Friday, 28 May 2010

Everyone for themselves!

Another incident of butchery from the extremist or Maoist backed wing in our country. Cold blooded manslaughter, disrupting economy, most of all, psychologically paralyzing the minds of those who happen to witness or those whose family members suffered the macabre incidents- this has been the norm lately. The outfit is deemed to be involved, directly or indirectly, in deaths of more than 200 humans in the last 5 months. So what do we make of this piece of text ?

We Indians prefer to live in a perpetual state of denial. We frequently encounter denial instigating events or phenomenon, which ascertains a certain fact that- life is no easy, every one has to face problems and your share is in so and so shape and form. And, in due course of time, one such event or phenomenon has to get replaced by another one. We never run out of them, because if we do, we would feel uncomfortable, that we have reached the ultimate stage of achievement and bliss; thus, there would be no further feat to achieve rendering our lives less meaningful and probably with lesser reason or motive to thrive and prosper. We are not innovators, restraining from changes, we enjoy the perpetuity of our lives. We do like to discuss elaborately of such events for a while, until a new such event grabs the limelight and the ball keeps on rolling. OK, I may sound a little overboard, but read the first para again you will not agree less.

The Naxalites, again unfortunately Indians, are also living in a state of denial. Apparently their levels of denial are higher than the rest of the country’s or at least the people’s representatives of the country – the politicians. Therefore they are unwilling to budge and hold their firm stance. They honor slaughter and killings of the innocent civilians, hoping to either crush the denial levels of the government or to threateningly raise it leading to a downfall, based on ethical and moral grounds. Obviously, they(maoists) steer clear of any ethical or moral obligations because the agencies which impose such accusations don’t seem to overcome their delusion of sentimentality. Ask why? In the wake of their(the agencies) incessant state of denial, they seem to assuage towards the weaker section of the society, in this case being the maoists. So, the maoist’s cause-driven criminality somehow attracts moral justification.

Apparently the Maoists do not realize that they are making the people, who they wish to revolutionize, their enemy and not the govt. Even if they win this battle, they would then have to convince the same people to accept and appreciate the beliefs which they preach and propose, the same people, with whom they are unwittingly distancing themselves now. Governments will come and go. Its not their war, it never was. In the wake of all these events, the maoists do realize that they will never be satisfied by overthrowing the govt. If that happens, by any means, then the maoists will be rendered no more fortunate than hapless monkeys left over a desert island. With no knowledge of governing and no body or constitution to support it, they would be on a ship to neverland with around a billion inferi trawling besides them who don’t care a shit about what Mao said centuries ago. The naxalites exist because the govt exist. Its like a cat and mouse game. If the cat wins, it will be bored alone. With no govt there’d be no meaning to their lives. Leave aside a hand full of rulers the entire maoist troop comprises of uneducated adivasis. So, from their perspective, winning could only come as the govt sticking around but bringing about a drastic change of policies across nation.

Almost two decades after our economy got liberalized, installing a socialist ideology would be next to impossible without the govt playing a suicidal role in it. So, now in order to bring a strong govt to a suicidal level of threat(a seemingly impossible dream, not because the govt is very much able, but majorly because the balance of money and power doesn’t comply with the equation presented) maoists are wracking their brains impatiently, as they too fear of getting bored of this age long game and seek to finish it soon, as a result of which they have engaged the afterburner - unleashing a fury of irritated attacks. Could there not be a work around for their problem? Could there not be a confirmed end of this instability? The two sides have driven each other so much beyond the point-of-no-return, that you cannot deny instances of foul play being involved from both ends. Foul play, would mean deeds motivated by the lust for power, money and revenge.

A saintly leader of current fazing times could only say to its junta, “brace yourselves while the enemy makes his final (which are normally the best & most aggressive)moves, as sooner or later he has to retire and rest in peace”
And we civilians can only do best to oblige and save our own asses, all by ourselves, while almost entirely banking on our fate hoping this dangerous game to end. The 'survival of the fittest' is not just a concept, its already in use.

That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it has always been...

Signing off...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Bird's-eye view

Another bird rescued from the major oil sleek (Deepwater Horizon rig explosion) that happened a couple of weeks ago on the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, it is certainly a bird I am talking about, to be precise a brown pelican, currently doing fine at the isolation recovery area of Louisiana Bird Rescue Center. Well, not exactly intending to discredit this news article(Citation: click here) which was btw published in Bloomberg Businessweek, it’s slight bemusing to find such an article, when you can expect (and rightly so!) that most of the people would be fruitlessly engrossed either in estimating the exact figure of the gallons they lost or indulged in the blame game for inept recovery operations.

All that aside, it highlights the stark difference that exists across societies the world over, the differences in choices available, the difference in liberty, the differences in the evaluation of a human life or any life for that matter, in different parts of world. It’s funny when you see that an injured bird receives equal (if not more) media coverage (read importance) than what would be received by a whole bunch of humans who die almost daily in a bomb explosion, in some of the other parts of the world say for instance- Afghan, Pak or Iraq. Surely Americans take pride in their lives, and probably anybody would if in a similar position. Does their snobbishness ever deem them less friendly with the rest of the world? Doesn’t matter, they are in a position where they don’t need many or at least they don’t need to beg for making any. Take the Times Square car-bomb incident for instance, what I heard was, on 6:28 the officials were notified by a local shirt-seller and at 6:30 the entire troop had arrived on the scene, moreover they deployed a robotic arm to their service, safeguarding even the lives of their hurt lockers. Two days later they nab the criminal and are able to accumulate all the details and evidence related to the case. Well, so much for our successful conviction of Mr. Kasab….belittled in comparison, even when it is considered one of the fastest trials held on a terror linked criminal case.…reaching a verdict in record time (under 18 months!!, although it’s an altogether different story about the number of years the Indian constitution offers him to extend his lifespan by remaining in pipeline or by carrying forward his appeal to the President, in which ever case it is highly likely that the junta might lose interest in Kasab or will get soft-hearted and ultimately acquit him from the capital punishment)

Anyway, the point above focused on highlighting the striking difference....Now the question is why? One might rubbish this off saying that it’s entirely the rich nations’ muscle power of ‘paisa’ or ‘bhandwan’ (in local slang). I would not rack my brains arguing back, even a nincompoop would agree...but surely, isn't it wonderous to think, why and how come so much difference exists in a particular life form - Homo sapiens, in the same planet. Just to bring things in general perspective, the difference pointed out above was between two nations separated by only by 9 others when listed based on nominal GDP...there are over a hundred with which no comparison can be drawn. In fact, I now realize I can’t be fit to justify my view entirely, because based on an estimate, if I am able to write this post and publish this on my blog from my lappy, sitting comfortably at home while sipping coffee...then I belong to those lucky few millions who can afford or have the luxury to do so, out of the billions who amass this planet. Thus, my view can never entirely quantify the plight of the billions of below-poverty-liners. There has always been this difference in the past and perhaps it will continue to be in the future.

Here as you would recon, I don't seem to be drifting towards a conclusive end of this whole predicament; It's not so easy and not my job. However, it does remind me of something that Stephen Hawking has said in his new documentary with Discovery Channel, that stirred up quite a debate in scientific circles. He said we shouldn’t be seeking aliens in the outer space, (right after he almost confirmed their existence) explaining that we are not ready to face them. Although, his remark was touted as the most unscientific bohemian view point yet, the celebrity scientist does make profound sense in terms of serene logic.

We have a very long way to go indeed, resolving internal conflicts, working ourselves towards humanity, bridging the gap among different races, bringing all human lives up to scale and uniting all under one common banner, before we can dare to think of tackling aliens. Genocides, wars, hunger, colonization, plunder, deprivation, jealousy, hatred...we already have enough means to nail our own coffin and dig our own grave, who needs an FDI from outer space??

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Food for thought

The television show “Deadliest catch” depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. “Dirty jobs” shows all kinds of gruelling work; one episode showed a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination for these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations of material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. “Dilbert”, “The Office” and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white collar jobs.

Is there a more “real” alternative (short of inseminating turkeys)?
High school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers”. The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take a leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody actually has to do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, and build our houses.

When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idolize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur- the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To be of Use”, which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for the water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business just significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars, they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades- plumbing, electrical work, car repair – more attractive careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labour market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihood more secured against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it “you can’t hammer a nail over the internet”. Nor can the Indians fix your car because they are in India.

If the goal is to earn a living, then may be it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college and then to a cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things. One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged,”

A gifted young person who chooses to be a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that t here is only one track to success to their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to “keep things on track.” I taught briefly in a public school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my class room. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

The trades suffer from low prestige, and I believe this is based on a simple mistake. Because the work is dirty, many people also assume it is also stupid. This is not my experience. I have a small business as a motorcycle mechanic in Richmond, Va., which I started in 2002. I work on Japanese and European motorcycles, mostly old bikes with some “vintage” cachet that makes people willing to spend money on them. I have found the satisfaction of the work to be very much bound up with the intellectual challenges it presents. And yet my decision to go into this line of work is a choice that seems to perplex many people.

The above passage appeared in one of the mock-tests while I was preparing for CAT, but then later I found out it was published as an article in the New York Times Magazine, titled “The Case for Working With Your Hands” written by Matthew B. Crawford

The article posits a line of thought that is gaining popular attention especially in the developed world, apart from the US there was a similar article published in Chinese news paper editorial.

Let us, for a while, neglect the economic aspects, possibly relating to outsourcing of work etc, that support the theme of the author; From a reader’s point of view it asks of me two things: First, to think and attempt to justify my past deliberations in academic front and second, to realize the importance that satisfaction might lay in any kind of job that I am doing. Being a middle class Indian, I can visualize that the former of the two points is bound to suffer a clear justification as people need to think from the point of building up a family and thus, providing for the needs, which logically implies people have to go for the job that pays the most. But, in the haste of pursuing goals bound towards family-building (which we Indians prefer calling ‘getting settled in life’), the second point about satisfaction gets neglected.

Often people are too late to realize its gravity, which compels them change jobs at a later stage in life with much difficulty, while most of them, with the fear or pressure of added responsibilities never tread that path. So, the question is- How to choose among the ‘two options’ & what factors should contribute to what extent in choosing them? (I haven’t used the words like- success and happiness or money and peace of mind or cubicle and free lance, for their definitions can be different for different individuals…) Do share your views in this regard.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Here we go again, doing what we do best...."Brag"

Why do we Indians always like to brag about stuff which really doesn’t count for even a nickel in the wider aspect of human life on earth? When will we learn to keep things in their proper perspective? There are numerous events I can recount to support my claim, I will begin with the most recent one which came in today’s newspaper...It was about India(DRDO) going to test its new Agni V missile carrier which is proposed to have a range of about 5000 km. It is really great that we are advancing in our defense preparations and also that people of India are made aware of its elaborate plans, but the two column quarter page article(including the sub heading) had the mention of China or a Chinese city at least 12 times...Now the only inference the article draws, to even a nincompoop reader is that we are at loggerheads with china, almost at the brink of war and we have come up with the miraculous bomb solely to attack China...and, the missile is indeed going to be our savior...thus! It calls for a celebration...Cheers!!

The article pin points the exact cities that we can hit in a manner that it is more or less done and the people of those unfortunate cities are no good than doomed from this moment itself. The argument gloats by assuring that the prime cities like Shanghai and Beijing had already been brought under our scanner’s reach years earlier with the development and successful testing of Agni we needn’t worry in the first place...and now, on top of that we have gained command over the less significant ones too!, reaching the far northern cities like Harbin (names were clearly specified in the article) so raise a toast you guys, our job is done, China is tumbling in our pocket.

Do we fancy assuming a similar line of thought? Do Chinese also think the same way? We don’t know about them. Of course our relations have been a bit ruffled off late with the stone dropping incident and the speculation about nuclear-tech proliferation to Pak etc but we can not generalize based on the views of a handful of Chinese people...They too probably realize as most of us do, that there are better things in this world to engage ourselves into….things that would need co-operation rather than pointing guns at cities. With the reputation of being the most renowned newspaper and also being one of the largest ones in circulation, this article stains the image of ToI in the minds of a reasonable reader. They could have structured the information in a better way by making it less China centric.

The possible repercussions can be ruinous.

1. Wrong impression to the Indian people that this test, which btw is one whole year away from possible results of success, is purely capable to turn the war in our favor, if there happens to be a war in future. Even if it turns out to be successful, we will have a missile with a range of 5000km, where as China already has one with a range of 11,200 Km. hah!...give it maneuverability and it can drop dung heaps over all our cities in one go.

2. China has tested missiles that can bring down a communications satellite, in ‘07. We, on the contrary, have the nerve to discredit that thingy and believe it is pointless, justifying our stance in the wake of a galactic cause- “we don’t want to spoil the outer space with satellite debris, so we wont test any such thing”...its like avoiding a hot water bath because it fogs up the mirror.

3. China may react to this development and secretly build further terrible stuff which could cause destruction of catastrophic measures…It may even remove us from the topography of Asia.

4. Worse, It could give everything of its possession to ever zealous Pakistan who would enjoy providing us a meaner death. That would leave us feeling no less happy than a squashed roach...

5. What if the all-hyped test fails? We have surmountable evidence from the past assuring its possibility. Failure of first Agni III test, the speculation surrounding Pokharan II test revelations, the incompletion of the moon mission, procurement of inexplicably expensive old rugged re-furbished navy vessel from Russia, Bofors scandal, sabotaged or ill-fitted parts being used in the MiGs…etc to name a few. One day all this bolbachchan is going to pinch hard.

Besides these entire, why do we need such a mind inflicting article? For the sake of sanity, it is high time to realize that people do value a peaceful life. Articles such as these tend to assuage the reader’s thoughts with the writer’s. This also endorses an unrealistic behavior pattern which justifies that making an attempt-of-the-sort is relatively as credible as successfully accomplishing any task. Why brag aloud when there is no need…instead, smother ‘em quietly when the precise time arises…both, their damage and our adulation will be more.

Other instances of recent past which I can recount having a similar story was during the acquisition of the naval air craft carrier, and then there was one during the launch of the high-tech spy satellite which only 5 other nations had.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

Random Thoughts

So starts a new year....2010!
This is an ad lib post...I just felt like writing something as I didn't have anything worthwhile to do....something big is supposed to have happened recently and I am missing some good lets start talking

hmm....2010 seems like a lot cooler number than a lot of previous ones....may be because of the 2 zeros in it although it marks the beginning of a whole new decade but I find the zeros more facinating.....Cooler numbers bring a sense of anticipation as if they are destined to witness something great....huh! we’ll cee...

New years bring a time when people take a pause from their regular, hum-drum course of life for a few moments, and muse about....about a lot of things.......whether good or bad is immaterial.....One such thing amongst those happens to be the stark realization often coupled with dumbfounded amazement, that an entire yeeeaar has gone past.....but what the hell happened in the last 365 days of my life? Were the events any fruitful? How were they categorised...good? Bad? Did I waste my time? and not to mention a few of If-only-it-could-haves ultimately leading the entire thought process to a blind alley.......then suddenly, the inability to find a quick solution switches the situation to- 'OMG how come nobody told me that in the end each day counts and to make each day count each hour of a day should count'.....and so it goes....moving further in this direction I derive no ill conveniently shift focus.

As I happen to reel back the last 365 days of my life....I can recount a whole lot of new experiences...some of them I had never imagined that I’d be facing....’09, for me was packed with lots of things....good as well as bad....touching upon the emotional and psychological realms of my life...although I’d refrain from commenting about any accomplishment but at the end of the day I believe I stood having bettered my knowledge of the world and hopefully learned to keeping things in their perspective and It counts....damn! I wish I were better at writing philo stuff... x(

On maturity front ?.....It is my opinion that maturity has somewhat ambiguous definition...since it doesn’t have any achievable or satisfactory upper limit; but as a by-product of passing out numerous days of a year I believe to have been bestowed by some of it too...although personally I despise some aspects maturity....sometimes it acts as a veil concealing ones true self which probably longs for innocent childlike behavior...a classic display of venerated maturity by being a pretentious albeit acceptably well mannered bum isn’t one of the most fulfilling experiences...

Well....coming back to new year’s buzz....many of us also feel blessed by a brand new chance to better ourselves from the past....Yup! despite of the fact that it was just an ordinary Thursday that passed by giving rise to an ordinary Friday and not the 1st of another year....It is surprising to see how human virtues are often influenced (if not driven) by periodic events hyped up by their own selves....Common sense! may intervene here by arguing that ‘why the hell bother as long as it works??’

Hmm....this concept of making an ordinary looking Friday a not so ordinary one, also derives support by the permitting people to make resolutions.....any number of them, unrestricted, as unquestionable as they please....even unwarranted for conforming to ethical or social conduct.....If you are famous you make news and even some money...just blurt out the first piece of crap your mind conjures before even it has recuperated from previous night’s alcohol manifested bash.....However, usually the resolutions are for the good as the essence of self-betterment generally outweighs any desire for engaging in unruly mischiefs. My intent isn't to criticize these human behavioural tendencies, even given the fact that most resolutions seldom last longer than the first week.....I am simply amazed by their timely trigger on the advent of every new year....really...If a person wishes to make a change why should he wait for the 1st of a year?...1 isn’t even the luckiest of numbers....What if the person is unfortunate to miss the bus...? The next trial after 52 weeks will only mean lesser hair on his head to accompany him for his promised feat....

So once again, not inclining to reach a biased conclusion I chose the safe route, accepted things in their novel form....and.....began to think.....what kinda resolution I should come up...which is good and which doesn’t force me to quit after a few weeks.....tough job....cuz balancing your thoughts after much brain-storming only dysfunctions your brain and ruins your enthu...after much ado...I settled for finding more reasons to laugh and smile this year than I did last year... ;) (smart workaround ...isn’t it?...nobody but I can prove it wrong)

Recounting another popular new years notion which says if one encounters anything bad or even vaguely unsettling on the 1st then it’s likely to bother him/her through out the year.....heh..mercy shan’t be expected for suffering is ordained....and not so surprisingly instead pretty humanely, this notion is restricted only to bad and ugly events....somehow for the good ones we develop the obvious “matured” understanding that, “Oh come on...Every day can’t be a Sunday”....Oddly dentist once confessed that he never receives any business on the 1st of January...Well, this led me to assess my own experience of 1st January...which I barely happen to remember....except the fact that I reached office pretty late, prepared to face my bosses comments and it turned out that I had satisfactorily met his expectations......the rest of the day, as far as I remember was exceptionally ordinary...although I did enjoy receiving sweet new year wishes.....I only hope this doesn’t affect the profile of my 2010...although, not having to remember much of the day at least helps me conveniently transfer the blame/credit for the events of the year, to the 1st with undoubted certainty :)

So these were the musings of my mind on the first night of this decade....I was badly missing my parents and my well as my old college friends with whom I if I had partied on new years' eve, I would never have gone through this stuff an posted on my blog...(as I'd still be recovering from the overdose :P)

Wish you all a very bright and cheerful new year...