JNU vs the rest of ( Ordinary)us

JNU is a fine a institution. Some of the most amazing talker, thinker, activists and intellectuals that I have  met came from JNU. But barring a few none of them ever listens to other’s opinions. See, they are always right. You are with them or against them. In a discussion with them you always concede and change the topic so as not to risk the evening and wine.

To be honest ” India Ki Barbadi tak.. Jung rahegi” is just a slogan. In any large university like JNU there are fringe elements who would like to create trouble. And universities are places for students to  discuss, disagree and do such things. In a few years some of them will become IAS and for the next 40 years or so they will be too worried about their annual CR report-” Aakhir secretary bhee to ban na hai”

In my opinion the Government should have just ignored what ever happened at JNU instead picking up Kanhaiya Kumar and using sedition against him. Trying to find terror links is too heavy handed. Listen to his speech here. He is a fine patriot in my humble opinion.

 

However ordinary Indian like me feels very bad when I hear “India Ki Barbadi”. But my response is limited to Facebook. I know that slogans don’t make you a traitor. You have to take very large loans and run a airline to become one .

On the other  hand some Indians will be deeply disturbed by anti India slogans. They will call those who are shouting slogans ” Desh drohi” and brand the whole bunch of JNUers as traitors. And to be honest that’s freedom of speech and expression too. And the JNU wallah’s should be respectful of that. But they are not. And that is my problem with the whole JNU crowd. They never listen and they are always right. Their idea of freedom of speech  is only their freedom of speech. The rest of “ordinary us” can just shut up.

But I fully stand with Kanhaiya Kumar and he should be released. And if you want to catch a real true blue “desh drohee” may be you can start with Vijay Mallya.

 

 

 

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Forget Modi, tell me what are you proud of as a Indian

Honestly, I can think of many many reasons that makes me hang my head in shame of India and being a Indian. Very few to make me proud especially when I leave our 4000 year old history behind.

Now don’t get me wrong. Mr Modi’s arrival has not made me become a proud Indians either. Frankly there is very little in India to be proud of especially now.

We still exist as a democracy but its practically all broken, corrupt, patriarchal and feudal and we still have to deal with the Gandhi empire. Its so bad that so many of us  secretly wish for a benevolent dictator.

Look around. Roads are broken. Power doesn’t come. Health system is broken. And on top of it there is Government’s boot on our ass all the time.  So many years after independence and we still have 400 million Indians living in abject poverty. We must have learned the art  of keeping people poor and hungry.

So for a moment forget chest beating patriotism, Modi and “everything that is good is Indian” .  Do let me know what I should be proud of as a Indian.

 

 

The uncomfortable truth

In IRMA we read that we have state, corporates and NGOs (civil society) in a country. Where ever there is market failure civil society fills up that space. No one  told me that this is farthest from the truth. The truth is not only  different but scary.

In reality we have State and corporates. Its quite difficult to say who is who. Both are very powerful and omnipresent. And they can destroy our lives.

This week 25 people have been killed in cold blood by cops in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. Why? A cop says that there are no rules that we have to shoot people in the leg so we will shoot in the head idiot. There is not even a murmur of protest. Indian media is busy discussing what General V.K Singh said and what Shobha De thinks about Marathi films. Gen V.K Singh is right. #pressitutes

Indian government has overnight banned Greenpeace. Why  because they can hurt national pride and GDP. Really ! And by banning them we can stand tall and proudly admit our complete PR failure. And what about one day  banning  Union Carbide or tobacco companies like ITC. On the other hand Telecom companies are working overtime to make sure that they control the internet with help from TRAI. Next time you want to use twitter to protest you better pay up.

The land of the poor is on the verge of being forcibly taken thanks to the new Land Bill. No questions asked. We continue to live in polluted cities like Delhi and no one is banning cars, factories etc.  But yes go ahead and ban the beef.

If you are not Government or big companies you should be very scared and very careful. But if you are then hey its a fire sale. Everything must go. And eventually the meek will be left to inherit India and its ruins.

Kejriwal vs the rest of us

You have to admire Kejriwal. He and  AAP has single handedly brought BJP’s  election  juggernaut to a halt and in lots of knots. This means lots of digestion problems. First BJP has  to digest Kiran Bedi ( or throw her out ). Then they have to digest the possibility of not be able to form government in Delhi. And finally they have to digest arrogance. From now on no slogans only accha karma 🙂

See the point is it doesn’t matter so much whether AAP forms government in Delhi or not.  But if BJP is not able to form government in Delhi it will be nothing but defeat. Period.

If BJP  loses in Delhi it means from now on the only way is down. And that is why the whole of BJP is in Delhi trying to make sure that they win and win convincigly.

BJP should be  shit worried of loss in Delhi because after Mumbai, Delhi is the second largest city getting high on stock market and real estate also known to some of us as  #acchedin. And if here they are not able to convince  of acche din then BJP has  no chance in other places where all people have got is promises and slogans.  Worst they might end up inspiring Rahul Gandhi to wake up from slumber. Get ready for another bout of escape velocity, women empowerment and poverty mental make models.

I personally have only two observations on Delhi Election. BJP should not act as bully and resort to personal attacks on Kejriwal. Remember what happened when Mani Shankar Aiyer made the chai wala remark on Modi.

Second Kejriwal should know that Ceaser’s wife should be above suspicion. You just can’t take donation from Bogus companies. You are a Taxman. You know better.

In the end my sense is we are staring at hung assembly in Delhi but the verdict is loud and clear. It is Kejriwal -1 and Rest of us + BJP+ Acche din =0

Lets wake up hung and high on 10th 🙂

 

 

Have you adopted?

‘Adopting’ is in the air. Everyone is adopting – Modi ji, Sonia ji, Rahul ji, Tendulkar ji and now Hema Malini ji. They are the foster parents of villages in India, under the scheme of ’Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojna’  (SAGY or MP Local Area Development Scheme aka MPLADS).

The grand idea behind the scheme is–if each Saansad (MP) adopted three villages in a couple of years and take responsibility of the all-round development, then by 2019, there will be 2,500 ‘ideal villages’ leading to a snowballing of development in India. What an idea Sir ji – ‘constructive politics’ that has a ‘viral effect’. Wah!

But wait a minute; lets ponder over a few questions to understand this scheme better –

Question No. 1: What does ‘development’ mean? The programme emphasizes it as ‘the physical and institutional developmental infrastructure’.

Hmm. Let unpack this – Physical and Institutional Developmental Infrastructure means – roads, schools, hospitals, plantation, toilets, dug wells factories???

Physically building can mean lots of labour work = lots of employment for poor = income rise = good health, nutrition/education etc. But building can also mean lots of tenders = lots of corruption = poor quality work and ultimately empty schools, closed hospitals and roads washed away in the first monsoon itself.

Why think negative? Be positive. There can be so many outcomes – one of which is – the MP’s frequent visits can mean the roads will be good in shape, the community centre will be up and running. Similarly the schools and hospitals will be thriving with teachers, teaching materials and nurses and equipment. The STCs, B.Eds, ANMs will all have jobs, as they couldn’t secure one during the tenure of the last government, after clearing tough Public Service exams.

Question No. 2: What is the selection criterion?

According to Modi ji, an ‘MP is free to choose any village except that it should not be his/her village or of his/her relatives’. Is it a lottery? A Whim? A careful strategy to develop a village one can be proud of!

Well, it is quite unclear how a village qualifies for adoption, but lets look at the ones we have already got –

A village with homogeneous caste community – like Jayapur near Varanasi. It is reported that there are no Muslims in this village and the PM has adopted it.

The village can have a lot of historical value, like the one Sonia ji chose – Udwa in Jagatpur.

Or a village in a well developed industrial area, such as Deeh near Amethi which Rahul ji is the foster father of.

Now this is smart. A village with already ‘some development’ (development = industrialization). There you go! Someone said, Rahul ji and Sonia ji ‘may have adopted the villages but may not necessarily endorse the scheme’.

Well already industrialized village may not need anything! Why adopt one?

One common thing to observe – all these villages so far, seem to be near a town i.e. within 15 to 25 kms radius i.e. accessible! Or as close as 9 kms like Hema Malini’s village Raval.

Question No. 3: It is not a ‘money driven scheme’ it is a ‘people’s driven scheme’ (from supply driven to demand driven initiative). Wonderful!

But –

  1. Why then Sachin Tendulkar’s village (and likewise all others in the scheme) costs 2.79 Crore? And if we misunderstood then how without the money any ‘physical and infrastructural development’ will take place?
  2. Did anyone ask if people are ‘driven’? May be they are but do not know what to be ‘driven’ for? Or they will figure it out. Or the MPs will decide like Hema Malini ji – women empowerment is the main theme for Raval.
  3. What if people who are to participate in their ‘development’ are missing or not around in the village?

Missing or not around? What do you mean?

Migrate! You know, a number of young men and women migrate out in search of labor work sometimes? Then its only married women and elderly people often left behind.

Exactly, that is why we need to develop the village – jobs, roads, cottage industries. We have to bring back our youth in the villages.

Question No. 4: The approach – ‘bottom to top or top to bottom’?

Well, the PM has clarified, ‘that the work has to begin somewhere and its up to the academic world to find out’, which approach is better.

Well, that makes everything clear, isn’t it? It is a ‘people driven’ programme but it seems every MP has his/her own agenda to impose. Perhaps they can learn from RSS!

RSS?

Yeah, RSS is doing it for years?

??? Doing what?

Adopting a village and developing it, e.g. Jayapur.

Aah, so Jayapur is already a ‘model village’? Its been adopted by RSS since 2002:  the 12 years of glorious development! So are the villages near Jayapur developing as a result of snowballing?

Wait!

But why did RSS adopt the village Jayapur? Why BJP (the PM) may have interest in the same village and who funds RSS to do this development? 

There is some historical connection to it, if you bother to find out. The story of RSS leader Nanaji Deskmukh’s contribution of making villages self sufficient. But we have no time to get into that side of debate for now.

Question No. 5: Maintaining the scheme will give the MPs a sense of satisfaction of having done something for which he (and she?) will be remembered in future!’

So ‘otherwise MPs do not do anything’? Aren’t they remembered for not having done anything more than for doing ‘something’? This is unconventional – do something and then be satisfied. Unusual expectation, isn’t it?

Besides these general questions, the concerns are also related to the possibility of side effects – will patronizing a village have a negative impact on class/region/political divide or whether adopting will enable influential people a licence to exploit natural resources of the village; or if companies investing in the scheme under their CSR will take advantage in lieu of business set up or land-grab opportunities???

On the other hand, the PM himself is participating in the scheme that will keep the momentum going. There seem to be a sufficient focus on social development. A real-time, web-based monitoring of the work and periodic reviews of the progress will be undertaken. A number of government schemes will be implemented more efficiently etc.

It is quite early to predict the results therefore, let’s hope this scheme works and the villages do develop (whatever we define the development is). However, in the meanwhile, lets play our part: being critical, if not skeptical citizens.

Please write yours questions, concerns or answers (if got any) in the comment box.

 

Selectivity and Polarisation-Gaza and ISIS

Selectivity means the property of affecting some things and not others. Polarisation refers to cases in which an individual’s stance on a given issue, policy, or person is more likely to be strictly defined by their identification with a particular political party or ideology or group.

There are wave of protests in India happening around Gaza. What is happening in Gaza is deplorable. What kind of Government and soldiers go about killing civilians and children. A lot of my  friends and followers on facebook are posting images and articles and petitions condemning Israel. However the same friends are almost silent on another genocide that is happening in Iraq and Syria http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/10/yazidis-islamic-state-massacre_n_5665655.html#. By  condemning Gaza and not ISIS they are practicing selectivity which is dangerous . And doing this on social media that can influence many people is not responsible in my opinion. When you don’t condemn ISIS and massacres in Iraq you perpetuate the single story which is that one suffering is more worthy of attention than another especially when religion is involved and more when your religion is involved.

If you value Human life and values then you may agree to something like this that It is not okay to kill and it  doesn’t matter whether brothers are killing each other or someone else. Practice selectivity here and you are treading on thin ice. And worst you are polarising people and yourself. Remember human mind gets used to seeing things in a certain way over a period of time and you are contributing to that.

In my opinion in a ever polarising world the moderates have to stand up.We have to share our views no matter whether people will paint us this or that. We don’t have to only consume what we read or see but also produce our independent views and opinions. We have to shun selectivity in public spaces and on issues of public importance. Whether you choose pasta over rice doesn’t matter but why you have chosen to condemn Israel and leave Hamas and ISIS will decide the future discourse. Everyone is watching.

 

 

Internet, freedom of speech and privacy

I attended a very interesting workshop which in some ways was an eye opener. The workshop was hosted by IDRC and presented by the team from CIS. It had a very unique title- Identity, Censorship & Freedom of expression in India. From the title of the workshop I had no idea that I will be learning things about patents, Darknet and silk road, mobile factories in Shenzhen and much more.

First was on  believing in freedom of expression. For most of us it means ” my right to express my views”. But if we were really believe in freedom of expression then we should be up in arms to defend the right of freedom of expression of those  who we disagree with. This is seldom understood and seldom practiced.  Everyone wants to shout and  want others to shut up.Voltaire wrote, I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. Defending speech that you disagree with is believing in freedom of speech.

The other interesting discussion was on electronic surveillance. We all know that surveillance is important for national security. But how much surveillance is necessary?. No one seems to agree other than the americans who spy on everyone other than the Chinese ( the Chinese have a efficient government to do the job). So at what point increasing surveillance diminishes national security?. The speaker illustrated this with a gastronomical example. Surveillance is like salt in food- too little is not effective, too much can spoil the whole dish- it has to be right. Is anyone listening 🙂

And who should be under surveillance ?

In our society people/state limbs  who are powerful and can cause maximum damage should be under more surveillance. Similarly with privacy too. The weak should have more privacy; the powerful should have less privacy. Our state and society does exactly the opposite ? A familiar pattern across the world.

The other exploding on your face kind of fact was that in a typical smartphone there are more than 35000 patents. So if you are manufacturer of a mobile phone in lets say China or India then imagine the amount of complexity involved in getting approval from each patent holder.  In India the wind seem to be flowing towards having device level patent pool so that manufacturers can easily manufacture these devices. Factories in Shenzhen give you a menu card with 2000 options and you can order the phone as you like as long as it is more than 4000 units.

However the icing on the cake was information about Darknet- that side of net which is not accessible through regular search engines and browsers and how there was a ” market place” called the silk road which was recently shut down by FBI. It was quite thrilling to know that there are secret societies on the internet who are doing their own thing and away from everywhere.

In discussion like these Big data cannot be far behind. We discussed ways in which big data can be used to make our life easier for instance in urban planning and transportation.Someone shared the example of how google searches on the internet can predict the outbreak of a disease  2 weeks before centre of disease control, USA can predict it. The beauty of big data is that now you can lay your hands on the whole universe and not just the sample. What a treat for researchers and designers. But in the wrong hands it can be very dangerous. There is a German politician who explained through a very interactive video on how we are getting betrayed by our own data. Check the video here http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention. The trouble is that we are giving our data all of the time and most of us are not even aware of it.

In the end the discussion came down to as to who own our digital shadow ? Can we have the right to  restrict people from having access to it?  Why can’t facebook ask me every time they run an algorithm to show me adverts? Whose property is my digital shadow?  Currently it seems like everyone owns a piece of my digital self other than myself. We deliberated on what kind of laws might be needed to give us what is rightly ours. We may never see them in our lifetime.

The discussion ended on some nice Pizzas and my resolve the previous night of being a Vegan went down the drain. Thank God until now I have not left any digital trail of it.

 

Defending the indefensible- The keystone of Indian Politics.

In a classic essay Neil Postman’s “Defending Against the Indefensible”, he suggests that our society has been culturally brainwashed. He then goes on and gives us elements of critical thinking. read the essay here.

One of the  principle in Postman’s essay, is that all the knowledge we have acquired in this world is due to the questions we have asked. He says that how we question the world will determine what we know about the world.

None of it applies to Indian politics though. We are always asking the wrong questions.

For instance the question to ask Priyanka Gandhi is not why her hubby has become so rich in the last few years. That is quite obvious. The real question in my mind  is to  ask  why she thinks Gandhi Family is still at the helm of affairs in Congress. Is the party so inept of finding leaders that the Gandhi’s have to bear the cross for such a long time. And Ms Priyanka Gandhi, don’t defend your husband, you don’t have to. We are fine with what he has done. Each one of us would give an arm and leg to be in Vadra’s position.

Similarly we can question involvement of Modi in 2002 riots and my sense is we will never get a black and white answer. Because this is India. We just move on like we did in 1984. However if we were to ask why ordinary indians went on to massacre innocent people can show a different perspective. What is wrong with this 3000 year old civilisation that ordinary or not so ordinary  can go out and murder and rape and kill innocent people.

Now Kejriwal might be greatest man in India today and he actually believes it. Asking him questions about his nexus with congress is a no-brainer. The real question is how a party that has no internal democracy will every be able to bring Swaraj in the country.

Politics is about power, grabbing power at any cost. That I can understand. The question is why those in power are so hell bent on keeping us poor, divided, marginalised and communal.

Modi waver or AAP wave, pick your horse but one thing that has happened is that we are deeply polarised and un-able to reason and respect with people who don’t have views similar to ours. I could not remember a time when people were afraid to share their views on matter of national or societal importance. Support Modi and you are branded communal, support AAP and you are branded as Naxal.(I haven’t come across anyone who supports Congress)  There is no discussion, no dialogue just a shouting match. So much for being politically savvy.

Elections 2014 will be always remembered as the watershed elections in India. A lot of people are hoping that it will change the destiny of India. I only wish that the political discourse in the country changes for better. I wish some day we are able to discuss real issues that India is facing and believe me it is not secularism. You and me might be secular  but  as a state India is not secular country at all.

The real question is when will we stop being so poor. How many thousands of years this great country will have to wait before we can provide clean drinking water and a hole to shit for all Indians.

We start answering this and we may get somewhere. Till then politics in our country will remain family owned business.

 

 

 

 

Why Modi will not become PM

startupfundas

Here is why I feel Modi will not become PM. I am not getting into why she should or should not be PM.

Reason 1 : BJP and Modi are acting like they have already won and I get a sense of deja vu. It seems like 2004 and 2009 again. Most people dont like arrogance and BJP right now are reeking of it

Reason 2 : Too many people don’t want Modi to be PM. Some because they are corrupt and are scared they will be exposed. Some because they feel they will be marginalised. Some because they know their goose will be cooked if Modi delivers only 20% of what he is promising. These include people both from BJP and outside. These groups will go to any lengths to keep Modi out.

Reason 3 : Three women will get better deals from Congress. Mayawati, Jayalalitha and Mamata together will…

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This General Election be Selfish

Yes, this election time to be selfish. yes truly selfish. But let me paraphrase Nipun Mehta first. Be selfish but take a moment to understand what is your self interest

First of all these are M.P ( Member of Parliament)  elections, which means people will get elected to make laws to the Indian parliament. So no point of voting for candidates you think can fix your water problems. You need to think about what is good for the country . You also need make sure that criminals are out of the parliament. So even if God himself is contesting and has a case against him in a Indian court then please don’t vote for him/her.

In these elections you are more likely to vote for a party and not so much for the individual. In my opinion our choices are clearly split between BJP, Congress, AAP and regional parties. And off course we can use NOTA ( None of the above).

So what’s up with BJP. There is clearly some momentum they have but its all Modi. Like someone pointed out that why there is so much of fuss around Modi fighting from two seats, he is virtually fighting from all the 545 seats. So yes if Modi is your man then vote for BJP.

Congress seems to be at an odd place. Rahul G appears very sincere. He is making the right noises but it is often too little too late. While he leads the party its unlikely he will even be ready to put a fight like Modi. Either Rahul has too much to lose or nothing to lose. It often intrigues me that you come across people who are staunch supporter of BJP, Modi, AAP but no one gives that much love to Congress. That in my opinion is something Congress needs to fix before its too late for the grand old party.

Regional parties are more like congress by other name with the exception of may be Behenji’s BSP. So you want special package for your own state do vote for them. Or if you want Free TV, Laptop, Bicycle, Rice, Idly etc etc.

That brings us to my favourite party AAP. Like a lot of us I have gone through this phase of AAP being the answer to all the problems that we face in India to “seriously man what was I smoking”.  Am I cross with AAP. Yes. Why, because in no time they have started behaving like other political parties. They had this tag line- we have come not to do politics but change politics. This is what attracted a lot of us to to join the movement. But they turned to be like everyone else. There is a high command culture in the party. All the elites are running the show.

While I still remains a believer in the emergence of Aam Aadmi in politics my wish for AAP is that they should lose all the seats in this election. That is the only way that they will come back to their true purpose of Swaraj and bring watershed change in Indian politics. AAP is still the only hope for the poor and marginalised in India. But AAP needs to go through a internal purge else they will become exactly like Congress or even worst and in 30 years from now Kejriwal’s grand daughter will be leading the party.

So coming back to selfish. Vote. That is the only way to make sure you have played a part in nation building. Vote. For someone you think can make Indian a great country. Vote. For your self interest but remember that you are a Indian and will always be a Indian.

And don’t believe too much on what you read in the press .They are anyways acting in their own self interest and so should you.