Showing posts with label Black Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Money. Show all posts

Monday, November 21, 2016

Our National Sport

India is a land of oddities and we may not have a national language, but we do have a national sport. So the last couple of weeks and months have been filled with people complaining about everything.

The 'Demonetization' has ruffled all our feathers. We have been extremely vocal with our praises and vitriol. 
The head of our government, our PM has told us this was to curb 'black money' and money laundering. Sure, both had to be done. 
When he announced this, he spoke with the bravado of a weightlifter who just broke the world record. Overnight, over 80% of all currency that circulated in the economy were
worth less than the paper they were printed on. 

He also said about the measures that his government put in place, which were ;

  • Older currencies could be exchanged for the new currencies in banks, ATMS (and now nationalized fuel stations when you swipe your debit/credit card) until December 30th and at RBI branches until March 31st, 2017.
  • Utility bills & fuel stations could still be paid with the older currencies.
  • Bank employees would work on weekends to ensure people could exchange their notes faster.

While these measures appeared sufficient, making an announcement like this made our Prime Minister a sitting duck for target practice. 
The truth is:

  • ATMs were not calibrated or stocked with enough of the currencies. 
  • Banks ran out of their currency stockpiles midway through the queues and when people did get their new notes, they couldn't use it anywhere because no one had enough small change. Banks haven't released the new ₹1000 and ₹500 notes and there isn't enough ₹100 notes in the economy. 
  • ATMs at malls and other locations remained ill-equipped to handle the deluge.
  • Hundreds of privately -owned fuel stations (like Shell and Reliance) stopped accepting the denotified currencies.
  • Hospitals and other places refused to accept (and thereby rejected treatment) patients who couldn't exchange their money in time. 
  • Dozens of people have died in completely avoidable circumstances. 

Modi wanted to make this appear like Operation Neptune Spear. His fans spoke eloquently about how no one else knew of this move. The only glitch here is, people knew. Far too many people knew. 

In a country where only about 50% of the population have bank accounts or access to internet banking and barely a few weeks after most of the country's banks suffered its most widespread hack happened, this move was poorly timed.  

  • Surely, Modi announced this only because he knew 6 Indian States were going to the polls and how politicians would bankroll their constituencies during campaigns. 
  • Surely, Modi hoped that we would understand how he did this only with all the goodness of a tender mother to correct the wayward ways of her children. Surely, Modi didn't anticipate the surge of vitriol he would face.
  • Surely, Modi thought we would hail him as a hero who had the balls to do something like this.
  • Surely, Modi is going to demonetize the new (shoddily designed) ₹2000 note, in an attempt to catch those hoarding/laundering black money. 
  • Surely, private citizens and businesses that own fuel stations and utility companies are laughing their way to the bank with the amount of business that is coming their way.
  • Surely, Modi is going to get all those real-estate deals you did to launder your money invalidated too. 
  • Surely, Modi has more tricks up his sleeve. 

But, as days rolled on, his confidence waned.  A barrage of less than expected applause has cornered our PM and the shell has been revealed. The man who once described what he did as brave resorted to behaving like a threatened schoolyard bully. He began to talk about how enemies are trying to kill him. He might have won the war, but this will forever be the start of his slide. 

As ingenious as we are, we adapted and found other convenient loopholes to launder money. 

I am no fan of the PM. I've never been one and probably never will. But I am not in the other camp either. I would rather trust facts and instincts than PR. Hence, I have a few questions to ask. 

Dear Mr PM, 
Thank you for working for us. 
You can keep telling yourself how the common man is happy, but you need to wake up and see the snaking lines at ATMs and banks.
If you had planned this operation months ago, like you claim...
  • Why didn't you release more of the lower denominations into the economy in the months before?
  • Why does the new ₹2000 note have the signature of Urjit Patel (who was only appointed in September 2016)? Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this.
  • Why haven't you released the ₹1000 and ₹500 notes yet?
  • Did you honestly believe black-marketers would park their ill-gotten gains in INR? 
  • What did you think the other half who didn't have access to formalized banking systems would do?
  • How did you think small traders and 'footpath vendors' would transact when there is a shortage of smaller denominations in the economy?
  • Have you thought about the cost of lost productivity?

But then this post isn't about demonetization. These are valuable lessons to learn. 
We love complaining so much that if it were an Olympic sport, we'd finish gold. 

Many years ago, I nearly gave up after cycling for a grueling 70 kms in the middle of nowhere in the Tour Of Nilgiris. I was with a cycling partner who kept complaining about his life. After hearing him rant about the choices he made in life in detail, I decided to let him go ahead so that I could finish the rest of the ride without the constant negativity. 

Social media and an over-enthusiastic mainstream media has given birth to a prevalence of armchair activists and crabby complain nannies. 
I see my FB feed filled with people complaining about the taxes, local infrastructure woes and now the demonetization. 
While I respect your opinion, I don't want to hear about how inconvenient this is. I don't want you to hear your expert rhetoric about how Modi should have done this.
Do you have an opinion? Say it, don't rant about it. Give a solution. Don't keep pointing to the obvious. 

When our roads are unsafe because of speeding traffic, instead of educating and ensuring (future) citizens are aware of safety, we build unscientific speed-breakers to slow our motorists down. 
Even when we are told to wear a helmet or buckle up for safety, we will choose to not follow the rules, because it is inconvenient for us. Because it is cheaper to pay a fine than to buy a helmet.
We love complaining about how we are polluting the environment even when we make the decision to buy a car only for the mileage. 
We have foot-over-bridges, but how many times have you seen pedestrians jaywalking?
How many times have you seen motorists breaking the law? 
How often do you segregate trash? Recycle? Reuse? Refuse?
How many times have you cut the line when standing in a Q?
How many times have you supported the LGBT community?
How many times have you been honest and compliant to the laws of the land in the past week?
How many times have you paid your taxes honestly? 
I could go on, but you get the drift, right? 

We love to complain about corrupt our politicians are, but come elections, we will accept bribes and cash in exchange for our votes.

As a country, we love to complain because that makes us look sophisticated and literate.
It makes us look liberal and nouveau riche and is an excellent conversation starter at any gathering.

Ofcourse I am guilty too, and like all old habits, this one will die hard. 
But like a determined ox, I will muzzle my mouth, stay calm, keep my head down and plow on. 

Saturday, April 04, 2015

As you liked it: Feb/Mar 2015

Over the last couple of months, the sheen has begun to fade off Mr Narendra 'Ironman' Modi. 

Rumblings of a defeat began when they lost Uttar Pradesh. Ofcourse, like the well-oiled PR machine that the BJP has metamorphosed into, the upper crust at BJP claimed the loss didn't really matter and the real test was J&K and Delhi. And so they got just about pass marks in J&K and snubbed so badly in Delhi that Modi is still smarting from his loss. And

what does Modi do when he is down? Well, the same thing that most of us do when we are depressed and need a break - Travel! And boy did he travel! He's spent close to ₹ 380 crores ($ 70 mil) in just 10 months. 

From promising to being a party with accountability and transparency, the swift and ruthless way he and loyalists within the party threw Bhushan and  Yadav is familiar territory for the Indian electorate. Arvind Kejriwal, has become the one-trick pony that most Indian politicians are. From Jayalalitha to Mamata B, feeding the electoral masses with lofty promises of free electricity, water and everything else has become the single best way to get to power and then remain there. And if you don't get to deliver them, you can always blame the opposition and dissidents for err.. well opposing. For Kejriwal (and Modi), life has come full circle. 

How dare Obama talk to us about religious tolerance? We are very tolerant towards Hindus and we love to flaunt that. Unlike in the US, where the government thinks it is against the law to even mention Jesus Christ or anything Christian or where Hindus and Muslims are discriminated against. 

Obama, the Holy Bible says 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Amen to that.

About a year ago, when we were still a Congress-run establishment, I had spoken of how a BJP win will embolden a bunch of idiots to saffronise or otherwise claim India is a Hindu nationPrediction fulfilled. I think we need to pay for some history lessons here. It is a

terrible terrible thing when politicians dip their fingers and draw lines based on religion and I can't think of a single instance of when dividing a country based on religion has turned out to be a great thing for its people.

But then, we do have some good news  - Like school principals who publish monthly lists of errant students who didn't pay fees, the BJP published yet another list of Indians (and their companies) who stashed away their billions into tax-havens abroad. Before you go checking if your name is on the list or not, relax. By the time you read this, the taxman would have already spoken to your over-paid Auditor and you can pay a nominal million or so to grease the government's palms and legalize this stash. Why the Congress didn't think of this before beats me! 

But if you don't want to pay this 'fine', fine! Allow me to point the sorry case of Mr Sahara to you. 

In other desi Defense news, let's cheer as we fit the newly designed Barak 8 long-range missiles to our destroyers (warships). Designed to track and destroy anti-ship missiles while it is still 70 kms away. As always, Pakistan and China aren't comfortable with this.

And the government ordered a probe against the Coast Guard DIG for claiming to have blown off the Pakistani boat that was intercepted a few weeks ago. #ShootTheMessenger

Our favorite Twiterrati and Mr United Nations guy, Shashi Tharoor got the midnight knock from the coppers. Big Effing Deal! Another palm to be greased and a few more news-reels later, he will walk out of this smelling like roses. Fast-forward a year and he will be walking down the aisle again. Incredible like that!

Goan minister told nurses who were taking part in a strike to be mindful of the darkening effects of the sun. Hell ya! Maybe he should be handing out Garnier sun blocks too.

As much as we love to ban stuff, we are equally allergic to admitting to our own failures. So while Modi has been promoting 'his' Gujarat to the world, perhaps he must also tell the world that there is an epidemic-like situation in the wake of rapid spread of swine flu. The 350+ who have died may have got their ₹ 5000 in compensation (aka the cost to buy their silence) but this is just the kind of apathy that we are famous for.

If you are one of those with deep pockets, a burning desire to see your name in the media and an itching urge to own the now 'infamous' suit that our benevolent 'outsider' PM wore on the Republic day parade, then you could bid and buy it. Being auctioned for charity, this gets our PM valuable brownie points and he will be hoping this will shut the mouth of his critics.

Our former Prime Minister Mr Manmohan 'Theek Hai' Singh got some reprieve when the Supreme Court stayed the government's summons to testify on a Coal Block allocation scam. I can't believe Mr Singh is innocent as much as I can believe he knows how to be assertive.

Modi accomplished yet another coup de maĆ®tre when Sri Lanka signed a nuke deal with India, snubbing China.

In an annual tradition of arresting and then releasing fishermen, Pakistan repatriated 173 Indian prisoners. Hey Pakistan! How about not arresting them in the first place?!

And so, we had 'India's Daughter'. A documentary that looks at how our men are raping women and the system that shields the wrong side.
We shouldn't really have banned the documentary. We should have shown it for free, heck we should have made it mandatory for all channels to show it. That way, we could have seen how shoddy the documentary really was. That way, we could have had a rare glimpse into the depraved mind of a rapist. But No!
We went ahead and banned it. Brilliant! The makers of the documentary couldn't have asked for a better way to advertise it. BBC laughed its way to the bank and millions saw the documentary anyway. Chutzpah!

But that didn't stop or deter our men from raping our daughters. 

Take the instance of a girl who was raped and killed in Rohtak. Her half-eaten corpse was found scavenged by nature after man satisfied his sexual urges.
Or the instance where an elderly nun was gang-raped by men within the confines of her convent.

The arm-chair activists and candle-wielding warriors did a retrospect and realised we failed our women. Gee, you think so?!

The others decided to take the law into their own hands. 

Example 1: A mob of thousands dragged an alleged rapist from his prison cell, beat the shit out of him and paraded his naked torn body through the street in Nagaland. Fist bump yeah! Let's all celebrate over champagne at our new found sense of outrage towards men who victimize the women in our country. This from the land where we saw a teenager whose clothes were ripped off her body under the lights of a dozen cellphones. #MisplacedRage
Example 2: A random group of women practice martial arts and self defense and armed with sticks and spirit will protect women in Delhi. Yes, this is exactly what we need. Desi 'Charlie's Angels' and women vigilante groups to protect the rest of us. 

Abroad, the ISIS continues to outsmart and outwit the smartbombs and unusually smart West. Be-headings and burning continue. Amidst all of this, the West's romance with naming random terrorists (and people it doesn't like) continue. We continue to obsess about 'Jihadi John' while thousands are being displaced and hundreds being killed. Which makes me wonder  - No one is really talking about how the West is producing more jihadis. Not so long time ago, the US (and its stooge across the Atlantic) were feeding us with tall tales of how countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are breeding grounds for terrorists.
Well, Uncle Sam, so is the Great Kingdom of The Queen and The United States of America! 
Dissent, it seems, starts closer home. 

Another round of plane crashes for you. It might seem like we are having a lot more plane crashes than a few years ago, but I think its just a sign of our times. We are better connected, yet less secure.

We had one Thai pilot who saves the lives of hundreds when he crashed his crippled TransAsia plane into a river and another who deliberately killed hundreds abroad when he crashed his Germanwings aircraft into the French Alps. Lufthansa won't have it easy in the months to come. 

In this month's Hypocrite Ahoy!
As is customary for armchair activists nowadays, they created online petitions and hashtags to 'fight for justice'. 

Thousands of people took to the streets and vandalized government property when a popular IAS officer was found hanging in his apartment complex in Bangalore. Noble! #DKRavi

An American policeman who brutally attacked and left an Indian man, who was visiting his son in the US, found kinship and we all raised our candles and voices against racism. Great!

Calling all hypocrites: Spare a hash-tag for Chandrabose too. The middle-aged security guard who was run over and brutally killed in broad daylight, details of which will make Salman Khan blush and Uday Hussein gush with pride. 
The culprit: Beedi tycoon and multi-millionaire Muhammed Nisham
The reason: The guard took a little longer to open the gates to let him in. Apparently, Mr Nisham is no stranger to breaking the law. He has a dozen or more cases against him in Kerala and Karnataka. His last high-profile brush with the law involved when he let his 9 year old son take the family Ferrari and Range Rover out for a spin. The foolhardy bastard and proud papa that he is, he shot and uploaded a video of this outing online and bang! All outrage and nothing else happened. This case is just another bug in the windshield that is Nisham's life. It's going to take a couple of lakhs but he (like most other Indians in his league) will come out of this smelling fresh, sporting a salt and pepper beard. Easy Queasy.

We, probably are the biggest hypocrites in the planet because we think our Muslims are 'Pakistanis', North East Indians are 'chinkies', South Indians 'Madrasis' and our North Indians 'Biharis'. But when a German professor thinks all Indian men are rapists, all I hear is 'How could they do this to us?'

In this month's DILLIGAF section,
  • A WhatsApp picture of a male student lying on the laps of 4 other girl students got the college and the students into hot sambar. Apparently, the moral brigade's spidey sense was sent tingling and they didn't leave a stone unturned in pounding sense into everyone around. 
  • Meanwhile a video of a nude woman dancing atop a desk in a police station in Paraguay sparked calls for an investigation. See, if this was in Bangalore / Kerala / Mumbai / Kolkata or Anywhere else in North India, the moral brigade would have burned that district out of the map
  • But if you are a woman in Saudi Arabia, here's another thing you should be careful about: Don't let your steam off on WhatsApp. It could land you trouble like this young lady discovered.
  • We had Rakhi Sawant declaring her undying love for Virat Kohli. This is called Optimism. I think she stands a better chance with Bobby Darling. Now that is a match made in heaven. She is a certified nut-job and Bobby Darling, well is,  Bobby Darling.
  • After winning yet another term into office, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu got a stern yet sugar-coated threat from Uncle Sam. 
  • A hidden cam in a clothing store landed Fab India in fab trouble, after Union HRD minister Irani Smriti discovered the camera in a ladies trial room. Ms Smriti, we understand you are outraged but this isn't new. Google for hidden camera MMS and you'll be inundated with videos of women who have been recorded changing their clothes, having sex, answering nature's call and every possible act that a voyeur could ask for. If you really want to rid the society of this scourge, then delve into the reasons why men do this in millions of stores/homes and workplaces.  Or you could say DILLIGAF.
  • And if you are a Hindu mother, and you thought BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj was right when he said you should achieve your quota of producing 4 children each, then relax. RSS pipsqueak Mohan Bhagwat has rebuffed the order. You can continue to produce as many as you want. If you ask me, our Hindu leaders are secretly envious of Muslim families that believe in large families, but they won't be caught dead admitting it. Hypocrisy, anyone?
  • We want western tourists to come and spend their dollars and rubles here. But don't party. And if you party, we will pull out our camcorders and record you for our personal titillation. Incredible India!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the super-rich 'Crusaders of Christ'.

Saving the best for last, 

Indian Cricket - Ah yes, that one sport our quasi-sporting nation encourages, embraces and worships. With the Cricket World Cup that had about a dozen teams battled out. Yes, I'll call it a battle even though it resembled more like a bully storming through some scrawny kids in a playground.
The Indian team, decided to stay back in Australia after a disastrous tour there. Good point. No reason to come to India after a debacle like that, right? And so they went into the tournament as former Champions and current under-dogs (read Write-Offs). They play a few matches against low-rung teams like Pakistan and such and win! That's right! They won! They really did win! Hurray! And they reach the semi-finals and that's where they meet the only team that really mattered  - Australia. Well by now we, loyal Indian cricket fans, have all but forgotten the disastrous India Tour of Australia 2014-15 and decided to book the entire stadium in Sydney. Yes, because we are that forgiving! 
India stood still. Not a single patriotic Indian (except for the ones protecting our porous borders) stirred. And India went to the crease first. And the top order fell fast and frequent like dominos on speed. 
Maybe we had to remind them that this was the do or die match. 
Maybe we had to remind them that this was a one-dayer and not a test. 
Maybe we had to remind ourselves that they aren't as good as we are told to believe. 
Did you even see the scorecard? Barring the Captain, none of the others scored above 50 runs. Compare that to the Aussies and you'll begin to see why we are just a mediocre team with an exceptional PR team. 
Back home, next-gen fans began to console themselves and their cricketing idols that this is okay. 'You are allowed to lose', they said, 'after winning so many matches, we are okay with you losing'. How benevolent of us! 
Reminds me of how I used to score 100/100 in drawing, arts & craft, moral science and PT but if I didn't score 60 and above in Math, Science and other subjects, it didn't matter how I did in anything else, would it? Ditto. 
But we still got a scapegoat to blame  - Enter Anushka Sharma. Bad choice or Wrong timing or both? Maybe we lost because Poonam Pandhey didn't offer to strip this time. Thank God its over just in time for IPL.  

Indian Badminton - Saina climbed to the top of the Badminton world which was dominated by the nimble Chinese. She was ranked # 1 even though she lost to Carolina Marin in the All England Series. Climbing to the top of the rankings is no mean effort, and what we lack in consistency we make up in sheer numbers and good PR. Star Sports has been looping a series appropriately titled 'Saina's climb to the top'. Great! She'll use this to demand she be awarded the Bharat Ratna this year.

And in closing, here's a story (with some modifications) that has been doing the rounds since the last many years

Original Story:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and
laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool

and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version:
The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant's a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN , Asianet show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.
How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
  • Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant's house.
  • Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .
  • Mayawati states this as 'injustice' done on Minorities.
  • The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper
  • CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.
  • Railway minister allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.
  • Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the 'Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act'[POTAGA] , with effect from the beginning of the winter..
  • Education minister makes 'Special Reservation' for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.
  • The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it's home is confiscated by Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, BBC, CNN.
  • Arundhati Roy calls it 'A Triumph of Justice'.
  • Railway minister calls it 'Socialistic Justice'.
  • CPM calls it 'Revolutionary Resurgence of Downtrodden'
Many years later...
The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley, 100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India.
And that's why India is still a developing country...!!

And finally, here's Deepika Padukone with yet another rant on behalf of women everywhere (yawn). Apparently, the lass is bent upon staying relevant whether she has movies or not. Can someone please tell her to STFU.

Monday, December 08, 2014

While I was away... November 2014!

Take a seat.. this will take a while.

The other day I was on my way to work and I saw a smart young techie in his mid-sized economy sedan. Now we are all stuck in this kilometer long traffic that was barely moving and every other motorist decides to wait it out. Except for this chap. He is fuming! He starts honking like he's got a coronary valve about to explode. 
The motorist in front of him gets furious and doesn't budge an inch while the rest of us zip past him. 
I couldn't help but laugh at the way his impatience got the better of him. 
This is a scene that gets repeated at every rush hour in every road in Bangalore err. Bengaluru. I so want to buy a bumper sticker that reads - Honk if you know you are an Asshole! But I digress.

Earlier this month, desi etailer and India's answer to the Amazon announced the 'Big Billion Sale'. It was the perfect bait. Indians love a bargain and we actually salivate at the sound of the words - 'Big' and 'Sale'. And we all waited for 8 am on the 6th of October. The rest as they say is history. There was a sucker born every second and we all got 'flipkarted'. The euphoria didn't last. Sachin and Binny Bansal should have known better than to promise us a bargain and deny it. Couch shoppers vent their fury online and the Government decided to look into consumer complaints.

Meanwhile, Amazon India and the Future Group announced a tie-up that will retail Future Group's merchandise on Amazon's etail platform. Checkmate, Flipkart!

But not everyone got jacked. Employees at the Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd, Surat got their Diwali bonuses and how! Its owner Savjibhai Dholakia announced a bonus of Rs 4 lakh each to buy a flat, car or jewelry. 

But that was not all
. Smriti Irani, Union HRD Minister, also gave away saris to each woman in Amethi.  

Gauhar got slapped. Twitter didn't crash. #DoubleStandards #InnerStrength

There is something chronically ill about our sense of entitlement. Some of our bright young entrepreneurs felt we need to protest through a kiss. Now, in theory, I can understand how we should protest against moral policing, but do we really have to kiss to do that? To me, kissing is such an intimate act and something that you'd do to express your love to another person. Maybe it works in socially progressive societies, but in a country like ours,

where we frown upon couples who intertwine their hands in public, how could you expect change when you kiss in front of 100s of other people. So by banning the KOL, we have again proved ourselves right that we are grand hypocrites who will ogle and re-watch the shit out of movies like Murder and Jism where the lead couple make out onscreen but when it comes to mere mortals, suddenly you'll find all kinds of indecency laws coming alive from the woodwork. But that said, we are still not ready for an event like this because the Kiss of Love in India only feeds the voyeurs who will take a picture of these couples for their 'private consumption'.

And if you are looking for more discrimination, all roads lead to Aligarh Muslim University who for decades didn't allow women into its library because that would lead to '4 times the boys'. What a bunch of prudes!

And at the other end of the spectrum, some of our cops did want the women dance to their tunes. Now, this is what I call the long arms of the law!

In between clocking all those frequent flier miles, PM Modi rounded up his motley crew of political allies and told them how their tasks have just begun. Really?! Can we have some accountability too?

After calling Modi a mass murderer for years, its fascinating to see the American volte-face. O called Modi 'The Man of Action'. Our 'onsite PM' even managed a diplomatic coup by inviting Barack Obama to attend the Republic Day parade.
Mr O, one piece of advice: Please don't let the women in your family take the cabs when you are here #NoCountryForWomen.

Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, touched the hearts of the nurses when he gave a hand-written 'Thank You' note to all the nurses who cared for him while he was in the hospital.

Mamata's brother beat up a zoo staffer for not allowing him and his entourage into a zoo. If anything everyone will forget about this and nothing will ever change.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sentenced 5 men to life in prison for raping a BPO employee back in 2010. Terming the 5 married men as 'beasts who were prowling the streets for a soft target to satiate their sexual thirst', this should be a precedent to how future sexual crimes should be treated.

After promising to probe and bring up billions of dollars in black money stashed in dozens of countries abroad, the Modi government finally submitted a list of 627 people to the Supreme Court. Many of them resident Indians and the rest non-residents. While the government will bask on the glory of having come this far, I'll wait before I celebrate. How much of this will be brought back and put to good use? Your guess is as good as mine.

We broke the impasse over a key WTO pact and all is business as usual with Russia.

The UN owes us over $110 million in unpaid dues for our peacekeeping operations. Now that's some serious moolah!

True to our tradition of being tolerant to nations left behind at the sidewalk, we pledged $4 million to rebuild Gaza. Respect!

But there has been a good lot of decision-making too. The government approved 33 long-pending defense manufacturing projects #MakeInIndia.
The Modi government also identified over 1000 archaic laws that will be axed over the next couple of months. 

In more 'feel-good' news, Tata Group's Land Rover has become the only Indian-owned entity to make it to the 100 most valuable brand in the world. Suck on that, Ambani! Oh and Ambu, your private jet has been acting cranky. Please check.

Indian bureaucracy is like quick sand. You can't sink if you won't struggle. The thing is, this is easier said than done. Australian Terry Walsh, India's hockey coach, threw his hands up in frustration and quit.

In political news from elsewhere, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe accepted responsibility for corruption within his cabinet and replaced 2 ministers who swindled millions of Yen to influence and buy votes for his government. Neither Ministers accepted responsibility for their actions.
Across the border, Benazir's idiot son Bilawal showed signs of puberty. And like any irritated teenager he ranted about Kashmir. But I bet he didn't see how he could be booed and heckled at a party's anti-India rally in London. We woke up the angry young man. Rahul thinks angry people are running the country. Why don't you put your pacifier back and mommy will sing some Italian lullabies for youWe have Rahul, they have Bilawal. Same to Same.

And after several incursions and dozens dead, our defense minister warned Pakistan of the pain if it persists with violations.
Closer home, Mamata is like the puny little uncouth brat with the uncanny ability to survive like a roach after a nuclear strike. With growing dissent, and unless she decides to pull a fast one, her days are numbered too. The last month, PM Modi warned her against inaction on the Burdwan blasts. One of the pitfalls of being such a populous nation is that, our lives are expendable. 

China declared war on HK protesters. No surprises there.
And His Royal Crappiness Kim Jong Un appeared in public for the first time in more than 6 weeks. Hell must have a landfill named after people like him.

The US-led coalition (of the willing!) finally decided to target ISIS targets after a string of beheadings. With a history of not completing the job they set out for, this would not end well for anyone. 

Sarita Devi, who shot to fame after the way she protested the decision that cost her a medal at the CWG, was suspended by the AIBA. Ouch! The price of dissent.
A student in the southern State of Kerala, was jailed after being caught 'disrespecting' the national anthem. While you might be outraged that this could happen in a country which immortalizes the freedom of speech and expression, I am appalled at how we 'unpatriotic' we as a society are.

In more Ebola news, the WHO declared Nigeria ebola-free after 42 days of incubation and the news that there hasn't been any new infections in that country. 

In what can be termed as medical miracle, a paralyzed man started walking after a path-breaking medical procedure that brings hope to millions of paraplegics around the world.

Pope Francis was in the news. A lot. For all the right reasons, he is the Pope that the Vatican needed 50 years ago.
As usual, another Baba Baba Black Sheep, Rampal, was in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Starting this month, we'll have the DILLIGAF section.. 
  • Many of you might have heard about the NY Times cartoon lampooning ISRO after we put Mangalyaan into the Martian orbit. And then in our own distasteful way, we pointed fingers back at NASA when one of their cargo ships exploded shortly after launch. And then we had a dozen other conspiracy theories and hoaxes circulating the web. None the wiser.
  • When there isn't too many real achievements, it is time for us to celebrate the mediocre and unusual. So when the newly appointed Defense Minister (and former Chief Minister of Goa) traveled 'cattle class', that made news. The Congress celebrated Nehru's 125th birth anniversary.
  • PM Modi kickstarted the 'Swache Bharat' movement and did the ice-bucket. Nice effort but look outside your air-conditioned offices and you'll see educated, socially-aware youngsters litter and spit. These are the same people who will forward the 'Swache Bharat' message on Whatsapp and the same glorious idiots who will jump the red light, ride their motorbikes on the pedestrian footpath and the cut the barricades to take a illegal thoroughfare. Hypocrites!
  • The Congress fired its most famous twitterati and MP Shashi Tharoor for 'praising and supporting' Modi's campaign. The first sign of a rot from within is when organisations try to muffle voices of dissent and criticism. 
  • ....and protected its prodigal son (in law) from fire. 
  • Yeddy got fingered, again and Shashi might get the roast.
  • Indian MPs in the grand old tradition of being treated like royalty vent their fury against our National Airline, for being treated like a commoner. Gosh! The torture they go through for us. 
  • Down south, a Bangalore top cop found it disrespectful that he wasn't allowed entry a prestigious Club because he didn't have his membership card. All hell broke lose! 
  • Jayalalitha left her jail in style. All hail Ram Jethmalani !! The pittance that the court ordered her to be paid is a farce.
  • Five Indian fisherman were also pardoned by Sri Lanka. Hero's welcome
  • And back in China, a man who made his millions when the government bought his land drives his BMW to his job as a sanitation worker. If this was an Indian, he would have built his third bungalow on encroached land and bought his second Land Rover by now.
  • So, vegetarian men may live a decade longer than the meat-eaters, but recent studies have shown that they have lower sperm count. 
  • 10 standup comedians vied for the title of the 'World's Funniest Person'. Applause!
  • A Saudi's US wife filed for divorce over email after being denied the right to see her kids.
  • Monica Lewinsky, the most famous Whitehouse intern to date, revealed that her affair with Bill Clinton cost her her integrity and reputation, in her first speech in 13 years when she joined Twitter. Well, atleast it gave us plenty of fodder for jokes since.
  • A US court allowed a human rights group to challenge the American government's 'suggestion of immunity' in a case against PM Modi. More drama. Oh this in the same year that India is re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council
  • And the UN questioned Israel on claims of abuse against Palestinians. Predictably, Israel defended its record. That's right, gentlemen. Let us all believe that.
  • A fraudster, who conned his elderly neighbor out of £40,000, faked being in a coma for two years in a bid to avoid being punished for the crime. 
  • Prince William and his wife Kate is expecting their second child, who will be fourth in line to the British throne, and is due in April 2015. Right On
  • PM Modi 'invoked' Nehru and Gandhi and hit Level 10 on the Indian sycophancy meter. 
  • Like a cockroach trying to get out of a flooding drain, AAP led the 'Swachh Raajneeti' or 'clean politics' in the run up to the polls in Haryana. Oh and not one to be outdone, the BJP used the Modi card and won. Touche` With the wave of anti-Congress rippling across the nation, it appears we will have political stability after decades of turmoil. The only problem is BJP's victory has also become one of its biggest albatrosses. With a motley group of fractured parties in the opposition, Modi will have to deploy all of his political acumen to have any of his bills passed. This is going to be a long session.
  • So while the BJP was on a winning streak in the legislative elections, the Congress, err... not so much. MNS lost its status as a regional party and ate humble papdi chaat.
  • The Shiv Sena cuddled up to the BJP and snuggled like long lost lovers. Oh I missed you so much, honeyAfter stiff lobbying, Haryana and Maharasthra got their first BJP chief ministers. 
  • Next up: Jammu & Kashmir.
  • And the flavor of the month was Priyanka Chopr.. er Gandhi. All hail the Dynasty.
Shweta Basu was released from the remand home and allowed to stay with her family in Mumbai. What surprises me is how we have had no qualms about dragging her reputation through the gutters when her 'high-profile clients' go Scot-free. I wish Shweta well and I hope she has the courage to come out stronger and not become an sad obituary tomorrow.
But if we believed defaming her will kill the world's oldest profession, we are fools. Supply is driven by demand after all. It is time we thought of bringing the millions in the sex trade into a legalized framework where they can be a part of the accounted workforce. The National Women's Commission (NCW) placed a proposal to legalize prostitution before a SC panel but considering how coy we are about this, I wouldn't hold my breath for a verdict anytime soon.

In a fit of misplaced linguistic pride, the central government ordered Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country to replace German with Sanskrit language classes. The SC and the German consulate had to step in and slap
common sense into the government.

Indian army estimates more than 2000 terrorists are waiting to cross into India. Well, give them all an Aadhaar card and let them live the Indian dream.
Oscar Pistorius is 'genuinely remorseful'. Remorse can't bring back the dead and won't heal wounds. This should be a reminder that a violent history has a tendency of catching up.

Hitler was a meth addict. Here's a toast for the 5 minutes that you wasted.

The subcontinent got some worldwide recognition when the Nobel committee awarded the 2014 Peace Prize to the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi. Much brouhaha followed and Malala released her book. While I subscribe to her cause, I wonder how she deserved it. Giving her the Peace prize is like giving the Param Veer Chakra for fighting a stray dog. A year ago, when she was shot to be killed, the world adopted her. Since then, I don't see how Malala has improved the welfare of the people she left behind. The villagers are still being hunted down, girls are still living perilous lives in a country that is being run by armed goons and brainless idiots. Ideally, a prize like the Nobel is (and should be) awarded in recognition of efforts past and plans future. As much as we fawn over her, what Malala has done barely meets either. Somehow, I feel the Nobel committee treats the Peace prize as a political brownie point that is given away for good behavior. On the other hand, Kailash has had a proven track record of rescuing and protecting children who would have otherwise lived horrible lives or died trying. 
Past recipients like Obama (who was nominated in the year he became the US Prez) smacks of political favoritism. Besides starting new wars instead of stopping it, I pray how Obama has contributed to world peace then or since.

So we all know how corruption and nepotism is prevalent in the corridors of power. The greater the power, the tougher to resist the fruits of corruption. However, earlier this month, when I read how Hunter Biden, US Vice President's son was thrown out of the navy for using cocaine, I thought to myself 'Gee, this can never happen in India'.

Diwali is also one of those times of the year when the cash registers start ringing. 
We had Farah Khan's Happy New Year, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone.
Need I say more? Their last outing together gave us the terrible terrible Chennai Express. There is nothing happy or new about HNY. This is atrocious and like nearly all of SRK's movies in the past many years is something you watch only if you are sucker for extreme torture and cruelty. The story-line as kitschy as a gypsy's underwear, the premise as fragile as dried dog poop and the acting will make you cringe in embarrassment. SRK looks like a hairless chimp with shriveled face.
SRK: Please retire. 
Deepika: hmmm.. Nevermind. 
My Rating: 0.02

Bang Bang. Another movie that came out this month which went kaput! There isn't any semblance of a story-line and you should be flogged for indecency if you were lured by the posters, which by the way has Katrina Kaif (famous for the way she orgasms at the drop of a particular brand of mango juice) showing her lingerie. 
When scantily-clad Indian actresses intertwine themselves with macho men, that's art. When Aamir Khan stands buff, let's set the lunatics with their pitchforks free. 
My Rating: 0.02

But be sure to catch Haider. May not be a blockbuster but definitely, one of those few Indian movies that has been made well. 
My Rating: 8.0

And this past month, millionaire banker, Tory advisor, member and supporter of Countryside Alliance Sir David Scholey shot himself into infamy when he was photographed with a lion he killed for game. 

Our own 'Srini Saar' acquitted himself and demanded that he be appointed as the head of BCCI. And if you ever wondered why he's being clinging on like a starved leech, here's the math - BCCI being the cash cow that it is, ICC is like the Principal's office (nothing much of value in there) but the BCCI is like the treasure chest. But with the SC dousing any such aspirations, this is going to be a long winter for him.

In this month's 'Let's give a moment of silence' section,
The head of Iran's top Islamic clerical body Ayatollah Mohammad passed away after lying in a coma for several months. Let's wait for the next radical loony toon

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) barred India’s largest real estate developer DLF Ltd and six officials, including chairman K.P. Singh, from accessing the capital markets for three years after finding them guilty of engaging in fraudulent and unfair trade practices. Chances are the convicted will still continue to run these corporations through proxies.
And talking about proxies, Mukesh Ambani appointed his children to the boards of his telecom and retail businesses. Incredible India : The land of the rising children!

Sahara's beleaguered chief Subrata Roy will remain in prison, after his company failed to rustle up funds for his release. The higher they are, the harder they fall.

But if you are wondering where all that money is going, look skyward. Air India has been spending millions every year insuring aircrafts that haven't flown in years. Right stuff!

Bangalore used to be called the City of Lakes and Pensioner's Paradise. I've got a new one for it - 'Delhi of the South'. In the 3rd (unofficially this number could be in the high 3 digits) instance in the past 4 months, a 3 year old girl was raped inside a private school during school hours. And between the time I wrote this and when you've read it, atleast a few hundred more women have been molested, raped or touched inappropriately.

Relatives and loved ones of trekkers who were killed in a Japanese volcano eruption mourned over the loss. Many of them left their last moments on film.

Nirbhay, India's answer to the US Cruise missile was test-fired successfully. As the raging debate of priorities go, I lean towards a nation that should work on economic and social security and can't accept it when we still spend billions of dollars on arms and ammunition. Sure, we share porous borders with neighbors who want to fight us. But so does every other country in the world. Why we can't make all these weapons at home? We have the brains, the brawn and the bitumen.

In this month's 'Interesting News of the month' section, 
  • ...check out interesting graveyards here.
  • One more reason for Indians to have their chest swell up in pride. We finally have a strong scientific presence in the Arctic. Let's get busy!
  • In a sign of the times, a Detroit man has put up an advt where he is willing to sell his house in exchange for an iPhone. Living the American Dream
  • Read about the Chinese farmer who refused to sell his land and ended up living in the middle of the highway.
  • Want a patient ear and shoulder to cry on? Have 7 cups of tea.
  • What do you have that beats the world's most powerful camera? Megapixels, baby. At 576 MP, your eye is more powerful than the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), which can take pictures of Dark Matter. Touche
  • Read about the vanishing sand of our coastlines.. 
  • Paranoid about your internet security? Read this then.. 
  • Read about the man who 'loves' his cars and ...
  • ...the epic response of a police man in court.
And in Ebola news, after bungling up the WHO finally declared it under control in Nigeria. Good for them.

...and this is what happens when you park your car overnight
The government ruled that tobacco vendors will no longer be allowed to sell cigarettes individually. Considering how millions of smokers buy cigarettes in one's and two's for their hourly nicotine fix, this could be the noose around the neck of tobacco companies. ITC and Godfrey Williams' stock plummeted.

Now, in something that will blow your shorts away, read about the wife who secretly recorded her husband's gay encounter and the newspaper article that revealed the identity of the husband. #

Watch out for Ze List v3.0, coming soon!

That's all, folks. 

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