Monday, September 26, 2022

Why I shared Adtiya Tiwari's death

In India, hundreds of people are killed for hate each day. Aditya Tiwari was neither the first, nor the last blameless person to die. The very next day, a girl in Bulandshahr was so tarumatised by the rape and conversion threat that she hanged herself. 

So, why did I specifically share Aditya Tiwari's issue? 

3 things need to change:

1. Juvenile Law - Seriously needs to relook at the way serious criminals use it. There are gangs that use 17 year olds just because they will come under JJA. And these criminals definitely do not belong under JJA.

2. The crime of the silent bystander is as much as that of the perpetrator. Aditya Tiwari refused to be a silent bystander while his fellow student was sexually harassed and paid for it with his life. If the other bystanders had had half the integrity, he would be alive today. Even in death, this boy lives more than those who stood by and watched him being killed.

3. Something gives 15-year-olds the confidence to be this brazen in committing a public crime. Something gives them the feeling of entitlement to first sexually harass a young schoolgirl, and then to violently kill the person who opposes such behavior. Wherever that messaging is coming from - that the law will not catch up with you, or that you can do this and get away with it - that messaging needs to be systematically uprooted. Instead of showing what the criminals did, show where they ended up, and how fast. Don't show the picture of the Bulandshahr girl hanging from a rope. Show pictures of the boys in jail. Show pictures of the perpetrators in police vans, going to their court cases and getting no bail. Let the headlines scream - Bail Denied. Let the Headlines Scream - Life Sentence for 16 year old murderer.

Aditya Tiwari of Village Jalalpur, Bihar

 

This young boy was a student at Chhapra High School at Jalalpur. Some Muslim boys were sexually harassing a young girl. He protested against that treatment. 


The boy on the right is either called Asif, Saif, Arsha, Shahid, or some such name. He put his status 2 hours before the brutal murder - Aaj Jalalpur me Khele hoe. That brazenly he planned the kill. 




These boys surrounded Aditya Tiwari and stabbed his repeatedly till he died. This is Aditya Tiwari after the stabbing. 

This is a 15 year old who died because he protested sexual harassment. By boys who knew they will get away with it. 

Look at these pictures carefully. In death, Aditya Tiwari lives more than the bystanders who did not intervene when he was being stabbed. 
In death, he lives more than the policemen who are trying to hush up the case. 

In death, this boy lives. Even when breathing, those people are dead. 

But the most alive is the mentality that believes, honestly, that it can get away with this behaviour. 




Thursday, September 22, 2022

Monday, September 19, 2022

Sher

दफ्तर में सजाया जा रहा है 

हमें घर से मिटाया जा रहा है। 


मुहब्बत में सताया जा रहा है 

हमें खुद से बचाया जा रहा है 


दोनों बच्चों की शादी एक ही दिन, 

बहुत पैसा बचाया जा रहा है। 



देवी आहिल्या का मुकदमा

Note: 

1. This story is based on the original story of Devi Ahilya being cursed by her husband, Rishi Gautam, for her disloyalty. Please read that story for context. 

2. I understand that in some versions of the original story, Devi Ahilya knew that Indra wasn't her husband and was complicit in the act. However, in the original version that I have read, Devi Ahilya was tricked into believing that it was her husband. I accept this version of the story, simply because if Devi Ahilya was complicit, Indra would not have needed to take another form at all. Also, that was the first version I heard from my family. The second version, of Devi Ahilya being complicit, appears to be of recent origin. 



स्वर्ग में हाहाकार मचा हुआ थाऋषि गौतम ने देवी अहिल्या को श्राप दिया था! किन्तु यह क्या! देवी अहिल्या ने ऋषि गौतम का श्राप लौटा दिया, और अपने पति से मुकदमे की मांग करने लगीं।

“आपने मुझे पवित्र होते हुआ भी श्राप दिया है! इस श्राप को अपनाने का अर्थ है, अपना दोष मान लेना। किन्तु मैं दोषी नहीं हूँ! इसलिए मुझे न्याय चाहिए!”

ऋषि गौतम और देवी आहिल्या के बीच का झगड़ा,वह भी देवराज इंद्र के कारण! त्रिमूर्ति के अलावा उस का निर्णायक कौन हो सकता था? यही निश्चय किया गया कि उस मुकदमे के जज त्रिमूर्ति में से ही एक होंगे।

पहला नाम तो ब्रह्मा जी का ही आया। किन्तु ऋषि गौतम को देवी सरस्वती का स्मरण हो आया और उन्होंने ब्रह्मा जी को जज बनाने का विचार तुरंत छोड़ दिया।

अगला नाम श्री विष्णु का था। जैसे ही वे सब अपना मुकदमा ले कर बैकुंठ पहुंचे, श्री लक्ष्मी देवी ने उन्हें द्वार पर ही रोक लिया। “मेरे पति वैसे ही दुनिया भर के जी जंजालों में फंसे हुए हैं! ब्रह्मा जी बना कर निकल लिए और शिव जी को हर युग में एक बार काम करना होता है। पर ये रोज़  का पालन पोषण, इस में कितना समय लगता है, कितनी मेहनत करनी पड़ती है, किसी ने सोचा है!? 2 पल का समय नहीं मिलता हम पति पत्नी को साथ में बैठने का! शिव और पार्वती जी तो धरती भ्रमण को भी साथ ही जाते हैं, पर इनके और मेरे तो भक्त भी same नहीं हैं! इनको अलग प्रार्थना की कॉल पर जाना पड़ता है और मुझे अलग! तरस गई मैं साथ में बैठ कर एक समय का भोजन करने को! खबरदार जो उन्हें एक पल का भी काम और देने की सोची! वैसे भी, धरती के संविधान में अब Executive और Judiciary का काम एक ही संस्था को नहीं दे सकते। वैकुंठ का ऑफिस केवल Executive है, हमें Judiciary चलाने का अधिकार नहीं है। आप लोग अपना झगड़ा ले कर कहीं और जाइए!”

 

अब तीसरा नाम शिव का ही हो सकता था। यह प्रस्ताव देवी आहिल्या को विशेषकर अच्छा लगा। उन्होंने कहा, “शिव तो हैं ही एक पत्नी धारी। उन्होंने माँ पार्वती के देह छोड़ने के बाद भी, उनके अगले जन्म की प्रतीक्षा की। और कोई विवाह नहीं किया। ऐसी ही निष्ठा मेरी भी मेरे पति के प्रति है। शिव ही श्रेष्ठ रहेंगे। निष्ठा और loyalty की पहचान शिव से अच्छी कौन कर सकता है?”

बात सभी को जंच गई।

शिव की अदालत में मुकदमा शुरू हुआ।

गौतम ने पहले अपनी बात रखी – मेरी पत्नी सती है। इसे अपनी योगिक शक्ति से पता चल जाना चाहिए था कि वह पुरुष मैं नहीं, मेरे रूप में इन्द्र है! यदि उसे पता नहीं चला, तो अवश्य ही उसके सतीत्व में कोई खोट है।“

सभा में सब सर हाँ की मुद्रा में हिले। देवी आहिल्या कोई ऐसी वैसी पत्नी नहीं थीं। कितनी विद्या और योग शक्ति थी उनके पास!

अब देवी अहिल्या उठीं।

“मेरे पति का आरोप है, कि मैंने अपनी दिव्य दृष्टि से क्यूँ नहीं देखा कि वे गौतम नहीं, इन्द्र हैं?

मेरा कहना है की यह प्रश्न ही निर्मूल है। मेरे जानने या न जानने से घटनाक्रम पर कोई असर ही नहीं पड़ता । कैसे?

अगर मैं जान भी लेती कि यह व्यक्ति इन्द्र है, तब भी, क्या वह मान जाता कि वह इन्द्र है? वह हठ करता कि वह गौतम ही है। इस हठ के सामने मेरी एक नहीं चलती। आज भी, धरती लोक पर एक ब्याहता पत्नी अपने पति के परिणय निवेदन को अस्वीकार नहीं कर सकती। Marital rape is not a crime on Earth.अगर मैं मना भी करती, और वह बल का प्रयोग करता, क्यूंकि ऐसा हर पति का अधिकार है। “

पार्वती जी और गणिकाएँ यह सुन कर हाँ की मुद्रा में सर हिलाने लगीं।

“पर तुम फिर भी check तो कर सकती थीं?” गौतम अब भी हार मानने को तय्यार नहीं थे।

“पतिदेव, आप, मुझ, और इन्द्र में से, सर्वाधिक मायावी शक्तियां इन्द्र के पास हैं, उस के बाद आप के पास। आप मुझे बताइए – आधी रात को मुर्गा बांग देता है, चाँद अब भी आसमान में है, और आपको कुछ खटकता भी नहीं? मुझ सोई हुई को चेक कर लेना चाहिए था? आपकी दिव्य दृष्टि कहाँ थी?

धरती पर भी एक कहावत है – ज़र, जोरू, और ज़मीन का ध्यान रखना चाहिए। तो आप बताइए, कि आपने अपनी पत्नी की रक्षा क्यूँ नहीं की? आपके सामने लक्षण थे, उन  लक्षणों को आपने अनदेखा किया।  आपकी लापरवाही से मेरे मान की हानी हुई। आपको क्या दंड मिलना चाहिए?”

सभा में चुप्पी छा गई। केवल देवी अहिल्या की आवाज आ रही थी।

“मैं किसी पर पुरुष से संसर्ग करने घर के बाहर नहीं गई। ना ही मैंने आपको छल से कहीं भेज कर पर पुरुष को आमंत्रित किया। आपकी लापरवाही से, आपके घर में, आपके संरक्षण में, मेरे साथ छल हुआ है।

मैंने अपने पति का परिणय निवेदन पाया, और हमेशा की तरह हाँ कर दी।

इन में से आप क्या बदलना चाहेंगे?

क्या हर सती स्त्री अपने पति का परिणय निवेदन पाते ही दिव्य दृष्टि से चेक करे, कि यह व्यक्ति पति है कि नहीं?

या, सती स्त्री को अधिकार है, कि यदि वह शंका में हो तो पति से संसर्ग न करे?”

जैसे ही देवी आहिल्या की बात समाप्त हुई, शिव और पार्वती ने धीरे से एक दूसरे को  देखा और मुस्कुराये।

ऋषि गौतम को परिणाम सुनने की कोई ज़रूरत ही नहीं थी। पर मुद्दई थे, मुकदमा छोड़ कर भी कैसे भागते?

शिव जी ने देवी अहिल्या से पूछा – “देवी, आपके पति से, अपने घर में, आपके संरक्षण में कमी हुई है। रात्रि के समय वे आपको अकेला छोड़ कर चले गए थे। इसका दंड तो उन्हें दिया जा सकता है, पर पति पत्नी का मामला है, आप लोग आपस में सुलझा भी सकते हो।“

ऋषि गौतम और देवी अहिल्या ने एक दूसरे की ओर देखा, और जैसे Family Court से सफल जोड़े निकलते हैं, दोनों हाथ में हाथ डाले वहाँ से निकले।

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Dedicated to Shopper's Stop, MnS..

 प्यारे Very-Advanced-MNC-Store:

जितनी मेहनत मुझे दिन के 3 "We-are-missing-you-you-haven't-visited-us-in-2 years-7 months-16 days-and-3-hours" वाले CRM Messages भेजने में लगाते हो, उस का दसवां हिस्सा भी अपने in-store staff training पर की होती, तो आज ये दिन न देखना पड़ता।

सप्रेम,

माफ-करो-पीछा-छोड़ो-गलती-हो-गई-भाई-जान-लोगे-अब? ex customer

महानगर के लोग / Big City People

महानगर के लोग 

गुलाबों जैसे होते हैं 

एक टहनी 

कहीं से भी आ कर 

कहीं भी 

बस थोड़ी सी मिट्टी होनी चाहिए 

और नमी 

उग आती हैं जड़ें 

खिलने लगते हैं फूल

बनने लगते हैं बीज। 



पर गुलाब 

जंगल नहीं बना सकते 

न ही 

वटवृक्ष (बरगद) बन सकते हैं 


कोई लता नहीं रखती अपना सर 

किसी गुलाब के कंधे पर 

कोई अटखेलियाँ करती 

नहीं चढ़ती 


गुलाब के आस पास कोई पौधा उगे तो 

गुलाब के फूल 

रंग खोने लगते हैं । 

गुलाब के पास का हर पौधा 

खर पतवार है (weeds)

जिसे निकालना पड़ता है 

गुलाब के पनपने के लिए। 


गुलाब 

ठंडे वतनों का पौधा है। 

सर्द फूल 


100 पौधे क्यारियों में लगे 

हर पौधा एकाकी। 


Big city folks

are like roses 

A stem 

takes root anywhere. 

Flowers come up 

Seeds too. 


But roses 

do not a jungle make 

Nor can they become 

the life preserving 

banyan. 


No creepers rest 

on these branches 

No crawlers climb these arms. 


All plants that grow near a rose 

Become weeds 

for the flowers of rose. 

They must be uprooted

for the roses to bloom. 


Rose 

is a plant

of cold, cold places. 

A flower 

of cold, cold winters. 


A hundred of them in neat rows

Each one 

Alone. 


Thursday, September 15, 2022

More Quotes and funny one liners.

 All partners in India avoid talking about their abusive spouses. This is called Silence of the Lambs. 


When I tell Alexa to play "Kill me Now" its not a song request, its a vent. 


I want Google to know that i searched for "How to live with a madman" . At least SOMEONE should know I am living with a madman. 


जितनी patience आदमी लोग गोल्फ या billiards table पर दिखाते हैं, उस से आधी भी घर पर दिखाते तो हर घर स्वर्ग होता। 

"तूने अपना रंग चुन लिया?" - The only place where a man will say this? While playing snooker. 


Saturday, September 03, 2022

 "स्त्रियों को सत्ता नहीं देनी चाहिए। 

स्त्रियों को सत्ता का अनुभव बिल्कुल नहीं होता।" 

ये बात एकदम सच है। 

स्त्रियों को सत्ता का अनुभव 

सच में 

नहीं होता। 

For everyone who needs to read this today

When one is invited to be a part of something and one chooses not to participate, post facto, there can be a lot of should've, could've, would've... but the only enduring verb is - didn't.


Friday, August 26, 2022

त्रिवेणी /Triveni

कुछ किताबें खरीदी ही जाती हैं 

अलमारी में सजा कर, सबको दिखाने भर के लिए 


Trophy वाइफ, IAS पति

************* 

Some books are bought to be displayed 

and never read. 


Trophy wife. Millionaire husband. 

*********** 

ਕੂਜ ਕਿਤਾਬਾਂ ਬੰਦਾ ਲੈਂਦਾ ਹੀ ਇਹ ਸੋਚ ਕੇ ਹੈ 

ਕੇ ਅਲਮਾਰੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਡਾਡੀ ਸੋਹਣੀ ਲਗੂਗੀ 


ਗੋਰੀ ਚਿਟੱਟੀ  ਵੋਹਤੀ, ਨਮਬਰਦਾਰ ਖਸਮ 

Kujj kitabaan bandaa lainda hee eh soch ke hai 

Ke almari vich DaaDi sohni lagugi... 


Gori Chitti Vohti, Numberdaar Khasam 

   *********** 


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

This day in history

This day in history 

someone got married

Someone lost a loved one

Someone got through school 

and Someone graduated. 

The collective weight

of human hopes,

lay as heavily on this day 

as the day before

and the day after. 


Peel the greasepaint of  headlines, darling

and then show me

what happened this day 

in history. 


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Movie Review: Rakshabandhan

The Post Review: That must come first 

7 hours after watching this film, I am still thinking of it, and just realised two very important things: 

A. In the time I was watching the film, at least 2 women died - like, really died, for the same issue that the movie was trying to educate me on. 

B. If I wasn't professionally qualified, my parents would have paid dowry for me. Its personal. I could have been the sister who died, or one of the 10 women who file a complaint of domestic violence or dowry for the 1 who dies, or the 100 who "adjust" and don't file a complaint. Instead, they raise kids who grow up watching father being abusive to mother, dadi comparing gifts from the two daughters in law. All of that. That "happily married mother" could have been me. 

The Pre-Review: Why I went at all 

Logically speaking, I went for Anand L Rai and Akshay Kumar - professionals whose earlier work I have liked. 

But the honest truth is that since watching the trailer, I knew I was going to watch this movie - reasons unknown. It was just one of those things that would happen. That happens to me very rarely, but when it does, there is no point resisting the mandate. One just does what one is told to do. 

Given that everything today gets political, didn't even bother checking with friends before booking the ticket. Chose a small theater with limited seating and just booked. 

********** 

This movie was a huge revelation for me. I have always believed that Akshay Kumar has a certain honesty in his heart that shines through his work - irrespective of the character he is playing. 

You know those nagging questions in your head that are neither important nor urgent but gnaw at you nonetheless? This was one of those. One usually likes an actor for his own work, but in this case, I knew there was something more, and couldn't place it. Watching Akshay Kumar on screen filled a huge hole in my heart, but I didn't know what that hole was called. 

Within the first three minutes of the movie, I knew why i was mandated to come watch this film. Here is the answer: 








Akshay Kumar fills a Balraj Sahni shaped hole on the screen (and in the heart.) 

Those who know me will now that I have missed Balraj Sahni's presence on screen very, very much.

Akshay Kumar brings the same honesty, the same integrity, and the same magic to his screen presence.
While writing this review, I saw the first few minutes of Waqt once again, and almost cried for joy. 

On to the review  

The most downloaded image from my blog is this: 

This is a graph that shows the number of dowry deaths reported in India - every year from 2011-2016. 
This graph tells you that India loses one young woman to dowry every hour, and has consistently done so for over 2 decades at least. And these are just the reported numbers. The dotted line is the trend line. 

You will read the same statistic in a post script at the end of the movie - I am just putting it out there so you don't miss the post script. This post script is the most important part of the film. Just in case you watch the movie and go, "Are, aisa thodi hota hai?" Exactly aisa hi hota hai. Exactly. Aisa. Hi. 

And now we come to the less important parts of the film. 

There is only one Punjabi dialogue in the film - "Ai enni jehi gall hai?" And THAT is how Punjabi should be spoken.  Had he messed up that dialogue's delivery, I likely would not have forgiven the lapse. That is one of the most important dialogues in the film. After this dialogue, he goes on to provide a guidebook style warning to the majnus of the area. Through that and another sequence, we see a character that does not fight a system because part of him believes in it, even if the only role he gets to play in that play is the rock under the elephant's foot. 

Also the gesture of going back to hit boys who do eve teasing. You will find it hard to believe, but once upon a time, that was the truth of Delhi. If you tried to whistle at a girl in public, you would be physically beaten - first by the girl (hence the Punjabi phrase - Kadaan sandal?), and then by bystanders. You could not do it. Period. 

This movie teaches you the importance of a leading cast and how they can literally carry a film on their shoulders alone. This leading cast has done that, though the ensemble cast is made up of good actors too. 

What comes up short is the development of the characters of the ensemble cast - all the 3 sisters appear as guest appearances only. We can describe them in 1-2 words, instead of the complex characters that each of them is likely to be. And for that, the credit must go squarely to the writer - Himanshu Sharma, and the director, Anand L Rai - their previous work also has not capitalised on the layering provided by ensemble cast in story telling. 

What shines through is the honesty in story telling. What you think is extreme becomes even more sad as you realise that not only is this not extreme, but that, in many, many families, and not necessarily in Chandni Chowk, this is de rigueur, this is matter of course.  

The end might appear hurried to some reviewers, but to me, I think, it was just rightly paced - The sisters finding their place under the sun. 

I wish I could change just one thing in the story - if Sapna and Kedar had married earlier in the film, it would have given us richer story telling, as Sapna's character would have navigated the challenges of the story alongside Kedar, and not from the sidelines. And, I would have liked to see the rubbishing of a promise that itself is steeped in regression. A promise like that deserves to be broken. Especially after his realisation. 

On the technical side, the film does well on sound, background score, lighting, costumes, editing, and art direction. It could have done better on screenplay. 
The camera work was adequate, but given that the movie had a playground like Chandni Chowk, am not sure it did the best it could. 

Special thanks to the makers for not subjecting us to dream sequence song and dance routines, cliched meet-cutes for each of the 3 sisters, random festival songs just because it's Chandni Chowk, useless subplots with miniscule politically correct messages, and other predictable stuff that routinely finds its way into films and every single time insults the intelligence of the audience and wastes their time. 

In the OST (Original Sound Track, for those born after the 1990s): Tere Saath Hoon Main and Bidaai stand out. There are no hummable songs, but that, methinks, is the general trend with movies these days. (Coincidentally, no one plays Antakshari any more, everyone only goes to India's Super Singer or some such, so there is no need for hummable songs either, no?) 

Endnote

I am glad I went. Will gladly go again. 













Saturday, August 20, 2022

Sab Dhyaan Hai

बहुधा भारतीय दर्शनशास्त्र में माया को मोह का, दुख का आधार बताया जाता है। उसे मोक्ष के पथ में अवरोध के रूप में दर्शाया जाता है। किन्तु यदि वह इतनी ही अवांछनीय है, तो इतनी सर्वव्यापी क्यूँ है? यदि सर्वव्यापी है, तो उसका कोई उद्देश्य भी होगा? उद्देश्य है, तो उसे मनुष्य की आध्यात्मिक यात्रा में अपना स्थान आदरसहित मिलना चाहिए! 

यह कविता आज की meditation के बाद स्वत: ही प्रकट हो गई। बहुत समय से इच्छा थी, कि भारत की प्रसिद्ध प्रश्नोत्तर शैली में कुछ लिख पाऊँ। आज वह इच्छा कुछ कुछ पूरी हुई। आभार। 

(संस्कृत काव्य में प्रश्नोत्तर विधा का प्राय: उपयोग किया जाता था। वहीं से इच्छा जागृत हुई।) 



 "तेरी माया अपरंपार है, 

सब ध्यान है, सब ध्यान है 

माया ठगे बन मोहिनी 

नवरस दिखाए सोहिनी 

किन्तु ये सब व्यापार है 

सब ध्यान है, सब ध्यान है" 


ऐसा थे कहते संत जी 

जिनकी थी धूम मस्त जी 

"सब ध्यान है, सब ध्यान है!" 


टकरा उन्हें एक मसखरा 

बिना माथा टेके खड़ा मिला 

भक्तों की बढ़ती भीड़ ने 

डांटा, पर वह भी ना टला 

गुरु जी ने दी उसे दीक्षा, 

"सब ध्यान है, सब ध्यान है" 


"सब ध्यान है तो हे प्रभु 

जग पालते क्यूँ विष्णु? 

क्यूँ माया मन को मोहती? 

किस प्रारब्ध को जोहती?

ये किस विधि का विधान है, 

कि माया अपरंपार है? "


"माया तो बच्चा मार्ग है 

मोक्ष की जड़ त्याग है"


"क्यूँ मोक्ष पाने को जुटा, 

संसार सारा ही कुटा? 

इतने विविध संसार में 

क्या एक गंतव्य मात्र है?

सब ध्यान है, सब ध्यान है?" 


सब शांत हैं, सब मौन हैं 

जग का प्रयोजन गौण है? 

क्यूँ मोक्ष मात्र लक्ष्य बना? 

क्यूँ पथ भी न उत्तम लगा? 


पथ की प्रतिष्ठा है बड़ी 

यश उसका भी गाए कोई 

माया न केवल मोहिनी 

उसका भी अपना स्थान है 

कुछ भोग है, कुछ ध्यान है। 


This piece came on its own after my meditation today 

Rough translation 

Dhyaan means Meditation. 


"Meditation is all, Meditation is all, 

Thus spake the Great Saint. 

The world calls to us 

in a thousand siren songs 

But we must not deviate 

From the path of the Eternal. 

Meditation is all, meditation is all" 


One day, a vagabond

found his way to the Agent of God 

The surging crowds bid him to bow

But budging he was not now. 


"If all is dhyaan, O Great One, 

Why does the Great Vishnnu 

sustain the world, and 

everything in it?"


"The world and 

all things in it

are but routes to the 

Eternal Truth 

Meditation is the only way 

To meet The Eternal God.

Meditation is all. Meditation is all." 


"How, dear Great One 

Can a world so vivid and varied

Have a single destination 

for every soul? 

If Maya (the world) is our path 

Why should we belittle the path? 

The path has its own importance 

And to some, 

the milestones of the path 

are destinations too. 

Let us celebrate the path 

As we celebrate the Destination." 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Short Story : The Roomba

 “Will he be here today?”

“Yes, he is arriving by the afternoon flight. Be ready.”

Inspector Sharma blew on his cigarette, then let out a deep sigh and a ring of smoke. ‘Smoking is so uncool and unhealthy’, he thought, then took another puff, ‘But it’s the best at-work de-stressor.’

Sharma was the king of Saam-Daam-Dand-Bhed – any means to get one’s work done. He also specialized in bringing big criminals down. He was summoned by the CBI whenever they needed help.

In his home jurisdiction, of course, the criminals had a brahmastra (superpower) that he could not counter – money and its power over his superiors. Therefore, out of respect to the Hindi proverb – in a flowing river, all must wash their hands, he used to help himself to his fair share of the proceeds. Even though it was his hard work that gave his superiors the power to command a higher price from their asamis (parties), he would get only the fair share according to his rank. And, to ensure that he does not step on their toes, he was also rewarded with an oral warning from time to time.

But in the CBI office, he was a completely different man. Agile, alert, and observant, he paid attention to every piece of paper, every photograph, every text message. Like a hawk, he watched the suspects and the surveillance videos. He read the autopsy reports like a vulture – getting every ounce of detection that he could out of it. Here, if anywhere, was his genius put to any good use.

But today, even in the CBI office, he was stressed. Amit was due to arrive by the afternoon flight.

*****************

The story started two weeks ago. Inspector Sudhakar Sharma was travelling his regular route – Delhi to Bareilly. The passenger in the next seat was an interesting man. Sharma had an instinct about these things. He started a conversation and found soon enough that as usual, he had been right. The man on his left was a cyber sleuth – someone who uses internet technology to catch thieves and other general range criminals. He worked with private corporate clients and occasionally with the cyber police.

Sometime during the short flight, Sharma said, “I am sure you can catch your cyber criminals using technology and hacking easily. But in my field, it is different. We have to use on ground methods to nab our on-ground criminals. These guys kill for money, they do drugs business, hawala, arrange high end bribes and kidnappings.. it’s a messy, bloody business.”

Amit, the cyber sleuth, was silent for a bit. “What if we place a bet? My techniques do not just help with cybercrime. They can help you nab your criminals too.”

“But Amit sahab, we know our criminals. We send our juniors to be deployed as security guards in their palatial houses. We just don’t know the details of their work.”

Amit was silent for a while.

“I have a plan. I have been playing with it for a while. Maybe it is time for us to work together.”

“How so?”

“I think technology can be used to do old fashioned sleuthing.”

“Oh God, Amit ji, you think we have not tried to put mics and cameras in their houses? Of course we have! It doesn’t work! They get to see the camera and the mic. So much we have been beaten over that method that we don’t even want to try it anymore.”

“But you see, sir, that is the difference. This time, they will be the ones putting the cameras and the microphones. They will make the cameras and the microphones follow them everywhere. We just have to be present at the collection point.”

Amit had Sharma’s attention.

*********************

A plan was hatched and Sharma spoke to his seniors at CBI. They could not believe what they were hearing. “This is not possible.”

“I think it’s worth a shot, sir. At least one city. But no local police involvement. If we can help even one innocent victim, it will be worth it.”

The matter had reached the CBI Director, no less. He sat on the proposal for two days. Then, he called Sharma and his CBI sponsor, Nandu, directly.

“Nandu, tell everyone that the proposal has been rejected. After that, I never want to hear it mentioned. I am making a special team of exactly three people – you, Sharma, and this guy Amit. You will work out of Amit’s office. No government building.

Your on-ground action force will be a 15-member special commando team. They will work in civvies. We are not an action team. We are an investigative agency. I am taking the funds out of my discretionary account. We won’t pay Amit anything and you, Sharma, will be on deputation without deputation fee. Is that ok for you? You will survive on your base salary only. Nandu, you will have to multitask AND hide the existence of this task force from your colleagues, team members, and family.

I am giving you six months. Prevent two financial frauds, save six lives, or get evidence for 2-3 things which the CBI is not able to otherwise prosecute. Do anything. I don’t care. Get me results.

And then, we will see.”

Never had two men walked out of the CBI Director’s office with grins wider than these two men that day.

Amit was called. He was equally thrilled.

The team moved quickly. The on-ground force was trained at a private location, donated generously by one of Amit’s corporate clients who owed Amit some hefty consulting fee and was happy to get away with the use of the facility instead.

The equipment was procured. The plan was set in motion.

Four months later, the CBI Director went for an evening walk and strolled into Amit’s office.

*******************

 

A week later, the CBI interrogation room:

A bewildered man sat in a chair in a room that had three cushioned chairs, one table, an earthen pot full of drinking water, a steel tumbler, and nothing else.

 

The room had a window that looked out into the garden.

Nandu played the audio recording from his phone. The CBI Director was in the adjoining room, watching and listening through the monitor.

The other man heard, incredulous. His eyes growing wider with each word.

“You cannot use that in court.”

“There won’t be a court because there won’t be a kidnapping, my dear sir. If you think we will know this and let you get away with it, you are sadly mistaken. We know we cannot prosecute, but we can prevent. We are convincing you to do that. You could, of course, decline. But, the child is already in a safe location. You, on the other hand, will have to suffer unnecessary loss if you even try.”

“But… how did you get this recording? It is illegal. If I find one illegal mic embedded in my house, you will have hell to pay.”

“Be our guest.”

**************

And that, was the first of about 10 meetings that Nandu had in the next 3 months. 

At the end of the 7th month, the CBI Director, Amit, Nandu, and Sharma were in Amit’s office. Ostensibly, this was a performance review. But everyone knew the secret program had passed with flying colours.

“Amit, Sharma, Nandu – in the last 3 months, you guys have saved 15 businessmen and children from being kidnapped. You have averted 2 bomb blasts and saved 20 potential murder victims. I am astounded.

You have to tell me how this works.”

Amit spoke.

“Sir, first, let me tell you that I am very grateful to you for giving us this chance. Using technology to prevent crime rather than detect it, has been on my mind for a long time. You, Sharma ji, Nandu ji, you trusted my idea and gave a chance. So, Thank you.

Secondly, this program, successful as it has been, possibly cannot be replicated nationwide or even put into an institution. But I think it can be used in a limited way under exceptional circumstances.

I will now tell you what we have done. Let’s start from there. I don’t know the legal process, Nandu and Sharma are the experts on that. I only know how to use tech to pre-empt crime. I had been working on that theory for almost a year when Inspector Sharma and I met on that flight.

There is one company that readily enters your house, knows what you watch on TV, what you buy, where you live, what your house looks like, and everything that you say. All of this information rests with one company. Fortunately for us, that one company also has one of the world’s largest cloud storage solutions, where this data is stored, and the security of that cloud storage solution is weak enough for many of its clients to lose their data stored on its servers.

This company also employs humans to listen in to conversations that its clients have in their homes. Presumably, the objective is to understand whether its home assistant is saying anything offensive, and to improve the response of the AI led home assistant. All you need to do, is to create a backdoor entry so that the audio recordings of this device ID reach you. Then, we change the device settings to record all audio in the ambient conditions. Most people will put this AI home manager in all their rooms. So, it doesn’t matter where they are discussing the plan or even if they walk while discussing the plan. The audio recording device is everywhere.

The same company also owns the company that makes connected AI robotic vacuum cleaners. This was the best part of our strategy, to get visuals by hacking the connection of the robotic vacuum cleaners to the servers of the company. The customer gives consent to the company to store information about their house on their servers so that their robotic vacuum cleaner can learn from this data and clean the house more efficiently. The device can be controlled through an app. Now, the app can be on any device, including ours. So, we use that.

The third element is to understand the daily routine of the family members we are interested in. We then had to set our activities to do targeted listening. As a resource crunched team, we trained our program to listen in and tell us the highest volume time of day. We even trained it to listen for some key words that are related to the trade. At that time, we acted as the human listeners and also programmed the vacuum cleaner to be present in the room. The vacuum cleaner is so silent you wont even notice it. But it can get us visuals of who all was in the room. It has a fantastic HD camera and sensor to help it clean better. It avoids obstacles and uses the roof for its orientation.

We did not do any snooping. Nor did we install any snooping devices or mics in the houses. That is why they could not find anything. We just added one more collection pipe for the data already being collected.

With this, the special team trained by Sharma sir and Nandu sir was able to take pre-emptive action to take these citizens to safety before the event could take place. In some cases, we were also able to install a decoy and catch the field workers while they were attempting the murder. But those are small fry field workers. The biggest satisfaction is that we were able to prevent crime, and the gangsters have no idea how.”

“How did you put the devices in their houses? Was it spray and pray?”

“Yes sir, in part, and in part, surgical strike. We specifically targeted the young users of these families and then used the network effect as their social circle installed the devices one by one. That is why the first four months were so slow. We got about 70% conversion, which was brilliant. We would have been lucky with 50-55%.”

“But we cannot institutionalize it, can we? It’s a privacy nightmare.” The CBI Director intoned.

“Yes sir. Unfortunately, when you try to use this information to prevent crime, it’s a privacy nightmare. Our citizens will willingly give their data to a large company, but if we even create a conduit to get a part of that data for an automated crime prevention program, with less human listeners than the private company, they will not allow it.

Further, if we, as private citizens can do it, criminals can also do it to do the exact opposite thing. Imagine having this information about a victim you want to kidnap or kill.” Amit resigned.

“But, sir, there must be SOMETHING we can do with this brilliant process! We can infiltrate the entire crime network using the infrastructure put in place by a global company!” Sharma interjected.

The CBI Director was quiet for a very long time. Finally, he spoke, “No, we cannot do it. The privacy angle is a valid concern.

Sharma, Amit, I understand your anguish at having something so brilliant but not being able to use it. But remember, our people are people first. We cannot take their privacy away in the name of protection. That is what a police state does. We are not a police state.

Amit, I am also mindful of the other thing you said – if we, as private citizens could do this so easily, the criminals will be two steps ahead of us. We must take steps to ensure that our state secret data does not travel through the same conduit. That is the second important takeaway for me. Not just what we can do to others, but also what criminals can do to us.  

We can keep the team in place. You three will remain in touch. We will have to disband the commandoes. But when the air in a particular city gets warm, I will call upon you guys to help us prevent mass human incidents. I know your incubation time is 4 months. Try and see if you can shorten it. I am approving one more pilot. This is the name of the city. Give me two months of incubation.”

Then, he stepped out. At the door, he turned and said, “Congratulations, guys! There are people out there who owe their lives to you today. And they will never know it. Amit, proud of you! Sharma, Thank you! Nandu, well done!”

With that, the CBI director went home.

**************

Next week, there was a meeting in the Home Ministry.

At 5 pm, the Home Ministry released a directive for all ministers, members of parliament, judiciary, Central Government employees, personnel and key vendors of the Indian Armed Forces, paramilitary forces, and all personnel and ranks.

The Directive forbade the use of the connected AI devices in the homes and offices of the personnel. Violation at home was to be punished with internal disciplinary action and violation in office was to be punished with strict criminal charges:

Everyone was flabbergasted.

News channels scrambled to get “experts” to talk on the Draconian measures being put in place by the fascist government. Anyone who was anyone was on a TV channel, talking about personal rights in the house and how the government will no longer be an employer for choice, as it already is not. Reservations in govt jobs were brought up, bureaucracy was cursed, ministers were cursed. The technophobia of the cowherd politicians received special attention too. “What about employee privacy?” was the overarching theme of the TV debates.

 

The morning papers screamed: “Technophobic Government bans modern technology”

 

In his house, Amit smiled gently, folded the paper, and gently placed his coffee cup on the tray.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Bachche

उस दिन तुमने ला कर दी थी, मुझको धूप जो थोड़ी सी, 

उसको बोया, फसल उगी है, क्यारी क्यारी धूप सजी है 


अब झाड़फानूस बनने का समय आएगा।  

*************

The little drop of sunshine 

you got for me that day 

I sowed it, it has blossomed 

Now, light dances on every flower bed 


Now, the plants will be converted to chandeliers. 

************** 


Triveni

एक कहानी सुना कर हमको सुलाया था 

मीठी लोरी गा कर वरगलाया था 


75 साल हुए, आँख खुलती ही नहीं। 

त्रिवेणी Triveni

आकर मिलना, मिल कर जाना, 
जाता नहीं, जाकर आता.. 

ये कहने वाले कहाँ रहे, 
अब अपने छोटे शहरों में? 

On boycotting a film

It is very easy to say that a boycott is hurting a movie. But Bollywood has given 3 hits in 2 years. Were all those films affected by trolls? Is any amount of introspection in order? As many people have said, trolls cannot keep a good film down. So, maybe, instead of blaming everyone else, people could pay attention to the quality of their work? Has even a single Bollywood person come out and said, "Audience have been rejecting us for 2 years. Maybe we should sit and think about what we are doing wrong in our story telling, our execution?"

Very easy to sit and blame the audience for "not appreciating how much hard work goes into making a film."

Salman Khan answered that beautifully once. His quote - "Director ne bola public ko picture samajh hi nahi aayi. Arre tumko public nahi samajh aayi."

The last movie I saw in theater was Samrat Prithviraj. The storytelling was very different from what I expected from that director. But when the film bombed, at least he said, "If you do not like my version of the story, discuss with me, tell me what your view is. I want to listen." Contrast that with "People don't understand the hard work." 

We are not supposed to understand your hard work and pay you for that. We are supposed to get entertained and pay you for that. Where is the confusion? 

There are 2 movies being released now. Only Aamir Khan has gone to town like a cry baby. Akshay Kumar (Rakshabandhan) has put his head down and let his work do the talking. This might be that actor's third flop within the last 6 months, but he has not become a drama king even once. His promotion of the films has been dignified, and focused on the work.

For Bollywood, the tide will turn once they start making good cinema. And, after we have given justice to Sushant Singh Rajput. And, PVR stops charging the rate of gold for pop corn. 

Until then, cry on! No one is coming to the theaters. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Short Story: The Roomba

 

“Will he be here today?”

“Yes, he is arriving by the afternoon flight. Be ready.”

Inspector Sharma blew on his cigarette, then let out a deep sigh and a ring of smoke. ‘Smoking is so uncool and unhealthy’, he thought, then took another puff, ‘But it’s the best at-work de-stressor.’

Sharma was the king of Saam-Daam-Dand-Bhed – any means to get one’s work done. He also specialized in bringing big criminals down. He was summoned by the CBI whenever they needed help.

In his home jurisdiction, of course, the criminals had a brahmastra (superpower) that he could not counter – money and its power over his superiors. Therefore, out of respect to the Hindi proverb – in a flowing river, all must wash their hands, he used to help himself to his fair share of the proceeds. Even though it was his hard work that gave his superiors the power to command a higher price from their asamis (parties), he would get only the fair share according to his rank. And, to ensure that he does not step on their toes, he was also rewarded with an oral warning from time to time.

But in the CBI office, he was a completely different man. Agile, alert, and observant, he paid attention to every piece of paper, every photograph, every text message. Like a hawk, he watched the suspects and the surveillance videos. He read the autopsy reports like a vulture – getting every ounce of detection that he could out of it. Here, if anywhere, was his genius put to any good use.

But today, even in the CBI office, he was stressed. Amit was due to arrive by the afternoon flight.

*****************

The story started two weeks ago. Inspector Sudhakar Sharma was travelling his regular route – Delhi to Bareilly. The passenger in the next seat was an interesting man. Sharma had an instinct about these things. He started a conversation and found soon enough that as usual, he had been right. The man on his left was a cyber sleuth – someone who uses internet technology to catch thieves and other general range criminals. He worked with private corporate clients and occasionally with the cyber police.

Sometime during the short flight, Sharma said, “I am sure you can catch your cyber criminals using technology and hacking easily. But in my field, it is different. We have to use on ground methods to nab our on-ground criminals. These guys kill for money, they do drugs business, hawala, arrange high end bribes and kidnappings.. it’s a messy, bloody business.”

Amit, the cyber sleuth, was silent for a bit. “What if we place a bet? My techniques do not just help with cybercrime. They can help you nab your criminals too.”

“But Amit sahab, we know our criminals. We send our juniors to be deployed as security guards in their palatial houses. We just don’t know the details of their work.”

Amit was silent for a while.

“I have a plan. I have been playing with it for a while. Maybe it is time for us to work together.”

“How so?”

“I think technology can be used to do old fashioned sleuthing.”

“Oh God, Amit ji, you think we have not tried to put mics and cameras in their houses? Of course we have! It doesn’t work! They get to see the camera and the mic. So much we have been beaten over that method that we don’t even want to try it anymore.”

“But you see, sir, that is the difference. This time, they will be the ones putting the cameras and the microphones. They will make the cameras and the microphones follow them everywhere. We just have to be present at the collection point.”

Amit had Sharma’s attention.

*********************

A plan was hatched and Sharma spoke to his seniors at CBI. They could not believe what they were hearing. “This is not possible.”

“I think it’s worth a shot, sir. At least one city. But no local police involvement. If we can help even one innocent victim, it will be worth it.”

The matter had reached the CBI Director, no less. He sat on the proposal for two days. Then, he called Sharma and his CBI sponsor, Nandu, directly.

“Nandu, tell everyone that the proposal has been rejected. After that, I never want to hear it mentioned. I am making a special team of exactly three people – you, Sharma, and this guy Amit. You will work out of Amit’s office. No government building.

Your on-ground action force will be a 15-member special commando team. They will work in civvies. We are not an action team. We are an investigative agency. I am taking the funds out of my discretionary account. We won’t pay Amit anything and you, Sharma, will be on deputation without deputation fee. Is that ok for you? You will survive on your base salary only. Nandu, you will have to multitask AND hide the existence of this task force from your colleagues, team members, and family.

I am giving you six months. Prevent two financial frauds, save six lives, or get evidence for 2-3 things which the CBI is not able to otherwise prosecute. Do anything. I don’t care. Get me results.

And then, we will see.”

Never had two men walked out of the CBI Director’s office with grins wider than these two men that day.

Amit was called. He was equally thrilled.

The team moved quickly. The on-ground force was trained at a private location, donated generously by one of Amit’s corporate clients who owed Amit some hefty consulting fee and was happy to get away with the use of the facility instead.

The equipment was procured. The plan was set in motion.

Four months later, the CBI Director went for an evening walk and strolled into Amit’s office.

*******************

 

A week later, the CBI interrogation room:

A bewildered man sat in a chair in a room that had three cushioned chairs, one table, an earthen pot full of drinking water, a steel tumbler, and nothing else.

 

The room had a window that looked out into the garden.

Nandu played the audio recording from his phone. The CBI Director was in the adjoining room, watching and listening through the monitor.

The other man heard, incredulous. His eyes growing wider with each word.

“You cannot use that in court.”

“There won’t be a court because there won’t be a kidnapping, my dear sir. If you think we will know this and let you get away with it, you are sadly mistaken. We know we cannot prosecute, but we can prevent. We are convincing you to do that. You could, of course, decline. But, the child is already in a safe location. You, on the other hand, will have to suffer unnecessary loss if you even try.”

“But… how did you get this recording? It is illegal. If I find one illegal mic embedded in my house, you will have hell to pay.”

“Be our guest.”

**************

And that, was the first of about 10 meetings that Nandu had in the next 3 months. 

At the end of the 7th month, the CBI Director, Amit, Nandu, and Sharma were in Amit’s office. Ostensibly, this was a performance review. But everyone knew the secret program had passed with flying colours.

“Amit, Sharma, Nandu – in the last 3 months, you guys have saved 15 businessmen and children from being kidnapped. You have averted 2 bomb blasts and saved 20 potential murder victims. I am astounded.

You have to tell me how this works.”

Amit spoke.

“Sir, first, let me tell you that I am very grateful to you for giving us this chance. Using technology to prevent crime rather than detect it, has been on my mind for a long time. You, Sharma ji, Nandu ji, you trusted my idea and gave a chance. So, Thank you.

Secondly, this program, successful as it has been, possibly cannot be replicated nationwide or even put into an institution. But I think it can be used in a limited way under exceptional circumstances.

 

I will now tell you what we have done. Let’s start from there. I don’t know the legal process, Nandu and Sharma are the experts on that. I only know how to use tech to pre-empt crime. I had been working on that theory for almost a year when Inspector Sharma and I met on that flight.

There is one company that readily enters your house, knows what you watch on TV, what you buy, where you live, what your house looks like, and everything that you say. All of this information rests with one company. Fortunately for us, that one company also has one of the world’s largest cloud storage solutions, where this data is stored, and the security of that cloud storage solution is weak enough for many of its clients to lose their data stored on its servers.

This company also employs humans to listen in to conversations that its clients have in their homes. Presumably, the objective is to understand whether its home assistant is saying anything offensive, and to improve the response of the AI led home assistant. All you need to do, is to create a backdoor entry so that the audio recordings of this device ID reach you. Then, we change the device settings to record all audio in the ambient conditions. Most people will put this AI home manager in all their rooms. So, it doesn’t matter where they are discussing the plan or even if they walk while discussing the plan. The audio recording device is everywhere.

The same company also owns the company that makes connected AI robotic vacuum cleaners. This was the best part of our strategy, to get visuals by hacking the connection of the robotic vacuum cleaners to the servers of the company. The customer gives consent to the company to store information about their house on their servers so that their robotic vacuum cleaner can learn from this data and clean the house more efficiently. The device can be controlled through an app. Now, the app can be on any device, including ours. So, we use that.

The third element is to understand the daily routine of the family members we are interested in. We then had to set our activities to do targeted listening. As a resource crunched team, we trained our program to listen in and tell us the highest volume time of day. We even trained it to listen for some key words that are related to the trade. At that time, we acted as the human listeners and also programmed the vacuum cleaner to be present in the room. The vacuum cleaner is so silent you wont even notice it. But it can get us visuals of who all was in the room. It has a fantastic HD camera and sensor to help it clean better. It avoids obstacles and uses the roof for its orientation.

We did not do any snooping. Nor did we install any snooping devices or mics in the houses. That is why they could not find anything. We just added one more collection pipe for the data already being collected.

With this, the special team trained by Sharma sir and Nandu sir was able to take pre-emptive action to take these citizens to safety before the event could take place. In some cases, we were also able to install a decoy and catch the field workers while they were attempting the murder. But those are small fry field workers. The biggest satisfaction is that we were able to prevent crime, and the gangsters have no idea how.”

“How did you put the devices in their houses? Was it spray and pray?”

“Yes sir, in part, and in part, surgical strike. We specifically targeted the young users of these families and then used the network effect as their social circle installed the devices one by one. That is why the first four months were so slow. We got about 70% conversion, which was brilliant. We would have been lucky with 60%.”

“But we cannot institutionalize it, can we? It’s a privacy nightmare.” The CBI Director intoned.

“Yes sir. Unfortunately, when you try to use this information to prevent crime, it’s a privacy nightmare. Further, if we, as private citizens can do it, criminals can also do it to do the exact opposite thing. Imagine having this information about a victim you want to kidnap or kill.” Amit resigned.

“But, sir, there must be SOMETHING we can do with this brilliant process! We can infiltrate the entire crime network using the infrastructure put in place by a global company!”

The CBI Director was quiet for a very long time. Finally, he spoke, “No, we cannot do it. We can keep the team in place. You three will remain in touch. We will have to disband the commandoes. But when the air in a particular city gets warm, I will call upon you guys to help us prevent mass human incidents. I know your incubation time is 4 months. Try and see if you can shorten it. I am approving one more pilot. This is the name of the city. Give me two months of incubation.”

Then, he stepped out. At the door, he turned and said, “Congratulations, guys! There are people out there who owe their lives to you today. And they will never know it. Amit, proud of you! Sharma, Thank you! Nandu, well done!”

With that, the CBI director went home.

**************

Next week, there was a meeting in the Home Ministry.

At 5 pm, the Home Ministry released a directive for all ministers, members of parliament, judiciary, Central Government employees, personnel and key vendors of the Indian Armed Forces, paramilitary forces, and all personnel and ranks.

The Directive forbade the use of the connected AI devices in the homes and offices of the personnel. Violation at home was to be punished with internal disciplinary action and violation in office was to be punished with strict criminal charges:

Everyone was flabbergasted.

News channels scrambled to get “experts” to talk on the Draconian measures being put in place by the fascist government. Anyone who was anyone was on a TV channel, talking about personal rights in the house and how the government will no longer be an employer for choice, as it already is not. Reservations in govt jobs were brought up, bureaucracy was cursed, ministers were cursed. The technophobia of the cowherd politicians received special attention too.

 

The morning papers screamed: “Government bans modern technology”

 

In his house, Amit smiled gently, folded the paper, and gently placed his coffee cup on the tray.

Links for posterity

 Facebook DID prioritise engagement over positivity 

Facebook whistleblower says Zuckerberg put viral posts over safety — and may have given bonuses for it | Mashable

https://mashable.com/article/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-whistleblower-msi-bonuses

Saturday, August 06, 2022

On private University Admissions

 The way private universities approach you for admissions once you have submitted an enquiry at even one site.. reminds one of the mini bus conductors of Delhi in the 1980s... Aa jao Law vaale, aa jao engineering vaale, Aa jao BBA, BBA, BBA..

Image from the internet