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Karya Pragati Mein Hain

This blog is currently being reconstructed. No apologies for inconvenience caused. Deal with it, BUDDY!

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No imagination at all….

I am an Idiot. What’s New?

So Mr. Pomposity Personified is at it again. Of course, it’s not like I ever expected him to stop…

The Latest Salvo:

All this is very exciting for me. I look forward to boarding the AGV one of these days. But it is also a bit sad. India will never have anything that exciting. India just does not have the imagination. We are quite happy with our trains that do an average of 25 km/hr and our top speed trains average around 80 km/hr. It’s strange that passenger train service began in India over 150 years ago. We are a slow moving people.

If one types the words ‘High Speed Rail Link Delhi Mumbai’ one turns up a number of articles – which talk about that the fact that the Indian Government had proposed to build a high-speed rail link (a la the Japanese Shinkansen) between Delhi and Mumbai, in partnership with the Japanese government.

On conducting feasibility studies, and cost-benefit analyses, this plan was revised and replaced with the Mumbai Delhi Industrial Corridor – it was felt that money would be better spent developing industry and creating wealth than building a high-speed rail line which would probably cost the same as a first class airline ticket, and benefit fewer people than the construction of dedicated freight corridors, and industrial hubs across 4 states. But no. The great God of All Things has spoken. Indians lack imagination.

“It’s strange that passenger train service began in India over 150 years ago. “. No. It didn’t. It began in British India 150 years ago, with the express aim of moving resources from the source of exploitation to a point of consumption. But no. We are a ‘Slow Moving People’.

Schizophrenia?

How does one write two posts on the same subject with opposite points of view?

First you say you’re afraid of the car:

I have been reading about the Rs 1 Lakh (about US$2,500) car that Tata Motors is planning on selling soon.

It scares me witless. ……….

Yes, those cars scare the hell out of me.

Of course, then you also suggest what Ratan Tata should have done:

Ratan Tata is the “leader” in question when he decides that he will make the cheap car. Now he could have led alternatively. For instance, he could have called Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla, and other assorted movers and shakers of Indian industry and academia and said, “Guys and gals, let’s figure out what we need to do to solve India’s transportation problems. Let’s do the arithmetic and figure out which way we should go. And having figured it out, we push for that public policy to set that goal.

And then finally, without eating the least bit of humble pie (this would be a very nutritious dish in your case, Mr. Pompous Popinjay), you completely switch your stance:

 In any event, Tata Motors is making a game-changing move and I am proud that an Indian corporation is doing so. Way to go, Mr Ratan Tata. May you succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Interesting.

Riots & Terrorism Part 2

Response to a response

So although I will never really be acknowledged by The Head Typist, it’s interesting to note that my posts are responded to. I had written earlier about my opinion on the difference between Riots & Terrorism earlier, and why equating the 2 is dangerous. Well, according to the response to that post, Mr. D seems to assume what I am saying is: “Because you cannot punish everyone involved in a riot, you should let it go. But because you can catch all of those responsible for terrorist acts, you should focus on those”.

This is not what I said at all, and far be it from me to say that I am excellent writer and that my point was expressed well previously. So, to clarify, what I had said before is that the reason you should not equate Riots & Terrorism as the same thing is because the root causes are different.

This is why it’s damn near impossible to stop riots, and not terrorist attacks. By all means, punish the ones who are responsible, if it’s realistically possible. Is it possible in the type of riots that occured in Gujarat? So it means we need to punish the chief minister, his cronies, the police, and all of the people, which means some chunk of the citizenry of Gujarat. Best of luck, buddy. Yes, sure, in an ideal world where communists burn in hell, and the New Delhi traffic sticks to its lanes, this would be possible. But it’s not.

SO – how about actually trying to figure out WHY there is so much tension between the Hindus & Muslims of Gujarat that caused an explosion. It was limited to Gujarat – Why didn’t this tension spread to say Assam, or even Delhi for that matter, which is much closer? Why was restricted mostly to Gujarat? Has anybody sat down to determine the reasons? Yes, the Chief Minister incited the State Machinery. But the State Machinery was malleable to his will. How come? If I sat here and incited people to beat up somebody, nobody would listen to me. So how did he get that power? Are there laws that make policemen subordinate to Chief Ministers? Is that why the poplice did as they were told instead of behaving independently? What is the make up of the Gujarat police force? The general demographics of Gujarat. Is one community poorer than the other? If so why? Is it just 400 years of abuse? If yes, then why did this tension not surface elsewhere? Is the police force in other areas more diverse? If yes, then why wasn’t the Gujarati police force that diverse?

And on, and on and on. The causes behind the riots need to be studied, so that future riots don’t happen again. But the Head Typist simply says – killers are monsters, and should be punished. Oh what a lovely black and white world he lives in. Yes, for the most part, killers are monsters, but just like high-caste and low-caste people, black, brown white and yellow people, they are homo-sapiens too. many of them have functioning brains, and many of them are no dumber or smarter than you or I. I AM NOT SAYING THEY SHOULD NOT BE PUNISHED. I am saying that just punishing a few of the worst perpetrators in a riot, does not prevent future riots from occuring

When we talk about terrorism, punishing the damn fools who tried to blow up parliament, IS ENOUGH. It does send a message to other people out there with similar designs on their mind. It is also possible to CATCH individual terrorists and fry the bastards. The root-cause analysis I’ve mentioned above needs to be conducted to get behind the causes of terrorism too. But, even without that analysis, we can at least prevent the damage done by terrorists, to a REASONABLE extent. Put up metal detectors, x-ray baggage, get dogs to sniff for bombs. Yes, I concede that if somebody is determined to blow you up, they will eventually win. But just because the burglar/terrorist comes in through the window doesn’t mean you leave the door unlocked.

What preventive measures can one take against civil disorder? None. That is why it is called civil disorder. The System. Breaks. Down. So fix the system, or create a new one.

Terrosism is an attempt to fight The System, Riots are an implosion of the System.

If most people are happy with the system, Terrorism will occur, but it will fail, for the most part. If people are unhappy with a system, riots will occur, and terrorism will succeed.

Virtual Stupidity (which is very Real)

A change of subject to lessen my gloomy mood

First, before I move to the core of my rant, I’d just like to add as a side note, that Sepia Mutiny should be disqualified from the IndiBloggies Nominations. I’m not saying this because I was banned from them or because I dislike them – in fact I actually don’t dislike them, I ENJOY reading them.. HOWEVER, since it is Sepia Mutiny’s stance that they are a South Asian Blog, and not an Indian blog, what place do they have in an Indian Blog Award? Further, I recall (but cannot find the links to) a discussion on SM where when they were told they had won an Indian award, they specifically said ” But we’re 2nd-Gen Americans not Indian” or some such thing, with a mild amount of contempt (which may just be imagined by moi). So yea, I don’t think they should be part of these awards.

Update – Abhi Responds(it’s also in the comments):

Let me put it down in writing so that you have a place to point to next time. Sepia Mutiny is an American blog that has 6 Indian-American writers (although we have had, and will have guest bloggers with other South Asian heritage who write really well), and focuses on topics and issues that would be of MOST interest to South Asians living in North America. However, we cover many topics relevant to South Asian diaspora communities and to those still living in countries in South Asia, which primarily includes India. The society that I live in will always view me as both American and Indian (after they’ve asked me “where you from?”), or American and South Asian (if they haven’t asked).

If you want to be petty about this feel free to do so as long as you now have the correct information to cite. We, and I, appreciate any award we are even considered for. The true reward however is in knowing that even one person enjoys what we write (equally rewarding would be if girls would throw their underwear at us while we were on stage).

If that’s the Official take, then I eat my words, with a little garam masala to boot, especially since I’ve been trying to find the “We-re 2nd-Gen, not Indian” comment thread but failed. So I don’t really have a leg to stand on.

Now on to the Main Feature

You may have read this in today’s Editorial Column of the TOI.

Question 1: Does anybody else see some sort of perversity when it is teachers and professors of English which rise up to abuse Globalisation? Isn’t English the first whipping-boy of Globalisation?

Question 2: Why are all English teachers Communist? Is it part of the curriculum?

When I read the first para of this article, I thought the man was actually being sensible, and saying that It is better to maintain a road than to rename it with a Nationalistic name. I was about to say, good boy, and give him a doggy biscuit…BUT. He’s saying the opposite. He’s saying a name-change is important.

Time, then, to ask Shakespeare’s question — what’s in a name? Because, clearly, something is.

It used to be called Priya Square, but in these heady, headlong days, that name itself might well be retro now. Particularly in Priya Square. This is the open space in front of the Priya multiplex in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar.

It did? In what period is this? The Jurassic? For as long as I have been alive, it has been called Basant Lok….and as far as I know…IT STILL IS.

With large stores emblazoned with the iconic brands of international consumption — Nike and Baskin Robbins and Levis and the inevitable McDonald’s – his enclave in south Delhi is an enchanted space for a certain kind of young person — because as soon as one steps in here, as one bubbly young thing was heard remarking loudly, India khuttam! Across this magic threshold, India stops, and one is instantly transported to, well, Byzantium, with…

The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees… and soft, relentless, muzak in the neon-lit arcades of the shopping mall. It’s not true, of course.

India is still present, in the famished shapes soliciting alms, the dark children with stick-like limbs, weaving unseen and unregarded through the throngs of the well-heeled, devouring their ice-creams and their accessories with hungry, angry eyes.

In the Dummies Guide To Countering Globalisation (in India), the first sentence reads as follows:

Thou shalt remind those who are “more fortunate” and “lucky”, that all their HARD-EARNED money, and enjoyment thereof is a cause for guilt, for there are those who are not so lucky.

The second sentence reads: “Thou shalt make the oft-claimed statement that The Real India consists of famished shapes soliciting alms. Other stereotypes abound, please look for them in Rohinton Mistry Novels, Arundhati Roy’s work, CNN or Naipaul.”

Remember folks, those of you who have enough money and food to read this blog – WE ARE NOT REAL. WE DO NOT COUNT. WE ARE NOT THE REAL INDIA. WE ARE FAKE. WE ARE THE ILLUSION. WE HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED TAXES TO THE ECONOMY. WE HAVE NOT COME BACK WITH OUR IVY LEAGUE DEGREES AND TRIED TO APPLY THE KNOWLEDGE HERE. Our crime is that we have money, and hope, and food in our stomach. Let us all collectively hang our heads in shame for not being born famished and begging for alms. No, I mean really. Please. I don’t want to see a single person happy, or wanting to buy a new pair of jeans, until every single iota of humanity in this country and the world is rolling in money. Just kill me now, the guilt is just too much to bare, O Venerable Ivory-Tower Academic.

The CII ideologues are vastly more sophisticated, but even in their accounts of that globalised future which is simultaneously desirable and imminent, the transition from an all-too-present present to the gleaming, glamorous future is always visualised as smooth and streamlined, lubricated by a miraculous coincidence of desire and possibility, so that everyone gets what they want, and there are no losers and no costs.

Everyone gets what they want? There are no losers? Is that what the supporters of Globalisation say?
Ok, since the Typist cartel has forbidden us from using a much tossed about term, I shall use the Hindi equivalent, and say that the above statement simply shows the creation of a Bhoosa Aadmi.

There bloody well are lots of losers. With more free trade, the customs officials at our points of entry have less ways to harass, as there is less (or no) duty to be paid. They’ve lost “revenue”. With more globalisation/liberalisation every company attempting to sell a substandard and shyte product ends up having to either go out of business or find ways to improve – or resorts to our good ‘ol friend corruption + protectionism to keep the rest of the world out.

That this infantile fantasy should have acquired so many adult believers is one of the great mysteries of our time.

That there are adults out there incapable of forming rational arguments is not one of the great mysteries of any time (yes this comes from personal experience. Let it go).

The call-centre hacks who acquire slick tele-identities along with their shaky accents are common knowledge. One can easily imagine the damage caused by the social dislocation that results from working a graveyard schedule to suit the convenience of customers in American time-zones — so that the only other people one can know are the similarly afflicted, other denizens of the night-world in which they are Bob and Carrie and Chuck and Robbie, au fait with cultural trivia derived, I’m told, from a pedagogic exposure to Friends.

One can also easily imagine the damage caused by the social dislocation that results in being 20-something and UNEMPLOYED. But better a famished Indian with his begging bowl extended, than a Cyber-Coolie caught in this INDENTURED “Servitude” eh? I mean the air-conditioned cubicles, home-drop sumos, pizza parties, the extra cash in their pockets, the additional work experience, the call centres competing for workers, they must be so humiliating for these people, since it is all in Service to the White Man. I mean if you had a choice between begging for Money from an Indian, or working for low Wages for a White Man, which would you choose?

C’mon folks, let’s be patriotic here, and Hold your Head High! I might be a pauper, but at least it is Indian Communists who are giving me my alms, not some filthy pig shmuck capitalist exploiting White Man. I feel so much more Indian now, and happy. Who needs heaters in winter when you can be begging on the street corner hey? Heck money can’t buy everything. What did you really need a bed, food, clothing and shelter for anyway? All that counts in the end is Good Karma.

Don’t you know, at these evil call centre places, they stand ready with whips in their hands, and you’re chained to your desks like in the old days of Pax Romana. Sure they had to Row before, and now you have to Type and Speak, but it amounts to the same amount of torture RIGHT? Oh how I long for the Old Days, when being in the mid 20s meant having to BEG ENGLISH PROFESSORS FROM DU for references so you can scrounge around for a job.

How dare the arrogant youth of today actually feel optimistic and frivolous because they can make some money when Some People have been Left Behind. How dare they enjoy their lives, when we all know that the freedom fighters of yesteryear fought to ensure that we would always remember misery and suffering and death and destruction, and continue to sacrifice our lives at the altar of Misery. Didn’t you know that’s what freedom is about? That there are now happy and carefree people in this country – it’s a travesty I tell you. The world is going to the Dogs. That there are content people in this country. A sin. A Shame. How. Dare. They.

Let us all please please please return to a State of Mass Misery, as that produces the best results for removing poverty. Youth of Today, please abandon your dreams of fast and easy money. Stop being so Shallow. Please Grow Up. The world is a miserable place, and therefore you must be too. Abandon the hope and expectation that comes with youth. Please, for the sake of Mankind, don’t strike for faster, harder, bigger, stronger, more – well not until there is Nobody Left Behind. In the meantime please satisfy yourselves by donating everything you earn to Charity, so that you can partake in some mass poverty. Please don’t buy a cellphone with the money you’ve saved last year, when you could help put Billoo through school. Besides, once Billoo has been through school, he can follow your example too, right? Have you no shame for claiming a right to the money you worked for? Oh and what would you really do with a 15,000 rupee a month job anyway? Isn’t this a rich country with parents who provide everything for their kids. Sheesh. The kids of today, I tell you. Spoiled, stupid, and educated. Don’t you think your time could be better utilised harassing the women outside on the street, or murdering old people for the money in their cupboards? What are you doing serving The White Man in this office? Have you NO shame? You are destroying Indian traditions. What next? Will you outsource the Mahabharat to Bengalis (shudder)?

You bunch of cyber-coolies. Filthy. You dare to earn money when there are real coolies out there suffering in the railways stations? Usurpers! Traitors!

Dare I say it….yes, I dare – Won’t Someone Think Of The Common Man? *Wrings hands and beats breast – then proceeds to go teach ENGLISH*

A few side notes:

1) McDonalds
This so-called symbol of Globalisation, is a symbol of Localisation. the McDonald’s in India, is LIKE NO OTHER McDonald’s anywhere else in the world. The American McDonald’s does NOT deliver food to your home. The American McDonald’s DOES serve pork and beef. It DOES fry things in LARD (or did until a Hindu sued them). The American McDonald’s does not serve a Veggie Burger (but a Vegetarian burger made out of Soya. Yuck). The French McDonald’s serves beer.
So much for having a common Global Identity.

2) Pesticide in Coke.
Yes, Coke is an EVIL Multinational for serving you soft drinks full of pesticide. But I’m curious. Have you ever taken a sample of the groundwater your local-non-evil-multinational-owned-but-government-run Water Board provides you with? How come you don’t drink it straight out the tap?
Why didn’t the CSE choose this for its crusade? Why did it instead pick on a corporation, which had been kicked out of India before? Do you not pay the Water Board? Isn’t water more important than coke? Do you serve every person in your family coke from the minute they’re born to their death? But why is there no crusade against the Water Boards – oh wait – Occam’s Razor right – the water that the local boards provide MUST BE CLEAN, and don’t cause any water-borne diseases. Right? Coke is Evil, and the Delhi Jal Board a Noble Service Provider. Like the Buddha, I have received my enlightenment. Under a cold tap.

3) I’ve got this far without a single cussword. I deserve to be rewarded, lauded, applauded. Now my post is only as abrasive as TravelTalesFromIndia’s comments.

Free Your Mind (and the Markets Follow)

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

This voice has been occupied with personal-life-related stuff recently, and thus hasn’t had time to address issues which are his pet peeves. In a post written in the aftermath of the much publicised Operation Duryodhana (Which was great work!, IMO), Shivam Vij (Mall Road) highlighted some of his political convictions, and slipped in what looked like a guerrila attack on free markets…

sigh. I didn’t want to write about this, because these arguments need to be tackled in a civilized manner, and not in a TTG Rant….to counter posts by a reputed blogger, who shall remain nameless (Dilip D’Souza). He has decided that there are two types of people – NHBs (Normal Human Beings) and FMS(Free Market Supporter) Jihadis.

Well, as Fido Dido, one of the murtis of the Free Market said: “Normal is Boring”.

Here’s my attempt at actually tackling all arguments with sanity (er.. I failed MISERABLY, BTW).

First off, I am not a member of the Libertarian Cartel, I’m a Voice From A 2.5-World Country. But every once in a while, our views converge. I cannot speak for what kind of India the Libertarians envision, but I can tell you what kind of India I envision. this might get across what I mean by what a “Free Market” is. I never realized this was a definition in dispute.

First of all, if we are discussing which country/area comes closest to a Free Market – it is NOT America. It is Hong Kong. Everything in Hong Kong is run by PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS. EVEN MONEY is legally printed, by three banks, managed by an AUTHORITY called the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. This means that there are three different types of currency notes being printed in Hong Kong. One set is by HSBC(formerly the HongKong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the other set is by Standard Chartered Bank, and the third is by the Bank of China. The Bus Service is run by 3 private companies, the underground train system is run by one private company(the MTRC), the electricity is supplied by two private companies (China Light & Power, and HK Electric), the cooking gas is provided by one private company (TownGas), the telephone network was initially provided by one private company (PCCW – formerly HongKong Telecom)

Somehow, I don’t see Hong Kong deteriorating into anarchy.

Then next…let’s take America…America’s train network was built by private individuals…and is still now mostly private – AmTrak. Amtrak sucks. But would somebody please compare it with Indian Railways?

The bus services are run by GreyHound. Would somebody like to make another comparison?

The highways in USA, were originally private-built. The ‘Turnpike’ is a road you have to pay a toll to use….

I envision an India, where the government is not in charge of running any business whatsoever. There are no government-run airlines, no government-run hotels, no government-run railroad, no government-run bus services, no government-run water-distribution/electricity distribution services, no government-run telecommunication services, no government-run education boards, no censor board, no Board of fucking-Control for Cricket in India (What the FUCK kind of name is that, anyway?), no government-run Oil Companies, no government-run Bread Companies, Coal companies, or any other f-ing companies, no government-run liquor distribution vends, no government-run “Super Bazaars”, no government-run Ration shops.

I envision a lot more stuff too, but we’ll take this as a vision for starters. Once the government gets out of the business of producing stuff, it can actually get INTO THE BUSINESS OF ENFORCING LAWS TO MAKE SURE PRIVATE PLAYERS STAY IN LINE.

It is NOBODY’s case, that businessmen, and the corporate world, do things for “the good of the people”, or to be moral, or righteous. They are after one thing, and one thing alone. It is called…not MONEY…but PROFIT.

Making money is easy. Declare yourself the voice of God, ask for donations, and say you work in Mysterious Ways when questioned about your lack of Miracle-Performing abilities. You’ll have money.

But that’s not what businessmen, are after. It’s PROFIT. This is not the same thing.
And it is the GOVERMENT’S JOB to ensure that the businessmen do not step out of bounds in their relentless pursuit of profit. The government’s role is to function as an UMPIRE, not as an f-ing batsman. Let the businessmen play their games, but once they step out of bounds, the other side appeals, and then somebody gets out.

So….let the private players run an airline. But then ensure that they give cheap fares to remote areas. Let them make profit on the rest of the routes.

Let the private players supply petrol to the Country. Let them allot petrol pumps on the basis of who seems the savviest at making a profit. But then make sure that the person who does so, is not adulterating the petrol in his pursuit of profit.

In order for businesses to make money. They have to cut costs. Be nimble. Act quickly. The ones that don’t automatically perish. Their employees leave them. They start defaulting on loans, they get a bad reputation due to shitty customer service.
And when THAT happens, ensure you have a strong legal system which ensures the CONSUMER GETS HIS DUE