2 Mar 2007

Statesman and His Curse

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:22pm

Winston Churchill, while opposing the bill to grant independence to India introduced by Clement Atlee in the British House of Commons: "Not a bottle of water or a loaf of bread shall escape taxation; only the air will be free..."

- (Courtesy, M)

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25 Feb 2007

Mea Culpa

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:12am

"That meeting changed my life", the cab driver remarked, recounting his decision to consult an astrologer and how that chap's predictions and advice helped change his and his family's fortunes for the better. He also changed his daughter's name as per the astrologer's suggestion. "She has been doing better at studies ever since", he added. I admired his confidence but also wondered why delusions persist. It's easy to live with delusions and that's one of the benefits of abdication of reason.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Somehow, the wisdom of Cassius (Ref: Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare) never got passed on. Incredible developments in science and appreciable growth in awareness of scientific thinking notwithstanding, astrology seems to have loyalists by the million. It is perplexing how superstitions from pre-scientific times have prevailed and continue to have a hold on human psyche. Yet, the reasons are not tough to guess - such beliefs add to the feel-good factor and convince humans that they are part of the grand scheme of things. Neither is it tough to observe how this obsession sustains - majority don't study science either in earnest or depth, so they take any junk that makes the grand scheme look grander and comes with words energy, force, cosmos, etc thrown in. If a few famous people endorse the idea, it becomes even more popular.

There's more disagreement than agreement among astrologers as regards a simple and measurable parameter, the time of birth. Let's not even talk about more complex parameters. Despite considerable differences among experts themselves, astrology continues to lure multitudes.  

The signs of the zodiac and the tons of garbage that comes about those are very prevalent. First, the signs appear wholly arbitrary and could be nothing more than imagination. There's no logic behind why a set of stars should be connected to form a particular sign. Depending on your knowledge of symbols and objects, you can connect the dots in any way you like to form any shape that appeals to you. Further, this assumes, most illogically, that it's all a two-dimensional canvas out there. If you really connect the dots, the shape would nowhere be similar to the one that the zodiac suggests, for it neglects the speed of light and relative speeds and positions of the stars. For all one knows, a couple of stars may have been dead centuries ago. By adopting the two-dimensional model, it wholly overlooks the fourth dimension - that of space-time. Two-dimensional model works fine for spotting stars and planets, but that's about it. Finding the relative position of a star is a tad more complex than that, and astronomy addresses this fine.

Forecast goes along with signs, and generates good business every year. Let's take a simple forecast: "This week is going to be decisive. A task might prove testing but you will handle it with your characteristic finesse. A surprise visit of an old friend would invoke nostalgia. Put moderation behind and indulge in the callings of your romantic self." This will apply equally to any goddamn person on the planet. All forecasts sound nice because they appeal to one's emotions and self-esteem. And because they use all vague words, interpretation is always open. Yet, millions fall for it!

Although western astrology has come to appreciate the divide between sign and constellation, yet it goes wrong with descriptions. The characteristics associated with these signs are mapped to the shapes and names of objects. So, interchange the names of Mars and Saturn and your personality traits would change! Lows and highs of one's emotions are correlated to energy, a definite term in science. And bullshit becomes appealing stuff. (A friend rightly pointed that energy is a scalar, so quoting it in terms of negative and positive is sheer nonsense.) 

The whole conception seems to have never moved beyond Newtonian mechanics. They still explain it in terms of gravitational force, which is just a mathematical fiction. Consider the concept of warped space-time and it'll challenge astrology's fundamental premises. One has conveniently assumed that every object out there is similar to Earth in form and behaviour. The kind of matter that we are familiar with, but know very little about, forms just 4% of the universe. We know nought about the remaining 96%, of which 21% is cold, dark matter and 75% is cold, mysterious and dark energy. Drawing conclusions without having complete and right knowledge is dangerous.

There's much talk about electromagnetic radiation and its effects. This goes against the fact that Earth's magnetic shield acts as an armour and deflects all charged particles from space. It deflects the most powerful solar wind, forget about radiation from objects light-years farther than the Sun! Not that the radiation doesn't penetrate, but it's very negligible. There's a lot of difference between what is possible in theory and what happens in actuality. The radiation emanated from the bulb in one's room is many times more powerful for the chap than that he is hit upon from a star. A tsunami happens just two-thousand miles away and it has zero effect on me, and someone tells me that position of a select few objects in space affects my personality and life! How more ridiculous can things get than this?

Mars, our immediate neighbour, doesn't have an intrinsic magnetic field as Earth does. Very little is known about other celestial objects. The relation between Moon and tides is a simple phenomenon, and the association of "lunatic" with full-moon is a clear example of selective thinking. Nothing more. The correlation that has been found is nothing better than what chance would suggest. And correlation doesn't imply causality.

A common defence is that there are phenomena that science cannot explain. No denying this. Nevertheless, it's absurd to hold something as credible and definitive just because science cannot refute it. Russell deplored that "Although we are taught the Copernican astronomy in our textbooks, it has not yet penetrated to our religion or our morals, and has not even succeeded in destroying belief in astrology". Freud banished astrology and all other occult disciplines. Vivekananda opined, "Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food and rest".

Regardless of all that, it's megalomaniacal to believe that celestial phenomena affect our fucken lives. Affect they do, for we are very much a part of the universe, but there's a clear limit to what can and what cannot affect us, and, importantly, in what way. It's the bent for believing in conspiracy theories, coupled with insecurity, that compels people to think that things exist for a purpose. As a result, belief derives more fuel and becomes stronger with time. Hence, so many takers for astrology, God, ghosts, vaastu, hell, heaven, etc. Of course, one can take any stand on murder, reincarnation, adultery, prostitution, justice, etc and it's nobody's business to ask him for explanation. However, these belief systems get passed on, and that's the real danger. It, then, is not wrong to sit back and reflect. 

Belief defies logic; even twenty hours of discussion cannot undo twenty years of conditioning. It's next to impossible to make a fundamentalist see the flaw in his perspective. Try questioning the stand of a chap as regards his belief in astrology, and he'd dismiss all explanations simply by saying, a la the classic philosopher's joke, "That's what you think". All discussion is futile beyond that point.

The choice is always unto the individual - whether to live easy and with clarity, or colour everything with attractive delusions and carry tons of useless baggage in the brains.

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3 Feb 2007

India Poised

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:01pm

For the past couple of years, one has been hearing a lot about India being up and ready to become an economic superpower, the 9% growth rate and how it means a better India. India ranks 10th in the country brand index 2006 (source: Futurebrand), FDI is on the rise and more cities are getting wired. Total trade in goods and services has leapt to 45% of GDP, from 17% in 1990. Behind the euphoria and hype, however, the real picture continues to be bleak. Majority, though, are content to buy the optimistic speculations by media and push reality below the carpet. Some important facts (courtesy, The Economist)  that should help us appreciate the status quo better and more objectively:

What media don't tell
A recent study from Goldman Sachs, which forecast that India could sustain 8% growth until 2020, was widely trumpeted in Indian newspapers. However, the bank's report clearly stated that this would require better education, labour market reforms and less red tape. Oddly, most newspapers failed to mention that.

India v China
They point to new mobile-phone subscriptions, which are running at a higher monthly rate than in China, as evidence of their economy's vigour and modernity. But look again. Perhaps the only thing really growing faster in India than China is hype.

India spends 4% of its GDP on infrastructure investment, compared with China's 9%. In absolute dollar terms, China spends seven times as much on its infrastructure.

The total deficit is closer to 8% of GDP, the biggest among the main emerging economies. India also has the highest ratio of public debt to GDP, at 80%.

The road taken
Recent visitors to Delhi were greeted by a poster campaign by The Times of India announcing

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31 Jan 2007


Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:20pm

100 off 76 balls. Another gem of an innings from the master bastman. 41st one-day hundred, 30th in a winning cause.

For all those who've been dismissing him and asking questions about his form, this should be an eye-opener: Leave Tendulkar Alone. 

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27 Jan 2007

Great Expectations

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:41pm

If one can sit back and pay fleeting attention, the drama that unfolds on the world's stage is very enjoyable. The same shit happens again and again and you wonder if the characters have the capacity to learn from experiences at all. Insanity fuels the situations and mediocrity shapes the script. A few samples:

1.Members of Blank Noise chose Brigade Road, Bangalore, last Sunday, to implement their latest project as a part of their campaign against eve-teasing. These girls would stand at strategic locations on the road and stare at male passersby. If a chap construes that as some encouraging signal and approaches the girl, rest of her friends would join her and collectively stare at the chap to unsettle him, so to make him - by their logic - realise how uncomfortable girls feel when they are ogled at. Adam-teasing to counter and eliminate eve-teasing! I don't endorse male chaivinism, but I don't buy female chauvinism either. To condemn oppression of women is fine, but to suggest that all men are bastards and compulsive perverts is certainly ridiculous.

A group of staunch feminists, with zero understanding of human behaviour, come together and believe that they can upstage male-female equation by some stupid campaigns! Males are programmed to court and seek mates; so far as evolution process is concerned, penning poetry to woo a woman is at the same level as ogling at her is. The associations that we give to each of these are our own conventions, based on our cultural background. As long as the chap respects the woman's decisions and preferences, it's insensible to read too much into his gestures. When he obstinately sticks to his preferences and demands the woman to oblige, the level of offence is same whether he passes the message with his unblinking stare or a beautiful poem.

That aside, there's always a small percentage of people who cross lines, no matter what. Make all the people in the world into cops and you will still have crimes. Practise adam-teasing for two centuries and you will still have eve-teasing. It's absurd to draw conclusions from specific cases and pass them as generalisations. Men take as much humiliation in this world as women do. To look at it all with a skewed perspective and expect preferential treatment is sheer rubbish. Eve-teasing is just a facet of a deeper problem - that of disrespect for other person's space and freedom. To consider it exclusively won't help anything. It's like trying to curb murder and believing that you are curbing all forms of crime.   

2.Shilpa Shetty and her Big Brother! I still don't get why there was that much fuss. When you volunteer to be part of a farcical, nasty reality show (among other things, I don't understand what they mean by that), and have the choice to walk out if you can't take it any more, why do you project as if you are being exploited? She passes some blatant remarks against you, your race and your country, you have the freedom to give it back to her. It's not a bilateral meet between Britain and India, damn it! It's just a fucken circus for the idiot box and it's between you and her. Keep it at that. Media thought otherwise and made it an unnecessary political issue.

Every country, every group, without exception, is racist. It's only when there's a reference to color that we seem to infer the remark or gesture as racist. Discrimination is rampant everywhere. Every damn country, every damn group is racist. Before spicing up the story and jumping to conclusions, it'd do good if media spare some time for introspection. Racism is as rife in India as it is in Britain. Limit such issues to gossip columns in magazines, give the dame her crores, switch off the cameras and kill the fucken Big Brother. In celebrity-obsessed cultures, such shows and fuss do more harm than a decade of addiction to pornography does.

3.Bangalore is content with gloss and hype, and a riot is among the last things to happen here. A few days back, however, a pro-Saddam rally, led by a few politicians, almost effected a riot. Normalcy returned in no time, but only after loss of a life, injuries to many, unrest at a few places and much damage to property. It was nothing to do with Saddam or Bush or any noble idealism, but a gamble made for political interests. Coming after nearly a month after Saddam's execution, the rally happened a couple of days before a religious procession was to be. It succeeded in its mission, in that the unrest it effected was enough to cut short the procession and render it ineffective.

I don't know how effective rallies are, but if it comes to that, I can understand the objectives of an anti-Bush rally. But a pro-Saddam rally? In India? Bush is a first-rate criminal, but Saddam was a despot. Is your complaint against his execution? But when you say a pro-Saddam rally, it doesn't suggest you are protesting the execution, but that Saddam was a good man and was meted out injustice. Effectively, you are saying despot is a good man! That such a rally was led by politicians and was approved of by the authorities concerned is, to my mind, a blatant exploitation of power and another kick on the common man's butt. The blessings of democary! Let's, then, do away with Gandhis, Tagores, pacifism from the school syllabi and let's study Saddams, Hitlers, and their heroic deeds. Politicians and their fucken games! But then in a country where you can lure people to vote for you just by supplying a packet each of chicken biryani and cheap liquor, will politics ever get better than this?

Afzal should certainly be hanged. For making fiasco of a great opportunity to eliminate the most heinous species on the planet.

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20 Jan 2007

Of Taxing Bondage

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:56pm

Questioning the inevitability of the inevitables is an engaging business. Of the two inevitables - taxes and death - the latter's mystery seems easier to comprehend. As regards the former, I simply don't get why it exists.

There's the State, there are individuals and there are companies. Individuals and companies pay tax to the State on the income they earn, and everyone share the spoils. The higher the employment rate, the richer the State becomes and finds it easier to govern the millions. Fair enough till this point. The moment one starts tracking where his rupee is going to and how it is used, things get vague.

An individual pays tax on the income he earns (goes directly to State), on every product he buys (goes directly to companies), and on every service he avails of (goes partly to companies and State). I'm told the tax he pays is used by State for providing better security and comfort for people. So, if he earns X, pays Y% of X as tax, he and his countrymen get better roads, cables, army, water, electricity facilities and other stuff.

State encourages him to invest in order to save a part of the Y% he pays as tax. Sounds good. But the State isn't so generous. If his income exceeds a certain something, investments don't help save tax further, because the State has progressive tax system in place. Besides, the investments have to be a considerable part of the remaining amount to be counted against the tax paid. So, the chap invests from the income that is exempt from tax in order to cut tax by only a negligible margin.

Paying tax is mandatory for all. On paper. If you are affluent or powerful, you evade tax and nobody can do anything. Those who chant Mera Bharat Mahaan might dismiss this, but, sadly for them, the data support the statement and data don't lie. The poor don't have enough income to pay tax anyways, so it's the middle group that takes the most burden. According to theory, and assuming the State considers everyone as equal, the infrastructure should be provided equally among all. Reality doesn't reflect an iota of this. In every city, there are posh areas. In these areas where majority evade tax, roads are absolutely great, any repairs are attended to with great alacrity and care, electricity hardly goes down, and traffic jams - rare occurrence on these roads - are cleared within minutes. In other areas where majority sincerely pay tax, life is a toil.

In Mumbai city alone, they collect Rs.60000 crores as tax every year. The amount spent is only Rs.20000 crores. So, they save Rs.40000 crores every year from one city. Given that they collect from all places across the country and that they have been doing this for decades, I wonder where all the amount that they haven't spent has gone to. Why doesn't the income-tax department show its annual general statement? If a tax-payer is a stakeholder in State, is it not his right to know where his money is going to? If the State makes it mandatory for all public limited companies to share annual general statements with public, why does it not practise this itself? There are many nations - money economies at that - that don't have income-tax policy and yet are doing absolutely fine, economically and otherwise. Why can't India do that? (Without doubt, there will be theories that explain why it works in those nations and why it isn't feasible in India, but theories just get stronger with time. Change the practice, and theories can be framed around that. No big deal.)

State corners the individual by appealing to his emotions - it associates paying tax to responsibility (another equally popular practice thus promoted is that of exercising your franchise). If you evade tax, you are an irresponsible citizen. The affluent have better incentives to preserve, so they kick responsibility on its face. For the non-affluent, these tags and labels matter, so they derive pride from sincerely preserving these! Virtue is a poor man's Mercedes. Being responsible - without even questioning how true it is - is almost a compulsive obsession with them. And the State continues to exploit. Vicious circle indeed.

Being an utter failure in comprehending the logic of the concept apart, I find the association of the deed with responsibility as an act of mockery by State. If State tells me, "Pay tax or risk imprisonment or, worse, death", I'd find it more honest. Take out the goddamn label responsibility from the equation.

I subject the better part of this damn life to a drab exercise called earning livelihood (of course, this is voluntary so I cannot blame State for this) and pay a part of what I earn to State. I pay Y% of X directly, and then Z% of every damn rupee that I spend of the remaining indirectly as tax (to say nothing of the bribes). If you say Y% is being used for infrastructure development, why do you again ask me to pay road tax, water tax, this tax, that tax, etc? I buy a property from the income that I manage to save after paying tax, but you again ask me to pay property tax. I invest from the saved income in order to save tax, but you ask me to pay tax anyways when the investments turn to returns. I pay tax, live in a moderate house in a middle-group area and you spend that money to provide a better drive for that rich brat's Mercedes, to provide better power facilities to chaps living in centrally air-conditioned villas with power backups, to provide telephone, furniture, transport allowances - amounting to crores of rupees every month - to ministers? Worse of all, you spend a considerable part of that money on defence infrastructure and war! I don't believe in war, I condemn the dirty politics, I don't like to contribute to the extant chaos, but I end up doing the insane deed of contributing, although indirectly, to war and politics. Indeed, some responsible fucker I am!

Working in air-conditioned confines, worrying about next week's movie releases and upcoming travel plans, indulging in grand but pointless discussions about new world order, picking up clever methods of analyses, one learns to shut the door - with a simple act of justification - on some uncomfortable questions. The irony that he may be doing the very deed that he abhors is lost on one. State makes it easy for a citizen - if he joins police or the army, he justifies subterfuge, conspiracy and genocide even though he believes that killing is a sin. Similarly, State makes it easy for a citizen to justify the act of paying tax by making it mandatory. One gets the money after the tax has been deducted. "It's your duty to pay tax, so just pay it and get lost; how it is spent is none of your business", the State says. The chap obliges, trades pride for the deed and moves on. Reminds me of Tata Safari Dicor's copy, "Slavery is not dead. You've just stopped recognising it."

Taking it a little further, one finds good parallels between this practice by State and that by mafia. Mafia also works according to its own laws and demands that you abide by those. Mafia collects protection fee that is proportionate with the size of your business. If you don't pay, you will take the bullet. The fee they collect is spent on the welfare of both the gangs and your community. Once you part with your money, you don't have any right to question how they will spend it. You have to believe unconditionally that they will spend for everyone's benefit. Of course, the practices are not same (on paper, at least) as regards objectives and utility value, but technically there isn't much difference between the two.

Is there no way out?

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14 Jan 2007

The Bengalooru Story

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:12pm

Average number of auto drivers you have to try before finding one to take you from A to B:
Bangalore: 2.3
Hyderabad: 1.1
Calcutta: 1.04

No. of autos with tampered meters (out of 10):
Bangalore: 8
Hyderabad: 5
Calcutta: N/A

No. of auto drivers who demand excess fare (out of 10):
Bangalore: 7
Hyderabad: 3
Calcutta: N/A

I haven't lived in other cities for a long enough time to compile similar data, but I'm certain one's experiences with autos in those cities cannot be worse than that in Bangalore. Auto drivers in Bangalore behave as if they are offering you a lift for gratis. I don't like to believe that police in Bangalore are not aware of these problems. If they are, then I don't see any use of having such an ineffective and dumb force in place. If they are aware but don't know how to address the situation, it again means the force is utterly incapable and stupid. If they are aware but don't want to do anything (which is, to my mind, likely the case), well... let me not get into slang.

Bangalore doesn't have many alternatives for transport. Calcutta has metro, one of the best in the world, trams, taxis and adequate bus services. Moving around in city isn't difficult for an outsider. Mumbai has local trains and taxis. Hyderabad has basic suburban train services, but buses and autos help commuting absolutely fine. You don't need to be familiar with Telugu to find out where a bus is going to, or what the name of a shop or a street is. Hindi, the official national language followed by majority, is prominently used so you don't feel out of place no matter which corner of the country you are from. In Bangalore, the regional language (although Kannada is one of the national languages, yet it is geographically regional) is overly prominent. Regional language has its place, but when you brag of being a cosmopolitan city, you should be more welcoming and tolerant of the outsiders. If you think it's too much and look at it as a threat to your security and culture, then drop the epithet and assert that you are a rigid city.

Cosmopolitan doesn't mean iPod crowd, more malls, bare midriffs, hybrid accents, international airport and foreign crowd; it means you are easy with the rest of the world, being mature and free of local bias. Mumbai is perhaps the only city in India than can be called cosmopolitan. I don't know about Delhi, but it might be on the list too. Calcutta wouldn't be far; infrastructure is below par, but its attitude is quite cosmopolitan even though it's strongly attached to its culture.

Bangalore, the most hyped city, has a long long way to go. It's just the Silicon Valley's loo, done with attractive interiors and appealing ad campaign. That's about it. The only good thing about Bangalore is its weather. Else, the city, vain and hypocritical, sucks! In more ways than hundred.

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8 Jan 2007


Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:26pm

She opened the door with no audible signs of haste. Heavy downpour just dampened into a gentle drizzle as she greeted me with a most unwelcoming stare. Eyes, big and wide, looking straight, her expression stern, she looked like a woman who has no stories to tell, who has had a vacuous past and lost all sense of intrigue.

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Possessed with an uncomfortable blend of surprise and bewilderment, I cleared the traces of rain on my face, quickly ran fingers through my hair, still thoroughly wet, and gestured as if to point at a moment in immediate past.


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7 Jan 2007

The Holy Sojourn - I

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:30pm

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6 Jan 2007

Heart of the Matter

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:28am

A man did not want to be enlisted as a soldier and sent to Vietnam. He did not want to kill people. After explaining all this, Krishnamurti interrupted him and said, "Yes sir, I understand all this. But what is your problem?" Again the man, being an American, explained that he probably would be sent back to the States as a conscientious objector and he might be put in jail. "Yes sir," said Krishnamurti, "but what is your problem?" "Well," said the man, "the judges may not accept my arguments and then I will have to desert because this is a filthy war!" Once again, Krishnamurti said, "Yes sir, I know, but what is your problem?" Whereupon the man said, "Listen, they might shoot me, as a deserter!" "Yes," Krishnamurti said, "they probably will, but what is your problem?"

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2 Jan 2007

Yet Another Rant by a non-IIXian

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:27pm

Last week, as I cursorily scanned the latest books on display at a bookstore, I spotted this one that featured the most bizzare USP in recent times. Below the title By the River Pampa I Stood, the line - akin to the punchline for a product's advertising copy - read A novel by yet another IITian. It is, to my mind, an amateurish promotion method adopted by the publisher. I find it amusing that the writer should endorse such a marketing approach that exploits the reputation of his alma mater.

Erudition is worshipped in society and there seems to be no cure for this disease. For reasons beyond my comprehension, IIXians are treated like celebrities in this country. There's this prevalent belief that if you are from IIX, whatever you do is a class apart. You write a book and you believe it's enough to print "written by an IIXian" to make it to the bestsellers' list! The recent Pan-IIT meet was covered by media as if it was the confluence of Nobel laureates to discuss the sorry state of world politics. Another group that is treated similarly is the NRIs. The promotion of films by NRIs in the last few years reflects this quite. And all they make is crap! Gosh, things are bad!

I don't intend to dismiss the reputation of the institutes. Their stature is too obvious to challenge. Although they still lag far behind in comparison with the best in the world, yet they have been doing great in this country for decades. The disturbing factor is not about the institutes themselves, but about the chaps who graduate from these. The perceived value of these fellows in the industry is unreasonably high, and the chaps (not all, but most) themselves think all non-IIXians are inferior mortals. Going by the number of Nobel laureates or management gurus or research scientists that come from Harvards or MITs, our institutes are no match. We don't have a single program that can be put alongside - in comparison by any criterion - the Society of Fellows program. The joker Laloo could effectively tackle the chaps at IIM-A, but found himself cornered by those from Harvard and Stanford.

Coming back to the caption on the book, it says nothing about the content of the book. It says nothing about the writer per se either. It tells you about the group he belongs to, a group distinguished in fields not connected to writing. It's not inappropriate in all cases though - if you are a brilliant chap from the London School of Economics and you write a great book like Freakonomics, the mention of LSE fits into the equation. However, if it's a work of mushy romance or a bloody thriller, I'd find the mention of LSE a little cranky.

As regards the numbers, I believe Stephanians have written more books than IITians have. But I never spotted the line "Yet another book by a Stephanian" on any book. And, heck, the number of books written by non-IITians far outnumber those written by IITians. If I adopt the same logic and revel in the size of the group, I should have the line "Yet another book by a non-IITian" mentioned more prominently than the title itself on my book. Sounds ridiculous and reflects vanity.

No doubt, IITs and IIMs have been doing great for years, and I wholly appreciate the alumni's achievements. But I don't buy the idea that all IIXians are more brilliant than all non-IIXians. And I find it stupid when one uses his group's reference to promote his work in a field that the group is not known for. Intelligence doesn't need the crutch of reputation of institutes, and it's absurd to derive confidence from the same.

I'll be happy if someone finds the cure for the disorder of correlating intelligence with pay packets and treating IIXians and NRIs like celebrities. 

P.S. All references have been made considering the majority. So, wherever the reference seems to point to 'all', I rather meant it to point to 'most'. Considering that I respect friends (brilliant indeed) who made it to IIXs, it is rather bad writing than intent if I slipped into generalisation anywhere.

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1 Jan 2007

Cheers, 2007!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:04pm

Welcome to a BRAND new year, 2007

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13 Dec 2006

I Write Because...

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:26pm

"...the question we writers are asked most often, the favourite question, is; why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can't do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life's beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but

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11 Nov 2006

In Search of the Silver Lining

Posted by Oblivion in General | 2:38pm

They were in their teens, five of them. There were at least twenty-odd other passengers in the bus, but these five thought - or at least their behaviour suggested so - they owned the bus. Denim trousers, demin jackets with those I-don't-give-a-damn kind of captions, and all kinds of rings dangling from all sorts of body parts, three guys who don't need a dash of grass to feel high, two girls whose navels lay bare so you can spot without any fucken trouble - one of the more common gangs of teenagers.

A kannada FM channel was playing on the radio, and the destination was about 40-minutes away. Radio wasn't playing loud; you could comfortably hear a fellow passenger's voice from a distance. With those five busy in gossip-orgy, nobody thought they were paying any attention to the radio. However, it wasn't so. One of the girls voiced her impatience with the boring kannada channel and the guy next to her was up to grab the opportunity. He beckoned the lady conductor and told her to change to some english channel. She was not pleased. "There are many other passengers, we cannot change for a few. Sorry", she said. The girl couldn't take it. The guy got only more motivated. He walked straight to the driver and made him change the channel. Confidence or brashness? Depends.

I wasn't enjoying the kannada channel myself, so I liked it, after all, when it was changed, but that is besides the point.

The right or wrong of it is not my concern, the world is fucked up anyways. I don't think highly of etiquette, tolerance and all that shit, but I do feel the world would be a better place if people appreciate appropriate behaviour in public spaces. The guy's deed would've been quite fine if he was in a homogeneous group - friends, for example. If you are with a group of friends and you insist on your preferences, yell, booze, fuck, it has its place, for the group is more tolerant and understanding of your choices and tastes. To expect the same of a heterogeneous group in a public space is definitely arrogant.

To voice one's opinions is verily a right and should very much be appreciated, but to impose it on the group is a disturbing trait. And if the world should become better, the young should be all the more expansive, respecting one another's space. But this seems to be becoming an obsolete trait. I don't mean to suggest that one should put up with majority's choices. Where the choice is imposed, it's fine for an individual to stand firm against. But where it is not being forced upon, and where a chap has the freedom to walk out of the group, the individual is being despotic if he expects the group - specially so if it is heterogeneous - to agree with his preferences. "Be assertive", says everybody - and it's only, unsurprisingly, misinterpreted. Be sure of your opinions and conclusions to the point of becoming totally closed to others. You are the smartest chap on the planet and everybody else is an asshole.

What kind or amount of tolerance/consideration for others can you expect from people who can't adapt to a little discomfort on a 40-minute bus (volvo bus at that) drive? It's quite fair if you prefer your drawing-room comforts wherever you go, but it's a thing of regret if you cannot adapt to anything less. You don't have to accept unconditionally, but you have to know where to draw the line when you expect the pleasures of your private space to be offered when you are in a public space. This isn't just a one-off event. Such events happen regularly. CM's son creates a scene at a hotel and his dad - the CM - justifies it saying, "boys will be boys"! The case is tweaked and the hotel is taken to task instead! Young chaps exploiting their connections with the powerful is a very prevalent phenomenon. These are the chaps who would be tomorrow's cops, lawyers, bureaucrats, policymakers, teachers, and that goddamn species called voters.

We are a pampered species. Megalomaniacal and insane, we believe that the Big Brother in the skies up above has nothing better to do than keep accounts of our fucken deeds and misdeeds, that all those glittering objects splattered in space exist with the sole objective of shaping our destinies! Everything revolves around the damn "I, me, and myself".

Fuck! Big Brother save us, for we don't seem to be doing much to save ourselves anyways!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

28 Oct 2006

Obscene, MMS!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:34pm

Manmohan Singh (MMS) - on his visit to Hyderabad the day before - hailed Y S Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR) for his noble deeds toward development of state and compared him to Sir Arthur Cotton. Either MMS is wholly ignorant of YSR's exploits or he is just too innocent to have such a high opinion of indohomopolitico fucken sapiens, Indian politician in short. I don't like to believe either is true.

MMS, most able as finance minister is proving to be a dud as a PM. Politics is getting only worse, and I'm still told, with unflinching reassurance, that the country is doing better than ever!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---
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