Monday, December 22, 2008

Sacred Cows

One man's sacred cow is another man's, er, beef.. And what could classify as downright cheapness, can also, by a small smart calculated shift and a little lipstick, become shining & exemplary behaviour.

So, a Congress minister can cater to his political base (which need not extend to India, but is probably limited to his Religion). So while Indians can fret and and frown, by playing to his target constituency, it sees him as a hero (He claims to have started recieving big hugs now, each time he goes to pray!).

So when the Indian cricket team say they are playing for the country and for Bombay, it sounds hollow. Because, unlike the England team that gave away 50% of their personal match fees earning, all the Indian cricketers contributed is 'dedicating' their win to the Bombay victims (and Sachin's raising his bat after, oh-thank-God achieving his 41st century to keep his neck ahead of Ponting). So once you put those black arm bands, you can continue and mint money; and hopefully the IPL cash coffers will also open up soon.

So, when Star Plus shows the Voice of India song-and-dance program last evening with all gloss and glitter, without a care about the propriety of it, happening less than a month of the Bombay terror attacks - they are smart enough to take precautionary action. Throw in a few tricolour-clad dancers and put in stupid patriotic Bollywood songs (suno gaur se duniya waalon buri nazar naa hampe daalo) - and presto, they are actually doing it for the country. Not money or TRPs, of course not.

Like sex, jingoism sells too. So, put in the tricolours, or don't, depending on the constituency you wish to appeal to. And exploit the masses.

Sacred cows are meant to be slaughtered, yes, but you do need to make the right noises.
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Statehood for Bombay!

My last post on Bombay, had a few thoughts and views.

But this article by Meghnad Desai in the Indian express, is probably what I wanted to convey and could not. For ease of reading, here is the article.

And, as it says, we need Statehood for Bombay so that atleast at the grassroots, we can have decent (and human) leaders who determine and drive our destiny. Not some jokers sitting in Delhi.

Statehood for Bombay

by Meghnad Desai

I grew up in Bombay, not Mumbai. In the 1950s, it was cosmopolitan and vibrant and a lot of fun. Just looking at the Taj from the Gateway of India—Palva Bunder as we called it—was enough to give me a thrill. I could not afford even a cup of tea in the Taj then. Years later in 1993, when I came to give the Exim Bank lecture, I was able to stay there, in the old Taj, on one of those higher floors. I have stayed again several times. It was the haven of perfection, a pure joy.

Seeing the Taj burn was bad enough. The people of Bombay, who gathered angrily, had me with them every inch. My anger during those 60 hours made me believe that perhaps India itself will see how much was lost in that attack on its sovereignty. Perhaps, Indian politicians would mend their ways and unite. I could see that many people holding candles were looking up to their leaders to deliver.


Fat chance. The response of the political classes has been muffled and cynical and smug. The one shining exception is P. Chidambaram, the new Home Minister. He has been the only politician to say sorry to people of Bombay. Otherwise, the country was asked to get back to its foetal position and start blaming Pakistan. Police and politicians went on air repeating the story that the one surviving terrorist was telling them, as if the man is telling the truth. The BBC sent a reporter to where he is supposed to be from and found no one who had heard of him. He is as likely an Indian as he is an Arab, for all anyone knows. Of course, what he told them was what he was instructed to say, since the enemy knows how gullible Indian authorities are. The familiar names of Dawood Ibrahim and ISI and LeT were fed to the interrogators.

So we send off the old laundry list of names to Islamabad and ask in menacing tones for Pakistan to surrender them immediately. Is anyone serious? It is one thing for the TV newscasters to shout at Pakistanis onscreen about what they must do. They have soap to sell and TRPs to watch. But I can say with confidence that the UK Government would not entertain such a request, even from an ally, even for known convicted terrorists. There is a human rights framework, which does not permit extradition of people, who are unlikely to get justice at the other end. The arrested terrorist, Ajmal Ameer Kasab, may not even get a lawyer to defend him. Condoleezza Rice must have had to suppress her laughter when confronted with such amateurish performance. Indians can do complicated nuclear negotiations, since that is like an exercise in Vedantic hairsplitting. But when it comes to real world terror, all we get is clich├ęs.

But what are Bombayites to do? First, let us stop calling it Mumbai. Then I suggest, why not start a movement for statehood for Bombay? Why don’t Bombayites field candidates at the forthcoming elections, who would demand a separate state for Bombay, as was Nehru’s wish? That way they need not vote for any of the political parties, whose leaders abused Karkare till the day he died, and equipped him with a bullet-proof vest which was useless and a pistol to face an AK-47. Bombayites would not have to suffer the humiliation of their CM selected after several days’ delay, not on grounds of competence but of caste. A Bombayite may even qualify to be CM of Bombay! No one else in Indian politics gives a toss for Bombay and its millions.

Of course it won’t happen all at once. But if at the next election a few MLAs or an MP or two can be unseated by Bombayites, then the demand would be taken seriously. Delhi has a state for itself, so why not Bombay?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bombay!

I dislike & hate all that the name Mumbai stands for:

- the politics of hate
- the politics of language
- the politics of region
- the politics that focusses on the trivia
- the politics that does not require its leaders to deliver on promises
- the politics that allows its leaders to divide and rule

And No, I will not leave it if I do not like the name. I refuse to accept anyone telling me what my city will be called.

But what I can do (all I can do?) is to tell these politicians & leaders, that I refuse to accept your nomenclature, and by inference, your politics.

So, in my mind, Peddar Road, Warden Road, Cuffe Parade, Napean Sea Road and French Bridge remain exactly that - whatever you wish to call them for your politics of convenience and hate.

And Bombay resumes being, Bombay.

So, I hereby re-christen my City BOMBAY:

The city of hope
The city that unifies
The city that will survive the corrupt and inefficient
The city where the corrupt and inefficient will not survive
The city that aspires and deserves to be a City-State.
The city that needs to break free from the regional leaders and politicians.
The city that will be much bigger than all of them, if only we & they let it be.

Where only Indians stay.
Without fear or favour.
Which will get its due from the Centre.
And which will not have to depend on a State's charity.

So, from today on, my City (State?) is Bombay again.

Oh, and Mr T., if you do not like it, you may go retire & settle down in Vidarbha or Nagpur or Pune or wherever. And next time, remember to change your own surname before you preach to the world.

This is our city, not yours. Because we contribute a lot more to it than you and your likes ever have or will.

Why BOMBAY, You wonder? Because, historically, Bombay was not just a city, it was a state. And it was the ONLY state then in India that did NOT have its basis in linguistic origins.

And that is exactly what Bombay needs to revert to, today. And, it needs to become an independent state as well. And for its past legacy of being inclusive than divisive.

Spelled as B-O-M-B-A-Y.

Let the word roll over your tongue and you'll realise how much sweeter it sounds.

Bombay!

Things are not so bad in Bombay

If you asked Raosaheb Ramchandra Patil, better known as R.R.Patil - the Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister of Maharashtra. As he pointed out, only a couple of hundreds died when the terrorists had come with a plan to kill 5000 people (though I am very keen to understand who gave him this figure).

As you might have heard, 'Bade Bade Shehro mein aisi Chhoti Chhoti Cheezein to hoti rehti hain, Senorita' (such small incidents happen in large cities). No, that is not Shah Rukh Khan serenading Kajol, that is RR Patil explaining why he does not see any reason to resign.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, our dynamic Chief Minister, on the other hand, is upset that RR Patil took away the lovely movie dialogue, so he takes along his film actor-son Riteish Deshmukh along with film-maker Ram Gopal Varma to the site of the Taj - what was the deal, I give you access for 'inspiration' and you give my son the lead actor role? But Vilasrao has a valid explanation - he keeps attending all the film functions of Bollywood, is he not morally bound to return the invitation once in a while? And, see, since he is so considerate, he did not even throw a full party - just RGV and his Riteish-Baba. What harm can 2 more people going on a terror-tourism jaunt do?

Shivraj Patil calls it a day, it is anyway tough doing this job when a man is not allowed to change his dapper suits even 3 times a day in peace.

Man Mohan Singh also breathes easy, since the media and public have decided the Mouse in the country is Raj Thakre, hiding in Shivaji Park, when the very communities he derided and targetted, liberated Bombay. But Man Mohan need not worry, he does have a 'Man'- in his name atleast - if not in action.

Narendra Modi wonders what he needs to do right - when all the money he is offering is being rejected by the slain ATS Chief's family? And wonders whether it had anything to do with the vitriolic criticism of Karkare when he was pursuing the Malegaon blasts.

Bal & Uddhav-baba Thakre are glad that Raj has been put in his place, and Raj wonders how many Marathis died in the blasts, and could he make an issue out of it? If not now, maybe a little later?

L.K. Advani wonders what new to say - or should I become like Vajpayee and act like I am thinking, with those deep pauses? I anyway have nothing new to say, might as well look like I have (finally) started thinking.

Sonia Gandhi is ofcourse wondering if RR Patil was referring to her when he said 'Senorita' (or didn't he?), and does that imply he might come over to the Congress, so she can teach a lesson to Sharad Pawar? But wait, with elections in Maharashtra next year, does it not make sense to get Raj Thakre revived again - Mama Mia, these blasts did happen at a completely wrong time!

So RR wonders if any more dance bars are open, Raj wonders if there are any more North Indians coming to Bombay, Ramadoss wonders if anyone is smoking in Bombay anymore, Bal & Uddhav-baba wonder if anyone dislikes Wada-pavs in Bombay, Modi-Advani wonder if they can milk the Bombay blasts to capture India, and Vilasrao wonders if Ritesh-baba will ever succeed in Bollywood.

As I said, things are kinda back to what they were before the blasts. In fact, nothing has changed. They have been this way, they will remain this way.

Because, we get the leaders we deserve. Because we do not demand accountability. We do not demand action. We do not deserve governance.

But there is, just that little bit of hope:

- Major Unnikrishnan's father refusing to meet any 'mad dog' politicians
- ATS Chief's family refusing compensation from Modi
- The public outcry against the corrupt and inefficient politicians

And maybe, just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope still?


*Note: The thoughts of politicians described in the passage above are sheer imagination (or are they?)

+++++++++++++

EDITED TO ADD THIS SHOCKING PIECE OF INFORMATION I READ

Rahul in party mood soon after Mumbai crisis

'The Prince partied hard, till 5 in the morning, on Sunday at the ‘sangeet’ for the forthcoming wedding of Samir Sharma, his childhood friend. They were at a sprawling farmhouse at Radhey Mohan Chowk, the haven of people who lead charmed lives beyond Chhatarpur.'

IS THIS OUR OBAMA ??


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What an Indian Banker might be feeling right now

Was it my fault?

- That I was not born in the United States of America
- That I did not even study there, despite all the options - the GREs , GMATs & the TOEFLs ?
- That I did not even try for the H1B ?

So that, I could have, maybe, joined that large American Bank

- And, maybe, I could have been taking decisions worth Millions and Billions of $$$
- Impacting the lives of millions of people
- And taking all the risks my conservative Indian Bank cannot
- Which the stupid Indian Government does not allow me to
- Taking all the risks and the thrill of moving all that money

Why, oh why, did not I go there when I could have?

WHAT?

- What if I had lost my job?
Ah, but I would have got my golden handshake.

- And what if my Bank had crashed because of my risk taking?
Ah, the US Government would take care of that.

The US government’s commitments to contain the financial crisis now approach $7 trillion.

And what if the US Government had not offered the bailout?

Hey, $7 trillion is still big money - I would still have got $25000 (per U.S. resident)!!

No, you say? Why? What would have happened to the $7 trillion then, I ask?

- Oh, you say the money does not actually exist, huh?
- So where is it coming from? I mean, whose money is it actually?
- Oh, they just print the money, and that causes inflation?
- And China keeps buying the US debt so the $ doesn't get devalued and they can keep selling them more stuff?

Hey, what do I care, as long as I can keep my job, my house, my bonuses, and my vacations!

And, here I am, driving (stuck, actually) in the mad Mumbai traffic, trying to keep my job, and not knowing whether it is wise to go on a vacation in these bad times...

So, why am I mad?
Because, damn it all, I did not even get to have any fun, yet I am the one in the mess!!!

(Disclaimer: The author's understanding of the economy, the meltdown crisis and its reasons, and the bailout plan is extremely limited. As is, I suspect, that of most Bankers!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does music affect your mood

It affects mine big time.

Here are 2 songs I have been listening to, today (thank you, Youtube!)

The videos in both are hardly anything to talk about, but I just love her voice.


Ye Kisne Jadoo Kiyaa


Umbre Ubhi

Monday, November 24, 2008

Iss Route Ki Sabhi Line-ein Vyast Hai ..

Thankfully not - atleast as far as my phone lines are concerned - though there have been more-than-normal instances of Call Dropping due to congestion on my cellphone network.

No.

It has more to do with one's mind, congested with thoughts and (self) doubts.

And yes, it is not just about vanity.

It is about fundamental doubts about blogging, why at all. Is it just about keeping on speaking, opening up, and therefore, in a way, sharing a part of oneself?

And trying to convince the world of opinions, which, obviously need not always be accepted, or at times, even tolerated as valid opinions.

And similarly, the ability of oneself to accept/ assimilate/ understand other points of views, at times diametrically opposite one's own. Maybe this ability just does not exist within me.

Which then, raises a question on the futility of the entire exercise.

Unable to convince others; & unable to change one's own views either.

So why write (& read)? Why waste your own and others' time?

I do not have the answer. I do need to contemplate, and to find an answer (if and) before I write again.

Maybe I will have some answers.

Or maybe I will not?!



(This is probably my last post - I do not know. To all visitors who have frequented this blog, a heartfelt Thank You! It was immensely gratifying having you on my blog, & commenting - reference my post Vanity!

Ah, I do need to stop now- before I start delivering my Oscar acceptance speech)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

What Democracy!

You must read this article here, by Ramesh Ramanathan.

A disturbing encounter

This is what a 'common man', the 'man on the street' actually aspires for, but does not get.

And this, probably, is what we as a society need to demand and get from our leaders and administrators.

1983

Yes.

When India won the World Cup.

When ABBA broke up.


And when The Police topped the music charts.


So, is it about Love or is it about Stalking?

Take it whichever way, but can you stop humming it after you hear it ??!!


I can't.


Every Breath You Take

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Nation of Symbols

This post started with Indian Home Maker's post on Modi and comments there after.

IHM insists that Modi must apologise or demonstrate regret for post-Godhra riots, and also believes that words are a must, and action would therefore follow later.

To me, an expression of regret by Modi for the violence and suffering in the riots, is desirable, yes. It did not happen in his interview with Karan Thapar, and one reason could be Thapar's negative style of interviewing. It is debatable whether another (decent) interviewer would have got a different response out of Modi.

Having said that, does one apology by Rahul Gandhi make any difference today? The crimes happened when Rajiv Gandhi was in power, not Rahul. Most of the criminals have got away scot-free. Cynically , this apology may be yet another of our political gimmickery, with the Delhi elections round the corner.

And we as citizens, lap it up. And assume that things have changed for the better. What if he does not mean a word of what he says, it is just plain acting?

A comment on the post by another blogger, which I found extremely immature: "I had hoped he (Modi) would be voted out but the Gujratis really let everyone down!"

This is an extremely naive viewpoint, assuming everything would be fine if the Congress had been voted back. It also forgets the divisive and communal politics played by Congress Governments over the years in Gujarat. An example - the KHAM (Kshtriya-Harijan-Adivasi-Muslim) theory defined & implemented by Madhavsinh Solanki of the Congress.

And my view is, rather than get enamoured by speeches made by Rahul Gandhi, we need to evaluate them by their work, and actions taken to restore communal peace (if any).

Versus the Godhra blot of Modi, there is also the work he has done for the female girl child, including education & improving the sex ratio. Kutch, and Anjar, completely rebuilt after the earthquake - I have not seen any Congress government acting efficiently, and without most of the money going to politicians and/or contractors. He is building the GIFT City (maybe the only way the massive problems Mumbai faces due to congestion, might get solved!). The Tata Nano and Bombardier Metro plants are some of the successful projects that are improving the economy. There is no talk of his brothers/ sons/ uncles getting important posts in his govt or administration. There is also no allegation of corruption against him, and I am sure the media would not have spared him even if there were a whiff of a scandal. Is all of this completely irrelevant because of one blot of post-Godhra?

How many politicians in India today can claim to be efficient AND not corrupt? Yes, his track record on the communal agenda needs improvement, but it is also a fact that there have been lesser Hindu-Muslim riots during Modi's regime than during previous Congress Govts in the state.

Which brings me to my main point:

- Are we right in merely looking for symbolic gestures like those of Rahul, combined with inefficiency, lip service to the masses, and corruption. AND, on top of it, pushing a communal or divisive agenda at the same time, but claiming not to do so.

- Or, should we prefer someone like Modi, abrasive, but delivering on some of his promises, and good governance.

I prefer good governance, minus his communal stance. A regret, expressed publicly, would be good, ideal.

But I would, still, rather have good governance from a tainted politician, rather than, lousy governance from a Wolf-in-a-Sheep's clothing (who claim to be unisive, but practise divisive politics instead).

What would you have?

(Oh, and by the way, I have, up until now, not voted for the BJP ever my life - it has always been for the Congress/ its Allies. Of course, it is another matter that the BJP/Allies in other part of the country are probably exactly like the Congress - and no good symbolic speeches, on top of it)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Violence of All Kinds - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

While generally not of violent disposition, this news item on the BBC did warm my heart.
India sinks Somali pirate ship

So also did the following news item, which I suppose is the second apology from the Congress, coming after Manmohan Singh's. Admirable & courageous statement, condemning the violence, coming as it does after his father made the outrageous "large tree" comment.
Operation Bluestar, a tragedy: Rahul Gandhi

The last piece of news is, but of course, the "Ugly".
Gloss off Indian economy at top corporate forum
Where is the Violence here: why else would they call it a bloodbath?
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The ECB, ICC and BCCI - Breaking News!

CRICKET WORLD ROCKED BY CONTROVERSY!!

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has lodged an official complaint against the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) with the International Cricket Council (ICC) today.

Apparently the BCCI has come out with a notification making it compulsory for any team that wishes to tour India to play cricket matches to have atleast 80% of the team with local origin players only. This implies that in the current team of England, they will need to discard atleast 2 out of 4 of their current players - K Pietersen, O Shah, S Patel, R Bopara - being of South African and Indian origin.

ECB has tried arguing with the BCCI that these folks are contributing equally and better than the 'original' British inhabitants - in fact they are better. ECB has also indicated that if there are future natives that perform better than these current players, they will definitely be selected - since the selection system is based on pure cricketing merit. They have also complained to the ICC that by doing this, BCCI is deliberately weakening their team, and the ECB team will no longer remain competitive in the world cricket arena.

But the BCCI is having nothing of it. Also, because of its clout in the cricket arena, the ICC is quite unlikely to have the strength to stand upto the BCCI. The cricketing world is fearing that this might mean the end of merit in the cricket world.

PS - Aha, this was just a joke. Nothing like this has happened, rest assured!

Something like this just happened in the political world, though.

Maharashtra reserves 80% jobs for locals.

And Mr Deshmukh (and the Congress) join ranks with the MNS & the BJP in the brand of (divisive) politics they believe in.

This joke, too, is on us.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Feminism?

I have been tagged by Indian Home Maker for my views on Feminism.

A difficult question, and tough to articulate. First thought, and the obvious one, is equality.

Was it feminism on display when my mother resumed work a couple of years after my birth? In those days and times, it would have been close to revolutionary. Especially since I realise she was probably the only lady amongst our social & family circle, who was a working wife (forget working mother). Would it not have been tough, juggling family and work, both? It sure was. And was she happy about it? Overall, yes, because she had the ability to decide to work if she wanted, and also because her professional qualifications were actually put to use where it mattered - not just in the home & kitchen. More than that, there is a sense of happiness driven by having contributed - and not in equal measure, but a lot more - within the home and outside.

What else is feminism? I think it is the ability of making your own Choice: the choices of education, higher studies, choice of vocation & career, the choice to love, to marry who she wants, the choice to have a child or not (though I think this one is a joint decision), the choice to work/ not to work after having a child, and making all the important choices that would go into bringing up the child/ children.

Feminism is not about whether the woman is allowed to either stay at home, or work *and* take care of the home. It is about a situation where the man & woman together decide who will earn the dough and if & whether someone needs to stay & care of the home - and if so, who.

It is also about equality, and therefore, it is NOT feminism when you see a trophy wife sitting at home vegetating - even if it is her choice. It is not feminism when the only contribution to the home is trips to the shopping mall, because it is degrading not only to her but to the rest of womanhood - and even if it is her choice alone.

Which therefore brings me to Independence. Feminism is also about being independent as well as contributing. A woman, to be an equal partner, has to contribute in some manner to the relationship - either in monetary terms and/or the home. The moment the woman is not bringing something to the relationship - except sex - she loses her power, her bargaining capability, and may I be controversial, her respect. Because one can demand equal rights only when one is equal in other terms too - otherwise any demand met is merely charity.

The day the woman depends on someone (anyone - her father/ brother/ husband/ children) more than the man in the family does, that is when talk of feminism becomes hollow.

Feminism also takes me to another view point, and that is about traditional pressures put on women by society, about looking good - Beauty. It is acceptable for a man to be ugly, bald, unfit, uncouth or loud, but not for a woman to be any of these. And the woman needs to be fit, maintain herself, look good, remove unwanted body hair, and generally keep herself pretty for masculine consumption. To me, feminism is also about women being able to (which they are not, today) be 'themselves', just as it is acceptable for men to 'be themselves'. The day equality happens will be when a woman can carry a paunch to a party and her husband is complimented for great cooking. And all of this, without any sarcasm or condescending behaviour.

Feminism is just a way of thinking. And its not just women, but men, who also could be feminists.

I think feminism is only a fancy word - for equality, for being fair, for being humane & human.

And, like earlier, I am not tagging anyone, but since you are reading this, would love to have you pick up this Tag - if not already done!

(If feminism is about choice, so should be 'Tag'-gism ;-) )
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Now what is this?

And just when one thought one understood the man and what he stood for, comes this piece of news.

80 temples demolished

So what does he really stand for?

Hindutva or Development?
Both?

How often does one see a politician willing to take these decisions?

And regrettably I do not see most politicians today having the conviction to follow the rules, if the decision has (even a remotely) religious angle to it. Not even our secular parties.

Man of Contradicitions?
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone got swindled

Situation: You and your siblings own a property - a posh, most wanted property - at the most fashionable and high profile streets of Mumbai (Delhi / New York/ London - take your pick). In 2001 the property sold for Rs. 10 Million, but you know how the demand has increased over the years. This year beginning, you gave a power of attorney to one of your siblings to make a deal on your behalf and sell it off.

S/he sold it for Rs. 10 Million, and has given you your part of the share. But somehow you feel it is not the right approach - should it not have got you a little more than what it fetched in 2001? But, your sibling tells your that it is the only way, since the last deal was in 2001, and it did confirm what the going rate was. Why did s/he not get new price bids for the same --- oh no, the regulatory body says it is not fair to keep on checking what the rate is. Okay, you said.

But then, you find out that the buyer of the property has sold it off to another buyer for Rs. 75 Million, meaning you lost Rs 65 Million totally on the deal !

Why, you ask? How could it be?
> Did the buyer refurbish the property? No, the property is exactly the same. No changes/ additions made.
> Was there a market slump between your sale date and the resale date? To the contrary - it was a boom time when you sold the property, but a slump has started when the resale happened.

So, what exactly happened?

Was your sibling the culprit? Did s/he take an under-the-table 'black' component from the property buyer in lieu of the low official property price? Or was s/he plain stupid - but in that case, s/he would not have been given the task of selling the property at all.

So what do we do now? Should we just take him/her off the task of selling any more family properties? Or should we also find out more about The Mystery of the Missing Money?

Oh yes, it seems our Govt is not keen to do either of the above.
You do not believe me? Read on.

The Great Telecom Scam of Only Rs. 51000 crore
The King (Raja) Refuses to Accept any Mistake or Wrongdoing

And surprisingly, his response - prove that I am guilty, and I am *willing* to resign. So gracious and magnanimous - damn it, if you are guilty, you should Hang!

What is our only hope, you ask - the Courts.
Oh yes, they are.

Let us forget finding our Obama. If we can just prosecute the criminals in the system, ensure they are prosecuted, and teach a lesson to our criminal (and/or inept) politicians so that history does not keep repeating itself.

Sukh Ram Telecom Scam
Pramod Mahajan & Reliance

Oh, and by the way, it WAS you (and me) that got swindled here.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can you not do your job instead?

Yes Sir.

The writer's bug has struck you, & I do, do understand.

But, the city & the state badly need good governance, Sir.

And, you need to control the divisive forces threatening our city, you need to manage the mad Mumbai traffic, you need to create good roads, you need to prevent flooding, you need to generate more electricity, you need to reduce poverty levels, you need to control the builder lobby, you need to ensure affordable housing, you need to generate more jobs, you need to manage the inflation & recession, you need to manage communalism, you need to reduce corruption, and, you need to do everything else I have forgotten to list down.

Doing all this, at the same time, you will also continue to attend all the film award ceremonies and song-and-dance functions, with a smile - as you always do.

So, could you please postpone your writing up until then, Sir?.

Can you please do your job, Sir?

..

Bombay Builders, Australian Cricketers

The builders are finding it tough going. The real estate market is in a slump, no one is buying any more. The inventory is building up, and there is a severe liquidity crisis. (Developers in a bind) They are unable to raise fresh funds from the stock market ; the bankers are refusing to lend to them, and the stock prices have crashed like crazy. Builders are having to borrow money from money-sharks at upto 35% interest rates.

And yet, is it not odd that I do NOT feel sorry for them, not one bit.

Just like I have no sad feelings for the Aussie Cricketers, reeling from a 2-0 loss in the Test series against India - the highest margin after losing to the West Indies in the '80s.

To the contrary, I am gloating - waiting for some more bad news, & more trouble for both of them. I would not mind seeing them go down in the dumps.

Yes, maybe I am evil.

But, just maybe, will the Bombay Builders & Aussie Cricketers stop and think whether this reaction has anything to do with some of their acts over the years:

- Builders have been flouting the law of the land, many times influencing politicians to change the law for their greed. (Builders-Politicians lobby for CRZ restrictions removal)
- That the Builders and Politicians have choked up Mumbai to such a great extent that it caused the floods that wreaked so much havoc on its citizens. (Why Mumbai Choked)
- That Builders even took over the last remaining open spaces of the city, somehow even 'managed' to get the Supreme Court around to their point of view. (Builders to take over Mill Lands, Win in Supreme Court).
- Realty Prices have been manipulated to only keep increasing, and prevented from coming down, due to Builders forming a lobby (with very deep pockets). (Property fair, but the prices are unfair)

The Australian cricketers, on the other hands have been extremely arrogant. They have been rude, ill mannered, extremely cruel (remember asking Graham Thorpe going through a tough time with his personal life, who his wife was sleeping with that night) and generally arrogant a***holes. The team invented the terms 'Mind-Games' & 'Sledging'. When the mighty West Indians went down, one felt sorry for the gentlemen. But, not for these folks, No Way!


Will these jerks ever introspect why, in their times of difficulties, there are fewer people commiserating with them, & more people enjoying their troubles.

And hoping for more.
Justice.
Retribution.

Enjoy, folks.
It is not all dull and gloom in these economic meltdown days..
:-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change, I had rather live without

So, the Obamania is at its crescent, and the world is celebrating along with America, its new Hero. And it is great for the US society to have a president that comes from a disadvantaged race.

And yet, the sounds emanating from the President-elect in the first few days after the election, and even some time before, have been disconcerting. Atleast from an India perspective.

Some of these noises:

- Revive a peace dialogue between India & Pakistan on Kashmir, but WITH the USA acting as a key intermediary. This is something India has always resisted, and Bush & Clinton administrations have also agreed the way to resolve the issue has to be only bilateral. After the possible cold response from India, I read in today's papers that they have not raised the K issue in recent interactions.

- The Big O after being elected calls up 20 Heads of State in his first couple of days, including countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but omits South Korea, China, India. Symbolism maybe, but for someone who got elected & got a majority of his support on the very notion of symbolism, I think it is important.

(Updated: The latest news do seem to suggest he did try to contact the PM)

- His key transition team includes the Indian origin Ms Shah, whose family has been associated with the VHP for years. Narendra Modi apparently stayed with them on his last visits a few years ago to the US. While this should not take away from the merit of the lady, it also reflects on the Obamadministration - either they have taken a rightwinger knowingly, or their multi-billion dollars were unable to screen such a key fact that Indian press could in a day. Either way, not too flaterring. Especially since Ms Palin was panned all around for her right wing thoughts.

(Updated: Ms Shah denies any links with the VHP & the Sangh Parivar)

- The India Moon mission, achieved successfully on a shoestring budget, evoked a response from the man that was neither gracious nor appreciative. The first reaction: I will increase our spendings on our space mission so we can retain our superiority over countries like India and China. Thoughts of a world leader or a petty politician ?

- Though I have not paid much attention, nor am interested, about his comments on seances, I understand he poked fun at Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton there. The victor making fun of past rivals?

- The noises he has made about Indian outsourcing and punishing US companies that perform outsourcing are quite well known. Again, this is sheer local popular politicking at work. Not an inclusive world leader he is being made out to be.

- And from an economic perspective, he espouses some of the worst possible policies. My previous post, here.

- And he did give a great speech, yes. All about inclusion, the challenges, and that he is going to save the Americas, and the planet. Yes, but did he even write the speech - Hillary might have done an equally good/ better job delivering the same speech, probably.

Yes, he is a great symbol. And I think it is important to recognise that, currently, that is all he is. Like people wanted change from Bush Sr., and got Clinton, they wanted respite from W and got him.

A symbol like our very own Rajiv Gandhi, a symbol of change and everything new.

I am not putting too much hope on him, No.

Am only wishing he does not have his own Monicagate or Boforsgate scandals, and if he manages only that, he will be a success as far as I am concerned.

..

Friday, November 7, 2008

My (only) good act of the week

Ah, so I too am a good citizen of the blog world. So here are some tips from a research of some of the Top Blogs around, to improve the blogging experience.

The research article is here.

And one of the suggestions in the article is to keep the web page size down, & reduce the number & size of images.

Well, for this post atleast, I am taking their advice.

Have a nice weekend.

Family Honour

We still live in medieval times, and upholding family honour is considered the 'right' thing by so many.

In 2008, here is a story of 2 girls being murdered by their cousin because they had gone on an outing without informing their family, and not telling who they had gone out with. (TOI article)

The accused obviously has grown up in an environment where it has been ingrained into him that:
> women are subservient,
> do not have the right to lead their own life
> they exist only like other living things (example, cattle)
> they are the property of the family
> Honour is about keeping your women 'pure' and 'unviolated'

And it is up to the men to ensure and protect the family honour.

While this misguided one will face the law of the land, is he the real criminal?

Or his entire family and his social circle that has given him these messages all these years?

And will they be ever punished - by law or atleast by society?

Or, will their social circle actually make a martyr out of him & his family..

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My City







Isn't it lovely

Worth fighting over

Worth living for

And killing for


Worth branding with -
my religion,
my caste,
my language,
my colour,
my sex,
my authority

So that, to the next generation, I can hand over my Legacy..

My politics of division
My ability to classify every human as one or the other type
My hatred
My jealousy
My statues
And Roads, named after me, my father, my family, my dog
My ability to turn a group into a mob
To stop people thinking
To control their minds.


My legacy of vote-banks,
Mastering how to milk them
This generation
And my children will do it, the next.


Oh is not this city lovely
That it lets me be free
Free to do what I want
And pass on my legacy

..

Help!

Dear God,

I confess I have not been a believer, not till yesterday. But now, I am, and beg for Your forgiveness.

Take me into Your fold, and grant me Your blessings.

I agree, I am doing this for a selfish motive. But then, You are the all-powerful, omniscient authority, and I know You will forgive me my trespasses.

As You would also know, I have been trying, and trying hard, to get rid of my pimples. But the expensive creams, the exotic treatments, the exclusive skin clinics, have all failed me.

And I want to get married.

So God, in order to let me have a happy married life, please, please get rid of these pimples for me.

Because, God, the Courts of India have decided - it is not allowed to be pimply and married, all at once.

Oh, when, You ask? Just yesterday, God, just yesterday.

I know, its not a decision you made. But the Courts of India have made it. And now, there is nothing even You can do about it.

At best, God, you may decide if the Court judgement applies only to women, or also to men.

Help me!


Yours sincerely,
Pimply-and-unmarried

==================================
Edited for Disclaimer:!

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.

Posting this post does not imply that I have pimples, am unmarried, wish to/ do not wish to get married; nor does this post, in any way, indicate my sex - current or preferred.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good & Evil

So, here is Diwali, at a time the global economy and the Sensex have both gone through a Diwalaa of a time.

When every rocket reminds you of the meteoric rise of the Sensex in the last year or few.

When every bomb reminds you that some companies, and many jobs, might sink even without a whimper.

When the ground wheel is not the only one caught up in circles.

When the sparkler looks like the only one shining.


Where the government will take all efforts to ensure that the rich will continue to be able to celebrate the triumph of good over evil; to let us all have a lovely festival time.


Where the street urchins look longingly at the vulgar display of wealth by the Affluent, blasting off all their worries and troubles.


When I wait for the day when, enough will be enough, and the less privileged will break open our car windows, enter our homes, take our belongings.

Because, they will say, it is now our time to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.


Till then, have a rocking diwali !

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why do we love Obama

The entire media has gone completely ga-ga over Barack Obama; and most Indians either have no opinion or prefer him over John McCain.

Especially, a lot of Indian bloggers have been very outspoken for the love for Obama, and disdain for Sarah Palin.

While a lot of it has to do with Ms Palin's obvious lack of maturity, her extravagance (and 'fashion accessories' bills), her opinions, and her limited capabilities, I suspect it is also to do with people being threatened by, and unable to deal with, her sexuality. A powerful woman leader is accepted only when she dresses down and underplays her sexuality, whether Thatcher, Indira Gandhi or others. A sexually assertive woman threatens men. What does not help Sarah Palin though are her outspoken views (wrong many times) and her trackrecord - she angers feminists with her views, and threatens male chauvinists with her sexuality. It is so odd, feminists and MCPs all on the same side, but for different reasons. But, I digress.

What I fear Indians are doing here is, unfortunately, and as always, take an emotive view of the battle rather than a practical one. We might have completely hated Bill Clinton in his last stint (Monica-gate was ofcourse his crowning glory), but we still look forward to Obama being the best bet for America, and by extension, for the rest of the world.

We Indians, have always been swayed by things irrelevant, or topics fanatic in nature. Previous Post

But why does the educated middle class not take a detached view of what McCain versus Obama has to offer to India? Atleast we can take a detached view of the US election since it is so far away from us, and we - the so-called elite - should be able to do that.

One of the better Indian writers on economy is Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar. He is also, probably, the only well known Indian man, who has taken on his wife's maiden surname after marriage.

And his Article here in the Times of India, is excellent, because it compares Obama with McCain, on economic matters that matter to India. I quote some of his views:

"A nasty global recession has begun. Nouriel Roubini of New York University predicts we will suffer the worst economic downswing since the Great Depression. So, pressures will mount for protectionist measures and beggar-thy-neighbour policies in the US, hurting countries like India. Apart from erecting import barriers and subsidising dumped exports, US politicians will seek to curb the outsourcing of services to India. Visa curbs will slow the movement of skilled workers and their dollar remittances back to India.

McCain is one of the few American politicians in either party with the courage and conviction to stand up to protectionist populism. By contrast, Obama embodies protectionism."

"McCain has voted 88% of the time against bills creating trade barriers, and 90% of the time against export subsidies for US producers. Few other senators have such a splendid record.

Obama has served a much shorter time in the Senate, and avoided voting on many key issues. He has voted against trade barriers only 36% of the time. He supported export subsidies on the two occasions on which he voted, a 100% protectionist record in this regard.

In 2007, he voted to reduce visas issued to foreign workers (such as Indian software engineers), and to ban Mexican trucks on US roads. He sometimes voted for free trade - he supported the Oman Free Trade Act and a bill on miscellaneous tariff reductions and trade preference extensions. More often he voted for protectionist measures including 100% scanning of imported containers (which would make imports slower and costlier), and emergency farm spending. "


"Obama favours extensive subsidies for US farmers, hitting Third World exporters like India. This has been one of the issues on which the Doha Round of WTO is gridlocked. McCain could open the gridlock, Obama will strengthen it.

Obama also favours subsidies for converting maize to ethanol. The massive diversion of maize from food to ethanol has sent global food and fertiliser prices skyrocketing, hitting countries like India. But McCain has always opposed subsidies for both US agriculture and ethanol. While campaigning, he had the courage to oppose such subsidies even in Iowa, an agricultural state he badly needs to win if he is to become president."


And a lot more reasons. It makes so much more economic sense for India to cheer for McCain over Obama. The relations with the US have taken off (for the better) AFTER the Bush regime (whatever the reasons). Again, though, it is so fashionable to make fun of Bush & his Bushisms.

And I wonder why we are so *for* Obama, instead of rooting for the person who is much more likely, as President, to be an India ally.

Is it just because we hate Sarah Palin, whatever our reasons may be.

Or that, we wish to show our love for the black guy - to prove in our own eyes that we are not racist. Ofcourse, it is all great as long as the black guy is elected as President in the US - but we will probably not want a White lady to be our PM.

Reverse racism, anyone?

The more I think about it, the more it seems our 'democratic' structure is a weak one, a farce at times manipulated by cunning & conniving politicians, and we as a society, are doomed.

A people that cannot identify its own best interests .
Whether far away from home, or nearer to.

Friday, October 24, 2008

TGIF

(No, not Toes Go in First !)

Do you, too, look forward to the weekend ?
Like I do.

So, is this love for weekends, a sign of how much I enjoy the fun I have?

Or, is it a sign of how much a misfit I am, in my life every weekday?

Will I ever say TGIM ?!

Do you?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

However..

My friend smiled
However
The smile had sadness in the eyes
Moist but warm
They pierced through my heart
And it hurt to see a friend sad thus
I longed to be able
To wipe those tears
And to see a smile
However
All I could manage was
To show a mirror
Where the tears became mine
And my sadness was all that was visible
I think I am a friend
However..


(For someone who needs to smile more often; because when that happens, the world smiles as well)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life is a B*tch

In these heavy times of political drama, here is a thought that comes to mind seeing the promos of the Yashraj movie, Roadside Romeo.

For the uninformed this is an animation movie, probably targetted as much towards adults as to children. The protagonist is a dog, dubbed by Junior Nawab Pataudi, and his heroine is a er, female dog, dubbed by the favourite actress of the studio stable.

And what comes to mind looking at the promos is - Is this the value system one wishes to show to kids of today (because, unless you have the film rated 'A', no kid is going to pass over the movie; animated as it is by Walt Disney).

Some of the few messages I got seeing their promos:
- It is great to be rich, stinkingly rich
- Stay in a huge mansion with those long cars, and snigger at the stray dogs gazing longingly at your luxury
- Kick your butler after he serves you breakfast (human, small mercy that)
- Then - since you are rich - you wil have a few er, female dogs, ready to dance along with you. You can do that, it is fine.
- One day though, you see the heroine crooning away at a night club, and the hero falls for her. You see you need extra sex appeal to snare the rich brat, obviously.

If these are messages picked up by my (perceptive but cynical ;-)) mind from a 2 min promo, what exactly will the great entire movie pass on to our kids ?

But hey wait, Neal n Nikki was a family movie according to Yash raj. So I am sure we will have some great moral of the story learning coming in here as well.

Won't we ?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The First Tag ..

And when I did get the first tag of my blogging-life, my techno-challenged understanding (& my vain soul) initially led me to think it is someone who has tagged me to follow my blogs for life.

And then, google throws up the truth.. How I hate google.

To repeat the Tag
OBJECTIVE :To let the world know about yet another 5 quirky aspects of thy personality and to TAG another 5 innocent bakras to do the same.

So, Gazal, here goes.

And I have decided to give it a slight twist, in that -
I do not Tag the 5 bakras, but hope whoever reads this, gets Tagged automatically..
(I assume, at least 5 people will. :-) )

1. Getting Jealous at the drop of a hat.

Jealousy is something I probably might have been born with. I have remembered being jealous for years & years now. Is it something that happens because you don't have siblings (so it is always you versus the others?) or because of some inherent character flaw..?

Or is it some gene, that always makes me compare myself with others. I hope its a gene, so someday doctors might find a cure.

2. Walking fast

Why can't I walk slowly - ever!
If I am out for a walk, it has to be a fast one, else it just does not feel right. Ditto for climbing stairs.

3. Getting in touch, just that little bit

I just HAVE to get in touch with that old colleague or classmate in some corner of the world, but I may not take the effort to meet him/her when I am in his/her city; or take the effort to do it even in my own city.

Then why bother getting in touch?
Is it the equivalent of collecting 'scalps' in some odd way?

4. Blogaddiction

Can a year old child be a chain smoker?
Then, how can blogging for a week make one so addicted, that one starts checking mail & blog updates from one's cellphone in the middle of the night?

Or, is it something like the new toy received by a child... Time will tell.

5. Wanting to 'look' good

The amount of time I spent thinking on this last one is not funny. Just that I did not want to use any of the points G already used (cannot be a copy cat, I am original), nor want to just put up something just like that. And after a while, realising that this is nothing different from those extra minutes spent in front of the mirror, especially on a bad hair day...


PS - I just hope this post does not put off the few good folks visiting my site - hey, I am trying to change, promise!

(PS # 2 - I have been trying to change for years now..)

(PS# 3 - Even if I don't/ cannot change, Does it Matter.. Hey, I missed out Ego in my Top 5)

Getting Ahead in Life

Getting ahead is such a valued capability/ ability; we have this inculcated into our minds from childhood itself.

So whether it is marks in school, or the first prize in a race, or the winner spot in a reality show, we are always gunning for Number One.

If not first, atleast be in the top 10 percentile, and so on.

And I hate it because of what (I think) it does to our traffic sense.
Because every one is in a big hurry to get ahead - even if we are all going in the same direction. We just want to get ahead of that one vehicle in front of us, and then one more, and then one more.

And we just hate it when someone does the same to us. Especially when someone cuts lanes.

Are we so hung up about winning, and the destination, that we have just completely lost track of the pleasures of the journey ?

I think so. I certainly have.

Only so far as my driving is concerned.

NOT, Life, for sure.
I think..

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vanity

Am I vain to keep looking at the number of comments on the posts on my blog ?

Should I be unhappy if no one comments? Or that half the comments are anyway mine.

Or, should it be the karmic philosophy and just get on with it..

Doubts also creep up - when a comment on a blog gets mis-interpreted (or maybe, rightly interpreted - since I was not articulate enough).

If one can land up writing stuff that could land up possibly hurting someone, that one does not know well, but likes nevertheless; does one really have the right to go about writing?

Or should one just shut the trap up?
To avoid those self doubts.
To avoid looking (& feeling like) a jerk.
To just be a better human.

Would the Jet Employees have been taken back if

I wonder, would the Jet Employees have been taken back if:

1. They had not come out on the streets
2. They were not good looking guys n girls
3. The national media had not given them great coverage, esp live TV & front page TOI.
(Would 3 have happened without 2?)
4. The politicians had not supported them
(Would 4 have happened without 3?)
5. Indian Govt had offered a bailout package
(Would we kick the Govt out if 5 happens?)

Or (but not the least),
6. I had written a blog on them.
(Would 6 have happened without 1-4?)

I wonder, I wonder.

I am a criminal !!!

Yes,

A simple enough traffic signal violation - not stopping at the yellow, but speeding up instead.
A challan which would take away my license and would need me to spend half a day going to the police station the next day and collecting it.
Bunking office for half a day.
Not sure whether I can drive,when my license is not in my possession.
Suggesting to the cop if a solution could be arrived at.
It COULD be had, it seems.

Yes, for the first time in my life, I have actually committed a legal (not counting moral ones ofcourse) crime.

Selected Practical versus Ideal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Politics, Economy, Poverty, Growth & Happiness

These are some of the important things that affect your and my life, but how often do we really think about them. and even if we do think about them, what do we really do to contribute anything to the nation.

Are we, the Indian educated middle class too caught up in "I, Me, Myself" to really bother about what is happening around us. Are we going to the dogs?

Just compare the goings-on in India to those in the US Presidential Election - the quality & topic of debates is excellent touching just about everyone's life. Yes, race & gender have and will remain an issue, but prima facie, the decisions are being taken on the basis of issues, debates & policies.

When will the Indian electorate mature to the level where we elect our leaders on criteria other than caste, religion, region, language, age or gender; or, on the promise of a grand dinner + booze party; or, on the basis of hard cash.

When will we learn to not tolerate corrupt politicians who hold the country to ransom, remain in office even when they are found with unaccounted cash (ofcourse given as gifts).

What does the nation expect from us? What do we do? How do we - the so called educated - bring about the change that we want to see..

Thoughts, questions, but very few pointers to the right answers.

Maybe the first step could be to look beyond our narrow vision - of oneself, one's immediate family and friends. Can we even think of considering the entire community as our family - without the confines of religion/ caste/ language for sure - since thats the only extended family we ever encounter.

Will we ever be different?

Will our nation change because of our efforts? It surely deserves better; but are we equipped to be the change that we wish it to be...

I don't really know. Or maybe I don't want to answer since I (and you) might not like the answer.

Blogging without inhibition

Though really, what is a blog but ramblings of one's thoughts, not necessarily structured / organised, but channelised nevertheless into a medium that allows anyone and everyone to look deep into your mind, and comment - irrespective of whether one understands the other's view points or not?

But, is that not true for real world life itself.. Do people not, even without considering the sensitivities of the other person, comment to one's face or behind one's back of things, thoughts and opinions that would really hurt the other?

The only super advantage of a blog - the complete mask of anonymity or even a different identity itself. Well, I for one, at this point of time atleast, am keen to make good use of this advantage!

Bye for now.