Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kaala - Some Probing Questions...

To start with a disclaimer: I believe in equality and my views should not be twisted in the name of religion, caste, colour or creed. My view is that when we observe things, be it a movie or a theatrical or an event, we are influenced by our upbringing and our own biases, beliefs and ultimately we see it through those multi-coloured lenses. Some quotes to start setting my write up:

Desmond Tutu “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

EVR : “While all men are born as equals, to say that Brahmins alone are the highest and all others are low as Pariah (the Untouchables ) or Panchama is sheer nonsense. It is roguish to say so. It is a big hoax played on us”

Swami Rāmānuja (Sri Vaishnava Guru) the first of his 82 commandments “Serve all devotees without regard to their status.” For the uninitiated, Swami Rāmānuja’ espoused equality and sought a lower caste “guru” to initiate himself and then went on to do social engineering (and this was a 1000 years ago and during a period when discrimination was supposed to be at its heights and none of the western religions or EVRs weren’t even around). The irony is that today within Swami Ramanuja’s context, even amongst the Srivaishnavas themselves, one does not get equal treatment, let alone Dalits or Thirukulathar, the way Ramanuja named them to socially blend the downtrodden.

Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala is quite contextual to read alongside these quotes. It’s a movie of struggle for land ownership among the downtrodden and can be seen as anti-establishment (especially the current Indian ruling party) as well as anti-Hindu.

Kaala has reminded me of the purpose to which I had aspired in my earlier parts of the life. Even though I have been cocooned in a plush environment in the last 15 years, during my schooling, I grew up in an economically challenged situation back home. Those days, there was a rebel in me that helped to see things differently. But being a rebel is not enough to understand a Dalit’s mindset and struggle.  I had an opportunity to spend some time through the அறிவொளி iyakkam to serve  the downtrodden in 1994. Though an overnight camp was enough to give a feel for the pain, to understand truly, one needs to experience it inherently from birth. 

My immediate honest reaction after the movie was sheer frustration and that Rajini has fallen!

Then my soul searching and questioning mind took over. These key questions came up, also I read a negative review about the movie. Sometimes to see light, one needs to experience darkness. The negative review made it clearer or gave me an opportunity to look positively. In my view Kaala brings many contradictions and nuances. I sincerely hope everyone takes a positive bit out of it, as opposed to get blinded by their inhibitions and beliefs.

Contradictions and nuances: (the way I see them...)

  1.  Why would a spiritualist like Rajini agree to a movie like this especially when he is allegedly associated with the ruling party’s principles ? He’s someone who’s acted Raghavendara to Linga all that espouses hard work, spiritual quest etc. He is also known for selecting his movies carefully.
  2. If he wanted to cover communities for the sake of votes, he could have done a Muthu.
  3. Is he that gullible to fall into Pa. Ranjith twice!?
  4. If he believes in the superficial script of Kaala, why say the exact opposite in Tuticorin?
  5. Kaala's son a vegetarian but also a body builder - goes on to save his dad
  6. Beef shop just in front of Kaala's house
  7. Rap Song after the death of an young guy
  8. Ravana kavyam in the background with Ram followers trying to usurp the land
  9. Kaala has a big image throughout the movie, but only once he gets into a fight and rest of the movie he is being protected by his people
  10. He doesn't drink, except for once when he drinks, something bad happens and he regrets for that
  11. He almost romances his ex-lover and manages his wife as well (as opposed to a conservative cinematic view)
  12. Both Kabali and Kaala have pro-Dalit themes

The biggest nuance of all, is that for many years Kaala, the leader has done little for his people, yet lives in a spacious big individual house,  has his family around him, all his kids are educated in one way or another, and well settled. He has a nice sporty, trendy jeep for himself, but hasn't done constructively anything for his folks in the slum, not even a decent place for morning doodies. This is the hidden biggest message that Ranjith tries to portray in my opinion. 

The so-called leaders are not prioritising what needs to be done and are unable to make step-change or a systemic change to the lives of downtrodden. Sometimes to win the war, some battles have to be lost - to move from an underdog status, Kaala doesn't think strategically but carries his battles for another day. This is the biggest contradiction of all. - Do we go with development or deal with slow, yet steady change? (and the rappers would sing, tell us kaala, now what to do? - he doesn't have any answers?!)

The problem of land struggles, discrimination, step-motherly treatment by the establishment etc. are problems, not just for India, across the world, for a long time such struggles are going on. Maybe that is why African return Zaareena featured in the movie as Africa return. (Hence my quote from Desmond Tutu). Well known is the fact that China has been usurping Africa and its natives, so did the west in the yester years. West or East, Capitalism or Communism, governing powers maybe seen as discriminating and marginalising the downtrodden. Africa is the biggest living example. Should India allow itself to be manipulated in the name of anti-development or should it 'sacrifice' and develop its people in the Capitalist model? If the answer was so easy, we wouldn't have this movie or we would have developed the whole world.

We are in times of conservative nationalism and protectionist regimes, in such times, it takes more guts to treat everyone equally and it's not easy. Kaala asks probing questions to both left and right, to the ruling and opposing and to the downtrodden and the so called 'settled'. 

Kaala can come back to life in reel-life, but not in real life - so do you fight and loose the opportunity to live now? Hari dada has everything and continues to live happily (even after Kaala kills him, his family would continue to enjoy the benefits), Kaala has enough comforts and his family surrounds him during fun and grief; whereas the ordinary is left to dream for a future and doesn't seem to have an answer to live for the day. That's the take-away Pa. Ranjith wants everyone of us to think!  The clue is in Rajini's interview where he says Pa. Ranjith is such a nice guy, his best quality is he wants everyone to live happily. To live happily compromises are necessary.

The way i see it, Rajini initiated himself into spiritualisim mainly through self-made gurus and not the usual 'madams' that espouse the varna system. This is where Rajini's true spiritualism shines. Both Kabali and Kaala with Pro-Dalit themes have found support from Rajini and he may be purusing a systemic change by appealing directly through their view of the world.

Swami Ramanuja knew equality was difficult to attain, but livelihood and day to day living is more important, hence he reset the system in Srirangam and brought people from all sects to participate in temple administration, this was a step-change and systemic-change in 1100AD. That gave a way for people from different sects to blend socially and a means to feed the starving as well as the hope that one day we will be equals. We needed a spiritualist to do that. At times i think the DMK patriach Kalaingar realised very late and the best he could do was telecast Swami Ramanuja's life and the need to do something here and now, but not oppose everything just for the sake of opposing.

Can Rajini reset the system and bring a spiritualistic progress where everyone has a means to live with a level of satisfaction?

All views are strictly personal

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Good deeds follow you...

All good things come to an end, but good deeds don't - this is my mother's life in a single sentence.

I have had the privilege to see her life and my wider family's journey, her tactics and all, from the front rows. Recently she declared that I have had 5 gurus, and she questioned on who was 'the Prime' by priority and knowledge. I had no hesitation in acknowledging that hers was the Prime position.

Some that knew her, said that if conditions were right, she would have been a lawyer. Some that knew her, felt she would have been a good manager, some felt that if she was born as a man in a traditional patriarchal society, she would have no parallel. To me, she was initially a confused lady, then a woman in distress, then a master tactician, then a Mom who was struggling with multiple responsibilities and finally a Guru. She would seem a paradox to many and only those who can really get to know her, can see beyond the contradictions.

 'Gu-ru' means remover of darkness in traditional Sanskrit. Off all the 5 Gurus, she indeed has a special place because she is my mom too. While the Hindu Vedas typically accord this status to Pitha (Dad), in my case, mom precedes the status.

Samples from her Oral teachings

  • Have a goal and make your life linked to the goal
  • Keep aside x% of your salary to charity, as your salary increases the net contribution increases, but stick to that x%
Samples from her Perceptive teachings
  • Sampradaya (religious practises) are required, humanity takes precedence
  • Don't make decisions for women (wife/sister), help that she makes her own
  • A mom, that she does is neither right or wrong, it is simply an action

There are many more such teachings and I may have to write volumes of books to present the context and learning.

Her greatest contribution to worldly causes:

  1. Instrumental in building a temple for Lord Krishna at Neyveli against multi-dimensional challenges 
  2. Served 7 Jeeyars at this time of temple invocation
  3. Feeding people - anyone that knew her will concur on this aspect  
  4. Financial contributions to Srivaishnava literature and critique as well
  5. Many many other personal contributions to many people 
She had hinted to my wife on 31st Aug about her upcoming end, subsequently in the first week of November, she personally presented me with two dates 25th/26th of Nov (ekadesi/dvadesi). For the unaware, it may be a person in delirium, to me it was very clear that she knew what she was talking about.

She has narrated so many religious stories and folklore. One such time worthy of mention was in late 1980s. She was in a precarious situation and I was quite young. Doctors had advised a surgery, but she always made her own decisions. So, she decided to fight the situation as opposed to go through surgery - through this long year and half of struggle, two stories were of significant importance. Even though we belong to Srivaishnavaite tradition, I was allowed to explore other concepts and she would feed my logical brain the same.

She would narrate Adi-Sankara's story (click here) and would say that I would return like Sankara in her last stages of life. The second story was that of Pattinathar's (Click here) who also rushed to his mother's last stages and did the rights. Her message was very clear that she wouldn't leave the world then, but when she did so later, that I would come back well in time. She boosted confidence that she was not going to leave me in my childhood times.

Relating to the stories, her ask from me was very simple, that my elder brother would do the traditional rites and ceremony; I was simply asked to cry at her funeral. She would recite the Pattinathar poems to me highlighting the value of mother and what it means in the life. (The poems are in the link). The reason she would quote these two ascetics was that even the renounced can't let go off their motherly passion and love, most importantly it was their symbolic message to the world about the value of Motherhood. 

Even though she presented two dates for her last day, she asked me to go back to UK and subsequently on 21st when I called her on FaceTime, she asked me to return to India with my wife and kids. It was her final test for me, Subsequently on 22nd, I had informed her that I booked the tickets to come on 23rd, she gave me a smile to let me know that I had passed the final test. So I thought, but there was one more test.

In the recent times, she had placed on me the burden to give her permission to leave this world which I always jokingly dismissed. On 25th evening, she rapidly deteriorated and I was forced on to act on this burden, by her grace, the perceptive teaching intuitively worked; I said to her that I won't make the decision for you, hesitantly I give my permission for you to leave (and sought her to forgive), I helped her to narrow down the decision for next step to two choices (as per her wishes that she had conveyed in different periods of time); So, the final decision off those two choices was left to her! I followed her perceptive teaching of helping her narrow the choices, rather than me making it for her. She forcefully coughed and we asked her to call on Lord Ram. She overcame her bodily complications to call and acknowledge that she had received my choices.

After a high drama on 25th night, her vitals came back to normal and we all relaxed for a four hour sleep, true to a Mother's quality she made us sleep peacefully and quietly left to her Guru's abode on 26th between 3:30 AM - 4:00 AM. 

Though my framework of God is different to where I started, in her own framework, the lady that was instrumental in building the Krishna temple and a strong devotee of Hanuman, was full of symbolism. Her cremation happened at Balaji Mandal, ashes immersed at Hanuman Ghat in Krishna River at Beechupally. 

I had not only lost my mother, but my Prime Guru too.

Om Shanti! (Let Peace prevail!)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Time to disappear for 52 days, but then just do it!

RaGa has brought me back to blogging! It pains me to see that over the last few years Congress-I has been going through a roller coaster and nothing is happening. This has to stop, they need some direction. I am tired of waiting for change. So RaGa, if you get to read this, some free suggestions for change. 

1) Start with an end in mind - just declare to the world that change is in motion and once the change is complete, the family ties will be completely severed; this will be shock and awe. Sycophants and Aam Admi will see this as the "seed of change". Give yourself a timeline. Accept the fact you need a full scale change and some solid time for such a change. Go for 2024 not 2019. Please don't call it vision 2024. For Indian democracy to thrive, it needs Congress-I. Just take this plan and modify, you may wish to use it as a straw-man.

2) This is the logic - "In some cases retrofitting is expensive, worthless, start again!" Just do it. 

Take Congress to grass roots, especially there are so many people who want to see a strong opposition and a strong counter-balance. Start again from Principles especially on secularism - say everyone is equal and re-build for long-term; NO to short-termism. Believe me this will work. (Forget the Parliament, let Modi and co do whatever they want - they can't destroy India any more than your party has done in the last 60 years) - This should be the only focus.

3) Create simple Principles that aspires for Centre and Neutral view - never can we bring equilibrium, but that doesn't mean Congress should be left. Today it is aligned with leftist and seen too left. Take it to centre and Centre will come to you!

4) Plan elections of Congress-I leaders from district through to state and National across all the 4 directions. Create Nodes from grass roots and ensure the system promotes people from base node to the higher e.g. a number of village/town leaders vote for blocks and block leaders elect a district leader and a number of district leaders vote for state and the state leaders choose a regional leader (at least 4 per region) and those regional leaders chose central leaders who would choose at least 2 candidates for the top seat.

5) Bring democracy all over the organisation - this will rejuvenate your party, the Nation and more importantly fresh blood and that will be a strong system. Use the facebooks and twitters - needless to say the media is waiting for you - they will hail you as a phenomenon.

6) Call for change - find the sycophants, weed them out - whoever praises you should be fired. Find a small team that can drive this change, don't let any old or new "chamchas" near you.

7) Last and most important - Let everyone know that you would resign after a number of central leaders are in place and cut all family ties - let the structure run the congress. If you truly cared about India, you will attempt something of this sort

Ironically if this is how Parties are supposed to run their inner party elections, just re-create the system and just go for it!

If you don't do this now, it will be never and there will be very few ways to counter BJP or help Indian democracy.

NB1: Start with Karnataka - if this helps you win, the momentum swings to you and your party will not let you resign, you can continue the dynasty ;)

NB2: I started writing this yesterday, but just finished it. But this morning (spooky coincidence), Sashi Tharoor had come out with a similar suggestion in NDTV.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The gift of maggie and cereals!

This blog has got little to do with O' Henry's gift of Magi or Maggie food controversy. Based on a real life incident, but any interpretations are yours and yours only!

I was on my way to ASDA with a mission on hand - I had to buy a few things and one of the items was a cereal for the kids - Kellogg's Rice Crispies Multi-grain Shapes cereal. Well as usual heard half of it and assumed - ah! big deal I can get that. I was a bit annoyed with the missus for reminding me ten times and let me forget the fact that I forgot to buy the cereal twice in my previous visits to ASDA.

Today I was destined to buy or at least I thought so. Happily set off with the shopping cart, I got a whatsapp text with all groceries in the list with the cereal name shortened like MGSR cereal... Oh my - for god sake, I run a proper function at my office, am I a kid to be reminded like this with a whatsapp message?

Bought all the stuff properly and I entered the aisle 22 - 2 is my favourite number, how much better can it get? A casual walk and I couldn't find KRCMGS... I am casual, so I should have missed it. I need to get a 10/10 today, so I spent an extra careful 1 minute walk around aisle 22. What?? I couldn't find that box. ok ok, let me go to a different aisle and come back - another 2 minutes later, I was back in aisle 22 - 10 minutes later I was still there; there were so many combinations - rice crispies, multi-grains, kellogg's, and shapes but I couldn't find the bloody KRCMGS. I must have started talking to myself, because I had a few curious eyes on me. I was getting really anxious!

Then the socialist in me started cursing the brands and the brand tactics of manipulating the families and deep down from somewhere the "male chauvinist" started blaming the women and moms... I suddenly remembered how the world is driven essentially by 7 brands etc. etc.

Well whatever be the macro-politics, this evening I will be a laughing stock at the dinner table and the next day morning kids are going to be cranky - especially the little one. The boy likes porridge, well you never know there are another 100 brands and flavours of porridge too - omg! I am not buying something else that was not on the list... I will be off her list then.

Reality kicked in - after all I am faced with a real problem, and I am not afraid of asking help. So I called the missus and she re-defined KRCMGS crystal clear - I decided to use technology to my help. Took a photo of the racks and whatsapp-ed her.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

360 days back...

Headline - About an year back, India voted 4 change; Change is visible, but when issues are systemic and deep rooted, it takes time; The broad direction is still hazy and fundamental "step change" plans are unclear.

A lot of my friends have asked me, I send a lot of memes on RaGa and AK67 but none Modi. In fact memes on AK67 have died out as well. Simply because both of them are down in the business and the noise has gone down. RaGa also has started to get his sleeves rolled up, but till a time the shi(f)ts in Congress are visible, memes will continue.

Year 1 Review: CAG has just published a view about our situation on military ammunition stock and the number of fighter jets is also under the minimum advised stock level (re. French deals). India's national security has been dealt in such a careless manner by previous rulers, Media should stop treating UPA with kids gloves (Coalition never would have stopped them on this count) Seriously don't know why SoGa or RaGa (MMS) have not been asked about this question on the above two highly important national concerns;

Sorry it seems like I digress, but this is a fundamental point to take note when we discuss/measure two government performances - the baseline has been so poor. Performance has to be compared against a baseline. Our media and various BJP spokespersons should set this when in a fortnight's time, every Indian Media team will be reviewing Year 1. The Y1 performance should be on a baseline on a key set of factors that is in the scope of Union government- If Media doesn't measure do it this way (I am sure none of the outlets would do), then people who read this should reflect on the baseline.

First my disappointments:

1. Indian PM talked about so many acronyms - where is the policy for skill development? This I remember was his main point - What is the direction and strategy on Skill development?

2. Indian PM recently spoke about democratic values to the Times - why doesn't he set-up something up a forum like NITI Aayog, where all Parties debate on policies regularly and use Parliament to rubber stamp on important policies? This is healthy for democracy but more importantly opposition's voices can be then managed pro-actively? - Handling of bills and opposition has been appalling

3.  To top it all, the messy handling of agriculture sector - the land-bill and how this whole sector has been dealt has frustrated me

I believe on an actionable strategy (In the last sixty years, Nehru & Vajpayee were the ones who showed a strategic and actionable shifts, Indira rode on Nehru's back). Overall and aspects of strategy has to be communicated, even if the government doesn't have a clue - The way hype was created before election, I expected a roadmap of strategic changes - Some changes are taking shape, however a comprehensive direction and policy/approach is missing and that would set the discourse in right direction.

With, the absence of thought leadership in previous 10 years, I was hoping to see some strategic shifts - The two areas with a bit clarity 1) in International policies, 2) "intent" in centre-state joint governance. Apart from these two, there is little clarity on many key topics.

So here you go this is what I am frustrated with BJP government and Modi.

Some positives to note: no scams till date, swift action on auctions (though on SC push), interesting policy debates on NJAC (see what has happened last week in Chennai HC), swift relief on international operations, setting the perception about India in international stage, no riots till date, no terrorist incidents (touch-wood), approach to NITI Aayog, even Nitish has started getting cosy with Modi, Mamta di is now on board smiling.

So all in all, it is not as scary as UPA and associated Media outlets have been projecting. To emphasise again, one needs to compare the government against the base line and also some of the scary thoughts that Media members like Guha, Shiv N etc. were projecting - nothing of that sort has happened.

1 Subtle but strong Voice P. Chidambaram has been writing about the Government and its actions regularly in Indian express since day 1 and has been putting up very good arguments - Except PC no sane or clear views from Congress.

Will I vote Modi again? - Yes (still no alternative from any National party)

NB1: A lot of us debate on multiple issues when we talk about Modi's governance, but we forget about what are Centre's responsibilities, where it ends and what are state's roles... This complicates the debates big time...

NB2: The comments and discussions that happen between UPA vs. NDA or Pappu vs. Feku is slowly edging into borderline riots in the internet arena... This is not safe, the Media should find a way to manage this... a lot of anonymous and false ID comments are twisting the debates into Hindu vs. non-Hindus - this is a very dangerous and alarming trend. It has to be Media, if Modi intervenes on this, a lot of us will say that the government is curbing Media freedom.

NB3: I have omitted a lot of areas of interesting happenings and issues - simply because it is just Year 1 and expecting changes all of the place in Y1 is too much. Let us wait till 2016, when RS strength would get shifted...

Bye for now!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Basking in the glory!

Hurray time for people in India as the news of Nobel peace prize sets in. I will be lying if I said, i knew Kailash - in fact I knew Malala because of recent media coverage. There will be blogs, articles and many write-ups now on Kailash Sathyarthi. Discussions on how India's 28 million kids of age 6-14 are working in India, some will be bashing as usual the man at the centre, some will be debating H-M combination that the Nobel committee mentioned, a few like me will be reflecting tangentially on a related subject. Anyway...

I did something that annoyed a few people around me and I am wondering why? this is what I did, if you are weak-hearted, don't read further:

I have a pet and been nurturing it well. I decided to teach the pet some clever tricks to keep it occupied; some people who came home appreciated the pet and 'me' for 'my efforts' - I felt really pleased about myself. Though the pet was doing those tricks, I was enjoying its new found glory. So I decided to take it a better master and helped it learn/show off those tricks. Obviously the fame multiplied and things started paying off.  However the pet was now tired and got bored of these tricks - however will I let my new-found fame let go?

I was blinded and did not see that I am hurting its mental health, not only that the pet started gaining an ego and it also lost a few good friends in the neighbourhood. Frustration started building up. As far as I am concerned, I am working hard for the pet to learn more tricks and be well known in its circle, whereas the pet was losing its social circle, sometimes delivering those tricks well, sometimes miserably failed and people laughed at me. The vicious cycle went on and on until one day the pet got tired of me and deserted me.

The same people who appreciated me started flipping their tongues other way; started blaming and foul-mouthing me. They said I am such a bad pet-owner that never really cared about the pet, but it was all about boosting my ego and myself than really caring about the cute little pet.

I am wondering what did I do? I loved the pet so much, fed it nicely, dressed it up, spent my time and energy to help the pet learn new tricks, took it around the neighbourhood to show its talents. I was only meaning well to the pet. The same people who clapped, cried and appreciated me are throwing brickbats at me? Many people secretly yearned that they couldn't have a pet like that and chided their pets and nudged them to be like my pet - now they have all left me in a lurch.

I was so depressed that not only I lost my new found glory, but more importantly my loveable pet - what am I going to do? In addition the blue-cross is at my door steps to investigate - I might face a jail too.

I hope this story doesn't reminds you of this recent incident (click here to know) or brings any uncanny resemblance, I am not responsible. Please note the above story is not true but I was reminded when I read how Kailash Satyarthi got a Nobel peace prize for helping recover poor children from labour. By no way, I mean the incident in the link is about child labour, but more importantly is linked to better mental health for kids.

I only wish, that all children grow along their age curve, enjoy their pranks and time - while we talk about work life balance, we also should bring a healthy grow-play-learn balance concept for our young ones. May peace be upon you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Newspaper is dead, Long live the 'New' Social-e-Paper

Blog gist: In the technology driven, Information anywhere world, newspapers need to reinvent how they communicate, focus on new concepts, (drop the 'Know your English' mentality) and time is an essence - tell the story real quick - just don't be a Modi basher and learn it from Rajnikanth's Kochadiiyan. psst: who are the two anchors who have resigned/gone on a month unpaid holiday!!

Now over to the full story:
The Hindu newspaper was a precious commodity at our house. The head of the family had his first rights to the paper - After a customary glance through news and other sections, the paper would be neatly folded back and on its place fresh. Then the elder brother ran through the sports pages and back in its fold.

Being the last in pecking order not only for the family but to The Hindu as well. I started reading The Hindu when I was 8 or 9.  Typically the interest started from the reverse sections of the paper - sports pages. Then moved on to 'This day that age', S&T, Tuesday's Know Your English, Friday's Entertainment, Sunday Magazines and I finally grew up to reading the political sections. By the time I started reading the editorial, lead or open column I would have been probably 17.Retaining the fresh look and returning to its folds took me years to learn. I used to be awed by how my father could read it even in a windy bus drive and retain its fold. 

There was a brand to The Hindu, a societal elitist look on you if you were known to be an avid reader. Whereas some of my father's friends read a dusty Indian Express who would frown upon, but still secretly look up to The Hindu reader's for its English panache.

Fast forward 20 years: I am not an avid reader of The Hindu anymore. Profession facilitating travel around the globe led to reading The Washington Post, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and recently The Daily Sabah too. But to be honest, I have stopped reading these papers and use technology to bespoke relevant news as a summary.

In addition I have a set of blogs and also Apps that filters and gives me the essence. As if this is not enough, I have my own sources of "grapevine providers" So you can say I am actually a news-junkie and not only that, you can also say I am a new world order- Fast News Junkie.  (like a fast food junkie) and I don't have time!

This morning I decided to take it to the 1990s style and woke up with e-Hindu. I read a good write up from by Shiv Visvanathan. After many years, If anything hasn't changed it is The Hindu. Apart from a short-period of their interesting ads and their bold take on to the TOI plus a few aesthetic bits, nothing has changed fundamentally. Hope my above write-up gives them a dose of what is already happening to the "Media" and what is more to come.

I actually wanted to write a "closed" letter to Mr Shiv Visvanathan. But why not make it a bit more interesting with my own view of The Hindu and use his article as a means. I used a summariser app and the gist provided by an app: 

  1. Acting as the vector of a new generation, Mr. Modi decimated the Congress.
  2. Watching the rituals of Delhi one senses, first, signs of doubt, about the paucity of new ideas.
  3. In this scenario, Mr. Modi as the new Patel rules instead of an adolescent Nehru (Rahul Gandhi) but the categories are not different
In less than a fortnight this gentleman has passed on the verdict. However in order to pass his views, he has used language to his best use. "If one looks at it starkly, India stands between a desiccated left and an inflated right. Yet, one stands at a time when the left and the right as ideologies or problem-solving solutions are outdated. The nature of history has changed and Mr. Modi’s moves look outdated." 

So let me say through the closed letter to Shiv, that this blog is not about Modi or defending his nascent government. It is about highlighting that Shiv's profession may be teaching, but his pastime of writing articles in newspapers is under threat.

"The News Paper is dead, Long Live the social-e-paper!"  If he looks abstemiously in to my above write-up this will be clear.

  1. Those days of long winded flowering articles are fading. Like the Cricket Test matches, they may provide a platform to enjoy the technique of writing, but IPL has come to stay - so a new social news order has come to stay.
  2. The ideology of left vs. right has been dead with Cold War v1.0 and the v2.0 is about capitalism and naked truth is nothing but that. Even though left had a presence in India, contrary to popular belief India has never (in my opinion) understood either left or right wing politics - Simply because those models have never been described by any statesman or proponent to India and its polity. There were some notable names, but these Models were never explored even as a proof of concept, let alone an actual implementation. 
He then goes on to discuss the problems in a set of 3 triangles - The first triangle (allegedly inspired by French Revolution - which is the need for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity), Second triangle (Industrial - Productivity, growth and efficiency), but instead of projecting the third problem, he says it is the third solution!!! Which is Uniformity, Governance and Security.

So for the above problems or the needs, he outlines three solutions

  1. A Social Contract  which brings Nature and Ways of livelihoods
  2. Democracy as electoralism must go instead should be seen as plurality
  3. Technology blend of culture into a cultic religion: Technocratic-fundamentalism
Unfortunately my summariser app has chosen to omit his above "innovative" thinking altogether.

  1. People across the globe largely have moved to left-centre or right-centre. So he has decided to bring new concepts which make little sense to me, if in fact he has really found some new concepts, then he should work hard to share  them much more succinctly.
  2. Like the politics, Media is also changing, the news consumption is changing.
I see three problems here and let me explain using Venn diagrams. Even though Shiv talked about three triangles and forgot to mention one, I am going to use Venn's Circles.

So the first set is whether one wishes or not, technology has changed the world and will go on changing it as it did in the Mechanical and Computing Industrial revolutions. The new world order of "social media" has arrived. 

The second circle that cuts into first circle is, the way people consume news, consume information and more importantly the way people will analyse news means the Media outlets have to work hard in bringing out "quality debates" - they have a choice of a) run a 24x7 news channel that has a set of anchors shouting at 9PM every day or b) to bring new world-order news consumption techniques.(grapevine: and as I write this, I hear two lead-anchors have resigned from CNN-IBN nothing to do with their "high pitch debates" - they have apparently gone to a month unpaid holiday)  

Three, sorry unlike Shiv I don't see a third problem Grrr. (Mixing humor, so keeping my reader's attention) Actually the third problem is we don't have time, so make your point very quickly or pitch a point in 1 minute elevator pitch and maybe we will come again tomorrow to read your full story. 

With the above three problems, I see three areas for change.
  • The Hindu and Shiv instead of debating about politics, should first think about renewing its communication mechanism,  story-line vs. actual content of article, using pictures or other means to share new topics. Originally The Hindu was just a newspaper, then it introduced Sundays, then Tuesdays, then Fridays, then a supplement every day. In a similar manner, try to change your communication models to the new world order
  • As you pitched yourself as a quality paper (as opposed to the likes of TOI), try engaging the audience with quality debates by encouraging new order concepts, keep the language really simple and don't regurgitate words. Know your English era is fading, there are many other ways now people can learn better English. So drop your English panache and focus on real ideas.
  • Time is an essence, before publishing try using a summariser app to see if the real message comes through. As highlighted above, Shiv's message only shows his bias about Modi when I ran his article through the summariser. If he was truly trying to engage the audience about new type of politics and nation building then the proof of the pudding is out there - his message has been omitted in algorithimisation (yes I can make up some new words like Shiv - and wake up the techncrati is going to rule the world whether you like it or not) -
So if you don't want them to rule and if "this type of world view was thought to be more dangerous than any secularism that you and your friends might have espoused", then wake up, learn the new tricks to stop them. Hope my write-up makes sense and The Hindu reinvents itself. Also please use http://freesummarizer.com/ to see if my message is conveyed - try to shrink it to 5 sentences and see if the gist conveys my message :)

Finally a joke to finish the order of the day (truly from Facebook). Apparently the media has junked "Kochadiiyan" that the graphics looks like amateurish and the film quality was not to its expectation and cannot match to the Hollywood grandeur and so on and on. This social-media junkie  rips apart and truly reflecting to the new world-order expectations that "We also expect our Indian media and news channels to be like the NY times, the CNNs, the BBCs or the Al-Jazeeras' - but what do we get? Shrill pitched anchors and garbage news! - so are we complaining that we don't get international quality media and news outlets - No! - Just keep quiet and move on!...."

Anyway somehow got Rajini and Deepika's photo to get more coverage to my blog! Vaybara Gaantham-appa... (Business Magnet) - If you have fully read this write-up to the end, then I have succeeded in the new-news world!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good Morning 'Modi'fied India

Assuming exit polls are true, tomorrow will undoubtedly be a good morning and a dawn to India.  I moved out of India when the previous NDA government was midway in power and hope to go back when they are back in power!

5 key takeaways if the polls results lean towards a majority vote to BJP+

1. EVM cannot be tampered? If it is a hung verdict like 2009, then this scepticism will go up, if not it will vindicate the EVMs

2. It is indeed a Modi wave - After 1984 there has never been a majority. In the new social media age, with so much changed, getting a majority in India is actually a wave but not a clean sweep. Yes a wave gently brushes your foot and removes what's underneath your foot, doesn't sweep you off like a tsunami

3. India's democracy will be going through its fifth major cycle of change. From the Nehruvian to Indira to Rao to Vajpayee to Modi. However as a political cycle it will set foot onto a federal set-up from a central (till Indira) to regional (till MMS).

4. India will it become the 1980s China? Ushering a growth not only for itself but to the wider global-economy?

5. A proper rule of law might finally happen. I am already hearing that many groups in Delhi are facing the unknown and are clueless on their next strategy. They have all along played chamchas and will be uprooted.

In fact Delhi will not be the Capital any more!

All the best India.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

3 Reasons Who Should Govern India Next

Short snappy recommendation - Give BJP your vote

1. Let me tackle 2002 straight away: In spite of 10 years of congress led full-focus investigation, an iota of tenable proof has not been found; so I believe  BJP's PM candidate is not at blame yet. Re. Apology, yes he should do - but if almost an entire nation has hounded someone for more than decade, it is the Nation that should first Apologise and then expect one back.

2. Change can be better implemented only if the governing team has a bit of freedom to handle - So stability and majority is key; From this perspective BJP should be voted to Majority - for people who are concerned about possible repercussions, After 12 years No Riots in Gujarat is the proof of pudding. So for BJP to implement things better vote for them to be in Majority

3. No other viable alternative (NOTA) is to be seen as OOTA - Only Other Tangible Alternative. When you have a narrow set of choices e.g. one is unwell, and in alternate set of medicines, there is only one option that is available; with that there is a threat of cancer (i will use Media's analogy - but personally I don't believe so) - but the probability of success is high too.  - So VOTE 4 BJP to win in Majority.

Thank you.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kedi's Day Out 2014

It was an event too good to miss; fortunately I was in a position to make it to the Kedi's (Rowdy's) Day out - an alumni of JHSS 10th class batch especially for the D section gang with a couple from other sections too.

When the day was organised, in my hearts and hearts I wanted to go. But my personal situation had constrained me until the last moment. But things turned in my favour and I booked in Air India and flew to Chennai.  It was a short 8 days trip with jam packed schedule. In addition the alumni event was also packed with a strong agenda.

When one expects so much, something is bound to go wrong. You may have guessed it right, if you had paid attention to previous para - I booked my trip with Air India. The dinner was horrible leading to a food poisoning to a few passengers. For some reason just after a mouthful of that dinner, my gut instinct warned me. I too fell sick with a bad headache. Luckily, I stabilised and more to my surprise landed half-an-hour early. I pranced around happily with a confident feeling to reach the event; but I was greeted with a delay message by 3 hours, that meant I had to spend 6 hours at Mumbai, more importantly, my plans were going to go astray.

It was painful, but I decided not to get frustrated. And just on a day like this, everything worked perfectly. I was the first person to clear immigration checks, one of the very first to get my baggage and someone assisted me in transferring my baggage to Chennai. So with all those tasks complete in less than 30 minutes, I went around an almost empty Mumbai airport (as it was 4AM). Then I found a nice food-court, ate Idly (just to be safe); I got a free internet log-in for 30 minutes, but alas only 30 minutes. Ha there were lot of free daily newspapers. I read same news from different dailies; tried even spelling out each syllable and read a Hindi daily (Dainik Bhaskaran). How else do you kill time? I took a quick shower, changed my clothes, tried a bit of hustle with Air India to put me on earlier flight - well nothing worked.

Finally landed at Chennai, visited a couple of close friends (due to a particular situation that I cannot share it in the blog, I prioritised to meet those friends first), then went over to meet my family.

At last, onto the highlight of the day/trip to Kedi's Day Out!!

My heart skipped a beat as I walked into the lift at the venue, can't explain how it felt - There were many thoughts. These are my friends from kindergarten days.The first 13/14 years of my life had been with these guys.  It is special, they knew everything about me, they know the Original Bajji (my name in school)! No Fake, Pure Bajji!!

Not many would have reflected this view. I think one is too naive to be fake (aka Matured) in their first 12-14 years of life - especially if one grew up in a remote town like Neyveli. So meeting such friends is always special with so much hype and expectations, It was exciting. What if they judged or rejected me, worse didn't recognise me at all? What if there was an awkward silence - then in a split second, I realised, I am not judging anyone and I was going there plain simple, so they would be the same - coz' this friendship was built on foundational days - so nothing would be judgemental or awkward. I can be myself.

As these thoughts resolved, I exited the lift and there was a hurrah when they saw me. It was hugs, pats and kicks that I gave them a pleasant surprise to everyone and a great feeling. As usual the Kedis started chitt-chatting about yester-year mischiefs etc. Interestingly we remembered most of our teachers (even though we were notorious) and their impact on us.

I was one of the last guys to leave. It was close to midnight and as I walked back (nervously - mainly because of the street dogs), I reflected the day. We had shared our personal stories, a few friends came on line via Google hang-out and it was truly a global get together. One thing stood common, some of us were top scorers, some like me were all over the place, some average rank holders. But today we were all accomplished or to put it exactly - satisfied with what we are! all of us had hit some or other stumbling roadblocks; but we chose to work hard to overcome those challenges and difficult phases in life.

That presents a perspective, life's experiences and one's approach to take on those situations makes you who you really are. We still haven't figured it all, there were few more hurdles to be removed. One thing was sure, we may have 'matured' to world's expectations, but the Kedis were all about fun. It was better than American Pie reunion. It is real!

They say if you are friends with someone for 7 years, then it is a friendship for life, so in my case these guys are friends in this and next life! This is a special post to my Kedi friends. I am proud of you guys!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

AAP: Ada Assattu Pasanga Party

It happens only in India - Govinda's infamous song comes to my mind as I see the comedy show AAP. If anything AAP has achieved, it is that they have underlined their stupidity, in-experience and have made sure, no new party can rise to challenge of BJP & Congress for the foreseeable future.

I have expressed previously that I am not a great fan of Gandhi's "adam-pudikkum" non-cooperation movement, even though it helped us to get freedom. It is a bad practice and a bad example for not only kids but also for democracy. Anyway it worked in 19th/20th century, but it is not a valid tool anymore. Today for every other challenge one does a dharna in India. In the absence of an information medium, one man fasting and dharna created ripples, but today you have the instant judge and lightning fast judiciary arms such as 24x7TV, Twitters and FB's. If a message needed to be conveyed and acted up on, it can be made possible. Instead what does AAP do? Dharna!!! I digress...

Modi has been Gujarat's CM since 2001 and has successfully implemented some or other schemes (because the moment Modi's achievements are mentioned, someone will come with a % based statistic to disprove - btw % is one of the most abused measure). Except for a few, most would agree that he has delivered 24x7 electricity, Sabarmati re-furb and a few other schemes... More importantly no riots since 2002;  in addition he has convinced his party across multiple states (Gujarat, Goa, Maharastra, Bihar hmm actually, all of BJP's state functionaries) PM nominee and all these in highly charged hostile, step-motherly environment.

Compare that with this guy AK from AAP; An IIT-ian, and also an ex-IRI fellow. or Compare him with UP's CM...

In spite of the hostile environment, did Modi not participate in democracy? did he not go to all-CMs meeting? (Unlike JJ from TN, Modi never walked off  from the CM's conference or sent a second rank minister) did he not meet our MMS - 'Mutta Mestri' Singh and seek solutions for Gujarat? Even though he received very little help from MMS & Co. He has done something... Has he not? Instead of tearing up the letters from Centre (like our RaGa), Modi always engaged Central government and persevered. Think along these lines, one would see that Modi is a better democrat and a governor.

AAP and AK have taken Gandhi (I mean Mohanchand not Rahul) and applied his idea directly. It is akin to a developer copying code, without realising the context...(I have copied code, but will fully re-modify ;) )... The point is Dharna would take you only that far; Gandhi himself was well aware of its value and hence he went to the round-tables and other participative means to keep the conversation going. Also a less discussed fact that Gandhi was the power centre and he allowed other leaders to join the government, embed the party leaders into governance(even prior to Independence). If AK had truly understood Gandhi (Mohanchand & Sonia), he would have let Yogendra or someone else become the CM and remain as AAP's functioning party leader. Thus he could have kept the movement going (if it was his primary motivation). This guy has gone overboard and will soon lose his sheen, dampen aspirations further.

India needs better governors, not these Asattu pasanga...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Operation 6 year old - Success

I decided to test it on my 6 year old to see if he has got it. My parents should have let me taken this test, but those days we never had these much challenges. So unfortunately I took these tests only in my teenage and not to mention, I failed and still appear to these tests once in a while. A trifle satisfaction is that my wife also appears with me to take these tests and fail 'em but these days very rarely but still continue to appear. That's one advantage of marriage (I don't know why, but we spend money and still take it, with the HOPE that one day we will learn our lessons finally).

But as the next generation starts, I wanted him to take it up early in his life - if he passed it, then life-long it will be a lesson and if he didn't then, we got another one to join us for the next sitting.

This all started when one of our friends suggested this idea. What are friends for? Recently they moved back to UK after a couple of years in India. They were sharing these wonderful stories about India, malls, movies, and pani-puris. Apparently their boys had taken these tests in India and are used to it. Believe me in India, a lot of kids these days go take it, just so much peer-pressure! They talked my boy into it and he was really looking forward to it.

On Sunday they joined us for Lunch and the boys though they knew it from their previous experience, they really didn't know what they were getting into this time. We allowed them to play XBOX and fed 'em with good lunch. Good Parenting you see, no pressure. My 6 year old boy was kind'a excited and was ably joined by other two kids. The rush was setting in.

It was time!

We drove in two separate cars and reached the hall, got the necessary passes. The kids wanted a treat before going into the hall. We as mature adults, didn't budge - It was a clear NO. They will have to go into the hall for 3 hours of tests and may be in between at the break, they can get an ice cream. Poor kids - the phrase Bakra came to my mind.

As usual, we went and sat in the back row. (Ah always back-benchers) and my 2 year old didn't know what was happening, she got scared a bit. Poor thing, she didn't know she will be subjected to such a severe test when she turns 6. Who knows may be early too. My boy kept nagging me. Any one who's been to a test before sure knows that last minute tension and stress. There may be a few minutes to start, but you would better like it just start and get on with it. So, I understood his feelings and was very supportive. After all, with so much pressure on a 6 year old these days.

It was time. The test had just begun. Boys were initially quite happy to take it, but within half-an-hour, they were exhausted. Given that we grown-ups had been taking the tests for 15 years, we were trained to the necessary stamina and resilience levels. But after 45 minutes or so, even we couldn't take it. My friends' wife, who really likes these tests - she herself couldn't take it.

Luckily my boy, he had a brilliant idea to get out. He raised his hand for a wee-wee; I happily took him out. This probably was one of the rarest moments that I had taken him happily to the loo even without the missus pushing me to do it. Wifey was fuming because she couldn't grab the opportunity as she was having the 2 year old who was sleeping like an angel. I mentally noted, sleep my dear little one. One day you will go through this pain and I am sorry. It is for your betterment.

Fortunately we had the break between the tests and all of us rushed out with a deep sigh. My friend and I were discussing strategies for the next half of the tests - the boys were tired, but were looking forward to the ice-creams. Then it started again - My son he couldn't take it. He begged, pleaded - Nope I didn't budge. I decided - he just needed to stay in there till the finish and it will be a lesson fulfilled for his whole life. He was really frustrated. He might have thought I am the worst dad in the whole world. Never mind, one day he will thank me.

Shrewd guy that he is, threw a master strategy back - He said if i just stay in here till the finish, will i pass? I said yes, then he said, give me your phone and let me play a game. I said, Ha but my loan phone (as Nokia & Vodafone have ruined my smart phone) is a basic one. He said never mind, "give me the phone, I will just play a very basic game of popping the bubbles, let the time run out and I will come out fully passed. I swear will never ever come to a Tamil cinema especially this guy Vijay's movies" - Jilla Nee Jeichuttada! (Click here)

Post-Script: We adults have not yet learned the lesson after Sura and such movies - we continue to waste time & money on it. So it was my way of teaching my son a valuable lesson. If you are young and not a teenager, your mind will still be healthy and will reject crap. My 6 year old boy did it. He sat there bravely for three hours and I am sure will never set foot on the movie halls any more.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mumbai T2: Why do we need to spend lavishly?

My friends in India are quite pleased about the way T2 has been done. Needless to say that Media are
excited about T2.

The Hindu: "The T2 terminal is touted to be larger than Singapore's Changi T3 (3.80 lakh sqm) and London's Heathrow T5 (3.53 lakh sqm)"

Ibnlive: "The four-storey glass marvel, whose design has been inspired by a dancing peacock"

NDTV: "The terminal boasts of tens of thousands of artifacts and paintings, housing arguably one the largest collections in the world at an airport."

Indiatoday: A three kilometer long 'art walk' titled 'Jaya He' has been built inside the T2. It displays Indian art pieces between the 8th century and 19th century

Is it actually worth it for a developing country like India? While we try and throw spanner into Mangalyaan type of space projects, actually these T2 type of wastages should be culled. This a classic example of just copying existing implementations, with no attention to what is actually required today and in future. Actually India has gone beyond aping the western world's model of airport building.Who defines that airports should be built in such a way? If the passengers can get in and out in a queue, receive their bags in time and fly out & in in-time then the purpose is well served.

I read on the net that people on average spend 4-10 hours on airport layovers. I also understand for Airbus a380  needs more landing space, but where is the need for a lavish layover when there is a billion people in the country who would need a lot more space in future.  There is an argument that if you are stuck in delays, then the layovers could be useful to spend your time. Seriously? I don't think this is a sound argument... if you are stuck because of delays, you may be keen to window-shop but would you go visit the art gallery? I think if you did, you might miss another flight and get further delayed.

Why is nobody thinking about alternate designs and building things suited to Indian context? In fact this should be the case for all countries. When the world is reeling in recession and billions are starving, Countries need to plan and build in a sustainable way. As internet and Kinect type of technologies are enabling virtual presence, business related travel might actually start to drop off over the next few years. Leisure and tourism might be the key travel reasons, Even if this is not the so - why overload airport infrastructure for very little returns? The maintenance cost over years is going to mount on the public. Am I the only one who is concerned about such extravagant, no-purpose layovers?

Let me clarify that I am not against building new terminals or expanding infrastructure, I only advocate for minimalistic and effective use of funds, acreage in such infrastructure projects. There is no point in competing with China or West on these projects. There are also additional indirect expenses like electricity utilisation, people and maintenance costs. This money could have pooled for building multiple bus-stands or local train stations.

Above all, not many would know that India's aviation policy under UPA-2, allegedly 200,000 seats a week has been magnanimously given to middle-east sector through Jet-Etihad deal (Ref: https://medium.com/p/ab752d0cf543). If this is the case, how will T2 operate successfully as a Hub?

Literally on a very bad foundation, a multi-story T2 has been built. Even if the above posture of Jet deal is a farce, still it begs the question - why should India lavishly spend on airports in a needless and meaningless race of sprawling airports? 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 will be a special year for many

I wish 2014 to be a special year for many and my hunch is it will be.

2013 for some reason, has been a challenging year not only for me, but for many of my near and dear ones; also to some of my friends of friends. When such a challenge comes, I only see the benefit, that we will all come better off with the experience. I remember the write-up by Clayton Christensen about how to measure life. Please do read this article. (Click here).

I had 4 clear objectives for 2013. 2 of those have been accomplished, other 2 are in-progress. These are not monetary goals and hence not some thing that can be easily quantified. However the accomplished goals are going to deliver through my rest of my life. With that the case, I am signing off 2013 in a strong state of play.

So why I think 2014 will be special to many?

I admire Aandal  for many reasons. An 7-8th Century Woman mystic who occupies a special place in Hinduism and will always be remembered at the end of every year. A lot of Hindu followers in South India, sing her poems during the month of Margazhi. (December - January).

I grew up in Neyveli in quite a religious context with every morning of this season spent in Krishnan Temple. A special memory that forms part of this season goes back to days when i was about 10 or 11 years old. The cook of this temple fell sick and I was called for help to cook Pongal under his guidance and that also became the starting point of my culinary skills. It was a daunting task given the fact the amount of pongal that need to be prepared and also that it was for public consumption. It may have been under the chef's instruction, but preparing in open fire with very minimal prior experience was a huge ask. I still remember the excitement and nervousness when I was called in for the service. I really don't know till date, why I was woken up at around 3:15 AM and summoned for cooking.

Anyway, this season is always remembered with Aandal and to her paeans. I may not be religious today, but I am a lot more spiritual then i ever was and I owe it to her a lot. When people talk about the plight of Woman in India, I think of Aandal and Maitreyi. Once in India, these two women reached the heights that cannot be described. Also, it allows us to reflect on the society's maturity those days.

Aandal is one among the 12 highly acclaimed poets of Hindu tradition. This is unfathomable feat. Also one of the paeans proclaims that her 30 songs is actually the essence of Vedas and in fact anyone who hasn't read these 30 verses are said to be a burden to earth and its existence. If indeed the society was male-dominated those days, then this achievement gains a lot more respect.

Many have written about her 30 songs (known as Thiruppaavai); I am keen to present my interpretation but will reserve it for another day.
As a gist,
the first 5 stanzas describe the 5 earthly elements and its impact,
the next 10 stanzas attempt to wake up the human spirit to recognize,
the next 1 is to open up the heavenly gates for change,
the following 5 stanzas is to wake up the Godliness,
the next 7 stanzas portrays different abilities of Gods
and the last 2 establishes the Oneness.

The tradition is every one of these stanzas are associated with a day in Hindu Calendar. 2013 ends with the 16 stanzas that attempt to wake up the human spirits and the rest 14 will play out in 2014 January. Today 31st Dec coincides the 16th stanza and it is about her request to open the heavenly portal (metaphorical portal for change). It is hard to miss the symbol as the new year dawns to this change. It is a great coincidence and hence my hunch that 2014 will be a great year for betterment. (btw can one actually explain the reason for hunch?)

So I wish a happy new year 2014 and let this year usher welcome changes to you and all leading to fulfillment. In Aandal's words Let us all be together and happy(கூடி இருந்து குளிர்ந்தேலோர் ); Let the light be with all of us. (எங்கும் திருவருள் பெற்று இன்புறுவர்)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Missus and her friends suddenly turned religious?

Back in India, month of Margazhi is an auspicious time and is dedicated to Godliness. Especially in the yester years, girls wake up early in the morning and do rangoli etc.

This afternoon the missus, her friends and their friends were discussing on the phone about an early morning program. I heard them saying - we should get up early in the morning, quickly bathe, dress-up and be ready for queuing up. They also chatted about their pre-marriage times during Margazhi that it was habitual and used to wake up early during Margazhi, bathe in spite of the cold weather (!) and hence this should help for the next day activity. Hmm I thought what happened to these women? Has the Margazhi month finally made an impact on these women that they have suddenly become so pious...

One of them talked about the fact that crowd and queues can be challenging, that husbands take care of the kids. I got a bit queasy... OMG how am I going to manage a 2 and 6 year old the next day morning. I just nodded uneasily without clues.

Then they started talking that it is once in a year activity and benefits the whole family. So they indeed should go early in the morning.  Hmm the women must be keen to participate in the religious activity and seek blessings for the whole family; if so, then I should take care of the kids.

The next topic was that I should probably make the food, so they can come back around 11 have a brunch and head back. Wow I thought, these women are indeed trying their best, may be catching up the missed opportunities for the whole year and earnestly making efforts to touch-base to their religious side. If this is the case, then somehow I should manage the kids and cook as well. Now they are talking about waking about 4AM or 5AM... They even talked about the point that if they over-slept then may be can queue up after 11 as the crowds would have tamed.

I really felt glad that the missus, her friends have suddenly turned a new leaf and planning to participate in the religious events. I said to myself that the next day must be Vaikunta Ekadesi. So I rushed to check the calendars if it was vaikunta ekadesi - the annual 11th day festival when the heavenly portal opens up and people are blessed. But no it is not ekadesi? So where are they all planning to queue-up?

Apparently Boxing Day sale! Aaha withouth realising this, I promised to cook and take care of kids as well. Worse, the wallet is going to go for a toss! 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Mangalyaan - India's Pride, World's Envy; MAVEN - US be accused of extravagance!

Many a views of have been written about India's space mission to Mars. In Astrology this is the planet that symbolises Ambition & Competition and also known to be the God of Wars. India has successfully launched its first mission towards Mars - Everyone knows that it is THE cheapest amongst all Mars missions but I observed that many media outlets haven't highlighted the important subtle fact that an opportunity to launch Mars missions only occur every 2 years. So If India's ISRO had missed this window, it would have had to wait till Jan 2016.

This needs to be seen in  the context, that the project was approved in Aug 2012 (though studies started in 2010), the team had to work hard to a successful launch by 2013 November -  In a record time, the satellite was designed, produced and put to launch, and remember the team need to work out communication aspects etc (for long range comms) in parallel. (for IT folks, I don't need to mention project success rates, especially if it is the first time!) Though India had already done quite a few space missions, this one falls entirely in a different spectrum. Instead of discussing all the pros & cons about India, I look at it in a different perspective.

Undoubtedly the ISRO team should be appreciated, acknowledged and awarded accolades (a lot of 'a's) - Those guys have really aced it. Request not to view it as an Indian mission, but in a non-partisan way, if a team has achieved a success that has got no parallel, in a true sportsmanship spirit, that team needs to be felicitated and they deserve it.

I would like to close my eyes and think for a minute, if life in earth is really endangered- would I/you travel for an year on a space-craft to go to Mars (assuming we set habitable camp in Mars)? I think the answer is Yes of course. Hopefully that situation never arises. But hey with the way things are going one day having a back-up is necessary. A company might be a start-up and/or really short-cashed, but still they would have definitely built a level of redundancy - now I know where I am going with this, but let me park this thought here, as that line of argument has no end to it (as the redundancy requirement is actually hypothetical, unless someone proves Mars can be inhabited)

But this blog is about a different perspective. So I really want to go back to my previous thought - as ISRO team built Mangalyaan, so did NASA build MAVEN in parallel. However Mangalyaan project's cost was 10% of MAVEN's - The ISRO team, sort of a first timer (as far as Mars mission is concerned) built it in 15 months, at 10% cost of a similar project - If you can't call this an achievement, what else would you felicitate? It has been successful up until now and is in its last but second lap towards Mars - Forget poverty and other clichéd arguments  - This team has done something that needs to be commended! So let us set aside those arguments and let us just give them a round of applause. But why do i keep talking about this team's efforts? What is my truly different perspective here?

A lot of articles and blogs have taken different sides on poverty and India's extravagance in building a Mars mission. So I did something different. I compared USA's GDP, Unemployment, Financial spend for NASA in 1950's. The picture looked bleak and comparable to what India is/was. In a way, one could say that India is like the 1960's US. So what US was doing in 1960, India has achieved a similar feat in 2013. Here my base case is the failed Apollo 13 mission (as James Lovell put it - a successful failure), even though Mangalyaan is still successfully continuing its journey. (Fingers crossed)

The flip-side and alternate perspective that I would like to finally present is that recently USA's financial situation has been a lot worse (obviously) but has spent approx $670M on MAVEN - So, shouldn't the media turn its 'guns' (i.e. the criticism) towards US for wasting the money instead of bailing out its economy? In fact one can argue that US has already been successful in its mission, so why not pause it until its deeply troubled economy starts its way up? I think it is a valid poser to US and media should turn the heat on MAVEN's needs. But instead what does the media do? questions India on its Mars mission...

I can now safely say this, even if the mission gets into a muddle after this point, the world will recognise(!) it as a success. In fact I was waiting for Dec 1st and then put my thoughts, because I wanted to make sure the mission successfully kicked off to Mars from earth's orbit.

For a first-timer to jump 200,000 kms and continue to jump a million kms a day, this is extraordinary. I am sure it will fire up many many young growing minds in India and set a new direction akin to the 1980's/1990's IT Industry led growth. It is truly a small step (and may be an unnecessary) as far as the world is concerned, but a GIANT LEAP for India and its fellow nationals. At least that is the feeling I get from my social media interactions.

On a lighter note: Ha, another outsourcing industry and revenue stream for India! May be, Mangalyaan will become the Nano-car in the space travel:)

Alt. Perspective 1: Kudos to the team for its extra-ordinary achievements, you will fire up the imaginations of many as well as set up benchmarks for performance (This is the different perspective) for other space missions across the world. US,EU, China's Space Project Directors, now you have a target! Watch it you will be measured on these criteria from here on. No pressure!

Alt. Perspective 2: US be accused of extravagance on MAVEN.

Good night!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Sama Veda Upakaram - Update for 2013

I am very pleased to see there are a lot of Sama Vedic people who have recently contacted me. To ensure appropriate communications, please send me an email and I will send the links to you and make you as a collaborator on the google docs - these should display as zip files - Step 1,2,3 & 4.

But before you use these pdf documents, some general comments - I humbly and kindly request you to PLEASE READ These before you do.
  1. These procedures are for the Sama Veda Followers only
  2. Second sub-point is these mantras are followed by Jaiminiya Sutra of Sama Veda only
  3. I am told that only three branches of Sama Veda have survived:
    1. Jaimini, 
    2. Kowthama 
    3. Rānāyanīya 
  4. In order to find your saka - try slowly saying your "abhivadaye" and you can find the Sutra you belong to.
  5. In case you need any help, give me a shout and I can see if I can be of help.
Happy Avani-Avittam for Sama-Vedikas (07-Sep-2013).

Sanskrit equivalent for the year, month, day & star =
Vijaya-nama-Samvatsare (Vijaya named year)
Dhakishna-Ayne (When the earth is is on its southern sojourn)
Varusha-Rithu (Rainy Rithu)
Sraavana-Maase (Month)
Shukla-Paksha (Moon on Waxing State)
Thriuthiyam (Day - three)
Sthira-vasara (Saturday)
Hastha Nakshthra (Star of Hastha)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Suppli Balla" - A new game on the making!

I am enjoying my time off with my son and in order to up the fun, I decided to 'invent' a new game.

One of my childhood stories is about me making a new dish called 'Kaja-Buja'. I guess my skills were quite on display from the very beginning and I have been a 'creator' always. Kaja-Buja tasted yummy to my family members as this was an innovative dish (please ask recipe through email), even though you need a few ingredients to make the dish, you actually don't need fire to cook it. Well, looks like i have been health conscious all the way.

But today I want to proudly share the new game. (my son improvised it as we went through). I also trialed this game at my friends' place with their two kids (doubles version). I should say it was real fun and especially playing it with kids makes it great. So try it with caution, if you have any doubts - you know how to reach me. Any royalty claims belong to me.

What do you need? a ball and the rules. This game has been inspired by Volleyball, Tennis, football, basketball but very little cricket (How could we have a game without the influence of Cricket?). The objective of the game is to keep your score low. Whoever has the lowest score is the winner. In our game room, we made a net using a few play things. This net actually makes the room into two halves. Now the player is chosen by a special toss. Whoever loses the toss  starts the play. The player can use his/her leg, arm whatever and try to hit it on the opposite wall. The opponent needs to stop it - however the main objective is to tease the opponent and try and make sure the opponent touches your side and btw you should not touch or cross to the other side, else you will start to gain points - if he touches your side, he loses, but gains a point i.e. teasing is the most important aspect in the game. Here comes the basketball rule, you cannot hold on to the ball more than 5 seconds, if you do then you have to tap the ball on the other side and try and take it back again.

When you have more than 2 players, similar to power play the tallest player needs to stand behind and protect against the ball touching the wall but with the aim to catch the ball and this player is equivalent to the goal-keeper except he cannot strike the ball but only protect it (basically this is the role for dads). So the kids play in front and keep teasing the other kids in front. Dads, you should resist getting involved and try not score - the role is purely a blocker role like in volleyball. Every time, a person scores by touching the other side, the ball has to be served by the kid who has crossed the line (else, the kid will start crying - so the service essentially goes to the loser!)

So how do you end if there is a draw/rain? This is where Cricket's D/L method comes into play - since we are in England, the rules often come to play because of rain (?? but i thought the game is to played indoors?) The rain, i am talking about is either moms getting really upset by too much noise or one of the kids starts crying like rains! Now you know the game needs to be closed quickly both these scenarios are dangerous conditions to play - so allow the kid to go for a super bowl and announce individual winners and run away - else they will continue to torture you to announce a clear winner - the super bowl technique is just another distraction, before i call it a day and hurry for a wee - now the whole scenario gets messy with you in the toilet room, 4th umpire (one's wife/kids mom) comes into play - She will say enough is enough and the kids quietly dismiss!!! (Enjoy with your kids and feedback for improvising the game, but please don't try it without elders or don't try to improvise by yourself)

PS: Its time to ask me why is the game named "Suppli Balla"
Suppli means a Kid in tamil (nam thai mozhi சுப்பா/சுப்பி - plural suppli, suppli also means "Surprise" in French); Balla means to spar in Hindi (Hamara Rashtrabasha) - Eppudi?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fellow Indians, Cricket and CSK Fans: It's the time to decide!

When news about Sri Srinivasan should have been making us proud, the other Srinivasan is shaming us all over. This blog is an urgent appeal to Indian youth and all, in particular to my fellow CSK fans.

We do not have time as the final is tomorrow and I am requesting you to do something that is going to be against what you all hoped for - Request CSK to NOT play tomorrow but more importantly make sure finals happen between MI vs. RR or MI vs. SRH.

1. This is so-called 21st century of India belongs to 65% of Indians who belong to <35 under and most of them would follow IPL. So its time to show whether you like to follow rules and will be against corruption and/or  improbity.

The fight against corruption and malpractices start from you.

What is my logic?
Meyyappan was the CSK Principal till they "erased like a kid at school" the evidences all over the internet and that is an admission of guilt - Nobody can deny this.

I have seen some of my CSK friends post that why not arrest owners of MI/KKR for Vindoos' links, but a wrong cannot correct another wrong. So force the IPL governing body to follow the rules.

If you decide to take cover under technicality and let CSK play the finals - you fail a generation of fight against corruption and malpractices in India. History is watching you.

Finally, even if CSK wins, everyone is going to taint the win and do you need such a win? Instead choose the high road to call it off and to make sure cricket wins, force MI vs. RR or MI vs. SRH - by this option Cricket wins.

So its my plea - force the IPL governing body to change the finals.