Tag Archives: India

Holi- A Festival Lost in Colours

I was asked by few of my colleagues to write and recite a poem on the occasion of Holi. I am sharing with you the poem I wrote. I did realize that a lot of people didn’t understand Hindi in my office and also did an english poem translation. The translation is added below the original poetry.

Holi Hindi Poem

My friend when you put the colours of the Holi on my face, I relived the times of my childhood

The sense of being carefree, the essence of friendship were all conveyed only as those colours could.

Those colors narrated stories of growing up around my home and those quaint by-lanes,

The sweetness of those little gujhiyas made by my mom in that gulal refuses to faint .

In this era where the country is struggling with the Saffron and Green.

The memories of Holi schooled me on the importance of the Red, Yellow, Orange and Cream.

My friend when you put the colours of the Holi on my face, I relived the times of my childhood

The sense of being carefree, the essence of friendship were all conveyed only as those colours could.

 

Today on this festival of Holi I find myself in a fix and bind,

No colours around, only the Instagram filters I find.

The fun and the quest of long lasting colors which were almost contraband,

Lasting twenty four hours Holi on such Snapchat messages is what I fail to understand.

The evil in Holika which got charred, the divine in Prahlad did survive,

Such deep sentiments from “Sefie with Holi Fire” on social media I fail to derive.

The holy pyre which is meant to burn away all the animosity, evil, jealousy and greed,

I fail to understand that with five thousand friends on facebook, but no one to speak to indeed.

I don’t know if this is the trance of the Holi, or the slight winds of Phalgun in the woods,

But my friend when you put the colours of the Holi on my face, I relived the times of my childhood.

 

Why Game of Thrones is no different than an Ekta Kapoor Soap

My history with Game of Thrones is a bit patchy; I had always found it slow and for the first 8 attempts to watch it I couldn’t even finish the first fifteen minutes of the pilot or the first episode. However, on the insistence of a very dear friend, who made me watch it sit through season one and two forcefully I did complete watching season 6 which is the last telecasted season as we write this.

I liked Game of Thrones for a lot of things but somehow I find it overhyped and the storyline a tad slow for my personal liking. Nevertheless it is a good series and worth a watch once at least.

One of these days when I was thinking why we don’t have series like Game of Thrones in India (mythology Ramayna & Mahabharata doesn’t count).I realised that we had series on Indian TV which had striking similarities to Game of Thrones and apparently they were all made by the likes of Ekta Kapoor of the Balaji Telefilms.

If you would have seen the series Goodness Gracious Me, I would even claim that GoT is Indian. and probably written by the scriptwriters at Balaji Telefilms and directed by Ekta Kapoor herself. The GoT is:

  • A Series are about powerful families which hold considerable influence and power. Sounds  Indian.
  • Both have females which are hatching conspiracies after conspiracies and other females/males trying to save their families from the aforementioned conspiracies. Again every Indian TV soap which was or is running absolutely Indian.
  • When there is a build up of possibility of truce between the warring families there is a death removing the possibility and also extending the length of the time show can run. Only an Indian Television series could do that. Remember where everyone except Ba was dying in one of the Ekta Kapoor series
  • They run in parallel universes where black magic, dragons, fortune telling, changing faces and the dead being alive again exist as a fair possibility. Is there anyway this could have been based anywhere out of India?
  • The family money running out seems to be one of the common themes. Again Indian.
  • They feature children being born out of the wedlock which eventually start having a say in the family matters. Seems like Indian to me.
  • Mothers influencing son’s against the Daughter in Law. Come on, can it get more Indian than that?
  • There are lavish weddings and conspiracies are executed during the wedding. Does anything says more Indian than a conspiracy filled lavish wedding.
  • The devils which rise from the dead have shiny blue eyes and are killed with dragon glass ( don’t ask me what it is) and Valerian steel. Somehow reminds me of Shiv Mandir ka trishul which can kill the blue eyed demon.
  • The traditional expectation from the women is to work in the household and provide the family with a son who is an heir. However, there are a few girls/ladies which are defying these traditional roles. I don’t need to convince you anymore, do I?
  • People seem to wake up with swords and armours as the ladies in Indian series seem to be waking up with their makeup and jewellery on.
  • If you translate the title to Hindi it translates to “Khel Kursi Ka” “KKhel Kursi Ka”. From the point where I see it has written Ekta Kapoor all over it.

So this is my motivation for following Game of Thrones, it is a drama series which packs all the bells, whistles and the punches from an Indian television soap which makes it a very interesting watch. What makes it perfect and go beyond what an Indian soaps offer, the number and detail of beautiful naked women they show on screen. Yeah so my categorisation for Game of Throne is soft porn setup in the context of an Indian drama or vice versa if you like.

Distortions and Discourse

It is a tough time to be an aware Indian these days. No matter which side is your ideology left, right, or centre these are the times of turmoil. One of the key features of any democracy is the political discourse, and the irony of our country has been, that despite being the largest democracy in the world, the situation of our political discourse has become extremely frivolous.

There is a lot of processing and reprocessing of information happening these days. I call it reprocessing because a lot of information that is being processed as opinions, inference and sometimes modified truth. Couple of decades back, there used to be three sources of news Doordarshan the state owned television broadcasted news every night, All India Radio which again run by the government broadcasted news, and the news papers large and small across multiple languages which mostly did factual reporting with a page for editorial opinions. So the major media was either a government mouthpiece or a fact based channel.

The came the age of cable television where we had a new breed of news channels cropped up. This was the era of breaking news and making sure the people knew the news upfront, creating major celebrity news anchors/reporters/journalists like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami etc. The news channels were the gold standard of truth in the decade in a race to uncover the shady story in echelons of the government. The holy grail was exclusive news and coverage, the better news channel was the one to break the most shocking news story at the earliest.

Then came the age social media, which almost killed the breaking news stuff. The fact is if you are on one of the social media bandwagons like Facebook and twitter you would probably hear the news breaking there. News like 26/11 attacks and the killing of Osama were in fact first reported on twitter. Initially the social media was primarily crowd soured. There have been a lot of controversies which have been of mainstream media and reported by the social media primarily. One of the key controversies was Barkha Dutt & Nira Radia tapes. The problem started when the social media caught up with masses and the political parties realised how effective this can be a tool. It probably started with Obama’s election campaign and quickly adapted in India before the 2014 general elections.

The problem started when the political parties started the propaganda speech and fact manipulation. It started with a harmless modification of images to make the crowd larger, change the global forwarded messages to reflect their own leaders. This has gone to an extent that doctored videos are broadcasted by mainstream media and reach the court as evidence. The fact is anything on the social media today is a difficult to believe; this has been a far reaching consequences for the country in general. The fact is so much of content being shared on the social media after modification either to reflect pro-government or pro-opposition that has ended up polarising the social media and the society in the factions which believe different versions of the same event.

The fact remains there are things happening in the country, and these are really important things. There are things which need to be appreciated, other things which need to be criticised and some which need to be debated. The fact remains or either of the discussions to happen people need to know the facts on the truth, not interpretations.

So next time when you read something, look for facts and skip the distortions.

My Confusion about Internet.Org

There has been a lot of noise on the internet about Net Neutrality in India. Specially after Honourable Prime Minister visited the Facebook offices and the viral tricolour profile picture and the fiasco post that. I have been reading, following the discussion about the net neutrality starting from the Airtel, TRAI circular, Internet.org, AIB video and thousand other shared Facebook Posts, tweets, and blogs.

I have done all, shared those videos, posts, wrote emails to TRAI etc all in the name of net neutrality. I understand the concept and appreciate it. However, I have lately taken to wonder if my stand and belief is justified. A lot of it is based on Internet.org, the concept being propagated by Facebook where the below poverty line folks get access to a specific set of sites for no charge.

I understand this at some level violates the principles of net neutrality and might tilt a level playing field. To give you a perspective, I border on the obsession of being connected. I have two cellular connections with Internet connection, one data card, one fibre optic broadband and a fail safe broadband in case the fibre optic isn’t working. I spend a fair amount every month to get this kind of connectivity while fending for my obsession. I wonder what happens to people who don’t have money to spend on buying connectivity? Mark Zuckerberg wrote about those children in Chandauli village who saw connectivity for the first time, what about them? Don’t they have a right to experience Internet or a part of it?

While the middle class, upper middle class and the rich are busy sharing corny, degraded humour on whatsapp 24*7, what about the poorest of the poor, Don’t they deserve even to know the weather forecast for next week? They have to make do with the inaccurate one in the newspaper at the local tea stall? They have to wait for their exam results or latest news to be published in news paper or put on the government school notice boards. Why the people which belong to the lower strata of the society be deprived of the essential connectivity? Why they can’t search for some government or medical procedure?

I see a lot of people complaining about the net neutrality aspect of internet.org. I agree with their view point that the internet should be a level playing field. I totally agree with those funny AIB videos which talk about the importance of net neutrality. But what confuses me the most is when you go out and decide on behalf of those poorest of the poor, when you go all out on decide on behalf of those kids in Chandauli village that he should not get access to the restricted access to some 35 sites which are a part of internet.org, what do you offer him in return? Do you have a plan which will make a neutral internet available to those kids and others in need and lack of money? Are these people going to launch a startup to provide free access to internet, you don’t need to be restricted to that 35 sites, here is a completely neutral internet free of charge for you. If we can’t provide that to a kid in Chandauli with a better alternative, then what right do we have to deny him basic connectivity as restrictive as it may be.

As a matter of fact a lot of technological changes have happened in a similar fashion, where disrupters came and disrupted the industry bringing change in the entire dynamics of the industries. There are umpteen examples of this industry disruptions, the time when SMSes killed Pagers, then SMSes were killed by Whatsapp. Then there were times when Reliance launched mobile calls at a nominal rates of few paise per minute, when Google & Apple started giving weather update on your phone killing the Airtel Special service which provided weather forecast @3Rs/SMS.

Like any other industry there is a win-win fortune which lies at the bottom of the pyramid, and if internet.org is going to provide some kind of free service by cross subsidising the connectivity costs from advertisement revenues we should probably accept the challenge and come with a low cost connectivity solution with less restrictive internet. Calling foul on Zuckerberg doesn’t work in my opinion.

This is what makes me so confused about the internet.org platform. Two conflicting views and I am probably in agreement with both. What do you think

Why Mia Khalifa Should Not Come OnBig Boss

If you have been a reader of this blog, then you must have already realized that this is another desperate attempt by me to stage a comeback. This time around I intend to do a lot of serious blogging, around serious issues. For my not so grand comeback I decided to use the strategy which our Indian media uses to bring to you the best and most important happenings across the world. So, like any mainstream news channel I will take up the most important issue which needs to be discussed and debated for our national interests. Is that issue-

  • The Syrian immigrant situation in Europe. Not really 80% of Indians will not be able to locate Syria on the map; and we all know if you can’t find it on the map it is not important.
  • The Floods in Assam. Well that happens almost every year and nobody thinks it is important enough to cover
  • Meat Ban; Hmmm are you kidding me? You think anybody can cover the meat ban in Indian media when the main stream Media like Times is owned by Jains themselves, HT is owned by Sobhana Bhartia who is a Marwari, and Network 18 which is owned by a Gujrati Family. You really think we can discuss meat ban. You know the Free Speech comes with a small asterisks which indicates conditions apply.
  • So, like the Indian media we will contemplate on the most significant topic which haunts India today “Should Mia Khalifa become a contender for Big Boss season9?”
    The answer to this question from the Indian viewer’s perspective is quite simple. Where else it can happen the entire family gets to sit together in the living room while eating chips, drinking tea while watching one of the best porn star in the world on the 42” television in HD quality. The last time it happened was only during BB S5 and even then a lot of people did not have the HD set top boxes. So the answer from the vehement yes, why should the father and son have to watch them separately hiding under the blanket or in the bathroom on the 5” small screens of cellphone or 12” screens of the laptops. India deserves better, it deserves to be in the living room with the family to enjoy their porn star in full HD.
    So, you must be wondering then where is the debate in this, it is for Mia? Is it a good move for her to become a contestant on BB S9?
    In the interest of full disclosure, which I hope Mia will appreciate too, I would like to mention that I will be completely objective in my analysis. Irrespective of being a fan of her and a recipient of immense pleasure out of her past and current work which she has been doing.
    So coming back to the original question, I believe she should say no. if we take a stock that how she compares to the last year’s winners. The Wikipedia page of Gautam Gulati last year mentions “In Darpok (‘Coward’ in English) Gulati played the role of a 28-year-old man, living under trauma for not being able to prevent his mother from being raped when he was a child. His helplessness continued to haunt him until he planned to avenge it”. Apparently being a part of big boss wasn’t enough and he had to play this role too. Now compare that with Mia who has already done numerous short and long films with variety of roles with great intensity already; her films and videos have more than 1.5 million views which is 20 times the population of Cannes itself. What can winning Big Boss provide her which she hasn’t done already?
    The other factor can be a career in Bollywood, which can be quite glamorous and luring. The fact remains that we will get her and either make her do cameo appearances in films or work with the directors who have the uncanny ability to make flops like Mahesh Bhatt and Bobby Khan (if you haven’t heard of him; Google him right now and take notice of the incredible pieces of motion pictures he has been involved with). Anyways, the so called mainstream and posh production houses will not caste her in a movie; aakhir Indian culture or values naam ki bhi to koi cheez hoti hai.

    The third criteria might be that she might have an old Indian aunt who I more than eager for her to get married with a “Seedha Sharif Desi Munda”. Apparently, Mia doesn’t have any such aunt and additionally it breaks my heart to write this; she is already married and that too with an American guy named Vaibhav Singh (sounds like an Indian Origin guy to me). So Big Boss cannot offer her anything in the love & personal life department either.
    So take my advise Mia, stay where you are and keep doing the great work you have been doing. The Big Boss won’t get you anywhere you are the queen of the hearts already.

    Urban Shots Yuva

    Author: Lipi Mehta (Editor)

    Publisher: Rupa

    Price: 250/-

    Pages: 177

    Urban Shots: Yuva, is the fifth anthology of stories in the Urban Shots series. The thing which makes this collection different is the fact that it was compiled through a pan India competition bringing out the best of the stories from the country.

    Urban Shots

    The collection brings to you twenty seven different tales across themes like love, lust, addiction, poor, rich, culture and many more. This collection is far more aged and subtle than it’s predecessors wandering in the realms of abstract stories. Some of the stories hit it absolutely right reaching directly in the minds of the readers, while the others stretch the fabric of abstractness too far sometimes at the cost of losing the reader. Overall the tone and tenor of the stories of this collection borders being tragic and morose sometime leaving you with overwhelmed with emotions.

    Some of the stories which I really liked (In no particular Order) –

    Gifts from America by Kailash Srinivasan: A brilliantly told story of the rich but stingy relatives visiting from the land of opportunities and how the relatives change seeing their stinginess.

    The Travelling Autowallah by Esha Vaish: The story of the struggle and dreams of an Autowallah. One of the best told stories in the book carefully touching the topic of dreams, death and success in a matter of few pages.

    The Love Note by Tnashin Garg: A tale of a married couple trying to rediscover love and togetherness after two years of the marriage amidst conflicts and troubles.

    Leap of Faith by Neha Joshi: A beautiful and emotional tale of a girl learning and managing to live her life amidst tragedies and immense personal losses.

    From Mother to Son by Anant Tripathi: Written beautifully in a letter style from a mother to son, trying to justify and explain her decisions in life which separated the two. A beautifully told tale bound to leave the reader in conflict while wavering both sides of the judgment.

    The Book Signing by Arka Basu: A story which portrays a very simple yet powerful emotion of being faced with your friends who have become immensely successful in one way or the other. The story beautifully brings out that emotion making the reader think that about times when they felt the same.

    Summary: An interesting and good collection of short stories. A very mature and slightly heavy read, recommended for the readers looking at quick read emotional tales leaving them with powerful memories of the story.

    Rating: 7/10

     

    Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamare Dil Mein Hai

    Today is the day three brave martyr’s day Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged for their participation in revolutionary activities for the Indian Freedom from the hands of British. Today is the day to be thankful and pay respects and tributes to these great martyr’s, who laid their lives to ensure our generation breathes in an era of independence. It is also our duty to protect and respect the freedom and country for which so many lives have been laid. There can be and are books written on the contribution of these brave men in the struggle of Indian independence, and I can go on and on, on this topic.

    However, I leave you with a poem from one of the contemporaries of these brave revolutionaries, Ram Prasad Bismil who was not only a revolutionary freedom fighter, but also a poet of great stature. A poem which became the theme and binding thread for all revolutionaries of that time.

    Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna

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    Arvind Kejriwal: Krantikari to Bahut Krantikari

    I have written about the Aam Aadmi Party and my views on it here. However the journey of it’s founder and chief “Mein Aam Aadmi Hoon, Meri Koi Aukaat Nahi Hai” and “Bahut Hi Krantikari” fame Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has been very interesting. I started knowing about him from the time he became a part of Aana Hazare’s India Against Corruption Movement. So here his a graph of how my opinion of him varied through the time.

    Real Estate: The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever

    Movies is one of the most influential art form, they have the power to mesmerize you, influence you and stay within you unlike any other art form present. There are many movies which have moved me, made me think and introspect. One of the dialogues which manages to send the shivers down my spine is one from the fight club. Sometimes Most of the times the way we conduct ourselves, I tend to feel the words of Tyler Durden are an epitome of truth.

    An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

    One of the things which make me believe in these words is the current real estate market in India. Irrespective of the economic scenario, macroeconomic reality, this particular market is perennially headed north. Looks like we haven’t learnt from the lessons of 2008 in the US, and all of us are guilty of feeding to the whims of this Ponzi scheme. Imagine a piece of land or a house which is sold at Rs. X. Out of which 0.85X is financed by the banks and 0.15X is paid by the individual buying the house. Now in a matter of a year with almost no economic value add the price of the same house becomes Rs. 2X. Again the individual buying it pays 0.3X and the bank finances 1.7X of the house. This will continue till and the individuals will keep making money as long as there is somebody else to buy the house at inflated house, which is why the commonly preached parables like “Real Estate never goes down”. But in reality the chain stops when one is unable to find a buyer to buy out at a significantly higher price. When that happens you are either left with an old property & a highly leveraged mortgage/bank loan. Combine that with a difficult economic situation which hits the markets where real jobs are created and actual value add are done, you got yourself 2008 global meltdown.

    The fact is government doesn’t want to create a regulator and instruments because a lot of people in the government are the creators or nodal points in this Ponzi scheme. The politicians and bureaucrats who have the information on where the next extension of the metro rail would land, where the next development & infrastructure zone will be created all start these nodes of this Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, where a common middle income man spends his life savings, provident fund and at times hard earned money at Onsite too, ends up being the loser.

    So in the end, I don’t say don’t risk yourself in this Ponzi scheme but make sure you aren’t in a situation where you actually become the last node.

     

     

    My Take on Aam Aadmi Party

    A lot of things are happening in our country and I believe that India is going through one of the most interesting times as far as politics is concerned. Yesterday the Aam Admi Party won the vote of confidence. I think this is the first time after the JP movement a political party and an individual are receiving such wide spread political acceptance and support across India.

    This is one of the best times to jump into the political arena in Indian landscape. After 10 years of corruption ridden rule filled with populist policy with disastrous economics was akin to the extreme dark ages in the Indian rule. At this point of time anybody who provides a believable story board of a corruption free and sensible economic policies will be lapped up in both arms by the frustrated, tired and naïve voter of the country. Two politicians who have managed to captivate these sentiments in the Indian public using rallies, mass media and the new found social media are Mr. Narendra Modi of BJP and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party.

    Now I do not subscribe to the views of any of the political parties but the politics being played by both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal interests me a lot. I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal, on the contrary I really appreciate the way he has matured and arrived at the landscape of Indian polity as a matter of fact I would consider joining AAP but the skeptic in me wants to know the answer to following questions-

    1-      The economics about Subsidies- With the subsidies around water and power in Delhi, what is the take on subsidies. How do they intend to finance these freebies AAP is doling out? Is this going to lead to higher direct/indirect taxation?

    2-      The Take on Rural Upliftment- What is AAP’s take on the development on Rural areas and upliftment of agriculture.

    3-      Take of AAP on terror and the war on terror-  With Arvind Kejriwal’s comment on the Yasin Bhatkal and Batla house issue, I find it really disturbing that AAP’s view is soft on terror. If we really look on of the most serious external threat India faces is terrorism and AAP has displayed a very antagonistic view on the war of terror.

    4-      Hypocritical claims on some of the statements made- There have been some instances where they have made claims (like not accepting an official residence) and then went back and forth on it. There have been instances where they have went dilly dallied on the charges of corruption by the previous government. I feel that they should really think through before making large claims and public announcement.

    5-      Black Money/Foreign Policy- While AAP has a very clear and distinctive stand on corruption, they don’t have a stand on foreign policy and if they have a plan to declare and attempt return of the black money stashed in Tax Havens.

    While the above questions I feel the Aam Aadmi Party needs to answer and bring forward to people in general. While there are things which strongly makes me believe in the Aam Aadmi Party, in my heart I wish this kind of politics becomes extremely successful. These are the few things which I really appreciate with AAP-

    1-      The transparency in Political Funding- The most prominent thing which Aam Aadmi Party has brought into the politics is the transparent political funding. They have time and again proved that they have been excruciatingly transparent as far as their political donations and funding are concerned. This kind of transparency is unparalleled in the Indian politics. Kudos to them for establishing the gold standard in transparency in political funding.

    2-      War Against Corruption- One of the greatest thing about AAP is they don’t come with the baggage of history and since their inception their stand against corruption is exceptionally clear and transparent. With most of the political parties having history with corruption, AAP provides a utopian vision of corruption free India.

    3-      The Common Man- AAP has provided a ray of hope to the middle class Indian common man, which was ignored, exploited and suppressed because he didn’t have any option. They proved that a group of people with honest intentions and very little money have a chance in the democratic system in India. The AAP has given the hope that the common man still has a chance in the Indian Democracy.

    I hope AAP provides the required chaos in the Indian Democracy. I wish someday I am convinced enough to join these people and become the change I want to be for the nation.