29 Jun 2004

Radio gaga

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 12:04am

NDTV has started airing the audio signals of its Hindi and English television channels over Worldspace. After listening to it over the last few days, I knew what we have been missing - an independent media news broadcast on radio, which is free from the clutches of the government. While it is expected to provide information and facts, the radio has been used to feed propaganda instead, by successive governments.

As you may be aware, the airwaves are not thrown open yet to private broadcasters to air news and current affairs content. (why, why, why?) Maximum they can air is stupid Bollywood (and other 'wood') songs, with monologues by Radio Jockeys (RJs) thrown in for extra pleasure. Luckily Hyderabad hasn't started experiencing it yet. As people from other cities would vouch, listening to private radio stations is an experience of endless wait. Either you wait for the RJ to stop talking and let the song play, or when a song is playing, you wait impatiently for the damn thing to end, in anticipation of a better song. So, 'entertainment' radio stations are hardly that. Anyway, my point is not about lack of entertainment - we can find a thousand other ways to entertain ourselves (I wouldn't like to go into the details ;) )

My gripe is about not being able to receive news transmissions on radio from independent agencies. Well, I can switch to my TV, or read newspapers. Not a problem for me. So, what seems to be the issue? The issue is that a lot of Indians with voting rights are poor and illiterate, having no access to either TV or newspaper. The good ol' radio is the only source of information for them. And all they can listen to is govt-fed propaganda. They are kept in the dark about the corruption and misrule that take place, and who is to blame. The true picture remains hidden, coz the govt controlled All India Radio(AIR) is not going to give it to them. As a result, the citizen does not have the opportunity to make informed decisions. He elects Laloo Prasad Yadavs and Narendra Modis - the last persons who should be entrusted with power and responsibility.

Pasted below - the cleverly worded beauracratese that denies the Indian his/her 'Right to Information' (from a Consultation paper of TRAI):

Restriction on News and Current Affairs: The first phase of licensees were not permitted to provide News and Current Affairs. The reasons for such a restriction have been explained in the report as:
(a) FM mode is best utilized for music broadcast as contrasted with talk broadcasts;
(b) Security concerns in sensitive areas prone to communal/caste tensions as policing of radio stations is difficult.

Incidentally, the live up-linking of News & Current Affairs has already been permitted to Television and near live up-linking from even outside the Indian soil is a norm. However, it is also important to note that the medium of radio is different from Television in terms of reach. The ease of monitoring is much higher in case of satellite television as against radio, which is localized.

Reading the above, I'm reminded of the following lines from the Bob Marley song "Get up, stand up":

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.

The 'consultation paper' has recommended that this restriction should go. I'm sure our netas are dying to follow the advise, and are going to implement the recommendations on a war-footing. Until then, AIR would be the only source of information and news for a vast majority of Indians.

Current Mood: Angry
Current Music: -

26 Jun 2004

Have some time?

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 8:18pm

Time - a mystery that only became more mysterious with Albert Einstein and his 'Theory of relativity'. Apparently there are only two who understood the theory well enough. One is obviously Mr.Einstein, and the other would be God Himself!

Now, this time is defined as a precious resource, and time lost is lost to you forever and so on. That's a whole load of guilt piled up on every person - as in, you are constantly made to feel guilty of wasting time, no matter what you do. Time ticks by, but the fruits dont ripen, and sometimes there aren't even flowers, so where to go for fruits? No, not monda market! I'm talking metaphorically here.

I'm a huge fan of Steven Covey and his book '7 Habits'. I like all his other habits, except for "Habit 3 - Put first things first". Starts with a guilt-matrix which looks somewhat like this:



   Not Urgent  




Not Important



By now you would've realized that we are treading the discomfort zone. I'm getting the same awful feeling now, that I get whenever I think about it, but let me continue and conquer it. *takes a fresh breath*

So, each of our activities that take up our time can be placed in one of the four quadrants (i.e. I - IV) above. Obviously, quadrant IV is my favorite, the pleasure paradise. Nothing is important there, nor is it urgent. Wow! Why can't we all live there forever? But no, Mr.Covey would strongly condemn you, if you do. "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do - so better be in quadrant II" he would say. I hate you, Mr.Covey!

Well, Mr.C is always right, and QII it shall be:  

Current Mood: Embarrassed
Current Music: -

24 Jun 2004

Pro-reform govts: Good for us!!!

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 7:10pm

.....but bad for the poor and hence bad (would be the complete title)

Don't raise your eyebrows or shake your head in disbelief when the next pro-reform government is guillotined by the ruthless Indian voter. No, he is not dumb, he's quite sane..... and yes, the Arun Shouries, the Chandrababu Naidus, SM Krishnas, Digvijay Singhs, all had to go......

Coz they all practised 'sound economics' - giving subsidies for the wealthy hoping they will in turn lift consumption and create employment, thereby indirectly benefiting the poor. This advocacy of trickle-down economics, accompanied by a frontal assault on government institutions and mindless celebration of the 'free market'. Everything privatised for efficiency, and reorienting the country/state to become an export-driven economy like many of the Asian tigers. Almost sounds like a Bollywood formula for success.....

Trickle-down economics - a noble-sounding name for the fraudulent economic strategy, which puts a higher priority on increasing the wealth of the already privileged than on meeting the needs of the millions, under the premise that the engine of our growth is upper-class prosperity, which is meant to pull along the remaining under-privileged carriages. The towers of smoke billowing from the engine (IT-BPO-Pharma-Automotive successes) are showcased to assure us that the power to move the whole train is mounting. However the reality is that the engine is cleverly disengaged from the bogies it is meant to pull, as a result of which it alone would run faster, leaving behind the bogies to remain where they were or to even slide down the slope in a reverse direction.

"Subsidize the powerful and wealthy" is the unuttered mantra. While the govt doesn't have money for investments to benefit the poor directly (schools, hospitals, etc.), it spends a whopping 44% of its budget for defence, in questionable deals that would offer little or no comfort to the security of the country. Unjustifiable expenditure can be found outside the realm of defence too. Water is piped into our homes at 10 percent of the cost of gathering and delivering it. Those same homes can avail of tax waivers on interest payments in their mortgage bills to the tune of Rs 150,000 each year. Yes, each year. Contrary to the conventional view about the poor, it is the upper classes who receive the largest subsidies from the government. It is a safe bet that families like yours and mine receive at least a hundred times higher subsidies from government than those living below the poverty line do. But largesse towards the literate beautiful people is considered investment in growing the economy, whereas even meagre generosity to the poor is attacked as undeserved dole. Then the case of businesses that receive govt doles (land, licenses, tax holidays etc.) on the promise of benefitting the poor / rural regions, then not honoring their part of the deal and govts being lax on them - subsidy by turning a blind eye. And then the subsidies that the businesses and politicians reap, by resorting to corruption and unfair trade practises.

Now let's see how the poor are subsidized. Along Gujarat's industrial corridor or Kerala's farmlands, for instance, improper management of chemicals used in various economic activities is poisoning the people. The continuing emphasis on large infrastructure projects has already displaced millions into the urban slums, and more such displacement is planned, nearly always without adequate scrutiny. How can the victims of such policies hope for eventual succour or prosperity? This question remains off the table.

Concluding words - "The founding myth of the dominant nations is that they achieved their industrial and technological superiority through free trade. Nations which are poor today are told that if they want to follow our path to riches, they must open their economies to foreign competition. They are being conned. Almost every rich nation has industrialised with the help of one of two mechanisms now prohibited by the global trade rules. The first is 'infant industry protection': defending new industries from foreign competition until they are big enough to compete on equal terms. The second is the theft of intellectual property. History suggests that technological development may be impossible without one or both"

Note: The above is an abstract of the column by Ashwin Mahesh on rediff.com. His highly readable (but a bit lengthy) column can be found here.

Current Mood: Destructive
Current Music: -

23 Jun 2004

On spamming, slamming etc.

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 8:08am

Communicate your thoughts..... if one can do that effectively, it doesn't matter if I spam, get spammed, screw, get screwed ('effectiveness' being the keyword) etc. I guess some have more frequent bouts of creativity than some others, and it really doesnt get me, if I see a given blog getting updated more frequently than, say, mine. I view it as getting 'free lunches' more often than what I have to pay for, with my (limited supply of) creativity.

But what gets me is when the impotent of this world (i.e. someone who can't come up with readable posts as often as some others) accuse the potent ones of 'popularity-seeking', 'limelight-hogging' etc. This is my sincere advise to a newbie who decides to blog on Full Hyd: Be prepared to be accused of: 1. Hitting your own website a hundred times to keep your hit counters at healthy levels 2. Spamming (i.e. coming up with posts more often than what an accuser is capable of - now, don't crack up at this one). I mean..... can't a person be credited with more intelligence? I would personally value someone who decides that he/she's got that creative vein to carry through a site all by himself/herself. It took so many months for me to take the plunge, and I'm still not comfortable at it.

The Internet is all about equal-opportunity, and not every one here is vying to be published by Penguin. If someone can communicate his/her feelings even in a broken English, and if it manages to carry some weight, make sense, provoke a thought, touch a raw nerve, give a new persepective....... that's enough for me. So please newbie..... go ahead and spam. You aren't polluting anyone's mailboxes, but are only adding to your own server space on the Internet with thoughts that are precious to you (and to me, the free luncher). It is understandable that the first few attempts might look pathetic, but things are definitely gonna improve.

And to those who get offended because they can't come up with posts as often as some others - you definitely need to see that shrink :)

Final words - blog and let blog!

Current Mood: Dismissive
Current Music: -

14 Jun 2004


Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 11:52am

The faceless farmer hogs the headlines often. He starves to death....... not to uphold any cause, but out of sheer helplessness and drought brought about by lack of sufficient monsoon, failure of crop and other reasons. Poverty in scarcity!

At other times he reaps a bounty, and then finds it difficult to find buyers for his produce. Since there is surplus all around, the prices drop steeply and the income he gets turns out to be far less than what he had invested to produce it in the first place. He gets entrenched deeply in the debt trap and resorts to suicide as the only way of recovering from this predicament. Poverty in abundance!!

While this goes on, he is promised free power, free dhotis / sarees and what not, by the powers that be. He incidentally constitutes the largest electorate. So, every party competes for his vote by bribing him with all the above, and also by playing up to his sentiments. Agricultural produce will never be taxed, even if some rich farmers become filthy rich thanks to their cash crops and estates. While a subsistence farmer obviously needs all the support he can get, isn't it ridiculous that people leading 5 star lives don't get taxed even a penny? The land of tamasha (a.k.a. the great nation of India or Bharat) never ceases to amaze me.

One of the tactics to bribe him and win over his heart is to play up to the galleries and rake up river-sharing controversies. Controversies that could potentially divide the nation, that could alienate people forever by sowing the seeds of hatred. Taking a leaf from the current affairs that's going on in the neighboring region to illustrate my point, Thiru.Karunanidhi Avargal (translates to 'Karunanidhi Himself') has decided to rake up the Cauvery issue again (yawn) - his motivation? the need to portray himself as the saviour of the Tamil species, now that the Tamil makkal (i.e. public) have made him their sole custodian by awarding all the parlimentary seats to his party and his allies. The reason they did so was because Jayalalitha was too lousy and autocratic - a fact not lost on the observers, but somebody needed to occupy the moral high ground and Thiru Karunanidhi Avargal it shall be, to jump at the opportunity.

It needs two to tango, and the esteemed politicians of Karnataka will not be left far behind in this game of hatred. They will pass a resolution denying water to TN, and there will be a flood of emotions (in place of water) in both states against the other side. I was in Bangalore over the weekend and was amused to read the sentiments expressed by the respected readers of the local newspaper. "Despite the rains and tears of the Kannadigas, our reservoirs are still not sufficiently filled up and hence we cannot release water to TN" read one comment. Don't shed so much tears, dearies... not very healthy. I'm sure the Chennai papers would carry equally ridiculous comments, if not worse. I'm visiting Chennai the coming weekend and shall post an update :)

Now for some good old 'sense'. I'm not an irrigation expert, nor am I aware of what is a 'fair share' of a resource like water. But I am aware of the fact that over the years, vast expanses of land have been brought under cultivation in both the states. In fact, the increase is much more drastic in Karnataka than in TN. As a result, the thirst for water has been on the upside in both the states and especially in Karnataka. Given this, the traditional mode of irrigating lands (pumping infinite quantities of water into the farm) becomes literally a drain on the precious resource. There is only so much water as before, but several more thousands of hectares of land to irrigate, than before. Doesn't the word 'scarcity' ring out loudly from the above? Are we deaf not to hear it clearly enough? Or we would rather get carried away by emotions / sentiments and ignore cold logic? There is an urgent need to modernize our irrigation methods. Drip irrigation, rain water harvesting, ground water utilization..... the works. The experts know better. But they won't be heard. The drama enacting politician attracts better attention than some one who speaks logic.

Another question that comes up - the widespread farming activity causing (in addition to water scarcity) a food surplus, consequent bringing down of prices, filling up of FCI godowns, rats eating the rots, farmers committing suicide coz they can't command the required price to meet their debts..... who puts a stop to this vicious circle and where? I think there are way too many people who are out there farming, and who need to move up the value chain and shift to developing software or design automobiles instead (higher education, native language commerce..... suddenly all my 'unintelligent' posts seem to make sense, don't they? ;) ). Until then, we will have to make do with the politicians providing us the evening entertainment on TV screens and painfully witness more suicide/starvation stories.

Current Mood: Sad
Current Music: -

11 Jun 2004

Whats in a name?

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 8:23am

What's up with people? I mean, some 20 -30 years ago, people gave much simpler names to their kids like Ramesh, Suresh, Kumar, Geetha, Sita, Rani...... and these days they somehow tend to come up with Akanksha, Ananya, Ajathashatru and other such tongue-twisters.

I was checking on the name of a kid with his parent (my ex-colleague), and pat came the reply, "Prajval". "Oh! sounds good!!!" (true lies - truth is, i haven't heard that name before). I dont have a circle of friends who have kids (I can tolerate kids, but not their parents who fuss over them no end - another pet peeve, that deserves another post), or else, I could have come up with much more examples of names that have little practical advantage. I wonder why people resort to this convention of naming their kids with an unheard of, unpronouncable name. All those who are guilty of this crime, come up with your excuse :)

The best naming story however would be this: I had a collegue by name 'Dukman'. It was not intended to be that, though. The originally intended name was 'Lukman' - a not so common Muslim name (I think). But while submitting his school application, his dad wrote his name with such an artistic handwriting that the 'L' appeared like 'D' to the school assistant accepting the application. So, he was entered as 'Dukman' in the school records and was condemned to life-long 'dukh'. He had a tough time answering the question, "May I know who's speaking?" at the other end of the phone, coz, well..... his dad had a beautiful handwriting :)

Current Mood: Cheerful
Current Music: -

5 Jun 2004

The week that was.....

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 5:15pm

OMG, this is going to look like a diary. Never mind..... it's been a pretty hot week. I dunno if it was really hot or if my hair was to blame. I decided to go for the unkempt look, and I assure you, it's more bother than the clean, spick n span look. Started my experiment by wetting my hair completely and combing the hair backwards, and since mine normally falls forward, it wouldn't fulfill my desire. Once dry, a lot of the hair stood up, falling neither forward nor backward.

I knew it was a mess, but decided to step out of home nevertheless. Btw, I was due for a hair cut, which I decided to give a skip.This bit of information would have clarified what I meant by 'mess'. Now on to the streets..... curious onlookers, wanting to know which planet I landed from, wannabes who lapped up whatever they saw with a "wow, what a cool dude, man" reverence, golden oldies who couldn't come up with anything better than suspicious looks...... Hyderabad has a cosmopolitan crowd, I should say.

Within minutes I knew that my hair didnt assume the shape I wanted it to. So, on an impulse I went and purchased a hair dryer. It had a lot of fancy attachments and I didnt know what was what. Internet came handy too, and I googled for hairstyling tips. Then I realized that all those attachments really didnt matter, and I could have in fact gone for the cheapest model which came without all those frills. So, some blow drying later, it assumed the shape I wanted, but wouldn't stay that way.

I could have really reverted back to my old style, but decided to brave it and went to office in this get up. An entire gamut of sentiments ranging from "You look fresh" to "Bad hair day?" to "Are you planning to grow it further?" to "Not feeling well?" to "You seem liberated" were expressed by those with some courage. The silent majority just took it in their stride, like they always do and bear whatever is dished at. Diplomacy assumes new meanings in new situations, I should say.

Having successfully warded off the initial reactions, I ventured to go with a stubble (which matured into a beard) for the next few days. This time I seriously looked like a rebel, and folks must have wanted to know what exactly am I rebelling against. Now that I have started a phenomenon, i'm not sure if I'll meekly go back to my earlier state - but there is strong possibility I might. The heat is killing me.

Another eventful thing was how a piece of wood was stringed, slapped till my thumb ached, connections soldered, an 80W amp organized, and at the H-Hour (i.e. after powering on the amp and turning the volume to full) could only produce a feeble sound of bass. The case of a humbucker pick-up turning out to be a humbug. (I carefully avoided the g-word, to save the world from further excitement)

Teleconference meetings with bosses provide new insights each time. This time it revealed that I'm doing a thankless job, and it's my own choice. After all the adrenalin rush to post my resume on job sites, came a painful realization that I have too many things going on in this city of darkness, to just pack my bags and leave. (The humbucker and the 80W have a MAJOR role to play - OMG, I hate music)

To add insult to injury, a planned weekend visit to my lonely planet, sorry parent, had to be aborted, as the world had been enjoying summer vacations and is returning to join back schools / colleges / offices etc. in view of which, no tickets were available for the journey back and forth.

I've strived to be sober for the last few months and suddenly my helplessness took over, prompting me to go for the drink. For an evening, I was an old monk on the seventh heaven, all the while ruminating and pondering as to what to do....... tried listening to my inner voice / heart / sub-conscious / whatever..... and while drunken driving back home on a two-wheeler...... I said to myself with finality that I'll continue in my chosen path (of doing a thankless job)...... and in response, was kissed on the cheek. I raised my eyes in surprise, and was kissed again. Not once, not twice, but 5 - 6 times. It took sometime for me to realize that they were actually water droplets falling from heaven, that were rewarding my cheeks for my decision. It was the time when the clouds were in two minds on whether to rain or not, and were making trial attempts. Long after I reached home, they did make a decision of their own too and a hot week was cooled down by heavy rains, while I was fast asleep.

I hope I can strike a balance between the three P's of life - People, Profession and Passion, without taking much help from the monks at seventh heaven. They are bad for the vocal cords, bad for the wallet........ and the last and the least - bad for the health.

Current Mood: Feeling Better
Current Music: -