Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 - The year that went by!!!

With 3 days to go to before we start on despoiling the next year (and indeed mark the beginning of a new decade), I would like to have a quick look at all that we have been able to accomplish in the year that went by.

To say that 2010 was an eventful year would be an understatement. In 2010, we witnesses events as widespread as various foreign dignitaries visiting India, to India hosting CWG and being successful to an extent, to the various scams, fevers ranging from RAJNI FEVER to Dengue to Sachin fever; having to chose between Sheila and Munni and whether Badnaam is better than Jawan or vice versa.

The year gave Indians a lot to think about but like everything else, Munni and Sheila would remain in our memories while the culprits behind the scams soon be forgotten and a decade later be acquitted because of the lack of evidence and allowed to go scot free on their private island in Hawaii (probably or it could even be a crater in Mars for all I care)

So a quick recap of 2010 is in order.

2010: An icon passes away
One person who was single handedly responsible for the demise of a promising state, the one who can be, arguably, be held responsible for the beginning for all that is wrong in the, once promising, eastern state of WB. One person who was very successfully able to tap into the emotions of an average Bengali, empathize with their empathy of the poor and impoverished. Even as he passed away, more people were interested in talking about him and his legacies than working (as if they ever were). And interestingly, the rumors of his death had started floating around a week before he actually passed away. An interesting read here.

2010: An year of scams (CWG, 2G, Adarsh housing scam, Desi wikileaks – Radia Tapes)
It like a badly written storyline in which as each villain passes us by, as the story proceeds, newer breed of villains turn up to take the limelight just to keep the story going on. The tragedy is that each villain, and correspondingly each scam, keeps on getting bigger and bigger with each passing scam. Its like “One Two ka Four”… I am still waiting for “Four Two ka One”. This has been a year when it has actually become quite evident that the real power, fame and money lie with those who DO NOT abide by the rules. An interesting read here.

2010: Shakira’s Waka Waka vs. Munni’s Badnami vs Sheila’s Jawani
One of the few things which actually provided a respite to the junta of Delhi from the above mentioned scams, IT employees getting raped and foreigners getting molested. Of course in addition to the Yana Gupta episode :D. A downside was that people were expected to choose between the two desi items. This is not fair. We like both and love both equally. So why choose?

2010: Obama hamare ghar padhare
With India providing fifty thousand jobs to the US, I think it is high that dollar be started to be valued in INR (however low it may be at present). Isn’t India going to become a superpower in the next 10-15 years? I think this marks a beginning of that. An interesting read here.

2010: The year of fevers
The year witnessed a mass outbreak of dengue cases, especially in national capital. the nation, however, was more occupied with the Robot-Rajni fever with all aspects of chuck Norris modified Rajni suited jokes. Of course after the plethora of Sheila-Kalmadi-CWG jokes. All forms of social networking were abundant with the various forms of these jokes making rounds. Not only online, several telecoms companies made a lot of money with these SMS'es doing rounds. Towards the end, Rajni met his match or as Joker said "Unstoppable force met with an immovable object" (Who is who is left to reader's discerning. Tendulkar's yet another record, this time dedicated to his father, left the entire nation awestruck and proved that he did own the title of "GOD".

These are but a few of many.. will keep on adding to the list… feel free to add more :D

So 2011 here we come.
Some interesting, and comprehensive, flashbacks at here and here.

PS: 2011 will be eventful year for me as well as I have a grand event planned in the year. Looking forward to it!!!

Images courtesy: thelatestnews.in, moviesceleb.com, buzzg.com, topnews.in, blogs.reuters.com, solidindian.com, timescontent.com, istockphoto.com

Monday, December 27, 2010

WHY is it that we crave for human company so much?

This post was inspired by another post that a friend of mine did and can be found here.

I feel that it is not always that you crave for some (or for that matter any) human company. It is at time, when you have something to share, something to talk about; that you want that there be someone around you with whom you can talk and share things. These could be things related to intimate joy or terrible losses, good or bad, new or old. Could it be because we feel that there is an inherent need which implores us to express ourselves to others and bond with others through various emotions of sharing our pleasures and fears; joy and sadness etc?

The way that most of us have been bought up, emphasizes on us interacting with others. From the point that we are born, we are given stimulus to be good with others, talk and behave well… at times our payout is made to depend how we behave when we are in company. At different times, we see out responsible adults talking to others from their fraternity about their or your achievements in order to gain a standing among their peers. This reinforces the belief that the true measure of one’s achievements comes when others certify it.

Yet another reason could be that for the first nine months of our inception, and for the first two to three years after we come into the world, we get used to have a companion with us for all times. And all the friends, companions and other compatriots that we have during our lives are but a mere substitute of that feel that we used to get back then. (Which is ironic considering the pitiful state of the elderly in the world and even in India where the elderly are being meted out a shoddy treatment by their own children who plan deviously to rob them off their property etc and dispose them after their interests are met)

All these stimuli make live interactions a part of what we are and how we shape up to be what we are.

On the other extreme are the people who are made to despise the fellow humans so much that they do not crave for company of any sorts. These misanthropes are the loners who eventually turn out to be misfits in a society, which thrives on people enjoying others’ company, get treated as a nut case and are found to be an oddball. Most of the sociopaths belong to this genre.

Yet another group of people to be considered are the ones who, in absence of human company, turn to keeping pets and get so much involved in their up keep that they get totally cut off from the rest of the society. That is where the “crazy old cat lady” phrase comes from.

But, at times, I wonder if such cravings for human company is really such a healthy thing?

Image Courtesy: image06.webshots.com, us.fotolia.com, petrichoric.wordpress.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random comic strips that interested me!

Of lately, there have been a lot of comic strips that interested me a lot.... below is a collection of some of them.... Will post more soon!

PS: The credits lie with the original creators... 

Monday, December 6, 2010

People you are likely to meet in an elevator!

Originally sourced from here and here and altered as per my whims and fancies!

The average software engineer works on the 3rd floor. Yes, like 87% of all facts in the world, this one is made up too. When the average software engineer goes to work every morning and comes back every evening, he experiences a life of ups and downs. In other words, he takes the elevator.

This elevator is a wonderful invention, really. It takes you up and then down, all on the click of a button. When buildings rise, elevators become paramount. Imagine climbing a seven storey building. Ok, dont. You get the point. Well, this elevator ride leads itself to some wonderful insight into life.

I work on the sixth floor, incidentally, the highest one in my building. I have had the chance to observe people on the elevator and have been absolutely fascinated by the results. Here, I chronicle some of my findings:

The Liftman: This particular species acts as the lift operator in the absence of a real lift operator. Since a lot of companies do not have a designated lift operator, he is THE ONE. He is the one who closely guards the control panel of the mother-ship and takes implicit charge of the buttons on the panel. He herds his flock into the lift, looks around expectantly to see if anyone stuck in the crowd has missed pressing the button they need to and does the needful. He also is in charge of the fan switch. He puts the fan on if he deems fit to and if the lift-man is environmentally conscious, he does what is best for the Earth. He figures that people can go without the comforts of a fan for a couple of minutes and hence does not turn it on. In case of the unlikely event of a break-down, the lift-man takes moral responsibility and tenders his resignation to the board of directors. These are very rare and are generally confined to one per elevator.

The Wall Hugger: This species is a remnant of the Chipko movement. He has a single-point agenda in his mind when he enters the elevator is to "SEIZE THE WALL". The wall of choice is generally the back wall but in case of unavailability, he settles for the sides. His modus operandi involves search for a space that is close to the walls of the elevator. He darts in,pushes people off along the way, gets his place, and then apologizes for the inconvenience caused. One reason could also be that they are purely too lazy to stand without support for the 2 minute elevator ride. This class of the species do not mind not getting the wall but given a choice, would want to lean against it. 

The One-floorer: This species has a very peculiar body structure. All their bones are lazy bones. They can’t be arsed to climb up one flight of stairs. They must, and I repeat, must use the elevator. They prefer to wait in the lobby for a whole 5 minutes for the elevator to come even if they have to go down by one floor. Clearly, time is not of essence for these folks. Not only does it lead to a lot of uneasiness and general irritation among the co-passengers, it also creates a topic of discussion after the aforementioned person leaves. 

The button pusher: Short as they are of time, they feel that somehow by repeatedly pushing the buttons, they would be able to convince the binary logic of the processing unit of the elevator of their urgency to board and deboard the elevator. heaven forbid if they have to wait an extra second in or waiting for the  elevator. Often, the buttons that most incur their wrath are the ‘close door’ and 'Lift call' buttons. Somehow, he feels that one simple press of the button does not do the trick and hence carries on pressing the button until the door actually closes. Satisfied with his handiwork, he looks at the elevator condescendingly and smirks. The frequency of the button presses varies with his mood. The unit generally employed to measure his level of irritation is Presses Per Second or PPS. The PPS levels range from 2 (mildly irritated) to 274 (extremely agitated, possibly homicidal). 

The phone folk: These are the technology-savvy lot. The moment they get into an elevator, an invisible switch flips in their head and out pops the phone. Now, this phone could be the most basic of phones, say a Nokia 1100 or an extremely high-end-12 megapixel-HD touch screen-2GHZ dual core processor-1GB RAM one. Whatever the phone may be, the purpose it serves is the same. In the hands of the phone folk in an elevator, a cell phone is nothing much more than a glorified clock. Research shows that more than 90% of the time, the singular usage of the phone on the elevator is to look at the time. The other 10% is to wipe the phone clean. Never mind that it was resting peacefully in the pocket where there was no dust that gathered. It must be given a wipe-down. This is the law of the elevator for these folk.

Research also points out that more than 90% of the phone folk who whip out their phones to look at the time wear a watch. Turning the wrist to point toward your face is deemed to be more tiring and effort-taking than reaching into the pocket, turning on the phone, unlocking it and then looking at the time. These phone folk are also affected by peer pressure. They see a person wielding a phone and in their minds, they are possessed. ‘Thou shalt look at your phone’, dictates the dictum.

A sub-species of the phone folk are the Blackberry boys. These are the “official” folk who, somehow, must take out their blackberry from their hip holster and wield it. They must do it. They just must. For the sake of mankind. They will get no new email or message. Yet, for posterity sake, they must clutch the berry. They will re-read mails, they will delete mails, they may even mark mails as unread but they will do something. There is a sense of outcast-ness, really, in the blackberry boys. They consider themselves superior to the other phone-folk, simply because they possess the berry. In turn, the other folk ostracize them and tend to flock and socialize amongst themselves before interacting with the berry boys. The feature that sets all phone folk out (berries or no berries) from the rest of the elevator people is their utter ridiculousness. After all, more often than not, there is no network coverage in the elevator, rendering their main weapon, the phone useless for the purpose that its name suggests. 

The courtesy people and the last minuters:  The courtesy people and the last minuters form a deadly duo. One that can be quite annoying and more importantly, disastrous, if you are looking at getting to work on time. The first half of this duo, the courtesy people are those wonderful, good-hearted human beings who are very very nice. They are, in fact, so nice that they end up pissing you off. They get into the elevator, look to see if the button of the floor they want to go to is pressed, if it is not, presses it but unlike the other elevator folk does not return to his base station. No. Not these folk. They take the role of the good Samaritan to a whole new level. He positions himself so that he gets a clear view of the lobby outside the door and waits, all the while making sure that he is within touching distance of the ‘open door’ button. He waits. And waits. And waits until the door begins to close. It is at this point in time that he springs into action. His senses get heightened and his spidey-sense kicks in. He looks to see if someone is trying to reach the elevator just as the door closes. If he senses that there is indeed some such person, he displays wonderfully quick reactions and makes sure that he presses the button and opens the door for the late-comer. In extreme cases, they put life and limb on the line by hurling themselves or their their body parts (usually their arms) at the closing door and ensuring that it doesn’t close.

The other half of the deadly duo: The last minuter. This person is just like that guy in the disaster movie who is the last man off the sinking ship or the last to escape a burning building, who almost makes it but inevitably ends up dying. Unlike that chap in the movie, however, this guy has a secret weapon to avoid death. His partner in crime: The courtesy guy. The last minuter has this super-power: to be just on time. Well, in actual fact, he is late for the elevator but somehow, the courtesy guy makes sure that the last minuter is on time. In elevator parlance, the time of reference is the time the elevator door starts to close but for this dynamic duo, the time of reference is the time that they can no longer see that last sliver of light as the elevator door completely closes. Chances are that, when the pair of them operate in tandem, you are going to have to spend a few extra moments in the elevator.

The Look-downers: This peculiar species are great admirers of Sir Isaac Newton. They worship gravity. As soon as they get into the elevator, they take a quick look to see if the button for their floor is pressed (if it is not, they do the needful), take up their station in the elevator and then perform the only item in their single point agenda : Look down. It’s not like they are shy; some of them genuinely are but then they are only acting in accordance with the gravity balancing theory. The gravity balancing theory is the theory by which the look-downers maintain the gravity-balance of the elevator. On the upward going elevator, looking down balances the entire anti-gravity act of going up. Whereas, on the downward traveling elevator, the act of looking down merely augments the gravitational effect of Earth and keeps the Gods happy. Well, this is the belief of the look downers anyway. These folk are easily the least controversial and most often ignored of all the species.

Yet another variant of this species are the poor folks who end up feeling so awkward in the elevator that all they can do is stare at the numbers on display, pass by till their destination arrives.

Well, there you have it; a few of the elevator folk that you’re likely to encounter in the life of ups and downs. So the next time you’re in an elevator, look out for these species and yes, Bon Voyage!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Money has no value unless you spend it !!!

This is a crazy world!

Japanese save a lot. They do not spend much. Also, Japan exports far more than it imports. Has an annual trade surplus of over 100 billions. Yet Japanese economy is considered weak, even collapsing.

Americans spend, save little. Also US imports more than it exports. Has an annual trade deficit of over $400 billion. Yet, the American economy is considered strong and trusted to get stronger.

But where from do Americans get money to spend? They borrow from Japan , China and even India.

Virtually others save for the US to spend. Global savings are mostly invested in US, in dollars.
India itself keeps its foreign currency assets of over $50 billions in US securities. China has sunk over $160 billion in US securities. Japan 's stakes in US securities is in trillions.

The US has taken over $5 trillion from the world. So, as the world saves for the US - Its The Americans who spend freely. Today, to keep the US consumption going, that is for the US economy to work, other countries have to remit $180 billion every quarter, which is $2 billion a day, to the US!

A Chinese economist asked a neat question. Who has invested more, US in China , or China in US? The US has invested in China less than half of what China has invested in US.

The same is the case with India . We have invested in US over $50 billion. But the US has invested less than $20 billion in India.

Why the world is after US?

The secret lies in the American spending, that they hardly save. In fact they use their credit cards to spend their future income. That the US spends is what makes it attractive to export to the US . So US imports more than what it exports year after year.

The result:

The world is dependent on US consumption for its growth. By its deepening culture of consumption, the US has habituated the world to feed on US consumption. But as the US needs money to finance its consumption, the world provides the money.

It's like a shopkeeper providing the money to a customer so that the customer keeps buying from the shop. If the customer will not buy, the shop won't have business, unless the shopkeeper funds him. The US is like the lucky customer. And the world is like the helpless shopkeeper financier.

Who is America 's biggest shopkeeper financier? Japan of course. Yet it's Japan which is regarded as weak. Modern economists complain that Japanese do not spend, so they do not grow. To force the Japanese to spend, the Japanese government exerted itself, reduced the savings rates, even charged the savers. Even then the Japanese did not spend (habits don't change, even with taxes, do they?). Their traditional postal savings alone is over $1.2 trillions, about three times the Indian GDP. Thus, savings, far from being the
strength of Japan , has become its pain.

Hence, what is the lesson?

That is, a nation cannot grow unless the people spend, not save. Not just spend, but borrow and spend.

Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian-born economist in the US , told Manmohan Singh that Indians wastefully save. Ask them to spend, on imported cars and, seriously, even on cosmetics! This will put India on a growth curve. This is one of the reason for MNC's coming down to India , seeing the consumer spending.

'Saving is sin, and spending is virtue.'

But before you follow this Neo Economics, get some fools to save so that you can borrow from them and spend !!!

Images Courtesy: taxdollars.ocregister, http://blogs.rediff.com/kingoflife/

The article originally posted by Ashok Sehgal (Original source unknown) and sourced from here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 16; the sixteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

She heard the deep voice of Amitabh Saying “Cadbury Celebrations! Kuchh meetha ho jaaye”. Celebrations are the last things on our minds, she thought. A mother of three who had to take care of them by working as part time maid in four households and knitting woolen blankets for the riches in the evening. And she didn’t have the support of her husband either. That drunkard bas***d had run off in a drunken spree from his home and came in the way of an incoming train.

Suppressing her sobs she focused on work of Diwali cleaning that she was currently engaged in. “what a pity” she thought “I clean every one’s home spic and span and that too when I have a single room which, however much I try, cannot find enough unoccupied space worth cleaning”. With three adolescent children with her in the single room accommodation, there was barely any space to live; let alone worth bothering with for Diwali cleaning.

Though she was the sole bread earner for her family, the thought of getting her children to work in order to support the family never entered her mind. Not even for once. She wanted a brighter future for them and was ready to make any sacrifice to ensure that they do get ample education for some future not involving cleaning others’ homes. Not that the children never offered. The eldest, Rajesh, offered to quit studies and work part time at a nearby factory at the age of fourteen, five years ago when her husband died, met with a determined NO from her. At nineteen, he was now enrolled in a vocational institution and training to become an electrician.

But money was getting harder to earn these days. She had to work hard to make all the ends meet. And it was at occasions like these when she felt so sorry for herself and the life that her kids were forced to live.

“Maya!” came the jarring voice of madam. “You haven’t cleaned the side table in the drawing room yet. Soon you will finish the work haphazardly and go to that Mrs. Sharma. Do I not pay you equally? Why does she get more work done than me?” she carried on.

By the time she was done with the chores of Mrs Sharma, it was already dark. And she had not bought anything for Diwali as yet. Nor did she have any money for it. “Yet another day in the dark especially on the day of lights. Such is my fortune that I cannot even provide enough to get some candles and sweets for my children.”

As she went to their room, she was surprised to see her children standing outside the door. Anticipating some trouble, she went to them in trepidation and asked them if something was wrong. They consoled her and assured her that all was fine. They just felt like waiting for her on the door for her. They took her hands and guided her inside. Inside, she was pleasantly surprised to see a stack of candles and Diyas, a pack of Cadbury chocolates and some firecrackers besides them.

“Mom we wanted to surprise you with this. We have been saving for these for some time now just so that, for a change, we could work towards providing you with something”. And that in itself was a bigger celebration for her than all the sweets and lighting in the world combined.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

PS: This is my first ever attempt at writing a short story. Do tell how did the attempt fare?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gender Discrimation of the second kind

"This post is written for BLOGESHWAR and Anubhooti."
Those who say that gender discrimination does not exist in the world are lying to you. We just try to pretend that it is not there but it is very much present, always! I have been a witness to blatant gender discrimination and so have you. It is just that we men are not yet courageous to admit that we are irked by this. Yes you read it right! I am talking gender discrimination against men!

DO you not believe me? Let us walk through!

Looking at the range of colors available in the market: When you go to the market, all the shades that the guys have, say, in their jeans are black, brown, blue, blue-black, black-brown and darker or lighter tones of these shades. In all, there would be like five or six different variety of clothes. And that’s it. On the other hand, when a girl goes shopping she will have like a couple of hundred different designs of clothes to choose from in the first place. Then come the dozen odd colors in each dress. Then they come to the material in microscopic details. And then there are matching accessories for each dress and what not! No wonder that over 90% shops in any market cater to women’s attire.

FB wall of men and women: An average guy, when he posts any status update, will get a couple of comments and some half a dozen likes. On the other hand, when a girl posts any update, however insignificant it may be, will generate enough buzz to put Google buzz to shame.

In India, when you go to any place; there are bound to be queues. Even in these queues, the fairer sex has a special place as a parallel queue. Even in Delhi Metro, they have a segregated coach to themselves. Now, how effective it is, is a matter of discussion. But it is the idea that counts doesn’t it?

Shifting our focus to the stupid box, we forever keep on hearing about the “Saas-Bahu” dramas. Have you ever heard of a “Sasur-Damad” soap? You have Komolika bindis available in the market but do you see Loha Singh moustache anywhere?

There are even some vocations that are an all women territory and if a man decides to go into that domain, they are considered in the same category as people would consider Rakhi Sawant and MNS folks. Nuts! Not only vocations, there are several places of education which are dedicatedly reserved for the fairer sex. Were it the other way round, there would have been a furore. But not here. After all the "ladeej" need their share of privacy!

Doesn’t all this talk make you think if women are the ones being discriminated against or is it the other way round?

Images Courtesy: newsthatmattersnot, Doghouse diaries, delhimetrofreak, hubimg, nela.iblog, connect.in.com

PS: The post is written with a sense of humor and I would appreciate if readers could practice the same. I know that women, in general, are very shoddily treated in India and we do need to be more proactive in prevention of cruelty to women and girl child.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Life is not a race. Irrespective of whatever you see people around you doing, it is not OK if you keep on pushing yourself to the extreme every so often. More frequently you do so, more easily the fatigue would settle in and more early you will have to get your heart or brain replaced. If you do get a time to enjoy with your family, then chose that option instead of working overnight in an overstressed office. Take a break every so often. Try to enjoy the life. Love your near and dear ones and share things with them. Bring gifts home and not office work!

Life is not only YOURS. There are a lot of other stakeholders to it. Despite whatever you feel like, there would be at least one more person whose happiness or misery depends on you. If you feel sad, then that person might be feeling even more so just because you feel that way. And for sure, your smile would brighten the day for that person too!

Life is meant to be shared with others. Were it not so… please realize that YOU would have been the central character in “Christmas Carols” and not Uncle Scrooge. Count your blessings if you have a big, noisy family because it also means that you so many people to share your life with; people to take care of you when you are ill; people for you to confide in when did something stupid and people to protect you when you did something stupider; people to join you in the bandwagon when you ride that ghodi and go to your marriage.

Life is not your personal fiefdom. Please understand that if a particular person has had the misfortune of working with you; that does not mean that you own him or her. It would not exactly be a disastrous mistake to congratulate them for anything, big or small. And a “Well done” once in a while would not go amiss.

On a lighter note:

Life is not your personal mobile message draft option. Please do realize that while typing LOL sounds kewl while chatting or in messages, always keep in mind that it is not to be used in live, verbal communication. It is high time that you realize that ACTUALLY laughing is perfectly acceptable in normal everyday communication; though not when you receive some bad news. Laughing then would only get you into a strait jacket and be deemed a nut case.

Please do realize that the real life not just a level in Need For Speed. It is much more. Hence, it is not cool that you hit an old woman crossing the road and run away. If you do that, you are bound to be caught. Unless you are the son of a politician, no matter how lowly, a film star or the son of any kind of billionnaires, even if it is a Mustard oil billionaire. High speed chases are not very common in the real life, especially considering the unique infrastructure of suburbs like Mumbai and Kolkata where a pedestrian barely gets space to walk, let alone drive. Delhi, thanks to the immaculate planning of Shielaji and Kalmadi sahib, has more potholes than a typical Emraan Hashmi movie, the roads are shot to hell and hence no chance to drive fast.

Images Courtesy: www.ericweisstein.com, www.empoweryou.com.au

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An open letter to Arundhati Roy

This article was posted by Pagal Patrakar at his blog. The original rights to the article lie with him.


Hey woman,

Congrats, you are back in news! You were trending on Twitter and featured in Google trends. And thanks, you made many guys look up dictionary.com to understand what sedition meant. You are really of some use!

Well, I read your statement, and I loved it because it was not a fucking 30,000 words essay! Anyway, I had some reactions, please find them below (in bold and in red, adjectives that you prefer?):

Kashmir, Oct. 26: I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. (Wonderful, you are going places woman, wished you had cared to write something from Bihar or UP; people are suffering due to neglect and bad politics there too, but wait, stay where you are.) This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. (LOL! You read and believe newspapers? But I guess that’s what you do when you wake up in the morning – take up a newspaper and find if your name appears anywhere. If not, you plan how it can.) I said what millions of people here say every day. (Millions of people say benc**d in India every day, that doesn’t sanction that term any “social acceptance”) I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. (Absolutely, you have NEVER said or written anything NEW. You just pick up issues, after reading the morning newspapers, and join the bandwagon.) Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. (Sorry, I didn’t really care to read the transcript of your speeches. Can you make them a bit shorter? I’ve an attention span problem.) I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; (Oh, Kashmir is an area under military occupation? Thanks, will update my general knowledge and Wikimapia, but wait, how come you were allowed there? Don’t all democratic rights cease to exist in an area under military occupation? Or were you an “embedded activist” like those embedded journalists of CNN in Iraq during the Gulf War?) for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; (Really? Or are you fucking kidding me?) for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; (What the fuck is a “Dalit soldier” with a “grave”? I thought Dalits existed only within Hinduism and Sikhism, where there are no graves. Oh okay, next you are writing a 300,000 essay on why Dalits are neither Hindu/Sikh/Christian/Muslim nor Indian, and why the need justice and liberty from the tyrannous Brahminical Indian state?) for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state. (Oh great, so this whole country is under some kind of occupation – police state – what the fuck, you opened my eyes, where is the red flag?)

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. (Yes, “last year”, and you are visiting the place “now” because your heart bleeds for a common Kashmiri.) I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. (Wait a minute; you were also in Delhi a couple of weeks back. Did you meet any Kashmiri Pandit, for whom you claimed to be seeking justice in the earlier paragraph?) We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get insaf — justice — from India, and now believed that Azadi — freedom — was their only hope. (Have you seen the Bollywood movie Gulaal? You can sit in such circles almost in each part of this country and listen to cries of Azadi from imagined powers. There are Brahmins in this country, whom you think control everything, who feel “trapped” in the modern state that is implementing reservations for everyone except them.) I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. (Did you meet that Indian policeman who lost his eye after a 5 kg stone hit his eye?) I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones. (I once traveled with a Hindu in Ahmedabad, who told me how Muslims had created an “acid pool” in “their area” and used to throw Hindus in them during riots; there have been many riots in Ahmedabad, not just during 2002, for your kind information. Of course I didn’t believe him and went out to write an essay or even a fake news article. I don’t believe people easily and form opinions. If the state can’t be trusted blindly, that doesn’t mean I’d trust every other non-state actor blindly. Oh, non-state actor!)

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. (Yes, there are idiots who take you seriously.) On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. (ROFLMAO!) It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. (But you are fine and your conscience is not disturbed if someone does the same to people and force them to say that they are NOT Indians?) It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. (“just” one or “just one”? People like you are surely not going to let this society be “just one”. It would be broken into Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, Brahmins, Christians, Poor, Rich, Women, etc. I want my society and country to be “just one” for god’s sake!) Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. (Yes, yes, pity the nation that produces such writers. Today I’m proud of Chetan Bhagat, seriously.) Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free. (Yes, I’d pity the nation only if you were “actually” jailed, and you won’t be, dear, because this is a country that doesn’t need your pity.)

Another Interesting read here!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good wins over bad. Or does it?

In our history, we have been told, that there are several instances of good winning over bad. Be it in the case of Ramayana where the good Lord Ram scored a victory over the Ravana. Ravana was a bad guy who had kidnapped her ladyship Seeta. And Lord Rama had to fight an epic battle to behead all the ten heads of Ravana and take back what was rightly his. A victory for good. Doesn’t really matter if her ladyship was put on trial and then had to be “absorbed” by mother Earth herself.

Let us take the case of Mahabharata. The good Pandavas were wronged by Kauravas and cheated out of their kingdom. Leave alone the fact that they were gambling in the first place, they were wronged nonetheless. So they had to employ Lord Krishna’s service to gain back what was rightly theirs. Another victory for good.

So it is all hunky dory. Isn’t it?

Now let us take a look at the real life, shall we? I will talk about three separate instances.

Firstly, my personal favorite, The CWG scam: Here is an event which has been in the limelight for over five years. The state and central governments, having made enormous efforts to host a game of international stature in the country, were having their fruits fulfilled. So it would have been logical for one to conclude that no efforts should be spared in ensuring the games went smoothly. But they couldn’t have been any more wrong about it. well partly right because no expenses were spared, that’s for sure. But the games didn’t go amoothly from any perspective. Till the last moment, no work was complete, the roads were dug up with utility infrastructure in place. Contractors and suppliers made crores and crores out of the good taxpayers’ money. The hard earned money which should, ideally, have been utilized to provide infrastructure to the general public. The Delhi public, in turn, faced additional hassles with many roads being closed down, dedicated blue CWG lane, dug up and not repaired roads and so on and so forth. So where did the good win over the bad?
Some might say that the investigations are on and the culprits would be properly punished. But we all know how the ‘investigations’ proceed.

Secondly, the much publicized hit and run cases:The jats turned millionaires courtesy M/S DLF, sons and daughters of rich politicians and Forbes people, film stars have been a victim. Not a victim of the hit and run cases but the victim of excessive media coverage when THEY hit and run some stupid migrant laborer sleeping on the pavements and dividers just because they own a BMW or a Mercedes or even a Honda City does nicely in these cases. And for no fault of theirs. After all, the stupid laborers are the ones to be blamed for all this. Why did they have to sleep on the pavement not in a thirty seven storied residential complex in Mumbai? Just because they were poor enough to not afford any accommodation is no excuse. So these spawns of the riches are forced to pull all their “contacts” to not go into a jail or custody. How does it matter if some laborers, the sole bread earner of their families, die in these accidents? After all “Aisse bade bade shehron mein aissi chhoti chhoti batein hoti rehti hain” (Such small incident do keep on happening in such big cities, a modified dialogue from DDLJ)
Another victory for good over bad; or is it?

Thirdly, just for fun sakes, the ubiquitous Vamp and Villains in the stupid box: I am sure that a lot of readers are females or have females in their families. And if it is an Indian female that we are talking about, ten to one, she will be hooked to one or more of the gazillions of the Saas/Ba/Ammaji/Ma-sa and Bahu/Vadhu/Bindani drama serials. And please do not think that only females are the ones addicted to it. Several men are also equally addicted to these shows; could be for some different reasons altogether, but hooked nonetheless. So, having looked at these serials, there are bound to be more than one vamps and villains in the storyline whose sole purpose in life would be to undermine the position of authoritative figure and/or the main protagonist. In case of vamps, they can be easily recognized by the tightly draped sarees which look as if they have been plastered over them, an elegantly created rats’ nest on the top of their head, ear rings as big as hoop-la’s and a weird bindi design every episode sometimes different even in a single episode. She always cries in front of everyone but has a sly grin on the face whenever one of her dastardly plots materializes. The main protagonist lady can be recognized by the demure attitude, lame and lack luster clothing, inane attempts to keep the family together and a fake smile in front of everyone and tears when she is alone. Who do you think is the winner in this case?

And they say good always wins over bad!

Images Courtesy: Indhistory.com, sawf.org, Zeenews, discusstv

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flaunting Riches

Given its Brahmins and Dalits, India has always been a land of contrasts. It has also always epitomised the concentration of wealth. But no one salivated earlier over how rich the rich were or how they spent their money, as they are doing now over Mukesh Ambani’s new mansion. The public and private domains were strictly separate.

The overlapping of the two has not only exposed the rich to pitiless scrutiny but also distracted attention from the government’s neglected responsibilities. India lags behind many sub-Saharan countries in almost all the indices of modernity not because of the Ambanis, Mittals, Mallyas and Modis, but because of our political and administrative establishments.

The real charge of crass vulgarity that can be levelled at the rich is not levelled because almost all Indians who can afford it indulge in ostentatious display. West Bengal’s Durga Puja is an example of tasteless competitive showmanship.

The spotlight is on the rich because we live now in a more open society. Universal suffrage fosters the illusion of participative decision-making. Tub-thumping politicians whip up populist sentiment and talk resoundingly of equality. Apart from pandering to mass sentiment, it distracts attention from their own misdemeanours and extravagances — marble monuments, for instance. With the media forever on the lookout for titillating titbits, it’s news when Ambani buys a Rs 642-crore luxury jet as a birthday present for his wife.

The information revolution places a premium on immediacy. The past is another country. Those who gloat over the number of Indians in the Forbes list of billionaires forget that time was when India occupied the Number 1 global slot: His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar was reckoned the world’s richest man. Few asked how he had accumulated his wealth or questioned how he spent it.

The justification for inquisitiveness is something called social consciousness and responsibility. The argument is that the rich owe a debt to the poor and that extremes of wealth and riches are intolerable. Conspicuous consumption is condemned for the same reason.

But whatever lofty moral arguments might be invoked, the real underlying reason for condemning lavish displays of spending is fear: the rich must for their own sake take care not to provoke the envy and enmity of the poor who are always the majority. The French and Russian Revolutions are history’s warnings against unbridled and careless extravagance.

These are western notions and, significantly, most of the knowledge about the rich that excites India’s media comes from the West. A society in which the caste system is firmly entrenched does not recoil in horror when an import ban is temporarily suspended to benefit one polyester tycoon.

Social consciousness

But the West finds such manipulation outrageous for western society has evolved notions of social consciousness and responsibility. Western governments have achieved an egalitarian ethic and devised a social welfare net. The western media, therefore, goes to town on what it considers immoral spending like the jewel-studded 18-carat gold faucets on Sir Bernard Docker’s 860-tonne yacht, Shemara, in the 50s. Now the stories are about rich Indians and India’s media picks them up.

That is how Indians know that the most expensive home in Britain is the £117-million Kensington townhouse that Lakshmi Mittal (who spent £34 million on his daughter’s five-day wedding at the Palace of Versailles built by King Louis XIV of France) bought for his son. Another Indian tycoon, Bhupendra Kumar Modi, paid nearly £10 million for one of Singapore’s most expensive penthouse flats in Marina Bay.

Vijay Mallya, who spent £1.1 million last year on buying five relics of Mahatma Gandhi, reputedly has 26 residences around the world. Reports say the new home he is planning in Bangalore will soar to 30 storeys against Ambani’s 27.

Such details tell us a great deal about the quality of the people who make money but that doesn’t mean they can be blamed for Mumbai’s slums or our shameful public services. The most we can accuse them of is not investing enough in schools, vocational training, hospitals and recreational facilities. Instead, they prefer to store their wealth abroad. Some salt it away in concealed accounts. Ratan Tata prefers to acquire automobile and steel corporations in Britain and Singapore and reportedly donate $50 million to Harvard.

The solution does not lie in redistributing the wealth already created but in encouraging others to generate more wealth while also spending more on amenities like potable water, sanitation, housing and hygiene that western societies take for granted.

India’s self-image today is that of a superpower but a country does not become one only because a few people are filthy rich. Similarly, it’s equally facile to suppose that India isn’t a superpower because 800 million Indians survive on around Rs 70 a day. The British working class lived in abysmal squalor when Britannia ruled the waves.

The solution lies in unleashing the collective creativity of the Indian people and enabling them to be partners in the present great experiment. One key to that empowerment would be effective free and compulsory primary education throughout the country.

Image Courtesy: Geekologie, Rainbowskill

The article was published here by Sunanda K Datta-Ray