hammer!!) by spending millions of dollars when there is so much uncertainity on the players' availability. Either the Pakistani Government/Board may restrain their players from participating in IPL or the Indian Government may refuse visas to the players.

As far as SRK's comments are concerned, I think he had his films in his mind. Indian movies are a big hit in Pakistan, naa... He wants to have the cake & eat it too... On one side, he himself has not bought any of the Pak players & on the other side, by his soothing comments, he has ensured that there are no problems for releasing "My Name is Khan" in Pakistan. He's a shrewd business man.

I think it was logical on the part of the franchisees to have decided against buying the Pakistani players. I feel PC went overboard to please the Pakistanis by his strong comments. External Affairs Minister Mr.S.M.Krishna's comment advising the Pak Government to draw a line between Government & private events was the correct reply to the "angered" Pakistanis by the so-called IPL snub. I really don't understand as to why the Government of India should take efforts to pacify Pakistan on this issue.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Statistics about countries in the world.

A FAQ on geography is the total number of countries in the world. I just got curious to know the exact count & googled to find it out. While searching for this, I stumbled upon many other interesting facts.

Total number of countries:

Totally, there are 195 countries in the world. But, this figure includes Taiwan. Eventhough, Taiwan functions like an independent country with a separate capital & currency, it is not recognised so by most of the countries due to Chinese pressure. China claims Taiwan as its province.

U.N. members:

Amongst the remaining 194 countries, 192 are U.N. members. Vatican City & Kosovo, two recognized independent countries, are not members of U.N.

World's Newest Countries:

Kosovo is the newest country of the world. It was formed from Serbia in the year 2008. Prior to that Serbia & Montenegro got independence in the year 2006 (both formed from Yugoslavia).

33 new countries have been created since 1990. Most of them were formed due to the soviet collapse & breakup of Yugoslavia.

World's Smallest Countries (by area):

Following are the smallest countries in the world:

1. Vatican City
2. Monaco
3. Nauru
4. Tuvalu
5. San Marino

Nauru is the smallest island nation in the world. Vatican City has a land area of just 0.44 sq.miles !!!

World's Biggest Countries (by area):

1. Russia
2. Canada
3. China
4. United States
5. Brazil
6. Australia
7. India

Russia's area is equivalent to 11.5% of the world's total area !!! The top 7 countries hold around 44% of the world's total area !!!

World's smallest countries (by population):

1. Vatican City
2. Tuvalu
3. Nauru
4. Palau
5. San Marino

Vatican City has a population of just 920 people !!!

World's biggest countries (by population):

1. China
2. India
3. United States
4. Indonesia
5. Brazil

China & India alone contribute around 40% of the world's total population !!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Are smaller states good for the country?

The Telengana issue has led to demands for smaller states across the country. Some politicians are following the same 'fast till death' strategy of KCR. These dramas are being made by the politicians to further their own interests rather than the region's interests.

While some experts are for smaller states as it would lead to better governance, some opine that it would disintegrate the country.

I don't understand as to why it should be difficult to manage bigger states as every state is divided into districts and we have a collector to administer every district. So, I don't agree with the argument that bigger states are difficult to administer.

I list below some of the reasons as to why I am not for creation of smaller states:

1. It would fuel regionalism & politicians would try to milk the regionalism (as the Thackerays are doing in Maharashtra)

2. It would increase the inter-state disputes over border, water sharing, etc.

3. Needless expenditure towards state elections, assembly, ministry, etc.

4. It would lead to the birth of a lot more political parties & add to the already long list.

5. Creation of small states like Jharkand, Uttarakhand & Chattisgarh has not lead to any significant improvement in the region's economy.

Due to the aforesaid reasons, I feel smaller states would be a bane for the country.

Happy New Year 2010