Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nothing Indian about Airtel's new tune

What has happened to A. R. Rahman?His 2010 CWG theme song was trashed by everyone, right from officials to the general public. Even in Robot, they say Rahman was not at his best. And now, it is this Airtel tune. The company earns most of its revenue from India. And yet, it is hard to find anything Indian in this tune!! The lyrics appear from a foreign language.  Now, it is not clear to me, whether they are lyrics or only blabber used to fill up the space. They say India has hundreds of languages (only 17 are scheduled, rest aren't) and each language has thousands of dialects. It would be great to know, what language/dialect do these lyrics belong to. The older Airtel theme song too was shot abroad, but was completely instrumental. An Indian customer would find it hard to connect to this tune. Come on, we have so many instruments and lyricists within India, that can create a tune that would sound more Indian. Then, why rely on such techno stuff? This is beyond my understanding!!
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mr. Obama, will the US lead by example?

The President was here. He came, he spoke and he went. The media frenzy was there to see. It appeared as if God was descending on earth to guide his followers. To shower his blessings and generosities (read: the $10  billion plus business deals) for the progress of the Indian nation. The Lord was followed obediently and care was taken to see that he wasn't offended due to any incident. So much, that Pritish Nandy feels that the CM and deputy CM of Maharashtra were nothing but a bunch of cribbers, when they protested against the US consulate's demand for providing passport and other documents of identification 'as a matter of security'. This is what the former MP had to say
 They were invited to meet Obama at a gathering organised by the US Consulate and were requested in advance to provide their identification through PAN cards and whatever ID our own Government demands of us whenever we enter an airport or any other place where security's an issue.
We mortals thought that Chagan Bhujbal's outrage was justified. After all, Shri Ashok Chavan and Shri Chagan Bhujbal are the heads of Maharshtra state, which was welcoming the Lord on his first descent to earth from the skies. We thought it was improper and rude to question the host's credentials. But Mr. Nandy feels offended. The ever forgiving Lord didn't mind.

And before ascending back to the skies, the God addressed the fair, just and beloved rulers of our 1 billion plus nation. Obama spoke about a lot of things, many of which can be taken as a sign of India's coming of age on the world stage. The White House has done an excellent job of posting the transcript of Obama's speech on its website. No, do not intend to criticise or praise Obama's speech. Just would like to tell him, that like Jesus Christ, he too could lead by example. Let's look at this part of the Lord's sermon
Now, we all understand every country will follow its own path.  No one nation has a monopoly on wisdom, and no nation should ever try to impose its values on another. But when peaceful democratic movements are suppressed —- as they have been in Burma, for example -- then the democracies of the world cannot remain silent. For it is unacceptable to gun down peaceful protestors and incarcerate political prisoners decade after decade. It is unacceptable to hold the aspirations of an entire people hostage to the greed and paranoia of bankrupt regimes. It is unacceptable to steal elections, as the regime in Burma has done again for all the world to see.

Faced with such gross violations of human rights, it is the responsibility of the international community —- especially leaders like the United States and India —- to condemn it. And if I can be frank, in international fora, India has often shied away from some of these issues. But speaking up for those who cannot do so for themselves is not interfering in the affairs of other countries. It’s not violating the rights of sovereign nations. It is staying true to our democratic principles.
The Lord is not known to forget. Perhaps it is an oversight. Why choose Burma/Myanmar, O Lord? It is a tiny nation, with no known trade with your nation. However, it has a neighbour, known has People's Republic of China. There, the country has jailed the your successor, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiabo. And why? Because Xiabo tried to promote those same democratic values that the Lord was talking about in the Indian parliament. But O Lord, why didn't you say anything to China, when you were there? Your nation itself has shied away from this issue. You haven't spoken out for your own successor to the Nobel Peace Prize. Your nation hasn't till date officially demanded for his release. How can you impress your followers, the Indian nation and polity to act as per your sermon?

There is one more 'democratic' nation, that USA treats as a friend and  close ally. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  This country, O Lord, doesn't have any democracy, and is ruled by an autocratic king. Its law agencies follow a perverse interpretation of Islam, which treats women as slaves. There are numerous reports of violations of human rights, especially those of women. Infact, there was a case where a woman was raped, but the rapists were let free by the courts. Instead, the woman was awarded a punishment of 150 lashes, because at the time of rape, she wasn't accompanied by a male relative. The generous king of Saudi Arabia, reduced this punishment to 50 lashes. Yet, my Lord, USA didn't raise its voice for that woman.

I plead to you my Lord. Please lead by example. It is blasphemous for devotees to question their Lord, but once in a while questions need to be raised. At this moment, the question is, whether you will choose to lead us only through sermons or by setting examples. You have a ripe opportunity to do that if you could say to China and Saudi Arabia, all that you expect us to say to Burma. Your idol, Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world." Hope you follow his advice.
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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Will the legitimately rich be left alone?

For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of news being made about Mukesh Ambani's new abode, Antilia. And as are many things associated with the Reliance Group, Antilia too has been amongst controversies, right from the beginning. First, was the controversy about the land itself. Accusations flew past the entire city, about how it was illegally transferred to Mukesh Ambani by the Waqf board. Once that died, newspapers have been writing realms of articles about how this mansion/building is a a shameless show-off by the country's super rich and how it utterly disregards the poverty that surrounds them, etc. Then, we find comparison between Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani. We are told how Tata still prefers to live in his small flat in an apartment in Colaba, while Ambani is splurging more than a billion dollars for his residence. But, no one tells us that Tata owns more than 10 cars, ranging from the humble Indigo to the super luxurious Jaguar.

A similar protest was once organised when diamond mughal Bharat Shah had organised his daughter's wedding at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. The protestors accused the diamond industry of being insensitive to the financial condition of those around them and spend lavishly while people were dying of hunger. The diamond industry shot back, saying that they employ a lot many people and generate a lot more wealth than those who were protesting outside the Wankhede. Similar things can be said about Ambani and Reliance Industries too. Various arms of the Reliance Industries have been generating thousands of direct and lakhs of indirect jobs in the country. And Mukesh Ambani's income and Reliance Industries' profits are there with SEBI to be inspected by anybody to be seen. So, why this hue and cry when Ambani decides to spend the money for his abode?

He and his family have legitimately earned that money, it is their right to spend it in a manner deemed fit by them. Atleast, they are not like the politicians, whose assets double or quadruple within one five-year term of the Parliament or legislative assembly. We never see newspapers raise such comments about them. How much legitimate employment do these politicians generate?

Perhaps our aversion to such opulence comes from our socialist conditioning for the past sixty odd years. When, the rich were regarded with disdain. Those who amass fortunes only by cheating and exploiting the poor. Recall the movies of the sixties and seventies, when the rich landlord or money-lender used to exploit the poor hero or heroine. The rich could never do anything good, they were always exploiters. And they always disregarded anything that had to do with the poor. Such movies were a hit amongst the people, who could see the poor hero rise to the occasion and either finish of the rich villain or cause a change in his heart and prod him into donating his wealth for the cause of the poor.

The CEOs or owners of listed companies have a major portion of their income legitimately recorded as per the rules of the government. Many of them are legitimately rich. They have the right to spend their money as per their wishes, till the point it is in accordance with the laws of the country. Why should they be forced to take a moral stand? When Antilia was being constructed it provided employment to thousands of labourers, architects construction engineers and ofcourse, all those reporters who were busy writing against it. And even after it is occupied, it will continue providing employment in terms of various goods and services that it will be consuming. If there is poverty around us, it is the society's failure and the failure of the government, whom we have elected to rule us. It is the government's role to look after the welfare of it populace. The rich in the society too should play their role, but then they cannot be the primary drivers of poverty eradication. Let us leave them alone and ask the government, what can be done to minimise the deep wealth rift between the two sections of the society.
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