An empty head is where the Devil is.
I think it is time for this blog to come back to life.
And so, it shall!
Why does the world we live in not seem any different from what we it was 20-30 years ago. Of course, the quality of life has improved. We now live far more comfortably than our parents and grand-parents used to, we no longer have to sweat in unbearable heat, shiver in freezing cold, wait for the appointment letter to arrive by India Post and in some cases, die waiting for it. Yes, we have far more amenities than our fathers and their fathers, but have we got anywhere as a society. It was though that with scientific growth, the standards which the society operates on will improve as well. Education and literacy were thought to be the foundation stones of a morally guided society. But is this really true? Today we have a society of educated men and women who spend a good amount of time social networking and helping their friends out on Facebook to cultivate a virtual farm, yet looking the other way when they see an accident victim bleeding on the road. We have a populace who understands math and science, can speak language to fluency, but is has a moral compass akin to Jack Sparrow’s fabled compass: it doesn’t point north, only points to what we desire most. So I ask, does education provide a sound moral compass? Or have we been rendered so morally bankrupt that even the best of education can’t help us?
If Mahatma Gandhi had not passed away in 1948, I believe he would have stood against printing his face on currency, or naming every other street and colony M G Road or M G Housing Society. He would also have banished people from putting his posters up as backdrops for political/apolitical rallies. I wouldn’t go so far as to assume he would disagree with the so-called Gandhians of today, but I believe he’s chuckling in heaven as he looks down upon all of them. The sad truth of the Indian society is that it is mired in a deep trench of hypocrisy. We condone corruption, take out mass rallies to protest it and do everything we can to pretend that we give a damn. Yet when we are caught by a cop for speeding, or breaking a traffic signal, we do all in our power to bribe our way out of it. At the time of filing taxes every year, we try to cheat the government in one way or another. A businessman does not want the politician to be corrupt, yet he would cheat on his taxes and try to bribe the politician to make sure his projects are all cleared. Does the fear of capital punishment stop a murderer? If not, how would a fear of fine stop a corrupt bureaucrat? More poignantly, are we not a nation of bribe givers more than one of bribe takers? Introspection before action is what the Mahatma recommended, yet to his followers of the day, this lesson seems to be completely lost.
Having not posted here in a while, it makes sense to test if this works.
Supposedly the greatest democracy in the world, India moved another step closer to becoming the first democratic dictatorship in the world. There is news that now Indians will be profiled on the basis of our caste. In a country where the constitution proudly proclaims that all citizens are equal, irrespective of caste or religion, our lawmakers go ahead and completely forget the basic tenets and principles on which our nation was founded.
So what does caste profiling entails? When the census people come to your house asking how many people live there, they also will ask about the caste and religion of the people living. Once this data is collected and aggregated, political parties will go ahead to discriminate openly based on caste, by giving more and more reservations to their respective vote banks, pretending to implement social equality while introducing higher inequality in the society.
If you think, ahh, he’s making noise unnecessarily. Its not a big deal, telling my caste for the census. Well, even the jews in Nazi Germany in 1930s did not think much when they were profiled based on their religious beliefs. The result of that profiling is now known as the holocaust.
We currently live in a largely discriminatory country. A country that discriminates with its citizens based on their caste and religion. A country where you will get admission to premier colleges even if you score just 1/100 if you have a quote, and where you will be ignored if you score 50/100 without a quota. The only good quotas and reservations have done in the last decade is to win political parties votes. No socio-economic conditions have changed as a result of these quotas. There is equal employment opportunity irrespective of your caste or religion in the private sector. There is discrimination for the government jobs though, where out of 50 open vacancies, only 1-2 will be for the “general” category. Rest is all reserved for castes, not for those with merit. No wonder we complain about all government functions: how do we expect good performance from government when it does not consider merit at all!
I have a disclosure to make. I belong to the “general” category. It is assumed that if you belong to this category, you have privileges that the reserved categories (SC, ST, OBC….) don’t have. I knew a lot of people in the “general” category who were poor, yet they did not get any special benefits. I also know a lot of IAS, IPS, IFS, bureaucrats, doctors, engineers & politicos, who make good money, roam around in red light cars, living their lives in a lavish way, and yet their children enjoy the benefit of getting a “reserved” seat. Why? They are not socially downtrodden anymore, their fathers/forefathers reaped the benefits of reservation and lifted their families out of poverty and suffering. So why should these socially upward people be given any reservation at all?
When Dr. Ambedkar created the policy for reservations, he restricted its life to 20 years. 20 years that should have been sufficient for lifting the downtrodden castes to a level of social equality. Dr. Ambedkar was no crusader for scheduled castes or anything, he was a crusader for social equality. A fact that is not understood by politicos peddling their wares in his name.
Today, in 21st century India, we the citizens will be profiled on the basis on our caste. Something that was never EVER done in independent India. What does this signify? It tells us that no matter how promising Rahul baba or Omar miya may look, our political representatives have fallen into a sewer from where retrieving them is not possible. Not now, and not in the future, near or far.
When the census people come to visit me, I am telling them that my caste is “Indian”. I do not expect them to understand it, but I will make sure that is what they write down against my name.
INDIA: This is my caste and my religion. And I am proud to be an Indian. Are you?
In mathematics, Delta is an metaphor for change. Change that is inevitable, change that will happen and shake things up, change that will reveal greater challenges, newer opportunities and wider horizons. The equation of life is not much fun without a delta.
Life has a funny way of putting you in a blender every now and then. Sometimes, the outcome is a tasty concoction, other time it is just too messy. After a really extended period of time, I have received a particularly delectable mix from the blender of my life. And it will be nothing but foolish of me to put this mix into a wastebasket.
Thus, delta. The delta that will be rummaging through the cupboard of my life in the next few days, trying to end up creating order out of chaos, throwing old out and bringing in new and shiny. And I go with the flow, accepting the mishmash that life is hurling towards me, taking me on a trip through space and time.
The outcome of this journey, I do not know. But many wise men have said that it is the journey that you should enjoy, not the destination. I fully intend to take their advise and make lemonade from all those lemons life is going to throw at me.
(…to be continued)
Gurgaon seems to be the new Kashmir. Mobile operators are not issuing pre-paid mobile sim cards in Gurgaon anymore. I did rounds of Idea, Airtel & Vodafone offices at several locations in Gurgaon only to be told that pre-paid connections are NOT being offered in Gurgaon any more. No one had any explanation for this.
Some Airtel/Vodafone stores though offered me (very kindly) that they can give me a pre-paid SIM card in Gurgaon but would charge double the money for it. I do not know about the fringe operators (DoCoMo, Reliance, Virgin etc.) but the mainstream ones are certainly not offering pre-paid SIMs anymore.
To get some official word on this, I wrote an email to Vodafone care. This is the response I got:
Thank you for your email dated 01/02/10 regarding services on your Vodafone mobile numbers.
We sincerely regret the delay in replying to your e-mail and the inconvenience caused to you.
We would like to inform you that, currently we are not offering prepaid connections in Gurgaon. If you wish to take postpaid connection then you can visit your nearest Vodafone store( list enclosed).
Assuring you with the best of our services at all the times.
In case you need further assistance, please do call or email us. We?ll do our best to help you.
Happy to help,
Does anyone know what is going on?
It so happens that our dearest neighbor, the apple of our eyes and the sore spot on our bum, Pakistan is taking major issue with the treatment meted out to its nationals in India. No, they weren’t put in front of armed terrorists and shot. No, they weren’t tortured and made to accept being spies of India and later convicted to be hanged. This “treatment” is the IPL franchisees(read teams) ignoring Pakistani players in the recent auction, opting to spend their ridiculous $$ on lesser known players.
This event has the entire Pakistan nation up in arms against India. From complaining to ICC and burning effigies of Lalit Modi and planning to ban Indian TV channels, no means of expressing anger has been spared. Even the instances of terrorists fighting Indian security forces has gone up since IPL teams rejected Pakistani players.
Is it unsporting to put these players for auction and then teams not picking them up? The answer to this question lies in understanding of the phenomenon called IPL. IPL has nothing to do with cricket, passion or anything else. IPL is a money machine, an ATM with infinite supply of $$ , the proverbial money plant that will never run out of money. For an understanding of how much money can actually be pumped into this league, look at the owners: India’s biggest superstars, India’s richest family, some of the biggest builders and construction magnates, even the IPL commissioner is a big industrialist himself. Pakistan’s whining has nothing to do with politics. It is whining about being left out of the money hoopla.
But is it unsporting? Of course it isn’t. This is actually the biggest political hit India has scored against Pakistan ever. Pakistan is like a baby, a baby that wants all toys and will cry and cry and cry if it isn’t heard. The proof lies in its crying to the US all the time, asking for fancy weapons to “fight against terror” and then using them against India. By denying their players a spot to play in IPL, India has unwittingly hit Pakistan where it hurts.
Adding some perspective, sport has done nothing in the last 60 years. Pakistan is still home to the elite terrorists in the world, and time and again proves itself to be the best host to those terrorists. It is a nation that does not deserve an olive branch, but an olive tree shoved up its ass. This olive tree, that our politicians could not deliver in the last 60 years, IPL has delivered in one shot.
And now Pakistan is outraged. Outraged as it should have been when its terrorists killed hundreds in Mumbai on 26/11, outraged over the thousands its terrorists have murdered in India. If the blood of countless Indians evokes no outrage from this nation, then I do not give a flying fuck to their outrage on being ignored by IPL.
Neither should you.
The recent CAT examination fiasco is a classic example of the pitfalls of the burning desire to go make all processes “Online”. The lust for being compliant with this buzzword has led many down a road of disaster, and now the IIMs have ruined their record for successfully holding one of the most desired exams in India.
Before jumping on the online bandwagon, the great management heads/gurus at IIMs should have thought of the following:
Why does CAT need to be an online exam?
The aim for going online is to enhance your reach, to ensure you get an audience far larger than your current numbers. Being online gives you greater visibility, ease-of-use (only when implemented properly) and a much wiser audience. But did CAT need any of these?
The answer is No. In 2007, more than 2 lakh students appeared for CAT. The number of students appearing for CAT increases by 15-25% annually, so reach and visibility is not really a problem. Every single one of India’s graduate students with any interest in management knows that CAT is the exam that they need to take one day. Visibility would anyways not be much applicable as CAT is an exam, not a commodity. So what else could be the reason?
Ease-of-use/management? Online exams are not the easiest ones to appear for, especially in a country like India where a lot of people are not used to living their lives on computers. We grow up in an environment where all the tests, exams and evaluations that we do are offline, on paper. It is not natural even for those lakhs of computer science graduates churned out by our system to appear for exams online on a regular basis. So if there is no ease-of-use for the lakhs of candidates appearing for the exam, the whose life is made easy? I would say this makes the lives of all those professors who have to evaluate those lakhs of answer sheets. But if that was the only problem, then why not make CAT an objective type exam, and use OMRs. After all, OMRs are now fairly common and used in almost all the objective type exams.
There is the ease of management, however. There is enormous amount of effort put to manage an exam of the scale of CAT. Question papers have to be maintained in absolute secrecy. Examination centers have to be set up with invigilators inside those scores of classrooms where candidates sit to write the CAT exam. Does going online reduce this logistic cost in any way? Yes and no. Yes because in the long run, there may be savings on several transportation costs, overheads, money paid to invigilators, maintaining the papers etc. No because the online version does not come for free. The software company needs to be paid to create, manage and run these tests, centers still need to be setup where candidates can go to take the test, invigilators are still needed to ensure there are no smart alecs (or munnabhais), costs go towards maintaining resilient servers that do not crash during the exams, electricity costs for all this infrastructure…. so where is the saving? And don’t for one minute think that not printing those lakhs of exam papers and answer sheets is eco-friendly. Consider the amount of electricity spent in keeping servers up and running, exam centers running not for one, but TEN days!
So there are no visible advantages of making CAT an online exam. At least none visible to me. Is it possible that these great brains who churn out hundreds of the best managers have envisioned advantages in this format that are beyond the understanding of an ordinary minion? Reality kicks in hard and reminds me that it is these great “management” gurus and their disciples who couldn’t foresee the great financial mess that we are living in for the last two years, especially when most of them were busy creating it for us!!! Myopia is a typical malfunction that a lot of managers suffer from, and it could be the same myopia that clouded the IIMs judgement when saying yes to the online CAT.
They could not! CAT went online and all hell broke loose. Several students couldn’t log in, when they did they couldn’t take the exam or submit the answers, slot appointments were cancelled, re-issues and then re-cancelled. Several centers had to actually shut down for a day or two before exams could recommence. Imagine the stress on those candidates who had to take and re-take the exam again and again, only due to the management incompetence of IIMs in holding their exams and of the software incompetence of prometric in making sure the exam is conducted successfully.
I quote the CAT website: “there are still some candidates (numbering a few thousand) who could not take the test due to genuine reasons and test has not been rescheduled for them yet. A new test date will be announced in about a fortnight to provide an opportunity to ALL such candidates to write the test”. and “CAT 2009 was an instance of computerized testing for the largest number of candidates in the time span of ten days. The tests were delivered through 361 labs, in 104 locations spread across 32 cities. Every edition of the test involved use of over 17000 computers. It was therefore a mammoth task being attempted for the first time”.
So by its own admission, there are still “thousands” of candidates yet to take the test. And just look at the numbers: over 17000 computers used at 300+ test centers. Where is the saving?
The CAT fiasco proves to be an invaluable lesson for anyone who wants to “go online”. Before you do, ask yourself: Do I really need to go online? What value will I derive out of going online? Put a solid research in place, analyse the pros and cons and jump on the bandwagon only if there is some gain to be made. Software companies will try to make you go online, resist the temptation. Making you go online is good business for the software companies, and no matter how convincing their sales people are in their swanky powerpoint and flash presentations, use your own brain and judgement. After all, you don’t need to study in an IIM to learn to think!
P.S. And it seems like the IIMs are not willing to learn. According to this article in ET, they are now looking at linux and open source as solutions. So they idea is to create a problem, then to go about fixing everything but the problem. If this is how management is taught in B-schools, I am better off outside them!
1. Of course students who took CAT will not complain out loud! They would be mortally scared to say anything against the IIMs, they may be studying there for two years. Imagine being at the center of wrath of the college you study at!
2. Isn’t it ironic that the best management institutes in India cannot manage their own entrance exam? Oh, and the excuse of “we were doing it first time” is quite lame. IIMs are the premier management institutes not only in India, but across the world that are supposed to teach planning so that things are done right the first time, and not making excuses. Bah!
3. First hand account from student who took CAT 2009 here.
4. Prometric’s admits problems with CAT online here
5. Some sensible talk to take CAT back to pen-paper format here
Just when we all thought that all of Google’s grey matter was busy wave-ing, they appear to be cooking up another dish. The old (and for some the original) warhorse of social networking, Orkut, is being pulled up for a major overhaul. So if you were planning on ditching that Orkut account, just hold on to it for some more time.
Having seen the visual delights that Google can bestow upon us internet minions, this revamp should be something to look out. Though in true Google tradition, this revamp will be “invite only” for some while before the Google overlords decide to push it out to the general populace.
The words “Happy and gay” used to mean being happy without giving a damn when I was growing up. Now though, things have changed. Being happy and gay in today’s India would bring you a whole truckload of trouble. Until recently.
The Delhi High Court in a very sensible judgement said that being gay is not illegal by law. As expected, this has brought cheer to the gay community, and to the sensible community. But is life ever easy in India? No siree!!
According to the so-called guardians of the society and our morality, what you do in your bedroom should be a closely scrutinized (& pre-approved) act. In their opinion, a person’s sexual orientation should be trigger enough for their prosecution by the law(or at least by its enforcers). Morality seems has got itself a bunch of cronies to protect it. But then these are self-proclaimed gurus, the saints and the god-men. Now I mean no disrespect for any of these great people, but do I, or anyone else tell them what to do in their bedrooms?
Now there is another aspect of this whole gay legality/morality debate that bothers me. The same people who are out in arms against homosexuals are also the ones against me sitting hand in hand in a park, or on a beach, with my girlfriend/wife(even sister). So let me put this out clear. The enforcers of our morality, who tell us that being a homosexual is immoral and incorrect, also tell us that being a heterosexual would be equally illegal if I take my girlfriend out for a walk in the park. Some hypocrisy that is!! As some great(and unknown) person said:
I have no problems with God. It is his followers that I can’t stand.
And let these morality thugs also remember that Khajuraho stands tall as an example of our heritage. At one time, more than 50 temples stood tall, decorated all over with very graphic sexual imagery. Some of it is still intact, and when you go there, what strikes you is the amount of common sense that we have lost over the ages.
Legalizing homosexuality is simply removing discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. More crudely put, what anyone does in their bedroom is none of my, or anyone else’s business. So why should people be discriminated based on their bedroom behavior? Doesn’t make any sense.
So, with all humility, I request all religious gurus, and self-styled morality enforcers to please do a show of common sense. Let the world know that in a country that is the birthplace of Kamasutra, and where we have a lord of sexuality(kama dev), we can be open minded to accept homosexuals as regular individuals, and not treat them freaks, wierdos or diseased people. Please channelize your energy towards creating a peaceful society, one without bias and discrimination. Empower the poor, empower women, save the girl child..there’s several issues that need your attention. Focus on them, and make a difference there.
Let us all be nice sensible people for once.
On a more personal note, the summer vacation is over. It is astonishing how much the world can change in a matter of 2 months. Very soon, I will be writing some more on what I think of the changes in the summer gone by.
Till then…let us all be happy and gay…in the true meaning of the expression!