Jul 29, 2011

And you have the right to remain silent..

At high school, I've had to write hindi essays on 'Corruption'. Of course, learned by rote, I hardly knew what it was and didn't really understand a word of what I learned or wrote later. Living abroad you hardly experience corruption as blatantly as you do in India.

A decade and a half later, having to experience corruption in close quarters, I have just one question reverberating in my mind : How would you beat Corruption?

The time worn question here is, when did our nation go into a tailspin into destruction?
Like all things nostalgic, I'd like to believe that politicians were noble back then.

Like a child who started with small white lies and petty crimes, our politicians have graduated to trillion dollar grand theft and nepotism on a scale that is beyond belief.
And to make matters uncomfortable, they seem to have woken up the warden. Us.

While we can all make a lot of noise, the buck stops when we are expected to act.
I've had unfortunate friends who tire of all the noise online.
While most of us are indeed keyboard activists and nothing more, we remember to forget that the greatest changes in human history happened when people started revolting. It could have been graffiti on the wall, a march or even a bold move. It was always the power of One.

While many of us rue about being just a drop in the ocean, we forget that many drops make the ocean.

Question of the Day:
Should we be ranting against the corrupt on social networks? I think we must. That is the least we can do. Definitely not enough, because unless you talk, you won't act. So as long as people are going to be complacent and silent about corruption, we are doomed to be silent spectators in the world's largest debacle.

We are looking at a really bleak future where their children (that's right, the corrupt are breeding like much yeast too) rules this country. A nation where we've allowed corruption to breed, into a generation that will be even more awesomely wicked than ones that we have now.

Anna will definitely win. He may not live to see the fruits of his selfless crusade, but we will win because of him. Like the fruits of freedom that we enjoy because our soldiers died for us, we will live with our heads held high. It will take time. Many will pick up the cause. Few will remain.

More than 60 years ago, when Gandhiji announced the Quit India movement, not many even thought we would last. But last we did. We emerged victorious as battle worn veterans, our history continues to inspire.
Are you doing your bit today, tomorrow and the day after? It could be noise to someone else but unless you make it, we are forever doomed to remain silent.

And my response to all those who think this is noise...
'I'm sorry that you were dropped on your head when you were born. Quit India. Go live in Somalia'

Jul 16, 2011

Thank God its Friday!

As we approach the weekend, I am on a high. Indescribable. The joy of being able to kick off your shoes and relax over the weekend doing absolutely nothing or maybe everything pending makes weekends look like summer vacations.
Mondays are still a very long way away.
Fridays are perhaps the happiest days at work. We can handle any rejection, we can overcome the nastiest of glitches. Halleluiah Endorphin!

But as we come to the end of a yet another week in India, many families are grieving. For victims of the latest attrocity to strike India, this week could have been better. They would have traded what happened to their loved ones for all the gold and all the platinum in this world.
Yet we have people who sympathise with terrorism. While we have shining examples of how people have united in mankind's gravest hours, we have a few hundreds who theorize that perhaps terrorists are victims themselves.

A chap, (who I know not and thank God for that) recently opined " If you make the world a ideal place...it wouldnt be beautiful / borning hence for everything there is a balance which is required according to Newton 3rd law & it is part & parcel of the Deed... A simple answer is - Do we always do good? or do we also indulge in not so good things... There lies your answer.. Terrorism is only highlighted in Media !! hence people write on blog , twitter -FB etc...but understanding the pain of terrorist is also rquired to eradicate such menace...In india with 50% of people earning less than 5k...If Terror org pay u 10Lac so that your family is secure...would u take the bait? In official records...he is a terrorists but he is in real ensuring his family leads a good life - AOL :)"

Heck they are.

While I can understand why people would want to be the defender of the weak and exercise their right to speech and debate, when people empathise with what is clearly against human nature and the purpose of life, then they cross that fine line of propriety.

While we are being overwhelmed by opinions and counter arguments, it is essentail to remember that death hurts you only when tragedy strikes nearer home.
Until then, we will have people who are morbidly insensitive

Jul 15, 2011

when Sh!t hits the fan

Not a pretty picture.

But 24 hours after Mumbai 'rocked' again, our great nation is going through a regular cycle of blame game.
After all, its so easy to blame rather than to be the change.

Our News channels have got the fodder for the next couple of weeks. Nay, days. Because there is going to be a multi-billion dollar scam next week. And no, I dont have any insider knowledge but just the sickening feeling of deja vu.

Our politicians will visit the sites/hospitals/cities. The opposition will blame the ruling party for the nth fucking time for all the bullshit. The PM will blame the CM. Someone will quit. The Home Minister will announce rewards and declare to bring the guilty to book. Investigations will be launched with much sober fanfare. The government will shamelessly promise (and we will be definitely believe) that this will be the last time we are attacked. Theories will arise. And in the meanwhile, Kasab will continue to live in relative luxury and safety. Any wonder why the Americans shot Bin Laden and dumped him in the ocean?

And We, will hold candle light vigils, marches and strikes. We will raise signature campaigns and generally make some noise for the next few weeks. Nay days. We will also blame the government for not taking care of us, for not catching the crooks, for not babysitting us. In the meanwhile, we will remain mute spectators to murders that happen right infront of our fucking eyes.

Our cowardice can no longer be sugar coated and called resilience.
Most people in the south are less concerned about and perhaps not worried about terrorist attacks. Which is probably why most people that I know are not bothered. Many rather worry about their fitness and their cities' infrastructure. Terrorism has not struck Bangalore the way it has gripped Mumbai. Tamil Nadu has not been bothered with terrorism since the last assasination. Kerala? Well, half of them don't stay there anymore. So who cares. Andhra is more bothered about dividing itself like a asexual microorganism than anything else.

Dear Mr Faceless/Heartless Terrorist,

Why are you ignoring us in the South?
Don't you like us? Don't you hate us?

Please try to bomb at-least one of the busy cities in the South so that fear really grips the nation totally and completely.
We have busy malls and busier roads.
We have airports that are not secured at all.
Infact, our temples are more secure than our businesses.
We have politicians who are impotent, er incompetent.
We have big big MNC companies who generate India's wealth and keep all of us too busy to bother about fighting you.

Please, please don't ignore us. Please come to our cities and bomb us too.
Sincerely,
Yours Truely

Signed..
A concerned but not so worried South Indian

Fuck resilience. The need of the hour (and probably every single hour of every single day of every single year) is prudence and vigilance. We need to do whatever it takes to clean the shit all over.

Jul 14, 2011

Kaboom!

Yesterday, India was still fawning over the Cabinet reshuffle that failed to impress, our sick athletes, the billions that we lost to enterprising ticks, the many railway accidents  and about the fucked up deep shit that we are in.
Yesterday, we were still complacent that we have a task force that should have found and stopped all those terrorist scum that want to kill the people of the most previous nation on earth- We.
Yesterday, we had just wrapped up our sober celebration and rested in the firm belief that we are finally safe.
Yesterday, our corrupt politicians were still praying that the heat be off them.
Yesterday, 21 people dreamt of owning a home, living a long and respectable life with their loved ones.
Yesterday, 100 people were all healthy and looking forward to a great tomorrow.
Yesterday, over a billion people were still reeling from the memories of yesteryear's scars.

But today was another day.
In the life of those who hate freedom.
In the hearts of who want to kill.
In the minds of the wicked.

While people are getting more active and social online, offline it is a an entirely different scenario.
Twitter, FB and G+ are blistering with the first reactions and counter-points.
Our politicians are giving us the usual crap about bringing the guilty to book. Fat Fucking Chance, Mr Politician.
For the rest of the sane among us, this is the reality that we are destined to live with.
Maybe we really need to shut down all those News channels. They are the real culprits. They 'break the news' in a pun that is almost cruel as the crime.
We need to kill sensationalistic journalism*. Like parasites that feed on carrion, our media channels give 'our' Terrorists their 24+ hours of fame.

Enough talk. Enough keyboard activism.
We need action

For more juice on Sensationalistic Journalism, please visit:
Baapho's coverage on the Media coverage of Mumbai attack
Buzzle's articles on Media Sensationalism

Jul 12, 2011

Wolves Undercover!

I had a church 'first' this past Sunday.
The James Bond of Christ!

For the first time in my Church life, I attended a Sunday Mass that had no sermon, no preaching but lots of popular entertainment.
A very popular televangelist, Mr Paul Thangiah is a very popular church leader which thousands thronging the residential area where his church is located.
Smartly dressed ushers help pack the thousands into two levels of seating that resembles a poorly designed 18th Century Shakespearean theater.
The 'service' started a good 20 minutes late but enough time for the crowds to stream in until both the floors are packed to capacity.

I'm thinking 'God, bless us when there is a fire or an emergency' because I hardly see any fire rescue or emergency measures. There could be a thousand people packed in that steaming duplex and no sight of a fire extinguisher or Emergency Exits. No signage. Lots of cabling that you can easily trip over.

But that would be the lesser of my worries, because after nearly an hour of loud pop music, lots of clapping and chanting, we finally get to what I guessed would be a bible reading and sermon. How wrong could I have been? A middle aged lady, who looked more like a socialite and a toast mistress than anything to do with a church, stepped up to ask everyone whether they knew what a hat-trick in Cricket meant! Duh! 'Easy, give the lady a chance', I thought. She later went on to quote the definition of the term and then mentioned that 'we' had achieved an hat-trick in the world of christian hymns. The good reverend had won an award for the third year in a row for his christian songs. He later on went on to release a new CD. That's right, a new CD right in the middle of what was supposed to be Holy Mass. Now, dont get me wrong. I applaud the dude for singing his way into the hearts and souls of millions around the world. He even sang two of his songs off his new CD just to whet our appetite.

As if this was not killing me already, the humble reverend went on to quote how 'certain' people are alleging that he has a resort with 15 rooms that he is enjoying. Presumably, the 'allegations are false and completely baseless'. If he had this kind of resort, he would have given it to his workers to stay in.
Now, not that I have any fore knowledge of what he has or how much he owns, but his speech exonerating himself smacked of guilt. Rule of thumb when faced with allegations that are false, or baseless. Ignore them. Don't defend them. By even mentioning them, you are only acknowledging them. The right reverend certainly proved beyond doubt that he was guilty. I don't know nor do I care of what he is guilty of but he should have just kept his mouth shut.
An hour or something later, he stopped. 

Judging by the thronging thousands, I can certify that the good pastor is certainly popular but then isn't entertainment supposed to be popular? Which one of you would like to attend a sitar recital as compared with a rock concert? I would understand if a church is trying to increase the number of it's faithfuls, but do we really need to play to the gallery to get the pews overflowing?

We filed out in a way that resembled movie goers. The next batch of worshipers were awaiting their turn to be spiritually zapped.
As we flow out into the narrow lane and into the path of impatient drivers, we are accosted by beggars and peddlers of virtually every known commodity that you can buy with whatever money is left over after your generous tithes. Almost out of nowhere, a gentleman 'of the church' walked over, interrupting my train of thought and started a conversation. He correctly figured that I was a visitor to the church and offered to patch me through to the pastor and the help group at 'my zone'. He seemed so genial that I didn't have the heart to tell him that I would never be coming back to this church. Not even if this was the last church and I was the last Christian alive. But four minutes later, we have exchanged numbers and he knows my name, and where I am from. Wasn't I taught not to provide such details to complete strangers? Argh..

Post the traumatic series of events this Sunday, I still think this could have been just an anomaly. Just a bad day to have come to this church. I still remember the sermon and value the takeaway that the messages offer.
Enlightened at how innocent the holy man is, my convictions about televangelists have only hardened. Many preach God, or so they would like to believe, so that they appear to be the James Bond of Christ. C'mon guys, who writes these stuff? Why in the world would Christ need a James Bond?
I've had debates with fellow believers and curious non believers who believe Christ is so much more than what you, I or any other generation ahead of us can ever figure out. He is so much more than all our intelligence put together. We need him, more than he needs us.

In hindsight, I can understand why Satan worshipers and atheists are averse to Christianity.
The believers come away disillusioned and the non believers have more reasons to never give us another chance.

Additional Reading Suggested:

Jul 9, 2011

Civil Servants or Epic Rulers?

In what seems like an anti climax of a sordid cycle of greed and power, our dishonored Premier along with his puppet mistress is going to shuffle the cabinet.
This after the government looses its second minister to irrefutable proof of nepotism and unbridled corruption.

Expected but isn't this a tad too late?
What were they doing all this while?

What surprises the heck out of me is that the political party who's ministers were caught, with their hands knee deep in the cookie jar, still has the nerve to ask (or even think)
that they need a representation in the team.
Are you kidding me?
Do you really want us to believe that you are innocent of all the billions that you've squandered?
Who writes this stuff anyway?

I had to pay a bribe of 200 bucks to file an FIR for my own driving license! The inspector was kind, almost warm to the point of offering me coffee. But when the time came to hand over my acknowledgement of the FIR, he held his hand out for money, with a sudden smile on his face. A smile that could wipe away all your tears. I had to give him 100. He looked at me and pat came his request for a encore. I started to protest but as I did, memories of how my police verification for my passport didn't go through because I refused to bribe, flashed. I relented. I came away poorer by 200 and the cop? Well, its business as usual. He had two other complainants to attend to. Ka ching!

All this even at a time when India is going through unprecedented levels of civil unrest against corruption.
We need to adapt an attitude of zero tolerance towards all kinds of corruption. There's no two way about it.

When my parents were working with the Ministry of Health, Kuwait, they always referred themselves as 'Civil Servants'.
We never thought of the term as demeaning or lacking any of the dignity that it is supposed to possess. Even the ministers there, albeit wealthy beyond belief, always respected and obeyed their constituents.

The world's largest democracy on the other hand is caught in between a shameful yet relentless cycle of greed, nepotism and bureaucracy.
Well, its not just politics anymore. Nepotism and undue favoritism has seeped into corporate world.

The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference.
Our complacence with the status quo makes sure corruption is what sweetens the pot for any honest minister who keys to the vault.
We can go from one cabinet shuffle to another until the next general elections or we can just stop the rut here. Choose the right people.

Stumbled across a video that meant a lot!



When defenseless animals can unite against predators, why cant we humans fight against the most corrupt politicians alive?

We need a Leader with a spine. Are you listening, Mr PM?

Jul 8, 2011

You must be kidding me!

I love reading the news. More now than ever before.
After all, whats going on in this Great Shining India of ours beats the living daylights off TRP's off any reality show.

Sample some of the latest platinum rated stuff, fresh off the ass's mouths:

Human resources development minister Kapil Sibal has criticised civil society representatives, led by social activist Anna Hazare, of trying to undermine the role of the elected government in the drafting of the lokpal bill and of attempting to gain control of the country. While speaking
to Congress party workers at the launch of the Jan Jagaran Abhiyaan (‘Awakening of the people’) on Thursday, Sibal said, “We will not allow five to 11 members of the Lokpal to run this country – this will neither be acceptable to the government nor to the countrymen. They [the civil society members] make it sound as if these 11 members will ascend from heaven. It is a good dream but the country cannot be run on dreams.”  

The Jan Jagaran Abhiyaan was launched by the Mumbai Congress in preparation for the 2012 civic polls.

Sibal also accused civil society members of trying to subjugate the constitution. “They want to bring the judiciary under the Lokpal’s purview. This will only deter judges from acting fairly and will instill fear in them,” said Sibal.

Civil society members condemned Sibal, accusing him of trying to mislead people. “Our only intention is to have a strong Lokpal bill to deter corrupt practices, which has reached unprecedented levels,” said Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai coordinator, India against Corruption.

Sibal also expressed displeasure over the manner in which television news channels were highlighting the news of union minister Dayanidhi Maran’s resignation. He said TV channels destroyed the hard-earned reputation of accomplished individuals. “TV channels think they run the country. I request the government to make them accountable,” said Sibal. Television channels boycotted the Jan Jagaran Abhiyaan after Congress cadres allegedly heckled crewmembers. 
 
Now, say it with me, slowly: Yes Ofcourse.

Why would the politicians in this country ever want to give away their golden goose, eh?
You must be kidding me to believe that they will ever relinquish control.

Our Minister of Human Resources (really?!) thinks his kin is beyond the reach of the civil society.
Mr Sibal, we elected you. You represent us, not the other way around. You listen to us, and again, not the other way around.

How daring for a senior minister to even venture such a statement.
We must fire his speech writer.

We desperately need some of those Japanese conscience implanted into our politicians. 
Gosh! The grass is indeed green on the other side.

Jul 3, 2011

Where's my topic, dude?

How many of you writers have struggled to find your next topic to write about?
While a flurry of hands go up, I must admit that I have struggled with my fair share of false starts.

Right up there in my list of 'The Most Pleasurable things to do', writing is one of those things that I'd love to indulge in.
Some of my best articles were when I was emotionally spurred and I often wonder if I'll ever get saturated.
A well written article is like fine dining.
Must be exquisite, thorough and well knit.

Having blogged for a year and a half now, I've grown and matured as a writer. Though I still lack the marketing and technological skills that I'd need to promote my blog writing about things that matter to you, sharpens the wit and wordsmithing skills that you'd need as a writer.
Start Engines.
Getting the ball rolling is perhaps the toughest.
Many people I know fear writing. They experience what I'd describe a 'pen fright'.
I've struggled with the overwhelming anxiety of how my writing will be perceived. However I've figured that I'd never know how awful or awesome I am unless I try it. My first blog post about GE Brinjal, in hindsight, was an amateurish effort. Nevertheless I was happy that I'd started.

Know thy Topic.
If you'd keep your mind open, you'll never run out of topics. This is however easier said than done.
Over the years that I've been writing, I've had no dearth of things that I wanted to write about. However deciding how to harness your creative juices is what matters.
Ofcourse, you mustn't write about stuff that you'll regret about. Meaning, ex'es and secret love affairs are out of the question. I've grown to be wise about the topics that I choose to write, because they are mostly about things that matter most to me. Things that make me who I am.

There's never a Tomorrow.

Procrastination is a killer. Maybe you don't have the motivation to write or maybe you simply don't know that you could dedicate just one hour in your day to write. But most people I know, simply don't prioritize their writing. They decide to start writing when they retire. I push all my writing assignments to a vacation or a holiday since I am simply too disorganized to write when I am not on vacation. Like any other evil, the moment you procrastinate, you know that you're done for. You know that you are not getting that article written. Of the three long vacations that I've taken, I'm yet to finish any of my assignments. But I still believe I will write my memoir when I'm retired. Fat chance that is going to happen.

Writing is therapeutic.
Literary therapy- Can only be compared to the peace of mind that you'd get when you are in love.
I remember I started writing because I was lonely as a child. Many years later, I started blogging when I was going through one of the most traumatic phases of my life. Writing fulfilled a need to express and a desire to be honest with yourself. Writing gave me an emotional orgasm.

K.I.S.S
A decade ago, just as a fresher out of college, I worked with a marketing agency. A salesman trick that we're taught is how you must walk with confidence, approach your client with a smile and give a firm handshake. They also taught us of how we must make our best impression in the first ten seconds of meeting the client and of how we must 'let' the client hold and feel the product that we are selling (which in my case were Oxford Thesauruses). We were told that within 45 seconds of having handed over the book for demo, we must close the pitch or they'll not buy it. The K.I.S.S technique- Keep It Short and Sweet. Writing is not too different. Writers must be careful of the topic they choose, how they present it and the succulence with which they must wrap it up. Improvising on the K.I.S.S, I would say, you need to follow the 'Mini skirt' technique. Short enough to arouse interest, long enough to cover the subject.

Looking forward to a future that is a watt brighter than what it was before I was a writer/blogger, I owe all that I've written to my Lord- Jesus Christ.

Ugly Indians! We are.

There's this guy that I know who is powerful, influential and wealthy. Born out of a poor family, he does not have the credentials that he would need to make his billions. However, by virtue of his monies, he is respected and is considered incapable of making a mistake or committing a crime. The boss of a sprawling business empire, he is considered one of the most powerful men in society. Tough on critics and loving towards his followers, he makes sure that he does not have any living enemies. His family members and associates however are of a different pod. In a race to make their billions, some of them have fallen from grace. Publicly and rightly so.

Our protagonist, the rich boss, now has to make the tough decision of doing the right thing by penalizing the guilty or covering up much muck. To make matters worse, true accounts of how the guy's cronies colluded with unscrupulous people, cheating and dishonestly favoring certain other businesses in return for billions of dollars in kickbacks reach the people outside.

The people demand the guilty be punished. Here is where the rich boss's honesty is going to be tested and his integrity proven.
If he were to prove himself to be honest he should punish those who plundered public wealth and trust, in the most severest way permissible by law. He should make an example of them.
But predictably, in a way that reveals where his loyalties really lie and his intentions are, he neither punishes the guilty nor allows for a stricter rule that would prevent future instances.

No moral story this, but if any of this sounded familiar, it should. This is the sorry saga of politics in our great Nation.
Gandhi and Nehru must surely be squirming in their graves. Looking down, they must be wondering 'Where did I go wrong?'
Although there is a surge in people talking about Anna Hazare and Hairy Baba, it's all gas and no inertia.

This is definitely baffling.
When people ask me how we've allowed such unprecedented levels of corruption to seep through, I believe it is mainly because we've chosen it. We are living comfortable lives. As long as you and I get to wake in our beautiful homes, where we are not unreasonably hunted down by the government, as long as we are able to reach our workplaces and back home without too much hassles, as long as we are not unreasonably tormented by our bosses or civic authorities, as long as we have basic amenities and certain luxuries of life and as long as we have money to spend we are not going to revolt.

Egyptians took 30 years before they gathered the political strength and emotional courage to overthrow one of the Middle East's most powerful government. While Yemen, Libya and Tunisia are still burning, it takes more than just peer pressure to win a popular uprising.

Though we are many decades away from an revolution like in Egypt or from any semblance of change, we do share a lot with what the people in Egypt went through.
Even as they do not call themselves dictators, many of our politicians live out their lives as autocratic emperors.
Even though we do not have a secret police, our coppers are conspicuous and equally notorious.
Many of us may not have suffered the ignominy of being imprisoned or tortured in secret chambers, but when I see, hear and read news reports of how the police are used to exact political and personal vendetta, and how protesters are dragged off in an awkward embrace that can only resemble a hunter dragging off his kill, I realize we do share a lot with our Arab cousins.

They say that when the roots are rotten, the fruits will be too. But in a country like India, where we've had one of the most inspiring freedom struggles in human history, where we've fought for the truth and all that is good with such poise how could we go so wrong?
Where did we take the wrong turn to end up in the concocted mess that we can barely recognize?
How could our politicians associate themselves to a family that laid down their lives for truth, when they loot and plunder with so little conscience?
And how could we condone politicians who does not want to be held accountable?

How must we retaliate? Anna's got the right weapon.
Could we possibly start over again? Maybe.
A clean slate? Possible.
Will it stay clean? Depends.

Ugly Indian, a movement that I came across online made a lot of sense.
We are the ugly Indians who will not hesitate to spit out our phlegm and our sweet paan on  streets or government stairways, but come to a mall, we are on our best display. Go abroad. We are the best ambassadors of everything polite and well behaved. And like the founders of the movement rightly pointed out, the ugly Indians are not the illiterate or the village folks. It is us. You and me. The highly educated, well heeled and appropriately wealthy city folks that are to blame. Because we are the ones with double standards.

The ugly Indian is here to stay.

The government knows this too.
The politicians want this.
They know that as long as we live and work in a air-conditioned bubble of comfort, they are safe. They want a class of people who will not revolt against them yet let them milk them for every dollar we are worth. 2G then, 3G now. Flyovers then, Mono Rails now. They are always looking for the next billion dollar project that will ensure that their personal coffers will overflow for a few generations.

It is not Pakistan that we need to fear.
It is not China that we need to hate.
We are feeding a parasite that is slowly eating us from inside out.

If our ranking on the Transparency International is any indication, we will soon be the shining example of what  happens if we delve in past glories.

Candle light vigils just won't do. 
Phony threats of fast won't be enough. 
Taking a lesson out of history, we need to unite. Again. 
This time against our tendency to bribe, against our tendency to be complacent with tiny promises. Without fear, head held high.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
 
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