November 22, 2010

De-Pressing Press

Once upon a time, not so long ago, folding a newspaper earned me a praise from my parents. It was during this golden era of color TVs when I first came across divine souls called newscasters. Baldevanda Sagara, with his famous starting line संस्कृत वार्ता .. प्रवाचीतः बलदेवानंद सागरः, Pradip Bhide of the evening news in Marathi, and the English news presenters of Doordarshan were my demi-gods. As I grew older, I witnessed an exponential growth in number of news channels. It was during this time that I actually experienced an even faster decline in the quality of news. I have seen the Times of India evolve into a soft porn magazine which sells sex in the name of art and erotica. Pune Times (previously known as Pune Plus) evolved to having two kinds of articles: how much did one have to expose just before sleeping with Mr/Mrs. X; and whose make up can scare you more than all the Ramsay movies put together.

Things were a bit different during the Kargil war though. It was during this war that I witnessed some really courageous reporting. I can still remember Barkha Dutt interviewing soldiers and seeing the courageous fuel tank drivers piercing the fire from other side. One of the interviews I cannot forget was that of the great Capt. Vikram Batra. Sadly over the years my respect for this reporter and her so called journalism has gone so low that I do not want to write her name in a sentence having the name of Vikram Batra. This decline in respect began a few years ago when I saw some of her debates. During each debate I was getting a feeling of some preconceived idea being forward. There were times when someone making a valid point was stopped by really stupid excuses such as, "I believe Mr. X has something to add to this; lets go to Mr. X". The level went really low during some of the interviews I saw of the CommonWealth Games. These have been criticized in my previous blog posts "Where are the reporters?" and "The Great Indian Tamasha: Common Wealth Games." Here are the two videos that really highlight the lack of any spine in her interviews.

Sadly she is not alone and is part of the mother of all reality shows called News channels. The flashing news in these channels literally flashes. Lighting flashes are less painful to the eye as the colors used by these channels compete with the creativity of Ekta Kapoor. One question to all news channel - Why are you bombarding us with inconsistent text and video? If there was some consistency then the brain would not have any problems getting the message. However, most of the text you show is completely out of context and many a times makes no sense at all. Due to this inconsistency I can either read or listen but never comprehend what you want to say. There was a time when news clips came without background scores. These news clips were neat and simple presentation of facts or events. Lately, rather than the voice of the presenter, I hear background scores trying the vibrate the very emotion chords that have been incapacitated by the works of Ekta Kapoor & Co. Such cheap tricks were once used by the Times of India when it started highlighting some words of a news article. Did the editors of the Times forget the purpose of something called a headline? Was the editing time so less that the editor just highlighted the words he/she read before publishing the crap.

For me the press died the day newspapers evolved from a समाचारपत्र or journal to a PR newsletter; the press died when it became a medium to brainwash the masses and stopped being a medium to inform events and facts; the press died when ratings took precedence over the very conscience that separates us from parasites. Just like we want Kalmadi to resign, it is high time that people like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, and their partners quit. The impact of paid news is worse than every scandal that rocks the country as paid news can control and manipulate how people can perceive the scandal. There is an age old saying that being स्तिथ प्रज्ञ is a necessary condition for understanding the truth. I can only say that the press in its current form does not satisfy this condition.

November 16, 2010

An Obama Diwali

Diwali is the time of the year when shopkeepers make the most of the temptation to spend. Well the biggest shopkeeper just visited India and returned as a demi-god thanks to the "Athithi Devo Bhava" philosophy. Indians expected this visitor to be a Nobel Atithi - he however turned out to be a very shrewd businessman in a Nobel Athithi's clothing.

Barak Obama came, saw, and conquered (just fell short of plundering). He just showed what a bunch of spineless leaders we really have. It is pretty clear that his visit was not mutually satisfying. America's gain dwarfs even the illusion of gain which India was shown. He left with jobs for America and yes mesmerized the press with perfect diplomatic sentences such as, "That is why I can say today — in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member." One question to Mr. Obama - just how many years did you say? On Headley, USA just showed that India has the duty of being resilient but not the right to have a concern let alone voice the concern. I just wonder what would have been the reaction of the US if India hid the information of a double agent who was plotting against the US.

India is not a friend of the US; it is just a market or should I say dumping ground. Have we forgotten the Congress grass that plagues almost every district of the country. Why is India pushing for untested and potential dangerous agri-tech from the US (Article by TJS George on this issue)? Why are they not safe for use in the US but safe for India? If we are really a developed nation, then why these double standards? For the last two decades China is a manufacturing hub for America, and India's vast population its market. If Obama was really concerned of Indo-US business trade, he would not have skipped Bangalore or have a phobia of being Bangalored. He did not come to improve trade, he just came to sell stuff. His magical spell worked so well that the Indian press completely forgot that India has (at least on paper) a President and it is not Barak Obama.

One thing that hurt me (personally) the most was his statement, "Strong, peaceful Pakistan is in India's interest." Can he make such statements in China about the dams they are building or the troop movements they are capable of? Then why should India care what he says? To be frank, for the last 60 years Indians would have been much more happier if they had a strong and stable Pakistan, rather than a one being run by the sympathizers of Taliban. One can draw a simple analogy from cricket. Indian cricketers would love to face the bowling a person like Wasim Akram who truly loves Pakistan than the playing with guys like Sohail Tanvir who make public statements full of hate such as "Hinduon ki zahaniyat hi aisi hai". Any sane International Cricket team would prefer to face the Pakistan that won the world cup rather than a team full of match fixers and their sympathizers. Similarly, India would have loved to have a stable Pakistan as its neighbor rather than one run by the Taliban and its sympathizers. Saldy, India and Pakistan has to suffer the legacy of Zia-ul-Haq and the mess US created while fighting a proxy war against the ailing Soviets. Another question:

To conclude, Obama is a capable of doing great things. However he received far more attention than he deserved, and India got far less compared to what it truly deserves. I only hope and pray for a better leader to lead India who knows who is an Athithi and who is a shopkeeper...

November 12, 2010

Buddhi and the Coalition Dharma

बुद्धि (Buddhi) and धर्मा (Dharma) are two Sanskrit words that do not have an equivalent in English or any Latin based language. Their meaning is supposed to be imbibed in the very essence that makes us Indians. When our Buddhi tells us that something is not right, it is our Dharma to take appropriate action. Each Dharma comes with actions to be performed and right now we are witnessing the actions of a new Dharma. It goes by the name Coalition Dharma. So what exactly is Coalition Dharma. Here is what I have seen in the last few years...
  1. Let us first have a look at the party which projects itself as the one that has the copyright on the Bhagvad Geeta. Does anyone remember a person called Shibu Soren. Four years ago, the BJP was trying its best to skin this guy alive. A couple of years later they decide to dress him with an armor called Chief Minister. Then one fine day they decide to strip him naked and don the armor themselves. I guess life of Schrodingers Cat is more predictable than the future of Jharkhand.
  2. Does any one remember the circumstances when a party called the Nationalist Congress Party was created? On May 20, 1999, Sharad Pawar and three of his friends were expelled for revolting against Sonia Gandhi. According to its website, the NCP claims to be "a true inheritor of the rich and glorious political legacy handed to the Indian National Congress (INC) by early stalwarts like ...(infinite list of every person whose name can be found in 3rd standard history textbook)". Sadly in their zeal for nationalism they forgot the name of the congress founder Alan Hume. Well I am not sure if any Nationalism still exists in this party, as they are busy plundering Maharashtra for close to a decade now with the Congress Party.
  3. My knowledge of Communism is limited however even a little Buddhi can tell that one Communist pointing guns at the other seems to be wrong. Further, they claim to be secular and yet have an on and off relationship with the Indian Union Muslim League. How according to any communist ideology a political party that has the name of a religion be secular?
    Satish Acharya
  4. About the Congress. They are the ones who taught India its current version of Coalition Dharma. They started by giving us Deve Gowda as the PM. Now as their power has increased their Dharma has evolved to new heights. To become part of their Dharma one has to worship their three demi-gods: Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi. A footnote read while being introduced to their Dharma is the that one has secretly worship Sonia. Once this is done you become part of their Dharma which is part of the grand Coalition Dharma.

Satish Acharya

One of the best cartoons talking about the insanity called Coalition Dharma is the above cartoon by Satish Acharya. Such promiscuous behavior just shows the lack of any Buddhi in the Coalition Dharma. It just highlights the true essence of this Dharma which has its root in corruption. A good proof of the corruption being the only motivating factor in politics is the following video.

This video from Pakistan sheds light on the mentality of all the politicians in the sub-continent. The politician being questioned says "We have a right on being corrupt. A party can be less corrupt only if it is not in power." This is true and is inline with an age old saying, "power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Coalition Dharma leads the politicians to absolute power and we are now facing what is absolute corruption. Sadly, the insensitivity towards stopping this absolute corruption is now making the Buddhi present in the Indians obsolete; and we all know that a country can exists only if there is some Buddhi in its citizens.

To conclude, like the current version of Coalition politics, this article is a jugaad of weird stuff that comes to the mind. I couldn't help it. All what I see in the current version of coalition politics was a big time jugaad to ensure a better loot. Have a nice look at Jayalalitha's offer to UPA II, the operation Kamala and Jharkhand alliance of the BJP with Soren, Mamta and DMK calling the shots in UPA II. Coalition is fine, but good coalitions are becoming as rare as good politicians. This feeling of spiraling down in a bottom less pit is making me really sick and hence this sick blog post.

November 7, 2010

Moving from Sophia Antipolis to Nice

This week I moved from Sophia Antipolis to Nice. The reason was I needed a change; a change from my monotonous schedule. I was getting used to being in Sophia Antipolis and I was worried that I am being addicted to the relaxed life in Sophia Antipolis.

Staying in Sophia Antipolis was literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. My studio was really nice and close to INRIA. Being close to INRIA was a big plus point as I was not worried about missing the buses while coming to work. However the lack of buses on weekends was one my reasons for moving out. I was also worried that I was making my studio a cocoon and it was time that I came out from my cocoon. The more I delayed it, the more difficult it would have been to get out of it. These feelings are similar to the ones I heard about the X+1 syndrome. I had delayed my move by about 1 year and I realized I was slowly becoming a slave to procrastination.

Sophia Antipolis was really relaxing and it had life in the form of birds, foxes (I saw a baby fox on my way back in 2009 winter) and wild boars (which I did not see during my stay). Nice on the other hand is a micro version Mumbai. A city close to the sea and people crowding the bus stops from 7 in the morning; peak hour traffic from 6 in the evening and night-life till 5 in the morning. I had visited Nice many times and I fell in love with the sea the first time I saw it while my plane landed at Nice. I had always love the sea, thanks to listening to my mothers childhood memories of Kundapur and having the swamps between Diva junction and Thane as an indication of being close to my uncle's home in Mulund.

My first weekend at Nice was the Diwali night and I cannot forget it as Hu Jintao decided to spend his Diwali in Nice. The 2 hours it took me to reach Nice from Sophia Antipolis reminded me of the the 3 hours it used to take me from ITPL to Vijayanagara when the BBMP decided to experiment with the Magic Box at the Cauvery Junction. Thanks to Hu Jintao, there were police everywhere in Nice and yes they appeared stressed and frustrated. I had seen similar faces during the bandobasts I used to see in Delhi and Pune.

To conclude, I guess the jitters of doing something different, something new, and the hope of having a nice time in Nice have resulted in this post. I just hope and pray that I perform better when I am living in Nice.