Saturday, March 29, 2008

"We are like that only"

This telling article by Dipankar Gupta in Times of India reminded me of another article by another Gupta - Swapan Das Gupta sometime back.
The Ugly Indian - one of the most striking commentary on today's India. I still remember the cover of that India Today edition where this article appeared. A well educated regular Indian peeing away himself to glory in broad day light at a public park out in open. His kid is watching this as his father sets a glorious example of civic sense.

Although what bothers me about Dipankar Gupta's article is he equates everything India to Hindu. Hindu=India and vice versa. Which may not necessarily be true.

Coming back to Swapan's "The Ugly Indian" article, one thing striking about that is, how SDG alludes to the hypocrisy existing in Indian society. Like how Indians are so obsessed with keeping their own houses clean (they even sprinkle ganga jal in their houses to purify) and how they don't care a squat about throwing garbage out of windows. (So many art movies i watched have the protagonist throw cigarette buds right outside the window)

Another great example SDG gives is of Shabana Azmi. Here's how in his typical style he rips apart one of the limousine socialists of our era-

.... There is a distasteful quid pro quo in the system that makes an enlightened soul like Shabana Azmi jump the queue, secure the most privileged of government accommodation in Lutyens' Delhi and, at the same time, campaign for the preservation of laws that distorted the housing market in the first place. She epitomizes the cosiness of the Indian status quo, an arrangement that leaves no one entirely dissatisfied -- not even those out of power -- and in the end lead to nowhere.

Bottom line is , you don't have to be a rich nation to be a clean nation. India is ranked even below some of the African and poor Latin American nations. Today Mumbai and Delhi rank in the top 25 of world's dirtiest cities. Kills me when i see Mumbai on that list. It used to be my favorite cities not too long ago; one reason being major part of Mumbai had an amazing civic sense.

If we can pick up the MTV culture, the slang, the accent and other superficial stuff from West, can't we pick up one good thing from there? Beats me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Slaughter House


309 Unbeaten. Day 3, 1st Test, Chennai,India.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008


St. Francis De Sales (SFS) was my school from my 5th to 10th grade. Whenever you meet an ex-SFSian, be assured of one thing. Loads and loads of "those glorious years" talk

I am going to take a detour. I actually have mixed feelings for the school. I think SFS was OK. It was good in some areas and bad in some. So it basically evened out. It was definitely not "geeky" and academically inclined and failed miserably compared to other illustrious schools of Nagpur as far as State Board rankings was concerned.

A good comparison would be - only a very few students could score more than 80% marks in the Xth board exams in SFS. While there were schools in Nagpur where scoring 80% was a norm and not an exception. There was huge performance gap between SFS and other schools as far as "scoring marks in exams" was concerned. But i guess SFS made up for that loss by focusing on different aspect of student development something that i won't venture into right now.

There are a few things that were a little different about SFS. And i will talk about that.

All Boyz

For starters it was an ALL BOYS school. Meaning no physical trashing was off limits. Now b'cos there were only boys to interact with, let's just say we were a little more "curious" at a certain age then our contemporaries in other schools. Sometimes this excitable state of boys would manifest itself into unsavory incidents.

One such incident happened when i was in my IXth grade. There was this new teacher in our school. She must be in her early 20s then. I am not going to go into too much details but she was one of those kinds who had the right mix of things about her that would make all boys a little stirred up.

Let's call her "Miss Dusky Petite". Now she was really a very decent teacher. May be a little too decent to handle boys. And she paid for it.

It was one of those autograph/farewell days, where students go to teachers with their autograph books and get it signed. Our senior batch was about to go for the exam preparation leave and was in that farewell phase. Boys from a particular section of the Xth grade, surrounded Miss Dusky to seek her autograph. It was a well planned ambush. That day some of the boys "crossed the line". The next thing we knew, Miss Dusky went on an indefinite "leave of absence" and the entire class of Xth grade was SUSPENDED. The principal came to us IXth graders and warned us of the same consequence if we did not mend our ways.

There were some boys in our class who had made a career out of harassing Miss Dusky Petite. And we were all warned. She had actually cried in our class a few times because of one Mr. Pandey, an obnoxious personality of our student life, who's notion of a school life was sticking to same grade for a minimum of 3 years.

Miss Dusky did come back and i don't remember but i think we were made to apologize to her.Point is ALL BOYS school do have such incidents to live with. I am not sure, if this wouldn't happen in a co-ed school though.


The second different thing i thought about SFS was it's truly cosmopolitan and secular nature. There were a very small %age of Maharashtrians in school. There was a substantial North Indian population, along with Catholics and Christians and also good Muslim population in the school. But SFS did not make a big fuss about being Secular. And that is what i liked. It was NATURAL. We got exposed to different streams of society at a very young age. In my 7th grade, my best friends were Aniz and Viji - one Muslim and other Christian. But it never occurred to me. In my larger lunch group, there were two Marwaris, one Bengali, one Rajput, one Sindhi and two Marathis. And yet it was a natural thing. The camaraderie was for real.

Majority of my school teachers were non-Hindus actually. In a sense what i am trying to get is, it was a "given" and not a topic of discussion or anything to be fussy about. It was simple and easy.

Extra Curricular

School Sports Annual day was a big thing. We were made to prepare for it for almost a month in advance. The march-past, the drill and all. The Annual day was one big Super Bowl for us. It was a spectacular show casing of the school in general.

I was in the Green house and during my school time, Green house won the Annual Trophy twice. I contributed only once to the Green house by winning a silver medal in slow cycling. My only tangible contribution ever. :)

I noted the above point, because representing your House was an honor. The spirit was imbibed in us. We had arguments and fights over our "houses". Now a days i think most schools have this notion, but back then as far as i remember, my friends from the other schools were not so excited about "belonging" to a certain house. It was a big deal in SFS; just to be a part of that belonging to a House thingy.


Another thing different about S.F.S was it's soccer tradition. We had annual soccer competition, again, between Red,Blue and Green houses where we lustily cheered our teams. It was an honor for the House to win the school soccer championship. Soccer was the "natural" sport of SFS school. SFS had its own soccer legends. School celebrities, if you will. These heroes were looked upon as they carried hopes of their teams. From what i remember Green house never won the soccer championship while i was there. Red house was the strongest soccer team.
Since some of our teachers also part timed as referees for these matches, there were often tongue in cheek comments of how the referee "favored" one team over the other as even the teachers (and hence the referees) had their own houses. I remember Sir Wilson was always the referee for the final match and he was i think from Blue house.
But Red would usually beat Blue :)

As i said in the beginning. It was a mixed bag. I did not want to go into what was good and bad. But there were certainly things that were different in SFS.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Race: The Review

Rating : ***

It's fair to say that the Abbas-Mastan duo have made a comeback with RACE. I also feel they are two of the most under-rated directors of Bollywood. On the other hand, below average talent like the mushy-mushy Karan Johar, the over the top Mahesh Bhatt, the pretentious Leela Bansali guy are highly highly over rated snobs of the Bombay Movie business today.

I almost intuitively decided to watch Race. I had not heard of it or read about it. We were at a Show place nearby yesterday and saw that Race was on the list of Movies. I did not know it was a Hindi movie. I inquired at Box counter and found that out. Almost instinctively i bought the tickets. And boy! i was happy i did that.

There was the trade mark Abbas-Mastan foot print across the celluloid. Abbas-Mastan are so meant-to-be guys for typical Hindi movie thrillers. They should stick to that genre. They know the right movements to sprinkle comic scenes and where to raise the "shock and awe" movements. Like in Baazigar, which i thought was ahead of it's time. (Now i cannot watch Baazigar again, but in 1993 the notion of anti-hero was not REAL)

There's only one scene of Johnny Lever in the movie, who appears in a "guest role" (times have changed or what?); but that scene totally cracked me up.

The three heroes, or i may say anti-Heroes of the movie, Saif,Akshaye and Anil Kapoor have done well. But more surprisingly the supposedly bimbo models Bipasha, Katrina and Sameera Reddy (all 5'8" +) have not done bad for themselves either. Tells us that if the directors are good, even plastic dolls can be made to have expression.

The high point of the movie is the presentation of South Africa, the Location. Bollywood is really going out of the way to promote tourism of other countries, isn't it? But South Africa came out as great locale to shoot a movie i thought. It was unique as far as i am concerned.

All in all, the convoluted plot, where not one can character can be trusted helps keep the interest alive in the movie. You never know who is going to back stab. But again, the problem with Hindi movies is they don't know where to stop. I thought the movie was 25 minutes too long for my liking. There was a point where i was like "enough surprises already !"

I like thrillers so i am a little biased. I thought Shammi Kapoor's Teesri Manzil was a classic. Not sure many would agree. But so be it. Abbas-Mastan made this movie with all honesty. And that came out. They were lavish in their presentation. They can be accused of going over board but who cares if it's a paisa vasool movie in the end.

The music was Racy, the one liners were quick-witted and good, the comedy as you would expect from Abbas-Mastan was good too, and all the characters were polished and presented well. Made for a good weekend tamasha movie. I would recommend it for sure.

Music: 3/5
Presentation : 4/5
Script : 2/5
Style : 4/5
Comedy : 3/5
Overall Feeling : Good

Post Script: This was the first time i actually saw a Brawl in movie theater in USA. No marks for guessing that the parties involved were young college going local Desi crowd. Almost made me remember hostel days in a small town.

Friday, March 21, 2008

"You can't fix stupid"

I wear a T-Shirt that says "You can't fix stupid". This is so true for the Indian Government.

According to this article in Hindustan Times, we Indians spend $13 Billion on foreign education. EVERY YEAR.

Let me get my calculator out.

So we are saying around 520 billion INR are spent in one financial year by 4,50,000 Students studying abroad. If this happens 5 years in a row, we are saying that around 2,500 billion rupees is spend by Indians in foreign education.

I am not an economist. But common sense tells me that even if 10% of that money is used to build 2 more world class IITs and IIMs and upgrade the RECs and other good institutes, we will be 1] Saving a ton of money and 2] Actually making a windfall of profits out of these !!!

It's a classic demand-supply case here. There's a demand of higher education in India. USA, Singpaore, even China is helping with the supply for that demand. But what is our dear pin headed government's best response ? Yes, you guessed it. MORE RESERVATIONS.

They just turned it upside down. Its like "Wait. There's more demand for higher education. Let's REDUCE the seats. Tha'll help"

Fking asses. You really can't fix stupid, can ya?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I may be out of the line when i say this, but Hindi is no more the lingua franca of India. It is Hinglish. A mixture of Hindi and English. Hinglish is the spoken language of the nation. Check any program on Indian television, any interviews, any award functions; its Hinglish. They say that its an irony that Filmfare awards, that speaks of recognizing talent of "Hindi" movie industry are conducted in English.

Now i do not have problem with Hinglish. I am as guilty as anyone else if at all it is wrong.

But come to think of it, did Hindi ever stand a chance in a globalized world. To start with, more than half the country did not know to speak hindi when India officially broke free from the British. I still have a few South Indian friends who do not know to speak,read,write Hindi. In my native village, in rural Maharashtra, 95% did not understand Hindi. My grandmother never spoke in Hindi.
Hindi was predominantly used in the cow belt - UP,Bihar,Rajasthan,MP and some might say even in these states the dialect changed every few 100 miles.

So off the 28 odd states hardly 5 or 6 of them used Hindi as a spoken language. Add to these metros like Mumbai and Dehli where Hindi was prominently used. Even Kolkata and Madras did not use Hindi extensively except may be in Central government offices.

It's always a sad thing when a language dies. Hindi won't die i am sure. But it won't have the same position in the country's mind space it once had. My mother is a great proponent of correct usage of Hindi. She will surely be feeling sad with the way things have turned out for Hindi in India.

Nevertheless, such things cannot be controlled. You cannot fine someone for not speaking Hindi. It will be stupid. Like i remember how in our school once there was a campaign started where in if we were found talking in language other than English we would be fined. It did not work, obviously. If people find English or Hinglish more comfortable to communicate so be it. Good for them.

My only hope is, going forward, people do not start using Hinglish in Hindi News and Hindi Ads. That would be a new low.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

WTF Series: Part 2

Apparently women in Italy can now lie out flat to Courts and Police if found cheating on their husbands.

This surely qualifies as WTF news of the year

Swaminomics at it's best

The rise and drop of Indian economy explained by Swaminathan Iyer; somewhat an authority on this subject and always a pleasure to read.

End of 9% dream

Shhhhh.... it's the Dragon

One of my ex-bosses converted to Buddhism after he visited Tibet. He was so impressed by the simplicity of that region, it's people, it's culture, he almost felt a spiritual connection. He had some great stories to tell about the people and it's culture, but not so great stories to tell of the Chinese authorities who were changing Tibet for ever.

Tibet has been some what of an intrigue for me. Ever since Nehru and then Rajiv Gandhi stabbed the Tibetans on their backs they have been going down the slippery slope. Of course we are not allowed to support the Tibetans and their cause. It's politically uncomfortable. So we want to hush this up. "Shhhh.... don't. It's the dragon".

Arundati Roy, N.Ram and Vinod Mehta don't want to look us that way. Towards the east. Palestine and West bank is more "sexier" to discuss and come across as learned, bleeding heart, liberals.

China has an over powering influence in Indian sub continent today. 2 years back, the Maoists in Nepal caused havoc. While the dhimmi Indians watched from sidelines, China was displaying sheer vulgar power over Nepal via it's proxy the Maoist. Same with Burma. Who is the real force behind the military junta, one of the most repressive regimes of the world, is a well known secret. Only thing, no one wants to spell it out loud.

Tibet,Nepal, Burma, even Taiwan, tell us something about this imposing Dragon called China and its designs. There is invariably a shade of "imperialism" associated with Super powers. History has shown this. China is no different. It may be even more ruthless than others as it proved almost 20 years ago at Tiananmen Square. That was probably just a glimpse of it's actual mind set.

The rumors of China encircling India may after all not be far from truth. But don't worry, we won't discuss China. Israel, Palestine, Gaza strip, America are more "fun" to discuss. After all imperialism is only what the media defines. So let's enjoy Olympics. Let's see how magnificently and on a grand scale China show cases Olympics. Let's enjoy the rise of China.

P.S : More arm twisting by China here

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pure Magic

Check the slow motion replay. It's freaking awesome!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mrs President, Patil Tai

Of many things that you can accuse Congress (I) party in India, one
thing you cannot accuse them of - Doing something good for the nation :)

The party has a tradition of anointing people to top positions at it's whims and fancy.

Recently Congress "appointed" Mrs. Pratibha Patil as nation's first citizen while the hapless nation watched in horror.Or at least a section of the nation watched in horror as 90% of the nation wouldn't care less.

Now Patil is not that bad. She seems like a decent women. All coy, with the "pallu" over her head and all. But we all know her credentials. Also she is stepping in APJ Abdul Kalam's shoes (NDA government's best gift to the nation) and more importantly she has brought the post of President back to the Zail Singh days. A rubber stamp post exclusively servicing the Gandhi Monarchy.

While Gandhi family and Rahul baba and his dear Mom can still consider India as their own personal fiefdom, I don't think the country really thinks that way anymore. The days of "Indira is India" are over. Neither those posters of well educated Congress MPs and MLA's genuflecting and salivating on Sonia's knees has gone down well with and increasingly confident and young nation.

Having a lame duck Prime Minister and President may help Congress win elections or highjack democracy, like it did in Jharkhand and Goa. Not sure if helps the nation.

Recently Patil tai proposed setting up an IIT in Amravati , a small town near to my home town Nagpur. It's not a bad idea on the face value. After all IIT can only bring good fortune to the region. But knowing that region personally, i think Amravati needs something else. It needs water supply, good roads, electricity and infrastructure development. More importantly it needs a good policy for farmers who are committing suicide by hour (Mr Chidambaram's universal Amnesty of 60,000 crore is going to help only the Babus in the Government)

If you find this ludicrous, wait, Patil goes a step further. She wants this IIT only for girls !!!!

Here's a President of the world's biggest "democracy" making such outrageous demands! You think India has grown? Not sure, in all areas. Specially not in it's "thinking" of it's politicians.

The current UPA set up has the who's who of India's political jokers. On one end there's Karunanidhi who believes in giving free color TV to every tamilian, then there's Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu from Bihar (no need to comment on them), then of course the full array of Communists, the Yechurys and the Karats and all. And of course icing on the cake, Rahul Baba himself.

When i think of the bunch of morons we elected, i feel we don't have a right to judge other nations. Our own record is not all that great, is it?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Selective Outrage

Great example of how "secular" elite of India picks and chooses. It has a "selective" way of deciding moral outrage. No discussion by Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep or Karan Thappar this time around. Life goes on for "middle class opinionated" India as Toilet Paper of India does not report this.... neither does "journalism of courage" show any courage

Good pieces here and here

on what i am saying.

Compare this to heavy handed lecturing on "freedom of expression" and all that for the Baroda University fiasco. Reams and reams of papers and editorials were wasted and hours and hours of prime time Television was hogged for supposedly "attacking freedom of expression"

The left-centric "moral outrage brigade" stumps me !!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Forces of Nature

Let me lay down a few loose quotes

A] America is world's Economic power house.
B] It is world's biggest market.
C] It is world's most stable economy.

One or all of the above statements can be contested. They are true or false relative to where you stand in world economic space. I will revisit the above statements, i took liberty to quote.

Now assume that you are a shopkeeper X. You have a customer called Mr.Y. Now Mr.Y is not necessarily rich, but he is a Spendrift with a capital "S".

X is vested in Y's spending habit. As long as Y keeps spending, X and his business is healthy. Just by his habit of spending Y is dominating this relation. There may come a point when X will actually finance Y's spending. X will keep giving Y credit so that he does not loose him as his customer.

There is a term for this kind of a shop keeper. The "Shopkeeper financier". A Shopkeeper that is so dependent on his customer he actually finances his own customer to buy stuff from him. He keeps spoiling the customer so that his fuel is burning.

circa- Real World. America is China's biggest customer. America's trade deficit with China is in trillions. So much so that if China refuses to give America any more credit, American economy will be severely damaged. But China also knows one thing- if American economy collapses, it won't help Chinese either. So until China finds an alternative market that is as big as America or as lucrative as it is, it would keep America happy. This it does by doing two things. By giving credit to USA for the goods it sells, and, by re-investing in US bonds and securities thus fueling the American economy.

This shopkeeper-customer (X-Y) relationship between China and America is one the most intriguing features of today's global economy.

But if anything is too good to be be true, it generally is. And at some point in this relationship, someone will blink. The symbiosis will break. The day China realizes, Europe or even India gives it a better bargain, it will dump USA. The winning weapon for USA so far is, that the USA is that spendrift customer of China. It's, i.e USA's middle class spends first and pays later. The entire country's economy works on one word and one word only. Credit. If people of USA start behaving like Japanese (which by the way in real technical sense much more stable and safer economy than the US) , it will loose its most potent weapon - Spending habit.

This article sums up beautifully. "The world works hard so that the US can spend."

Indirectly we (as in world's shopkeepers) are not only producing but also financing our biggest Elephant customer - the USA.

But forces of nature and forces of free markets can strike in ways we cannot anticipate. A time may come when this will reach a critical mass. And balance will tilt away from that spending customer.I am not suggesting that America will just collapse. No it won't. But it's prime position in world's economy will not be perpetual. In a sense it will loose it's economic power house status. It won't be world's biggest market and it was never most stable economy any ways. { see i told i would revisit :) }

And once it looses its prime position on economic front will it be able to maintain it's lead in other areas? Probably not. That loss will have a domino effect. Loss of confidence would be the first and rest will follow.

But that's not to say America "should" collapse. I am not anti-American. In fact i am pretty pro-American and between China and America, i would always choose a Democracy. And more importantly America has been good for me personally. This is a theory i am basing on past patterns of history. A seemingly powerful Empire starts showing cracks.

The last century was famously called an "American Century" but this one may not be the American Century. Like other great empires previously, American Empire will slowly but surely start slipping into the RED. Not next year, not next decade but at some point of time in near future.

There is a reason why Empires become successful. Some forces work in tandem to bring about the success. But after a while, after the Empire has seen it's Golden phase, things unravel and before we know the seemingly almighty, powerful empire becomes a sad shadow of itself. Again some forces come together and work in tandem to ensure it's downfall.
A good example is Great Britain. There was a time when sun did not set on British Empire. The British Fort seemed impregnable. But today Britain is like any other European nation.

I don't buy on face value that this is a Chinese century either. It may or may not be. I am not a big fan of China and if i had to vote i would prefer America over china any day.And for several reasons. But if forces work in favor of China, the Chinese dragon will ultimately rule over the world. And if that happens during my lifetime, i may be able to see a new world order. An order where the poles have shifted away from NATO and others. This time it would be America+Japan+India vs Russia+China+Latin America. Who knows? That is a theory again.

The point of this is, that all Major Empires have seen downfall. A series of events trigger this. It's not one day collapse. Like Rome was not built in a day, it did not collapse in a day too. A series of events, bad decisions, betrayal etc combined as forces of nature and brought about it's downfall. But during it's hey days, it was the King of all Empires. Same with Mauryan and Mongols and Greeks. I have heard there are lot of similarities between Roman and American empires. Their rise their fall etc. Although America has not fallen. But who can tell when it will.

i am still fond of America and at some point, when i am about to leave it, i will be writing a rich tribute to America. With all it's supposedly "ill doings" i still consider it one of the greatest experiments of Humans that got successful. Also it is my principled stand and considered view that I should not speak ill about a nation who has fueled my domestic economy and to some extent fuels my nation's economy. I have a professional unwritten agreement with America. I bring to it my skills, it pays me for it. Period. Myself and America are in an "at will" relationship. Neither of us are forcing each other onto ourselves.

The day we don't agree to each other we part. Beyond that i am not required or entitled to Judge it. That is not me. In a way, if some one comes to India and works on "my" soil, i would expect to have that person be good to India. If s/he is not i have the right to say FO on his/her face.

My theory is more generic and if it applies to USA today, it will apply to China and who knows some day to India. The rise and fall of the mighty is a great study of pattern and it's not without glaring historic evidence.

And we may just be too close to history of a certain great Empire to realize how things ultimately unraveled.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

WTF Series - Part I

Why the hell would you want to do this ?

Let's not go overboard

Check the amount of shouting and chest beating here on Times Now.

Video after India's victory in Times Now

Can we do away with this please?

India earned a well deserved victory, but let it not go over our heads. Check the way Arnab Goswami, one of the most nauseating figures in news room keeps shouting.

This same Arnab guy will not mind screwing Indian players all over when they loose the next series. In any case what's with so much of shouting on News in India, anyways.

I mean look at the way the News starts. I mean any news. They just shout, they do not report. It's as if we are all deaf. It sickens me.