Thursday, September 30, 2010

mood of the day.. pata nahi kyun..

is Rabbi Shergill..

obviously this post is about Babri Masjid

This morning, i woke up thinking of 2 things - my son's school and the Babri Masjid verdict. Then i thought back to the cause of the whole thing - to 1992, the  riots that followed the event .. and then.. one thot led to another.. and here is the blog post.

To the Hindus:
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the story of Rama is in fact, true. Without going into the details of the historian debates, let me just sum up the brief understanding:
If Rama's antiquity is as figured out by most historians (the Treta Yuga), then the present day Ayodhya for sure, was not an Aryan inhabited city at that time. The Aryan assimilation happened much later.

If the story is a more recent one, then this Ayodhya is the birthplace, but we still cannot tell whether that exact space was the birth spot.

To the Muslims:
Delhi had over 10,000 historical monuments. Most of them have been taken over and dilapidated, run down, and even deliberately torn down by ever increasing families and population. Before 1992, this was not even a popular mosque - one of the many in Faizabad.

SO, whats the big deal?

Usually, one tends to be diplomatic and say that both parties are right in their own way, but in this case, one will bluntly state that BOTH ARE IN THE WRONG.

This was a non issue. There was absolutely no need to create this as a national level crisis issue. This is a very cruel joke on the people of India.. and continues to be so. The only tragedy in this whole situation is the human lives lost because of some very very flawed "ideologies". Shame on us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

That pet bottle that you buy

To store water in the refrigerator..

Is the same quality as the disposable mineral water bottles.

Did you know that?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The invaluable contribution of the Nehru Gandhi family to India - part 2

Rajiv Gandhi

In this section, we will discuss the contribution of Rajiv Gandhi to the country. Of course, by now, we all know a lot more about Rajiv Gandhi than we did when he was alive.

He decided to send the Indian peace keeping force to a neighboring country. This did not go down well with the LTTE, and the rest is history.

The Bofors Scandal
Enuf said.

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy
The tragedy happened when Rajiv was PM. Who helpedAnderson escape? Who made sure that there was no immediate prosecution? Who ensured that the compensation was paltry?

Financial Folly
Under whose stellar leadership did India find itself at the brink of bankruptcy in 1991? Whose stellar ideas led to the situation where India had to ship out its physical gold just to stay afloat? Manmohan did it, but Rajiv caused it.

Sonia Gandhi

Is it just a coincidence that in the 13 years since Mrs. Gandhi has been in power, the situation in the North East, and with the marginalised tribals has worsened to a point where they are now taking up armed struggle?

That our intelligence has failed to a point where 26/11 happens ?

That there is a well connected network of organisations working towards internal destruction of this country, and all we can do is focus on India growth story?

It is all very well to show the shiny bark of the tree to the visitor, but someone has to contain the termite before the tree falls. Mrs. Gandhi did not realise that unless these marginalised groups are brought into the mainstream and looked after, China and other groups will be more than happy to supply them with weapons and ideology.

Today, we are grappling with the Naxalite issue. Why is no one asking how the Naxal movement suddenly gathered so much steam? What was the policy failure? Where did the State fail?

Can we blame her for all the failures? Was she the leader or not? Her U turn on the land acquisition issue has one rather in splits.

This is not a fountain of vitriole. Indeed, i have nothing personally against the Nehru Gandhi family. But when one sees that the mistakes made by them, the fissures created, are fissures that continue to bleed and hurt decades after they have created them for small political gain.. one wonders how we can continue to vote for them.

The division of Hindus and Sikhs.
The division of Tamils and Sri Lankans.
The divisions of the land owners and the land acquirers. (aka the Naxalite movement)
Ignoring the development needs of the North East until it was not possible to ignore any more.. and now we have a terrorism movement in what could have been a very peaceful part.
The Kashmir issue - mismanagement that goes on and on and on.

Can any of this this be forgiven?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The contribution of the Congress to India's progress

If there is one family that has, quite literally, spilled blood (whether or not they have been in power), it is the Nehru Gandhi family. We must never forget their contribution to the country. Of course, while they are in power, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will not let us forget either.

Here, then, is a summary of the contribution of this family to India and its freedom.

Jawahar Lal Nehru

The Kashmir fiasco. Patel negotiated and got all the other states - all 564 of them. Nehru had to manage exactly ONE - and he messed that up. We still have that conflict raging. Even though the conflict was created by the Nehru Gandhi family, and grossly mismanaged by them, not one member of the family has been hurt in Kashmir. Which is more than what we can say for the innocent Kashmiri youth and the army jawans posted in hostile terrain. How come no one blames the politicians for the Kashmir fiasco? The AFSPA is discussed again and again, but no one discusses why the average kashmiri youth is so disillusioned that terrorism is actually an *option* for them. Why does no one discuss the absolute failure of the national machinery to create a sustainable solution in Kashmir. The Army, after all, is there because you nincompoops cannot do anything. Here is a solution. Lets call the army back, and send the politicians to Kashmir.

The 1962 war: After cries of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai, the country was "taken by surprise" by the 1962 war(which we lost, irrespective of what the Congress written history books tell you. Net loss of territory at the end of a war is not victory. )
"Taken by surprise" is a very good explanation for a VERY large scale war.

The Father of sycophancy led leadership: The only reason that Nehru became the PM, was Gandhi. All the Province Congress units favored the name of Patel for PM. Gandhi wanted Nehru.  Nehru needed Gandhi to ascend the throne. And then, what does Nehru do? Promptly downplay the importance of all other national leaders  in the history books - reducing them to sidekicks - Tilak, Patel, Bose... have they honestly got their due in our history books? The culture continues in the Congress to this day.

The Partition of India: Did you know that Jinnah started his political career with the Indian National Congress? As late as 1937, he was trying to arrive at ways to integrate Hindu and Muslim demands in a free India? He was trying to create a joint front to face and negotiate with the British. What happened, between then, and 1946, when he put his foot down and asked for a separate Pakistan, no compromise? Take a wild guess. Or, read some more. You might get some very interesting insights into what our "leaders" did to us at the most important time in our modern history.

The Foundation
This has to be given to Nehru - he laid the foundation right. He created industrial plants, and Educational institutions which are still the forerunners in their domains. His focus on self reliance in these domains is also commendable.

Indira Gandhi
Her contribution can never be forgotten.

The only leader who can get away with using Emergency blatantly because there is no other way to save her government.

Forced Sterilisations
Her son (Sanjay Gandhi)'s focus on population control was rightly placed. And his integrity in standing up for that reform is very very commendable. Wish a leader with half a spine would get up today and ask us to collectively stop breeding like mosquitoes. But i digress. His methods, however, left a lot to be desired. Targets for Nasbandi, forced sterilisations are hardly the stuff democracies are made of.

The Punjab Issue , Operation Bluestar, and the 1984 Sikh riots
Let me try and explain, briefly, what happened in Punjab. The Akalis, based on the Akal Takht philosophy, were getting political mileage from the Sikhs - the predominant voter population in Punjab. Indira had to find a way to look better than them, and fast. Along comes Bhindrawale - a "Sant" created and nurtured by the Congress. He was an upright man who believed, quite simply, in Sikh supremacy. Slowly, he turned into a Frankenstein. The ISI saw a ripe opportunity here to milk and harvest the state which had contributed the most tothe Green Revolution. It was one of the richest states of the country, and madam herself had created a fissure that was waiting to be exploited. Along came the weapons, and the 'training", and "terrorism" entered the land taht had always known peace between the 2 communities - HIndus and Sikhs. Even the British could not, in all 300 years, divide the Hindus and the Sikhs. Indira did that work admirably well.

When it was not possible to control the terrorism in any way, she had only one option left - to directly storm the Golden Temple. That was the headquarters and that was the only way to do it. It was necessary, even though a lot of Sikhs have not forgiven the desecration. But whats interesting is what made it necessary.

She was shot dead by her Sikh guards. Immediately, the poor, working class Sikh population across the Northern part of the country - people who had nothing to do with terrorism, Punjab problem, or the assassination, were massacred with a planned brutality that had to be seen to be believed. 25 years later, no one has been punished for this massacre.

The Bangladesh War
We won the battle, and lost the BIG war. What has Bangladesh done since its "independence"? It has exported population and terror into India at a scale that cannot be imagined. THAT was one mistake India could have done without.
Part 2 coming up..

Monday, September 20, 2010


As a species, we are obsessed with Economic Value Added(EVA) and Economic Value Consumed(EVC). If you cant be measured in money, then you cant be measured at all.

There is something inherently wrong with this premise. There are innumerable examples of value created, but we do not place any real worth on that value, just because it is not measured in currency.

Lets start with some examples:
1. Housekeeping
2. Childcare
3. Wikipedia and online free content (facebook included)
4. and other peer created and peer shared content.
5. Blogs - where you get a lot of good reading, but dont have to pay for it.
6. Online newspapers.
7. When your doctor uses you as part of a clinical trial (have i mentioned, doctors in India dont think its important to tell the patient when he is being used in a clinical trial)
8. Case studies and research generated by students. its available in the library for free, and no one pays for it, except the student/university, depending on who usually bears the cost of the research.
9. Quid Pro Quo acts. e.g., neighbor housesitting for you and you returning the favor. These transactions are not monetised.
10. Volunteer work.
11. Kitchen gardens and private gardens.
(I am sure you have at least 2-3 examples of your own in the head right now)

If you want to put numbers on these, and most economists will want that, lets do some simple maths.

how much would you pay a housekeeper?
Multiply that by the no. of households in your city, and you have the EVA of the spouse.

How much would you pay for your vegetables? How much of that do you source from your kitchn garden? thats the EVA of the kitchen garden. Multiply that by the no. of houses in your neighborhood that have a kitchen garden, and you have a no. Multiply that some more and you have a very impressive number to take home.

You get the picture.

Now, we have 2 choices:
1. Either we start recognising the worth of this non monetary , but nonetheless important contribution. OR
2. We start putting currency numbers to all pro bono transactions, and start valuing those creating this free for us.

Is this the CommonWealth or the Emergency?

Saw this post by projectwhy yesterday and was aghast. There were also some reports in the papers about this unnecessary harassment of the poor.

Under which law are these poor people being harassed? Can you imagine what it means to go without daily wage if you are a daily wage earner with zero savings? Does Sheila Dixit have any idea? Is this the Commonwealth games or the Emergency? Even under the Emergency, babus were pulled up, not the poor like this. They were forcibly sterilised, but they were not forced to starve for 15 days. What the hell is going on here? Why is no authority willing to talk about it? If the rich were being forced to live indoors for 15 days, all hell would break loose. The TV channels would run 24 hour bulletins and the government would be on air with "we were misquoted" within 2 hours. Here, with impunity, the poor :
A. are being forced to go without daily wages.
B. Are being harassed, and told to go home (to Bangladesh and Bengal and Bihar, among other places) for a month.

What will you achieve by sending them home for one month? The only thing that will happen is that your sanitation staff will go away and u will be left with filth for a month. Where will u get temp sanitation staff?

And this, when the tourists are not even coming! Has EVERYONE in the government lost their collective, atom sized head?


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The CLABIL project files are now ready for download - from the Esha blog

On the Esha Blog , some time ago, i introduced the CLABIL project - Central Library of Audio Books in Indian Languages - for the blind and the print impaired across the country.

We recently crossed over 100 audio files under the project, and have collaborated with Inclusive Planet for their entire set of user uploaded audio files.

You can download Esha files from the Esha blog starting now.  This link will have access to all the Audio files and other information about the CLABIL project.

All files are copyright free. Please feel free to use them for :
1. Blind Schools
2. Village Schools
3. Older people whose sight is not as good and who would still like to hear audio books.
4. NRIs who want their children to learn Indian stories but dont know where to go beyond Karadi tales et al.

And of course, if you can find time to record, please do record whatever you can.. and send it across. Just upload it as a google doc and share the link..

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Imagination and Children

Lately, i have been watching a lot of kiddie television. Have you ever noticed how fertile with imagination that world is? Elmo is furry, and Teletubbies are... well, teletubbies, and In the Night Garden and Waybuloo and Little Robots... to a child, it is all REAL.
Somewhere along the line, we are taught what is "there" and what is not "there". What we are doing , in effect, is placing boundaries on our thought. We suddenly start to exclude so many possibilities from our mind, just because they are not "real".

Now comes the best part - after closing our minds to dreaming, and fantasy and that which can be (in corporatespeak: potential), we go out and create "brainstorming" sessions, where we are supposed to "think freely" think "out of the box" think "imaginatively" ... Arent we the best ever? We started out by thinking imaginatively, and then were taught to be "real" and then were asked to "imagine" to "excel"
I love the world!

And i love The Little Prince.. nothing captures the angst like that book does..

Monday, September 13, 2010

Civil Disobedience Movement aka Urban Panchayat Raj

Dear Administration

Since we are all Gandhi vadis and all that, and since you have steadfastly and consistently failed to provide any semblance of civic administration, we, the citizens of every colony, have decided to:

1. Collect all the taxes due to the administration from all residents. This includes but is not limited to Income Tax, Sales Tax, Property Tax, Professional Tax etc.
2. Spend it to first ensure that health and sanitation facilities are in order. This includes dispensaries, spray in water bodies, road repairs to avoid stagnation of water in rainy season, desilting of the sewerage system, garbage collection and any other activity vital to health and sanitation services.
3. Next, spend it on civic administration - repairing broken street lights, paying the salaries of  the local police station etc.
4. Next, we will adopt sarkari schools in our vicinity and ensure that the teachers get pay for being present and for teaching.
5. We will hand over to you the receipts for spending all these funds. The receipts should be accepted as payment of our taxes.

Gandhiji called it the "Panchayati Raj" - power at the lowest level of administration. About time we had urban Panchayats in small, meaningful numbers (say, 1000 - 2000 residents)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Need volunteer for Esha..

Hi.. Esha is looking for a paid volunteer to help with the day administration of Esha.

The thing is, that we are growing at a really fast pace, and since i do Esha work at night, a lot of follow up and work that can only happen during the day, gets not done. This slows down our growth in a big, big way..

The ideal person would be a mom who is based out of Gurgaon and would like to work from home when the kids are at school. If you know anyone who would like to join hands, pls get in tuch..
And the other fact is, i m sick of being the only think tank for Esha..

Thursday, September 02, 2010

whats with Dengue anyway?

First, Tejaswee. Then, a dear friend's mother. And now, MM's cousin K.

Dear Lord, please dont let anyone suffer from something like Dengue. Or Swine Flu. Or the Delhi govt.

As they say in Hindi - to the callous government that is letting this happen - may you get your just rewards. And immediately. What will Sheila Dixit do if someone in her family gets Dengue? Next day, all of Delhi will be fumigated. Is she waiting for that?