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.