Dec 31, 2012

Ze List v2.0 [365/365]

So I finally reached the end of my 2012 Challenge!

Ze List v1.0 was the most read post last year with about 6000 unique readers. Ze List v2.0 hopefully builds on that with my take on what was interesting and what made the cut (or not)


God
We've had incredible ups and downs this year but looking back, I now know the meaning of 'Be still and know that I am God'.

The Great Indian Circus
We had the government and all its cronies do a sequel by sleep-walking through parliament this year. There were plenty of misses and a few hits though no-one can pat themselves on the backs for.

Corruption/Scams
It's all relative. From sports stars to wannabe bimbos, it doesn't look like they learned anything from the last year. Great year for Raja though!

Censorship and the Year of Hacks
The year kicked off pretty bad for folks like me who depend on freedom of speech. Governments everywhere realized it was simply not worth trying to muzzle free speech.

Pranked!
Will be remembered as the year when a ill-conceived prank took its toll.

End of Days
Surprisingly, this year was supposed to be the last. We were not supposed to survive the Apocalypse. But seeing how we did, let's hope dumb-asses like Harold Camping won't spoil us with another doomsday warning.#BrittanicaEncyclopedia #BigBang


Austerity
One of the reasons why I think we all believed 2012 was the end was because of the way many economies in the West unraveled. Austerity is still the dirty word that must not be uttered.

Iran
Continues to be the speck in the eye for the West. When threats didn't work, embargoes did. But frankly, Iran is much too strong and well-built to be cowed down by a bunch of Caucasian bullies.


Bush'ism (noun)
Term given for the unexplained and outrageous insanely things that politicians became famous for saying. 
Synonym: Verbal Diarrhea.
Subject of intense research done by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Scientists are hoping to extract blood samples from Obama in the hope that they can create politicians who will be as refined and skilled as the American president.

Sexual Miss Conduct
Children and Indian women got the raw end of the stick (quite literally, too).
While Delhi and other Indian States notched up rapes like it was going out of style, it took just one 'brutal' rape to get us out with our creatively written banners asking for stricter anti-rape laws and legislature. Apparently the only women who are truly safe in Delhi is Sonia and Sheila.
No one wants to talk about the 26 year old mother who was blindfolded and gang-raped for several hours before being dumped in Kolkata. 

'Brutal' and 'Castration' became household words and it was just another year for Incredible India.

Pirates Ahoy!
Two Italian marines on-board an Italian cargo ship shot dead two Indian fishermen. What followed was a sordid tale of how the victim's family fought for a whole lot of money and won. Seeing how sluggish our judicial system works, the marines may have all the time in the world to learn some new Indian languages.

King No More
Bad year for the aviation sector. While Air India got the kiss of life, Kingfisher landed and never took off. Mallya may not be poor but he surely has a strategy. Or has he lost interest in his 5 star airliner?

Famous Deaths
An interesting line up of obituaries this year and with the kind of talent that left us unlucky mortals, I think God is casting for an Epic soon.


Full Tension Release
Our over-paid, under-worked pot-bellied politicians put their time to good use- porn in their palms.

Above the Line
If the govt said you were not poor if you earned more than Rs32/- a month and you laughed at the thought of that, then you'd have died laughing when our conscientious politicians declared that millions moved up the ladder this year.

Sachin
From Master blaster with a bad hair day to Average Joe with shoes of concrete, the greatest batsman cricket has ever seen became a Rajya Sabha member and retired from ODIs. From one source of income to another, he executed a fine knock over the boundaries.


Mamatadi
2012 was truly Didi's year. Or was it?
From being chuddi buddy with the ruling party to being isolated as a failing chief minister of an impoverished Indian State, the transition was complete.

Lyrical Gangsters
So what if the he didn't have the look or the moves, the whole world got obsessed with the horse-rider from the East. Oppan Gangnam Style. 


Natural disasters and Fiscal Cliffs
From Japan to the United States of America, it really didn't matter how rich or powerful they were, nature and money showed who's boss.

Hanging up the Boots
Several high-profile retirements left Indian cricket worse than it was. And oh yeah, let's not forget F1 either.

Guest Posts
I saw my ratings soar thanks to enthusiastic guest bloggers who wrote for me this year. One of my most popular guest blogger was AJ whose posts got about 5000+ hits. Thanks to you all!


Free Ads
A fairness cream for down under caused such a furore and tons of free publicity.
Honey Singh was thrown from relative obscurity to outright (in)famy with his 'Balatkar' lyrics.

Vidya Balan
She showed us how grit and sheer determination can bring success. What a Kahaani!

Indian Olympics
From winning our largest haul of Olympic medals to being kicked out from the IOC, we came full circle. Touche`

Aarushi
India lost an Aarushi about 4 years ago. Her parents are still paying the price for asking who did it.

Pakistan
From loosing terrorists to loosing face, our western neighbor had a pretty busy year.


Facebook
Touted as one of the biggest IPO launches this year, FB fell flat on its face. Made for a great Kodak moment though. #Facepalm.

Unsung Heroes
'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' featured some unlikely heroes that you won't hear, will never see and would probably forget very soon. They made the list because of their sheer grit, dedication and character.

Fuel
This section will probably be repeated in every single list of every single year. This year India saw the steepest increase and some token decrease in its prices. Suddenly cycling and walking looks like a better option.

Sunny Leone
She came. We came.
'nuff said.

SRK
With an obsession for attention, SRK cartwheeled himself into my List a second year in a row. #IPL5.



SMJ
Aamir Khan's Sathya Maye Jayathe placed a mirror in front of us and we were forced to take a long hard look at ourselves.

Avengers
One of the most anticipated Superhero movies made us all laugh, fight and believe in the supremacy of American vengeance.

Vicky Donor
Surprise package. Literally and otherwise.

Indian Presidential elections
Probably the first time, anyone ever fought to have their (wo)man at the Rastrapathi Bhavan. Predictably, logic took a back seat and Pranab bailed himself out from a sinking ship. Nice move!

US Presidential elections
Fodder for standup comedians and couch potatoes. No prizes for guessing who won.

Woof Wolf!
Pinky & Pascal Mazurier. Names that many have forgotten by now, became the unwitting victims of vengeful partners who took advantage of the quagmire called the Indian Justice system.

Of Money plants and Mud
Time and Outlook got at eachother's throat for calling their respective leaders a lame duck. Each saw their rating soar and we forgot who won.

Mass Shootings
We saw a new kind of jihadi.

From crazy lunatics firing into a packed theatre to socially-inept children killing other children, 2012 was all about ducking the bullets. #GunControl

Kasab Khatum
After years of fattening him up, we finally slaughtered him. Indians celebrated.

Naked Royals
Just three words: Pasty White Skin.

Bangalore Trash
We wanted our government to act on our trash. Not because we cared for the environment but because we had see (and smell) our trash every single moment of every single day for months.

Apple
From winning a billion dollar lawsuit against Samsung to unveiling new gadgets, Apple did it all.

Julian Assange
When all else failed, he simply walked into the Ecuadorian embassy. Now why didn't he do that earlier?!

Of spoiled sons and sons-in-laws...
This year, we heard (a lot more) about the famous sons and sons-in-laws.

...and wayward Generals and TV hosts
While Jimmy Savile was spared the embarrassment, Gen. David Petraeus was caught with his pants down. 


You've been flashed!
If libdubs were a rage, the past year saw plenty of flash mobs taking bystanders by surprise. Corporates and NGOs took to flash mobs like a duck to water to spread their message and brought a little bit of Bollywood into their lives.

Abort!
The untimely death of an Indian dentist in Ireland ignited the debate supporting abortion in exceptional cases. What good is religion when it can't save precious human life?


Have a great year ahead!

Dec 30, 2012

I wish I ..

As we end another year of turmoil, sweat, tears, heartache, victory, sorrow and happiness, I invite you to think back into what is the most important thing in your life. It is not that promotion you got or the house you bought.

It is the small things in life. Family, Children, Time with your loved ones.
I invite you to read 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing' by Bronnie Ware.

Read the author's experience and get to order the book online here.

Never Again! [364/365]

I started this day with the shattering news of the death of Delhi gang-rape victim.

Yesterday, a friend posted a picture that had gone viral by now- the picture of Damini (aka Nirbhaya, Amaanat). An unfortunate victim of our lust and disregard.

It was a collage of a young woman with a bandaged head, bruised eyes, visibly battered with tubes coming out of her mouth. Some of the pictures had the face blurred out to conceal her identity.

Then I saw another picture that claimed to be the victim's real identity. And a third and a fourth. It was interesting to see how each of the picture had a caption to convince its reader of its authenticity.

I can understand how strong the urge is to see the face of a girl that the nation is crying about, but I cannot understand why we would want to spread stolen pictures of young women and add a heart-wrenching message to it.
There could be a few angles to it.

Either the perpetrators of this collage think we are gullible enough to believe this is the girl and we need to emote and share the image to a thousand others or this is the sick joke of a demented population of men (and women) who think it is okay to reveal the identity of the victim if that would get the government moving. These are the same bastards who also blur faces of their exes and upload their nude pictures online. The same ones who created panic and hysteria a few months ago.

Either way you look at it, the very act of doing this to extract every ounce of sympathy is fraught with danger. The smart alecs might have inadvertently destroyed the life of some random girl who may never have been raped. Will her (future) boyfriend/husband ever believe her anymore?

Have we not ruined enough women already?
As the nation says 'Never Again', I laugh at the irony of that phrase.

Dec 29, 2012

Kya Maal hai yaar? [363/365]

Two days ago, the victim of the Delhi gang-rape was airlifted to a hospital in Singapore.

As news reports come in, we are told that she has irreparable brain injury and has suffered cardiac problems while on-board.

While she may never know the rage that we are demonstrating on the streets, I doubt if any of that will ever matter to her.
Am I a pessimist? No. I hope to God that women everywhere will one day be able to walk free without the fear that men will harm her or her family.

Do I think we need a mental overhaul of how we treat women? Yes. A couple of days ago, when searching for images on the now infamous prime ministerial gaffe for my post, I typed in 'Theek Hai' and hit Search. What I got was a few dozen pictures of Manmohan Singh. I also got a picture of a young Indian girl striking a pose with a caption that read 'Size-theek-hai-na1.jpg. maal hi mAAL'. The image links to a webpage with dozens of pictures of young women who probably never know that their pictures have been uploaded with sleazy comments for public consumption.

This is not the only website with images like this. We have hundreds of sites that willingly host images of young women whose vengeful boyfriends have uploaded. Almost all them have captioned like 'Slutty bit*h reveals her c**t' and such. Nearly all of them allow you to see the images only if you click on 'I am over 18' link but then there's nothing stopping teenagers with raging hormones under 18 from accessing the site either.

Our young protesters will go back to college in a few days time. The online petitions will die out. Gradually our media will move on to cover newer 'Breaking News'. The horror of what happened in Delhi will continue. We need a revolution to end this hypocrisy

We don't need be like China. But we do need a conscience that feels pain and won't give up.

We owe it to ourselves to treat our women with respect.
We owe it to them to ensure that we don't misuse their trust on us.

Dec 28, 2012

Dented and Painted [362/365]

Source: Shovonc's blog
Abhijit Mukherjee, his only claim to fame was that he is Pranab's son. Today, by virtue of a typical bout of 'verbal diarrhea' that affects Indian politicians, he is trending on social media.

While I agree to his description of protesters in Delhi and elsewhere, he crossed the fine-line of what not to say when he termed the women - 'highly dented and painted'.

More than a year ago when Team Anna took India by storm, millions joined his ragtag team of 'freedom fighters' and civil society champions, thousands lampooned the movement and laughed at the audacity of his vision.

We became intoxicated at the prospect of global recognition by hoping to imitate the Arab Spring.

One of the major reasons why I believe Anna failed is because he failed to make us feel the pinch that we had long become insensitive to. Unlike the times when Gandhi fought, we are living in a comfortable bubble. We don't want to be hounded and hunted for wanting to change.

When the 23 year old paramedic was brutally raped and left for dead by a deserted road, I wonder how many of us would have passed her by without helping.
The news of the brutal rape barely got any coverage in a leading newspaper down south on the 16th December. 

While the protests prove that we are not insensitive to the brutality that we read (yet), the fact that we allowed such a crime happen is evidence that we have cultivated men to rape and women to blame the victims for 'exposing' themselves to the crime.

We might hold candle light vigils and destroy government property but we are still Ugly Indians who will not hesitate to judge women.

Abhijit quickly tendered an unconditional apology that was 'not meant to hurt any particular section or any particular sentiment...'. Where do we get such contrite statements from?
Why do we tolerate such politicians any more?
If we expect our celebrities to behave in a way that befits our society, isn't it time we expect our elected representatives to be held responsible and accountable for what they say and do?

For a country that known as Bharat Mata, we sure have a sordid reputation with women.

Dec 27, 2012

Norman Stormin Out [361/365]

A decade and a half ago, he knocked the wind out of the Mother of all Battles. Today, he died out of pneumonia-related complications at age 78.

Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., was the commander of the combined coalition forces during the First Gulf War, 1991.

Having served his country with a distinguished military career, he is clearly one of those men who were lucky enough to die of nothing but old age.

He will be best remembered for orchestrating one of the most one-sided victory in modern warfare with a blitzkrieg that left the Iraqi shocked and awed. They probably never knew what hit them and Kuwaitis have Norman to thank for it.

For the Americans, the success of this war soothed a frayed nation that was reeling after an embarrassing string of defeats in Vietnam and Korea and catapulted the Bush family into the limelight.

As the commander of the first heavily-publicized war, Stormin` Norman controlled how the rest of the world saw and experienced the defeat of one of the largest armies at the time.

I wonder if he ever thought about how he didn't finish the job he was supposed to. Saddam Hussein and his republican guards were left decimated and wounded yet alive. Apparently White House rushed to end the way 100 hours after it started only because they weren't keen on removing the dictator.

It doesn't take a genius to understand how leaving a dictator in an oil-rich emirate would benefit a nation with an insatiable thirst for oil. Norman was just the convenient pawn in their hands.

Rest In Peace, Norman!

Dec 26, 2012

Theek Hai? [360/365]

What does a critically acclaimed statesman and one of the best minds of the nation have in common with all the other semi-educated, completely corrupt, socially inept elected representatives? Verbal diarrhea.

Today, Mr Manmohan Singh became the butt of a million jokes when his off-hand comment was inadvertently transmitted by the national broadcaster - Doordarshan.

He uttered the word 'Theek Hai' (loosely translated into 'Is this ok?') after delivering a minute long speech asking the nation to maintain peace after many days of public anger against sexual crimes.

While I admit I was surprised a man of his stature would show such disregard to something as grave as the issue he intends to solve, I think this remark will go straight into the Wall of Shame of Politicians who talk with their over-sized foot in their mouth.

Twitter and social media was ablaze with the phrase. The phrase revealed what most Indians suspected all along - The fact that no one in power really gives a crap for what we want.

The damage was done and while heads will roll for broadcasting the unintended gaffe, the nation surged with fresh anger against the remark. If the PM and his puppet master thought this speech would have pacified the millions, what it ended up being is a PR disaster.

Unfortunately this remark also proves what most outsiders have long thought about Indians- the 'anything goes' attitude that we are infamous for. While we are seething with righteous anger, I question those who have placed themselves on the moral high horse.
How many times have we gone out of our way to help someone without a selfish reason?
How many of you have done what is right even when it was not the most convenient thing to do?

The silence will be deafening.

In a strange quirky way, his remark is eponymous of what every Indian thinks, feels and believes by.
So what if that girl was brutally raped?
She is just a statistic and by this time next year, her family will still mourn her loss and we would have long forgotten the fight.

Sub chalta hai, theek hai?

Dec 25, 2012

'tis the season... [359/365]

.. to be jolly. falala la la la..

When you're abroad, Christmas is all about feeling good. When Christians and non-Christians get a much deserved vacation.
When your wives and girlfriends get more intimate with you so that you buy them that fur and gucci, you know you'll have loosen the purse strings.
When your children are at their best behavior, you know its Christmas.

In India, Christmas is a totally different experience.
For most ignorant Hindus, Christmas means getting drunk on rum, wine-soaked plum cakes, and a reason to party in gay abandon.
For young nubile Christians, Christmas automatically means getting drunk and 'socializing' with the opposite sex.

While I have nothing against the faithful enjoying their tipple, I wonder what justification non-Christians have to get sozzled.

Over the years, I've seen the season getting increasingly commercialized. Tantalizing shopping discounts tempt you to break that piggy bank savings you struggled to achieve the whole year.
I am surprised at how we have managed to twist the relevance of the event into something so vile and repulsive.

A church that I once visited on Christmas had its predominantly young, incredibly wealthy and very beautiful congregation wear cocktail dresses and ultra-mini skirts with strapless/backless bustiers and other dresses with plunging necklines and raising hemlines. Nearly every lady at the church was dressed provocatively. The scene isn't very different from another church that I visit regularly either. Teens and young adults at the cusp of college come dressed in mini skirts and strapless dresses that would have looked more in place at a discotheque than a night-time church service. Nearly all of them are actually accompanied by their bleary-eyed fathers in tow. The parents probably never have a say, because it is either supervised church time with the family or unsupervised party time without the family. Either way, the young women are wearing what they want. And the young men, to ogle and single out the girl they want to 'hit on'.
Every year, I take a mental oath to never ever come back to such debauchery. Yet, I return.

But Christmas is also that time of the year, when every event manager and pub worth its salt will announce their New Year eve parties. The biggest DJs, belly dancers, unlimited booze and even more debauchery. They even let you rent out a room for the night. I won't term any sex that happens at these parties consensual, because when you are plied with so much alcohol, you have absolutely no inhibitions. What most women go through at these parties can be nothing less than organized rape. And the men know this. Most are attracted to these parties because they know they will either get lucky doing it or record someone else do it.

But surely, this is not what Christmas is, no?
So how did a day that was meant to commemorate the birth of the Son of Man, and the King of kings mutate into an orgy to satisfy our senses?

Go figure.

Dec 24, 2012

No Different [358/365]

Though I've been blogging for a few years, 2012 was a particularly nice year.
I've been able to polish my writing and climb the All India Rankings steadily. I'd set myself a target to write a post every day of the year and barring a few exceptions, kept up the count.

Apparently women have always been a concern. Last year, we had Kanimozhi and the thousand scams. Things aren't too cheerful this year either.

I wonder if there are people who ever introspect and think if anything changed. If the victim of a crime is healing. Public amnesia is no longer a fictional term. It is a fine art practiced at every level of society. Until December, when lists come out.

When I compiled my list for 2011, I was surprised how little we hear about in India. Our lives are controlled by the media who decides what we hear and see.

But then who's complaining?

Of Bophas' and Evans' [359/365]

We control the fate of millions of people but isn't it strange that we are sitting ducks when there is a storm or an earthquake?

Whats even more surprising is how we barely feel the effects of a disaster just a few thousand miles away. I remember how a natural disaster a few decades ago would elicit almost instantaneous outpourings of aid, relief and sympathy. But when typhoon Bopha and Evans hit our eastern cousins, it didn't find place on our front pages. Cliched as it may sound, the world has become a lot more distant and complicated.

Distracted by our paralytic governments, we forget that millions are reeling with the effects of our actions. While it is now fashionable to throw the term 'Global warming', I hardly think it is funny anymore. It isn't something that may happen to someone else in the distant future. It is something that is happening right now. You may not be in a place that is being ravaged by storms or droughts, but you are still contributing to it. Chances are if you are reading this, your city/town has very good policies set in place to recycle (Bangaloreans can ignore this term), control pollution and save the planet.

But is the planet really being saved? Do you really think you are not going to experience a storm, drought, heat/cold wave, an earthquake, flood or a fire?
All you are really doing is just saving your arse. Temporarily.

Just as we need to save ourselves from tyrants and criminals, we need to save our planet too. We can't afford to let the wealthier nations determine our policies anymore.
Who's listening?

Dec 23, 2012

When god stepped down [358/365]


Okay, I'll make a confession-
When Sachin announced his retirement from International one-dayers, I thought to myself 'Good Riddance'.

You have to admit that he is no longer the Fastest Indian between the pitches. It appeared like his foot was set in concrete when he could barely play a stroke but then Indian cricket fans are quick to forgive.

About 200 days ago, when he scored his 100th ton, he dismissed all rumors of a retirement and we asked for divine mercy for even suggesting that to the god of Indian cricket.
He seemed invincible.

For a cricketer way past his expiry date, we surely made sure that we squeezed every bit off him. Our cricket administrators in the time-tested tradition of politic myopia have failed to groom and induct younger and more talented youngsters and we are back to our loosing ways.

Everybody loves to throw their dirty underwear at poor ol' Dhoni, who is now doing the rounds of every known shrine in India in search for answers.

As a nation, we have very poor skills in estimating and preparing for major sporting events.
2012 has been a bad year of attrition for Indian Cricket and the damage has been done.

So what's ahead for Indian Cricket?
Difficult to say. With Sachin on the rolls, it appeared that our team was always playing for him. They always wanted him to get another ton, another milestone before he hangs up his boots. His retirement could actually be exactly what Indian cricket needs right now.


Dhoni, your moment is waiting.

With the below par results our team has shown at recent matches, I doubt if we'll even get to the quarter-finals at the next ICC World Cup.

Dec 22, 2012

Beg your Pardon? [357/365]

It's like the morning after a crazy night of sax.
A suicide bomber killed 8 people at a political party in Peshawar, Pakistan and a car bomb killed 6 people in Damascus. So it's business as usual.

Newspapers were filled with reports of how demented er.. disappointed doomsday supporters had to go back to work today. But you must give them credit for stocking up on the essentials. Atleast they won't have to run out for groceries for a few years now.

In frigid Delhi, hundreds of people demonstrating their frustration against lax security measures towards women endured a cold morning shower. The Prime Ministeress of Tamil Nadu, Ms Jayalalithaaaaa has planned to lodge a complaint against Delhi for wasting so much of water.


Narendra Modi, sweeps Gujarat to become its Chief(tain) for the third consecutive time. Watch out Sonia, here's another Modi that will take India by a storm.


The Holy Father of Catholics Pope Benedict XVI visited his former butler Paolo Gabriele in prison and pardoned him for leaking highly confidential papal documents.



The US is on a 'fiscal cliff'. Just what is it with the Americans and their wild terms?

Indian Cricket is tottering from one match to another like a bad Bollywood sock er.. song and dance routine.

And here's some news that could cheer our vainglorious politicians- Hundreds queue up for Christmas food parcels in Ireland. 



Well, what do I say. Christmas is here!

Dec 21, 2012

Epic Fail! [356/365]

Yay! So the world didn't really end and we all get to die another day.
Here's hoping that the Martyr of National Shame: Nirbhaya gets to recover from her injuries.
I'll be back tomorrow after I've unpacked my End Times survival kit.

Enjoy the rest of your day, folks!

Dec 20, 2012

The day after Tomorrow [355/365]

So we have finally reached the last day on earth.
As I write this post, I'm filled with the profound grief that I won't be able to finish my 365 posts this year.

All because the Mayans ran out of space to add another calender year. But if you thought that was silly, wait till you hear this-
Dozens of Michigan schools closed early for holidays, sending home 80,000 students, due to rumors related to the Mayan doomsday and police in China arrested almost 1,000 people belonging to the doomsday Almighty God Christian cult for spreading rumors about the end of the world.

Upto 30% of all adults polled earlier this year believed that the world will indeed 'end' on the 21st Dec, 2012. And so the Hollywood movie 2012 became one of most successful movies this year grossing $770 million worldwide. Talk about feeding the growing appetite for fear.

For those in the West who think vengeance and victory are as American as Apple Pie, we now have an internet hoax which tells us that PSY's nonsensical prance is proof that he is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Now, I don't know nor would I care if the world ended tomorrow.
Atleast I know I won't have to worry about reaching work on time or paying my credit card bills.
But there is something to all the publicity around the End Times. Every major religion talks about them and every believer is free to interpret in a way they like.

Somehow I realize it isn't because we are worried we will run out of rations or face unruly mobs. It could be because we all have 'unfinished business'.
Our inherit fear of death and subconscious realization that we will suffer the consequences of our thoughts and actions (or the lack of it) could be the reason why we are petrified.

We are too caught up trying to pack as much into our lives because we are told we have just one life to live. We are too reluctant to pause.
As a young person, I don't expect to die of natural causes anytime soon, but when the time comes I'd like to die with the peaceful realization that I did the right thing at the right time and never withheld goodness from anyone it was due to.

Are you ready to die tomorrow?

Dec 19, 2012

No honor among thieves [354/365]

Incredible India!
A 23 year old paramedic student was 'brutally' raped and is fighting for her life and suddenly every Indian has become the judge, jury and executioner.

'Hang them!' 'Castrate the Bastards' yell the placards.
Some others want the rapists to be diced into 3 or more pieces.
It is said that five of the six who were remanded to the infamous Tihar jail were assaulted by fellow prisoners who detest rapists. So this might explain why our ministers where given special cells during their stints there.

Quick Question:
Exactly when did we start dishing out judgements to the guilty?

The only way to deter future rapists (including the ones who'd have raped a women by the time I finish this post) is to make sure that the crime hits them at the root of their existence.
Men rape because they want to assert their authority over women. They want to remind women of 'her place' in society- That of a victim.
They rape because it's easier to force their penis into a vulnerable vagina than to win her love and devotion.
Men rape because they know their prey will almost never report them to authorities.
They rape because they know that they won't get convicted and even if they are convicted, they will be free in a few years.

Most importantly, they rape because they know we don't care for our women.

Our young men and women are braving water cannons and tear gases because it is fashionable to be seen. After all, we have all been inspired by images of the Arab Spring and erstwhile Corruption Quit India struggles. Will our protesting men stop their parents from demanding and accepting dowries?
Will our indignant women be bold enough to marry without a dowry?

What would castration achieve?
How would a public hanging curb crime against women?

Studies in animals have proven that castration won't really curb a male's sexual appetite.
If public execution curbed crimes, then Saudi Arabia would have been the safest place on earth.

So what could really work?
It is important to understand the inner ruthlessness of a rapist.
Strip away the visage, all rapists are unbelievably passive, impotent and cowardly. They wouldn't stand out of a crowd and they don't look villainous. Psychologically submissive, they are people that you would meet and forget.
Besides the thrill of achieving dominance over a woman's body, rapists bask in the glory of being (in)famous.
Besides the crucial act of convicting rapists expeditiously, rapists must be registered as 'convicted sex offenders' and closely monitored for the rest of their natural lives. Much like credit ratings, their criminal background must be an important factor with future employers, associates, creditors and spouses. They must be made responsible for the living expenses of the victim and her family for the rest of his life.
Convicted rapists and their families should be marginalized and made to experience every bit of the fear, trauma and pain that the victims and their families face.

By engaging the government violently, we are neither enabling an already paralyzed governing structure to heal nor creating a revolution of change for women. We are simply repeating what Team Anna did a couple of months ago - Arm twist the government to act. I wonder how arm-twisting somebody to do what you want could be productive.

Our young women and men will protest today. Their pictures will appear on newspapers and TVs.
Tomorrow, they go back to their offices and will work as meek slaves to a society driven by men.
Our men will go back to their wives, girlfriends and significant others and demand sex.
And they will all brag about how they marched for a cause for the next couple of months.

As a man whose partner is now petrified to open the doors and windows when alone, I demand action.

I want the government to sit down and think how they can fix this once and for all. For a government that mustered courage to pass the FDI as fast as it did, I ask that you take a reasonable length of time deliberating, but act.
Take our collective voice of rage as a feedback and not as a criticism. Don't let the fact that you might loose the next elections bother you. That will happen nevertheless.
This can't go on forever. We need our women as much as you want to stay in power.

The time to act is now.

Dec 18, 2012

Truth or Dare [353/365]

I've seen protests around the world, have been in the midst of an international conflict once upon a time and even participated in a protest march.

While it appears that our world has suddenly become very volatile, what amuses me the way we protest in India.

We hate to admit that we have double standards. When political parties announce a nation-wide bandh and cripple our economy, we complain. When liquor-fueled hooligans destroy public property we become furious arm-chair activists.
When politicians take out a march in a show of strength and solidarity, we sit in our cars and fume.

In the past couple of hours, I've received atleast two dozen messages that exhort me to protest against the inhuman and 'brutal' rape of the 23 year old paramedical student in Delhi. I am either supposed to assemble for a protest march or (for the lazy arm-chair activists) sign the petition letter that will be duly submitted to the Prime Minister and President of India.
At last count, ten thousands have signed the petition and an equal amount have been protesting against the crime.

And then what?

The problem is Us.
We are all very upset at that way she has been brutally raped.
What about the 1000's of other women who were raped just this year? No one wants to remember the victims of yesteryears anyway.
Why all this emotion?
Why did we have to wait until now?
Isn't every crime against women (sexual or otherwise) 'brutal'?

Our hypocrisy is what does us in.
We have such eloquent examples of love and adoration but we still hate our women. Right from the time the seeds are sown, she fights.

So today, as the national capital burns, our peaceful protesters are not so peaceful after all. Lathis and water canons have been used and tear gas dispersed.
The question here is:
If protesting is a constitutional right and the cause is just, why is the government so scared about a bunch of peaceful protesters?

Dec 17, 2012

Mob-In-Justice [352/365]

One day after Delhi was gang-raped (no pun intended), young and old across religions, caste (excluding the Khaps), creed and orientation seem to have concurred that women are unsafe and rapes must stop.

Random people on the street are horrified. Yes, horrified and brutal are the words of the day at coffee-tables and kitty parties.
Yet, we are still comfortable in our living spaces. Our politicians are suffering from the diarrhea of the mouth and our women are still being raped. Gang raped, mind you.

Close your eyes and pick a spot, any State in India and chances are there is a rape that just happened there.
Self-appointed guardians of the law believe the best way to remedy an injustice like rape is to marry the victim off to the accused. What a wonderful way to ruin the lady for the rest of her short life?!

Politicians and misogynists say it is because of the clothes that we wear. I beg to differ.
Most of the women who were raped wore Indian attire that covered every part of her body that men would've normally ogled at.

As India begins to fester with protests demanding tougher laws for rapists, I am quietly pessimistic.
While the protesters do have the right ingredients to push the government into acting tough, this shouldn't end with a whimper like Hazare's.

The government's job is cut out for them.
The protesters must not force the government to create new laws that won't be enforced.
And since the government agrees that rapes and crimes against women must stop, they must now come together to see how enforcing existing laws more strictly could help. 


What we don't need is mob justice. Driven by emotions, we are compelled to think that rapists must be castrated and given death sentences. Much too simple a punishment for a crime too heinous to imagine.

Rapists must be forced to feel the humiliation, violence and trauma that the victim goes through. Food for thought?

Dec 16, 2012

Gutless [351/365]

Source: DNA
Okay, so India is not the safest place for a woman and we've just proven that today. Last night, a 23 year old physiotherapy student who was visiting Delhi before she starts interning was gang-raped. By six men on a joy ride in an unlicensed bus. The six took turns raping her in the most horrific way possible, while driving around in the city. They assaulted her with an iron crowbar so severely that her intestines have suffered irreparable damage and when they had enough, threw her male friend's and her naked body out the bus and fled.

As news of this tragedy spread, India erupted.
Considering how our politicians have been politically impotent, the government fumbled. And how!

The faceless victim has lost most of her intestines due to infection and remains on ventilator. Her male friend is critical but stable and out of danger. She was alert and spoke to her family before she was wheeled in for surgery.
She might live to give a testimony but may not live long enough to see justice being served.

The bastards who raped her, had robbed another man just a few minutes before they picked her up. Had the policemen on duty accepted the man's complaint and acted, the young girl would have gone on to achieve her dreams. But the men saw the victim and her male friend at a bus stop and decided to lure them by offering to ferry them. Little did they know this could be the ride from hell. We don't know what happened within the bus but that hardly matters.

What the men did to the young girl was so brutal that Saddam would blush. But this is not uncommon. Like it or not, she is just a statistic. If numbers speak, Delhi has had more rapes reported this year than every other city in India put together. And we are not even counting the sexual innuendos and other harassment that women live with. Going by the low rate of rapes that get reported, this could be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Why are Indian men so ravenous? Why is our national capital putting us to shame?
The answers could be simple.
Indian parents use different yardsticks to raise their sons. They are trained to compartmentalize and objectify women. Mothers ingrain the thought that women are mere maids and reproductive systems meant to satisfy their father's appetite.
Women are mere objects of a man's desire.

And in case a lady does work, the men at the workplace will ogle at her cleavage, discuss her body (in detail) during their nicotine breaks, and then fantasize about her when making love to his girlfriend/wife/concubine.
I've had male coworkers who would befriend women just so that they can bump and touch her and then discuss about it with their homies.

While much of India protests, I'm beginning to wonder about our double standards. It appears that we are suddenly aghast at how the faceless young girl was brutalized and is fighting for her life.
How many of us remember Aruna Shanbaug?
Why won't we fight for her rights? Or is she a lost cause because we don't see her pain anymore?

We are the real culprits.
Our women are the real victims.

Dec 15, 2012

Heartbroken [350/365]

Adam Lanza (third from right)
Yesterday, America and the world mourned in deep agony.

Adam Lanza, a 19 year old school became America's deadliest gunman. He killed 26 people, 20 of them children of various ages at the school where his mother worked as a teacher.
As details of the incident pour in, I am shocked, aghast, dismayed and anguished.

As a young boy, he was a genius. He excelled in academics, was known to be passive and meek to a point where his school staff were concerned he would be bullied or harmed by his mates.

Contrary to the John Rambo images that we've been fed, and according to staff at Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam was a very socially awkward and troubled son.
Friends recall him to be distant and shy. Adam lived with his wealthy mother, Nancy Lanza, at their colonial-style mansion where he lacked nothing money could buy.

Nancy was a survivalist and a proud owner of atleast five very powerful firearms and rifles, several of which Adam used to devastating effect yesterday.
It is said she taught her son to shoot and counseled him to respect guns. She was also preparing for the end of civilizations as we know it.

If you ask me, I think we should have all seen it coming.

I was recently surfing through my favorite list of channels on TV, when I saw a series titled: 'Doomsday preppers...' For those who were anxious about 21st Dec, 2012 being the last day for all this was an interesting show to watch. And I did.

The show reviews one family's preparedness for a time when organized civilization will crumble. Many of them believe that society will collapse due to the ongoing fiscal cliff and some of them think humans will be wiped out by an outbreak a`la Resident Evil while some others believe that we are going to have a long nuclear winter.
We are introduced to the families and individuals who call themselves a doomsday prepper and their convincing theories of why the end is near.
The individuals show how they plan to survive and defend themselves and their loved ones when such a contingency happens. We see their vast stockpiles of food and other necessities and arms. Almost all the families in the series flaunt their gun collection and their efficiency in using them to defend themselves. And we're not even talking about air-guns here. We are talking about automatic and semi-automatic guns that most of us would normally see only in adrenalin-packed Hollywood movies.

Let's face it. America has a serious problem with guns, among other things.

We're not talking about dysfunctional and poverty-stricken families here. We are talking about a society that is sliding into a chasm of chaos.
Obama summed it up when he said he was 'heartbroken' and cried. His call for 'meaningful action' must jolt the collective consciences of Americans who think owning guns is their right. US presidents have always fought and lost the battle with powerful gun manufacturers. While election campaign speeches have always been peppered with promises to rein in the powerful lobbyists, none of the Presidents could do anything when they were in power.
Perhaps New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, sums it very well when he said "Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action".

All rhetoric apart, it is time that Americans demand their President restrict access to firearms or die with the knowledge that they are an accessory to murder.

Dec 14, 2012

When the music died [349/365]

Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920 - 2012) was a man of many words. And much music.
As a commoner who has read, seen and heard about the sitar maestro from afar, I've marveled at how talented the man was.
His death this past week is a loss that India will mourn for years to come.

Leaving behind two exceptionally talented daughters, Ravi Shankar belonged to that generation when lyrics were smooth and music was soothing.
His death truly is a void that I hope we can fill.

May his soul rest in peace and may his family find the courage and peace that they need at this moment.
God Bless You!

Dec 13, 2012

Running on Empty [348/365]

Now, I've consciously stayed away from (watching) commenting on the state of the Indian Cricket team. But with the way the World Champions have been playing lately, I am compelled to write about it.

What the hell is wrong with you guys?
Could someone please help me understand why Dhoni makes the decisions that he does?
Why are the selectors still depending on relics like Sachin, who should ideally be relaxing in his jammies somewhere in the Caribbeans, to win a game?
Where is Poonam Pandhey and why isn't she offering to strip?

With the suspiciously easy way we have been losing to teams both outside and inside India, unless we have Mr Powar at the helm I doubt if we will ever get to the quarterfinals in the next World Cup.
Progressive sporting societies like Australia, Europe and the US have consistently groomed the next generation and encouraged the seniors to contribute, grow and move on.
I can't imagine an Australian or an American sportsperson way past his/her prime clinging on to their sport. Athletes that don't perform are sidelined so that newer talent can nurture. India can be the only country in the world where someone as inconsistent as Harbhajan can survive.

While the moolah is there for all to see, the current spate of humiliating defeats should ring alarm bells to all who matter. The harvest is rich but with the kind of nepotism prevalent at the grassroots, I doubt if we will get to see real talent anytime soon.

There's no winning streak here. Brace yourselves for we are about to run out of ideas. Soon.

Dec 12, 2012

Take your pick [347/365]

When the Supreme Court ordered the Indian business conglomerate to pay $3 billion back to investors it raised fraudulently, we knew this wouldn't end well. A few days ago, the Court ruled that the group must deposit whatever remained out of the payout with the country stock market regulatory.

What astounds me is the magnitude of the payout. I doubt if the 'investors' will ever get their money back. I suspect the government intentions and the court's urgency in getting the company to kneel before it. While I definitely know that Sahara has sullied its reputation amongst poor and middle-class investors, I think this is a sign of a much larger scam. Its just the tip of an iceberg.

We all know how companies that have favored major political parties have grown over the years. Reliance is a wonderful example of the importance of knowing the right people at the top. Closer scrutiny into its business practices will open a Pandora's box that none of us really want. In a country like ours, I can't imagine of a single company who would've resisted the urge to 'do favors'.

Corporate scams are never new and in a year from now, no one will remember this. Sahara would've have tightened its purse strings and we will move on to the next big scandal. While it does please the ears that we have the ground to grow, what continues to worry me is how many of our companies are unregulated.
Special Economic Zones across the country have seen the like of Oracle, Intel, IBM and Microsoft driving productivity and churning creativity almost like slave masters in buildings that may never pass local municipal building regulations let alone corporate sensibilities.

Employees are treated with as much disdain as the roaches in the kitchen.
So what exactly is our country's corporate mission? To penalize every company that does not grease the ministerial hands?
Or is it to let the ones who do, survive and flourish?

Take your pick.

Dec 11, 2012

Getting the boot [346/365]

We should have seen this coming..
Over the past couple of years and under the tutelage of a very corrupt and distracted government, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was banned by its global authority- International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Reason: IOA conducted elections in an unfair manner that was against IOC's rules and regulations.
Doh!

With our penchant to hire Ministerial rejects and Tihar alumni, I admit I wasn't one bit surprised!
But just as we were starting to put up an incredible show at international sporting tracks, fields and courts, it looks like we've taken three steps behind. IOC's impatience with IOA and this ban serves to show how ingrained nepotism and corruption is in the subcontinent.
This ban effectively means India will not receive funding or support and Indian officials and sportspersons will not be able to represent India in the Games. While this could spell disaster to our preparation for Rio 2014, I definitely think we could use this break to fix our home.

The ignominy of accepting a medal under the flag of the respective international federation will mean that our athletes will not be eligible for the state largesse and the media adulation their Olympic peers get and would expect.
Naturally, this has upset those at the top of their game too.
While they have been vocal against the ban (and the government), most of them agree that this is the perhaps the best time to shake all the dead leaves off and start afresh. We need better administrators at the top, doing the right thing even when it does not matter. We need athletes who will never cheat nor take shortcuts. The work is cut out, our time begins now.


Incidentally, the Manmohan Singh government has been quietly reticent about all the brouhaha after having dodged the FDI bullet.

While our Olympians should really not bother themselves with this ban, and with the Olympics still a few years away, let's hope the IOA weathers this storm in the most honest way possible.

Dec 10, 2012

Creative Visualization: Octava parte [345/365]

In the last of its series for this year, I take you through the creme-d-la-creme of TV commercials that are on TV this holiday season.
First on my list is the new advt for Idea mobiles; Honey Bunny!
What the f*ck were they trying to do with this jingle? And where do they get these ideas (No pun intended)?

Being the busy person that I am, I get to hear about the advt from Neetha. Apparently for some strange mind-altering reason, she believes this advt is the 'best, most cutest' advt EVER! She even calls me honey bunny now! Hearing the jingle makes me want to beat the crap out of the guy who dreamt of this concept.

And what's with surrogate advts? Nearly anyone with an IQ of 20 and above know that Bacardi, Kingfisher, and Seagrams are liquor brands. So why would they want to pretend to sell music and mineral water? Everytime I see the Bacardi 'Beach Vacation' advt, I make a mental note to report it to the Broadcasting Content Complaint Council.

Staying on the topic of inane advts, I find most car and two-wheeler ads very annoying. The handsome dude and his 'supermodel' girlfriend on a scooter on a road that looks like it was made of velvet with no traffic?! Talking about creative licenses.
So Renault, what kind of name is 'Duster'? Why would you give a chunky looking SUV such a name?

Okay.. I'm feeling much better after ranting.
The idiot box did give me some cause for hope too. I especially loved the first advt for 'Cafe Coffee Day- Sit down...'. Watching the ad, you'd instantly realize who the ad is for. That's called Audience Analysis.
Some of the advts that I admit I enjoy is the VAIO Accent series and the Intel Ultrabook advts. Especially the series where having the Ultrabook makes everything else old-fashioned.

So as we end another crazy year, I'm hoping we get to see creative advts like Flipkart and CCD edge out crass advts like Idea's.
Happy New Year!


Creative Visualization: Part 7
Creative Visualization: Part 6

Dec 9, 2012

Jokes Gone Bad [344/365]

Practical jokes are serious stuff.
They are intended to be humorous, but sometimes can go seriously wrong.

I'm sure we would have heard of atleast one such joke that went horribly wrong.
Today, the world heard of another practical joke that ended in tragedy. Of Indian-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

The unfortunate victim of a prank call made by Australian DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who masqueraded as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. The voices were a poor imitation of the royals, but the damage was done. Ms Saldanha was found dead in her nurses' accommodation today.

What provokes anger in a sane person is how the radio station continued to play the prank call eight hours after news of the suicide was made public.
While the station promptly suspended the DJs who have not spoken 'out of respect' for Ms Saldanha, this incident has gone a couple of notches beyond comic relief.

Surely, the radio station did consult their well-paid attorneys before their elaborate stunt, but all sane advice cannot bring nurse Saldanha back to life.
A couple of months ago, I recalled how practical jokes can be cruel. Even demeaning and potentially traumatic. Today, the world saw the dark underbelly of practical jokes gone bad.

With the details of the prank call trickling out, we are now aware that nurse Saldanha only received and transferred the call to the ward nurse caring for the duchess. Apparently Saldanha was not reprimanded nor put through the wringer for doing what she did.
While I lament at the lack of a system that should have screened and filtered calls before being transferred to a patient of such a profile, I think what the world is really aggrieved about is the callousness of the radio station DJs and the management who have stood by their prank.

Nurse Jacintha will not be able to see the lighter side of this prank. Being the person that she was, I'd imagine she held herself responsible for the incredible mess. She would've blamed herself for transferring the call that resulted in so much fuss. But we'll never know.

While the radio station never meant for things to turn out the way it did, and may have just followed in the time-tested tradition of pranking, will it apologize for the insensitivity and the loss? It may bow down to pressure but never mean it.
Will this mean the end to all practical jokes in the media? Definitely not.

Was there a more sinister reason why she took her own life? Inquests will reveal that.
Was Jacintha right in taking her own life? I doubt.

Killing herself was such a cowardly way to go especially when she was as talented, as intelligent, as caring and as hardworking as her friends, colleagues and family say she was. Why didn't she think of the trauma and the loss that her family will suffer upon death?

Dec 8, 2012

No Remorse [343/365]

Exactly 142 days after his famous error of judgement, the prime accused in the now infamous Guwahati molestation case has been sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2000/-

While I applaud the speed (pun intended) at which this case has reached fruition, I want to know why we behave the way we do.
The prime accused was nabbed almost a month after he groped the teenager to his satisfaction hundreds of miles away at Varanasi. Not praying for redemption, I suppose.


Couple of questions:
Does he have any remorse for the way he treated the woman?
Why has the court not delivered an exemplary punishment instead?
Why were the others acquitted when they were equally brutal and instrumental?
Why would a person who was seen molesting the girl been given a counsel to argue and challenge the verdict?

Now, I know how the law of the land allows even the guilty a chance to fight for his innocence, but really?
When rich rapists and the well-connected corrupt go scot-free, we have to ask if the law is really working?

Mr Kalita, is obviously neither rich nor well-connected but after what he did in July, he surely is famous. Having lost his job, the next two years will see him trying to fight and get vengeful. We could actually be turning an otherwise mild-mannered guy into a sociopath. After all, what he did isn't any different from what thousands of men do to vulnerable women on New Year's eve and other nights.

Surely he was the victim of his own cockiness. Smirking and smiling at the camera, he didn't imagine how he screwed himself.
What's happened to the victim? Will she take comfort that the guy(s) who ripped her shirt will sweat their brows for the next two years?
Or has she succumbed to the trauma of her memory?

When the crime has past and the spotlight has moved on, they are left wandering.
Trying to make sense of it all, pretending to live as normally as they can, all the while crumbling inside.

Kalita, I hope you rot in jail. And this is not because I have a personal vendetta against you, but because I wish your plight will teach future molesters to keep their wandering hands and penises to themselves.
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