BlogSarovar - A Blog Magazine

Recently, my friend, who's been blogging for quite some time now, hit upon the idea of starting a blog magazine. BlogSarovar is the result of this brainwave. It has started off with 5 members (including me :-), each of us specializing in certain category of writing. We hope to increase the membership as well as the readership gradually. Expect this blog magazine to host posts related to anything and everything - movie and book reviews, politics, finance, sports, lifestyle, society and so on.

The idea of this magazine is to channelize our individual writing talents and pool them together. This way, we can synergize our thoughts and our energies, thus improving the quality and content. This will help us reach a wider audience.

I still hope to continue maintaining my present personal blog too, where I shall post topics which I feel are not relevant to the magazine, but still relevant to society. Depending on the number such posts I churn out, I shall take a decision later whether to abandon this blog and concentrate fully on BlogSarovar, or to continue with this blog too.

Of Ambition and Contentment

I had a really really strange dream a few days back. In the dream, I was acting in a movie ! Well, to be technically correct; I was not acting, but watching the premiere of the movie in which I had acted. The movie, titled "Of Ambition and Contentment" was about 2 friends Ram and Shyam. Since it was a dream, the story and all is a bit hazy.. but I'll try my best to put things as I remember them.

In the movie, I play the role of Ram, an average, middle class Indian family-bred, 21st century, guy in his mid-twenties; who is a total all-rounder in life (alas! this happens only in movies and dreams). Was exceptionally well in studies during school time, champion sportsman, talented guitarist and what not. Graduated with flying colours, got his masters with flying colours! Even now, this guy is doing well in his job, much better than his peers.

Now Ram wants to take the next logical step: go for his Ph.D. He has worked for a couple of years and now he thinks he has had enough of work, and wants to do some real learning and research.

The other character in the movie is Shyam. He too has an excellent academic background. And he is multi-talented too (This is always the case with movies na? The central characters are always good at everything. And I've got so used to such characters, I'm even dreaming them!). Anyway, Shyam has completed his bachelors degree and is comfortably settled in his job. He never did his masters, so he's been working for 5+ years now.

One fine day, when the 2 friends meet up, their discussion meanders to the topic of the futures of their respective professions and their personal future too. This conversation is the only thing from the dream which is crystal-clear in my memory. It went something like this:

Ram (Me): Hey Shyam, buddy, so what have you planned for the future?

Shyam (startled): What?? Are you by any chance talking about my marriage to {XYZ} ? C'mon man, I've just gotten into a relationship with her; marriage is not on the cards as of now.

Me: No no.. I was not talking about marriage at all. I was referring to your career.

Shyam: What about it?

Me (Taken aback by his nonchalance): Well, don't you have any plans? Like a change or something?

Shyam (Now taking a keen interest in the discussion): Change? I'm not sure I follow you.

Me: I'm talking about a job change dude. Or about your plans for further studies.

Shyam (In defensive mode): What are you talking about man? I'm not thinking about any such thing , atleast for a couple of years.

Me (shaking my head): Don't give me that bullshit. You MUST have considered a change. You have been in the industry for 5 years already man.

Shyam: Why would I think about anything like that? I am loving my job. I earn a decent salary. My career path has been shaping up well. Why on earth would I think about changing?

Me (Slightly irritated): Wake up dude! All this loyalty-stuff is not going to help you in the long run. There's a limit to how high you can climb with your current form. You HAVE to do either jump or go for higher studies to get more lucrative offers. And what happened to all that real learning you wanted to do?

Shyam: Look pal, I own a house in a metro, I drive an upmarket car, I've "been there, done that"; and all this at such a young age. I am also in a steady relationship. What more could I possibly ask for? And regarding learning; well I believe I'l learn as much during 2 years of work as I would in 2 years of higher studies anyway. True, it will not be research-oriented learning; but I think I can live with that. Thank you.

Me (In Lecture mode): Hah! I know why you are saying all this. You are earning well and without too much pressure. You have developed your own cocoon - your comfort zone. You're hesitant to come out of it. You are afraid that if you switch jobs, you may come under more pressue. And you shiver at the thought of studying because it would mean a break in earnings. I'm sorry to say this, but you're just too lazy.

Come on Shyam. Don't give up your dreams so soon. What about all the ambitions you had? Let me tell you man, its ambition which results in every human's growth in their career and life. As long as you are ambitious, you have a target to walk towards. You lose ambition, you lose direction in life.

Just think about all our peers who gave up their jobs to pursue careers which they were passionate about. You dont have to do that because I know you are already in a career you are passionate about. Just give it proper shape yaar. Dont lose sight of your goal. You are capable of doing lot more than what you are currently doing. After all, during school days, you were the one who inspired me. (Ending my speech with a triumphant smile; hoping I stirred him)

I'l never forget what Shyam said next.

Shyam (looking me straight in the eye): If I keep running after ambitions, I'l never be content with life. Today it's about earning ever-increasing salaries. Tomorrow it'l be about social status or job status. Every time I achieve one "goal", I'l immediately start looking forward to the next step in the ladder. So when will I be satisfied in life? On my death-bed?

I was totally stumped with what I had just heard. However, Shyam dint give me a chance to ruminate. He continued.

Shyam: Look, I agree that we should not stunt our career growth if we feel we can do something more. I am not one to lie down and be content with whatever life gives me. But, right now I am content with whatever I have earned, whatever I have worked hard for; not what has just casually come my way. If at some point of time I feel my talent is being wasted, I will definitely look for a change. But as of today, I am content with everything in life.

Now, I want to spend some time and effort on other things in life; like family and friends. And my social responsibility. All this while, I have spent all my time on myself, my education, my career. Now its time to do something for others. I just realized how involved I have been in my career and ignoring my near and dear ones. Its been months since I even spoke to my grandparents on phone, let alone meet them. I recently met a friend after a long time and realized how out of touch I have been with friends. I called up a few friends that day (yourself included), and that made me feel happy inwards.

Coming back to the topic, you are right about the ambition part Ram. But I want to strike a balance between ambition and contentment.

Me (Fumbling for words): Well, Uh..yes.. you may be right.. but..Uhmm..I still feel you can have the best of both worlds.. like..

At that moment, Shyam's phone started ringing; and I realized it was the alarm. I woke up but remained in deep-thought-mode for a few minutes. However, I just could not reach a conclusion.

I hate it when I am presented with two mutually exclusive options, both of which sound right; and to make matters worse, no "correct" option is identified or no conclusion is reached!

Gender Bender: Anti-Female Society

I'll start off this post by mentioning that its not at all intended to be feminist in nature. Being a male, there's no way I'd support outright feminism. But, there is this wrong impression that every male is male chauvinist. This is not true. I want to set straight the record here. I am sure there are guys out there who echo the opinion that I am going to put forward in this post.

I only want to push the concept of universal equality - equality of religion, caste, gender and a host of other factors. In fact, I also believe in equality in nature - meaning animals, birds, insects, trees - they all have as much right to live on this Earth as we humans do. But all these topics will be covered some other time. This post is dedicated to equality between the sexes.

There are quite a few inequalities going on there,and a few downright atrocities. Some of them are inter-related. Unlike a few of my previous posts, there is no uncertainty in my mind regarding this one. These "practices" MUST stop. There's no two ways about it.

Dowry

This is the biggest of the social evils; atleast in India. I dont have the statistics to support it, but its obvious that dowry is directly or indirectly responsible for an overwhelming majority of discrimination against women, most notable among them is domestic crime like wife-beating etc. Many of the practices that are listed below are ultimately attributable to dowry.

The most scary aspect of dowry is that, it is not restricted to rural, illiterate, orthodox or backward sections of society. The practice is prevalent in affluent sections too; its the educated, modern, middle class India which is acting as a barrier to its abolishment. People take shelter behind the "system". Its the same old story: "Its the system which has to change you know. How is it going to help if I alone forego my 'right' to dowry?"

This is unacceptable. The educated class HAS to wake up and do something about this. Someone has to take an initiative and the educated middle class is in the best position to do so. If anyone reading this is in a position to take corrective action (you know what I mean by that); and if you care, I appeal to you to do so before its too late.

Sex Determination and Infanticide/Foeticide

This is linked to dowry. People just dont want to have daughters. I remember seeing the promos of some TV serial on Zee; I think its called "Betiyaan". A couple go to the temple with their little daughter; and in front of the daughter, they pray for a son! This "scene" is not at all uncommon in India. Just imagine what would go through the mind of a, say 6 year old girl if she come across such a situation. The feeling of being unwanted will leave a deep gash on her young and impressionable mind.

But I fail to even comprehend how "normal" people would be so cruel as to kill the baby girl as soon as; or even before she is born! This takes meaninglessness, cruelty and insanity to new levels altogether. Even mothers, who were once daughters themselves, are actively involved in such shameful practices.

The other extremely dangerous side effect of this trend is the shockingly skewed sex ratio in some states. Everyone wants sons, no daughters, so who's going to marry the sons and bring in the next generation? At this rate, I sometimes feel we are never going to enter the 22nd century!

Sati/Inhuman treatment of Widows

Another example of totally senseless, illogical following. Although this is more or less restricted to rural India (or so I hope), it still is menace enough. The recent movie Dor, has touched upon this topic. Widows are either forced to jump into their husbands' funeral pyre; or forced to live the rest of their lives as half-dead anyways. Re-marriage is looked down upon as if it were a crime. Why not give the woman a chance to live a decent life? Why make the widow aware time and again about her dead husband, and make her live her life as a sorrowful lady who serves no purpose in the family or society at all?

India must be the only country in the world where Sati is practiced. This is a shame on us. We force the daughters of the nation to die a shameful death because her husband is dead. In many cases, the husband's death is blamed on the wife! Unacceptable again.

Favouring the Son

Again related to dowry. Probably if dowry system diminishes, so will this. Well, this is not as serious as the previous practices. But I have witnessed such incidents from close proximity. In 50% of the families which have a son and a daughter, the daughter is the "black sheep" of the family. The son gets all the encouragement, all the love and is spoilt to the hilt. While the daughter spends most of her childhood trying to impress her parents and trying to get her share of the family love. And this is again middle class, educated India that I am talking about.

Come on! Atleast give the girl a chance. This is the 21st century. Girls have shown they are capable of earning well and caring for their parents in old age. Take proper care of her, educate her well; and there is every reason that she'll take care of you in your old age. What's happening is that the son is given proper education and all; while the daughter will just complete basic education and then stay at home or get married. She's given no chance to prove her mettle. Again, I appeal to the educated, middle class out there to smoothen out this imbalance; else its the society which is going to suffer in the long run.

Sexual Harassment

I have written about something similar before. God has made women susceptible to this form of harassment. That in no way justifies men resorting to it. And to think people actually try to justify such horrific crimes. "She was wearing a provocative dress"! Shame on such people who cant respect the women of the society. Having sexual feelings towards someone is one thing; actually outraging the modesty of a woman is quite another.

There are all kinds of atrocities going on against women in rural, tribal India. Women being made to undergo "Agnipareeksha" to prove their loyalty to their husbands; to women being gang-raped under orders from the Panchayat or whatever, and that too because her brother had a extra-marital affair! These are absolutely blasphemous and opprobrious. I dont even have words to describe how cheap these incidents are. Its upto us to stop such recurring at any cost.

What we can do about it

First of all, let me point out that if you are a girl, and reading this; you should consider yourself extremely lucky. You belong to modern society, which is atleast less prejudiced against women. You are probably well-educated and have made a mark on society. Which is wonderful. At the same time, you (and the men out there too) have a social responsibility to erase the oppressions of the past many generations.

I dont claim to be some kind of preacher who has solutions to all problems. I am just doing my bit by spreading the word. Hopefully, someone who reads this is moved by the plight of the fair sex; and decides to take "corrective action". Again I wont elaborate on the corrective action part. Its a hint I hope was picked up by one and all.

If someone has any ideas or had formed some kind of organization for such causes, please dont hesitate to mention them here. Or link us to the site or blog or whatever. That's what I mean by "spreading awareness". More the number of people who are aware of whats going on, better are the chances of collaboration and really getting something done.

Looking forward to a society which measures its sons and daughters with the same yardstick.

JAI BHARATH.

Change in title - change of objective

Of late, I have been asking myself this question very often: "Why Do I blog? " I don't care about why other people blog. But why do I do it? When I started blogging, I primarily wanted to scribble down my umpteen random, unorganized thoughts someplace. Secondly, I wanted to show off my (limited) writing skills :D. Lets just say that my intentions were not the purest.

I remember that my first post was about the world-record breaking Aus-SA cricket match. I had considered creating a blog for sometime before that, but the sheer excitement after the match made me create a blog and write a post the very next day.

Since then , I have (perhaps foolishly), created 2 more blogs - one for my travelogue and another for "reviews". The reason was that I wanted to keep my mainstream blog just that: mainstream. Yet, my immaturity shows in my initial few posts. Some posts like Forgetful Old Me server no purpose whatsoever.

But now I think I should put my blog to some good use. Instead of rambling on about how my day was or what I think about Michael Schumacher and his retirement, I want to dedicate time, effort and this blog to motivate and be motivated. That's why I have re-christened this blog as "Awake and Arise - Educate and Motivate". This is going to be the primary motive of this blog, or so I hope.

What is all this motivating business? What do I mean when I say I want to motivate and educate? Is it just another flash of light followed by darkness? Is it yet another empty effort? I sincerely hope not. My intentions are plain and simple -

  1. Patriotism: I want to contribute in some way or the other, however miniscule it may be, in taking India to Her rightful place in the world. This includes, for a major part, internal cleansing, if you know what I mean.
  2. International Humanity: I want to also contribute in some way or other in making this whole world a better place to live in.

Having said that, I am unsure how I am going to achieve this goal. I am ashamed to admit that I am not as large-hearted or as motivated as some of my friends, who are going out of their way to "give back to society". For instance, my pal Abhi occasionally teaches Maths in a high school in spite of his terrifyingly busy schedule! Read about it here. Another instance is the Dream School Forum, which is a non-profit organization which works voluntarily to enhance quality of education. What better way to give back to society than to teach!! I also have friends who have given up well-paying careers and inspire to take up Civil Services!

But we have to be realistic here. Not everyone can involve themselves in all such activities. So i feel we should "Divide and Pool". Each one of us can work within our own capacity. Our individual efforts pooled together will go a long way in contributing to the reforms.

Also, I am not comfortable with the idea of sacrificing everything for the sake of upliftment of others. What I see as a more workable approach is : you be comfortable - only then will you be able to work for others' upliftment. Only if you earn will you be able to donate in charity. Take the example of the founders of Lok Paritrana. Some of them worked abroad and earned enough to lead a comfortable life. Now, they have taken up the task of trying to change the face of Indian politics to a people-centric rather than vote-centric. Hats off to them.

Maybe I am saying this because I am reluctant to leave my comfort zone. Again, maybe I'm not. Maybe I am saying this with a pure heart. Maybe I really want everyone to gain from all this. Which brings us back to square one. How do I intend to use my blog to achieve all the nice sounding big-big words I have put down above?

For one, I can use the blog to educate people about a lot many things. Does that mean that people who read my blog are uneducated? Not at all. What I mean by educating is that I want to spread the word about certain issues that merit immediate notice. And I expect the same from others. For example, take my post Innocence Snatched. It is a shocking revelation and before reading an article about it, I had no idea about the magnitude of the menace. So, I blogged about it to spread awareness. Someone who reads this would hopefully be in a position to do something about it.

This is exactly what I mean by using my blog to educate and motivate. Shed light on some issues which would be hidden. I strongly believe that blog is a powerful tool to reach out to people. Like minded people or people who are in a position to take action. This does not mean that I will not be posting about other topics. No. It only means that such off-road excursions will be few and far apart; and I'l try to stick to the primary(I would like to stress this word) objective as far as possible.

I would end this post by making a strong statement, rather a commitment. I set a goal for my blog - I state that If I am able to bring about a positive change in the life of atleast one under privileged child because of this blog, then I will consider my blog to be a success.

Please wish me luck and join hands with me in this endeavour. Lets hope that it materializes and doesn't gather dust. JAI BHARAT.

Blogging Spree

I've been on a blogging spree this weeekend. Wrote 3 posts and also uploaded an old one. Plus, i created a new blog Kiran's Reviews. This is supposed to be the blog where I'l post my comments and reviews about books, movies, TV programmes and more.

But its not limited to the "reviews". In some cases, an article that we read or a movie that we see sets us thinking about serious issues. This new blog is where i'l post such issues, i.e., those issues on which I was influenced by books or TV etc.

Finally, I hope to be much more active as far as blogging is concerned. There are a whole bunch of issues I thought I'd write about, but felt lazy and disguised it under a veil of "I'm Busy". I have resolved to put an end to this negligence and blog any serious issue as soon as I consider it.

JAI BHARATH.

Innocence Snatched

I was thumbing through a back issue of Reader’s Digest. An article that eventually caught my attention shocked me like nothing before. The article was about the child flesh trade in Cambodia. The author of the article was a journalist in disguise. He masqueraded as a “customer” and must have been utterly shocked at what he witnessed.

There is supposed to be a “belief” in South-East Asia that sex with a virgin child is the “cure” for impotency and also that it “enhances” the potency. Apparently, the younger the child, the more the “healing power” or whatever and the more the money people are ready to pay for it. I was moved to tears on reading that children as young as 6 years old are offered in this trade. First of all, some village girls are lured to the cities with promise of good jobs. Then, they finally end up in this net after running out of options. Most of them don’t even return home because they know they will not be accepted back by their families.

By the time the girls reach an age of 12, they are oblivious to the childhood that they are missing out on. At an age when they should be playing in the grounds and attending school, they are satisfying the needs of cold-blooded monsters. This is the only life that they know of. They are unaware of the fact that most of them will never make it past the age of mid-30’s. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are rampant.

The Government has supposedly done a lot to clamp down on this to erase the image of Cambodia as a pedophile’s paradise. In spite of all the measures, the most horrific crime on earth still exists. And flourishes.

Of course, the future appears to be brighter than the present. Many girls have been rescued and are now involved in small scale industries. There is some degree of self-sufficiency and self-respect returning to them.

Now the burning question. What can be done to prevent this? For once I’m at a loss. I have no idea how this can be stopped. As long as perverts exist in this world, they will continue to engage in what I describe as the most heinous crime under the sun. Of course one way would be stringent punishment if caught. I strongly believe a person who is as merciless as to snatch the virginity of a pre-pubescent 10 year old deserves absolutely no mercy himself. He should be given death penalty and not by hanging – he should be killed in the most inhumane manner. Not only that, all the people who are involved like the "suppliers" deserve a similar punishment.

As for the prevention, well, I’m hanging my head in shame. Because I have no answer for this. I can only HOPE that all this stops sooner than later. And hope that somehow we make this world a better place for our children to live in - for starters: free of perverts.

Maniacal Media

“Zee News ka pardaafaash”.. “Prince ko Bachaana hai”… “Ye aaj [xyz] ke saath hua hai..kal aapke saath bhi ho sakta hai”…

The newsreader’s voice screams at you in a sinister voice.. the creepy feeling that you get is worse than any “Aahat” or “Zee Horror Show” … and I ask myself: “Whatever happened to good old news reporting??” Gone are the days when news reporting used to be just that – reporting the events and occurrences worldwide to the viewers. In today’s competitive world, news channels attempting to capture market share are taking the fun out of watching news.

Instance 1:

A couple of days after the Bombay blasts, I saw a reporter in a private news channel (don’t remember which), outside the house of one of the victims. There were all mourners dressed in white and the reporter asks one of the kin of the deceased: “Kaisa lag raha hai aapko? Kya kehna hai aapko is haadse ke bare me?” What the hell does she expect the reply to be? “Ji bahut khushi ka mauka hai.. hum mithai baatne waale hain..aap khaayengi?” I mean how bloody ridiculous can you get? Cant you leave the bereaved family alone in the moment of grief? What exactly are these news channels trying to prove?

Second thing that strikes me about this is the double standards that the journalists follow. I know that the reporters would be under pressure from above to do this, so I’l target the big bosses instead. I challenge them to give an interview during the funeral of one of their dear ones. Chances are that the reporter will end up in jail!


Instance 2:

A 5 year old kid had fallen into a 60 ft deep pit in Haryana. Many news channels made most of the situation. They covered the entire thing LIVE.. 60 hours of rescue operations et al. Lets give them the benefit of doubt. There were people who actually watched the entire thing. People from all walks of life and all faiths offered prayers for the child’s safety. So maybe, just maybe they were justified in airing the thing live. But some channels like Zee News were more keen on marketing themselves than in the well-being of the child. They repeatedly kept boasting that they had coined the phrase which supposedly united the whole country “Prince ko bachaana hai”. And wherever they interviewed people, the public started off with “Hum Zee News ke aabhaari hain” message.

This IMO, illustrates another example of bad taste as far as reporting and journalism is concerned. I was afraid some other news channle might push a kid into a well twice as deep as this one; and then rescue him just to have the upper hand!

Instance 3:

The way celebrities are treated by the media always scares me – it always reminds me of Princess Diana. I mean agreed that they are public figures, but they should be given atleast some space. Some stars are so worried about their children that they have kind of a pact with the media – you promise to stay away from my child and we promise to present ourselves to the media periodically. This is not the way they should be treated.

I have made this point before – every right is accompanied by a corresponding duty. The media has freedom of expression, but its their duty to use this freedom responsibly. Somehow someone has to put a stop to all this madness before things get out of hand. The ridiculous and double-standards must all be stopped. It only harms the societal fabric.

Insanity Prevails

Ok.. This post is meant to vent my frustration… in connection with the Mumbai blasts and beyond. So don’t expect anything rational here…So where do I start? I don’t even want to ask the usual questions “what did they gain by slaughtering the innocent” etc etc.. because these are hardcore, extreme terrorists. It is meaningless to expect logical thoughts from them.

I think the terrorists are extremely intelligent. Why dint they attack the Parliament (since their last unsuccessful attempt that is)?? Or any other seat of Govt or any political place for that matter? Because they have not underestimated the potential that we have .. they know that we are fully capable of bringing them to justice and even almost driving them to extinction. And if they do succeed in unsettling any of our “leaders”, then they know that the anti-terrorsist machinery will start working in full swing. They don’t want to bring about their own end by bombing the Parliament.

So what do you do? Attack the innocent public.. and hit where it hurts most. Attack the local trains in Mumbai during peak hour on a working day. The terrorists are fully aware that the “leaders” are not going to give a damn about whats happening. Fathom this: A news channel begged politicians to stay away from the blast sites for a couple of days since there was chaos everywhere and roads were all jammed – a high profile visit would only add to the woes. Inspite of this Sonia Gandhi pulled a political fiasco by visiting the sites and supposedly offer her condolences. So did LK Advani. Shame on them. And to hell with them.

So the terrorists were right. They knew that the blasts would only be used by certain shameless people to gain political mileage. They know that they are safe because the government and opposition alike will concentrate on making hay while the sun shines rather than take measures to prevent such happenings again. They also know that if the present generation of corrupt politicians go, then they might be replaced by younger people who really care for the country, who will leave no stone unturned to ensure development, and who will really do something to curb terrorism. The terrorists don’t want to spell their own doom by doing this do they?

Now we also have ourselves to blame partly for the blasts. I don’t see how such a co-ordinated effort could have succeeded without the (probably unwitting) involvement of locals. For example, some1 somewhere would have been bribed into transporting the explosives saying that the goods are “just smuggled electronics goods”. This is just an illustrative example but you get the point. Such bribes are accepted without even tickling the conscience. A little more honesty might have gone a long way in averting the massacre.

We now come to the other shameless sections of the society who, instead of actively participating in getting Mumbai back on its feet, are out inflicting more harm on he society – I’m referring to a section of VHP who attacked a peaceful mosque in Surat. At a time when they should be doing something constructive, they are hell bent upon destroying the unity of the nation. Don’t they know that people from all walks of life were killed in the blasts? Don’t they know that a bomb doesn’t consider a person’s religion, caste, social status, political view before killing him? I would say that this act is not less shameful than the blasts itself.

Finally we have Mulayam Singh Yadav who has stuck his neck out to say that SIMI is not involved in the blasts. Why cant he for once look beyond his vote bank and face reality. Agreed that he doesn’t care about his country .. but he atleast cares for his own safety. These (or some other) terrorists could target him tomorrow. Also is he foolish enough to believe that people will vote for him if he gives a clean chit to some terrorist outfit? He’s wrong. The very people whom he is trying to woo by doing this will turn against him. Because they are all peace-loving patriotic citizens of India ...not even one of those qualifiers applies to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

All this notwithstanding, I still remain optimistic. I hope and I know that sometime in the near future, the public and the administration alike, will wake up to the challenges. The next generation is capable of building an India that is more focused on the people than in politics. How far away we are from that day is debatable. But as always, I prefer to end my blog on an optimistic note. JAI BHARATH.

Once In a Lifetime Speech

We had the largest of its kind company gathering at palace grounds yesterday. On the occasion, I had the honour of listening to His Excellency, The President Of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. To cut a long story short, I can describe the feelings at the end of the speech in one single word – SPELLBOUND!

Let me begin at the beginning. The theme of the event was Innovation and Leadership. The fact that The President, in spite of his busy schedule, actually customized his speech for the occasion speaks volumes about his meticulousness. The President basically spoke of something called World Knowledge Platform. While I don’t want to go into the details of this proposal, it would suffice to say that it is exactly what the name says – a proposal to bring together the “knowledge workers” of the world over for the betterment of the world as a whole.

Now comes the interesting part. After putting forth every point, he pointed out the relevance of this point in the context. “What is the importance of this here? What role does your company have to play in this scenario?” And then, he very accurately stated what responsibility the company should take up to make this a reality. This impressed me mightily. Where every other so-called “leader” just repeats the same speech over and over again, function after function, day after day, year upon year; we have a President who has taken the interest and the pains to come up with such a striking plan, something that really matters! I urge all of you to go through the website http://www.presidentofindia.nic.in. You will be amazed at the super brains of our President.

The President has proposed several plans for rural development in India. And it all seems plausible, only it needs whole-hearted participation of the 540 million odd “knowledge workers” of the country. Of particular interest are his ideas of PURA (something to do with rural development, I don’t exactly remember the expansion), and some idea about an inter-connected grid of 5 grids which ultimately forms an Economic Grid.

When asked “What do you think are the necessary qualities to be a good leader”, The President listed 3 points:

1. Vision: He cited the example of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, who had a vision as early as in the 1960’s – that India should launch her own satellite. Today that vision has been realized.

2. Confidence that the vision will be Achieved: Again, Vikram Sarabhai had not simply said something random. He had the confidence that it is achievable and with that end in mind, he worked his entire life.

3. But these 2 qualities are not enough. At the end of the day, a leader must be a good human being!

Another question posed to him was “What do you think are the most important factors to propel India to the fore in the next 10 years?” To this, The President replied:

  1. Development of Human capital.
  2. Energy Independence – This could be realized through judicious mix of Solar power, Bio-fuel and Nuclear energy.

And this one takes the cake. When asked what his most memorable and happiest moment so far was, The President replied thus:

    • In 1987, when the satellite that he and his team worked on, was launched and the satellite successfully placed into orbit, that gave him immense satisfaction.
    • After that, when a 2000 km range missile was developed by his team and according to specifications, within budget, that was a very happy moment too.
    • Then, when He was in Pokhran and the earth shook – the realization dawned: India was a Nuclear Power. That was a proud moment too.
    • All these were happy moments, BUT, the happiest was something totally different. It seems a doctor once told Dr. Kalam “What do you want to prove by launching a missile? Look at this poor girl – she has polio and she carries 3 kgs of weight in her crutches!! Do something for her; it will be much more meaningful.” So Dr. Kalam and his team set down to work and reduced the weight of some of the material used for the missile (FRO) from 3 kgs to 300 grams. They used this ultra-light material for the girl’s crutches. “When the child walked normally and I saw her parents wipe their tears – That was the happiest moment of my life”

Now it’s up to you to decide whether The President deserved the Three (Not one, not two but 3) standing ovations that he received!

However, this brings a few questions to the fore –

  • Why is it that the right person is always at the wrong place? Make no mistake – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is a great visionary in every sense of the phrase. Given the power, he has the potential to turn India into a knowledge society free of all prejudices. Which brings us to the next question
  • What powers does The President of India really have? First of all, Dr. Kalam has been the only President in recent times to have really utilized whatever little powers he has (as was demonstrated in the recent Office of Profit case). But these powers don’t amount to much (which was again shown in the Office of Profit case).

Regardless, please don’t ever let go of an opportunity to listen to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s speech if you ever come across one. He is a tremendous motivator. You can’t help but feel extra-ordinary respect for him. Hope that his vision is realized in the nearer future.

JAI BHARAT.

Merit gone to the Dogs

This is a topic which has started a debate everywhere. The whole country is voicing its opinion for or against the increase in reservation at IIMs and IITs to 49%. So how can yours truly keep mum about it?? :D


Well, I have always been opposed to the concept of such reservations. It’s the best way to make meritorious people feel unwanted in their own country. This is the last thing India needs at a time when She is just beginning to prove her potential to the world. Be it in sports, science, technical field, management, finance, fashion, entertainment, you name it. India is emerging in all these fields. And obviously it is only possible if the right people are at the right place.

IITs and IIMs have been always looked up to as the pinnacle of education in their respective fields. Half the reason that they maintained such high standards is because of the quality of incoming students. It’s a give and take kinda relationship. The students gain from the name of the institute and the institutes maintain their standard because of the students. You better not mess with this balance, else everything falls apart.

Enough of beating around the bush. Lets get to the point. In case of such reputed institutes, MERIT IS EVERYTHING. I have known cases where a guy worked his ass off during 12th Std and CET to get a good rank and get a free seat in a good engineering college [poor guy couldn’t afford payment seat AND dint belong to any of the “quota” categories]. He went there only to see the more than half the people around him have got seats because of reservations. One of his friends had got a rank of 30,000+ and during “studying” for CET, his only intention had been to pass all subjects in 12th. “Why should I simply put all the effort? Its enough if I pass in 12th. I’l easily get a seat in a good Engg college because of my quota”. And mind you, this person was not even as economically needy as my friend.

The point I’m trying to make is: Reservations, if ever they are required, should be on basis of FAMILY INCOME ONLY, not caste, creed, religion, sub-caste [or population of the vote-bank :-/ ]. Here is an argument I frequently hear to SUPPORT the reservation system, and my counter-arguments : -

People from backward classes have the right to quality education too.

  • Oh Yeah, they do. So, let them put effort and get a good rank and gain entry into such prestigious institutes. If you are meritorious, then you WILL get a seat, nobody’s gonna deny a meritorious student a seat just because he’s from so-and-so caste.
  • “Backward caste” IS NOT EQUAL TO “Poor”. In many cases, a person’s parents would have (justifiably) taken advantage of the reservation system to come up respectfully in society. They would be financially well-to-do. So then [according to me] the child doesn’t qualify for the quota.
  • I don’t think any of these pro-reservation crowd give a damn about the large number of meritorious people out there, who neither qualify for any of the quotas, nor are financially well-off. Such people will feel like aliens in their own motherland if the quota system kicks-off.
  • If a person IS admitted to such a prestigious institute by disregarding his [absence of] merit, then the standard of that institute will be brought down [Imagine, almost half of the students in IIMs and IITs will be unfit to be there!!]. Also, the non-merit person will not be able to cope with the curriculum and is likely to drop out before course completion.

I strongly feel the Govt would be better off improving the reach and quality of primary and secondary education. This would make more students fit for such quality higher education. Also, provide benefits and concessions for the economically backward. But, say no to reservations.

LETS NOT ALLOW CORRUPT POLITICIANS DIVIDE THE COUNTRY FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR VOTE BANKS. RAISE YOUR VOICE AGAINST THIS HEINOUS CRIME.

JAI HIND.

Great Man, Peaceful End, Violent Farewell!


Dr. RajKumar. He was the “Darling of Kannadigas”. What is it that endeared him to lakhs of ppl across the state?


Obviously his acting has to be one of the reasons. To say he was a versatile actor would be the understatement of the century. He portrayed Gods, kings, Detectives, Police officers, Common man, beggar, villain … all with equal ease and grace. But was that all??


No. He was a very principled man. Statistics speak for themselves. He acted in over 200 movies in his lifetime. And..

  • Not a single of these movies had any smoking or drinking scenes
  • No vulgarity whatsoever
  • ALL OF THEM WERE KANNADA MOVIES (well that sets a new definition for “Love for your Mother-tongue”). This doesn’t mean he hated other languages. He just had utmost respect or his own mother tongue
  • He never entered politics. Make no mistake : had he wished, he could’ve become CM of Karnataka without beating a sweat. But he dint. He was miles away from politics

I doubt there is any actor in India who can boast of such principle. All this from a man who only studied upto 3rd Standard.

RajKumar also died a peaceful death. Not much suffering or pain. Thankfully. Just a sudden cardiac arrest and he was gone.

Then why the violence during his funeral? A man who stood for peace throughout his life dint deserve all this. His soul must have been shattered to see all this. Obviously it was not his “fans” who did all this. His family dint get to spend one single private moment with his corpse. Did they deserve all this?

This brings us to the topic of mob mentality. My heart bled to see innocent people being tortured the way they were during those 2 days. Cars being smashed and burnt, buildings and petrol pumps damaged so badly, they were unrecognizable. Policemen being dragged from their vehicles and being beaten up. And then the crowd (supposedly “mourners”) celebrating their act of bravery by whistling in front of the TV cameras.

All this brings a bad name to Bangalore and worse to RajKumar. People watching from outside would be cursing our greatest hero of all time. Little do they know what a peaceful man he was and that all this is diametrically opposite to his values.

I was really stunned by watching all this on TV. Ever since watching RDB, I had had a confidence that it is possible to change the country. This incident has kind of shaken my confidence. Rulers can be changed. Politicians can be changed. The system can be improved. BUT NOT THE PEOPLE. They will remain the same. You cant change the mentality of the masses.

I fervently hope this is a one-off incident. I fervently hope that what we saw on Black Wednesday and an even darker Thursday was the handiwork of only a minor percentage of the public and not representative of the public in general. I eagerly look forward to a country where people respect the law and respect others’ right to a peaceful life. It feels good to finish off your blog on an optimistic note :). Jai Hind.

Lik me, Like my mobile (Slim)


I finally got my new mobile on Monday. Motorola L7. Obviously was upbeat about it. Thought its time for a preliminary analysis. So here goes…

When I opened the box (cool design I shd say about the box, slides out both ways :D) and saw the phone, my first thought was WOW!!!. Its really really slim and all that..perfect eye-candy. Then I held it and again was impressed with the light weight.

Inserting the SIM, memory card and battery was not too much of a problem. Time to switch it on. WOW!!! Again. Excellent screen. It took me quite some time to explore the features. Then suddenly remembered that my PC@home was down (old chap.. gotta perform plastic surgery on him). So had to wait till next day to install the PC software on my laptop and connect it.

Next day at office, downloaded some stunning wallpapers and a few songs and transferred them to the phone. Took few pics and a video recording, but discarded most of them cuz wasn’t satisfied (not with the quality but with the content J ). Tried out bluetooth. Then used the PC software to cut a couple of MP3 ringtones and then had to turn my attention to work L. Was really happy with the quality of MP3. Hadn’t expected much from the camera, but it dint disappoint [the pic is a snap i took of my laptop wallpaper]. Also searched for free applications to download. Found one but not free, so decided to write it myself ;) [it’s a fuel efficiency calculator.. started working on it already].

Now started rummaging through the box to check out what else is there. Other than the 128 MB memory card, my phone came with the earphones-cum-handsfree, PC-cable, PC software CD,and obviously the charger. Incidentally all of these connect to the same slot on the phone, which means you cant use the earphones while charging or when connected to the PC. However, the phone charges when connected to the PC, so no probs here. Miscellaneous accessories include the “tag” and extra sponges for the earphones.

Suddenly realized that hadn’t found the Guarantee/warrantee form. Immediately pinged Ashish and asked him about it (he had got his phone through the same offer as I did). He said he had got a booklet and a form which he mailed to them. Again dug into the box only to find an instruction book, a booklet which lists the authorized service centres, a kind-of quick-start guide and a 2-page “terms and conditions of guarantee”. But dint find any form. My friend at Moto tells me that from the IMEI number they can find out that this phone was from this particular offer. So for the time being I’m keeping this aside.

By this time I had started getting lotsa SMS’es. As expected, the phone is not very SMS-friendly. Typing is very un-intuitive compared to my 1100, both because of the keypad and because iTAP is used instead of T9. I now realized that my phone has a limit of only 10 messages (that compared with Nokia 3310/5!). Thought it might be something to do with phone memory/SIM memory or card memory; but after playing around with the options for a while, I gave up. I’l ask at the service center if its possible to upgrade the ROM or anything.

There were 2 pre-loaded games (both Java) – a car race and a cricket. Pretty decent I should say. But while playing these games I came across a horrible design layout blunder in the phone. Its like this: The GREEN button (to make or accept calls) is on the left and RED (power/disconnect/cancel) is on the right. But, in almost all applications, the button with OK semantics is assigned to the right soft key (above the RED button), and the BACK/CANCEL semantics is assigned to the left soft key (above the GREEN button). So u can imagine the consequences of pressing the RED button instead of OK button in some application (not to mention the confusion during usage.. like we normally associate one side of the phone with OK and the other side with CANCEL, but here everything’s everywhere).

Other observations are the finger smudges that appear all over the phone. But its not that big an issue. Volume buttons on the side, a camera button on the right side, and another programmable button on the left side are really handy. Speaker phone feature is pretty good too.

All said and done I really liked the phone. Had never expected it to be so good. I think I’l conclude with a summary of the adv-diasdv.

Advantages:

  • LOOKS!!!
  • Excellent screen display.
  • Battery back-up.
  • Very good mp3 sound quality, especially if using headphones.
  • Pretty fast operation, like accessing the card memory etc.
  • All those buttons on the sides.
  • Some very useful tools and applications
  • Its JAVA-enabled, so I can write my own applications.

Disadvantages:

  • Everything related to SMS (number, typing etc).
  • The design layout blunder I mentioned earlier.
  • No infra-red (if u consider that as a disadv :D).
  • Single slot for earphones, charger and PC-cable.

Donate your Idle Computing Power for a Cause

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.