Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Up in the Air

You know about how when you need to get somewhere real far in a hurry..dear reader, the Indian Railways, that epitome of punctuality just doesn't do it for you. So, in this country, we usually take a flight, which means we can stare at pretty airhostesses, get some free food, and get to look at the Earth at impossible angles from the horizontal. Flying is a thrill, no matter which airlines you choose, primarily because you're so used to the railways, getting anywhere in under 4 hours without cockroaches crawling out of your seat seems luxurious. And flying, apparently is also a very very bad business decision, judging by the airlines in our country.

Which begs the question: Why do so many businessmen invest so much into airlines. I mean, all those shiny new jets cost money, don't they. GoAir, owned by Jehangir Wadia, who incidentally also owns a biscuit company many of you may have heard of, Britannia, has placed an order worth $.7.2 billion for new aircraft, and a few biscuits on the side. This is not a small amount of money to invest in anything, and when all else is considered, money could generate much better returns if invested in something else, or maybe given to Ivan Boesky. The point is, why, if airlines are dropping left, right and center out of the sky, do businessmen still insist on starting new ones, at tremendous losses to their pocket and their image. Are the problems faced by most airlines congenital? or are they the victim of some massive government lapse in policy?

Well, the reason, dear reader, why you can still catch a flight to Aizawl(not that you would want to, of course), is because you want to, and can afford to. It's as simple as that. You see, Indian flyers have a threshold value, set ticket prices higher, and no one will fly. Set ticket prices at the threshold level though, and all of a sudden you have waay too many fliers. It is the flirtation with fares that has proved most dangerous to the airlines. Sure, they may blame rising fuel prices, a weaker rupee, lack of government support..and little green men. The only reason that most airlines got into this industry was because they thought they could hit that threshold value of fares, and thus see a mindboggling volume of customers, which would, in turn compensate for the extremely low fares that they would be charging.

A threshold is a dangerous thing though. If you put fares any lower than they need to be, the impact on the bottom line would be catastrophic. And especially if you do it in the middle of a customer slump, and rising competition. Yes, the government of India isn't very supportive either, in fact, it has its hands full with a certain Air India, which makes losses of Rs 5500 crore a year, or about a lakh rupees a minute(yes..that fucking much!!), which of course, wouldn't have got into this whole mess if it would just close down and pay its employees off for the remaining of the year(it would lose only Rs 3000 crore then). And well, maybe it shouldn't have ordered $9 billion of aircraft either, that might have saved it some Rs 45000 crore. But, hey, let not point fingers here.

As long as India has a population, and as long as businessmen have startup capital, airplanes will continue to fly in this country. There is nothing as seductive as the dream of seating a billion butts in flights, nor anything as lucrative. Thank God for airhostesses...


Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Righteous and the Wicked

"Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus," or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice." --King Baldwin IV

Now lots of good people in politics , must ignore their soul, because if they have been suspected to have one, they would be eaten alive by their party, their constituency, or even the media. We have a moral responsibility, all of us, and that includes politicians, to do good, for what good is a life that does not benefit your fellow man. However, that moral responsibility is rather difficult to get a hold of when you have material responsibilities on a plate that also includes one of the most powerful jobs in the country. Make no mistake, even a lowly State Minister wields more power than you or I will get to experience in a lifetime. In their own little worlds of mala fide hubris they are their own gods. They hold absolute power over the people of their constituency, of their state, and in some especially egregious cases, the whole bloody country. And what they fail to realise, that they're not gods... but SERVANTS. Yes, politicians, your friendly local MLA, and your even friendlier Chief Minister are, were, never supposed to be gods ruling over the earth.

No, they were supposed to be our servants. Listen to our commands, do our bidding, et cetera.

Except that in this country we have a really bad habit of turning powerful people into gods, instead of cutting them down to size. A look at any southron actor will tell you this much, hell even northerner movie stars have temples erected in their name. These people are just as good, or just as bad as the normal people you deal with in daily life. It doesn't make any sense to think that actors will make good politicians, or that politicians would make good rulers, or any other damn thing for that matter. In fact, here's a rather short list, describing common sense practices to be followed, in order to bring the people who run our country, down to actually running it.

1. Cut the number of seats in the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/State Assemblies to half. The logic here is that it is much better to have one man doing(or not doing) the work of two men rather than vice versa.

2. Reduce the amount of money made available to politicians. Be it block development fund or constituency fund or whatever, it really doesn't get spent anyway. Set all funds into an independently audited central bank, and make all payments for projects loans from that bank to individual organisations, payable with interest.

3. Remove minister's emoluments, monetary or otherwise. Come on..would you really appreciate it if your servant came to work every day in a cavalcade of Scorpios? Politicians are our servants..not our rulers. Once you reduce the money, dishonest people and the mafia won't view politics as attractive, and therefore won't enter politics

4. Forget Anna Hazare. Yes the man has rock solid ideals, and a brilliant Lokpal bill to pass..but after him, what?? Do you seriously expect that the Lokpal will be as effective an organisation 20 years from now?

5. Conduct a screening system for issuing voter id cards. This would feature a questionnaire on basic facts and current info and news. I would suggest that Prometric conduct the screening, what with us fast becoming an IT-age country, UID and all.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

ANTI-Social

SO Kapil Sibal is at it again. This is not a surprise, give that the man who does not know when an Indian flag is placed upside down is at it for the greater part of a year. What his election campaign strategy seems to be is to be as annoying a prick as possible, in order to gain the maximum amount of public interest as possible, so that when he goes to the polls, indeed when the whole country goes to the polls people vote for him, because they have no fucking idea who the other guy is.

This strategy, however, has one drawback. Irritate people enough, and they will vote for ANYONE other than the guy in question. Which makes you wonder if most politicians could actually come up with a decent enough strategy to win them the elections, or do they just depend on the fucked up election systems in this country to win it for them. Because you see, most issues that are brought up in front of the public are a scam, FDI in retail is a scan, it wont hurt most farmers, neither will it cause most small shop owners to go out of business. But everyone who is anyone needs to kick up some sort of a row in order to get some sort of attention, and garner some eyeballs, because no one gives a flying fuck if you are just sitting at your desk and efficiently doing your job.

So the question is, has Kapil Sibal got it figured out? Has this flying douchebag of a minister finally placed his finger on the pulse of the nation and discovered that the way to gain instant popularity is not by action, but by stirring up an issue after making some controversial comments once in a while. Because a person who gets it wrong soo many times cannot be accused of simple carelessness. And for all the media space the newspapers give him, he must be sniggering away delightfully at his government quarters, muching his government samosas and drinking his government chai.

So, the best way to deal with the man who single handedly destroyed our education system is simple. Ignore him. Just pretend he doesn't exist. Forget what the fuck he's talking about, and use the biggest weapon available to you. The I Dont Give A Fuck weapon. Because, for god's sake, if there is any sort of sense in the Indian public, we need to get this guy to shut up. And quickly. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Labour Pains

"India has exported a large number of people who have risen to the top in the organisations that they are in." -John Wren, CEO, Omnicom

A lot is said in this country about how useless our education system is when compared to the best and brightest of most occidental nations. A lot is made of the inability to provide quality research to fuel our growing thirst for an incrreasingly diminishing source of knowledge. This is not something anyone in this country can disagree with. Although the education system isn't as moribund as the papers would have us believe (no thanks to Kapil Sibal on that count) research in some of the topmost institutions in this country, at least in the one I study in, is a joke. Most researchers, professors and scholars included, have a stick up their ass shoved up there by some ectoplasmically induced wormhole that they contrive to shove even deeper by sitting on their fat behinds in front of a computer screen doing nothing but checking their email and facebooking. The only three websites known to research scholars are google, facebook and cricinfo. Then again they have never needed anything much else, for their limited intellects are constrained to the sort of blandishments that would have made Homer Simpsons non sequituurs seem like thesis papers.

But then again, this is not the sort of rambling inconsequential post that would meaninglessly disparage research scholars and their ilk. Despite appearances. This post is about the division of labour, and about income equality, and about all those principles of life that seem brilliant in a blog post or in an FB(thats lingo for facebook, apparently) status update. You see, we as proud Indians have transcended physical labour, and most of our (money making) employees belong to the tertiary sector of labourers. Id Est, the ones who do not do any labour, at least not with their hands and feet anyway. Some would say that is the purest form of labour there is.

And here comes that question asked rather infrequently, "What makes you special?" And while a few of us have extra large hearts that enable us to win cycling championships to the extent of reducing them to a joke, most of us have nothing more special than our looks and our brains, usually in inverse proportion to one another. But then again, looks do not really count for much outside the rather limited boundaries of race, creed (and species), so we might as well discard that track, and deal with the primary issue at hand here. That of the gray matter.

That is why most people get paid these days, to not exercise any of their biceps, triceps (or in the case of research) forceps. People get paid to analyse infromation about other people who have no idea that such information even exist. And people get paid to write lines not unlike yours truly, but instead of getting human beings to sit up and take notice, such people would actually make lumbering machines do the same.

You see, today in India, we have the distinction of being able to supply cheap labour at both ends of the spectrum. We have the cheapest brains, and just in case you're a construction company in Dubai, we have the cheapest brawn. Those who scream for the poor manual labourers of India are living in an archaic time, the era of manual labour is long gone. All the muscles we need to exercise sit within our cranium. And this is something that has made us a nation to be proud of, or to fear and loathe. As most pedantic people have a habit of saying, it depends on where you are at the time.

The biggest problem is that unlike iron ore and second grade bitumenous coal, brains and brawn aren't really a resource limited to our country alone. And while our continued economic growth brings with it widescale prosperity and development(and corruption and inflation), most people who have figured out the trend towards mental (as opposed to manual) labour have also figured out its economies of scale. The richer we get, the narrower the profit margins of the consultancies become, and the smaller their investments become. We might have figured out the purest form of labour, now all we need to do is figure out what to do when the money runs out.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Of Rockstars and Recovered Recalcitrance

"Little Oona's hopelessly in love with little Oona" -Jerome David Salinger (I just haave to start with an obfuscate quotation) The whole point of being a rockstar is, and most people manage to leave this point out entirely while creating their own definition, the ability to rock. I mean, ffs, Charlie Chaplin was popular, had an extremely brilliant screen persona, was good looking (at least to Oona O'Neill anyway), but you wouldn't even in an LSD induced hallucination call him a rockstar would you... The strange thing about this whole concept is not that Oona O'Neill, who dated JD Salinger in her youth(and heyday) and then went on to marry Charlie Chaplin. No, the strange thing about this is the movie Rockstar, which brazenly shows the finger to anything remotely related to rock or stars for that matter. And while the likes of Kurt Cobain might have just picked up a guitar after a short lived fling and proceeded to make rock history on just two barre chords, the idea of Ranbir Kapoor doing the same is a slightly less believable one. As this is not a movie review, but a movie rape/massacre, I will lay down my jibes in a well thoought out, intelligently constructed list form.

1. Rockstars are meant to be able to play the guitar, not grip the F#, Bm chords alternately in various poses, with expressions ranging all the way from angry to frustrated, throw down hapless and apoplectic in between.

2. Good looking girls are all well and good, but unless we are watching a porn movie, we want them to be able to act. Oh, wait, the same is true even for a porn movie.

3. Most people, and I know Indian cinema is unrealistic, would find better lyrics to express their frustration than shouting out Sadda Haq twenty times to people going "Whaaa..??"

4. Why does the guy in the poster look like Salman Khan, anyway? Oh,and that's less than impressive photoshop work, although I've seen worse for rockstar ads. Also, the fonts almost made me believe that this movie was made in china.

5. Even by the rock bottom standards of Bollywood, anyone who has seen Rock On and liked it(that includes the entire sane population of India) would find this movie a waste of time and worse. Someone should tie Imtiaz Ali to a chair, put sellotape over his eyelids and get him to watch Rock On.

The best part is, most people would actually like the movie, and I'm pretty sure it will do fairly well at the box office and whatnot. Not because people like rockstars, most people wouldn't know a rockstar if it fell out of the sky and landed on their heads. No, because people like hot girls and Ranbir Kapoor. But then, that's why movies get made in our country anyway. If only we didn't have a stupid censor board, we would have made the best porn in the world.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Corruption and Decay

It's strange how after so much, after so many hunger strikes, and after so many peaceful marches and so many newspaper articles highlighting their putative cause, Anna Hazare and gang finally seem to have got down to brass tacks, don't vote for Congress. Not that I do not share their views, of course. The Congress has to go, primarily because Kapil Sibal is hell bent on destroying the education system, and that just simply cannot be excused. There are a few such people in the politics of this country who would like nothing more than to be the cynosure of the media, even for a few minutes, and this party has more than its fair share. It would be purblind, also, to think that most politicians tend to go about their work quietly, they do not. Politicians are a self aggrandizing lot, with little compunction about blowing thier own trumpet whenever they accomplish something worthwhile. However, to PERFORM the action itself, keeping in mind only the sort of headlines it might generate, is not only pejorative, but also callow and untrustworthy.

Would it be possible, that the ouster of the ruling party, and the heralding of the BJP, or the whatnot, rid our country of corruption? Not likely. We have heard time and time again that it is not the politicians who are corrupt, it is the system(yeah right..) We have heard this mainly from good looking TV presenters, and stupid looking politicians. What is important is to distil that statement. Most politicians are corrupt, but the system itself engenders corruption. Corruption is not a local problem(look at China or Russia), but it affects us the hardest. This is because we are a nation of poor people( Note:- NOT poor nation..nation of poor people) and poor people cannot afford to pay the cop that Rs 100 that we can, quite easily. So what the hell are we supposed to do about it(the corruption..not the Rs 100)? The Jan Lokpal Bill is one(highly popularized) answer. We might also try and get back all our stashed wealth abroad. Because, obviously, when we do get it back, we can just give it to the Jan Lokpals..or whatever they're called, and they would distribute the entire thing to us(all $500 billion of it). Yes, $500 per man/woman/child..we would all be rich..rich I tell you..

Except that this won't happen. And it really isn't a large enough amount of money to begin with, and the inflation would probably kill the country. So what else?

We could try going back to basics. Remove MPs and MLAs would be my favourite option. Halve the number of seats, the number of constituencies. Get rid of the bicameral legislature, have just one house of parliament, in EVERY state. The probability of corruption would also be halved. Look, most of the scretaries and whoever not don't do any work anyway, rather than having them as an expense on the taxpayer, just remove their offices. The country doesn't need a whole army of people to manage it, just the right sort of people. And anyway, the Chief Minister's going to be taking all the decisions, he doesn't need a thousand people taking it for him. Once the MPs and MLAs, who are utterly useless, have been removed we could give the remaining ones a significant increase in pay. this strategy has been used to great success by most private firms around the world.

And it could be here too..except for the one question about who's going to tell the MPs, as such its going to have to be the MPs themselves. And they might too, considering they are generous people with no real love for office....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Of reading, and other habits


"We are a generation so obsessed with documenting our own thoughts, we very rarely pause to come up with new ones." -Facebook status message

It pays to be goal oriented in this world. Most people who do things are, obviously, preparing for some sort of entrance examinaiton on the subject. For example, if you take the trouble to read through the constitution of India(and why the hell would you?!), you are (obviously) preparing for the IAS. And if you are reading Businessworld one fine morning, you are most definitely in line for the CAT. With this, fascinating insight on human psychology, yours truly means to point out that your society has become so motivated, so singularly oriented, taht they would refuse to believe that anything might be done out of that single word, interest.

I mean, its all well and good to be interested in something, but that doesn't put food on your plate, fuck it man..I'm interested in dolphins and the aurora borealis, but that won't get me a job..is the common rallying cry these days. In this country today..EVERYONE is an engineer. PhD scholars are those idiots, who simply could not be engineers. Doctors are the sort of people who are required to treat engineeers. Entrepreneurs are failed engineers. And so on and so forth. So, if someone is interested in teaching high school kids, oh I dunno, maybe because it's a fun thing to do, he is condemned to a life of penury and ridicule.

This is stupid. We are supposed to be the generation that raised the bar. The information generation, the people who knew what to do and when to do it, and were not afraid of their convictions. Instead, we think that the best way to influence opinion is through facebook, the best mode of communication is through Gmail. And, our hobbies include(no matter what your CV might say) preparing for entrance examinations, misc. other competitive exams, job interviews and what not.

Look, the next time you feel like starting a revoltuion, how about doing it outside of facebook, and here's a revolutionary idea, the next time you want to read something, go ahead and read it, don't worry about the consequences, or whether it would help you clear that job interview. The next time you have an opinion, go and tell someone about it, and the next time you want to get heard, stand up and speak up.

The future of this country isn't going to be built on facebook and twitter. The future belongs to you, and what you do with it is upto you as long as it is in the common good. The next time you think about something, form your own opinion about it, instead of following someone's facebook status, do your own research.

This is your time, this is your place. Your life isn't meant to be a joint entrance examination. And we are all destined for bigger and better things.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Swindler's List

Now there are a couple of situations in life that warrant an inquisition into the deeper mechanics of chance. Is it possible there might be some divine being..whose sole pastime is playing dice, and subjecting us humans to the random foibles of that game? Or is it just some sort of ticker counter that counts a sort of pseudo luck score, and when you run out, decides to work in reverse. Either way, I landed at the airport here with little more than 800 rupees cash, after having succumbed to parvenu's syndrome, and blown all my hard earned cash on haleem and hash in Hyderabad(alliterations anyone?). And I proceeded to part with a majority of the aforementioned cash (to the gentleman at the prepaid taxi booth), I noticed a foreigner who was, well ,in the process of being swindled. Or, that's what I thought at the time.

You see, most Banarasis here know a smattering of English, something like, "You go..hundred rupees" and so on and so forth. This aids them to a great extent in the swindling process, as most foreigners have neither the need nor the vocabulary required for bargaining. However, this foreigner seemed different, she managed to wriggle out of a (rather obvious) setup, and get into some sort of a bargain. This bargain involved setting up with a taxi for 300 bucks, and as I was paying 680, you can understand me feeling a bit envious. The idea here was, that she had a much shorter distance to cover, than I did, as I had to get to the university which was at the other end of town. Little did I know that the taxi wallahs had come up with a nefarious scheme to maximise their profits.

Now this scheme, rather deviously involved the both of us sharing a taxi, until she got off, and me being, well roughly okay with that. Now the thing is, no such scheme can succeed without melodrama, platitudes, and an inevitable caving in a short while later. So, inevitably, she protested, and what not, most of it falling on deaf years, and after a while was bundled in with me. After taking in the finality of her plight, she decided nothing more was to be done, and smiled sweetly at me as if to say, " Don't take it personally, I just don't like sharing a taxi".

After a short while we got to chatting, and I found out she was not here for recreation, indeed very few single Iranian women are. She was here, more specifically, for a master's law degree. This was strange, and to compound it all, her law degree, the one you get at first, I don't think the term bachelor's applies to single women, was also from India. Osmania University, no less. I think she had made a bold choice coming to BHU, after all, it is in Varanasi, and Varanasi, as anyone will tell you, is no Hyderabad. Her choice, however, was motivated more along the lines of parsimony. Turns out, getting a degree here is far cheaper than in Hyderabad. The fees, the living expenses, are all taken care of here.

Now, this reaffirmed my opinion of most foreigners who come to Benaras not being, well shall we say, well heeled. But what intrigued me was that she would chance coming here all alone, in order to get a degree from a university with a turbulent past. But then again, Iran is not regarded as being the most placid of countries. So it made sense, in a very convoluted sort of way. In any case, foreigners, especially the more financially desperate ones, are made of sterner stuff. And as for swindlers, they had best improve their English, if they are to be as effective as they intend to be.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Murders and Accusations


It's merger time again. Some of the world's biggest companies get on the financial merry go round, and buy some companies that really should have been left well alone, and to themselves. The acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google and Skype by Microsoft has sparked off a whole new series of buyoffs, selloffs and general pandemonium. HP now wants to sell off its hardware business and get into software. It is prepared to pay 10 billion dollars to achieve the same. And this is from the largest personal computer manufacturer in the world, with over $130 billion in sales. Perhaps this is due to the higher margins available in software, and this has even been hinted by the top brass at HP. Assuming this to be true, we may conclude that companies invested heavily in software must be a lot more profitable than those invested in hardware or associated services.

And this is where we come into the tale of the two behemoths, Google and Microsoft.

There is a reason why Apple isn't even in on the picture, you see, for Apple is older, and currently bigger than either of the two. Apple has now become tremendously successful, after expanding its portfolio from the niche iMac, to the proletarian ipod. The battle now, is in between Microsoft and Google, lets say, and even here, it is David vs Goliath. For no matter what detractors say, Microsoft is clearly the larger of the two. Microsoft has a profit of $23 billion on revenues of 69 billion. Google comes a distant second, with an 8.5 billion profit on revenues of 26 bill. And google, is a software company looking to foray into hardware, which makes companies like HP look all the more tentative about their policies. Plus, Steve Jobs seems nowhere among the runners right now, and this translates to a certain Tim Cook, who did not have the best of first days at the helm of apple, struggling to find some flimsy thread of innovation in his company.

In truth, the highest form of work is intellectual work now, and while the great country of America has a tendency to reward truck drivers and construction workers, in India, we love our software engineers. This is where google scores, you see, for man to man Google has more creative, more inventive engineers. However, it ran out of its own creative solutions, especially in the Smartphone Space. What google has done now, is buy up as many patents as it can, with the acquisition of Motorola Mobility. It has acquired 2500 patents, at a cost of around $500,000 per patent. Which is only interesting because when Microsoft and Apple had bid for Nortel and Novell's patents..they managed to acquire them at $750,000 apiece.

While the Motorola Mobility deal was sealed at $12.5 bn, and guarantees Google access to mobile phone and smartphone markets, Microsoft have paid $8.5 bn for Skype, for software technology that is fast becoming redundant.

Ironically, Skype is being replaced by Google voice and video chat.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Abhorrence and the Social Network


"Nature abhors a vacuum" -English Proverb

Narendra Modi is at it again. And now its cops who have to bear the brunt. For everyone who has ever submitted evidence against him, and still had the temerity to continue in his police force. Make no mistake, in Gujarat, he is God,and like every other politician/godman in this country, he has ego issues. Godhra was a side effect, and Gujarat, despite its newfound prosperity still finds it difficult to forget that notable communal scarring of its subaltern proletariat.

Communality, which is very different from communism, is an example of atavistic tradition gone horribly wrong. For you see, just like religion and bullock carts, communality was also useful, in its own time. Before it grew into a highly dichotomous and very fractious bone of contention between people. You see, nature abhors a vaccuum, and this leads all human beings to seek the company of other human beings. And while the dudes and dudettes of today may have upto a 1000 friends on their Facebook profiles, the people of yesteryear were limited to 150 or less. Their social circles were considerably constricted by their inability to commute long distances.

And as befits humans of a certain social standing, these people treated anyone outside their community to be a threat. And this lead to the formation of many rules, which, archaic as they may seem today, are still allowed to define the lives of people. Rules whose significance has been lost but still form the cornerstone of the lives of millions of people, and in some cases the reasons for their death. If consenting adults were not allowed to marry outside their community, it was to preserve the sanctity of their community. To preserve the gene pool that they evidently go into their heads was superior to that of all other communities. Homogeneity of religion, in order to preserve their cultural identity, and an inherent xenophobia in order to prevent cultural dilution.

What's important to keep in mind, is that while all this might have been culturally and socially relevant a few centuries ago, it is no longer feasible to have communities divided on cultural political or theosophical lines. It is not possible for us to ostracise or segregate other cultures based on the presumptuous belief that we are superior to others. Our social network is wider than it has ever been, and so is our global footprint. RIght wing parties in france want to halt the import of any materials that may be produced indigenously. This view is shared by most right wing parties across the world, as well as certain left wing parties and moderates. And while this may seem easy in theory, it is nearly impossible to implement.

For you see, the phone that you will answer in a little while may have been designed in Finland, or California or Japan, might have been assembled in China or Korea, or may, shockingly even, have been assembled in India. Our global is no longer global.

We are now glocal. And communities are no longer isolated. And(hopefully) religion will no longer exist.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Studious sycophants and why lack of mental exercise is highly important

College life is full of examples that you would feel obliged to tear your hair out at or (preferably) kick someone in the balls for. These examples are usually cooked up by some of those no good dilettantes sitting around in one large circle in a dingy room rapt in their rather pointless conversations on absolutely pointless topics. These people, who I must admit, are now some of my closest friends and well wishers, are brilliant, because they possess a myriad of talents, chief among which is NOT STUDYING.

Yes, NOT STUDYING, those two magical words form the epitome of the zenith of the apogee of the height of talent that collegiates seem to (mostly not) possess in abundance. In short, it is something laudable and concomitantly rare in most college students. At least in my college. Not studying is something that no one in my college seems to be able to accomplish successfully. Which makes those who can, something akin to living legends. Mostly, such people enjoy the respect and adulation of the mob, as well as rather limited successes which are magnified by the degree of (lack of ) effort they might have put in. TO put an end to any digressions, and get to the most elusive of all topics, the point. As such, this is a LIST post, and is one of the easiest to write about, because lists just write themselves don't they??

Here's why NOT STUDYING makes so much more sense than...well,everything else:

1. Not studying makes people believe that you have other mysterious, and very impressive talents. Such people are in awe of your prowess at almost anything, this might include being able to drink water through your nose, or being able to unfasten a bra with just one hand...

2. If perchance, you lack abovementioned talents, then people naturally assume you're cool, a dude, or equivalent euphemism...just because you don't study means you must be.

3. You can laugh in the face of danger, your HOD, your PhD mentor, your (highly successful) peers, a buffalo (if you're high enough on ganja) or a laughing hyena (if you're low enough), or a 16 wheeled TATA ZX-1 truck (if you're suicidal enough or high enough on ganja).

4.You have enough time to blog on absolutely any topic, this including the insect who met his tragic end one day while scaling your LAN cable or that weird M.Tech. student across the hall..

5. You get better grades than the guy next to you, even though you only studied for an hour, and he was up till 4 drinking coffee and working out solved examples and bugging you with doubts like,"DUDE,What's the square root of pi?"

6. You can play stupid ass computer games, and pretend they are real, and debate on them with a gusto reserved for oil price hikes and attendance shortages.

7. If you decide, one day, to hang yourself no one would notice until some guy says,"Abe, khana khaane chale?" to your corpse.

8. While in a fit of alcohol induced soporific ramblings, you stumble upon the secret to life, and forget all about it two hours later..only to remember it two years later while you drink yourself to death after no company would recruit you because they called you for a series of interviews, and you didn't study for any of it.

9. Most people would envy you, and those who didn't would be too busy studying to care anyway.

10. You can make lists out of absolutely anything. Yes, that means anything.

Monday, 13 June 2011

What India could buy with all the black money



And this was inspired by: http://www.visualeconomics.com/what-bp-could-have-bought-with-all-the-money-they-lost/

Right click on the image to save it. It won't popup as a full size image immediately. But you can zoom in.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Of Gods and Godmen


Religion, lets face it, is simply a means to control the people of this world. It was invented, yes invented and not discovered, in order to make humans feel a little less insecure about their place here on Earth. It was a convenient fiction, cooked up by over zealous raconteurs as they looked to the sky, and deduced the existence of god from nothing more than a few strands of lightning, and stars shaped like bears. What it meant however, and the people who invented this realised it soon, was POWER. Unbridled, untrammeled power. Because, humans, you see, are suckers for a good fiction, and like to feel warm and cozy in the belief that there's in fact an invisible man in the sky..watching over us and so on...

These rather deceptive people managed to rule over us, for a couple of millenia. But then something remarkable happened. God was replaced, just like that. He was replaced by what some have called the biggest force known to man, MONEY. And these people, who had hitherto had the utilitarian value of money, POWER, found their power to be a derivative of, rather than a function of money. And no matter how much they'd cry, no matter how they lambasted the apostacy of the common man, it wasn't coming back. No chance.

But they had hit upon a concept here. A large number of people equals a large number of money. This concept has been highlighted very recently by an enterprising young baba. This enterprising young baba owns half of the hearts and minds of this country, and also a considerably large Scottish island. This baba owns 8 companies registered through an intermediary which do not employ anyone or produce anything. But lets rewind, this baba controls a lot of people. Consequently he has a lot of money. Consequently he believed he had a lot of power. Until now of course.

Now he can just make threats about the number of people he can raise at short notice. Now he can just bandy about numbers like 11,000 and pretend like this rag tag militia can conquer the world. Baba Ramdev then, is acting like a typical teenager, who just got his ass kicked by the neighbourhood bully. Baba Ramdev, then, has suddenly received a culture shock, and a massive one.

You see, he got his concepts wrong, and massively. The reason why he has money is because of the power he exerts on people. Not the other way around. He doesn't have enough money to change the world. He has a shitload of money, but that just isn't enough, he can't go around throwing money at people, recruiting them to the army he is building. Most people who join his army would do so out of quasi nationalistic fervour, or as is more likely, out of coercion. They would be good for just one fight, and would disperse rather than destroy anything.

Most news channels have launched a propaganda war against him, which means now he would have to recruit from places which do not have televisions. This also means he could now brainwash people against popular media, and call it a conspiracy theory. He could now tell people he is going to be murdered, and end up being martyred, for the sake of the nation.

All for what? The issues that he has brought up, of black money and the like, were brought up as recently as a month ago. This has been resolved, and concrete steps have been taken. The public was swayed, and most people denounced the government as being weak and venal. Now, out of nowhere, comes this almighty preacher of yoga, and decides, all of a sudden to become the only means of salvation for Indian black money stored abroad. An issue which was suspiciously close to the pulse of the public two months back.

Why isn't he championing AIDS treatments, which he says can be cured through Yoga, or a cure for homosexuality, which he says is a mental disorder caused by that perfidious perpetrator of all evil, the WEST. Either of those would earn him the Nobel prize for sure. Why does he now insist on coming up with an equally ludicrous scheme for a problem which is already on its way to resolution?

Banning of 500 and 1000 rupee notes won't solve anything. And neither will rebellious civil wars involving 11000 armed men. There are no shortcuts to power, and this is what he has to realise. In order to gain any real power, he has to stand up and contest proper elections, just like every other thug, crook and vandal in this country.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Priapic Pastimes and Deceptive Deodorants


So, the government of India has now banned a sexy deodorant commercial. This, barely qualifies as news. And the fact that I read this on BBC's South Asia website is testament to the complete lack of earth shattering events occurring in Asia after Osama bin Laden's (rather accidental) death. So now, we are treated to the blazing rhetoric of (really sad) government employees, which is passed off as breaking (rather questionable) news. Parenthetical interruptions aside, they really have taken the Wild Stone commercials off air..and increased the popularity of WS deodorants, and sales, by a massive percentage.

Which is brilliant!! These defenders of morality,so called bastions of Indian culture, basically have no other work to do than sit down in front of the TV all day long, and surf through those salacious channels (MTv, FTv, Vtv, and other devilspawned entertainment) looking for the least trace of nudity or other objectionable sexual content. So these idiots, who happen to be highly paid government servants (no surprises there), can lay down the line.

Whatever happened to rights here. The right to free speech, free broadcasting, most importantly, free FUCK. I mean for God's sake, people in India fuck. Like crazy bunnies on steroids. WE did not attain a population of 1.3 billion by sitting on our haunches and waiting for storks. And yes, deodorants are meant to attract women. NOT cows/ pigs/ rodents. So yes, if a deo company implies that using their product would help a man get lucky then, it is a sensible , albeit lascivious ad.

And while the people who enforce such bans think pheromone is a species of mountain gorilla, and are busy trying to find which finger is lodged up their ass, most members of the (semi)knowledgeable public also support the enforcement of such bans. After all, they have kids at home, and kids are at an impressionable age, and of course they really shouldn't be taught about how they got made in the first place. And that really bad (really really embarrassing) SEX talk, that most families avoid. Not that it has anything to do with the sort of deodorant their father might have used anyway.

To face facts, Body Odour is a big turn off anyway...and deodorants have every right to be sexy. And there will always be government employees, with fancy sounding titles and designations, and characteristically, if not eponymously little work to be done.

Other than staring at overtly sexual ads for personal grooming products. And shaking their heads at a pair of boobs or legs, and going tch tch. And deciding that deodorants truly are the work of the devil.

And wondering about why they never got any, back in their time...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mess-o-nomics


Now this thread was started off by an extremely friendly mess server at lunch today. While his friendliness was only surpassed by his garrulity, he did raise some very interesting points, on the economics of that lifeblood of engineering colleges everywhere, the mess. See, running a mess, on a day to day basis, is now fast becoming, economically unfeasible.

Now it may come as a surprise to you, but most mess workers are poor. Not in the BPL, <2200 kcal a day poor, but seriously, money wise, destitute. This is because the scope of earning any real money as a mess worker is severely limited. But, what is even more interesting is how the government now, is making a mess The calculation is a simple one. Now, the average mess charge for each student comes out to be around 1700 a month, for my mess. Which means, for an average of 100 people eating in that mess daily, the folks running the mess would be able to earn 170000 rupees a month. Now I think around 30% of that would be overhead and salary, and 2% profit, with the remaining 68% going into sourcing food, dishes, taxes(maybe), etc. So it's the 30% that we are concerned with anyhow.

30% works out to be around 51000 a month. And while mess workers are paid differently, according to a very complex hierarchy, we can assume two salary bands, one for the people who actually cook the food, and the other for the servers/cleaners etc. Lets assume that the people in the lower band earn 40% less than those in the higher band. That would leave 31,875 rupees for the higher paid workers, and 19,125 for the lower paid workers. Now there are about 5 workers responsible for cooking the food, and around 6 responsible for the cleaning and serving.

And this means, that while the maharajs or those cooking the food earn a fairly decent salary of 6,500 rupees a month, those responsible for the cleaning and menial chores, earn only 3,175. This would have been okay, except for the MNREGA, which gurantees employment to every individual, at Rs 120 a day, for 100 days. This works out to be 12000 for the entire period, or 3600 a month. Following this, many states have decided to increase their minimum salary requirements, and in those states the price of manual labour may reach 200 for a day's work. Which is an astronomical 6000 a month.

This means, that although the effort required is much less, there is a significant decrease in interest in mess labour. Most workers look at the money first, and work later, and as such, feel there is much more reward to be had in hard core manual labour. This results in a considerable shortage in mess labour, which, paradoxically reduces the profits of the mess, as it results in an increase in the diet charge, which in turn results in a reduction in consumers.

Another factor which has a direct impact on the mess is inflation. And while the diet charge cannot be increased beyond a particular limit, there is no such boundary for the price of vegetables. And although potatoes are the staple for all such messes, the ravages of untrammeled inflation have not left this vegetable untouched either.

This in turn results in the messes of our hostels turning unprofitable, which means there is now a real danger of a famine ripping across academia, which also means that students might suffer from debilitating hunger soon, with no solution in sight.

Not from a lack of food, food is still being produced, stored improperly in silos, and rotting away. Not from lack of food.

But from the lack of people to cook it for us.

Friday, 20 May 2011

On Writing

It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me, that most of the highest rated movies, on IMDb and elsewhere, have been written by one person. And have been dramatic shifts from that one man's staple writing genre. Maybe its the contrast that makes his shifts so successful, or maybe its an art that only manifests in a particular kind of novel. Whatever it is, this one man has contributed so significantly to popular culture in modern times that it is almost unimaginable to think that people might not know his name. But, then again, most don't. But most know the movies, some even know of the books on which they are based.

You see, I have read a not inconsiderable number of book in my rather short but significant life. And one name has cropped up very often. Stephen King. And while some people mistake him for Stephen Hawking(yeah, that physics guy in a wheelchair), it cannot be doubted that he is probably the most influential writer of modern times.

What has to be respected is that he is primarily a horror genre specialist. Of all of his books, 95% have been horror novels. His best, and probably most well known body of work, however, is from the remaining 5%. This is weird, because he is most definitely NOT a bad horror writer. It's just that when he finally manages to write about something other than blood curdling nonsensical zombie tales, his stories become, almost sublime. Here's a list, of my top rated Stephen King books of all time. Most of these books would be already familiar to you, but not as books. I, never got to see most of the spun off movies, and I didn't want to either, for fear of them not matching up to the book. Anyway, here goes:

1)Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
2)Dreamcatcher
3)The Green Mile
4)Pet Sematary
5)The Shining

The best short story, which I have not had the pleasure of reading, is one called Quitters Inc., which was later adapted, albeit loosely, into a movie directed by Anurag Kashyap, called No Smoking. And yes, the movie was pure nonsense. But it was the best sort of nonsense there is.

Entertaining.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How Powerless Are You?


The Indian Government's ambitious UID project has stalled. And no one would admit it if you asked them. A universal ID system is not only difficult in a country like India, it is next to impossible. This is why significant power, responsibility and sums of money have been given to the one man Nandan Nilekani, who can make it happen.

Except that he hasn't.

And because none of what he had promised has in fact turned out the way he wanted it to be, he has introduced a new scheme, called Aadhar, which on paper is brilliant. Aadhar is akin to a Social Security number, is completely voluntary, and is biometrically verified. And what this translates into, is that anyone, irrespective of whether or not they have a birth certificate or passport or residence, can have his own means of identification. This is a boon for the lower level working class of India, who have no access to any documents of any sort. This means they can now avail of banking, telephony and other services, with a simple card, issued once in their name.

Since it is biometrically verified, an Aadhar Card cannot be forged or stolen. It can also be issued at source, as all that needs to be checked are the person's fingerprints, photograph and name. If these are not present in the national database, they are then added, and the applicant becomes a bonafide recipient of an Aadhar card. All of this is so brilliant, that already, 4.3 million people are beneficiaries of the Aadhar cards, with half of them coming from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, home to lots of very poor farmers, and very rich software engineers. Future plans are very smart also, and include such niceties as mini ATMs, akin to a recharge shop associated with no frills bank accounts.

Except that none of this addresses the real issue. India is a country of over a billion people. Barely 1% have got any sort of UID or Aadhar card. Andd even after they do, if they do at all(it took 3 years for 1%, maybe another decade for 100%)...the question still remains, how do they decide their own fate.

The poor in India have very little power over their lives you see. The men governing them play on a chessboard too big for any individual to see. Most are restricted to the view of one square. A few can see a few moves ahead. But issuing a card, identification, and validity to Indians does not guarantee them what it should, power over their own lives.

It does not guarantee them what should have been guaranteed first and foremost in a democracy. It does not guarantee them Universal Suffrage.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Bhu-reau-cracy...and why the world's oldest city has its stupidest university


So yes, it is frustrating when you have to get a form signed by someone you don't know, in an office you know of by reputation, for a reason that you cannot be sure of, after filling up a form made up by God only knows whom...

It is even more frustrating when a million different people have to do the exact same thing, and the person processing the form works at the same speed as a sloth bear switching branches.

WHat once started out as a social occasion, has now evolved into a nightmare. In the 80s, standing in a queue was a pleasant experience. The weather was cooler, people were friendlier. YOu met people from other departments, they told you stories, you told them stories. There wasn't any exchange of phone numbers because no one had any phones then. But, if you really liked someone, you could exchange room numbers and class timings. Queues were nice, social gathering spots, and the clerks processing forms could take their own sweet time.

This speed and efficiency of work has been retained to this day. Surprisingly enough, the people who used to be social and friendly, the students, have now turned into an angry mob of restless brigands. While their contumely actions know no bounds, their shocking lack of respect to women and elders are most condemnable. The erstwhile punctiliousness of the student of the 80s, has now been consumed in an expedient flash of convenience. Lines and long queues are no longer convenient to anyone, and people get restless, even if they have to wait for a little while. THis is the era of instant gratification, and most people expect the same levels of efficiency from government servants as is demanded of them.

What needs to be done, will probably never be done. The system is so large, and so static, that it will probably never be changed. This means, that our college will continue to be as bureaucratic as ever.

You see, people in general, and government employees in particular, show a very high degree of resilience to any sort of change. Which makes it very tough to change anything.

Which means longer lines, more frustration, and a sort of Hell in a handbasket attitude which could shame Ozzy Osbourne. And the sort of flourishing bureaucracy which employs two clerks to do the work of one, and two peons to fetch them tea.

Those Devious Defenders of Indian Decency


Okay, so all this started when I opened up google news one morning, in order to refresh my mind with the latest inanity prevalent in the world. I found something to interest me, in one rather gaudy flashing link, which informed me that there was a very very lascivious sex scandal afoot, involving the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, and an Australian bikini.

Now, it did not behove me to take such a prurient interest in matters involving the Hindu Religion and Aussie bathing garments, however, as I was pretty free of work, and as there was absolutely no possibility of me getting any action in the near future, I decided to excercise my meta phalanges, and proceeded to click on the aforementioned link.

You can imagine my disappointment when I found that it was not in fact the Goddess Lakshmi wearing a bikini, but an Aussie model. And strangely enough the site had zoomed in on her ass crack, which rather unfortunately coincided with the position of the deity's face. For a moment I felt temporally disaligned, and tried to process the wealth of visual information presented to me. After I had managed to do this, I proceeded to scroll down to the next paragraph of the article.

Of course, the next image was a slightly more familiar one. That of people wearing saffron scarves, and burning the flag of Australia. And most probably shouthing things like "Those Aussie bastards!!"

And these people are the ones whom my blog is dedicated to. I mean, they are everywhere these days!! And, I, for one, am thankful. I mean, they are pretty much the only reason my Hindutva honour cannot be touched, and why I can sleep soundly, secure in my Hindutva-ness. They are the ones who provide that much needed security to Hindus worldwide. They are the bastions of morality, the protectors of common decency.

These people are so concerned about the prevalence of immorality in contemporary Indian society that they take it upon themselves to kick the shit out of anyone who is improperly dressed, or engaged in a show of public affection. Because come on...no one wants to see a thigh or a boob flash. And no one wants to watch a hot couple get it on, on a park bench. These things are against Indian Values.

Which brings us to that vague and rather nebulous term, INDIAN VALUES. No one knows what they are, most are freely editable to suit the needs of so and so Political Parties. One thing which is definitely not an Indian value is SEX. According to an official spokesperson for the so called Protectors of the Indian Values(yes they have spokespeople, PR reps, and surveys too, who doesn't these days), sex does not exist. And therefore we have solved one big problem facing our society today, that of over population.

Yes, China needed laws against childbirth, we just decided to get rid of sex. Officially, sex does not happen in this country. Which is brilliant. Thanks to those righteous defenders of the Indian Values system.

And while most of these people were out in the streets, chanting names and condemning the Aussies, you'd be surprised at how many volunteer for social service in urban slums and poor rural areas. And while it is really easy to defend the Indian Values, what is not easy is to remove something even more quintessentially Indian.

Indian Poverty.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Free and Easy

"There's no such thing as a free lunch" -English Idiom

AS most people who have ever had to stay in a summer hostel in their college would tell you, there's absolutely no such thing as a free lunch. Summer hostellers are usually left to their own devices when it comes to such prandial needs. And as such, the aforementioned idiom has come to signify the lack of any favours in this world at present. Succinctly, there is no way the universe would just let you do stuff, wihtout exacting its price in return. But, there are exceptions. And this is where we come into the realm of specifics, instead of idle bullshit. You see, knowledge, most of us would agree, should be freely and easily accessible. Because knowledge is just that. Free.

The first person to light a fire did not charge his compatriots 2 bucks to come and warm their food on it, or 5 bucks to take it away on a stick of his own. The only reason we know about such things as why stars twinkle and why a lightbulb glows is because people with knowledge have been kind enough not to view their knowledge as marketable assets.

What has changed now, however, is that certain MBA type people dressed in fancy suits and armed with terminologies such as a SWOT analysis and ARPU have decided that if everything from gold to rocks has a price, knowledge should have its own too.

This is the reason why online journals are priced at $65, ad ebooks are priced at $325 a copy. Most laptops in this country are worth about a journal and an ebook combined. And that is not surprising, since this is for all intents and purposes a third world country with a very lopsided PPP ratio. But even in suhc advanced countries as the US and Germany, you could easily get a laptop for $500. Which makes the guy who bought the aforementioned ebook and journal look like a complete idiot.

Everywhere you look, you get to see such unmitigated examples of avarice, that used to be restricted to such things as oil and ladies handbags. What is incredibly pernicious, is that it has crept into the knowledge trade as well. Big, fucking huge corporations are now responsible for storing half of all the research data created by scientists all around the world. These scientists are so fucking dumb, they think its an honour to be published in so and so international mag. The honour, and money, is restricted to the company that publishes the international mag, and shows a healthy balance sheet to back it up. There are no associated costs. hell they don't even print on paper anymore, as part of a concerted effort to go green(dollars).

In the face of it all, we have Wikipedia. That massive middle finger to all sorts of knowledge profiteering and scientific journal publishing. Companies like Microsoft still maintain that Wikipedia isn't accurate enough, or that the articles aren't well written enough, and then offer you an online subscription to the Britannica Encyclopedia at a mere $2 a month, less than it costs to watch porn.

Unfortunately for them, porn is often a bigger draw...and Wikipedia will always stay free.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Promiscuous Patriotism

There are always a few people in the world who insist on being patriotic, to a fault. They are so patriotic, they feel it to be thier duty to remind their fellow compatriots of the exact lyrics of the National song, or National anthem. On days like the 15th of August, and 26th of January, this enthusiastic reprisal of our civic duties reaches a crescendo of patriotism. They blast the national anthem, and other patriotism laden songs from 5.1 dolby suround(and believe me that shit's LOUD) speakers just as soon as the clock ticks 00:00 on the 14th. They are the first ones to rise on the morning of the day, and the first ones to salute the flag.

They are usually the first ones also, to reprimand some unwary soul for causing disrespect to the Indian flag, or the Indian constitution, or the Indian freedom fighters of the last century, or one cnetury before that. They put up slogans like Jai Hind, on their face book accounts. And get their face painted, ride around on motorbikes and, in general, remind the whole world how good it feels to be an Indian. A true blue Indian, with cricket in his blue(ish) blood, and heart filled with generous respect for Bhagat Singh, Mangal Pandey, and an extra generous helping of antipathy for Gandhi.

These people spend the remaining 363 (or 364 if its a leap year) typing out emails which they then proceed to send to universities around the world. Universities like Sheffield, and Texas(which is pronounces Tex-ARSE..as opposed to Tex-us), yeah, those brilliant A grade top ranked universities. And such people proceed to bug their seniors for tips, and ask them about where to apply next, and whether the GMAT is really worth all that money. These people know more about the TOEFL than you might about tea. And speaking of tea, they usually consume between 4-5 cups of it a day. These people know that DAAD isn't some sort of ringworm that you can counter with some sort of skin ointment. These people consider Obama to be some sort of monkey, and MIT to be the best bloody University in the world, and NASA to be some sort of sidereal heaven.

What the Indian dream is, then, is to emigrate. Because for all intents and purposes, abroad is the best place to study, to live, and to grow rich. Because it makes sense to get your degree in higher education from a university abroad, and THEN come back to our country. And come on, TRUE patriots are even better abroad. THey are NRIs, which makes them more valuable than their weight in gold. India had the highest amount of remittances flowing into any country in the world. NRIs account for 2.5% of our GDP. And we are thankful, because those people are the true patriots. THe people who have the good sense to send back money to their own country in order to benefit the people in our poor India.

And like everything else, patriotism is now measured in INR, so Mukesh Ambani, probably, by that measure, is one of the most patriotic citizens of the country. WHich makes it easiest to define patriotism.

Patriotism isn't measured by your knowledge of the Sepoy Mutiny, or by the volume at which you can play Vande Mataram. Patriotism isn't measured, period. No one is more patriotic, or less patriotic than his neighbour. We all belong to the same country, and we all have the same duty towards it. And whehter we choose to fulfil it, is completely dependent on us.

Not on our patriotism.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Life is no Nintendo Game

As sophisticated as the axioms of life may turn out to be...as cliched as the inane rhetoric you get to listen to on the Aastha channel may get on your nerves..there's one that never goes out of fashion. There are no second chances, no missed opportunities, no opportunity knocks twice on any door.

In short, you have to grab whatever you get hold of,any little chance that you get a whiff of, no matter how inchoate, or nascent. There are so many things left to do in life, that one short day seems incomplete.

So, as most of my branchmates, and very few of the people wasting time on this post might have realised by now, this post is all about Carpe Diem, or as most wannabe hip hoppers would like it, Carpe ma fucking Diem. So, what most of the godforsaken stupid people in my branch do, is to behave like complete and utter hyperions, no reference to the mythological titan, of course. They believe that most of the time, it is simply a lack of effort, that prevents them from being successful.

Now, one reference to a titan that may be slightly less incongruous is that mother of all futility, sisyphean. Which, oddly enough, crops up as a typo on blogger. And even stranger, it is not really a typo, it is a word for someone expending great effort on a task which is ultimately futile.

And, just like an album full of B sides, wasting your time and effort on something which is largely pointless is rather stupid. Carpe diem isn't really much use, until and unless you do something that can significantly impact lives.

Headless chickens don't really get far.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Opinionated...and why 1+1=2


It is not everyday that hunger strikes are announced to the world, or one man's status update on facebook reaches a hundred million people and sparks them into an instant frenzy of revolt,or people decide to spontaneously coordinate amongst themselves to create a national uprising...

The smiley :P, is ascribed to a very narrow range of emotions, however, as laconic as that particular emoticon may seem, it is in fact, very applicable to the above few sentences. For those of you who read in between the lines, and are now in the process of rolling your eyes at improbable angles, good for you.

But to get to the point, and it's not something I do very often, this is the age of connectivity. This is the age of instant messaging, of updating your status at the drop of a hat, and of mass communication. Which makes things very interesting.

You see, man has always had opinions. When the first man to strike two sticks together told his mates about fire, there must have been some to call him an idiot, and tell him to go hunt wild boar. Luckily for us, the other group of people were in majority, that group, who saw fire as something constructive, and wholly remarkable
The only difference now is that while these opinions were in general limited to 5 or 10 people, now it can reach the world. And cause major political upheavals.

We have now become a generation hell bent on documenting our every move, our every thought. And while most of humanity thinks about money and sex for every waking minute of the day, and while most of the coherent thoughts we can muster are a bunch of unbridled bullshits parading as intellectual parables, once in a while, one of us comes up with a gem.

Once in a while, someone comes up with a solution to the world, and all its problems.

And through the power of facebook, we can do, only on a much bigger scale, what we have always done to the brightest among us, to our leaders, to our idols.

We can support them. We can make up the numbers, we can be the number one, adding up to one million.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Of Chinky Japanis and someone's Joota...

India is a very weird place to come to at the best of times. The people here are weird, and their actions, however well intentioned, inevitably turn out to be, for lack of a better word, weird. But to come here during Holi, would be akin to committing suicide. And its a good thing that the Japanese people know how to do that... Yes, they have perfected the art of suicide and can commit it in no less than 23 ways. How do I know? because I met one such guy, who had travelled to India during Holi, from Bangladesh, which was a marked improvement at least.

Anyway, this person, unlike most tourists, was smart. He was a trained Civil engineer, who had worked at a Government job, had left it, and was now out to see the world. As such, he had developed his own views on the world, and the economic laws that shaped it. He also knew a thing or two about Indian poverty, as does everyone unfortunate enough to have ever boarded a train at Varanasi Junction. And he had been in India for three weeks, which is a sufficient time to form your views on a country and its people.

A friend of mine was kind enough to point out on facebook that there is currently a nuclear disaster in progress in Japan, and while his Machiavellian intellect had sufficient perspicacity to point out this seemingly crucial bit of information, I did have the courage, if not the courtesy to ask my Japanese friend about the tragedy. He informed me that his family was safe, and in the interior of the country, ergo not prone to immediate danger. This being the case, he was travelling alone in and around the world. The reason he was on my train was of course, he was a practising Buddhist. Which meant that a place called Bodh Gaya was of particular significance to him. Also, his girlfriend was South African, go figure... which meant he knew english reasonably well.

After the usual banter about engineering, and jobs, and how, in general engineers are better than the rest of the people in the world, and of course, about how difficult it is to get a girl in an engineering college, there being so few of them, we decided to get dwon to brass tacks. And this meant that I was questioned about equality in India, or rather, the lack of it.

Because, according to this Japanese guy,people in Japan were equal. There wasnt the level of poverty that we take for granted here. The poor were largely urban, and even then, they were better cared for than our rural poor, in terms of government welfare. He said that Japan wasn't growing as fast as India, in fact it wasn't growing at all, but shrinking. China had pipped it to the number two spot, and this caused a lot of grief to the Japanese people. Of course, this was followed by the force de majeur events of the past week, and might well lead to a significant collapse of the Japanese economy.

But the fact of the matter remained, the people there were equal. Here they were not. And so he asked me, how long is it going to be before India is a true economic power? I said, well, at least the government here is not as autocratic as that of China, and while it is helping the people, it may be a while, but it would certainly happen in my generation. He nodded assent, but seemed unconvinced. I didn't blame him, there wasn't much conviction in India's economic might. It seemed as fragile as a house of cards. And I wondered what would happen if 2 nuclear reactors melted down in India...

You see,there's more to those Japanese than just that joota...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lingua Franca

"East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet..."
-Rudyard Kipling

We have a strange problem in this country, and that problem is one of communication. Or,as the auto wallah in Bangalore said to me, in one poignant moment of greivously mismatched rhetoric, "Naai Aaatta..." So, the point I am trying to make here is, that of simple communication. One book which had a profound impact on me was Fritjof Capra's The Tao Of Physics.

I thought it was a load of shit. But it was in our 1st year curriculum, and I had to read it anyway. Now waht it said was something like, people make up words to communicate words, and once those ideas have been communicated, they forget the words they used. This makes sense. You see, language is all about ideas, and ideas do noyt come from the lnguage, they come from the person speaking the language.

Here's the point. Most ultra nationalist, Hindutva loving, saffron terrorists would deny this, but the primary mode of communication today, is in fact the english language. And while Hindi might be the official language of our country, there are very few people who, in fact speak it on a regular basis.

For we are a country without any homogeneity. Either in terms of finance or culture. We are a country with most people who have very little in common trying to find some common ground. India has over 1800 languages and dialects, and no one could expect any single person to know all of them. Hence, while Hindi may be our choice language for abuse, and filling up govern,ment forms....

WE all know its Englih we prefer.

Friday, 11 March 2011

(dis)United States of India

“To be paid..to do what you love, ain’t that the Dream?” –Jude Law, Road to Perdition

The Indian dream, in short, and to be rather brutal, is to emigrate. You see Indians are a lot better at EVERYTHING they do, when they are not in India. The greatest passion among most Indians, is unequivocally, to settle aborad. You hear it in the quavering voice of the fat aunty next door, when she informs you that her son has been accepted “to UK”, you hear it in the respectful tone of your parents when a family friend tells them that he has been placed at a company in Spain, you hear it in the envy of your friend’s voice, when he tells you that his roommate is going to Germany for the summer. But above all, the most unifying factor in India today is the reverence of that splendid nation, the US. People who have been there are US returned, which makes them equal, in most respects, to God. People who are from there, despite having the notable handicap of being Indian, are referred to as NRIs, and everyone knows they make the best husbands, and are filthy rich. People who are from there, are of course, Americans, and once again, we all know that they are simply fabulous.

We love Americans, because they are so much better than us. They look so much better than us. Our rather flawed concept of beautiful people, as being tall and fair, is perfectly matched by them. Even the so called African Americans( c’mon we’re cool…NEGRO) look beautiful, and while any girl unfortunate enough to be born with a dark skin tone here is ostracized, black Americans are considered, well rather sexy here. And come on, they make the best TV shows, period. Friends, 24, Heroes…soo much better than the shit they show here. And they get soo much more action than we do, they’re practically more experienced at 15 than we are at 39. And well, they are jus soo much richer, drive such better cars than we do, have so much better lifestyles than us, soo much more glamorous. We can’t help but be seduced by their wealth and power and influence and white skin.

And in a country where the Marathis hate the Biharis, the Kannads can’t stand the Punjabis, the Assamese get irritated by the mere mention of the Rajasthanis, we welcome with open arms the Americans. From Alabama or California, we don’t care. Black or White, who gives a shit. And while gay and lesbian people here are mentally unstable or even criminally insane, Americans are Americans…chalta hai…. A pregnant 16 year old girl is a slut, a witch and a whore, if she’s Indian. If she’s American, she’s cute, and liable to be the female lead in a really sweet movie. We are a country divided by language, culture, and employment issues. And united in our admiration for America.
The most brilliant Indian economists might wax lyrical about the Indian economy, and be branded a biased, myopic fascist for his troubles. But when Barack Obama says it, our ego troubles are assuaged. People give more weight to the words of the president of a country facing the worst economic crisis of its recent history, than to the words of our own Finance Minister. Because while our netas are corrupt, their netas are upright, and he’s even won a Nobel Prize for gods sake.. must be legit.

People fail to realize that not all American universities are better than ours, not all Americans are better than us. We have substance in our country. The Americans now have nothing, but brash attitudes and billionaires. The great Indian dream should not be to go abroad. The Great Indian dream should be to do, what you love…

Thursday, 10 March 2011

An eschewed democracy

“Give me control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not about who makes its laws.” –Mayer Amschel Rothschild

We have made the grave mistake of equating a country's economy with the standard of its society. We have made this egregious assumption because our country’s people are no longer governed by their elected representatives. And there is a reason for this.

You see, in order to govern anyone or in this case, everyone, there is a need for leadership. At the outset of society, the leader was the strongest warrior. The Alpha Male. He gave people what they desired, security. Protection from the ravages of the other tribes, of savage animals, of natural disasters.,a single entity for the redress of all their problems.

You see, most people had realized long before the advent of modern society that large masses of people cannot govern themselves. There has to be one person, one leader, capable of being pliable to the vox populi, yet independent enough to make his own decisions. This leader, for effective governance, must give the people what they need, must in other words, be able to motivate them.
After the cavemen had evolved into reasonable beings of art and culture, there was a need to provide more to the people than security and redress. Human beings were no longer governed by the need to hunt, or scavenge or forage. Human beings were now smart, resourceful creatures. This in itself brought a new challenge to the leaders of society. How do you lead so many humans, each with his own thought process. How can you motivate each and every one of them, in order to serve a common purpose. Slavery was an option, but not a viable one. Slaves were inherently inefficient. You had to spend a lot of energy to get them to work, and in modern management parlance, attrition was severe. This led to the concept of GOD.

You see a man with a vision, for a collective goal for humanity, for a single purpose is a stupid motherfucker. The people around him would question his motives, some out of jealousy, others out of indignation, yet others out of a genuine sense of cynicism. That one man is NOT better than any other man, he is just as flesh and blood as the rest of us, popular opinion would go, how can we let him govern us?
But if that man, were to say, oh I don’t know…I’m doing the work of GOD. An all knowing, all powerful, divine presence, who only manifests himself to TRUE believers, and who only acts through his puppets on Earth. If that man were to do the WORK of GOD, isn’t that noble enough to engender the support of everyone? God continues to be the single most important motivational force for millions of people to this day. Except for one problem.

Atheists, and greedy people far outnumber the pious and altruistic people of this world today. And as a result, humanity needs a different source of collective motivation, a different reason for being united. Our unity no longer arises from our Country, or from our religion. No, our unity now arises from our employment. People of all religions, all countries, stay happy and contented under one roof, provided they are paid better than the people who live next to them. We do not elect our leaders anymore. Our leaders are not in Delhi, attending some stupid meaningless session of parliament. Our leaders are in 5 star hotels, in executive class seats on flights, in video conferences halfway around the world.

The corporate world is the worst example of nepotism, of arbitrary steps taken, of common people not having a say in its machinery, of lack of a social conscience, and of corruption. The government runs a country, only in some respects, because most people like to think they’re in control. They think that their vote counts.
Well it doesn’t count for shit. Because the country isn’t run by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister couldn’t do anything to help you if you lost your job tomorrow. The country is run by rulers who are never democratically elected, who answer to no one, and who could do something if you lost your job tomorrow. But, of course they wouldn’t.

They’d be the ones firing you.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

No Longer In Between Classes

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources" -Albert Einstein

WHat started as a pet project, out of a sense of boredom in between classes one day, has come a long way. This blog has got attention, been ignored, riled, praised, lambasted, applauded, and in general, suffered a myriad of contradictory expressions.While my rather complicated style of writing, very sesquipedalian sentences, usage of words like sesquipedalian, and obsession with petroleum products has not endeared me to a lot of people, my forthright style, and frequent usage of the word fuck, has certainly made me an entertaining blog to read.

But this is more than just bakchodi, as we call it here. This is more than pseudo intellectual rubbish written by someone who couldn't care less. No, that's the stereotype. this blog, is aobut something much more. This blog is about those who care too much. About where the world is going, about where we are going to land up. This blog is more than just introspective, or insightful. If read properly, this blog can give you the answers to questions that you might never ask in your life.

But whatever made this blog successful, or at least a good read, has now gone. This is not surprising. I have very little time in between classes now. And what I have is taken up by some wholly inconsequential and mind bogglingly stupid activities that i insist on performing.

And while no longer intuitive or straightforward, this is a new start that I must contrive to make a good start out of. Nothing is certain in this world. And even less certain is the direction in which this blog is heading.

Here's to a new beginning. Let's see where it goes.

No longer in between classes

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources" -Albert Einstein

WHat started as a pet project, out of a sense of boredom in between classes one day, has come a long way. This blog has got attention, been ignored, riled, praised, lambasted, applauded, and in general, suffered a myriad of contradictory expressions.While my rather complicated style of writing, very sesquipedalian sentences, usage of words like sesquipedalian, and obsession with petroleum products has not endeared me to a lot of people, my forthright style, and frequent usage of the word fuck, has certainly made me an entertaining blog to read.

But this is more than just bakchodi, as we call it here. This is more than pseudo intellectual rubbish written by someone who couldn't care less. No, that's the stereotype. this blog, is aobut something much more. This blog is about those who care too much. About where the world is going, about where we are going to land up. This blog is more than just introspective, or insightful. If read properly, this blog can give you the answers to questions that you might never ask in your life.

But whatever made this blog successful, or at least a good read, has now gone. This is not surprising. I have very little time in between classes now. And what I have is taken up by some wholly inconsequential and mind bogglingly stupid activities that i insist on performing.

And while no longer intuitive or straightforward, this is a new start that I must contrive to make a good start out of. Nothing is certain in this world. And even less certain is the direction in which this blog is heading.

Here's to a new beginning. Let's see where it goes.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Supercilious Playlists and Raucous Cacophonies

Now its been a long time since I have written a catalogue blog of any sort..yes, I realise those two words rhyme, it isn't my fault. But it's propbably the easiest sort to write. Make up a list of 10 different things, and you're good to go. Its such a common trick that 9 out of every 10 blogs is usually a catalogue of some sort. It gives the blogger a supreme sense of satisfaction, and the blog reader a supreme sense of self loathing.

However, as this, is in effect a catalogue(for lack of a better word) blog, I will proceed to elaborate on one little thorn in my side. The sort of song selection that people proceed to play on their shiny new 5.1 surround sound speakers. Now many would think its COOL, to play songs as loud as possible, and hence, in my hostel, where the rooms are about big enough to accomodate 5 orangutans, we have 5 speakers(and not of the debating sort either)and 1 woofer. Which, as some may tell you, is the surest way to reach premature deafness.

And well, for someone who has invested in such a brilliant piece of hardware, (after all speakers are the most important part of a computer), it is also important to invest in a good playlist. And this, some would say, is the coup de grace of sheer auditory bliss. Now the playlist of choice varies, but(and we are FINALLY getting to the point), there are some all time favourite songs that people with 5.1(really expensive) speakers LOVE to play. At max volume.

These songs may be considered by some as really irritating, and also, at the opposite end of the spectrum, headbanging(ly) gooood. Yes, there are people who headbang to Boulevard of Broken Dreams. How?! with great agility...

Here's the playlist:

1. Summer of 69, Bryan Adams
2. Love the way you lie, Eminem & Rihanna
3. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Green Day
4. Munni/Sheila/Manjan... and whatever is the lateshht whatnot...
5. Titanic Theme, Celine Dion
6. Numb, Linkin Park \m/
7. In the End, Linkin Park

Well, thats about it folks. Its brilliant, and torturous at the same time, to see so many classics left out (21 Guns, Green Day etc.) But that's okay. Anytime you feel the need...just get yourself to the nearest iBall, Logitech, Altec Lansing and whatnot store.

Play it loud. Or don't play at all...

Monday, 10 January 2011

Southern Star

Once Rajnikanth and Kalanidhi Maran had a gentleman's wager about the salaries they took home every year. The loser would have to wear a wig, and dance with a ridiculously overhyped actress in a ridiculously expensive movie which turned out to be absolutely rubbish. Guess who won?

And although this may not be as ostensibly relevant, you might try guessing who the highest paid CEO of India is. And while most of the names thrown around may be big, and weighty, like Mukesh Ambani, or that CEO of Hero Honda who doubled his pay just before Hero became Hero and Honda became squat, these names are just names. Or another question, slightly less tautological, maybe, who the most powerful media tycoon down south is(Rupert Murdoch analogies are patent here)? These questions are largely unanswered, or answered with specious information.

As anybody who has ever landed at Chennai Central may tell you, the south of India is a whole different poppadum. They have some of the richest people, living in some of the most exclusive homes, in some of the best localities in some of the most habitable cities of India. Some of them make news...others are news...some are gods, others are bigger.

Some countries have a healthy attitude of cutting superstars down to size, with criticism, paparazzi, tabloids and slander. This attitude is remarkably absent in India, where all media engines are geared towards portraying superstars as better than you think, and simply, Better Than You. And that's why people love superstars, because they are so much better, so much more good looking, so much richer, maybe even so much fairer than us,the commoners. In a country where inanimate statues of gods are given more respect than the human beings who make them, it is little wonder that all we want is someone to worship. Or that Kalanidhi Maran, the 37 crore rupee wonder CEO of Sun TV and now, SpiceJet, can tell the people down south who exactly god is.

For a bit of contrast, Mukesh Ambani, richest man in India, takes home a salary of around 15 crore rupees. And Mr. Maran also has a Mrs. Maran, who cashes a cheque of the same amount, by virtue of her post at Sun TV. Which is all fine and dandy. And he also has a brother, Dayanidhi Maran, who is now a textile minister of some sort in the UPA. WHat the fuck does a textile minister DO anyway?!

And while Kalanidhi may control all opinion and news, or at least the major part of it down south, it does not mean he is as spineless as most media barons are (Barkha Dutt..anyone). He has routinely fallen foul of the political god down south, M. KArunanidhi, with disastrous results for his vox populi newspaper.

While down south may have a parlance of its own in terms of lascivious innuendo, it is no doubt a world of its own where India is concerned. And while divinity may be the same, and we may worship the same idols in temples, it is not incorrect to assume that the moguls of the south are just as poles apart from the north as the proverbial magnet.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Schlumdog billionaire

Energy efficiency is a buzzword not restricted to the United States or the European Union, as it might be commonly misunderstood. While Indian initiatives for environment, in the past, have been restricted to banning poor Korean steel making companies on the basis of their environmental track record, it has now decided to make itself energy efficient.

And not surprisingly, this unprecedented declaration has been implemented, albeit somewhat counter intuitively by raising the number of energy projects in India to tipping capacity. For, indeed the cautionary tales of energy shortage have been taken somewhat didactically by most of India's energy producers. The erstwhile Dabhol power plant, which has cost more to reconstruct and maintain than maybe building a new plant, heralds a new age in energy efficiency after being restarted under new ownership.Unfortunately it has to now import gas at $7 per thermal unit more than it sells power at, thanks to the high maintenance costs that vitiate with idling machinery.

And everyone is keen to jump on the bandwagon. Reliance Industries, with their umpteen energy resources, Suzlon, Essar, Jindal, some of the biggest powerhouse conglomerates of the country are putting their weight behind power production glut.

But perhaps, the least known story behind the energy boom is that of a rather touching cross border friendship. That of India and Pakistan. After 26/11, and Headley inter alia, relations between the nuclear neighbours have been a bit strained. And where Richard Holbrooke may fail, oil and natural gas is bound to succeed. The massive oil pipeline, running from Turkmenistan to India, via Pakistan, is now expected to bring in enough energy resources to India to fire up its gas plants, and whet its appetite for energy, while maybe mellowing tensions between the two countries.

However, this moral turpitude is not merely restricted to diplomacy. Energy producing corporations, which have publicly denounced Chinese machinery in the past, are now looking eastwards for their turbine solutions. And the Tatas, which had the largest private sector share of the power production pie, are being continually challenged for their crown, as their rate of growth, far from being a boom, barely even reaches the level of backfire now. And while the RBI might have rescinded the method of payment used by India to import oil from Iran, it is still not enough to quell the demand for oil from OPEC nations.

Against the backdrop of international intrigue, one company Schlumberger continues to placidly recruit Indian engineers for its work. The work being primarily to set up mines and wells in order to extract natural resources. And most college students would only know it for the obscenely large pay package it pays to its new recruits. Which is not surprising since it has in its accounts profits ranging to a few billion dollars.

While all this pans out on the grand global stage , we have one more thing to look forward to in the new year and new decade, energy efficiency.