Of the Beef Ban!

Coming from a Sanghi / Hindu family – in a nation that calls the cow as the mother, I’m going to commit blasphemy with what I say next. I’d also have been moved by the emotive argument, visualizing heart rending images of slaughterhouses as I said no to beef. But then, somewhere, a rational explanation must back an emotive argument.

Random co-incidence, I happened to read the Verghese Kurien autobiography and that helped me somewhat rationalize :

– This isn’t about the love of animals – a black buffalo is as much a helpless animal.

– the dairy industry today is built on keeping cows perpetually in the pregnant – delivering – milkable mode. Lot of it is via artificial insemination. The calves are slaughtered within days of birth. Once the cow is useless for milk – there’s no reason to keep feeding it. You ban slaughter, you have a million cows and calves on the street, stranded, because no one’s willing to pay for their upkeep.

– All the Hindu saints, temple bodies, Shankaracharyas – can’t bring together enough funds to make sure these cows don’t die of starvation.

So are these cows better off dying in slaughterhouses and bringing economic value to the beef industry – or dying in the wild, being eaten by crows / vultures?

Oh – and if there’s a huge sentiment about making cow shelters and raising donations – can we please look after human kids first – who’re dying for want of basic nutrition?

– You want to reform this whole thing? Kill the large dairies. Only those maintaining a cow in their house should have access to milk and they’re obliged to serve the cow for all her life, much after she stops giving milk. No oxytocin injections and milking only to be allowed after the calf has had its fill.

The vast majority that can’t maintain a cow, should turn completely vegan. No kalakands, no paneer, no cheese, no butter, no buttermilk, no yogurt. Can’t do? Then stop being a hypocrite.

OR, let’s jack up the prices of all these milk products, coz we have to now cover the cost of maintaining unproductive cows too. The math can’t be too tough.

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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.

I’m Politically Active! Are YOU?

Having a status message, “Getting Political, Working with BJP! Wanna Join?“, evokes interesting reactions from people. From surprise to disappointment, to excitement in Joining in the effort!

So well, here’s my story!

Middle Class thoughts and dreams!
Brought up In a middle class value system, I grew up to see my peers talk of politics as the last resort of scoundrels. A family intimately involved with the Sangh gave me the first ideas and also in rebellion, a chance to question what I did not believe in.

Today, having fulfilled the middle class dream of going to an IIT and an IIM, I have a greater belief in my own sensibilities and a greater willingness to question and understand things that are playing a key role in this country.

I can’t not participate in the political process that are going to shape the future of my country, and my world…

I had to do more…poltu1
Have been witness to, and sometimes participated in countless sessions of politician bashing, blaming corruption and so on.. As I grew up, I no more sign online petitions because I see them as impotent. I didn’t participate in candle light vigils, because that couldn’t proxy for REAL results that I wanted. I couldn’t consider my responsibility as over, just by taking these steps.

I wouldn’t do this to absolve myself of the guilt coming from being apathetic or uncaring.

Not the Easy Way Out!

I am not going to take the easy route of saying that everyone’s bad and nothing can happen of this country. I will get in, understand things the way they are, and initiate change the way I see feasible and practical. It’s not an overnight journey. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m not asking to be made PM tomorrow.

More than One Silent Vote
I could choose to be a silent voter, in favor of whoever I choose. But this vote, would be more than canceled out by an uninformed/ careless or misguided voter. I don’t feel shy about having taken a political stand. I’ve taken a stand, and I’m vocal about it. I wear my choice on my sleeve.

At least I have made a choice. I’m not sitting on the fence.

Today, when I take a side, I am attempting to ‘Be the change I want to see in the world‘ . Young and yet mature, sensitive, educated blue jeans – white kurta politician, who may not KNOW everything, but has the will to deliver and the desire to make a difference.

History shall not forgive me, if I hide away behind the veil of busyness, and let the country go to the dogs.

I know I don’t have to fight for my bread as hard as my previous generation at my age had to. So work’s no excuse.

I am NOT afraid of the questions that people will ask, or what they will say, or will they look down upon me. What I can do, how much difference I can make, shall guide me more than the fear of what people will say.

But then why BJP?

On a sarcastic note, I wasn’t born a Gandhi, or a Scindia, or a Deora, or a Pilot , so I pretty much have no chance of making a sensible entry into Congress.

I don’t think BJP’s perfect. I don’t agree with everything each BJP leader says or does. There is NO Black or White in this space. And BJP, to me, seems a lighter shade of grey.

It’s consistently been fashionable to claim to be driven by secular values, and disregard BJP, while being the silent spectator to whatever else has been done, in the name of secularism.

I believe, there’s a better chance to bring about improvements here and be heard by the powers that be.

I’m going to write more  in the next few days, explaining my choice. I’m NOT a fundamentalist. Trust me.

So What am I doing for the BJP?
Having seen things from multiple angles, I do trust my intelligence and know how much the media loves to hate BJP, filling the whole generation of my intellectual colleagues, with nothing but hatred for a ‘communal’ party.

I am going to try to INFORM people better.

And then, everyone has opinions, ideas, issues that he wants raised, heard and responded to by the leaders.

I want to enable this to happen.

In a simple way, I’m looking at getting the educated youth to be politically active. And it doesn’t end with voting. It does shape in being vocal with your vote, and then playing an active role with the government at different levels.

It’s a citizen’s war, to choose their leaders, and I feel ashamed to know that 9% of eligible urban youth had voted in the last elections.

So would you like to participate in the WAR?

Join me, and we’ll rock. Join my enemy, and we’ll enjoy the fight. Just don’t be a silent witness.

Write to me at ankur.gattani(at)bjp.org and we’ll talk about what YOU can do !

And I do know you have a LOT of questions to ask of the BJP leadership, before you even consider them, please leave your questions here, and we’ll try finding the answers from the horses’ mouths!

Cheers!

Insurance Ads?

Hogwash?

Hogwash?

Insurance as a concept has never been able to convince me. They’ll make such ads in order to make an average person nervous about his own life and make the most of his anxiety by selling him a hope that his people will be well taken care of, after him.

Except, it would perhaps take endless claims and pursuits and most usual causes of death might be exempted in the fine print.

Anyway. It’s all personal. My dislike for insurance. It might just be a very valuable thing for the wives with young kids whose husbands end up in freak accidents!

Of Free Expression – Blogging, Tweeting and Lilling!

My writers block and Vipin’s remark has gotten me into thinking – about the zillions of tips going around for effective blogging and gaining audience etc. In the west, blogging seems more of a profession where there are experts and there are novices and there are newbies, trying to learn.

All wonderful, in the direction of creating high quality content on the web.

Whatever happened to a casual blogger, who just has a little bit of his life to share, that would be of some interest to his friends, and of little interest to the world.. Does he end up feeling intimidated by the ‘expectation bit?’ – If you blog, you must do this, this and this.

I’d thought microblogging was a freer, but there again, the ‘usefulness’ of your tweets seems to govern the number and kind of followers you’d have.

Then I read about this 80-20 rule at The Church of the Customer, according to which you’re supposed to write 80% other centric posts, and slip in 20% self centric. The global audience isn’t interested in your life’s mundanities!

What’s with the quest of having the wittiest status message, can’t I just write what’s really happening in my life? That’s too boring you’d say! Perhaps that’s how life is, for a lot of us!

The fundamentals of this entire thing started from the ego boost that you get out of winning a follower/admirer/commenter who looks upon you to build his opinions. However, a majority of people, outside that circle of powerful bloggers, are just average people. They aren’t early adopters. They don’t try to discover new information early and pass it to their followers, to improve loyalty! They just live average lives that may not everyday be the most exciting.

Should that mean, blogging is not really for them? They should confine themselves to reading, and if they can comment, good enough. Any attempts at expression – will bring statistics in their face, the pressure to perform, or dishearten them with the lack of readers! I’d read somewhere, that blogging, really is standing on a stage, performing, and hoping there’d be an audience – Thanks to the internet, the geographic limitations have broken down, and now the quest for an audience takes you places, makes you do things.

Lots of people have stage fright – they can’t speak a word if they’re on stage. Is that what happens to me when I’m on wordpress and twitter? Perhaps!

Blogging, as the norms like it, may not be for me after all. My motivation for expressing, comes really from untangling the complex thoughts going in my head and letting it out. For years, I’ve written into a private diary, in conversations with myself, or an imaginary self that would some day be important enough for me to show my diary to them. And now I’m on LiL.

For whatever reason, LiL seems to give me that comfortable space. It’s like being with a few friends and talking about what’s happening in my life – personally and professionally, or sometimes just ranting about the little joys and frustrations that make an average day in my life.

So Now I wonder, whether the introduction of the Footprints and Treasures would again begin a race of some kind that we don’t want? People would write to be treasured and start counting their footprints.

Think we’ll hide away the cumulative stats for a while, to see how people take to it to begin with.

And while I’ve been writing in this tiny box at LiL, this no more a moment, but a rant.. and now seems like it can go to my blog!

And as soon as I pasted it into my blog, I feel this urge to edit and organize my thoughts – lest they seem like a rant. To make relevant links, highlights and make the whole thing crisper!

God save me. What’s with this urge of breaking rules all the time! Shall end up an outlier that no one bothered to listen to, because he didn’t follow the rules of speaking!

India thanking the subprime?

While a bunch of my bright batchmates would be cursing the subprime crisis for having curtailed the size of opportunities available to them, it looks like good news for a bunch of Indian companies.

Had made the observation, looking at the shortlist of a Slot 0.5 company, people who’re still in process after slot zero and are available.. are quite a steal that would’ve been otherwise out of reach for the Indian recruiters!

So well, may people make the most of the opportunities that might not be as great as their own aspirations but can be driven forward!

On the Mandal Redux -II

Thankfully, people are kind enough to let me know the fallacies and weaknesses in my reasoning, so hopefully I’d be able to fine tune it or at least make some sense! For the uninitiated, you can first have a look at my first post on The Mandal Redux. and the people who’re poining out shortcomings or fallacies, please leave your mail/yahoo ids, so I can discuss further and form my opinion properly!

A questionable assumption lies with the generalization of SC/ST/OBC as low merit. There are rare, but upcoming examples of these people refusing to use reservations and competing in the general category because of the social stigma attached to those who have entered via reservations… and their own self-respect. This brings us to point where as the upper caste society, we’ve stigmatized the backward classes who have entered via reservations and still discriminated against them and treated them as lesser among equals, because they had it easy, via reservations. We have to accept that if they (I mean the genuine backwards here) had the upbringing and the atmosphere that we did, things might have been altogether different! They werent’ born duffers as many people like to happily assume. Situations didn’t let them learn at the pace at which you learnt, else the same people could’ve given you a run for your money!

And yes, then I too am charged with the responsibility of having to suggest an alternative model.. which I do not think I’m sufficiently well read to propose. However, I’d stil like to put in some thoughts about it.

1. First and foremost, the basis for reservations. I’d definitely be for reservation on economic, rather than on caste basis. Scrutinizing the Income Tax Statments appear to be the most sensible way to go about it. It has it’s own problems in terms of implementation and penetration, but surely is much more justified than the caste!

2. One freind suggested a dimension to it, (possibly given by some UP minister) that one person should be allowed to use the reservation card only once throughout his life. This would prevent him from becoming complacent and easygoing (which also goes against the performance of the reserved category people). As in, if someone has entered a medical college on reservation basis, now at every other stage in his education or work, he has to compete on a merit basis with everyone else. The playing field has been levelled once and that should be all.

3. Alternatively, or along with the previous point, in one family, there should be a provision of only one generation using reservations. If there’s an IAS officer, who has gotten in because of reservations, his children aren’t deprived anymore, in order to need reservations. In fact, even if it’s a normal level government servant, the reservations have to target the absolutely deprived, and not the relatively well to do but complacent people who want to have it easy, via the reservation route.

3. Someone spoke about reservations in primary/secondary education… which I believe is somewhat absurd if you come to think of it. The government resolves to provide regular primary education to everyone across caste/class and reservations are meant for privileged positions not accessible to everyone. So reservations only make sense when we have limited seats… that is, the graduate courses. What I would probably agree is that let the reservations be in the second rung colleges and not the premier institutes, coz as of now, the premiers predominantly thrive on brand value, which shouldn’t be tampered with.

4. Reservations in higher education, still have to ensure a minimal benchmark level of merit. You can’t have anyone and everyone becoming a doctor because you have vacant reserved seats in a college. That firstly defeats the purpose as the society will never respect a doctor who lacks merit in his skill/trade. The society is not going to compromise on its health, to promote a sloppy doctor, only because he’s come from a reserved category. But yes, to make a difference, what is important is, to have the information about reservations reach out to the ones who really need it, and the certification process must become simpler. ( Guess IT returns should serve well, instead of caste certificates)

5. Now, as an alternative to quotas in college and university seats, the people qualifying for reservations could be taken through training mechanisms to bring them at par with their general category counterparts, and then let them compete in an open exam on a levelled out field.

In a way, the existing system in IIT is doing something similar, a prep course, to improve their level, and then let them also compete for their grades with everyone else, they still have to fight for at least a DD, which in IIT definitions is the minimum requirement to pass a course, and given the relative grading system, this also means that they have to be with the best brains and survive amongst them.. and this grind is good enough to prepare them to handle the challenges of the world.. which is reflected in their placements… ( Yes, QUITE a few of them have made it in life)

(Talking lightly, It’s like having a special batch in Bansal Classes for the backward class students who are there on government scholarship to study.. and then them having to write the JEE with general category students)

Putting it simply, Give them scholarships or take them through consistent and well designed training programmes which grind them and groom them, so they’re better placed to compete with their otherwise advantaged counterparts. Don’t let anything come to them for free, coz then they’ll not value it anyway and that would subsequently reflect in the poor performance.

As a more simplistic thought, everyone signing petitions agaisnt reservations should come forth with how he’s willing to contribute to the main streaming of the backward masses, which is ideally his responsibility too as an element of the same society.

Would we be okay with a higher education cess which would be used to set up these training institutes?

Would we set up voluntary organizations large enough to cover the training of a significant chunk of the backward students?

Would we set up private trusts to give extensive scholarships to these students?

Would we be inclined to spend a couple of hours a week, training and grooming a bright but backward student so he can write JEE and actually get through in the General Category?

Coz if not, then we only want to take the easier way out. Arjun Singh wanted the easier way out as well.. and this served only too well as a populist measure.. so now he can have the world nursing the illusion that he’s doing a lot for the backward classes, while nothing might happen in reality.

I hate to get into this ‘us’ and ‘them’ but somehow, this seems unavoidable. They’re as much a part of ‘us’ and ‘us’ of ‘them’. Let’s realize that!

Cheers!

wanderer.