Thursday, August 27, 2009

BJP murdered by her own!

A very common ailment when someone grows old is that of joint pains, caused by lack of flexibility and continuous friction between the interacting tissues, it not just announces the onset of old age, it also tells one that it is probably time to either get the aerobics classes rolling or to sit back and enjoy the scenery on TV!
BJP, one of the most progressive parties of India, has aged faster than anyone could have imagined. The receding hairline of her leaders also uncovered deficiency of agendas for the changing India and the defeat in the general elections was impossible for these old shoulders to carry, expectantly, they balked!
A number of analysis would be done, experts would be called to carefully do the postmortem but a few things are probably as clear as they could ever be. One, BJP completely failed to bring up new, young leaders to take up the positions occupied by the old. Every time a senior member of BJP left or retired, it always created a void which was not filled up by anyone who would look equally promising if not better. Two, not just the people but the ideology and the philosophy of the party was only aging by the hour. The top level leadership showed no maturity to adapt new ways, new agendas and new policies for the rapidly changing political scene. The old hindutva mantra still works in a lot of parts of India, but if BJP was not just after these 'parts' it was advisable to create a new holistic approach towards the sentiments of people and bring in new ideas and thoughts! Three, BJP suffered from a 'neglect-the-capable' syndrome since long! Right from Mr. Rajnath Singh (one of the worst CMs that Uttar Pradesh has ever seen!) to Yedurappa (the hindutva crusader of Karnataka) BJP has, somehow, always been able to reward the rogue while the real stars and gems like Arun Jately, MM Joshi (oh! there are so few of them!) were kept nicely hidden inside the closet!
Add to all these voes the troubles that Varun Gandhi and the likes brought to the party (and surprisingly, BJP just kept mum on the issue because it was already walking a tight rope and lacked conviction that forms the sanjeevani for any political party in such situations). Mr. Jaswant Singh is not an exception in BJP, he is the norm! Everyone in BJP is very self-centric, and as long as his 'story' is selling they don't mind selling the party off! BJP has been murdered by its own, stabbed right at the heart and now the same people are crying at the sight of blood!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 power punch posts!

Patrick the happiness researcher
Sunday night, tired after speaking to some 50 students for 4 hours I stepped into a bar in Trichy. Alienated, sitting silently on the bar stool, sipping my beer, I was greeted by a gentleman. A white guy; smile, curiosity, skepticism on his face. He sat next to me and greeted me with a hello. Thick Italian accent. I nodded my head and reached out my hand and shook his.
We started talking about the usual stuff that an Indian talks about to a 'firangi'.
"Where are you from?"
"How did you like this place?"
"Where all have you been to in India?"
Patrick, was from Italy and had been to many countries, USA, UK, etc. and before arriving in India he had been to Germany. He found the people there rather rude and was happy with the way India was treating him. When I asked him about his purpose in India I expected a regular answer like a business trip (but then he would've been in a place like Mumbai or Bangalore not in Trichy) or visiting some ashram or things like that, the answer that came from him excited me! He was an author researching on 'Happiness'!
He had been to many places of the world and before he arrived at any conclusion he wanted to discover this mystic land properly.
I asked him if he was happy. He said it didn't matter, and he had never given it a thought if he was happy or not. Interestingly, as long as you don't give it a thought you can neither be happy nor sad, you would just exist! He was exactly that, he just existed, neither happy nor sad, just going to places observing things, writing them down in his diary and then moving on to some other place and observing some more ...
Thought he said he was not sure if he was happy or not because he had never given it a thought, being with him make me change my attitude and I was considerably very happy after that!

Guns in the field and the forbidden biscuit
Lalu is known to create a buzz with everything that he says, and this master 'spokesperson' knows how to strike the right cords! Bihar (and the rest of Uttar Bharat) is facing a severe water shortage. Rains have failed the farmers who are now forced to guard the little water that they have with guns! Everyday they pack guns and ammunition with the farming equipments to 'protect' the water from other hungry farmers who are a little more unfortunate than they are. Violence has become the norm of the day for these hard bread earners even when a good crop seems unlikely.
In the midst of all this pain that the State is going through, Mr.Lalu has come up with a statement which may sound like a typical 'movers and shakers Lalu joke' to you but is potent enought to instigate bitter feelings in this drought struck land.
His remarks about Nitish, the CM, that the current drought situation is provoked by the CM's act of eating buiscuits during the recent solar eclipse is starting to be taken seriously at the village level.

When there's nothing else to be blamed, the poor and hopeless people are putting the blame for their misery on this 'forbidden biscuit'. Mr. Nitish has put aside the comment as a joke and an attempt to mislead the ignorant people of the state but even he knows that Lalu needs to be taken seriously even when he comes across to you as a naive populist preacher.
The 'Swine flu' is yet to hit these states in a big way yet but frenzy promotions in the media are bringing people under the fear cloud already. No doubt, the PM's independence day speech included both these issues. The media has already delivered the impact on both these issues which makes up for the light-toned, non-impact speach of our PM on 15th of August!

Swine flu masks, condoms and helmets!
Walk past any commercial street in cities like Bangalore, Pune or Mumbai and you cannot but notice 'swine flu masks' being sold everywhere. People (scared and helpless) want to do everything to protect themselves and their families from H1N1 virus and don't mind putting themselves in a little discomfort in the form of this mask. It is amazing to know how everyone has accepted this discomfort so comfortably! Barring the occasional outrage at how illequipped our medical facilities are people seem to have accepted the fact that swine flu has entered India and they should do everything in their power to keep being safe, even if that means tolerating a stupid piece of cloth around the face every minute of the day! All the medical agencies and government dossiers have clearly said that a 'mask' would be unnecessary if you are not a victim yourself or are tending to someone infected with H1N1. But, people don't want to take any chances; it is a matter of life and death after all! Let's compare this situation with a few other threats that exist in our country - AIDS/HIV, road accidents. The figures for the number of cases reported of AIDS is alarming and even when the disease is much more deadlier than 'swine flu', people (even the educated ones) neglect the use of a condom which could act as a wall between life and death. The cost of a condom (if you are not satisfied with the ones that the government gives for free) is nothing as compared to the money that the people are paying for these masks. The effectiveness of these masks is also not quite proven while the faithful condom is known to protect even in the toughest of conditions and trials! Similarly, the importance of a helmet has been emphasized so many times that it has now become a cliche. One of the oldest ads by Union Public Service Commission that I remember was the one in which a hammer crashes a coconut which is unprotected by a helmet ("Marzi hai aapki, aakhir sir hai aapka")! The only reason that most people wear a helmet is to avoid the traffic police guy who would demand a minimum of a Rs.100 bill. Compare this with the cost of life. The facts are that in any city (not just Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai), more people die of AIDS and road accidents than swine flu every month. The concern of people towards H1N1 is reasonable but the overwhelming frenzy that this flu has commanded is a little uncalled for. If safety is the only concern of the people, then condoms and helmets should be given a similar status as a swine flu mask by everyone!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Independence for an IT guy in India

Me and my friends decided to celebrate our Independence day the same way we celebrate all the days that instill a spirited attitude. We clinked the glasses together and said cheers to a bright independent year ahead. A lot that a drunk man says makes sense if you are a type of person who gives importance to the things that come from the heart! I'm including as much of the discussion that happened as I can remember now:

Nair: "I was traveling on a train today and an old woman pointed out to me that this train infrastructure was brought to India by the British!"

PJ: "And what was your answer to it?"

Nair: "I started thinking and it occurred to me that almost all dependable structures that we have today were made by the British!"

PJ: "That is because those were things (like Railways) who's time had come and as they were responsible for doing things in India at that time, they had to build them. If India had been independent we would have done those ourselves!"

Nair: "But it was them who did it, if they were not here those things would not have come at all ..."

Mayank: "A man doesn't bring in an idea; an idea who's time has come makes a man an instrument to arrive into the world."

PJ: "Exactly, and those were ideas (things) that made the British an instrument to arrive 'cuz they were here at this time"

Nair: "If they were not here we would have been 50 different states fighting with each other all the time!"

PJ: "NO! If they were not here we would have been like the Europe; fights would have been there but ultimately an equilibrium would have been reached and all would have realized that progress is in mutual collaboration!"

Nair: "But we would have always been dependent on the 'white guy'. Even today our jobs are all because of the 'white guy', we work in Indian companies but our focus is to make them happy, lick their ass!"

PJ: "We work for them 'cuz they need us! No one's licking asses here buddy, its a win-win for both the parties."

Nair: "Then why do we have to stretch beyond our times and work even on weekends while they come and go according to their timings?"

PJ: "It all depends on their working culture versus our working culture!"

Nair: "HOW?"

PJ: "Their working culture involves parties, celebrations, short work hours, etc. while for us, we have a thing for hard work in our culture, right from the times when our forefathers tilled the land, we have always appreciated people who can work harder than expected. It is not a good/bad attitude, it's just how we are, that's all!"

Nair: "Then why don't I feel good about working my ass off even on weekends sometimes? I am patriotic too, what's the problem?"

PJ: "We complain and balk under heavy work and pressure 'cuz we are the 'golden children on India'!"

Gopi: "What? We are the golden children and I didn't know it till now!!!"

PJ: "See all I want to say is that we are somewhere in a transition. Our fathers were still the people who worked really hard (though they were not tilling the land) and we were comforted and cared for all the time, it has made us believe that life is supposed to be like that! When someone presses us for more we start to curse not just the 'white guy' but even our work itself!"

Nair: "How would things improve then?"

PJ: "Things are already improving by the minute. Our children (insahallah!) would be giving work to the 'white guy' soon. We're already acquiring companies in other countries, people from other countries are starting to work in Indian firms. And Indian models are becoming fairer, hopefully the irresistible charm of the 'white skin' would go away soon too!"

It's a happy day for India today! Lets celebrate our freedom and live it each minute, and discover a new meaning to freedom! Happy Independence day India!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Swine flu in Indian package!

With Swine Flu growing bullish in India (more than 15 deaths reported already) and many major cities like Pune, Bangalore on high alert, an ecosystem is also starting to develop around this ailment! If one monitors her mailbox in a day for mails which deal with H1N1 and actually tries to put things together a very clear message comes out:
Swine Flu has hit India in a big way and while people are concerned about it they are also capitalizing on the fear that it has generated.

The first set of mails are the ones that aim to educate the recipient. They talk about how the H1N1 is spreading across our country, what measures need to be taken to protect yourself and your family; friendly mails from people who either care about you very much or are in the habit of forwarding all types of mails to everyone in their list! Then there are the mails that are hurled at you to make you sit at the edge of your seat, sweat, get scared and make you uneasy even when you are not yet under the cloud of Swine flu. They talk about how miserable our condition is, how illequipped we are as a nation to handle such a disease, how the impossibility of you not contacting H1N1 is inversely proportional to your resistance. All these facts stare at your face on the backdrop of the under-developed medical infrastructure of our country even after more than 60 years of health planning in the independent nation! The next lot of mails are from people who want a recognition in the crowd that they are in (aren't we all!) and write mails to the President (of India? why?) that end up in our mailboxes, telling people not to worry because Swine flu is nothing new, it is a very old disease! Even earthquakes are very ancient phenomenon but when they suddenly become 'active' and start killing people imagine the state of mind of a person who shouts at the fleeing people to call them back telling them, "there's no need to panic, this used to happen years before we were here, its nothing new!" Then come the really interesting ones! These are mails that sell you the miracle drug! From eucalyptus oil, to tulasi paste, everyone is trying to sell you the plant that grows in their backyand! These things do help, I know, but they help more the 'Baba Ramdev's' behind them (I love you Ramdevji, and being opportunist is not an offence anyways!) Since swine flu messages have become the norm of the day, even CnC should leave you with one! So, here it goes,
Be safe and protect yourself and your family but at the same time don't forget to live these next few months worring about things that may go wrong. The perils of the world will not cease to exist once the drug for H1N1 is found, you will always have new things to worry about; if things are going to be the same after swine flu you can relax even while the virus is in the air of your city!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Is EVM tampering possible?


Bujji Phanikiran (a good friend and inspiration) had the privilege of being the Presiding Officer (probably the youngest in history) in this general election. He is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with ICs in his head and heart. He sent me a mail recently about his experience and comments on working with EVMs.

Q) Is tampering of EVM's possible?
A) Theoretically Yes, but Practically near impossible.

Q) You say theoretically yes. How do we do it?
A) Every automated electronic device has its own processor/controller embedded in itself. So, if you want it to work in a different way all you need to do is just change the program in it as per your needs. Just take out the processor, reprogram it and place it back. As simple as that.

Q) If its as simple as that then why do you say its practically near impossible?
A) Thats because all the Presiding Officers (P.O) conduct a mock poll before the start of an election on the EVMs in their respective polling booth to ensure that the EVM is working properly and seal it using two seals (Green Paper seals & White paper seals) along with special tags placed near the "Close" button. So if you have to reprogram the EVM, you will have to remove those seals (damage) and replace them with the seals of the same numbers and have to forger the signatures of the Presiding Officer along with the Polling Agents. And above all these things they need to bribe a whole lot of people who are involved in maintaining the voting machines after the elections starting from police constables to Collectors. And that as per my personal view is near impossible.
I mean just think about how much man power is used in protecting the machines day in and day out. Think of forgering the signatures and seals of all the Presiding Officers and polling agents, duplicating the paper seals with the numbers and all.
Finally it all boils down to FAITH, faith in your system, your government (the one chosen using ballot boxes), faith in people around you(Cause it is them the lecturers, the teachers, the bank officials, many other government servants who are like me, like you, like your mom or dad or aunt or uncle or... you know people around you).