Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pride Parade 2010

"Let's get one fact straight. We're not" proclaimed a banner. The message was loud and clear - LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders) are here to stay, and the rest of the folk had better accept them soon. It was quite a sight (as it should have been) with folks from various walks of life, and even different nationalities getting together to raise awareness, and just have a fun day out in the city. A lot of curious onlookers gathered around the final destination of the march at Banappa Park, next to Hudson Circle (usually most marches for social issues culminate here). The park (actually a ground) is located just at the start of KG Road at the Hudson Circle signal (road that goes to Majestic bus stand).(Click here for more snaps taken by a friend of mine who was able to make it for the march)

For most of the 'curious' onlookers that I spoke about, this seemed to be the first time they'd encountered people of a different sexual orientation (apart from eunuchs, I'm guessing). So for some of the older folk, whose lives usually involve getting up, going to work, coming back and asking their kids how their day was, have dinner with the family and going to bed, this must've been quite a sight.

As usual, the politicos couldn't be left out, and there was someone from the JD(S) 'extending' support by saying the since Article 377 of the Constitution had been scrapped by the Delhi High Court, this should apply to all of India, etc etc, but it was quite clearly a scripted speech, and though he made the right noises, it was just that: noise. I don't think he meant it whole-heartedly; at least his demeanour didn't portray his willingness to embrace this as a reality. I'm not saying he should broken into song and dance, but the vibes weren't right here. It's just a gut feeling, I could be wrong.

Another aspect that I must comment about was the security. Normally, whenever there's a parade or a march, police permission is required to be sought, and this was no different. However, whatever marches I've seen in the past (for social causes) didn't have a police contingent as strong as the one present outside Banappa Park. Perhaps the strength of the police is determined by the strength of the crowd, so I can't be too critical of them, and what's more, they were doing their jobs. A large number of Police women were also deployed (for obvious reasons), and the way many of them were looking on, it was quite clearly their first 'encounter' of this kind :)

Colourful head gears

Bonjour from Morocco :)

First prize...unanimously

Reminded me of the WWE pimp wrestler The Godfather :D

The sign on her back was the 'emblem' of sorts for the parade

A JD(S) member, trying to gain some mileage

Fancy hair dos

What's a gay event without a little song and dance, eh? :)

Next time, hopefully I'll be able to witness the march as well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Trip to Lucknow-Agra-Delhi

Since I didn't have to time to update this blog, a temporary blog with the snaps and musings during my visit to Lucknow, Agra and Delhi is here.

Chronicling the north

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An educated Archbishop

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Cantebury visited Bangalore and took par tin an inter-religious convention meant to spread harmony among the various religious groups in Bangalore (and India). After the meet, a reporter asked him what was his position on gay rights (remember, the Archbishop was a strong supporters of gay Bishops), and pat came the reply "I support gay rights in the civil domain". Now there's an educated clergyman, I thought to myself. And educated indeed he his. Dr. Rowan Williams, aka the Archbishop of Cantebury, is a professor of Theology, but unlike most theologians, isn't someone whose nose is lost between the pages of the books he reads and he seems to have his finger on the pulse of society, and on general science. Most importantly (in my view), he is AGAINST creationism. Wow! This is one cool Christian clergyman. I'm sure it would be a pleasure talking to such people. I only wish there are more of his kind to come.

True, there have been some shocking statements as well (he said England should embrace Sharia law, but since I'm not aware of the facts fully on that issue, I'll refrain from passing comment). However, the position of the top clergyman from the Church of England seems to put him in a direct confrontation with the former Nazi in the Vatican.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The verdict a nation waited for

For more than 60 years now, a quiet (but of late, very vocal) court battle was being waged between, essentially, Muslims and the Sunni Waqf board on one side, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu denomination of devotees of Hanuman, and various Hindu groups under the umbrella of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). This tripartite battle for a few acres of land in the quiet town of Ayodhya began in 1949, but could very well trace its origins to well before the 16th century.

The issue before the court: who owns the land on which the Babri Masjid stands (in spite of an attempt to demolish it by Hindu fanatics in a wanton act of terrorism). The 3 judge panel of the Allahabad high court gave the verdict, which when viewed through the lenses of religiosity, can be said 'favours' the Hindu position. Over the past few days, we've seen and heard a plethora of opinions (that's one thing we'll never be short of in India), some pouring scorn over it, while some hailing it as statesmanly. So here's my take on the judgement, and being a non-believer, I guess I'm in a (slightly) better position to make an objective assessment on such a matter.

Demolishing arguments of the Hindu groups

Just because there existed a temple on the spot where the Babri Masjid stands, irrespective of whether or not the temple was demolished to construct a mosque, is no grounds to have a temple today. The temple, if it existed, did so in an era when the land it was in was not the India as we know it as today. It was not the republic it is today - it was a Mughal (Muslim) empire that was ruling back then and hence the discriminations against the Hindus. The India we live in today is different, and so trying to have a oneupmanship in terms of religion doesn't serve any useful purpose.

Demolishing arguments made by critics of this judgement, one by one

The first and foremost argument any rational person would make in a dispute like this is: is the court a suitable authority to pass judgement on religion and matters of pure faith? And the rational answer has to be an emphatic no. It's quite obvious that religious beliefs fall outside the purview of a court because if a court has to decide, it would need to do so based on evidence, irrefutable evidence, and so any such claim about an almighty would not stand legal scrutiny. So to begin with, both (all) parties should have appreciated that taking religious matters to a court could open a Pandora's box, and seems like that's precisely what seems to have happened.

Critics of the judgement (notably Muslims, and those trying to gain political mileage) argue that the judgement was based on faith and not evidence. Well, on the face of it, no one can find fault with that statement. However, think about it, if the court hadn't considered faith and based it's judgement on grounds of faith and practice and tradition, then what's to stop anyone from filing suits in courts across the country, basically dismissing all religious practices by people of any religion because there isn't any proof of existence of such an ALmighty? What's to stop someone from filing a suit saying tax payers money shouldn't be used to subsidise the Haj for Indian Muslims, because their faith and practices based on their religion has no proof that a God called Allah, their God, actually exists. In fact Mohammad himself never saw Allah, so what proof can be submitted to stand legal scrutiny? Non-believers like me and other civil citizens have for far too long cried ourselves hoarse that public money shouldn't be used for religious purposes in a secular democracy, so by questioning this judgement, aren't Muslims (or other religious groups) endangering the practice of Islam (or their respective religions) itself in India?

So now that I've quite easily dismissed the arguments against the 'faith-based' judgement, let's focus on the other issue most Muslims and pseudo-secularists have raised, namely, what's to stop Hindus from petitioning courts for other sites that they may claim to be disputed and having more mosques razed because "according to our beliefs, there used to be a temple here". Well, it's very easy to dismiss that argument and allay their fears. In 1991, an Act of Parliament called the Places of Worship Act was passed to specifically prevent any such thing from happening. Since the Babri Mosque land dispute was already in court, it was excluded. The act (which became law) states that "It is hereby declared that the character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it on that day.". So if a place was a Mosque (or any place of worship) at the time of independence, it will continue to do so and no one can change that today, or any day in the future. So hopefully this will allay the fears of all Muslims and those finding fault with the judgement.

The last of the more vociferous arguments made by the clerics is that the Islamic law doesn't allow them 'donate' or 'gift' the land or property (includes Mosques) that is under the control of the Waqf board. Well, if that be the case, and if the character of Islam is universal, can someone from the Muslim side explain the fact that the Hagia Sophia in Turkey, which was once a Church, and then later a Mosque, was finally converted into a museum by the Turkish ruler Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? The use of the premises for prayer (by any religion) is strictly prohibited (although a small portion inside the museum is now used by museum staff to pray, but both Christians and Muslims pray here). Since there are no remonstrations by Muslims anywhere, we can safely assume that in special circumstances, special measures can be taken. So the argument that Muslim Waqf board cannot enter into discussions for a settlement or compromise is also scuttled.

It seemed as though most eminent Muslims from civil society who chose to brand the judgement as 'one-sided' seem have done so in haste and not based on the evidence placed before the court. Farah Naqvi, one of the more vocal critics of the judgement, came across as someone who seemed to want the 'minority' tag to be worn proudly by Muslims and other religious minorities, much like how a large section of Hindu society seem to revel in being called 'backward' and belonging to a 'lower caste', so that they can reap benefits of social programmes of the government and other such benefits. Vitriolic barbs by such personalities conveys the wrong impression to regular folk who watch TV, who'd naturally think that since personalities as Ms. Naqvi have slammed the verdict, it couldn't be for any other reason other than the fact that the courts have been partial.

Some people have criticised the judgement for being "one that should have been taken by the politicians". I was aghast when I heard that this was being used as an argument against the verdict. Since the political class did not exhibit the required testicular fortitude to chalk out a solution, the court, given the fact that the sentiments of a large religious section (largest in India) were to be considered as it was part of the case, and that neither side could conclusively prove ownership (some claims were dismissed as being time barred), delivered a verdict that was rightly called 'statesmanly' by former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, one would have expected a more hearty acceptance. I see no reason for Muslims to feel aggrieved as being truly secular would have enabled anyone to see the enormity of the issue before the courts. If Muslims (or any religion) want their religious beliefs taken seriously and be given the freedom to practice them without any objection, then how can they oppose the beliefs of a different community?

To me, the entire feeling of betrayal and subsequently blaming the court for passing a verdict based on faith and not evidence arose because it was taken to court in the first place. Matters of religion and faith need to be discussed in a domain where hard, empirical evidence isn't needed, but compassion and understanding and a mutual feeling of brotherhood and magnanimity is exhibited and reciprocated. That is the India Gandhi and Nehru dreamt of, that is the India the great book, our Constitution, envisions for India, that is what we as Indians need to work towards.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jumbo feline problems

Since enough has been mentioned all over about the sorry state of affairs about the CWG, I just didn't think I was up to it, but a report in today's paper actually made me feel happy. Amidst all the muck and crap (literal here, not metaphorical), one story actually made me happy. Maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction, but nonetheless. The British ambassador drove towards the games village to see how things were going, and meet up with M/S Kalmadi & Co. to get a first hand report on the progress. However, since his driver didn't have the adequate clearances to go beyond the gate, the ambassador's spanking new Porsche was stopped and the ambassador was made to walk all the way in, while his driver had to wait out.

Now see, the lesson to be learnt here is that no matter who you are and what position you hold, if you don't have what is needed to go past a security check, then you can't go on with the "Tuh nahin jaanta mein kown hoon?" (don't you know who I am?). I"m just glad the security guys seem to be getting their act right (high time they do). But the other bigger concern is do I want the games to go off well, or do I hope that the games (organisation, infrastructure, etc.) fail? Actually, I think this is a far more difficult one to answer than what cam first, the chicken or the egg. I know that if the games go off well, all the corruption and all the fraud and all the dereliction that took place will be swept under the carpet and probably a few small fish may fry, but the sharks would escape the net. So given that, I hope that things don't go off smoothly. But then, there's a problem with this school of thought. What if during the course of the games, something terrible happens, like something collapses and hurts, or worse, kills an athelete of a foreign country and it's proven that the reason was poor construction or something along those lines? What if those countries sue us and the government as it's the government's responsobility to ensure the smooth functioning of the games? What then? Wouldn't that be a worse scenario?

Moving on, the rail accident that killed 7 jumbos in Bengal is a true reflection of how Mamta Bannerjee's attitude towards one of the most important modes of transport is, where she doesn't even bother to reprimand the officials involved in and responsible for this tragedy.

And lastly, the tigers that are dropping like flies in the Bannerghatta Biological Park due to an outbreak of Salmonella and E. Coli. Supposedly, the reason why the tigers ended up this weak is because they are being fed chicken meat. But beat this, the chicken meat, since it's a lot more tender and prone to disease, are injected with antibiotics. These antibiotics, while keeping the meat intact, have reduced the immune system of the tigers, which in turn has led to this situation. Now here's my beef with the clowns from the animal groups who've joined hands with the BJP right wing asking for a ban on beef in Karnataka. They very happily joined hands with right wing scumbags on the issue of banning beef, and even though animal experts have said that without beef, getting sufficient proteins would be a source of concern, the diet of our national animals were of no concern to the so-called animal lovers. If these hypocrites have even an iota of shame, they'll do a rethink, and the sooner they do it, the better for the tiger.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jawohl, mein Pope!

Oh sorry, the original line goes "Jawohl, mein Fuhrer", which, of course was a salutation given to the one and only Adolf Hitler, during the heights of Nazism. I just learnt that Prof. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are consulting lawyers in England whether the Pope can be arrested during his visit to the country later this year. The charge? Crimes against humanity, of course. To be more specific, the Catholic Church's covering up of the sex scandals involving priests and the rampant sexual abuses of young children that has scarred their lives forever, so in essence, allowing sex offenders to be guarded against the course of law.

So can the Pope be arrested? For one, the Vatican put out a lousy and feeble defense by saying that he's (Pope) a head of state (The Vatican) and so cannot be arrested during a state visit. Well, Prof. Dawkins and Mr. Hitchens are contesting that claim as well, and don't believe that he is an actual head of state, and given a chance, would have him branded as a tin-pot dictator of a fiefdom filled with men dressed in fancy costumes.

So what's Papa Ratzi's fault in the whole sex scandal and the raping of the young children you may ask, especially since he certainly didn't commit any of those crimes (at least, none that we know of). True, but then, as the boss, you're responsible for your subordinates, the buck stops with him, so there's the question of moral responsibility involved here. But hang, trash moral responsibility, there's direct complicity in the cover-up of these sordid affairs, and in helping with the cover up (specific letters bearing his signature and seal asking for the priests to be let off), the old man is guilty of helping criminals who raped children to go scot free. Now that, dear reader, is a crime. Old man Adolf (yes, Hitler) never really pushed into a gas chamber or shot any Jew himself (again, none that we know of), although I'm sure he'd have loved to, but he gave the orders and was the boss and didn't prosecute any of the foot soldiers who committed the crimes, ergo, guilty as hell. I know the analogy isn't 100% accurate because in the Pope's case, he didn't order the priest to rape children, or have sex with women and father their children (in some cases, the foetuses were aborted - something the Church is actually vehemently opposed to - or the women were payed hush money to keep quiet in case they had the child). But since he was directly involved in the cover-up and in helping the accused get away without any punishment, he can be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal in avoiding criminal prosecution.

So for all the fans of the Pope reading this as well as those of you who may not be a fan but don't mind if the Pope continues in his merry ways, here's some food for thought: do we send out a signal to the world that if you have a title like priest or cardinal or Pope (in this case, I've mentioned only titles associated with the Church, but you get the point), then you can get away with raping children? I wonder if, as a species, we can show some collective testicular fortitude and say 'No' to the question asked above and go ahead and prosecute the man. I guess that's what happens when you have a former Nazi running your affairs! And on a side note, I wonder if the Pope or any of those priests who are guilty would like taking it up their ass when in prison. If the answer is 'no', they should have thought about it before sticking their penises into the rectums of young children.

Another post detailing the 'crimes' of the Vatican and the former Nazi Ratzinger can be read here, from the CBC News Network.. It's got a nice title: Sex, Crimes, and the Vatican. ROTFLMAO!!!

Below is a YouTube video of Hitchens explaining the deal.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The die is caste

Last week, a court in Haryana gave the death penalty to 5 members of a family and sentenced the panchayat to life in prison. This indeed was a landmark judgment of sorts as it was the first (if I remember rightly) where honour killing was condemned where the local panchayat and the family members were involved. I'd have been happier if the panchayat were also given the death penalty as in every other walk of life, we also hold the head who gave the orders equally guilty of the crime - be it a Dawood or a Hafiz Saeed or a Raj Thackeray.

The larger point in question here is the role caste still plays in 21st century India. Critics of this blog and closeted supporters of the caste system will point out that this case happened in a rural, backward village in Haryana (OK, when we say rural village in Haryana it's a given that it's going to be backward) and we can't equate the mindset of the people living there who continue to live in a feudalistic society, with the mindsets of those living in urban India. Well, if you're willing to buy that crap, I've got a dog that lays eggs that you might be interested in buying.

Caste is prevalent in almost every section of society and isn't exclusive only to the rural societies. Ask most of your friends and colleagues around you about marriages that happen to their relatives, and if it's arranged, then caste and horoscopes are matched and only if a 'perfect match' is found, will the parents on both sides agree to get down into discussing the nitty gritties of the marriage. I know of people here at work who actually shudder (you can see them shake) when asked if they would marry someone of a different caste, so when that kind of a mindset is prevalent even amongst the urban, English educated in our society, why is it that we only assume that the problem lies with the uneducated or the undereducated folks in the countryside? Is this an inherent hypocrisy that we've accepted as 'natural' for those living in the cities and driving cars and watching English news channels and claiming to be part of the great Indian middle class?

Now I'm not saying that just because you would want to get married to someone from the same caste makes you like the panchayat who ordered the death of the couple, but ask yourself whether the initial point of origin of the problem is the same or not in both cases. The way people choose to deal with the issue of couples marrying out of caste may vary - in some cases (very rare, but I'll go on to call them the model citizens) parents and family have absolutely no problem and the couple are allowed to be live their lives happily, but even in most urban households (usually orthodox ones), either the boy or the girl or both are threatened (physically, emotionally, or both) and/or there is outright opposition because the other person is from a different caste, and finally the orthodox rural folks who believe in the system of family honour trumping all individual rights and opt for 'taking out' the vermin from their midst. I also know of people who sugar coat the 'caste-based marriages should be the norm' argument saying that it's the only way they can ensure that there would be no conflicts after the marriage because of different traditions and practices owing to their different backgrounds. What a silly excuse that is - almost like saying that I have a bad habit and you have a bad habit, and I can't let you continue with your bad habit because, well, it's bad!

Why am I calling these 'bad habits' is probably the most obvious thing going around in your head. Simple - if whatever conflict arises from traditions because of a difference in caste (or religion), conflicts that are bad enough for people to change/choose different persons to make their spouse, means there's a problem in the thinking of one (or both) of the parties involved. So my point is, do you really want to marry someone who is of such a mentality, where he/she cannot accept someone else because that person was born to parents who belong to a different caste, a birth where they really had no say in? And if you do agree that the weird superstitions, beliefs, and practices that religion and caste bring along (I'm not talking about cultural traditions here, only the unproven beliefs and practices), then why is caste such a big deal to you? Think hard and objectively, and you may realise that deep down, it probably is ingrained into you just by the way you were brought up. And if that is true, why do you send your kids to schools where it is taught that religion and caste shouldn't matter and shouldn't be used to differentiate between folks? You might as well send your kid(s) to a madrassa or some such religious/caste-based seminary and at least save yourself from being called a hypocrite.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Woman's reservation bill

Hmm, finally, the Woman's Reservation Bill gets passed in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha), although the day before it got passed (Woman's Day) saw some extremely unruly scenes (which we've gotten used to now actually). I was discussing with my mom about the merits and demerits of this bill, and I suddenly realised I didn't actually have a stand on this issue. - Shetty actually didn't have a take on this! I immediately remembered that when I was in school, or in college, this issue had first cropped up, and back then, the only thing that I kept saying was that "Do women actually need a reservation to get elected? Aren't they good enough to win anyway?". The underlying point was that since we (liberals and progressive citizens) consider women equal to men, should we have a provision that treats them as a 'lesser' being.

So last evening I brought this up with my mother, and we got into a discussion. My younger brother chipped in with one point: "they're trying to eliminate one form of discrimination, by bringing in a legislation that actually IS a form of discrimination!" Good point. And then my mind went back to a little over a year, when the reservation topic was in the air. Reservations in IITs and IIMs and other institutes of higher education. How different was this bill from what was being proposed there? Are the women (and people in general) who were opposed to reservations in education also against the reservation in parliament? Aren't the two the same in principle? Isn't this a fair comparison?

The principle in both cases are the same: give a section of society a foothold because there was a lot of injustice meted out to them in the past - maybe we should ask the British to pay us compensation now because when they were our colonial masters, they meted out a lot of injustice to us!

The discussion between my mother and me went like this:
Mom: It isn't quite the same, as in Parliament, the reservations are only for who can contest for some particular seats, but eventually the candidates have to face the elections, and if they lose, they're out.
Me: True, but so is the case with the education thingy. The candidates have to write the exams, there's no getting around that, and certain seats are earmarked for the 'weaker' sections.
Mom: True, but to take the exams, there is an eligibility criteria - you need to have certain minimum marks, you need to have studied in some recognised university, etc. What criteria do we have to contest elections? You can't say "if you're corrupt, don't stand for elections... we can see how well that's going on currently!"
Me: Yes, but it's not fair to say there's no criteria. They have to be Indian citizens, they have to be above 18, and they shouldn't have any criminal case pending in the courts (allegations and FIRs aren't considered; only open cases). So there is a minimum criteria. So what if the criteria isn't more specific - in fact if it were more specific, it would be unfair for elections in a democracy.

By then, dinner was over and mom had to prepare stuff for the next day and so she left, but it got me thinking. Wouldn't blocking a seat in a constituency, from where, let's say a very good candidate was contesting (who happened to be a man), for women only now, cause a problem? And is this legislation only to give 'women' a foothold in politics, or is this to give 'poor, oppressed women' a foothold in politics? What's to say that a Laloo-Rabri situation won't arise? What's to prevent the men from exercising remote-control politics? I don't buy the arguments the other opponents of the bill had - giving a quota for minorities within this bill itself, so let's get that out of the way. My brother asked me why Laloo Yadav and Mulayam singh Yadav were against the bill, and I said " (1) They're Yadavs, (2) they come from a part of the country where men think women belong in the kitchen, (3) and they're stupid".

Just because we have more women in power, would that directly translate to more women's issues being raised and discussed? Contrary to popular opinion, research has shown that this isn't the case. There's absolutely no evidence to suggest that women MPs would dive into the plethora of women's issues that plagues out country today with the intention of solving them. Once they get elected, they serve their party and the agenda of the party. In fact, an analogy to the "if more women, then more women related issue can be solved" would be that since all our MPs our Indian nationals, they'd work for the betterment of the country and put country above party. We've seen in what direction this idea has gone!

The fears exhibited by many men in politics is because they'd have to vacate the large bungalows they get once they're elected as MPs, since if their seats are converted into a woman's special seat. To lose that would indeed be tragic, I can see that (somehow the sarcasm just didn't come through on this one). By a twist of fate, I wish the process to demarcate the first 33% of seats happen to be those seats regularly contested by Laloo, Mulayam, Deve Gowda et al. Wouldn't that be a sight then, to watch these clowns wailing in desperation and frustration.

So is it a good thing to empower women in politics and make sure that we have more women in politics so that other women feel they actually have representation? Yes, absolutely. Is the method we're using to achieve this noble goal the right one? I wouldn't say yes straight away. And I'm sure those who can objectively decide would also agree. I'm not willing to buy the argument that just because we can't come up with a better and completely fair solution, we adopt one that is blatantly discriminatory.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My take on the railways budget and Sachin...

...and in fact I'll start in the reverse order

He's done it again! Once again, Mr. Tendulkar has silenced his critics who say age is catching up to him and it's time to hang them boots (and I include myself in that list). A lot has been said already about this, so all I'll say is it's great that an Indian holds the record, and who better than the poster boy of Indian cricket to be one to hold it.

Railways budget:
I can do a really good impersonation of Cuba Gooding Jr from the movie Jerry McGuire, where he shouts and asks Tom Cruise's character to say "Show me the money". Which is exactly what I'd like to ask Mamta Bannerjee, show me the money, you short, loud-mouthed, obnoxious little bimbo! Where the heck is the money going to come from for all the new trains and the water bottling plants you've proposed while keeping the fares at the same rate and in fact reducing freight rates for certain commodities? And I don't even know much about economics!

Is this a precursor to the finance budget, where we, the middle class, the real aam aadmi, will have to bear the brunt? FYI to to the blue turbaned chap at 7 Race Course Road, in case you forgot, you just screwed us out of Rs. 65,000,00,00,000 last year - that's Rs. 65,000 crores., for those who'd go dizzy looking at the number of zeroes. And after the major screw up with the 3G spectrum, where prices were set at an extremely low price, you screwed us out of another Rs. 29,000,00,00,000 - that's Rs. 29,000 crores. That's a total of Rs. 94,000 crores that we're never going to see again. So I ask you, oh great PM, will I have to tighten my belt a little more so that you guys can continue to give sops to those who don't deserve them? Don't I deserve a break as well? Why is it that for want of remaining in power, you go around increasing the fiscal deficit, especially since you and your generation may not last beyond the next 10 years, but I and my clan of youngsters will have to reap the problems from the seeds you've sown today? You're supposed to be a good man with a clean image Mr. PM, start acting like one. Please.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My take on the fire and the Maoists

Bangalore Fire:
We'd had a fire in Bangalore, in the building that houses TGIF, Indi Joe, Corner house, and Bombay Post. Carlton Towers. Faulty wiring seems to be the cause. I was at the Bangalore Mirror office last evening when I was told about the news. And while watching it on TV, we also saw the first, unedited clips from viewers' cell phones of a woman falling, presumably, to her death. I mean we saw falls 4 stories or more down to the pavement, and splat. No movement after that. I know one thing for sure - when people are scared, they behave just like animals do. So much for the bunch who say we're better than animals. All that the folks had to do was break the glass around them and the smoke would have escaped.

I'm sure there will be fingers pointed at the builder for not constructing the building according to the regulations for fire safety. But I have a more basic point here: why wasn't anyone from the offices present there trained on how to use a fire extinguisher? Didn't the offices have a fire drill? I know my office does. We don't practice it ever, but we've been trained (every floor has 3 people trained to use the fire extinguishers and what to do in case of a fire; I'm one of the 3 from my floor). We keep harping about self sufficiency, why not do whatever little is possible from our side? In no way am I blaming those trapped inside and those who died as being responsible for their own deaths, but these are pertinent questions that need to be asked. If we don't remember the lessons of history, we're doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

The Maoist Menace and double standards of the UPA:
So now they attacked a camp in West Bengal, and the IG of the Eastern Frontier Rifles who said that the state administration hasn't done enough was suspended by the communist government (I'm sure they'd have wanted to kill him, being the communists that they are, but there'd been enough killing already). The Congress at the center was quick to seize the opportunity to rub it in, with Manish Tiwari making a statement that the WB govt. would be better off listening to the man and learning what to do, rather than muzzling him. That's rich coming from the Congress govt., especially since during UPA-1, a Major General V K Singh in RAW exposed a whole lot of corruption, and one that compromised the security of the PM himself, and Maj. Gen Singh was subsequently arrested! So let's not be so quick Mr. Tiwari, first put your house in order before you start making statements that can come back to bite you.

As far as talks go, it's pretty obvious we can talk with only the idealogues, and not the gun-totting maoists, who have to be taken out by force alone as we've exhausted all other alternatives.

Changes to the blog

From now on, Shetty's Take shall take a new path. Since there are way too many incidents about which I have strong opinions and precious little time to write ALL of them down, I've decided to write a couple of lines about some of the major events from the previous day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The security state

Another attack in our country, and almost a week after the blast, still no headway in the investigation. I'll openly admit that I've got inured to people getting blown to bits, or people being shot by Maoists because they are 'police informers', or for whatever flimsy reason people cough up to justify their actions. My only point is, what is it that we need to do, and the answer is pretty damn simple. However, implementing it will be difficult even for Hercules, so to suggest that it would be Herculean itself would be downplaying it.

After the 26/11 attacks, the UPA setup the NIA (National Investigative Agency) and it was supposed to be headed by a top police official and this agency would take the lead into all terror related acts and help with the investigations. I may be wrong, but didn't the CBI already have the best minds in the police department doing the same thing? Why make another agency and add more red tape when we already have one agency? Why not strengthen the existing agency? In any case, that's the secondary point in this unholy mess. Why are we focusing on an investigative agency to help build a case AFTER the attacks? Why not shore up and strengthen the intelligence agencies to PREVENT such attacks? Why doesn't Mr. Chidambaram do something about intelligence gathering, and clean up shop there rather than focus on what to do after an attack?

I fail to see the logic in this, and what really astounds me is the fact that no one in the government is thinking on these lines. I mean if someone like me can find this so obvious, I'm sure there would be at least one smart soul in the corridors of power who could have thought of this. Is it that the intelligence agencies are so messed up with politics that no one wants to touch them? I mean is this the sign of a super power? Or a wannabe super power? Screw it!

So when's the next attack Johnny? Oh, I'm sorry, you'd never know that, would you, so I'll rephrase - just tell me how many die in the next attack when it happens.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Playing hide and seek, celestially

There have been a lot of incidents over the last few weeks that I'd like to blog about, but I just had to, had to put in a mention about the solar eclipse that is going to happen on Friday the 15th of January, 2010. There are so many superstitions here that it makes my head spin. With all the advances we've made in science, our people still fall prey to age old guesswork, quite clearly the result of not knowing what an eclipse is. Pregnant women aren't allowed outside, people aren't supposed to be seen outside eating, you shouldn't have sex, you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't go there, the list goes on and on. This 15th, I'm going to step outside my office, go to the terrace, and enjoy the eclipse (even though it'll be only about 40% here in Bangalore), hopefully with the help of some of those 'eclipse' goggles that are being sold.

So people, for those of you who actually believe that there will actually be something adverse because of a solar eclipse, let me try to put it to you in English as simple as can be: No. Anything bad that happens would have just as likely have happened if there was no eclipse as well. If you trip and fall, the cause for that could just as likely be attributed to Paris Hilton giving someone a blowjob, or Lindsay Lohan going wild at some party, or (more locally) Mayawathi announcing that she's going to build another statue, or Deve Gowda calling the chief minister a bast***.

There is no 'extra' radiation given out during an eclipse, there are no 'evil spirits' roaming about that enter your body during an eclipse, etc etc etc. Another caution given is "Don't look at the eclipse (sun), as the 'extra' radiation is bad for the eyes". If anyone says something like this to you, do not hesitate to sock them real hard (if they are educated). The only reason it's going to be bad for the eyes is because YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE SUN, DAMN IT!!! I'd pretty much expect it to be bad for your eyes if you stared at it! Just because the sun is covered by the moon, and there isn't enough 'light', that doesn't mean the radiation (Ultra Violet - yes, the same chap fearing whom you apply sunscreen lotion with UV protection) vanishes. On a normal day, the light is so bright that the pupils in your eyes don't open up at all, and so the radiation doesn't enter the eyes. During an eclipse, because of the lack of light, your pupils get dilated (meaning they open a little more to allow more light to enter), and since UV rays are not visible to us, they enter as well if you keep staring at the sun (eclipse) and will go in and burn your retina (that's something that is deep within your eye). That's it, nothing else. No more nonsense about children being born with cleft lips and horns, and forked tongues, and what not.

So please, please please pretty please, don't waste a day staying indoors and/or away from work.
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