Sunday, 28 June 2009

On a break!!

Sometime back had decided to return back to India before it gets too late .. so will be away from blogs while i make the journey back home and settle myself back into the daily life of 'home'.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The tough achievers

One of the most positive stories that I have read in recent times. From India-Today. Highly recommended. Hats off to their perseverance and dedication.

Even though the number of seats has gone up multiple folds and the question papers have changed and people cry of dilution in the brand but I would bet that still only those go through the toughest exam who really deserve it. And the seats and number of IITs should have increased long time back.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a Taxi driver in Kolkata. as we(me and my wife) jumped into one of those big Ambassador taxies in Kolkata i was greeted with one of the 'whom-I-thought-was-very-talkative' taxi drivers.

He was around 45-50 and had lot of question for me like what do we do, after that what have I studied, a bit surprising was when he asked my branch. Then he asked if I am happy with my job and would I recommend others similar job as mine... I was very amused with all these questions and his keen interest in keeping the conversation going So I asked him on how he is very conversant with all this.

His answer was 'mera ladka bhi engineering me hai (my son is doing engineering)

I was impressed.. then asked him where is he .. wo sir IIT kanpur me hai (he is studying at IIT Kanpur).

I was at the edge of my seat leaning on the front seat .. ohh kis branch me hai (whats is branch) .. wo electrical me hai (he is in electrical) .. wow .. means must be under 200AIR.

Then rest of our discussion focused on me asking him how his son studied. Where did he do the schooling.. and all that .. and most of the answers where 'wo padhta tha aur hum to bas help karte the' and with us now rather than a Taxi driver there a was proud father who can keep talking for hours about his son and his achievements.

By the time we reached our destination we were really feeling very very happy and were proud to meet him.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

For respecting individual rights!!

A bit of contradictions. Recently French President Mr. Sarkozy's remarks on Burqa. Quoted from TOI article
"We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity," he said. "That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity."
Another one exact opposite to this remark was made by President Obama in his speech in Cairo. Again quoting form the full text of speech in Guardian
"That is why the US government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it."
Interestingly all this sounds from a different world when we have in India debates on Western vs Indian cloths. But then most of us restrict ourselves to comparing only Western vs sarees.

A very good article by TOI on the same subject.

"In a world where sexual-crime is rampant, the burqa denotes comfort, security and allows a woman her dignity, they say. "

"Denying that the burqa has any oppressive value to it, they say modern burqas are quite fashionable, with gems and jewels embroidered on them. Fancy ones can be priced as much as Rs 50,000, and these aren't the bridal ones."

Edited to add: just a thought in my mind. Do maulavis approve of Valentine Day or if Bajrang Dal has a company from the other side of spectrum?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Anybody can be a father ... but it takes somebody to be a DAD!!

Among the lot of junk mails that daily clutters my mailbox one really caught my eye. Now this one was from the Indian phone company whose services i use for my international calls.

The subject line said "Anybody can be a Father...but it takes somebody to be a DAD!"

Apparently we even have a Father's Day now and the mail was a failed attempt to sell me something for my dad for Father’s Day. On a footnote looks like we will need to redefine our relationship as I have never wished Father’s day to him and I suspect he remains as ignorant as he is on these special days.

For me the most catchy part remained the subject line which was not making any sense to me .. "Anybody can be a father ... but it takes somebody to be a DAD"

Who is a father and who is a DAD?

And what happens to those Appa, Babuji, Pitaji variety? Where do they fall in? But then marketers probably think that it will take sometime before they are ready to target that segment. As usual they would be laggards.

In and out of our workplace we get loads of jargons ... very often you hear someone saying "we need a paradigm shift" .. or "we need to pull right value drivers/levers" ... or even better combining multiple of them like "we need to organize ourselves to bring innovation and be in a position to pull right value drivers" .. a more simpler but often used is "we need to think out-of-box on this one"

To me these sentences never sounded English and very often i do not resist the temptation of stopping the speakers and asking them meaning of these sentences. Very often i find an annoyed look or even more 'un'-english answer.

But then again for me such meetings remain fun as they provide loads of laughter once you are out of those meetings .. paradigm shift .. huh!! .. value drivers .. wow!!

It was the same puzzled moment for me through that mail. My first reaction was to write a mail back to them asking them the difference between father and a dad .. but somehow i didn't ..

Looks like your 'DADness' would be lot low if you do not get lot of gifts from your sonny/daughters .. unless the juniors spend loads of money on buying gifts fathers can not claim to be dads ... and ofcourse they need to be marked for father’s day.

I think Doors had the same thought when they wrote that line in their song 'The End' .. “Father, yes son, I want to kill you” .. I guess their father was not enough DAD!

AP:crimes against women & PCC

Immediately i thought of calling the PCC (Pink Chaddi Campaigns) brigade. For uninitiated more info on PCC here & here

Mangalore happened. Someone arranged for a TV crew at a pub and started beating up women. We discovered that we have a group called Sree Ram Sene(SRS) and all 'forward' women devised a 'fool'-proof plan and ran a PCC. Media called for shame shame for SRS. Minister shouted Taliban. Some other shouted for reports from State Govt. Media again shouted how the reports are needed.

PCC was a success. Blogs were running pink. We showed our affinity to pink. The 'beautiful people' were talking pink and declared how SRS need to be 'pinked' and put behind the bars so that we can freely walk into the pubs.

Switch to AP. lets quote from Article
"Sri Laxmi, Lakshmi Sujatha, Ayesha Meera, Bhargavi, Swapnika and now, Sameera. Brutal and savage attacks on women are happening in the State in quick succession. The reasons might differ but in most cases, women are victimised by the lovelorn or the greedy."
The war cry: Bring on the PCC. Lets teach these attackers a lesson.

Hang on!! how about answering these questions first to see if PCC really applies in this case or not,
  • Do we really need to pay attention to these as have they stopped any women from going to pub.
  • Isn't that state ruled by a good government who are pillers of secularism.
  • How can we dub these attacks as Talibanization .. naah.. Mangalore was as they attacked women in pub that too they had arranged a camera before attacking them so that we can see them and then 'pink' them.
  • These attackers are not even arranging for a camera before they attack. how can we ascertain their crimes.
  • Lets find out if these attackers shout 'that ugly H' word or not. How can we do a PCC if they are just attacking and not shouting that ugly word.
  • Looks like they are just petty criminals as they do not even shout 'H' word.
  • Has SRS reached AP? you do not know? then how can we run PCC? Let SRS reach AP. Let them own up responsibility for any/few of these attacks then we will run PCC.
I am still searching for answers. Till then you can read on further quoted from the main article and prey that SRS owns some of them so that we can send the saviors for women in AP as well
"As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics published in 2007-08, AP is `a highly unsafe state for women.’ The State topped the list of crimes against women with 24,783 cases, accounting for 13 per cent of the total incidents in 2007. Of these, 3,316 cases were sexual harassment cases putting AP on top of other states.

The State has also accounted for about 83 per cent (about 1,000 cases) of the total cases against indecent representation of women. Among 35 cities with a population of more than one million, Hyderabad recorded 1,755 cases next to New Delhi which registered highest cases of crimes against women - 4,134 cases.

About 13,000 cases on human rights violation against women are still pending in Andhra Pradesh."
I am planning to call up some of my friends in AP to check if any of these are remotely associated with attacks in pubs or near the pubs.

[I have no intension for 'jibe' as these are serious crimes but could not resist the contrast]

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Who was Ram?

This is a bit off topic and there are many people who believe that he is GOD (including my parents and all my close relatives) or an incarnation of Vishnu might not like it. For me I am not too sure who he is (was).

A recent chilled out Saturday evening discussion with a friend sparked this, which also brought out some of the books that I had read when I was a school going kid. Do I really believe in Ram? I am not sure. What I do know is that I do not believe that there was no one like that. Was a he a GOD or was he someone like Lord Buddha or Lord Mahavir who were real but were so ahead of their time and had such a lasting impact on history that we have to believe them to be GOD.

Long time back when I was just a school going kid I had read a book written by Bhagwan Singh "Apne Apne Ram”. And after that discussion I did a simple Google search to find about that book or if I can find it on net to read it again. Google does not throw a big light on that apart from confirming that there is indeed such book and one of the sites says that I can buy it for INR 250. Also this book is offered in some Hindi Literature course in some University.

While it’s been really a long time back but I still remember reading also discussing that book with my parents.

What Bhagwan Singh has written is a novel, which positions the story of Ram in contemporary context and makes you believe that most of the things attributed to the story of Ram could have happened.

Through the eyes of Bhagwan Singh you can easily identify some of the places that are associated with Ram. Like who could be king of Gods (Indra). Why is that story of Agastya asking Vindhya not to grow any further and crossed it and stayed south of it. Who was Ravan and why he behaved the way he behaved. This was one of the most engrossing books on story of Ram that I had read at that time and it was almost as if I read a true story without any doubt on existence of anyone of the characters.

Then after some time Narendra Kohli(A trivia: he has studied in the same school as me) came along and I got a chance to lay my hands on some of his books. Wiki says that Narendra Kohli is

"widely acclaimed as the most prominent Hindi language author of modern times[citation needed][1]. [2] Leader of cultural renissance in Hindi literature in modern times [2], he is credited with reinventing the ancient form of epic writing in modern prose. [3]. His contribution to Hindi literature is often compared to the legendary writer Premchand[3],"

He had written his story of Ram in multiple parts each defining one big part of his life as well as showcasing he achievements and his struggle. To me Narendra Kohli's Ram appeared to be a person who is trying to break the barriers existed in the society at that time, trying to unifying the country and a person who is pragmatic enough to negotiate deals with different kings, inventor and innovator of arms, someone who is trying to build an equal society for everyone. Again yet another narration which makes you believe the existence and tries to explain many things which seems impossible for normal human beings. In this narration again Ram through his deeds and character brings confidence into public and slowly gains that aura where he can be compared with GOD.

While these two stories had good impact on me and somewhere made me think of Ram as a person who was so ahead of his time that he almost appeared like a GOD. We are yet to get to that part of history and history experts are yet to get enough evidences when they can say with certainty if Ram was indeed a historical person (which I think he was) with amazing abilities and not a very very beautiful creation of Valmiki.

Some of the people I know, while on a trip to Rameshwaram made it a point to go to that part of the sea side which is supposed to be that bridge, although seems like it was not easily accessible. One of the pages from official SriLanka tourism site tries to explain their story.

[This is purely based on my thinking]

Monday, 8 June 2009

Why Woman Reservation Bill is bad ..very very bad!!

There is a buzz going around on Woman Reservation bill which was first muted in 1999 and had seen dramatic events whenever it was placed on LS. Key would be once passed this bill would ‘reserve’ 180 odd (33%) of the seats for women in Lok Shabha and similarly 33% in state Vidhan Shabhas as well.

While there is a need to get more women in apex decision making bodies of governance but I feel this ‘back door entry system’ would do more harm to the country.

Vinod has already written how rather than empowering common women it will empower Gharana’s and could make those 180 seats almost exclusive for political families and out of bound for common folks.

Another key aspect we need to take into account is the roles played by the institutions were we plan to have Women reservation.

Over the years with liberal dose of criminals and dynasties, decision making capabilities of Parliament has reduced. There are far more walkouts and slogan shouting rather than healthy debates on policy decisions. If we reserve 33% (or rather de-reserve 33% seats from men as few have started calling it) there is a real chance of these women rather than being true representatives of public would be ceremonial heads of their families.

So if a criminal is barred from contesting his wife/daughter/mother would be contest from reserved seats.

All the seats which get marked for women lets say in 2014 will see wives of current sitting MPs contest the elections.

What is the objective of the bill? Is it to empower women? I guess yes.. is this the best way of doing it?

If we make reservations in highest decision making institutions of our country will that enhance the decision making capacity of these institutions? Why do we have a parliament and such a rigorous election process for entering into parliament? Isn’t that to provide policy directions to the whole country? Are we by reserving seats for special groups enhancing or reducing its efficiency?

Before we start taking sides as pro- or anti-women empowerment (or anti feminists) imagine the situation or who will be entering into parliament in near future?

Does everyone really believe that this reservation will allow Meera Sanyal and likes of her to enter into Parliament? I am pretty sure they have not reached to the position where they are through reservation but through their hard work and because they are the best in their chosen field.

We have a woman President and now a woman speaker even without any such reservation. They are there not because they are women. Our biggest state is ruled by a woman and she has reached there through her hard work not through some reservation. Our capital is ruled by another lady and people are voting her back to power everytime she had asked for vote. I do not find anyone discriminating against them because they are women.

Do we need women like them or do we need more WAGs of political families?

I would like to bet that after the Bill WAGs of political families & criminals will have better chance of entering the Parliament than likes of Meera Sanyal, atleast in next couple of decades.

Do we really need to cripple our Parliament further (after dynasties and criminals) when we badly need to send best of the breed so that they can take best possible decisions irrespective of their sex, caste or religion?

Empowerment needs to happen at the lowest level in schools, colleges, by not denying them education, by not discriminating against them in jobs.

For Parliament we need people who are already empowered & are proven leaders not people who will get empowered by entering there.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

26/11 & inquiry commission

I started reading this news as yet another typical news and yet another demand by the opposition. Looked like Govt and opposition are back to their normal service of demands & denials and accusations & counters.

What really got me a bit nervous was the reply given by the Home Minister. Quoting from the article

Demand "Leader of Opposition L K Advani of the BJP on Friday asked the government to share with Parliament the dossier of 26/11 evidence given to Pakistan and also called for setting up an inquiry commission - a demand the government rejected."

Reply "However, home minister P Chidambaram ruled out setting up any probe commission and said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had not set up any commission after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in December 1999."

This reply sounds fussy: 1999 was bad and the Govt response was not really glowing either. But what is bad is using that as a reference.

Does that mean that if the Govt in 1999 faltered in its response to a particular situation the Govt in 2009 must do the same? And then claim that you didn’t do it either when you were there.

How about learning from the past mistakes? While I feel that HM was so far right in not sharing the details with Parliament because of the sensitivity of the issue. But now situation has changed as Pak has gone ahead and freed the person whom India thought was the chief planner of 26/11. I think now making the evidences public in Parliament is better. After all US have it. Pak has it. It’s only Indian Parliament which does not have it.

Pak has improved its position, with US aids, it has got out of the hole it was in immediately after 26/11 and now probably will not do anything to bring the culprits in 26/11 to book Govt would be better of having a public debate as it would increase their credibility and also allow them to make any mid-course correction into the response. I do not see this position of no-dialogue-till-a-concrete-action continuing for long as very soon US would be pushing India to sit across the table with Pak as they need Pak forces to concentrate in Af and would like India to slow down on its offensive.

India needs to device a new plan as the dossier hasn’t worked and what better way of doing it than starting with an honest public debate rather than pointing to old omissions that others have done.

Friday, 5 June 2009

On Bihar and Train burnings

Recently some trains were burnt in Bihar over a decision by railways to stop the train halts created during Lalu’s time and Bihar is back is news. The first thought is to blame the people for the ruckus and mindless destruction ... but then i find it amusing that a Govt which is just starting with the ministers taken oath just few days back would take a decision to revert back all the halts (around 350 of them) in such a hurry .. Even if we assume that Lalu abused the system to create so many halts thus slowing the trains, but logically he created them to go back to people and tell them that 'see i have created them for you’ means a section of people must be happy with those stops. So it wasn't unhelpful or can not be said with full certainty that those stops were not needed. To me the question should be for what type or for which trains those halts are needed and can there be different set of trains like intercity provided rather than just stopping all the halts?

There were train burnings in Bihar even when MNS was making its own laws in Mumbai. The Govt at centre as well as in Maha were not really doing anything to curb MNS. All of us who have stayed in Mumbai would really know that it could have been a much better city without so many of migrants and that too from lower strata, who do all the low end jobs but bring no investments. They mostly thrive on the existing infra of the city without adding, but than is killing and bashing up people really a solution. Isn't that something similar is happening now in Australia, and we all are crying (I think again the Govt is not doing anything, but this time its only the Central, Maha govt can take it easy as this time they are not required to do anything).

I believe the chain is just starting for Bihar. It had a good run of last few years, with large number of ministers from state and a CM with good intention running the state.

Politically there was a belief that JD(U) could be a good ally for Cong if the need arises so Cong was soft on it, with generally remaining friendly to the needs of Bihar, except for cases like package for Koshi or NHDP which is still stuck for Bihar and the re-drawing of tender and contract rules were really bad for Bihar (and for UP as well).

I believe that there was softness in Media (especially English) towards Bihar as the ridicule seemed to be absent and there seemed to be a plan to portray Nitish in a different light. Remember the screaming questions in hosted debates which were repeatedly asked to JD(U) representatives and others as well. 'Nitish is a winner and won't he like to be with the winner' or debate around 'secular credentials of Nitish'.

I think it would be shunned away now and somehow the ridicule would be back. You would find passing references by 'beautiful people' like 'Bihar will never change' and other places would be compared with Bihar after every killing or training burning incident... 'are we looking at Biharikaran of ... '

PS: Few years back at a skiing centre in Alps there was an Indian guy who claimed to be staying in Belgium for last 10 years and had almost every colour painted on his hair remarked ‘ohh so you are a Bhaiya’ when I told him that I come from Bihar. That left me and my friends who all happened to be from south of India grinning at the thought that everyone seemed to know what Bihar has become famous for, even in Belgium people seemed to know..:-)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The End … by Doors

Can you picture what we’ll be,
So limitless and free?
Desperately in need
Of some stranger’s hand
In a desperate land …