Disaster Relief: Aid Acceptance Questions

Talk of India's donation to Pakistan's flood relief has been going on for days now (latest news item being this). Questions that pose themselves as I read this article:

One: Tomorrow, if the Naxals offer a multi-crore rupee package for some natural disaster in India, would we accept? Should we accept? Remember – this is about perception, and not about the facts. According to Pakistan's perception, India is probably a greater threat to Pakistan, than Naxals are to India.

Two: Do the masses who are actually facing the wrath - the nameless, faceless victims – give a rat's a**e about any of the politics that goes behind the donation? For a person whose life is shattered, whose livelihood has disappeared overnight, does the source of the donation matter? Should it matter?

A School, Amid Devastation, Sets an Example

There are schools. And then, there are schools like Druk White Lotus School in Shay, about 15 kms from Leh in Ladakh. Although this school shot to fame in the movie “3 Idiots”, it has been doing things differently and more effectively all along. It has used a combination of local construction techniques and modern green technology to come up with a campus that not only won the Best Green Architecture Award, but is also better-equipped to cope with the extreme weather in the region. I regret not having visited this school during my trip to Ladakh last month.

The recent cloudburst and the devastation that it caused did not spare Druk White Lotus School. The school was badly affected. However, some repair work has been completed, and guess what? Now, the school has offered to take in orphans and children who have been rendered homeless in the calamity. These children will be taught and fed at the school.

Isn't this what a school is all about? First – teaching through example. Second, spreading compassion. Hats off to the school. Hoping that more educational institutes follow the example set by Druk White Lotus.

"Shaktimaan": Rural Distribution System

The rural distribution system is about to get a shot in the arm. Doing away with the “hub-and-spoke” system, HUL is betting big time on the “distributor-on-cycle” model – dubbed the “Shaktimaan” model. This novel idea is not only set to improve the reach of HUL products in the hinterland, it also has the potential to provide rural employment, and even encourage small-scale rural entrepreneurship.

At what scale this model delivers remains to be seen. But let us hope it clicks – because if other biggies follow suit, it could have a major influence in shaping the rural economy.

What Happens If You Overtake a Minister's Car?

Well, you get thrashed of course. First, by the driver, then by the minister. If an elderly person tries to reason, he or she is dealt a few blows too. And finally, a police complaint is registered. Against YOU.

Who knew overtaking is such a big crime!

I-Day Rant

My favourite day of the year is August 16th – a day after Independence Day. Let me explain.

During the build-up to I-Day, there's a gradual increase in the intensity of the patriotic sentiment. It starts off as a ripple 2 weeks before the day; and on the eve, it is a full-fledged wave – even a Tsunami. There's an overdose of patriotic movies on TV. Every damned reality show, news channel and serial injects an element of desh-prem into its veins. Every business worth it's salt has an ad in the newspapers wishing everyone a very Happy Independence Day. Politicians are busy giving speeches reminding us about our achievements.

And I, being my competitive self, am forced to jump onto the bandwagon. As a businessman, I am forced to issue an ad in the newspapers. As a politician, I am forced to be louder than the other guy in my praise for what we established during the past year. As a TV show producer, I have no choice but to twist the story a bit to include I-day celebrations in there. And it all reaches a crescendo on 15th August.

However, come dawn of 16th August, I can finally stop pretending. I get relief from the rhetoric. I can get back to bleeding my country in whatever way I was at the beginning of August. And that is why I eagerly await 16th August.

Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day. And a happier post-Independence-Day.

Of Dress Codes, Teachers and Punches

If you are among those who support a dress code in educational institutes citing the uniformity and discipline it brings about, read about this incident where a male teacher punched his female colleague for wearing a Salwar to work.

Now you know the real reason for dress codes – it is the easiest way for the authorities to wield their power over the “masses”, or for men to assert their dominance over women. I can imagine the ecstasy that, say, the principal of an Engineering college in Bangalore, might be experiencing when he decrees that students are not allowed to wear round-neck T-shirts on campus. He is well aware that the rule is unfair and unreasonable. So do the students. But the very thought of the students being powerless to do anything about it – boy, that feeling must be almost orgasmic.

Cheers to our education system and to our respected, honorable “pioneers” in this field.

Related Reading:

If You Cant Beat 'Em, Disgrace 'Em

For all the myths about “healthy competition” in capitalist countries, reality has been exposed time and again. Every so often, some senator makes statements which accurately describe how intolerant American law-makers are towards competition from Asian countries, and how impotent they are in fairly dealing with such competition.

Well, here is one such statement, likening one of India's most respected IT companies to a “chop-shop”. The senator seems to believe in the old adage with a twist - “If you can't beat 'em, disgrace 'em”. It remains to be seen what repercussions this statement has; but knowing businesses and people, and what they think about dumb senators and their loud mouths; I'd be surprised if there is any implication at all.

A Tribal Teen, Against Hundreds of Molesters

This incident is shocking beyond words. The very fact that we allowed it to occur is a shame on us, our culture and our society. I dare people who always take refuge in “But, we have the best culture, tradition ….. blah blah …” to explain this.

The saddest part of it all is that there is no way to ensure there won't be a repeat of such blasphemous incidents. After all there is safety in numbers. If the offenders numbered a handful, then they could be brought to justice. If three whole villages turned molesters, then who has the guts to take on such a mob?

This is What Afghan Women Go Through ...

An 18 year old Afghan girl's husband cut off her nose and ears for trying to run away from him. That's how horrific the condition of women in those parts of the world is.

Don't miss how Time magazine is making a statement that this is what happens “If We Leave Afghanistan”. Is there really a need to turn this shocking story into an “I-told-you-so” rant? One important point seems to have been missed. This incident has occurred right under “your” noses. “You” were there when this happened and “you” have allowed it to happen. So how does that make “you” any better than the Afghan government or the Taliban or whoever?

Complex Medical Problems? Head to India

I always knew that medical tourism was big in India. I know how Europeans and Americans choose to have stuff like dental reconstruction done in India – since it is cheaper here. Heck, it is so expensive in their countries that getting it done in India gives them the extra money for the “bonus” vacation – the cost of surgery in India + the travel expenses + 5 start hotel for over a week – it all works out to be far more economical than getting things done in their own countries!

However, today's news puts India's medical prowess in a new light, with a 65-year old American getting his heart transplanted in India. This, after doctors in US had told him that he “would return in a coffin”. We've read about heart surgeries and transplants performed by Indian surgeons on children from Pakistan or patients from African countries. But an American heading to India for such treatment – only speaks volumes about the skill and know-how of our doctors and surgeons.

I feel our medical fraternity doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Let us hope such incidents change that.

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.