Sunday, March 28, 2010

Slave trade back?

Just watch this interview of Gayatri, the co-owner of the Deccan Chargers. If you cannot watch it here, watch it on YouTube. It was conducted by a pea-headed IPL anchor, who didn't know her questions and was probably targeting the socialite crowd and those more interested in the Page-3 aspect of the game, rather than serious sports viewers and analysts.

Watch and hear carefully the question asked at 0:18. The way the question was framed is outrageous and extremely silly. What is the point that the interviewer is trying to prove? Brought up in the beliefs of the "breaking news" era, she just wants to create some sensation, using her heavily accented English. And she just succeeded in that! Her statement provoked me to blog about this.

Just look how casually she mentions the act of bidding for players. "Buying people like that!!" And on top of that, she goes on an ego massaging spree. Asking Gayatri whether she enjoys being in a position where she can "buy people" at the stroke of the gavel.

But, I liked Gayatri's response. Calm and composed. Nothing out of the way, just going-about-my-job kind of answer. That, I think is the hallmark of a person who actually realises the importance and impact of the position he or she holds.

The next question, at 0:34, almost scales the peaks of stupidity. Asking a business-person, whether there was some strategy in bidding for the players, who are "bought" not at a price that is uniform for everybody, but the better the player, the more is the cost in acquiring him. Come on lady, you can never ever run a successful business. I wish Gayatri had answered her like- "Oh no, what strategy, I had the money, I wanted to splurge it, so just bid for whoever I thought will cost more!!" And from here, the questions become a cliche. Watch for the question at 1:56 and you will realise what I mean.

But, it is alarming to see the downfall in the way interviews are conducted. Do you want to just fill the time before an innings starts or are you really interested in dishing out that "insider" bit of information. From what this lady does, I do not see any genuine interest in making things more informative.

On a parting note, I wonder if there is some mechanisms where these anchors can be auctioned. I would love to bid for this lady and then say in an interview- "I bought her because she is sexy, doesn't have too deep intellect and hence is useful to fill time whenever and wherever required."
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour Participation: What would be achieved?

Earth Hour is back!! Today, on March 27th, we would be switching off almost all of our connections with the electricity for one hour between 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM. How many in India would participate is a question. With IPL on in full swing, there would be a very few people who would want to contribute their bit towards this cause.

But, in my opinion, India is already contributing its bit towards this issue, albeit not voluntarily, but because of the lackadaisical attitude of the ones who rule the country. Their inaction and mess up forces many parts of rural India to go without power for anywhere between 12-16 hours every day. In Maharashtra, one of the economically advanced states, the scheduled duration of power cuts ranges from 2-3 hours per day in small cities to 12-14 hours in rural areas. These people, for no fault of theirs except their geographical location, are deprived of facilities and comforts that the their metro-dwelling brethren and the western world consider as a right!

Now, coming to our towns and metros. In most of the houses (except those of the rich and above) the electricity load is around 4-5 kW. This is enough to run a refrigerator, television, washing machine, storage water heater, adequate lighting and fans. Contrast this with the blow dryers present in most of the washing machines in the US. Each dryer has a rating of 4 kW, equal to the load of an entire household. Some of these dryers have already made their way into India too. What this means is that the average household usage of electricity in Indian metros is far far less than the average usage in American metros.

Symbolically, the Earth Hour may signify the enthusiasm of people across the world in doing their bit to slow down the rate of global warming. But, that will not be achieved by mere symbolism or token activities. It needs sustained efforts on the part of everybody to bring about a lifestyle change, reduce our dependence on electricity guzzling appliances, try and enjoy the variations in the climate and maximise the use of natural resources to achieve our objectives.
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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Don't want India, but want luxurious treatment by India

On very rare occasions, tabloids print useful news in their papers. And their reputation is what makes sure that such items are read by few amongst the serious newspaper readers. E.g., today's Mumbai Mirror carried a piece of news that should rattle every patriotic Indian and ask the government some serious questions. But, I'm doubtful about how many would ever read that.

Hurriyat chairman wants stylish jeep

This is the headline carried by MM. Now, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has allegedly asked for a swanky bullet proof jeep to go around in the Kashmir valley and rejected the government-offered bullet proof vehicle. So, Mr. Farooq wants to enjoy the hospitality of India and at the same time rant about separating from India. No country would have allowed this. In U.P., if you do anything against Mayawati, by word or action, your security is reduced to a lower grade with immediate effect. But, these separatist leaders have received threats from militants and infact Fazal Haq Qureshi was even shot at. So, our generous government decided to protect the very men who wanted to separate J&K from us. And these people have shamelessly accepted the security of that very establishment against whom they are agitating from autonomy, independence, etc. How can these people even dare to betray their morals? If they want to separate from India, they shouldn't accept the country's security measures. Let Mirwaiz buy his own bullet-proof vehicle. Since he is fighting the state, let him also arrange for his own security and not use the state's forces. How can they fight for independence from India and at the same time, enjoy luxuries bought and paid for by the Indian taxpayers' money?
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Friday, March 05, 2010

Untouchable: Mulk Raj Anand

Though I wanted to read Mulk Raj Anand since a long time, it was Susan's suggestion that made me pick Untouchable as my introduction to the great writer's works.

The story describes a single day in the life of Bakha, the untouchable belonging to the scavenger caste, commonly known as bhangi in many Indian languages. The work of this caste was to clean toilets and streets and keep them clean for the upper castes. The scavenger had to carry the human refuse from the toilets and burn that in a chimney near his house. This caste was considered to be lowermost in the hierarchy of castes in India and were treated worse than humans. Be prepared to be shocked by the behaviour of the Hindu society of those times. And to prepare yourself for the shock don't forget to read E. M. Forrester's foreword to the book.

For Bakha, the day begins with cleaning the toilets in the soldiers' barracks, where he is treated better than the people in the town. Anand takes us through a tumultuous day in Bakha's life. The society needs the services of Bakha and his like. Otherwise, who would clean their toilets and streets? But, in the town, Bakha has to repeatedly announce his arrival lest a Hindu from the upper caste touch him and get "polluted". He is not allowed to come within 69 feet of the temple because that would defile the temple! But he is supposed to keep the premises of the temple clean, by carrying all that is left behind by nature and devotees. The worst of all, he and his like have are at the mercy of "charity" by the upper caste people for even basic needs like food and water.

Bakha's story is set over one "eventful" day of his life. Anand beautifully describes the typical day in a small British town neighbouring the soldiers' barracks. The behaviour of the upper caste Hindus described in the book, churns your stomach. Even the so-called sanyasis are not free from the mentality of the caste-system. The opportunism displayed by the evangelist who has no aim of improving the untouchable's life except converting him to Christianity, the division amongst caste-lines even in the untouchables' colony is depicted realistically. Naturally, Bakha is attracted towards the soldiers who do not treat him as badly as the civilians. He dreams of being like one of those, because for him it is a ticket out of his terrible world.

But, it is Gandhiji's talk that reforms Bakha's thoughts to some extent. In the assembly, he overhears someone telling the people about modern toilets, where the human excreta will be flushed out automatically, thereby putting an end to this sub-human activity. He realises that the salvation of his community is not in any religious conversion or running away from there, but in modern technology. The story ends with Bakha pondering over this feature of technology, which is hailed as the saviour of his kind.

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