Showing posts with label The Great Indian Political Circus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Great Indian Political Circus. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What about his silence!

What is that they say about silence? Silence is golden, right?

Probably, the reason our Honourable Prime Minister is silent. 
While people die outside of his privileged sanctum of calm and health, Mr. Modi is conspicuously silent. 

He probably doesn't have much to say. 
Or maybe he does, but he doesn't need to say it. 
Or maybe he does need to say but doesn't know how to say it. 
Or maybe he knows how to say it but doesn't know why he needs to say it now. 

The dead aren't helpful to him anymore anyway. 
The seriously ill will never live long enough to vote and is thus not helpful to him either.

The ones living in fear of getting sucked into the vortex of government apathy and corporate greed will forget in time for the next elections. One biriyani and liquor combo lunch with Rs 500/- will guarantee their votes.
The rich will flee to their cocooned fortresses and ride out the crest. 
The poor will rather die asphyxiated than of starvation.
This leaves 4% of taxpayers (aka the middle class) to bear the brunt. Like rats in a sinking ship, we scurry from hospitals to oxygen-filing centers in search of life. 
The dead will cremate themselves or be thrown into the Ganges.

Like sheep in a fold surrounded by ravenous wolves and vultures, we will continue to live in fear that jumps a notch every time we hear of another sheep who succumbed. 
The intellectual amongst will analyze the reason why the fellow sheep died. Maybe that sheep was careless. Two days later, all is forgotten until the next casualty. 
Repeat cycle of fear and paranoia.

As our reputation of having mediocre standards of excellence, our standards of governance lack as well. 
We can't elect the right leaders, and we can't hold them to account.

We love fiction. We love being the victim. Many of us still wear the colonial hangover like a thong of pride. Recently, a friend forwarded a message that pinned the coronavirus's blame on China and how they have weaponized the virus to 'take India down.' Really?! Anyone, just anyone, who's been to China will testify that China on its worse day is still a decade ahead of India in infrastructure and progress.
Too often, when people are in trouble, they look for scapegoats.

What the US lacks in credibility, they make up in brute force media-power. 
A recent article that said the US already knew of China's intention to weaponize the virus back in 2015 proved our conspiracy theories true.
If they knew about this ahead of time, it is a crime beyond belief that they didn't take the proper steps before millions of their own died a needless and completely avoidable tragedy. 
But then the US has a reputation of constructing 'evidence' when they want to prove their allegations. Case in point - Colin Powel and the Bush administration alleged Iraq had WMDs just to invade the country and stake claims on their oil fields and a consumer of their weapons industry. We all know how that went. The WMDs were just a smokescreen. 

Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring going, these are the features that constitute the endless repetition of history. 

The policies of our administration appear reactive instead of responsive. Our federal government can't figure out what needs to be done first and what needs to be done timely. Resigned to this fact, our country is now in the middle of what appears to be federal stubbornness and State confusion. The truth of the adage 'Better sooner than later' is lost on our administrator.

When the Prime Minister and his administration should have augmented our healthcare infrastructure, they sat on the sidelines watching other countries manage their second wave and did nothing. But it's not because we had nothing to do. Modi and his gang were busy fighting for elections in the 3 crucial States. They boasted of massive rallies as masses of their supporters (paid or otherwise) congregated - throwing all semblance of social distancing, often without masks. 
The Election Commission and the rest of India watched aghast. The EC because there is precious little they can do anymore. The people because they can't do anything but to survive and hope they aren't going to die in a few months.

When our Prime Minister and his administration should be building confidence and access to vaccination, they played the desi card - by prematurely announcing Covaxin. Even when we had the time to create an infrastructure to vaccinate and ensure our nation had enough supplies, we did nothing. We simply sat with our arms folded. I blame our government for its misguided priorities. 
It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary. 

At a time when our country is in the news across the world for the fuck-fisted way our government is handling the pandemic and beating records of the dead, our administration is busy building its new parliament. Surely, development should not stop, and the government has a plan in place for the Central Vista project. Indeed, this is nothing but a pissing contest to prove we have a better house. But how can you raise a toast and pretend it's business as usual when there is a crisis in your own backyard. How can a government that couldn't afford to buy enough vaccines for its own citizens spend $6 billion to build a newer, swankier place for our esteemed and privileged class of citizens to live and work? If only the government spent more money to buy the vaccines, we could have ensured every resident would be inoculated twice at just $ 13 million. Alas, priorities!
Governments have a tendency not to solve problems, only to rearrange them. 

When our country is being ravaged by a virus, we are yet to hear Modi's Mann ki Baat. As the broad-chested leader of men, our bearded first citizen needs to talk to us. He needs to speak to each of us - tell us what he plans to do and how he'll do it and how soon he plans on doing it. 
The last time we heard him speak was at campaign rallies where he predicted electoral success. He appears to talk to us only when he wants us. Only when he wants us to vote for him and his party. 
Our prime minister appears to go into a maun vrat every time the country is in trouble. Like a petulant teenager giving his parents the silent treatment, he talks only through his administration—every minister echoing his flavor of governance with no apparent sense of direction or purpose. 
Blaming is so much easier than taking responsibility because if you take responsibility, then you might be to blame. 

What needs to be done quickly and first The present state of affairs as it stands is that of an economy nose-diving under the wake of a virus that our government neither understands nor is willing to tackle proactively. Our administration has resorted to 'what-aboutism' to camouflage its failure. As hundreds of myths and half-truths about the virus and infections circulate, our government appears to not want to do anything about the misinformation. Say something against the government, and you'll be taken down - swiftly.
It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.

When funeral pyres and crematoriums are working round the clock across the country, our official statistics say we are only losing 3000 people a day. If you're one of those millions who believe this number, you haven't visited your local crematorium yet. Not surprising because our government isn't wet behind the ears when it comes to fudging the truth and cooking books. Giving the actual numbers will alarm the world. Who really wants to do that?!
Everything was perfectly healthy and normal here in Denial Town.

As infections will begin to plateau in States, as the virus runs out of steam as it always does, our government will put its feet up and take a power nap and wake up just before they crank up their polls plans to win Uttar Pradesh in eight months. 

Chances are, we all know someone we have lost to Corona. Remember, this was an entirely avoidable loss. Undoubtedly, experts predicted we'd have another wave last year. Remember, we had the time to prepare, innoculate, and brace for impact. We didn't. 
Undoubtedly, the government can't be expected to do everything. But that's the reason why we elect them - so that they can counsel the brightest minds, best strategists, and policy-makers and guide us with wisdom born out of foresight.
Every ship in calm waters has an excellent captain.

Chances are, you may survive this wave. How about the next wave and one after that?
You may be one of the millions who is cocooned inside your cozy home, fans and aircon on, Netflixing and chilling, making babies, and creating tik-toks. 
You may be stocked up on ready-to-eat mixes, condoms, sanitary pads, and batteries for now.
Until the tragedy strikes closer to your heart, you'll feel lucky that you can work from home and not bother about the thousands of people dying.  

So until the second wave crashes out, our prime minister is going to give his vocal cords a well-deserved rest, nourish and prune his flawless flowing beard, and prepare his strategy to retain the last of the big States in Jan 2022. 

But when our Health Minister declares 'India is better prepared to beat Covid 19 compared to 2020', I just wish I had whatever the heck he is sniffing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

24 hours!

In less than 24 hours from now, India will pass her leash over to her new master. 
Expect an anti-climax because we already know who our new master will be. But let's pretend we didn't know and examine the usual suspects.

Candidate Number 1 - Rahul Gandhi (aka RaGa, The Dim Wit, Women's Empowerment, Scion of the Dynasty) 

Surely, he was the late bloomer but hey, don't pile all the muck on him. He's not as stupid as he puts himself out to be. He's just inherited none of the political sauciness of his dead relatives or his mom. How many of you remember how we showered Sonia G with eloquent praises when she turned down the top seat about 10 years ago? She was the epitome of Sati Savitri.
While we have lost much of that emotion towards her in the decade because of the way she dragged her lame Italian feet, RaGa should have won our hearts with his dimples and village idiot speeches. 

So where did it all go wrong for the C Company?
I think we all know the answers. What excites and worries me is how the Dynasty knew this was coming but chose to live in denial. The government sleepwalked through much of the last 3 years. Our PM was the mute spectator in the back seat of a taxi where the drunk driver is fumbling for the keys. For lack of a better word, let's just say Manmohan was the scapegoat of nearly every frustrated insult and anguished complaint we had toward Sonia and her unique brand of divide and rule. 
RaGa doesn't stand a chance and only a sympathetic wave (if you know what I mean) can bring the Congress back to the seat of power anytime in the foreseeable future. And Rahul, please shave the beard off. It's concealing those cute dimples.

Candidate Number 2 - Arvind Kejriwal (aka The Giant Slayer, The Muffler Man)

Now, be honest and tell me - How many of you thought he would become the Delhi Chief Minister (even if it was for a brief period)? Exactly. 
He came, He Slayed, He Left.
No other party in the history of modern India has captured the imagination of a billion people the way his party of 18 months has. Ofcourse, he must give all credit to Anna Hazare who came like a whirlwind and vanished like a breeze. He struck oil by planting the impossible. The impossible thought that some day we can rout out corruption if only we have a new set of leaders. 
So while we are all celebrating the dawn of a new India, I think its wise to say Arvind has a lot to learn and governing a country is far easier than just writing an essay. 
Will he win any seats? He will. 
Not enough to make a government at the center but enough to nip at the heels of the Dynasty. 
We may be disgruntled enough to throw Sonia G and her bunch of cronies out, but not disillusioned enough to vote for the right ideals.

Candidate Number 3 - The Third Front (made up of the Fat Lady from Tamil Nadu, Fat Man from UP and other assorted misfits)

So these are the folks who didn't get called to play in either of the teams during recess and decided to create their own team. Just to humor ourselves, I would like to see them win. Because the gameplan is interesting - If elected to power, they want to rotate the PM's chair between themselves. I can't think of a bigger nightmare than this. 
But the truth is, and if you'd like to believe the exit polls, they might get enough seats to nip at the other heel of the Dynasty. 

Candidate Number 4 - Saving the best for last, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Knight in Shining Armor, former Mass Murderer of Muslims and the only Indian Politician the US and the UK loved to hate until recently - Narendra Modi (aka NaMo, Former Tea Shop owner).

Reluctant as he was until a year ago, we all knew he always had the top post in the cross-hairs. So yes, like it or not, he is going to be our next Prime Minister and we are hoping he will do to India what he did with Gujarat. No, not the killing part hopefully but make us all prosperous and wealthy and happy and shining. 
Oh, like make India Shining like the Congress promised to do long back, but this time we are hoping he actually does it. 

Lessons the Congress can learn (wishful thinking)
  • Communicate. Honestly.
  • You screw us. We will screw you back.
  • Policy Paralysis. Google it. It will have a picture of the UPA.
  • Be consistent. Don't burn the midnight oil 3 months before the polls.
  • Go solo. Your alliances with regional parties with absolutely no vision was the last nail in your coffin.
  • Don't effing loot and plunder us. We will eventually kick your corrupt ass out so fast so far, your head will spin. 
  • Spare no expense in hiring the best spin doctors because you will need them.
Finally, now that the grand exercise of electing our next master is almost over, let's take stock of all the schit that flew, the bullets we dodged, selfies we shot and give ourselves a massive pat on the back. 

This is after all one of the rare instances when we show we can do something as massive and organised as this was with minimal bloodshed or embarrassment (no pun intended) in a peaceful way. I can't think of another democracy that can boast of this.

Friday, April 11, 2014

No, don't vote...

Its that time of the decade when politicians make hefty withdrawals from their secret Swiss accounts.
Its that time of the decade when the EC will seize mind-boggling sums of money, liquor and anything else the 'people' might need.
Its that time of the decade when laptop, mixer-grinder manufacturers and other businessmen will court the politicians.
Its that time of the decade (apart from diwali) when cracker manufacturers love. Double Bonanza!
Its that time of the decade when you will hear political fiction and fables.
Its that time of the decade when manifestos will be embellished by underpaid content writers and out of job copywriters.
Its that time of the decade when roads get a fresh coat of asphalt. Feast your eyes on them while they last
Its that time of the decade when you will see your politicians up close and personal. Remember to take their autographs

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, its time for the biggest song and dance routine in the largest democracy of the planet - The Great Indian Circus.

Interestingly, this time there are a lot of things that are different.
Call it the influence of our Arab cousins, we have become disenchanted and disgruntled. 
Corruption is no longer a closet topic and depending on who your daddy is, you'll either support it or defend it.

But like in everything else, we are very hypocritical too.
Ask around and chances are you will hear not many people are willing to vote.
Why? 'Because it won't make a difference'. 

When youngsters say this, I am flummoxed. When older people say this, I am exasperated. I remember that time when I lost my school captaincy elections by just 2 votes, and I begin to tell them how every single vote counts, but I am soon drowned out by their 'voice of reason'.

We all like it when we are handed out favors, when our bosses hear our suggestions (and when they are implemented), when our landlords listen to our complaints and act on them, when our apartment associations value our inputs (and our votes), when the local grocer gives us a little extra rice for that rupee you pay because you are regular, when we are rewarded for our performance at work after having worked for it. 

So when we love all this, why do we hate voting for our country so much?
Which part of the 'Corruption, Quit India' did you not like?

While many are celebrating how 100 million voters will vote for the first time, I ask what is the rest of the billion doing? Surely, we have more than 100 million who have chosen not to participate in the democratic dance this time too. 

Vote for the general elections this year, because this is probably the only ballot that will matter. 
Your apartment association cannot fix the creaking infrastructure. 
Your say in corporate affairs will probably earn you more, but if you don't vote, you're allowing the next batch of political scumbags to loot you of every last paise that you earn.
Your grocer might like you, but unless you choose the right politician, you will end up paying more for less. 

If you are still not convinced that you need to vote, I won't force you.
Cherish these final days where you could still read and write stuff like this.
Remember the days when petrol cost you just Rs25/litre.
When you could live an entire month with just Rs 15,000....
I could go on but you get the drift, right?

Get out and vote.
This is the time of the decade when you decide how your country and everything around you will be for the next 5 years. 
Make it count. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

While you were gone: September 2013 [Part 1 of 3]

'Good to have a goal'
Have you ever reminisced of simpler, happier times in the past? In the future, you will think these were wonderful times too.

Our senile little Home Minister Mr Shinde, bragged of how he is going to bring each of our terrorists back to India 'one by one'. How about getting all the money your colleagues have stashed away back, eh?

Serial rapist Jaishankar broke out of the Central Jail at Bangalore. By the time I'm writing this post, our cops have caught him and they are patting themselves on their backs. So that's fodder for another episode of Breakout.
On a more 'positive' note, our juvenile rapist will be a free man in about 25 months from now.
If you thought he got off easy, the monsters at Shakti Mills had previous experience in the field.
Ariel Castro hung himself. Another easy escape for a rapist who was sentenced to 1000 years without the chance of parole.

Along with everything else, biscuit sales took the deep dive too. Which means dogs won't get their daily doze of Parle`G biscuits anymore.

In a mad rush to fix things it screwed up in time for the elections next year, the UPA seems to be bringing all sorts of oddball bills. Correct me if I am wrong, but do we really need legislation that can barely fund itself?

Thought Europe is in the midst of a recession? Right! At € 100 million, Bale is laughing all the way to the bank.
And like clockwork, the government brushed Uttarakhand underneath the carpets of our mind. With wisdom that defies logic, the government decides to stop relief work and start preparing for the next batch of visitors. No lessons learned here.

Syria. Obama's renewed zeal to fight looks vaguely familiar. He told his people Syria won't be another Iraq or Afghanistan. I'd recommend O watches 'Green Zone' .
While the US Congress has set the stage for an limited airstrike with a long list of riders, if it is WMD that the American coalition of the willing is looking for, then they are probably barking up the wrong bark. Again.
There are a lot of things that is wrong about the American urge to set things right in the Middle East. Syria may not be the foe that can bring the US down, but with the Russians and the Chinese with them, is the US biting more than it can chew?
By launching an attack, the rebels and the loyalists will unite against the common enemy and with their loyalists' promise that not even the threat of a third World War will stop them from fighting the Americans, this is one war Obama must resist.

The Malawian government has promised to feed millions out of the proceeds of selling the private jet of its former president. If we were to sell off all the ill-gotten assets of our politicians, our poor can be fed for the next 1000 years. Food for thought.
While Microsoft got Nokia, we got the KitKat. Google signed up with Nestle to market the latest Android flavor. Drool!
Zubin Mehta enchanted the valley and in true nationalistic spirit, we cried coarse and sang praises.
The IOC kicked IOA in the nuts. Ouch! That had to hurt.
If you thought superstition has been stamped out, ask Akhilesh.
And for the first time, the NY Fashion Week will feature plus-sized models. More power to the cause.
Our PM opened his mouth and out fell another nugget of wisdom - He is not the custodian of documents. This I can believe.

And in this week's 'obscure to infamy' category, Ania Lisewska of Poland has won it legs apart (pun intended). All of 21, Ms Lisewska aims to have sex with 100,000 men in her life. So either this is a time-tested way to get famous, or we have an alien running around trying to copulate a'la 'Species'.
Moral of the story: Its always good to have goals.

Au revoir

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[If] I Lead India

If you are a TV Advt junkie like I am, chances are you wouldn't have missed the Times Of India 'I Lead India' campaign. You can say that they spent a heck lot of money conceptualizing that ad.
What with all the furniture, the extras, the fire, the clearance for the stunt, the celebrity endorsements and the special effects. You could either be one of those who got the adrenaline rush for the 10 seconds you saw and sprung out of your couch to do the fist bump when the girl did 'the scream'. Which btw was frightening!
Or you could be one of those who watched the ad silently and thought 'What a sheer waste of money!'
Yet again, you could be one of us (like me) who watched the ad with contempt and the silent angst of how our media houses have trifled the struggle for real freedom.

Freedom is not about burning furniture, however symbolic it could be.

Downloading ringtones or the anthem is not going to do squat about anything.
Having a 'Roadies' style audition is so far from what we need, that the Lead India initiative is a mockery of how far our unemployed, educated youth will go for fame and 15 minutes of facebook/TV glory.

Public anger against corruption is not about lighting a massive heap of furniture on fire. This worked in the good ol' days of Gandhi, when lives were simpler and when every Indian was as oppressed as his/her neighbor. What happens to furniture that is not made of wood?

Today, we are not oppressed. We are comfortable. Our thoughts are not about freedom of speech and freedom to vote or some such ideals. We are preoccupied with our thoughts to buy that multi-million rupee apartment, being able to afford the EMI on that SUV and fuel, sending our children to that high-priced International/Christian school in India or abroad, going on that annual vacation to the US/Europe/Thailand, having split air conditioners / LED TVs / Side by Side refrigerators in our homes and to never age or die.
Copying and pasting solutions that worked then to our situations now can never work. We'd think the Anna debacle would have taught us this but looking at the way this and some other 'patriotic' ads have been playing on TV, I doubt if we'd ever learn.

But something good has come out of this ad. What would I do to change the way India is?
As a person who has lived more than half his life in a westernized society, I have a fairly clear idea of what might work and what wouldn't.

Let me begin by reiterating how unique India is.
Among other major countries, we have a lot of character and resilience.
But that's where the good parts end.

We lack self-respect and have a skewed perception of self worth. We are extremely judgmental and are easily enthralled by illusions of grandeur.
We don't practice nor possess dignity of labor. We are hypocritical and love looking down upon people who are not of the same socioeconomic status as we are.
We are brought up to believe that there are only a handful of professions you must grow up to be and God forbid if you are something else.
We tell our children not to cheat/break the law, yet we will jump that signal or ride without a helmet.
We preach tolerance towards women, yet we will (physically/mentally) abuse our wives, sisters and mothers.
We preach non-violence yet breed racism and intolerance towards those who fall out of grace in our sight.
We raise our children in black and white. There are no greys around. Nothing in between.
And if you have been unfortunate enough to have parents who placed a lot of importance on money, then you will grow up to be an average Indian that worships money.

While the list below is not conclusive, I do believe it is a good way to start.

  • Rewrite the constitution with the inputs from citizens.
  • Establish stronger, swifter courts.
  • Enforce existing laws.
  • Step up punishment. Punishment should be incremental, swift and profound.
  • Abolish paper money. Creates a money trail that can't be erased easily.
  • Enforce Accountability.
  • Establish minimum hourly wage. Removes prejudice and reinforces dignity of labor.
  • Increase fines by 10x. 
  • Enforce the RTI Act.
  • Increase internet connectivity.
  • Detach religion from public life.
  • Improve infrastructure. Which in itself will be a major impetus for growth.
  • Encourage public participation in all forms of governance.
  • Abolish multiple party system and adopt a bi-party system.
  • Abolish reservations and socioeconomic quotas.
  • Ban politicians (for life) who
    • have been convicted or are suspects in (criminal/civil) lawsuits.
    • have not passed a certain level of education.
    • do not have proven leadership skills.
    • have not been a part of local/national community service.
    • have been in power for more than 10 years in their active political life.
  • Revamp the educational sector.
  • Foster and reward corporate community service.
  • Reward agriculturalists who innovate.
  • Reward performance instead of tenure.
  • Reward and encourage mentoring.
  • Calibrate standards.
So there you go.. I have the good feeling that I've missed out on some here, but these are things that are not impossible to do. Many countries around the world have faced the same challenges that we are, yet when they adopted standards that suited them the best - excelled.

This could be the start! Do we really have it in ourselves to change?!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The chickens that didn't hatch: The truth you need to know

So it is a fact that Arindamn doesn't like his critics.
He is a sore loser and a cry baby.

I feel compelled to post a series of links dredged from the internet on one of the largest education scams to hit modern India, so at the risk of getting my post banned/blocked with juicy lawsuits, here goes:

Studying in this "B-School" [note the quotes] can make you the best in .. errr... who are we kidding - nothing. Tall claims busted.

And if you'd still like to play Russian roulette with your hard earned monies, then I suggest you read the truth here.

And if this post does wake the pony-tailed phony from his daze, then you can be pretty sure that I will meet the same fate as this poor chap. Ahh!! the pitfalls of being indexed and famous!

And so he did the cardinal sin of dissing one of our pride and joys - IIMs. And yes, we dared to think beyond the IIPMs too.

But why have we descended on Mr Pony-tail like a bunch of vultures? 
Do we really care about the thousands who fall prey to his slick SRK advts? 
Are we really concerned about the damage he's causing? I don't think so.

Strip away all his facades, and its easy to see that he is just another businessman out to make his billions, hook or by crook . So? 

Look around and you'll see atleast 10 other unscrupulous business(wo)men who have the same goals too.
Why bother?

The only reason why we've latched onto him like a hungry lioness is because of the way he has 
tried shutting us up. Given to ourselves we would have shut up, in time. In the words of Fasttrack, we would've 'moved on' to the dozens of other juicy scams that our politicians supply us with.

So through all this, Mr Pony-tail ought to remember how futile it is to try and muzzle mouths he can't shut. He blocks one Site, 10 other will replicate the posts. He muzzles one writer, 20 others will gain inspiration and fight. Ironically, by doing what he is doing, he is justifying his critics and echoing their suspicions. He is validating what they think he is- Nothing but a wonderful fraud!

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Cry Baby

Humans are a funny species.
As young ones, we cry for everything. Laugh for some. We want milk, we cry. We want attention, we cry. Theory is the kids cry because they are not able to talk or express their thoughts/feelings in words.
As we grow up, besides the importance of lacrimation, we also learn the fine art of lying through our teeth. While many of us will eventually know what battles we should fight and what we must let go, there are the incorrigible few who simply can't be reformed.
They are the meaningless people who will throw a tantrum, who can't take a feedback, and won't tolerate criticism. Some people might call them irreparably arrogant and I would agree.

Today's post is about one such person who will probably go down in the history, as the single most megalomaniac entrepreneur/con artist ever.
No, it's not Raja. It's Arindam Chaudhuri.
Wikipedia calls him an 'economist, author and director of IIPM Think Tank'. Recipient of 3 national film awards and self-professed 'management guru'.
I'd call him an overgrown cry baby.
IIPM - his daddy's convoluted idea to milk the ingrained urge of an Indian to earn a degree, get a free laptop and maybe even meet Shah Rukh Khan. IIPM's tagline reminds me of sleazy below-the-belt sales pitches of many second-hand car dealerships in the US.

So while Arindam and his cronies have been busy battling cases of cheating and misrepresentation, one smart chap decided to go a step ahead and have every website that spoke critical of Arindam (read IIPM) blocked. Masterstroke or 'Missed the bus', you decide.
That the court decided to agree with the genius baffled India's millions.
The damage was done. Most major newspapers barely gave this blatant attack on free speech any space. I wouldn't blame them. They need Arindam's full-page advt revenues after all.

So the DOT very magnanimously blocked about 78 links, including several of its own links that said how IIPM is not an university. Gee!
Hackers Of India, UNITE! And what followed was a particularly embarrassing lesson of how not to mess with hot-blooded Indians with plenty of computer skills.
And like a phoenix, the much of the content within websites that were blocked were back online. I don't think they realized that we could re-host the content. Hmm!

Today, a superior court over-ruled the lower court's ruling and while the bench did agree that blocking content (critical and otherwise) is against constitutional rights of free speech, most of the web links that were blocked still remain off-limits.

So while IIPM did earn the wrath of free speech activists, the fact that one of our country's court did manage to block dozens of sites with the impunity it did is shocking. Is this a sign of how things will be?
Will this embolden our entrepreneurs to shut mouths of their competitors in the future?
Are we headed the Chinese way?

More importantly, will the court block my blog for talking about Madamji the way I did?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

While I was away.... [January 2013]

After two fabulous months of hibernation, I finally managed to dust the cobwebs off my home laptop. Plenty has happened and much of it did hit the sweet spot on the fan.

For those who came in (late), here's a round-up of all that made news and was quietly and promptly swept under our over-priced fake Indian rug.

We indulged in our national pastime - Rape. Number of the bastards who were caught, castrated and chopped in mini sizes - Zilch!
But let that piece of bad news not deter the patriot in you. In consolation prizes, men were arrested and her story was (re)told for global consumption and facebook 'Likes'.
Some of them even got some unwelcome fame.
Some women were spared the agony of living in an apathetic society when their rapists did them a favor and killed them.
The deafening sounds of silence barely a month after Jyothi was 'brutally' raped suddenly reminded us of why India will always remain just another 'developing' country. When the time came the shameless bastards, some of who wanted to be hanged because of their guilt, now wanted a trial outside Delhi to prove their innocence. APPLAUSE!

Now, you may ask where is all the titillation for so much rape? Well, some of our Indian couples were glad to provide the source. While I haven't seen the video yet, I am sure that is the last time they are going to be excited about having sex! But then not all men wanted free sex from the street, some of them actually paid (serious) money to rape. Which got me wondering, couldn't he just have visited a sex worker instead?

While we didn't have much luck chopping our rapists, some women were (un)lucky enough to be served the benefit. I wonder if this will lead to our suitcase-wallahs loosing out on precious business!

Our neighbor snuck in, fired a few shots to test our defenses and left. Some with a little more baggage than we could tolerate. The usual rhetoric from Delhi, our netas flexed their biceps (or the lack of it) and The Sardar put in a word or two as well.
And talking about politicians talking with their over-sized feet in their paan-streaked mouth, we had the 'oldie in chuddi' RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat trying to put the bar back in Bharat. Bravo! Can we have him extradited to hmm... Mexico or something?
And joining him will be the Motormouth from the East - Ms Mamata B. She made investors dance to her tunes and then ate humblecrappie.

Locally, KissAsser er.. Kingfisher Airlines tried to spread its wings. So while Didi was making investors dance to her tunes, the only dance Mallya will be doing is the tightrope variety. With the large group of investors growing impatient, it is just a matter of months when Kingfisher will be a distant memory. Thank God I kept those sparkling Kingfisher-branded spoons and forks they used to serve inflight as souvenirs.
In other national news, Anna (Hazare) changed the name of his mo(ve)ment. Let's hope the change of name leads to change of fortunes too.

Onto our International news segment, O aimed his gun at the ... er gun lobby.
And that was that. While American politicians are not really that different from the politicians we breed here, this could be the start of something big in the distant future. Reeling as they have been with a spate of gun-related violence, Americans have suddenly realized that shooting is not as much fun as watching it on screen.

The world's biggest liar, Lance Armstrong apologized and finally confessed. And we got to watch Oprah tear apart the former cycling champion like a rag caught in a derailleur. In technicolor

Oprah laughed her way to the bank as her ratings soared and Lance wished he could dig a hole as massive as his lie and curl and die in it.

The world's biggest passenger jet was grounded when the smallest of its component malfunctioned and the suddenly the airline industry was left wondering if size did matter.

And if you were wondering what Lady Justice and our elected representatives are doing when they are not passing silly bans and pillaging our country, they are checking out the latest movies. Why they even managed to get Kamal Hassan lots of free publicity when they banned his movie Vishwaroopam. Eventually everyone got a little of what they wanted and he joined Oprah at the bank.

Phew! And that was just the first month!
Happy New Year to me!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Half [2/365]

Its been half a month since Jyothi was brutally raped, assaulted and left for dead.

One of the reasons why her rapists were unlucky was the timing of the attack.
They didn't count on the fact that half of India was on vacation and hence idle, and had plenty of time to read sensationalist newspaper reports, watch high-pitched TV anchors, prepare placards, set social networking on fire and protest. Self-appointed representatives of the victim held meetings with whoever was willing to let them rant.

So in the meanwhile, here's a round-up of all the shit that's being hitting the fan in the last 20 days.
We saw India's bravest girl battling for life..
Did we really have to shift a critically injured victim half-way across Asia?
The entire operation smacked of the typical 'pass the buck' mentality that we are reknown for.
Her death and the blitzkrieg cremation smacked of a coverup. And the PM broke his silence. Theek Hai?

Jyothi's family grieved

Quick questions here:
Can the government airlift every victim to better facilities abroad?
Will they take the moral and financial responsibility for every rape that happens?

And while all this happened, we pounced like a pack of pigs over the name of the victim. Does it really matter?

But the accused got no counsel. Big Effing Deal.
It turns out that we are a bleedy effing bunch of cowards and voyeurs who'd rather watch and stare at the victim than get help.
...and the blame game continued.

In a moment of sheer brilliance, the government announced they would prepare a database of convicted rapists. But seeing how everything in India can be bought or manipulated at a price, a system like this can be abused. The loopholes need to be plugged before being put to test.

In a free society, citizens must be encouraged to protest and this right must be fiercely enforced. While not every crime is a result of governmental ineptitude, what bothers me is how the government reacts to peaceful protests. Lathi-charging and tear gasing them only stacks the odds against them.

But it looks like the bad news just keeps coming. Another victim killed herself after cops refused to take her complaint and book the rapists. As the story unfolds, heads will roll.
Another lady was gang-raped by sick er... six men in Didi's Bengal.  Seeing how Didi deals with bad news, we can be confident that we won't hear as much as a peep come out.
For rapists in Pune, it was business as usual.
Victims killing themselves, getting gang-raped again..
 .. of all ages, castes and creed.
And while we sat, the rest of the world spoke the unspeakable truth about Rape and Sexual crimes.
Way to go, India!

Our politicians had the usual bout of verbal diarrhea. We got some gyan on mini skirts, limits they were not supposed to cross, not supposed to happen, not supposed to be, and even verdicts from dicks.

Some pertinent observation were made by our very honorable Supreme Court and literary geniuses.
Rape norms. No pun intended. I am surprised how the SC isn't bothered about how banning dark sun-films in vehicles didn't really reduce the number of rapes.

Justice may not be served, but it sure is funny.

And the media got some respite from all the excitement at Delhi when Mr Modi won his third consecutive term which could be his launchpad to his first Prime Ministerial career.
Like a pack of hungry hyenas, the BJP has begun salivating at the prospect of winning the elections.
And so it appears like greed does not have any limits. Not all the billions that his Mom stashed away could be enough for Bilawal as he launched his own political career. Yay!

Sunny Leone titillated us for a moment by announcing the launch of a career of good roles. Oh yeah! We know what that means now, don't we Sunny dahling?

Another shooting in the US. And we are not even talking about the Hollywood kinds anymore.

Nothing much has changed!

Friday, December 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.

Wednesday, December 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?

Wednesday, December 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.

Tuesday, December 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.

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.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Remembering to Forget [342/365]

Twenty years ago, much of India erupted in communal violence over land and religion.
Ayodhya - The name brings memories of violence, hatred and death. Sillyness too.

In the unspoiled eyes of the West, fighting over a piece of land seemed ridiculous, even unheard of. But when Hindu fanatics began demolishing Babri Masjid, it torn up India's excuse for secularism.
Growing up abroad, I still remember how Indians settled outside India were afraid and embarrassed at the way their countrymen were behaving.
To them religion is a convenient excuse to rouse spirits when nothing else worked.

Thousands have died since and the people of Ayodhya have since moved on. The Hindu fanatics and their leaders have faded into oblivion.
The story repeats itself at many towns and cities in India. 

Does it really matter which religious structure is there? The thousands of mosques that coexists with temples around the country will prove that our country is big enough for all of us to live in peace and relative harmony, bar the occasional clanging of the chimes and the call for prayer five times a day.

In the years since Babri Masjid was demolished, fanatic Muslims and hot-blooded Hindus have tried to rub salt into each other. The incident is a case study at how politicians can still manipulate a post British-era India.
Dec 6th will be a Black day for many Muslims but for the residents at Ayodhya, it's a day they would all rather forget.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Biting the Bait [340/365]

Watching the ruling party in action is getting hilarious.
In the 8 years that it was in power, it pretended to sleep, just long enough to sneak out and loot and plunder but seeing how its days are numbered, its trying to make amends. And how!

While I agree it took two American newspapers to do what Aaj Tak and India TV couldn't, it looks like the government machinery has been fed and oiled sufficiently to give a punch or two before it falls.
Among the slew of welfare schemes that were announced, the UPA decided to gift us what we have asking for all these years - FDI in retail.
But with the Congress and its uneasy bed-fellows readying to pass a litmus test in Rajya Sabha, this could be an exercise in futility. We'd probably not live long enough to see the economic benefits of foreign moolah.
Take China for instance, when the authoritarian communist government there decided to open its market to foreign investment, retailers of the world hurrayed in unison. They couldn't wait for a piece of the fat Chinese pie. A decade down the line, major retailers are shutting down stores and consolidating their businesses. One of the common arguments is that they over-estimated their potential and over-stayed their welcome.
Chinese consumers were simply not the same as the Americans back home.

We aren't that different either. From the Chinese.
We love a bargain. But can a videshi Big Bazaar keep us coming back? Maybe we have more discerning consumers here than in China, but I can confidently say that we have not been studied yet.
I support FDI and I think India needs to open her economy up. But we need regulators that must be impartial and prudent.
We cannot be the one stop for developed economies to dump their Grade B products. We should not be allowed to be a capitalist's guinea pig.

But then who's listening to a lone voice?
There's billions at stake here and while Walmart digs into its deep pockets to lobby, I have that distinct feeling that we are being offered as bait.

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