Or what newspapers and media will not tell you about the 2009 Indian Parliamentary Election.
Will the new government go in for reform?
- Absolutely! Though there may be a slight difference between what everyone understands by reform and what the government means by reform. From the government’s perspective reform means re-forming the government. The party in power has to make sure that at the end of its term, it is in a position to re-form the government.
Why did the Congress win a sweeping majority?
- Because none of the other parties did. Seriously. Theories and political pundits aside, no one really knows. Anyone who pretends to, is just making money out of pretending.
What does the Congress stand for?
- The Congress stands for secularism.
What is meant by secularism?
- Secularism means securing your political future among as many religions and castes as possible. In order to achieve this, you need to appear impartial, which you accomplish by not doing anything for anyone. It also means letting right wing zealots from different religions torture, rape, and blast each other and each other’s religious structures (mosques, churches, temples), while you remain impartial and do nothing.
Why did the BJP lose?
- Apparently, there were different reasons in different states. Since the BJP is as confused after the elections as it was before, there is no clear insight into why it lost. The only definitive, plausible reason is that the BJP is a confused party, and does not own any sizeable vote bank in the electorate.
What about the urban middle class that was said to be the strongest BJP supporter?
- The urban middle class is an insignificant, almost non-existent vote bank. Contrary to popular perception, the Congress’ vote share actually increases as you move from villages to towns to cities.
Really? How did the Congress win a majority of the urban vote share?
- Urban in the western context has an entirely different meaning than it does in India. In India, urban dwellings are slums. Majority of those who live in apartments and high-rises do not go out to vote in the scorching tropical heat. Almost all the urban votes in India are from slums, which are controlled by gangsters, who are cozy with the Congress.
What does the BJP stand for?
- The BJP is a right-wing political party that stands for Hindutva.
What is meant by Hindutva?
- Hindutva is a flexible concept that can mean different things depending on the time and place. For example, before elections, it meant women should not go to pubs. After elections, it means overall economic development.
What will the BJP do now?
- The BJP is like a horse with a blind left eye. When it reaches a dead-end like it did in this election, it can only seek further ways to go right. When it can no longer do so, it does a U-Turn, meaning it sits in the opposition and opposes everything the government does.
Why did the Left parties lose?
- The Left parties controlled every civil institution in their geographical stronghold, like schools, hospitals, police, etc. After over 30 years of being abused in every imaginable way by the Left parties, the people realized that the Left’s stronghold was a stranglehold.
What will the Left do now?
What conclusions will the Left reach after introspection?
- They will conclude that the Left parties were right, and the people of India made a grave mistake. The people of India were not able to fully understand the nationalist vision of truly independent India that the Left stands for.
Was there a youth wave in this election?
- Absolutely! There are millions of unemployed youths in India who have nothing better to do than attend political rallies and vote. The employed youth, who were an insignificant minority, were desperately busy working to avoid losing their jobs.
Any newbie TV News Producer who wants to compete with the top Indian news channels will be well advised to comply with the following guidelines:
- All news is BREAKING NEWS. This also means that if there is no news, BREAK all journalism rules to get BREAKING NEWS.
- TV news channels are in the business of TRPs, not news.
- It is imperative that Red should be the principal color of your visual style.
- Headlines should be in UPPERCASE (known in India as CAPITALS).
- There should be more animation on your screen than on an animation channel.
- Within each 30 minute segment, there should be at least one story on:
- Pakistan / Terrorism / Al Qaeda
- Indian Politics
- Obama / US – India relationship
- If you’re wondering why Bollywood is not part of the above list, you should realize that Bollywood should have its own 30 minute slot.
- Within each 30 minute segment, there should be at least one SMS Poll, inviting reader participation.
- There should be repeated ‘COMING UP’ teasers via anchors and headlines on the screen. It does not matter if the content referred to actually comes up or not.
- Each news story MUST be accompanied by a video. If no video is available, repeated zoom-in and zoom-out of static photographs is the last recourse.
- The date of the video does not matter; having an outdated video is better than no video at all. Forget industry best practices guidelines of showing actual date of videos. Whether the video refers to the actual event of the story does not matter as long as it is somehow related to the story.
- The protagonist of the story should be circled red in the video. It does not matter how obviously identifiable he is, or even if he is the only person in the video.
- If the video clip is short, loop it till you milk everything possible out of the story.
- Politicians, celebrities and sportspersons never argue, disagree, criticize or blame. They always BLAST, SLAM, or ATTACK.
- Even if a politician, celebrity, or sportsperson says something of the same sort that he has been saying for the last two decades, he REVEALS ALL, BARES ALL, or EXPOSES.
- All interviews to your channel are EXCLUSIVE, irrespective of how many other microphones are visible.
- There are no talk shows, there are only DEBATES. Each 24-hour schedule should have at least one or preferably two debates with guests. The decibel level of the debate, not the content, is directly proportional to the TRPs.
- For every story shameful to India, question and discuss with the guests, ‘Are we just going to forget this two weeks from now?’. Sound moralistic and ignore the piles and rooms of archives available with you.
- Expert opinion counts, but street opinion counts as well, or even better. If you can’t get expert opinion, interview people on the street. The background of the ‘common man’ does not matter, as he is supposed to be common.
- Synchronize your ad breaks as far as possible with other news channels, so that people don’t switch and stick to other channels during your ad breaks.
Readers may provide additional guidelines to you via comments below.
I am amused by people who say they have no dreams. When even animals dream, how can people not? An evil thought comes about subjecting such people to dream deprivation, if only to advance scientific understanding.
I dream both in color as well as in black and white. As with most people, I have recurrent dream topics – school/college journal submission/examination, flying, fast trains, accidents/disaster, etc. But most of my dreams are pretty straightforward and predictable. A college friend of mine had dreams with distorted metaphysics. Once he lived in a world where consciousness and physical bodies were randomly exchanged and he spent dreaming that his body was searching for his consciousness and vice versa.
I have often dreamt of my blogger friends. I once received Krish Ashok at Chennai when he was about to arrive from abroad. After he came, we had some interesting experiences negotiating with rickshaw drivers in Chennai. In another one, Ashok and I were at a conference-cum-exhibition, and we were discussing the latest software web trends. I and Nita have once received a group of tourists from China, and we were their tour guides in the Mumbai-Pune region. I remember being amazed by how Nita was impressing them with statistic after statistic, fact after fact, about Indians. More recently, I was explaining to my wife how Rambodoc is going to monetize his SixPackDoc blog by adding ads and selling services. See? Straightforward and predictable.
Nita had once commented, ‘Born to fly – these words seem to be entrenched in your heart’, and that shows. I have come very close to fulfilling this dream when I para-glided in the Himalayas. In my dreams, I don’t need no paraglider! An interesting observation in my numerous flying dreams is that if I hesitate and doubt my ability to fly, I can’t take off. It is only when I do so with full conviction, that I am able to successfully take off. I have flew several times over several areas of Mumbai, Pune, San Diego, and San Francisco.
As dreams are connected with long-term memory, my ‘home’ in my dreams is still the place I grew up in Mumbai, even though I left it 12 years back. Dream incorporation is also pretty common with me, where doorbells or ringtones become assimilated in the dream sequence. I’m a déjà vu addict – I always try to predict what’s going to happen next, but I fail every time. I used to talk a lot in my sleep when young, and there is only one reported incident when I went sleepwalking!
A couple of unusual dreams come to mind. One was a nightmare. During an examination, my fountain pen began to leak. And surprisingly, it began to leak in red (I always wrote in black)! Aghast, I got up and the red trail began following me all around. I ran out of the classroom, outside on the roads, where I realized that the trail of red was not ink but blood. Gasping for water, I reached for my water bottle, only to find it contained blood. Panicked, I decided to rush home, managed to reach VT station in Mumbai (it will always remain VT for me), where there were many other people all drenched in blood to varying degree.
In an other recent dream, I was telling my wife that I thought that I was not really myself. Me, as I am today, was just a concoction, an illusion, role-playing a script written by someone else, Matrix-style. And being aware of this made me feel very lighter, since there was nothing I needed to take seriously in life. I was waiting for the day when the director says “Cut”, and I snap back to my real, original, self.
But the best part of my dreaming is that I am fortunate to be a lucid dreamer. Though not as successfully as in my younger days, I am still able to do it sometimes. Controlling your dream script is a fantasy come true. Now don’t ask me what I write in that script!
I’m sick and tired of all the politician-bashing that bloggers seem addicted to these days. Why do we have to be so critical all the time? Why not see the glass half-full? Deciding to be an optimist, I present “Virtues of Politicians”:
Politicians have great oratory skills.
Enthralling thousands of people at rallies who stand listening in rain or scorching sunshine is not easy. Not even a fraction of that many people would be reading our blogs daily!
They are extremely responsive.
Within a few minutes of one political party releasing their election manifesto, the spokespersons of the other parties are available for their expert analysis and comments on all the TV news channels. Many bloggers, like me, take hours to respond to comments on their own blog!
Politicians take care to look good at all times.
Imagine attending conferences, debating, traveling, protesting, making speeches, distributing cash – all within one day – and making it all appear so effortless, and appearing presentable for all media appearances! A famous example is of the great minister who took care to change his clothes before visiting the site of a bomb blast.
They never forget and have a great memory.
Ask any politician about the mistakes committed by their opposition party politicians and events going back several decades are at the tip of their tongue.
They forgive and forget.
Come election time, and see this virtue in full bloom. They can quickly forgive and forget lapses in communication, behavior, promises, commitments, or whatever, on their own or others’ behalf.
Politicians handle insults with the utmost grace.
Whether it is TV reporters making snide remarks, journalists throwing shoes, or whatever, observe the graciousness with which they handle the situation.
Politicians insult with the utmost grace.
Even if they may be bitter foes in real life, they always refer to their enemies as ‘my good friend, ….’ on TV and elsewhere.
They are flexible.
Electoral alliances in coalition politics has made this a must-have virtue for politicians. No ideology, principle, value, or goal can be such that it cannot be compromised if doing so can gain voters, or better still, seats in Parliament.
Politicians are punctual.
“What!” you say? No kidding. One can frequently observe them just waiting in advance to speak in televised debates. The entire mass of politicians of one party from one state in India filed their nominations exactly at 12:39 pm, since that is the auspicious time when Ram killed Ravana. Doesn’t this prove punctuality beyond a doubt?
Politicians are culturally sensitive.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Depending on the religious, economic, educational, cultural, and caste background of their followers, they suitably adapt their costumes, gestures, greetings, salutations, etc.
They have an extremely good vocabulary.
Oratory skills on one side, it takes much more than that to succeed at debates or interviews. You must have observed the mastery with which they twist and tweak words and their meanings to convey exactly what they wish, irrespective of the question or argument.
Political leaders are loyal and stand by their team members at all times.
Observe their loyalty and steadfastness when they support the questionable and often disgraceful behavior of their colleagues.
So are you convinced? I’m sure I must have missed many other virtues, so do please add to the list in the comments!
Note: I have not provided links to actual events for each of the above, since different readers will find different events in their own country. I’m sure my intelligent readers will find suitable incidents that provide examples of each of the above. That’s another virtue – politicians have universal virtues!
An assortment of stuff I came across in cyberspace, offered second hand, for anyone who may be interested.
- Despite veto threats from the Bush administration, the House of Representatives approved the Free Flow of Information Act that would shield journalists – and some bloggers – from being forced to reveal confidential sources in federal cases. See Are Blogging Journalists Shielded? for background information. Not everyone is happy, however, since only bloggers who derive substantial portion of their income through their writing are shielded.
- Are Indian IT professionals among the worst paid globally? A study by HR consultancy Mercer finds India to be the fourth worst IT paymaster.
- Flickr plans to expand from photo sharing to photo editing through a deal with start-up Picnik. Picnik lets users perform a variety of basic editing tasks – crop and resize photos; change exposure, saturation, color temperature; sharpen edges; remove red-eye; and rotate pictures by 90-degrees or finer increments.
- Genetics pioneer Craig Venter took the stage at the Web 2.0 Summit. Venter’s own DNA was sequenced at a cost of about $70 million. Today it costs only $300,000 to sequence a person’s DNA, and the $100,000 benchmark is in sight. It’s an information processing problem. In other words, Moore’s Law and genetics are tightly tied. It won’t be long before your genome – and your likelihood to get various diseases, live long, be athletic, etc. – will be available in a standard medical test. Read The Information Week report here.
- AP had reported that China is increasing efforts at Internet censorship ahead of the Communist Party Congress. However, an interesting article by Dan Sullivan at SearchEngineLand says that China is upset with the US over the award it granted to the Dalai Lama. It is retaliating by hurting US-based search engines by redirecting Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search traffic to the China-owned Baidu.
- Expedia and Travelocity are readying India operations, reports LiveMint.
- About 16% of men and 8% of women who have access to the Internet at work acknowledged having seen porn while on the job, according to a survey cited in USA Today’s article: Technology makes porn easier to access at work.
- Photos: Scott Wolf disassembles an iRobot Roomba, to see what’s inside and remarkably, puts it back together as well. You can see how the Roomba works with collision detection, how it has a customization software interface, and much more. How I wish I had this toy in India!
- I do not use Firefox, but if you do, remember that it’s not safe out of the box. Here are five security/privacy extensions you must have.
- Astronomers may be on brink of finding habitable ‘second Earth’, reports The Guardian. Earlier this year, scientists reported finding the most Earth-like planet ever, just 20 light years away.
- The co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, James ‘Black People Are Stupid’ Watson, has again disgraced himself. The Telegraph analyzes what it calls the Nobel Syndrome, Scientific American has its take, and Wired Science has its strong rejoinder.
- Webyantra profiles Indian food-related sites on the web – online delivery, recipes, restaurant reviews, etc.
Visit the earlier weekend’s flea market here. Have a great weekend!
The Friday Flea Market is now open all weekend! An assortment of stuff I came across in cyberspace, offered second hand, for anyone who may be interested.
- Wired Magazine has a very interesting article on how racial profiling can be used in forensics with great success. The Inconvenient Science of Racial DNA Profiling also explains how this controversial technology raises uncomfortable ethical questions.
- Dr. Deb talks about a controversial ad in Italy that aims to increase awareness of Anorexia, while clarifying that Anorexia has a higher mortality rate than depression.
- Finally, three years after the devastating tsunami disaster, India’s tsunami warning system takes shape.
- The Iconoclast asks a very pertinent question about whether telecom companies like AT&T should be held responsible for cooperating with the National Security Agency (NSA).
- While you’ve been caught up reading on the Nobel awards, don’t miss this year’s igNoble awards!
- Photomicrography: Fine art photography though a microscope. For over 30 years, Nikon has rewarded the world’s best photomicrographers who make critically important scientific contributions to life sciences, bio-research and materials science. See the stunning winners of the 2007 competition here.
- Finally, Microsoft Research is coming to India! Microsoft has tied up with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to collaborate on research.
- A new Google Earth layer lets you view geo-tagged videos on YouTube. Just imagine how travelogues are going to take this to elevate themselves to the next level.
- Wikipedia’s middle-age crisis: Sad news. Activity on Wikipedia seems to be slowing down, reports TechCrunch.
- The Economist has a fascinating article on how lap dancers earn more tips when they’re most fertile in their menstrual cycle.
There are fewer items in the flea market this weekend, because of the increased readership, interesting comments, and enlightened discussions on my earlier posts. In short, my blog has kept me busy…:-) Have a good weekend!
After the intense and enlightening discussion on an earlier post – An Unquiet Mind Over Matter – I couldn’t help resist sharing today’s Quote of the Day from The Quotation’s Page. It’s a perfect rejoinder that serves a sumptuous dessert of humor!
Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand
- Kurt Vonnegut
US novelist (1922 – 2007)
A few weeks back, I read Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion say:
I want us to flinch when we hear of a ‘Christian child’ or a ‘Muslim child’. Small children are too young to know their views on life, ethics and the cosmos. We should no more speak of a Christian child than of a Keynesian child, a monetarist child or a Marxist child. Automatic labeling of children with the religion of their parents is not just presumptuous. It is a form of mental child abuse.
I’ve been thinking about this ever since, when I was asked the following questions by Ashok in comments on his Temple Matters post:
1) What is your opinion on children being taken to temples but not encouraged to ask why?
2) At what point do you think parents/elders should leave the decision of finding personal meaning in religion to the individual? What would you do with your children?
For a novice parent, these are profound questions, and it is important for any parent to think about these.
To start with, there is no doubt in my mind in fully agreeing with Dawkins. I was indoctrinated as a Hindu child, and chose atheism only in my teens, after I discovered and studied other philosophies. I did not have to go through a tenacious struggle myself, but I can well imagine different experiences for others. I would disagree with indoctrination of any kind. One must encourage one’s children to think for themselves, and choose what they think is right.
Given that religion is based on blind faith and not reason, it is hardly surprising that most religious parents blindly indoctrinate their children in what they themselves believe is the best for their children’s good. But what about atheists? Do atheists equally provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and atheism?
Even as an atheist, I believe that I should not indoctrinate my child with atheistic principles. Even if I was raised as a Hindu, I will let my child attend a Christian convent school if it offers quality education, even though it may expose her to Christian traditions. I will let her grandparents take her to Hindu temples and let her see and have that experience. I will teach her not to discriminate among her friends based on religion if I find hints of any such thing. Over time, I would encourage her to think critically for herself.
So my response to Ashok’s questions is: #1 is pure indoctrination. Not encouraging children to ask questions is bad parenting. Not allowing them to, is mental child abuse, as Dawkins points out. #2: From the birth of the child. You can provide facts, information, and knowledge. But the decision of finding personal meaning in religion or elsewhere is a birthright of the child.
Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds (who said rational parenting was easy?). When she asks me for the first time (whenever that is), “Dad, what is God”?, what will be my response? Will it be “Dear, God is a fictitious entity that many people believe in?” No, I suspect I will point at an idol somewhere and say “That is what people call God”, and thus side-step the question of his existence. If after a couple of years she asks “Dad, where can I find God?”, I’ll say “I don’t know dear. I haven’t found him yet. If you do, please let me know.” As she grows up, I will continue to encourage independent thinking. When she is mature enough to understand how different people can have different values, I can then explain what my values are. Well, I hope so!
What are your thoughts?
Update: 11th Oct: I realize that comments section on this post can be too restricted a space for many people to espouse their ideas. I have also learnt that this is a universal topic for parents who think. Hence, as can be seen from the comments section below, this topic is now a meme, open to all.
An assortment of stuff I came across in cyberspace, offered second hand, for anyone who may be interested.
- If you haven’t read it already, Thomas Friedman’s penultimate op-ed 9/11 Is Over, is a must-read.
- China has now started blocking all RSS feeds as well.
- A woman has been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for committing adultery. Kamangir and a group of Iranian bloggers are trying to stop that from happening.
- Microsoft launches HealthVault, an online repository where consumers can store medical information for free in an encrypted database. For once, Microsoft beats Google to something!
- Ashok talked about “Collective Intelligence” in the comments discussion on my post “Runaway Train“. Techcrunch reveals that a new site, CrowdChess, has launched. You log on and sign up for a game. Each side is made up of teams of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people. Anyone on a team can suggest the next move, and the move that gets the most votes is the one that is played out. Like Erick, I too wonder if any number of amateurs can ever beat a grandmaster in this scenario! What do you think?
- MMP has his own insightful analysis of why he blogs. He has developed an interesting universal model that shows how we all live in blogging CAVES. Check it out.
- Check out Ashok’s take on the various categories of Indian bloggers to have a healthy laugh at The Blogosphere Zoopedia.
- A US Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the Free Flow of Information Act. There is still a long way to go and final outcome seems uncertain at this stage. See Are Blogging Journalists Shielded? for background information.
- The Economist paints a sordid and bleak picture of the challenges involved in revamping Mumbai. A must-read if you care about Mumbai.
- Financial Times puts Rahul Gandhi’s first populist action after ascending to the Congress secretaryship as the backdrop to describe how political short-termism is hampering retail reforms.
- I had pondered on a few questions regarding cricket’s status in India in my 10 Thoughts on T20 World Cup Win post. Social psychologist Ashis Nandy has some interesting answers in his interview with Outlook magazine. He says there are only three areas of our life—cricket, cinema (Bollywood) and crime that recognize capability wholeheartedly and unconditionally.
- I have written about the contempt of court ruling regarding Justice Sabharwal. Vinod Mehta brings greater clarity to the issue and wisely cautions that if the media and the judiciary engage in a war, the only winners will be the politicians.
- To bring this potpourri full circle back to the US, Rajinder Puri takes on a lot of controversial issues in his take on the decline of the US. Some of his comments resonate with Shefaly’s comments in the discussion on Right To Free Speech: What does it mean?.
I have never written about cricket before. Why? I’m not sure – sometimes I think enough is being written all around, and I can’t add any value. At other times, I don’t think it has any real “post-substance”, so I let it pass by. Well, such an opportunity doesn’t come very often, so let me take this 20-20 World Cup win to break this abstinence!
Here are random thoughts about the win in no particular order:
- I think Dhoni is the future of Indian cricket captaincy. Don’t you just love his repartees? He gave it back to the press when they had earlier asked if Yuvraj was taken as a bowler in the team. He gave it back to Ravi Shastri over an article on Cricinfo after defeating the Aussies. He gave it back in front of the mammoth Mumbai crowd when he answered back in Hindi, after being questioned in Marathi and English.
- I wonder if being a wicket-keeper captain has inherent advantages? To start with, he is able to be as close to the action on the pitch as possible. He can observe the bowling performances, the batsmen’s mood/discomforts/etc. and take decisions regarding bowling changes or advise bowlers accordingly. Being centrally located, he is in better visible and audible contact with as many fielders as possible. Observe how many captains, from Gavaskar to Ponting, have taken slip fielding positions whenever possible…
- If you ask me what is the single most important difference (physical not psychological) in this team – it is the fielding. I saw a completely different vigor and enthusiasm in the fielding. Never before have I seen two direct-hit run-outs by India within a tournament at critical stages.
- I think the people who destroyed Dhoni’s upcoming house brick-by-brick after the WC debacle should now apologize to him and rebuild it brick-by-brick themselves.
- It is amazing how cricket unites our country. We may not be a truly secular country, but cricket is the most secular aspect of our culture. It unites us (whether in despair or in triumph) across religions, castes, economic status, education levels, geographic region, language, etc.
- On another note, I know that there are political compulsions in player selections for tournaments. But these are up to the level of states. Given that, does Indian cricket exemplify “equal opportunity” in terms of there being no discrimination based on education/caste/status/economic level? Seeing today’s heroes hailing from impoverished backgrounds, illiterate parents – does this “dream come true” hold any meaning for the common Indian?
- A lot of hue and cry is being made about the comment by the losing Pakistani captain apologizing to all muslims of the world for losing. Many Indian muslims have come out and expressed that their patriotism was offended by that remark. Others are cautioning not to bring religion into cricket in the Asian sub-continent, where cricket is a religion. I believe this hue and cry was given birth to and fueled by CNN-IBN who started flashing it as a ‘stir’ based on a couple of comments on their site. Folks, let’s learn to be gracious winners. The poor guy had just frustratingly lost the world cup final when it was almost in their grasp. Called on the world stage, he tried his best to apologize. If you notice how the Pakistani players never fail to mention Inshallah in every other sentence, you might be convinced that it is best to overlook his shortsightedness at such a humiliating moment.
- When the city-that-never-sleeps came to a standstill when welcoming the heroes, it was simply acting on behalf of the entire nation. It was disgusting to watch the spectacle marred by specimens of the politicus patheticus species, whose dinosaur sized posters lined up the roads and whose best representatives tried to hog (pun intended) the limelight. The NCP government of Maharashtra, not to be outdone by myopic Shiv Sena gave a trophy to the team that had a map of Maharashtra and not India!
- The Asia-Cup winning hockey players are understandably upset and contemplating a hunger strike. This leads to several interesting questions. Hockey is our national game because for many decades we were undisputed champions in field hockey. What should be the criteria to decide a national game? Dominance, popularity? Can a national game be changed? On the other hand, why is cricket more popular than hockey ever was?
- We must remember that the 20-20 game format is such that luck and chance play a greater role than in other formats. This is certainly not to undermine or undercut the team’s terrific achievement. It is simply to note that we should not have unrealistic expectations of the Indian team from the coming series against Australia and in future.