Of Presstitutes

I wonder if a prostitute should feel insulted at this word usage. She sells her physical body – often for compulsions of making a living. We judge that as lowly, and yet are hypocritical enough to not outcaste those selling their integrity, influence, loyalty – everything, for desires beyond sustenance.

A prostitute is nobler than these guys.

Of Hindi, Sanskrit and German!

If someone tells me that he’d prefer kids learning German over Sanskrit, I’d first ask him watch The Matrix in Hindi or read Shakespeare in Telugu, or the Gitanjali in Gujarati. Cringing at the thought? Wonder what convinces you that reading translations of Sanskrit works will be good enough.

India had British colonizers, or we’d be speaking Spanish like the Argentinians, or Portuguese like the Brazilians. English became almost our second language, opening up the world for us. I wonder though, if parents would’ve been proud to have their kids narrate poems in Portuguese. It occurs to me that English as a tool of communication, admittedly powerful,  and English as a status symbol got mixed up somewhere along the way. Along with the classification of all things native as outdated, looking down upon them.

I live in Berlin now, for a day job, I’d deal with people from 40 countries – some in person, some over calls. We all communicate in English. Often, I need to simplify, when people politely say “My English is not so good”, without being embarrassed. Step out of office, and the local life is all German. Restaurants, Departmental Stores, Ticket Windows – they’d speak limited English to get by, but conduct business largely in German. More interestingly, EVERY newspaper or magazine at a station stall, including a Cosmopolitan – is in German. Not ONE in English.

And that’s Germany, one of the richest countries, with highest standards of development – public insurance, infrastructure, free education – all things developed. Oh, but India’s different. We need to speak English to get jobs with MNCs, and it’s the language of the world. Sure. So we use it for convenience. But why the classism? Why does HMT or behenji get tossed around as an insult? Why does a idea of a Hindi Cosmopolitan seems as crass as the image of Mastram – with low quality paper and B grade pictures. Why did Hindi become cheap?

Is that because the India born, Britain educated civil servants had the English world-view in looking at the rest of us as uncivilized? Are we still carrying the strains of slavery to hold non-white/ non English speakers as inferior? Or shall we credit Macaulay for his success in enslaving a mighty civilization by breaking a generation’s connection with its own roots. By dismissing Indian traditions as pagan sources of embarrassment, they did sell us into the white man’s burden theory. They needed the story to guise their exploitation as a noble mission before the world. No wonder, we need a Kissinger to acknowledge a Chanakya or an Aveda to build a billion dollar business based on Ayurveda, before we realize the worth ourselves. Our language is but one casualty, albeit one of the more impactful ones.

Ironic that we use English as a medium of instruction to potentially understand the works of knowledge created in the west but have shied away, or sometimes even looked down upon learning Sanskrit as the route to accessing the vast knowledge of Indian literature. Like the son of a Harvard professor, who can’t read his dead father’s notes, because he doesn’t understand that language. Someone comes from the outside, sells him MBA in 10 days, pretending to be a savior – and tells him to junk the notes, because they’re worthless.

Why hasn’t enough investment being made into the language – in training teachers, in making advanced studies to bring some of the stories from the Upanishads to the mainstream education process, even as an elective. Why does an Indian kid have to wait for a BBC documentary – to discover all the things that the ancient Indians knew? Shouldn’t the state be investing in getting authentic versions of these works in modern visual formats – perhaps like how BR Chopra brought Mahabharat alive, or what Ramanand Sagar did to Ramayan. Can’t we have high quality animations in sanskrit that entertain as well as educate? Whose job is it, if not the state’s? Chanakya’s Arthashastra is as secular as it can be, and yet it doesn’t appear in any curriculum. Yet, I do remember having studied Max Weber and Emile Durkhiem as part of the compulsory humanities courses at IIT.

Would it help India if each student grew up learning enough Sanskrit to devour one of the ancient texts like he would go through a fat novel? Let him then independently judge if it’s any good or not. Why leave it to his personal pursuits alongside a demanding professional life? How many of us really learn a new language after school? Funnily enough, the original Indian student philosophy has been to question everything – not to reject something without knowing enough about it. And someone advocating Sanskrit would automatically get stereotyped and classified as a right wing > saffronist > sanghi > MCP > hypocrite > anti-muslim > patriarch > moral brigade > fake baba.

But I have faith. Hindi and Urdu are too enmeshed in our lives and hearts to perish away. Till there’s Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, and till there’s Bollywood, we’ll do fine. A good poet in Hindi/Urdu will have an audience and Ghalib will be quoted. Maybe there’ll be a day when the world’s professionals would be lining up to learn Hindi, because they want to operate in the world’s fastest growing markets – those of India’s villages and towns. And India will give more copies of what it’s most precious heritage, the Geeta, around, despite criticism.

So well, speak all the English you want to with me, but don’t be smug about it. And before you tell me that Sanskrit is anachronistic, ask Kissinger to stop wasting time writing such blogs.

After the elections…

Knowing me as an NDA supporter, people have directed a bunch of reactions at me after the results came out yesterday.  Included mockery, ‘i told you so’, consolations, and some others as disappointed, trying to find the way forward from here.

While the election results surprised me, like anyone else (pretty much?), the political irrelevance of my work, in writing blogs or talking to people had become clear to me, just the next day of elections. I had really sit down to understand what was happening at the booths really and how things on ground were really done and decided – the real politics, the real decisions – taken by people who do it as a transaction, not so much as the ‘jagruk yuva’ of the country.

Now theorists are talking about votes having been bought, EVMs being rigged and all that, but an electoral victory is an electoral victory and one can’t take away the credit from the winners for that.

So here’s congratulating the UPA leadership for having pulled it off rather well. I admire the discipline and the unquestioned hierarchy and leadership that seems to come across, so what if I don’t approve of the leaders themselves.

Was on a UTVi show, shot yesterday, (actually to bail out the host friend, who needed some talkers) to discuss the happiness or otherwise with the UPA and the expectations with this new government. While I’d have serious doubts about their capability as well as intentions in making a real difference, like I’m being told by Rahul’s fans, lets give him a chance. Chance it is, to prove his mettle in the parliament, when he’s got unquestioned power in his hands, and this time, the left is reduced to irrelevance too, so no more excuses on that count.

So what’s now the role of the urban, educated youth now, beyond voting. Firstly, I don’t agree that people who didn’t vote don’t have the right to ask questions or to complain now. They (or their parents) have been paying taxes to the government and that gives them every right to expect certain things in return. The first among them, is transparency and accountability on where the tax revenues are being spent.

To take the role seriously would mean that we don’t wait for another five years to evaluate the report card of the current government, but make intermittent checks that keep them under pressure to perform well over the next five years and if nothing is done, prove their hollowness. Rahul did all the youth-friendly college trips and held slum kids in his hands in poll time. It remains to be seen how far the interfacing with the youth continues, now that he’s in power.

Once you mention a political affiliation, people tend to forget about your essential bigger objective, which is to contribute to the society and nation in a positive manner. I continue to stand by the BJP and against the Congress. (Yet to ascertain which feeling is stronger). Congress is in power, fair enough, but to keep tabs on it, would need a principled and powerful opposition, an unbiased media and a demanding customer base of voters who wouldn’t be satisfied till their questions are answered and demands are met.

Trying to not let their past goofups bias me, I’ll try to keep track of what this sarkaar does and be an honest critic.

I hope that they’ll have an interface for people to reach to them – beyond Milind Deora and Priya Dutt’s facebook accounts.

I hope the PMO doesn’t now issue ‘secular’ statements giving the first right to the country’s resources to a particular religious community – but looks at India as India, not a sum of vote banks.

I hope Rahul Gandhi starts a blog and has someone update it frequently enough – not to tell us about his columbian girlfriend, but his political vision and what he’s doing to take the country forward.

I hope fundamentalist leaders from any religion don’t command our central policies and Rahul doesn’t feel the need to bend to anyone’s demands this time around.

Much like Amir Khan talked about the pro-voting campaigns for ADR, I urge people to become more demanding as customers. We lose patience at the omissions of our service providers, lets be a lot more demanding of those who govern us.

Lets take protests beyond the domain of the NGOs and do our own jobs beyond candle light vigils.

Lets ‘stay awake’ , beyond a one day ‘jaago re’.

Lets organize ourselves as ‘youth’, as ‘taxpayers’, as ‘citizens’, as ‘IT professionals’, a phone/internet users, flyers, retail buyers –  and make demands, instead of the caste and religion based identities to make demands.

For those who supported the UPA, the task is far from over, and those who were with the NDA, the challenge is even bigger now.

So now lets see what the youth can do for the country.

Varun and the Secular Congress!

Republished from a Right source,  sure deserves attention

Excerpts from Varun Feroze Gandhi’s letter to election commission:

In utter disregard of the principles of natural justice, the EC has in haste and unusually censorious language, passed an opinion without:
a. Providing me a personal hearing (to which I am entitled even as per the principles of natural justice).
b. Providing me a copy of the report dated 17.3.09 and any materials on which that report is based.
c. Showing me or even seeking out for itself the original recording (if at all it exists).
d. Examining the authenticity or source of the tape that was sent to it which on a cursory glance shows that there has been splicing, repetition and interpolation during the so calledediting process as evident from the media logo seen in the footage. The short jumpy sequences also establish that the tape has been edited.
e. Independently applying its mind and conducting a thorough examination of the material (for it cannot be called

More than what Varun said or didn’t say, it’s the hurt and bewilderment of a loss of a Gandhi to the saffron that has made the media and anti-Hindutva politicos shout with such a venom and acid. He was not heard, not given a chance to present his case,neither the forensic experts examined  the so-called proof in the form of the CD. Yet the ‘Badshah’ declared his judgement. Some justice in our age is this.

Yet, Varun has suddenly dwarfed  the high-media supported Rahul. Phew!

And incidentally, while Varun is all over the media Mr. Imran Kidwai, who’s the Chief of Minority Cell of the Congress, has been given a notice by the EC too, for making inflammatory speeches as Varun, but that doesn’t seem to interest mainstream media to highlight as much, because they don’t get to villainize the BJP with that.

Of course, the SECULAR congress doesn’t demand votes on the basis of Hindutva, but on the basis of Islam!

Indian Express does mention what Mr. Kidwai said, but well, that still seems acceptable to our secular mindset.

“Main mufti nahin hoon iska mujhe afsos hai kyunki mufti log hamare yahan fatawa de sakte hain. Aur agar main mufti hota to sirf ek fatwa deta ki musalmaan ka BJP ke sath jana kufr ke barabar hai. (I regret not being a cleric. Only clerics can issue a fatwa. If I were a cleric, the only fatwa I would issue would be that to vote for BJP is like committing a sin).”

Wish people stopped being fooled by the Congress’s fake secularism.

Evergreen Gareebi, evergreen slogans!

It’s weird, the people are with congress despite all it’s goofups, coz they don’t like being with a ‘communal’ party. Yes, the gory images of riots makes me seethe too, but that doesn’t make me forgive congress for what it continues to do

Someone rather knowledgable worded it interestingly,

Congress had a clear agenda in its mind, keeping Indians underprivileged and uneducated, so that they are surrounded by poverty and Congress shall keep its Gareebi Hatao slogan evergreen. They regressed on all progress made by NDA government, but could not go to pre NDA era because the people of India had tasted good life, there would have been a backlash if they had tried to do that. So they adopted an alternate strategy, to not to improve it any further and maintain status quo, because status quo maintained over a long time is actually negative development.

Yes, it’s rhetorical in itself, but there’s a lot of factual knowledge that has gone into it!

Would really hate to see the dalaals at rule again! India deserves better.

The generonosity of the farm loan waiver!

I didn’t think I was going to write on specific political topics, because it’s usually not possible to conduct complete research to be able to address all arguments. And without research, I can’t critique, but only allege.

I’ve been discussing or hearing about the farmer loan waiver issue, that’s been seen my some of my naive friends as a generous large-hearted move by our dear congress government! Decided to explore a lil bit, got some understanding from my political guide, and rest was easy to figure out, to let me have my own view on it.

In a nutshell, to me, it’s like giving fish to people, never teaching them how to fish, so they’ll keep coming back to you to get fish every day. Simple loyalty till perpetuity! So the congress makes sure the poor stay poor and keep voting them back to power! (No wonder, they don’t care so much about their urban taxpayer or educated audience, we’re irrelevant!) Appropriately, the congress webpage on this issue, is titled

CONGRESS KA HAATH

ANNADATA KE SAATH

Seems ironic to me, that the hand seems to be holding the annadata back from making any progress, in 60 years of independence. A waiver, is spent money written off, not like a better system for the future.  I’d not be surprised, if we find ourselves in a similar need-to-write-off situation again in a year or two!

My friend has a somewhat crass way of putting it across. Go outside a random temple and give 100 bucks to a beggar, in all probability, in three days, he’ll be again begging at the same spot.

The Congress on its website says, since the economy grew at 9% per annum under their able leadership, it was rather easy to pull out 72,000 Cr. to waive off these loans.  Perhaps it was loose change lying in their pockets! Something I did really like about the whole thing, was the simplicity, again from AICC website :

There is no application, no certification, no documents to be attached, nothing.

Easy, come and take it. Now, it’s only left to the imagination, how much of the 72,000 Cr. really reached the farmers! Of course, the banks in the game, made a fortune, by including the loans that were repaid, into defaults. And there’s no audit on the process!

The loan waiver could only affect people who had access to institutional credit(23% of all farmers), and the ones commiting suicides are the ones who had borrowed from local moneylenders at high rates and whose lives were made miserable by these lenders day in and day out.

No wonder the suicides continued at their own pace 7 farmers continued to kill themselves each day, even after the waiver announcement.

And lets not talk about the farmer who felt like a fool for having repaid the loan in time, when everyone else got away with a waiver! As a rule, no farmer shall want to repay a loan anymore, (Haath haina) entirely destabilizing the prospects of the entire farm credit sector.

And we have our oh-so-sweet Rahul Gandhi taking an oh-so-noble stand

Freedom from poverty is not a matter of charity or luck; it is a right – Rahul Gandhi, AICC General Secretary

So while the economists were completely confounded with the fiscal profilgacy, the taxpayer felt helpless, my naive young friends, who felt disturbed by the farmer suicides, feel proud that their leaders are generous enough (at the taxpayer’s cost of course, unless congress has a goldmine in its backyard) to take good care of the poor Indian!

And well, it’s not just me talking, if you really want to have an informed opinion about it,

This is what Rediff picked from Business Standard

And, here’s a really nice one from the guys at Mutiny.in

And GVL Narsimha Rao writes the Bottomline in mint, to bring out the truth, that the move was to appease the unhappy farmers, who were unhappy for the wheat import at exorbitant prices!

And for a somewhat politically neutral pavilion, you might read Offstumped

So what happens next, the congress might have won the vote bank of the farmers, so it can comfortably ingore the itch that the tax payer felt with its largesse. And anyway, there’ll be some large hearted people who’ll buy the congress reasoning and vote them back!

If you’re convinced, with me or any of the links I posted, please spread the word. Unfortunately, there are quite a few ill-informed educated people in our country! The congress is appeasing it’s vote bank and till the sensible tax payers get together to call their bluff….

It’s time YOU need to act!

Can Educated India be politically relevant?

Much as there are a whole bunch of things I don’t like or understand about democracy, I won’t engage in arguing for or against it, simply because Democracy is here to stay, whether you and I like it or not.

What we do have in our hands, is the implications. Of divisive politics, and of caste based vote banks and the choice for us to become ‘relevant’

The underlying fact is, each of us, by himself, only has one vote and inadvertently allow vote banks to be created on the lines of caste and religion. One leader from an XYZ community can promise a few thousand votes of his people, knowing full well that they stand behind him. He can bargain for anything, including reservations, or other kinds of personal favors, or cash.  He won’t even shy away from taking to the streets or outright hooliganism, knowing that the politician dare not displease him and his vote bank.

And then, of course, there are the businessmen looking for their share of the pie out of the thousands of crores of government spending on various projects. They can fund the candidates’ campaigns, and money can then buy numbers. Don’t we all know of the several instances of country liquor, saris, biryani and other things distributed to buy slumdwellers’ votes.

And if you can get a vote ‘bank’ by any move, it’s anyday preferable to collecting individual votes, it’s a much better Return on Time Invested after all.

On the other hand, if as Responsible Indians, we were to come together and take collective political decisions, there’s a lesser chance that we’d be manipulated by short term poll tactics. We could constitute a vote bank, that means business and can’t be fooled. I’m not asking for blind following, or denouncing individual choice and freedom, just a more collective approach.

Simply put,

Why can’t a Tax Payers’ association stand up and make demands, that we’ll vote for the government that shows better transparency with the way tax revenue is spent?

Why can’t an IT professionals’ association stand up and say that we want better educational institutes ?

Why can’t a Youth Group, promise a few thousand votes for better attention to youth affairs – employability and vocational education?

Because we’re too busy to unite. We’re too busy to lend our voices to such causes. And, often, we have personal interests, that rise above the interests of our group or even the nation. (one of my most disappointing personal experiences, to note this in a young professional, who was too busy to help, but was keen do it for money.)

The trouble with smart people is that they’re really smart. We’re extremely difficult to convince. We’re too smart to follow the words of any leader. We have endless questions. We’re wishful thinkers who can enjoy a political discussion in the drawing room, but leave it at that. And we’re supremely cynical about the politics of the country.

And We they stand alone. One smart guy doesn’t easily trust the judgment of another smart guy. Even after he is convinced, none of us can claim to represent the political preferences of even a close friend circle. Because we’re shy of taking a public stand. Because we fear defying group behavior. We can’t step out of the herd. We’re afraid we’d be judged.. We’d stand out, we’d lose social approval……

The essential Mantra, is United we stand, divided we are irrelevant.

It’s time to waken the voice within and add weight to it, to become politically significant!

So lets stop taking the holier than thou approach, and start getting our hands dirty to clean up our home!

It’s time to start talking politics.

To Join Hands! To Ask Questions!

It’s akin to the freedom struggle, the quest this time, is the redemption of the nation!

P.S. This is an entirely politically neutral post! The change I want to see in the world – Hear a voice, irresepctive of political preferences! And this pursuit must continue, even after the elections are over and the powers are established. Whichever way. The Change will not be overnight.