Sunday, December 24, 2006

Jockey - Idhi Chaala Pedha Rod Guru

Everyone thought that Krishna Vamsi had lost his touch and Anthapuram was the last of his impressive movies. NTR Jr was similarly written off after the failure of successive movies like ……., ……., ……. (Please fill the blanks). But both are back with a fatal vengeance and unfortunately it is not just on their critics. Krishna Vamsi tries to do a Shankar – packaging socially relevant themes in a commercial format. We therefore have an unbearably powerful movie. So powerful that the crowd is thrown off their seats into restrooms, corridors, staircases etc. The theaters are sealed during the show to prevent any damage of adjacent buildings.

Jayakrishna, fondly called as Jockey, has a fetish for undergarments and is a strong votary for their public display. He is pained by the society which reprimands skimpily clad women, especially those flaunting their undergarments from their no waist, I mean, low waist jeans. He is supported by one sister and two girl friends, one in-house (Maradalu) and one next house. The former is fair and fat (Charmee) and the later is fair and flat (Ileana). Towards the end, fat makes way for the flat. A metaphoric depiction of upholding the socialist principle of haves making way for the have-nots.

The films is extravagant from the word go. More characters than that can fit on a 35 mm film. More dialogues than you can possibly hear. More songs than you can remember. In short, the first half of the movie is a walk in the clouds. Aimless, directionless and meaningless. It has everything other than a story. If you find that the interval is no where in sight then it is not your fault. You need to beg, bribe and finally bash up the operator in the projector room before you get that much needed relief. But before that, the doting sister of Jockey dies of a fire accident caused due to her sari catching fire in the kitchen. He solemnly vows that he would not rest till he liberates all the Indian girls from the clutches of traditional dress and attains them the freedom to bare themselves in bikinis. With that, the director leaves you to take a break and get ready for a second dose of gang bang. Let me again remind you that the theaters are sealed and you cant run away.

In the second half, Jockey takes inspiration from the Swadeshi movement and decides to burn all cloths except undergarments. Such is his obsession that he doesn’t care even if the cloths are on someone’s back. It is here where Krishna Vamsi slightly, very slightly, loses the grip over the script. The director seems to have got confused between serial killing and mating of lions. (When mating, the lions copulate every 20 to 30 minutes for 4-5 days) Nevertheless, the manner in which Jockey seamlessly travels across the breadth of Hyderabad and kills 40 persons in a single day would serve as a case study for traffic and time management.

Since, Jockey is a guy for the women, by the women and of the women, the police department gets a hysterical women police officer, Suhasini. She often shrieks in such high pitch that the theaters had to install temporary noise reduction devices to prevent damage to the speakers. You should keep in mind that this sound is a supplement to Jockey’s angry verbal spews. You now know whom Spielberg hired for giving voice to Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurrassic Park.

Finally, mercy dawns on Jockey and he decides to surrender. In the court, he asks the judge for two minutes before the judge pronounces his verdict. When you eagerly start your stopwatch, you realize that he meant two minutes on Pluto (whose 1 year equals to 248 earth years). By the time he completes his harangue on the socio-cultural, economic, political, psychological and historical importance of undergarments, any amateur can easily complete all the 18 holes on a golf course.

The climax, like the rest of the movie, is equally powerful. Prakash Raj, the judge in charge of delivering verdict, is blown off by Jockey’s commitment to the cause and immediately resigns and disrobes himself, endorsing Jockey’s cause. He further takes a solemn oath that he wouldn’t cloth himself till the highest court of the land acquits Jockey. Thankfully, we are not exposed to the execution of the oath.

The film closes with Jockey telling a huge crowd of women how the most powerful men, He-Man, Superman and Batman, always proudly displayed their underwears. Thus the corollary, greater you show, the more powerful you grow. He emotionally appeals that we should live in such a free society where there would be no necessity for another Jockey. For once, everyone watching also agree with him.

Every department of film-making has scaled new heights in this movie. The music stands apart and even tears you apart. During the crucial scenes, Narayana Murthy (of Dandorra and Erra Sainyan fame) renders an inspiring hip-hop number in the background. To prevent piracy and reuse, all songs have been remixed with suitable phrases like “Come on Baby”, “Yes you can”, etc. The result - A nostalgic remembrance of Mayadari Maisamma at the engineering college festivals.

Krishna Vamsi, not just emulates but outbeats Shankar is all areas. In logic, he outbeats even Stephen Hawking. The clinical precision with which he burns scores of people without even a speck of soot on him is something that would keep physicists thinking for another two decades. The vividness of colors used by him in the sets of songs is forcing Bill Gates to contemplate on a 512-bit true color version for windows desktop. The graphics used to picturize burning sequences has put to shame the animators at TNT Cartoon Network.

If such is the technical strength, then can acting be behind? NTR Jr’s expression of shock and anger is something which you might have never come across - that of a eunuch deciding between which restroom to use. Illeana, in an extremely sensitive portrayal, sobs more than the guys’ drool during the songs. Charmee, with her obstinate obsession for perfection, has chosen to dub herself. The consequence is a perfect telugu in a neutral accent. Never mind her village background and never mind that the words come out at the rate of one word every 30 seconds.

The movie is a must watch for all those guys who are tormented by their spouses’ eternal question, “Does my butt look big?”. However, a word of caution. Answer that question while looking at NTR Jr and not Ileana. Else you might end up in dog house for the rest of your life. To conclude, Jockey is a thought provoking movie that forces you to think on a serious contemporary issue that confronts the liberal urban women – the right to reveal your underwear from a low waist Levi’s jeans. So watch it if you are bold enough to discuss such issues. It is definitely not for the weak hearted escapists.

P.S: NO. I did not see the movie. I swear I did not see the movie.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dirty Doles and Perverted Poors

Kuffir has been a strong votary of direct money transfer to eradicate poverty instead of numerous employment generation programmes which have been in operation under various names. Initially, like many others, I too was not very keen about the idea. My apprehensions were the usual ones like misdirection of expenditure of the allotted doles and a possible dent in the potential creation of infrastructure. The second one had virtually disappeared when the NREGA programme in Vizianagaram literally adopted the Keynesian suggestion of digging and filling of trenches. This recent post had once again set me thinking on why such direct transfer of money should not succeed. I now feel that the conventional apprehensions are not really very sound.

Cash would lead to unproductive expenditure, they say, and even I thought so. But if you are really worried that the money would go into booze, why do you auction liquor licenses? On a serious note, irresponsibility towards family is matter of personal perversion. It is not and cannot be linked to poverty. The chances that a father would be irresponsible in a rich household are in no way lesser than in a poor one.

But we cannot come into terms with this fact. For us, the poor have to be ignorant and irresponsible. Else how can we justify our capacity to teach them their way out of poverty? Hence don't give them cash. Instead give them work, even if it means filling and digging the same wells. Give them grains, even if it means that they have to be transported over thousands of kilometers benefiting rich farmers and transport companies.

Speaking about food subsidy, the Planning Commission admits that it spends Rs 3.65 to transfer Rs 1 of food subsidy. The case would not be very different in other subsidies. Effectively it means that for every one rupee that goes to the poor, Rs 3.65 goes to the rich. Wow! What a means to achieve our socialist goals! It is in this scenario that I feel that direct transfer of money would be more cost effective.

I agree that there is a chance of leakage and corruption in the identification of beneficiaries. But that is common to all approaches. But where doles might score against others is that there is no additional leakage in terms of deciding what "asset" should be created, which contractor should create it, how much should it cost, etc.

With a wide network of banks and growing computerization the administrative costs of such programme would be very low. Secondly, since the programme would just have to identify beneficiaries and not the contractors or assets to be created or the procedures to be adopted, decision making would be faster. Thirdly, doles wouldn’t be subject to seasonal vagaries. Most of the works which employment generation schemes undertake come to a standstill during monsoon as manual labour cannot be performed under rain.

However, unlike Kuffir, I am not asking for scrapping of all employment generation programmes. What I say is that when there is no work or if a particular task can be performed more effectively and economically using machines, it is cruel to create work just for the sake of the programme. It is even crueler to leave the allotted funds unused like it happened in Raichur District where of the 10 lakhs not a single paisa has been spent. [Link via Kuffir] It is in such cases that we should not shy away from distributing money among the needy.

One of the criticisms of doles is that it discounts the need for work and that unearned money is frittered away recklessly. Considering the gargantuan proportion of poverty in India, any possible dole would hardly be a few hundred rupees per month at its fanciful best. As most our programmes promise, it would at best alleviate poverty but not eradicate it. Thus, doles would never do away the need for work. As far as frittering away unearned money is concerned, I wonder if people who are starving, who are chronically diseased and whose kids are congenitally malnutritioned, have even the energy, let alone a heart, to spend on things other than food.

Why is it then that we don’t consider doles? I think the problem is fundamentally in our mindset. Cash is a very dirty word. I remember till I left my school, I was never given money at home. My parents always said sternly "Money would spoil you. Tell us what you want and we would get it". The unsaid tag attached to it was "if we think it is worthy". It is the same psyche that runs through out. Right from the most basic social institution, the family, to the most complex ones, the Government and international agencies like World Bank. Everyone thinks that the poor and the weak are unintelligent, unimaginative and irresponsible. Hence, the Government (read babus) have to shoulder the "white man's burden" of "guiding" (read deciding, regulating and monitoring) the amelioration of the poor. If the Government can think of making PSUs and Panchayats autonomous, why can’t it give the freedom to the poor to decide their priorities in spending the money allotted to them? Ultimately, all the welfare schemes must ensure capacity building, not infrastructure (a very catchy word in the 10%-growth aspiring-era) building.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi.....

Banu: hi
Me: hi
Me: saw the movie?
yeah man
Me: kaisa tha?
Banu: Nice .. hard hitting in the sense of what happens so fast to Vikram Malhotra
Me: doesn’t the song now seem more beautiful?
Banu: yeah. its good
Me: he is truly a baawra
Banu: exactly..
Me: the way he rests his head on her shoulders in the end........and still persists with his love … baawra bawre se iss jahan mein bawara ek saath ho, iss sayani bheed mein bas haathon mein tera haath ho… He has actually left the sayani bheed of Delhi…….
Banu: haha... he still persists with his love...
Banu: she knows he loves him from the first moment but she never accepts his love
Me: hmm
Banu: and even in the end, she doesn't love him but cares for him
Banu: and dammm people help each other in such conditions of distress
Banu: I liked that
Me: hmm
but Sid was the sickest of the lot....
Me: the way he ditched Vikram
Banu: yeah.. he tried to do something but always looking confused
Banu: I don’t think he ditched Vikram...
Me: the way he looked to his dad when he was checkmated
Me: he was the weakest of the lot
Banu: yeah.. that was very bad.. and also the way he flew off to England or someplace leaving Gita right there
Me: As some one correctly remarked somewhere........... he talked the talk, but could not walk the walk
Banu: She came to Bihar because of him
Me: Gita and Vikram messed their lives just because of him
Banu: and he leaves
Banu: exactly
Banu: both of them got messed up
Me: When you look back, they were much better. They are very clear in their thought.......anything for their love/friend
Me: and though they do not commit, they always went out of their way
Banu: haha.. they always stood up to their love/friend..
Me: exactly raa..........i loved that
Me: ultimately what did sid contribute?
Me: It is very clear that his contribution to society would have been done by someone if not by him
Me: but Gita’s and Vikram's contribution for their friends was irreplaceable
Banu: he actually destroyed some students life
Banu: yeah...
Banu: and Sid calls Vikram ‘asshole’,‘comic’, ‘foolish’
and it is the other way around
though silent.......dumb-looking......and selfish........Vikram is more selfless and more courageous.
Banu: not to say selfless..
more courageous? yes
Banu: helping a friend out of the way... is it selfless?... a general question
Me: He might have had an ulterior motive in saving Gita....... but why should he save Sid?..... He knows what Sid did was self-inflicted
Banu: why did he go to help him..? big question
Me: Did u notice something in the movie? The relation between Sid and Vikram is mostly through Gita. Personally, he doesn't seem to have any big equation with Sid.
Me: So I wonder if they were really friends in the true sense.
Me: They actually just seem to be acquaintances.
Banu: Yeah. I notice now.
Banu: dammm
Banu: now this is selfless
Banu: dammm
Me: He is truly sweet.
Banu: Yeah, he looks like a crook to all but he is sweet
Me: And look at Sid........
Me: for sex, he spoils Gita's marriage by meeting her slyly
Me: when in trouble, he disturbs his ailing old father
Banu: yeah
Me: then leaves Vikram, when he knows that the police can do anything. Remember how they beat up villagers accusing them of killing a cop, when all along the cop was drunk and went missing.
Banu: I think he was brought up with riches and hence was confused.
Me: Even after seeing what has happened to Vikram, he goes to England to study Medicine. Very confused. Wonder why he suddenly decided to learn medicine. I guess Medicine is just a pretext to escape from his overwhelming internal conflict.
Banu: coward and etc..
Me: It seems that he doesn’t really care for the society. Just his ideals, with stress on the word "his" and not on "ideals"
Me: To fulfill his ideological ego, he used society. Just as he used Gita to satiate his sexual ego.
Banu: He should not have done what he did to Gita. I feel bad about it
Me: Oh Man, Chitrangada is really really beautiful.
Banu: Yeah man. Totally awesome. And she looks sooo telugu (or south indian)
Me: yeah
Banu: how can she be a Singh in the first place
Me: You can see her feminity when she surrenders to sid, at the same time, u can see the maleness, when she fights for him and with him.......even when that feminine coward leaves and runs away.
Banu: yeah
Me: A right mix of Yin and Yang.

Related Links: Ghalib's Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi, Baanwra Man by Swanand Kirkire

Monday, October 09, 2006

Suspended Animation

Bheegi bheegi bheegi jaadu bhari lamhon ki ye raatein

Dekho karne lagi hoon main boondon se baatein

Boondon se baatein

Boondon se baatein main boondon se baatein

Boondon se baatein main boondon se baatein

I shall be away for more than a month. Till then, I leave you with these pictures.

Wish me luck for my exams !!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Transparency Begins at Home

So there are things worse than having pesticides. [Link via Kuffir] But more than this, it hurts to know that media has let off these guys easily.

Look at the way how they covered the reservation issue. They gave airtime to every remotely relevant point of view. Not that all of it was bad. While juvenile idiots were given opportunities to show off their pretensions of ‘saving the nation’, they also highlighted the status in media and various sociologists’ perspectives. There was an attempt, no matter how biased it was, to see issues other than what met the eye.

Or for that matter the rains in Mumbai. There was coverage even before the first cloud appeared. And then it was a deluge of reporting on the ill-preparedness of the Municipal Corporation. Views, suggestions, comments and alternatives followed.

But when it comes to Hero Honda's labour policy or Coca Cola's water policy, I wonder where is the "in-depth analysis brought by correspondents across the length and breadth of the nation"

No investigation, no follow-up stories, nothing. Mere mechanical reporting of what the CSE, Government and the suckers had to say.

It is not difficult to see the reason for the anomaly. Right in the midst of reporting on the suckers, we would find their advertisements during commercial breaks. Even respected newspapers seem to be succumbing to the lure of MNCs like never before. One such instance was highlighted some time back and the dialectics can be seen here.

Nearly after a month of the episode, the Apologist-in-Chief of Hindu presented the inside view of the journalism-advertising dynamics.

N. Ram spoke in detail about how he and the editorial team have been trying to keep intact the Lakshman Rekha between editorial and advertisement. It is only a conceptual line and no wall exists between the two areas of operation of the paper. There is continuous interaction between the two where the pressures and constraints are aired and discussed.

So it is just a conceptual line. That means it can be and will be subject to distortions due to the pull of advertising revenue.

Continuous interaction? Why should there be an interaction between the two at all? Why should the editorial department know who is funding their salaries and cost of operations? At the best, they might be informed of their budget to help them plan their operations. But why should they know the source of their revenues?

Mr. K. Narayanan’s views reflect the symptomatic malice that affects every media. Atleast he has been honest to admit it. If this is the status of a newspaper of Hindu’s stature, I dread to think the scenario in other media groups.

Would any media group bother to show the break up of their advertising revenues from different companies? Just as shareholders have the right to know the finances of their company, don’t the readers have the right to know the altruistic souls who are subsidizing their newspapers? Transparency and right to information, after all, should begin at home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Edukotla Andhrula Atma Gauravam

It is disgusting to hear YSR, saying that the issue of separate statehood for Telangana would be decided by Sonia Gandhi. The State Congress Chief even says that “she would be the ultimate word on it.”

Irrespective of the outcome, can someone please tell me who is she to decide. Does she belong to this place? Did she win an election from here? Is she aware of the history of this region? Or can she atleast spell “Telangana” without looking into a prepared text?

Shame on the CM and rest of the Sonia Sycophants a.k.a Congress legislators. You are worse than those who fall at the feet of Amma. Unlike you, atleast, they don’t sell themselves to an outsider.

Worse. The party founded on the premise of restoring aarukotla andhrula atma gauravam, is totally silent on this shameless outsourcing. Neither are those who raised hue and cry over her Italian origins.

They might be in favour of Congress’ refusal to grant a separate Telangana. But that doesn’t mean that they should be mute spectators of a political party transferring the mandate given by people to someone who cannot even speak their language.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Have a Vision .......

You Are a Visionary Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul.
You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

You have great vision and can be very insightful.
In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sex Appeal

It seems that August 14th is ‘Half’ Valentine’s Day. Now these are those dreaded days which remind me about my miserable single status. My life has become as barren as the parched Telangana lands. Such infertility, that some of my cells commit suicide on a regular basis by drowning themselves into water. I am unable to stop this cellular genocide as I am incapable of providing them with their counterparts with two X chromosomes. Like the Indian Government, all I can do is provide them with promises and packages. But I am not sure how long I can manage this way.
Yes, I did try my luck with the members of opposite gender. And all I got was the realization that I did not have the magical four-lettered word. Luck. (No, I am not thinking yet about its rhyming partner, which is more appealing.)Those who met me, never came again. I did hear from some common acquaintances that I had a repulsive odour. Now, this, I knew was a blatant false claim. After all, I regularly have a shower on 5th of every month. In addition to this, I also avail the complementary spray from the MCH every monsoon, which keeps not just the germs but even big mosquitoes away.
I approached the Ministry of Youth ‘Affairs’ to help me set up a date. They agreed support me under their Scheme for Promotion of Adventure. After all, spending time with unpredictable species like girls is no less than an adventure. They promptly (i.e. after 8 months) sent me an application to be filled with a few supporting documents like Caste Certificate (may be they din’t want to disturb the endogamous nature of our society), Birth Certificate (Moron, if I was never born, then who the hell is sending you this application), Age Proof (Does my desperation to reach you, with full knowledge of your bureaucratic redtapism, need any more proof of my withering age?), Ration Card as proof of my BPL status (Impoverished people eat meat. They don’t play with it)
Anyways, I managed to get all except the ration card. I decided to forge one. But for that the DTP guy wanted to have a look at the original. I approached my servant maid. She looked puzzled and asked, “What card?”. “Ration card”, I replied with maximum stress on ‘Ration’. She replied with an air of obviousness, “At the moment, I have Credit Card, Debit Card and SIM card and my boy friend has an AGP card and WLAN card. But never heard of Ration Card” Before I could react, she excused herself to reply to an SMS from her boy friend. I was as frustrated as seeing my inbox filled with spam advertising Viagra.
I finally did manage to send the application. It was returned saying that I had to submit to the MRO, who would then forward it to the District Collector. He would then send the documents for verification to the issuing authorities. There would then be a personal verification by the Special Branch of the City Police. After confirming the veracity of my claims, my application would be forwarded to the State Secretariat. Since, the programme is partly funded by the Centre, a copy would be forwarded to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, who would make a parallel verification. I protested saying that if they followed the whole process, what I would get is not a girl to take me to the bed, but a nurse to take me to the bathroom. He promptly (0.08 seconds) put down the phone.
I approached an NGO, Youth for Equal ‘Opportunity’, to help me take up the case. They gave me an ingenious idea to file a RTI application with census department so that I can get a list of all eligible, or rather, available females. I finally managed to get 22 contact numbers, The first one had a very stern recorded message “This facility is not available in your telephone”. The rest also had the same message in rest of 20 regional languages that appear on the currency notes.
Miraculously, the last one clicked. The female very coyly replied that she would date only with parental consent. I jumped with joy with some potential chances in vicinity. My parents would give consent for anything that would keep me away from them by 500 meters. She soon killed my nascent hope when she clarified that parental consent meant her parents. What? Me going to her home to ask permission? What a cruel comedy! Leave alone entering her home, in my present status even the stray dogs won’t let me into her street.
But it is not that I never dated any female. Thanks to Internet, may Eros bless who ever invented it, I did meet a girl whom I met on the chat. The moment I saw her, it was Kuch-Kuch -Hota-Hain for me. But unfortunately, and as usually, the Kuch-Kuch-Hota-Hain was not in my heart, but in my stomach. She appeared like a creature straight from some genetic engineering labs in Zimbabwe. She dressed up so jarringly that I never understood which was her skin, which was her dress and which were her accessories. She spoke little, ate a lot and had some childhood affinity for monosyllabic replies. And when she spoke, it was mostly over her mobile. Of course, I never got what she spoke. Her monosyllables, laughter, giggles and burps, all sounded the same - like the Jurassic Park ringtone which I use to identify my dad’s calls. Later, I realized that Blind dates are meant for only for those who are not just blind but also deaf, dumb and mentally challenged.
I have lot more, but would like to save them for Full Valentine’s Day. All those who know of any available members of the opposite sex, please recommend me to them. For every successful referral you would be eligible for a free aquatic screensaver.
All those singles who want express their solidarity with me can treat this as a mercy petition which would be forwarded to the President of India. All petitions, be it about sex or stray dogs, are usually sent to him and I don’t want to break the convention, though that guy himself was not successful with females. (Wonder who gave him the title "Missile" man.) So please sign this petition by leaving your comments.
Update: I have been married for sometime now. But I must confess that it has been as disastrous as my dates!!!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Monsoon Wetting

The rain has held back for days and days, my God, in my arid heart. The horizon is fiercely naked---not the thinnest cover of a soft cloud, not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.

Send thy angry storm, dark with death, if it is thy wish, and with lashes of lightning startle the sky from end to end.

But call back, my lord, call back this pervading silent heat, still and keen and cruel, burning the heart with dire despair.

Let the cloud of grace bend low from above like the tearful look of the mother on the day of the father's wrath.

- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

It is finally raining here !!!!!

And for those who hate rains, all I can do is to shake my head in disbelief and mutter, “Kahan se aise logaan aathe ki, kya hai ki”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Telangana - Whose Cause is it Anyway

Seven years ago, on a cloudy but warm winter afternoon, a bunch of sophomores barged into our class. They finally managed to snatch a time to get themselves introduced to us, en masse in our classroom, in the typical engineering college way. A short bespectacled guy ordered us to introduce ourselves giving details of our school, intermediate college, academic aggregates and our future aims. We were a class of 60 and I am sure on that day there were atleast 50 of them in the class. At the end of the session, I found except for 5-6 students, the rest professed their ‘aim’ to be ‘MS in US’. They all echoed each other just as if they were doctored in a community school of a communist state. It didn’t require great brains to decipher that most of them were not using their brains. They were merely repeating what the society instilled in them. And there lies the greatest curse of Andhra Pradesh in general and Telangana in particular.

High industrialization, and subsequent development, of neighboring Tamil Nadu is often attributed to their colonial advantage. But strictly speaking, the British never bothered beyond the ports of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised when a decade back I found the best of stationary stocked at Walden, which was targeted, both in its pricing and packaging, at the upwardly cosmopolitan, being produced not at Chennai, Bangalore or NOIDA but an interior town in Tamil Nadu, Sivakasi. And that’s not a lone example. You find towns like Erode, Thiruppur, Dindugul etc booming with various small and medium scale industries. And these don’t lie in the Kaveri delta, which can be the nearest analogy to the Andhra Region, if and only if, Karnataka releases water that year. One reason I could figure out is the entrepreneurial streak in them. The will to create and do something on their own rather than work under someone, even if the pay isn’t quite appealing. Self-pride, something that is synonymous with the Tamils, looms large in them, though often it turns into jingoism. Even the politicians there chip in their bit. The country’s only steel plant which has neither an iron-ore mine nor a coal mine in its proximity is the Salem. The politicians from Tamil Nadu managed to force the Centre to invest in something that defies economic logic, just to ensure there would be regional development. What has been the contribution of the TRS in this regards? It is more than two years since the party has been in the Union Government. It holds two portfolios which directly deal with fate of poor and downtrodden, Labour Ministry and Rural Development Ministry.

Some of you might site the examples of numerous ITES firms being started by NRIs. But, investing in a booming sector with seemingly perpetual rosy prospects can by no means be called entrepreneurship. It is being plain opportunistic. Just the way people are making quick bucks out of the booming real estate business. Those NRIs who profess their ‘love, admiration and concern’ for their ‘home’ and its ‘development’, would do well to invest in ventures that are more locally relevant, that would help in the development of entire region and region does not mean the boundaries of Cyberabad municipality. Start projects which would be able mitigate the plight of displaced and deceased farmers, whose land is being given to the gyms and pool rooms of your offices. Whose MSPs are kept stagnant so that you get subsidies to take your spouses to exotic locations on the pretext of visiting industrial exhibitions. Who would have to wait for a generation to get power and water, so that you can run your premises with uninterrupted power supply.

So, my fellow classmates/ batchmates - turned-NRIs, I guess it should be pretty clear to you now why Telangana is backward. If you can do something on these lines, please do. Else leave it us. We have enough politicians out here and we don’t plan to outsource our politics to you.

This post may be very similar to what Kuffir posted. But what I am trying to say is that the attitude of people hasn’t changed much. Those who leave the shores today aren’t very different from those who left during the time of Kuffir’s graduation. Atleast, I wish that the present lot doesn’t indulge in distorting the facts in the guise of representing of people, of whom they know little.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

President - Yes, Prime Minister

Congress is truly the party of Aam Aadmi. Every aam aadmi is a leader in the party. Every aam aadmi becomes its spokesperson. No, you don’t need any authorization to express your views on behalf of the party. At times, you don’t even need to be a member of the party. One such aam aadmi spokesperson is Mr. Harish Khare. After the exit of Anand Sharma to the cabinet, Mr.Khare has self-appointed himself to the post of Chief of Defense, Congress Party. Of course, N. Ram would have endorsed the post to be Office of Non – Profit and any doubts in this regard would be dispelled by Narayanan, Chief of Defense, The Hindu a.k.a Readers’ Editor.

In this latest defense of Congress, he points out the President’s use of “(doubtful) discretion” in returning the bill to the cabinet. Can he please enlighten us what was so “doubtful” about the discretion? The discretion is an explicit constitutional right and not an undefined constitutional term, like “Office of Profit”, which has been glaringly abused and whose retrospective legitimization was questioned by the President, while returning the bill.

Again, he feels that seeking the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court, another explicit constitutional right, independent of the cabinet’s advice, is “fraught with dangerous implications”. His source of interpretation? BJP’s such interpretation when they were at the helm of affairs.

What Mr. Khare effectively says is, “If someone, irrespective of their credentials and the prevailing circumstances, says something which can be used to your advantage, use it.”. Would he then justify demolition of mosque by Congress? It is ridiculous that Mr. Khare chooses to take constitutional classes from a party which he often denounces as being unconstitutional.

Mr. Khare’s warns that “The Zail Singh temptation needs to be firmly resisted.”

So, just as Rajiv Gandhi wanted to read the letter written by Amitabh to Rekha, Manmohan Singh might want to see whom Mallika is smooching tonight on her bed and might accordingly introduce a bill, Right to Intimate Information. It would be passed with voice vote and without debate as our geriatric parliamentarians any day would prefer watching Mallika’s mouth’s silent smooches to Mamta’s mouth’s screeching shouts, which might be followed by paper hurling.

In such an event, Mr. Khare expects the President to gladly give his assent and get ready for nocturnal revelry.

I don't defend Zail Singh's act of sitting on the bill, but the very fact that the successive Governement did not pursue the bill, vindicated the accusations that there was something patently anti-democratic in the Postal Bill.

May we remind Mr. Khare, that only if one such President applied his independent thinking, we could have avoided the biggest blot of Indian democracy - Emergency. If the President is supposed to be a glorified rubber stamp, then we would rather do away with him. He rightly points out that:

“In the coalition era, almost all constitutional offices are prone to take advantage of the political uncertainties, and seek to expand the scope of their power and authority at the expense of the executive. The higher judiciary is the prime example of this over-reach. Often this kind of activism is sought to be justified as a healthy caveat, necessary to produce the requisite checks and balances.”

But he falters at the next line, when he says that it would lead to paralysis of the Government. The “over-reach” which he accuses the higher judiciary, had given inter alia residents of Delhi breathable air, demolished illegal structures, banned strikes, prohibited smoking in public places, interpreted right to information as a fundamental right etc. Something which the executive could not do in 50 years. In a democracy, over-reach happens only when the designated authority fails to perform its function.

A simple point to ponder. In which period has India grown faster? From 1947 to 1977, when there was no worthy Opposition and literally no checks on the executive or between 1987 to 2007, when there are more voices, more opposition, more checks?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blogger's Block - Enemy of the State?

For long people such as this person have been complaining about blogger's block. The Indian Government, with its utmost sincerity in alleviating the problems of its beloved citizens has solved the problem once and for all. Block the blogs. Naa rahegi baans, Naa bajegi bansuri.

I am unable to access any of the blogs hosted at blogspot. But yes, I can definitely access debonairblog (No, I am not giving the link as you might end up there ignoring my post), which is a favourite porn blog of numerous Indian males (Don't know about females). I wouldn't be surprised if Wordpress was left out just because it was hosting this blog. After all, what would be the state of the frustrated middle-aged senile secretaries of GoI if such sites are blocked. And what earthly use would those laptops be put into use, which have more files in Temporary Internet Files folder than in My Documents? Where those flaunting them would struggle to create a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel sheet, but in a jiffy would tell you how to clear cache?

So guys, next time you find some steamy stuff on my PC, don't call me a pervert. I am just being forcibly guided by the CERT-IN .

By the way, people tell me that they plan to use RTI to get to know the list of sites which were asked to be blocked by the Department of Telecommunication. But who knows, may be tomorrow there could be another confidential list of person who are to be denied use of RTI. Or may be the water, electricity, postal and even police department might be give confidential lists of people to be blacked out. In fact every department except Income Tax could be asked to boycott perceived enemies of the state. Oh yes, I forgot the Election Commission, which is very liberal in this regard. The other day, they supplied my mom with two verification forms for issuing her photo ID card. One with my dad's name as her initial and other with her dad's name as her initial. Now the joke is how they got my mom's name with her dad's name as initial in their records as she never lived in this state, let alone in Hyderabad, before marriage.

And in the meanwhile, all those who want to circumvent the block, and for those even pkblogs is blocked, you may use shysurfer. There are other anonymous surfing sites too, but this one allows you to log on to you blogger account and make posts. And also do not forget to enable the option in you Blogger account which lets you post by email. In times such as this, we must be well-prepared for more such censorships.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Affirmative Action and Reservations – The Missing Links

The recent reservation debates, while drawing comparisons with Affirmative Action (AA) of USA, fail to highlight the proactive facet of AA. AA is superior to our reservations both in letter, spirit and scope. While the Indian reservation system extends to the Government sector alone, the historic Executive Order 11246 issued by President Lyndon Johnson covers almost 200,000 government contractors and sub-contractors.

This article, while quoting Adarand Constructors v. Pena fails to inform the background of the case. The case challenged one of the remarkable components of AA, the minority set-aside programs. These require the Federal, State and Local Governments to set aside a percentage of funds exclusively for minority contractors. Such provisions are glaringly missing in our reservation system. Public Works Employment Act, 1977, which was the first legislation to implement set aside programs, was challenged in the Supreme Court by white contractors and the Supreme Court upheld the law in Fullilove Vs Klutznick. Sadly, the Bhopal Declaration, which touted for such measures, hibernates in the UPA's Common Minimum Programme.

On the AA front, the Supreme Court of USA has played a pioneering role upholding it and ensuring that it is followed in various aspects inter alia education, recruitment, entrance tests etc. Some of them deserve a mention here.

The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in addition to ruling in favour of racial preference for disadvantaged groups, also held that “the goal of achieving a diverse student body is sufficiently compelling to justify consideration of race in admissions decisions” and that being a minority group could “be deemed a plus in a particular applicant’s file”. Unfortunately, in India, instead of recognizing the role reservation in ensuring diversity, it is treated as a sop to the deprived classes.

In the United States v. Paradise, the Supreme Court upheld the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama’s rulings with regard to discrimination in the employment of black trooper. In 1972, the court ordered to hire one black trooper for every white trooper till the percentage of black trooper reaches 25, when it found that in the past 37 years not even a single black trooper was recruited. After 11 years, when the District Court found that the progress had been tardy, it followed up with the order of promotion of one black trooper for each white trooper elevated in rank. On the contrary, in India, most of the reservations go unfilled and administratively get reclassified as “Backlog Vacancies”.

On the issue of entrance tests for employment purposes, the U.S Supreme Court, in the Griggs v Duke Power Company (1971), ruled that the Civil Services Act banned discriminatory employment practices that cause exclusion of disadvantaged groups, when it cannot be shown that those practices relate to job performance. The employment practices include intelligence tests and minimum education qualifications. Further, to ensure that the practices followed relate to job performance, the court ruled that the correlation between high scores in tests and high job performance must be shown by the employers.

In Albemarle Paper Company Vs Moody (1975), the Supreme Court ruled that culturally biased tests were illegal even if the employer was not discriminating intentionally. In Connecticut et al Vs Adele (1982), the same court said that using culturally biased tests were illegal even if the state promoted more blacks than whites. Infact, till the Civil Services Act, 1991 was passed, most recruitment processes followed a practice called Race Norming where additional marks where awarded to the minorities to offset the cultural bias in the tests. In sharp contrast, glaring cultural biases like testing English vocabulary in exams like CAT and predominant usage of English as the medium of tests have gone unchallenged in our country where most of the disadvantaged students are tutored in vernacular medium.

Such comprehensive and detailed implementation of Reservations is sorely missing in India. Yes, we can’t compare AA with reservations. They have a far wider, deeper and more honest reach.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Godavari - Celluloid Sweetness

A movie that deserves more than one post. I hope to make atleast one detailed post in the near future. Actors, photography, music, lyrics and background score - all merge as harmoniously as the waters of Godavari, the Paapi hills, the hues of sky and the rays of the sun. Veturi’s lyrics are truly beautiful. When a lyrically challenged guy (me) could understand and appreciate (though not completely) the song “raama chakkani seetaki...”, it shows how beautiful the lyrics could be for those who can understand them fully.

eDama chaetanu Sivuni villunu...ettina aa raamuDe
ettagalaDa seeta jaDanu taaLi kaTTe vaeLalO

That Rama who could lift Siva’s bow with his left hand
Can He lift Sita’s plait when he ties the Thaali?

I would love if someone can post the rest of the lyrics. Or atleast give me the links. If it is with transliteration it would be good and if it has translation (even selected lines would do), it would be great.

Thanks Shekar Kammula & the team for not letting me down.

Check out the lyrics and the song here

For a more beautiful description (not review), check these Ramblings on Godavari

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

N.Ram and maR(a)N - Comrade at Arms

When I made this post, I thought that the doomsday prediction was limited to Tamil Nadu. But after I came across this, I realised that things were far worse than I thought.

What is worse is that "The Hindu" has refused to publish the article by Sevanti Ninan, whose column "Media Matters" is one of the best critical evaluations of the Indian media.

I had known since long about Hindu’s DMK relations. No, I am not referring to the coincidence that “N.Ram” is almost a palindrome of “Maran”. Dayanidhi Maran’s wife is the grand daughter of Rangarajan, the publisher of Hindu. The refusal to publish Sevanti Ninan’s article just reaffirms Hindu's hidden vested interests. I am yet to comprehend what was so “legally risky” in the article. Remember, Hindu had the clout to get a stay order the very next day from the highest court of this land when they were threatened with warrants and a person no less than the Solicitor General appeared for them. A court which takes ages to solve basic problems of the most deprived sections such as the ousted tribals, gas leak affected victims etc was ready to hear even after the official hours. Such a newspaper calling the article “legally risky” is as genuine a reason as to say that they ran out ink while printing and hence the article was omitted.

And while a few people would aware of Hindu's duplicity, they would earn accolades by publishing articles like this. A very intelligent way to masquerade their immorality. This post, which I also referred to in my previous post accusing Hindu of bias, raised the questions of caste composition of the Hindu management and their ownership pattern. While Mr. Varadarajan slams the media in general and his ‘previous’ newspaper in particular, can he or his Big Boss, Ram tell us how diverse is Hindu’s editorial staff or what steps have they taken to increase inclusivity. Or why the card-holder refuses to give his employees a share in the company?

Hindu should learn that in the age of blogs and sms, it would be difficult to carry on their hypocrisy forever.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

'Under'Cover Stories - Sex, Lies and Surveys

I stopped reading magazines ever since India Today carried Natasha Singh’s suicide on its cover page. And the way tabloidification of magazines has happened since then, I never had to regret my decision.

A recent edition of The Week (unable to fish the hyperlink) chose to carry on its cover a survey on sex at workplaces. Initially it dint interest me as I neither have sex nor work. You see I have this disastrously repulsive combination of being both ugly and unemployed. And literally, neither lady nor luck, smiles at me.

But then I decided to have a peek hoping against hope to find some alchemical formula to liberate myself from virginity. I remember how few years back I ran to a book shop when I knew a book called 'Losing Virginity' was released. On reaching there, I realized that it had everything other than what was written on the cover. These magazines too are something like that.

India Today did some similar survey and every forgotten female made news by just commenting on what one clumsy female commented in it. So did Outlook and virtually every other magazine except our dear Frontline. They believe in Real Story. Everytime. In case of sex that would be disappointing at its best and depressing at its worst. One common denominator among all these stories (no, I wouldn’t call them surveys) is that they never tell you anything that you dint know.

They would begin talking about the increasing stress in urban life, failing relationships, work pressures and then go on to tell you how sex is fun, stress busting etc etc. Wow! Revelation indeed. I swear I never knew that till I read these stories. I always thought that sex was for artificial insemination in men, and to produce broiler babies in women.

And then a couple of couples in coupled positions. A few bold (I mean the font, not the content) titles about relationships, marriages, divorces, flings, preferences, positions etc etc. But whom are they trying to surprise. Every kid knows that these days sex and infidelity fit as good as six and nine. I know that was gross. But I am happy that I was able to comment on relationships, preferences and positions in one go and that’s what people seem to like these days. Considering the popularity of sex and the falling visits my blog gets, I too plan to have a new section, “Sex”.

To add a technical touch, you would have a sociologist, psychologist and, of course, a sexologist who tries hard to look sexy from the small passport size photo beside his byline. This one in the Week, recommends nipping causal (read sexual) relations in the bud. So now we are going to have two departments in the HR, one to prevent sexual harassment and one to prevent sexual appeasement. The first would ask the guy to take his hands off the girl and the second would ask the girl to take her hands off the guy’s hands so that they can then ask the guy to take his hands off the girl.

The survey itself was crap. 47% were not aware of casual relations. So with close to half of the respondents blissfully unaware of what rocks their cars, tables and lifts, how accurate would the survey be. Another sore was “No Comments”. For god sake, you are not a chargesheeted politician speaking to the media. With anonymity assured, why can’t you open your mouth and speak something which you have been dreaming, speaking and hearing ever since you passed out of your kindergarten. And damn those who make the survey. In a population of 1 crore they can’t find 1000 people who can answer all the 10 questions.

I won’t start preaching the media on socially responsible journalism as I know they are not going to desist from such surveys and news in future. But what I wish is that they should be useful.

For Example:

1) Top 30 Firms (with the full postal address) whose proportion of female employees is atleast 75%

2) Among these, top 20 Firms where the average age of females is less than 25 years

3) And finally, the top 10 firms where the standard deviation from 36-24-36 is less than 1.213

4) Top 5 approach lines

5) Next 5 approach lines

If they fail,

6) Top 5 cover-ups

7) Next 5 Cover-ups

If they too fail,

Repeat the survey with the next 30 companies in the next issue.

Iteration to continue ad infinitum.

For pre-marital sex, please replace firms with schools. And please don’t ask people like Khushboo and Sania for comments. One is too old and the other hardly went to school.

Additionally, annual subscribers should be rewarded with complimentary details. Something like one-year subscription should get you the first names, two year subscription, both first and last names and three year subscription should get you both names and mobile numbers.

Do this and I assure that the editors can laugh their way to the banks and readers to the beds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

DMK Victory - Manufacturing Manufacturing Consent

Now that the DMK has come back to power, it would be keen to fulfill its promise of free Colour TV with cable connection. While giving colour TV would not be much of a problem (atleast logistically), the cable connection could prove to be a tricky issue.

The Government could start a state-owned service provider. But if it does, then I am sure it would not be allowed to compete with other providers as Kalanidhi Maran owned Multi System Operator (MSO) Kal Cables Private Limited would take a beating with the low pricing of the state-owned service provider. If the state-owned service provider is to provide service exclusively to those households which got the free TV, then it would be a perpetual loss-making organization, which no modern fiscal-deficit-conscious Government would be ready to bear.

They could alternatively consider the telecom way of dividing the state into circles and floating tenders for license with a rider that the Government-specified households should be given free service. This too the Government would reject as there is every possibility that Jaya TV would garner substantial licenses. Also what about those circles which are financially unviable?

So what I figure out is that the Government would go for the DTH option. The State-owned DD Direct would be a non-controversial choice and since DD Direct also beams more than a dozen private channels, the DMK Government could pass it off for something as good as a cable TV. The biggest advantage would be that since DD Direct is free (you only pay for the set-top box), the whole investment would be a one-time affair.

So far, so good. But things don’t seem to be as good as they look. When I checked out the DD Direct FAQs, I found that Sun TV is the only Tamil Channel in the offing. Of course, people wouldn’t complain because Tamilians equate Tamil satellite television to Sun TV as the others have extremely pathetic content. Jaya TV was trying to spruce up, but I find that Sun TV as too deeply ingrained in the Tamilian psyche to be dislodged by Jaya TV.

With this, for the first time in the history of Indian television, we would have a channel which has 100% reach. With such a reach, their advertising revenues and stock prices would go to unimaginable heights.

Now look at the grip DMK will get out of this. Literally every household in TN will now watch Sun TV. By the time the alternative sources of news like newspapers reach, they would have a whole 12 hours (considering the earliest eveninger and discounting radio) to inject into people not just their news, but also their views. So when Jayalalitha returns after 5 years (that is obvious) and decides to arrest Karunanidhi ( this is more obvious than the previous one), you would find the whole state being burnt by a frenzy mob ignited by the DMK cadre and fuelled by the Sun TV’s doctored news. For that matter, they can do this for any of their needs.

In case, DMK manages to get another term, then the state would be another West Bengal in the making where people since their infancy would be brainwashed with DMK’s ‘contribution to TN’ and oppositions’ failures. Every kid would grow up thinking Jayalalitha as a corrupt lady who owns stories of sandals, saris and silver, while Karunanidhi was the crusader who was fought against impostion of Hindi., emergency and Jayalalithaa’s cruel mid-night arrests.

Combine this with other facts, Maran’s newspaper acquisitions, Eveninger Tamizh Murasu and a daily, Dinakaran with a predatory Re 1 pricing. Add to this the rumor of his desire to acquire 33% stake in Tata-DTH. à la Manufacturing Consent in the making.

In a single move, Karunanidhi and subsequently the Marans (they have shrewdly marginalized Stalin who might end up as the former next CM) have captured power, money and control. All this under the disguise of sincere fulfillment of a pro-poor election promise. Whoever said that the DMK manifesto was the real hero of the DMK’s success, would do well to give the due credit to the script writer for such a Kautilyan plot.

At 83, Kalaignar rocks !!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sania Mirza - The Secretarial Saga

Seems there is no end to the Govt’s appeasement of Sania Mirza. The latest I hear is that the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh (or the Home Secretary) has to personally deliver the Padma Sri award, which she did not collect when the First Preacher of the nation was giving away at the Ashoka Hall. Apparently, the Bhagmati Begum was busy losing a set or a skirt or both at some county tennis tournament.

There could be nothing more demeaning than this. A civil servant with more than three decades of distinguished service, who heads the state administration, is reduced to a mere delivery boy. I won’t blame the protocols. Those who must have devised it would have never imagined that the Padma awards would be given to such persons whose claim to fame is disproportionate to their legitimate sources of talent. No wonder the likes of Romila Thapar, Kanaksen Deka and consistently reject these awards. There is a longer rejection list here and here.

The C-block guys at the Secretariat would tell stories of how they were hounded by her dad for the 20 lakhs, that’s after looting the exchequer of 99 lakhs (some Bata-conomics there) in cash and a lot more in kind. After cornering humungous amounts through endorsements, inaugurations, ad campaigns and virtually every possible method to sell herself, encroaching on Govt's paltry resources in plain audacious shamelessness.

I would not repeat how she has used her non-sporting resources like dress, drama and diatribe to corner the scanty sporting resources leaving the out performing persons like Humpy, Anju George and Joshna Chinnappa, to name few. That someone who couldn’t manage to win a single Open, is given this award is itself a vulgar joke. I just hope the Govt. mends the rules. If someone can neither make it to the awards function nor have the courtesy to depute someone, then they should be asked to collect it from the cloak room of the nearest railway station. Please don’t ask senior bureaucrats to do such derogatory task of delivering awards to some bimbette who has no idea where her t-shirt ends, where her skirt begins and where that ends. (All the three cozily coalesce at a single line.)

I still tolerate all this nonsense with the fond hope (or rather desire..) which I expressed in my previous post. If that’s not going to happen, then with shotgun on her forehead, I am going to make her dance with Balakrishna and Mohan Babu for a hardcore Rayalaseema flick.

PS1: My regular visitors, if there are any and if they are still alive and sane, would be relieved to note that I wouldn’t be posting till second week of May. Got an exam on hand. So, people, wish me luck while I let you live in peace.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

India Fashion Week 2007 – A preview

Now that both the fashion weeks have come to a close, here is a preview of what to expect next year.

  1. More splits and Chennai, Kolkatta, Bangalore and Hyderabad have their own fashion weeks. At Chennai, Karunanidhi accuses Jayalalithaa of diverting the cloths meant for Tsunami relief to the fashion week. At Kolkatta, only red garments (I don’t think the Marxists are leaving Writers’ building this year either) are allowed to be showcased. At Hyderabad, YSR asks if he too could walk the ramp as he has walking experience of over 1600 KMs. At Bangalore, every alternate model is accompanied by a bearded baby elephant a.k.a Vijay Mallya. Walk the good times!
  1. Low-cost no frills show would be held at tier-2 cities like Hubli, Vijayawada, Madurai, Kanpur, Sholapur, Asansol, Raipur. In these shows models bring their own cloths and visitors their own chairs. Tea and snacks would be sold inside the auditorium.
  1. Kinky Narula presents, our very own desi lingerie collection, “Noorjahan’s Secret”. The following evening NotSoNeat Verma accuses Kinky Narula that the blue g-string with Zardosi was actually his and Kinky stole it when he gave it to the hotel laundry. Kinky retaliates saying it was a woman’s garment and questions what NotSoNeat was doing with that. Rajdeep Sardesai asks the viewers to SMS him whether Kinky was guilty.
  1. Subburami Reddy and Amar Singh walk the ramp. Of course, after Sorabjee, Jethmalani and Jaitley assure them that it would not be an office-of-profit.
  1. Sultry Goel’s collection is a huge hit. But after buying , her customers call back to ask for instruction on how to wear them. The outfits had too many pieces and each smaller than the other.
  1. Hutch launches 24-hour value added service to get the latest updates on models’ whose cloths malfunctioned. Calling charges Rs 60/min, provided you get through the line.
  1. At Praveen Togadia’s maiden show, models walk out in protest after he asks them to wear cloths that go below the knees and elbows. Models fear that it could lead to asphyxiation due to lack of venti(til)lation. Brinda Karat joins them saying the Govt. should bring suitable legislation to prevent such health hazards at working places.
  1. Lorry launches a special collection for the Haryana Police to prevent Gurgaons and Faridabads. The shirts would be customizable to restrict the movement of hand.
  1. Two women are hospitalized after they got scared at the Demonish Horrora’s collection.
  1. As a grand finale, CanU SeeTheGirl launches a radical genre of Malfunction fits. These cloths come with stealth strings, which can be used to create ‘accidental’ show downs at the required moment. Hutch network collapses.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

OBC Reservation - Replies to the Editor

The following are the letters that appeared in The Hindu yesterday. Surprisingly, not a single letter was in favour of the proposed OBC reservation. It seems to be consistent with the latest biased reporting of The Hindu. OK, that would make the topic for another post. For now here are my responses to the letters.
The report that the Human Resource Development Ministry is considering the Mandal Commission formula of 27 per cent reservation for the Backward Classes in Central educational institutions, IITs, and IIMs is shocking. It comes at a time when India is ready to take off as an economy. The proposal, if implemented, will harm the very institutions that have contributed the most towards India's resurgence.
Reservation is the easy way out for successive governments that have failed to provide infrastructure at the grassroots to the backward communities to improve their competitiveness. The move will affect the quality of engineers and managers in future.
Shubhasish Chattoraj,
Kharagpur, W.B.
But the quality of our engineers and managers would remain intact when seats are bought with huge capitation fees. Right?
The furore over the proposal is quite justified. If a student ought to be recognised, it should be on the basis of his merit alone. One of the reasons for the dilution of standards in education is the quota system.
We Indians bemoan the constant exodus of bright students to countries abroad. But if a student's merit cannot secure for him a seat in the premier institutions of his country, he is perfectly justified in leaving for distant shores.
Anuradha Rajan,
Even otherwise no one is staying back here. Majority of them migrate for money. A few for better opportunities in terms of research and quality of education. I am yet to see someone who goes to the US Embassy because he just lost his seat due to reservations.
While our politicians have not proactively invested in capital assets like new institutes of higher education, they have no qualms about robbing seats in the name of social justice, discounting merit in the process, and pushing India further into the abyss of policy-induced incompetence. Discounting merit is no way to become a global knowledge society.
K. Chandrasekar,
Where did these IITs, IIMs come from? They were established by the Government with the tax payers’ money. Taxes that were collected on every bar of soap and packet of salt that the teeming millions paid even during their poverty. Taxes that were collected with the promise that they too would have a share in fruits of development. Taxes that were collected 50 years ago when they were poorer than they are now. How much have these investments benifited the poor?

What do you call the numerous Kalinga Nagars and Gangavarams. It is today, after the terms such as “sustainable development”, “equitable growth” etc have become popular, that people are raising the issues of displacement and rehabilitation. The injustices of Bhakra Nangal or Nagarjuna Sagar are so bad, that the Government doesn’t even have a record of its rehabilitation program. So the foundation of the modern prosperity has been built on perpetuating poverty. Let us acknowledge and take affirmative action against that.

Robbing people of their lands and shooting at them is development. But upliftment of depressed sections and ensuring their assimilation into the mainstream is robbery. And what about the “policy-induced incompetence” of those “modern temples of humanity” which were supposed trickle down benefits. They couldn’t even trickle down water for drinking.
How long are we going to continue widening the reservation net? IITs, IIMs, and other such institutions have built a brand image with their outstanding quality — as reflected by recent mega salary offers to IIM graduates. If governments in the last six decades have not been able to bridge disparities and remove backwardness, surely the reservation policy is flawed or there has been lack of sincerity. Let us not politicise education for narrow ends.
Air Cmde (retd.) Raghubir Singh,
To say that the image of an institution shall be determined merely by their output is akin to rating a country by its per capita or a corporation by its profits. We have moved into an era where judgments are no more made by a single criterion, output. For a nation, the distribution of income is as important as its per capita. Similarly, for a corporation, it contribution to the society is as important as its profits. No wonder CSR is the buzzword these days. In the same length, for any institution aspiring to be world-class, it is important that there is diversity and inclusivity in its members.
Thanks to our politicians' lack of imagination and competence, reservation has been politicised to the extent where even honest and legitimate criticism is branded as anti-people. Why should the son of a doctor alone become a doctor was the question asked before the introduction of the reservation policy. Strangely the position is the same even after 60 years of implementation of this policy.
At this rate, even 100 years of reservation are not going to achieve the objective of the policy.
S. Rajagopalan,
It is foolish to expect the injustice of 2500 years to be undone in 60 years. If anything, the inequalities have further widened in these 60 years. For 2500 years, they were made to suffer silently and you get impatient in a mere 60 years.
The move is far removed from the ground reality. Had reservation helped the children of my gardener, domestic help or driver get quality higher education, it would have made sense. The primary education system is such that their children drop out much before being able to benefit from reservation at college level.
Today those who get admission to colleges through reservation hail from a good socio-economic background, as they are second- or third-generation beneficiaries. The Government should instead focus on primary education.
Parul Bajaj,
Faridabad, Haryana
Yes. They all would have got better education if we had told them about the provisions and schemes available. If we had helped them to fill the applications. If we had taken the trouble to know the details and procedures to avail the benefits and inform them. If we had not let our miserliness appoint a child/adolescent for our chores, when he/she should have been at the school. Let us honestly admit. We don’t do anything for the depressed classes. And no scheme succeeds without people’s participation. We shift the responsibilties of policy formulation, information dissemination, efficient implementation etc to the Government. Then let them do their job to best of their abilities and resources.

Focus on primary education?

Every one knows that perfection is a mirage and in India, an impossibility. Diverting the attention to primary education, is just a tactic to delay reservations indefinitely. First, you would say primary and then secondary and by the time they achieve proficiency in that, the disparities would widened beyond repair. In any case, more than 70% of our Government's efforts go into primary education.

What one needs to understand is success of primary education is related to host of factors. It is not that you establish a school and ask students to attend. It is inherently linked to various socio-economic factors. We need multi-pronged approach to tackle it and reservations in educational institutes is one among them.
The proposal is in line with the vote-bank politics of the government of the day. If implemented, it will frustrate the youth. Students who have hitherto landed jobs on merit will get demoralised as their opportunities are sought to be curtailed.
Sankalp Shrivastav,
Karaikal, Pondicherry
Hold a referendum and this policy would get a thumping majority. Not the first-past-pole majority with which the MPs who voted for this constitutional amendment got elected. This is democracy, not vote-bank politics. The greatest good of the greatest number is the founding principle of any democracy. It is easy to blame the politicians. But we should know that they know the real India than any of the readers of English dailies.

The IIMs want to go global, increase their intake, but wouldn’t like to share a few seats for their own countrymen.

The corporate India is crying horse about merit. If they are so concerned, why don’t they establish their own institutes? They have been the single largest beneficiary of the elite education institutes. What has been their contribution to the Indian education system?

How much of funds have flown into the SSA or the Prarambhik Siksha Kosh? All that is given is to the elite institutes which anyway have a lot of funds. Again a class divide there. But even that pales in comparison to the Americans .

Every form of engineering, be it economic, political or scientific, redesigns the system for the greater good by adversely affecting a few. Similarly, social engineering would also call for the sacrifice of a few. And we should accept that just as we did not reject the previous processes.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Economic Survey 2005-2006

Lyndon Johnson once said that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else. But reading economics is just the other way round. It seems hot to others, but not you. Unfortunately, this week I faced a Hobson’s choice of reading the Economic Survey 2005-2006.

Now, don’t get scared. I am not going to give you any prodigal prophesies of the Indian Economy that I derived from the report. I am too dumb to do that. I am just going to tell you how the report on one of the most watched economies of the world is defended from being read. Yes, how the Finance Minister (Henceforth to be called as FM) and his team makes lives of innocent people like me really miserable.

Essentially, the report has two levels of defense. The outer line of defense is the presentation [Strategy 1 and 2], while verbal jugglery [Strategy 3, 4 and 5]is the inner one. The first one aims at preventing you from reading, while the second one ensures that you don’t get the picture, even if you read. Not even a faint one.

Strategy 1: All the statistical tables are to be compiled and published at the end

When those creatures appear together, they look more repulsive and no one dares to even see them, let alone read. The fonts should be microscopic to ensure that the person who reads would require a Braille version of the report next year. As many entries as possible should have superscripts like @,#,$,* etc. If you have exhausted that, then you can go for numbers. You have infinite of them.

My personal suggestion: To make the tables more disgusting, centre justify the figures. That would cause the decimal points to appear at different locations in a column, making comparisons more confusing.

Strategy 2: Avoid using reader-friendly visual statistical representation

The report has just 17 graphs and 0 pie-chart. Compare this to the 63 tables in the report and another 117 pages for tables in the appendix.

The Lesson: Make the report utterly boring and optically dangerous, by avoiding diagrams and filling it up with infinite tables with the data. For effective effects, use font size 2.

Strategy 3: Show Potentials in Failures

In 2005-06, while the direct transfers from State Governments to SEBs was Rs.11,562 crore, an uncovered subsidy of Rs.15,987 crore remained, indicating the large potential that reforms have in improving not only the electricity sector itself but also the fiscal position of the States. – Pg-177.

Electricity reforms were initiated in many states ages ago. In some like Andhra Pradesh, they began as early as 1999. More than half a decade. And still you have uncovered subsidies. That means tardy implementation. But our FM sees “large potential”. Is that what they teach at the Harvard?

Strategy 4: When comparing, use the lowest figures of your predecessor, even if the performance in all the other years were better yours

Expenditure on the social sector as a proportion of GDP has also gone up from 5.68 per cent in 2003-04 to 5.81 per cent in 2005-06 (BE). – Pg - 205

The NDA government’s spending (as a proportion of GDP) in the years 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 were much higher than the present Government. But the FM chooses the lowest figure in the previous regime to make the comparison. Further, NDA’s are actual figures, where as this is just Budget Estimates. But who cares. The Finance Ministry is so confident about Indians’ Arithmophobia that they would not look up to the tables even when the corresponding text is given right below.

Strategy 5: Liberally use various adjectives for the figures like, Actuals, Budget Estimate, Revised Estimate, Provisional, Quick Estimates to confuse people

NPE 1986 had set a goal of expenditure on education of 6 per cent of the GDP. As against this target, the combined total expenditure on education by Central and State Governments was 3.49 per cent of GDP in 2004-05(BE).– Pg -210

Wondering where that figure “3.49” propped up from?. After all, it is not there in any of the columns in the above table. Well, 3.49% is the Budget Estimate, while the table gives you Revised Estimate for 2004-05. What was the necessity to use the Budget Estimate when the Revised Estimate for the year was available? It is plain statistical fraud.

I understand that the publication is intended for an economist. But, when we talk of transparent administration, simpler procedures and effective communication, I expect that a report of such importance should be presented in a manner where any person with basic knowledge of arithmetic would be able to get the broad picture. I am sure it would not cost them a bomb to a) Increase font size of data b) Use more pie-charts and bar graphs to enable easy comparisons c) Print additional 10 or 20 pages explaining the terms and acronyms used in simpler language. It is high time that our kids are released from the fear of mathematics and our adults from that of economics.

What is worse is that it has become a vehicle for political propaganda by using mischievous comparisons and deceptive terms.

P.S. Now don’t feel the survey is absolutely boring. It has its own genre of practical jokes.

Construction work at greenfield airports of international standards at Hyderabad and Bangalore has commenced. The two airports are likely to be operational by the middle of 2008. – Pg-193

And one exclusively for Bangloreans.

The Government of Karnataka proposed Bangalore MRTS with East-West (18.1 Km.) and North-South (14.9 km.) metro corridors. The project proposal was considered by the Public Investment Board (PIB) which cleared it for an estimated current cost of Rs.5,453 crore with a Government of India participation of 20 per cent. The matter is being placed before Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Meanwhile a Group of Ministers has been set up to decide upon the gauge and legal issues for various Metro Railway projects.-Pg-198

OK. You are asking me when that would be? That would be on Date of Inauguration of Bangalore Airport + 420 years. Provided Kumarappa’s son does not dislodge him and, the “Group of Ministers” are not disqualified or do not resign due to some sting operation or office-of-profit bogey.