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Showing posts with the label SocioPolitic

Are we witnessing Modern day Mahabharat?

Chance and serendipity can often spring profound thoughts and insights; I experienced one such moment today. I was driving towards office and switched on the Radio. All India Radio FM Gold channel was broadcasting an audio re-run of the famed Mahabharat TV Serial. Prologue: The episode was the last part (Anudyuta Parva) of Sabha Parva  - after Pandavas lose their wealth, kingdom and respect in a gambling game and leave for their penance of 12 years Vanvaas & 1 year Agyaatvaas. In the scene after their exit, Vidur (the Prime Minister) visits the quarters of Patriarch Pitaamah Bhishm. Bhishm is cross with himself for not stopping the unethical gambling game which ultimately led to a public disrobing of his great grand daughter-in-law Draupadi .  During the episode, Bhishma utters a very insightful line - कभी कभी मनुष्य अपनी विवशता को अपना कर्तव्य मान  लेता है| [Meaning: Sometimes one assume one's helplessness to be his obligation.]  This line rang a bell tak

Personalization is against Privacy - but is it a threat to mankind's existence?

The Economist argues in this article how online services which provide for personalised services are breaching some age-old notions of privacy. Google mines the data it collects from users for two purposes. One is to improve the user experience, making its various online services more personal, useful and rewarding for the individual—and thereby increasing their popularity. The other purpose is to provide better targeted information for advertisers. That is fine for the vast majority of internet users, who are happy to trade a measure of privacy for the convenience. However, most people (though not all) stop short of blurting out more intimate details about their private lives. Even so, all those innocuous bits of self-revelation can be pieced together, jig-saw fashion, by intelligent algorithms. Throw in the digital paper-trails stashed in Google searches and Amazon purchases, and things can begin to get a little scary. The above is a foregone conclusion - we all are ignorin

Are you sharing sensitive information over WhatsApp?

Note: This post of cross-posted from ; while I am a participant in the discussion quoted below, but sincere thanks are due to Uday Mittal for compiling this into a blog post and publishing online .  The other day I participated in an interesting discussion. The discussion took place in an information privacy forum comprised of professionals from various industries. The topic of discussion was Legal ramifications of sharing screenshots of a conversation held on messengers such as WhatsApp, Hike, Telegram etc. (We’ll take WhatsApp as an example). Point(s) of Discussion I initiated the discussion with the following questions: If an individual forwards a screenshot of a WhatsApp group conversation to another individual outside that group; will such sharing be considered: Invasion of privacy of the members of the WhatsApp group? Punishable against provision IT Act section 43 (unauthorized sharing of computer data) or 43A (sharing of personal information with

Are we at the cusp of a new Manufacturing boom or a bust?

Read Hillary Clinton 's answer to Is bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US a realistic venture, given that manufacturing is so much cheaper elsewhere? on Quora So, now Hillary wants you to "Make It in America", Modi wants you to "Make in India" and China has already built factories to make the whole world's output inside its borders. If all of them succeed, at best manufacturing capacities will meet the same fate as undersea Fibre optic networks, which subsidized the second wave of the Internet by providing cheap communication infrastructure at the cost of bankrupt companies who laid those cables in the first place. But chances are that all of them will fail and the world will rise to a post manufacturing world as Alvin Toffler predicted . There are 3 major trends which will determine the future of manufacturing in a post globalization world (note that a post globalization world is where the rules of globalization such as manufacture where i

Is Chinafication of everything sustainable?

I had a roadside Dosa after a long time today, and realized how different it tasted compared to the one I am used to having either at home or in the usual fine dining joints. As I was thinking as to why there was a difference in taste, I wondered if this Dosa (a Mysore Masala variety) has the dreaded MSG for which Maggi was banned last year [ read about MSG controversy ]. When the Maggi controversy broke out, most defendants of Maggi had claimed that there is more MSG in street food than Maggi; and this goes unnoticed because India does not have strict vigilance processes for street food vendors. Why do street food vendors add MSG if it is bad for health? One of the side effects of running a street food joint is that it must remain cheap, but for the vendor to earn sufficient profits so as to recover rentals etc, from such street food, they must ensure that they sell more and for the food to sell more, the food must be tastier and hence street food vendors add MSG (not as an i

India Rail Budget 2016 Highlights

Just finished reading highlights of the Rail budget (sorry! I am little slow); here are some forward looking initiatives I noted. Prabhu is doing a good job! Draft Bill on regulator - Restructuring Railway Board on business lines  Sale of platform tickets through ticket vending machines both cash and card compatible  Facility of cancellation through the 139 helpline using ‘One Time Password’  ‘Clean my Coach’ service through SMS  Periodic third party audit of stations of A1 & A category  Cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals  Rail side logistic parks and warehousing Appointing Key Customer Managers to liaison with our major freight stakeholders  Hourly booking of retiring rooms to be allowed instead of the existing minimum of 12 hours.  Baby foods, hot milk and hot water to be made available on stations  Changing boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.  CCTV cameras would continue to be installed in coaches  Wi-Fi at 400 sta

Casteism is 'Background'ism

This post by Seth Godin made me think back about a post I made 10 years ago in context of India. Here's what Seth says: If you're moving forward and moving fast, you've no doubt heard it: People who look like you aren't qualified to do this work.  I'm not sure you're a good cultural fit.  I once knew someone your age/race/demographic and they let me down.  I wrote this : ... castiesm manifests itself not just in form of ancestral caste but also in new found castiest approaches like lobbying and groupism. The mindset of preferential treatment to a set of people at the cost of others while violating the principles of fair play and meritocracy is wrong and needs to be uprooted. Seth claims that today is the time when we can all challenge this with " Now, more than ever, attitude trumps background! " Caste also represents 'typecasting' individuals based on their background - in India background may mean birth (i.e. caste), regi

तरकश से मिली आज़ादी ...

 तरकश से मिली आज़ादी का हश्र मुकम्मल कहाँ होता है? वही होता है जो मंजूर-ए-खुदा होता है । अब तो इस ज़िद को छोड़ दे ऐ बन्दे की मज़हब तेरा मुझसे जुदा होता है । हमने तो कभी बोला न था तुम्हे इस चमन के टुकड़े करने को तुम्ही केहते थे की अल्लाह की मर्ज़ी पे एक मुल्क खड़ा होता है| अल्लाह ने तो अब मुल्क के मेरे टुकड़े को भी तर्रक्की से नवाज़ा है, अब बता कैसे तेरे टुकड़े को पाकीज़ा मैं मानू समझा दे मुझे काहाँ से रब तेरा और मेरा जुदा होता है?  तरकश से मिली आज़ादी का हश्र मुकम्मल कहाँ होता है? वही होता है जो मंजूर-ए-खुदा होता है । My reaction to this news item from yesterday:

Should private schools be subject to laws of equality?

An interesting counterpoint to the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's decision to ban management quota in Delhi Schools is that it attacks autonomy, and also that it reduces incentive for private players to open schools. This old article on RTE gives similar arguments for that law as well. "Is it not likely that by taking away private incentives to open schools, in which the management quota is one attraction, he too will end up closing more schools than making the admissions process more rational. Even laws like  RTE will shrink capacity, undermine property rights, equal protection, and freedom of occupation." However, the point to ponder is that by allowing elite 'Ivy league' schools to have huge management quotas, aren't we allowing the principle of equality to be breached? Having said that, would you be comfortable to allow your kid to be educated alongside

Education, Democracy and its flavours!

Seeing a lot of people ridiculing Laloo's son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav for merely being a 9th grade pass - in my view this is an insult to the democratic institutions we live in and a complete misunderstanding of the educated gentry! Education is not the right barometer for intelligence! Steve jobs was not even a graduate, neither was Edison. But in the western society which is driven by technology, they are both paragons of hi-tech for their respective generations. The Indian society is a typical eastern society where relations and not technology define your social status, and the Yadav family has just shown us a brilliant use of their political brains to win in this relationship based society. What is despicable is that Laloo and may be his family are going to use this power not for the upliftment of Bihar but for their personal gains. If you want to oppose that, you have a right to do so - but do not scoff at Tejashwi Prasad Yadav merely because the traditional educational s

The Bookstore of future

In my previous post , I outlined why the bookstore, even if inefficient in selling books, has reasons to exist beyond mere 'sales'. If the bookstore is to continue to exist, without the inherent value of selling books, it needs to find other ways of generating cash flow, and that too while it serves the other purposes outlined. But let me first recap the purposes which a book store should serve: Serendipity and discoverability of books  Browse a book before buying  Meet like minded people One key element which is implicit to the above is quiet surroundings. The list sounds more like the requirements we have from community libraries than from bookstores, but indeed good bookstores are no less than libraries! So let's start in the reverse order: To satisfy #3, the bookshop needs to have sufficient real estate which should be utilized through a combination of large seating area - preferably a coffee shop - and enough room between the aisles for customers to

The Lost World of Book stores

Indie book stores have seen a revival around the world; In US, numbers increased from 1,651 in 2009 to 2,094 in 2014 — Nikhil Kulkarni (@kulkarninikhil) September 12, 2015 This article in Mint  made me think of the dying trade of bookstores, which as a bibliophile pains me.  Independent book stores have been downing shutters for a few years now - Borders the iconic bookstore chain - its Oxford street store was a landmark (even tourist attraction for Bibliophile Asians like me where I have spent couple of Sundays just reading) - shut shop in 2009 ; Fact & Fiction a similar iconic store in Delhi shut shop  recently. Some non-bibliophiles wonder why are bookstores needed when you can buy any book online much cheaper? Well, (at the risk of sounding politically incorrect) any woman would tell you why - the pleasures of Window shopping! Yes indeed - for bibliophiles, bookstores offer the same pleasures of serendipity - discovering a new book in a compl

आज़ादी क्या है

I was listening the radio day before and heard legendary actor Manoj Kumar describing his first experience of India's independence. The anecdote he related has been one of the best stories of freedom; I would hence like to record it here on my blog. I am trying to reproduce his words as much verbatim as I can remember: चौदह अगस्त की रात को मेरे चाचा का देहांत हो गया । मेरी माँ उस समय घर पर बीमार थी । अगले दिन सुबह मेरे पिताजी ने मुझे उठाया और नहाने धोने के बाद मुझे कहा, चलो हम लाल क़िले जा रहे हैं । वहां पहुचने के लिए उस वक्त, जिस रेफ्यूजी कैंप में हम रहते थे, वहां से २ घंटे की एक बस पकड़नी पड़ती थी। हम बस से लाल क़िले पहुंचे और उस भीड़ में खड़े मैंने देखा की लाल क़िले की प्राचीर पर एक शख्स सफ़ेद कपडे पहने खड़ा है।  बाबूजी ने मुझे बताया की वे नेहरू जी हैं।  नेहरू जी का नाम सुना था मैंने, पता था वो कौन हैं। खैर, नेहरू जी ने अपना भाषण दिया और आखिर में नारे लगाये । सारे क़िले में खड़ी भीड़ नें भी नारे लगाये, बाबूजी भी इनमें शामिल थे। तब पहली बार में मुझे लगा की कोई तो चीज़ होगी ये आज़ादी,

The no-man's-land syndrome

Narendra Modi's Swatch Barat campaign faces lot of hurdles - changing people's mentalities, overcoming the chronic issues of open defecation, lack of cleanliness infrastructure (starting from dustbins to garbage collection trucks) etc. But one problem faced by it is indeed the no-man's-land syndrome also known as not-my-problem syndrome or outside my zone problem :-). Check out the image - the house owner has cemented the ramp up from the road to his porch and the municipality has made a cement road right upto the pavement; yet a short portion between the two cemented portions is left out for mud and water to accumulate. I must admit that this picture was taken a day after the festival of Holi , so the muck of mud and water is more dirty than usual with remains of water balloons and color from previous day's holi celebrations. Nevertheless, this does not take away the problem - the fact that our systems fail at boundaries. This manifests across levels of o

The battle of faces but for issues that concern us

Mint editorial has the following to say in response to induction of Kiran Bedi by BJP in Delhi CM race. Bedi is being seen as the answer to Arvind Kejriwal. If faces could change governance, then Bedi and Kejriwal would have made all the difference to Delhi. Delhi is a megalopolis with problems that don’t have easy solutions. Its consumption of water and electricity is way beyond what it produces. Every summer, their shortage creates a crisis-like situation. None of the parties has a clear idea of how to solve this. An election campaign that is so focused on personalities is unlikely to pay attention to the problems. As in other elections in India, the emphasis is to win first and think later. Read more at: I disagree. If the mere problem of good governance was solving issues 'at hand' then a bureaucracy would have sufficed to run a country. And that was the precise mistake we made in th

Bell Bajao!

A couple of years ago, an NGO started a campaign called 'Bell Bajao' against domestic violence. The concept was simple, if you are an audience to (i.e. overhear) domestic violence in the neighborhood, don't intervene directly - but make the perpetrator of this violence aware that someone is hearing / watching - social pressure of being watched will compel the perpetrator to stop. The video below illustrates, where the neighbor simply rings the bell to stop the domestic quarrel but when the door opens, he asks for Milk.  This is a very effective mechanism - I am intrigued if this can only be applied to domestic violence - why can't it be applied to international diplomacy to reduce crimes against humanity such as the ghastly events at Peshawar? As much as one is pained by the events and acts of Taliban, the larger pain is the apathy shown by most of the world's Governments including India. Just a message of condolence, a statement condemning the attac

Game Changer Part 2 - How to restart maintenance of state owned Sports facilities

Continued from here Sadly, with what I witnessed in the decay of the Sports facility is an indication that we have not only lost the infrastructure, but also lost the spirit. The fall of PSU towns like Bhilai, Bhopal, Rourkela and rise of IT towns like Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad has led to a breakdown of the self-contained ecosystem of work and life which was built in these towns - and fall of Sporting facilities and Sporting spirit is a collateral victim of this tectonic shift in lifestyles.  This is actually quite ironical given that the newfangled IT crowd happily pays tens of thousands every quarter even to gyms housed in a 2 BHK apartments and would also possibly pay similar sums for Sports facilities of the scale of the BHEL Sports Complex. In fact, Bhopal city itself which has grown all round the BHEL Township, would have people who would be ready to pay for membership in the Sports complex if  it was maintained properly. There are several of these medium and super-ric

Game Changer - Why SAI needs to become a marketing organization

This interview with Sports Authority of India Director General - Jiji Thomson - highlights almost everything that is wrong with the Sports administration in India. Thankfully, Thomson seems to be aware of all the lacunae himself and is taking on each issue head-on; and while it seems that the new government at the Center is being more proactive, he still needs more executive support. I want to relate my personal experience in this regard. I am not a sports person - so much so that I have never enjoyed playing any sport (with exception of swimming perhaps) - in fact I don't enjoy watching sports as well. However, being brought up in a PSU township at BHEL Bhopal, I had the privilege of enjoying some of the best sporting facilities then available in India. So, even a non-enthusiast like me spent a lot of time playing badminton in a professional covered court, football in a well organized ground (unlike the uneven patches most people get to play in) and had my tryst with learnin


Flickr image by  sayan51 I was listening to my grandma and my uncle talk about the nonsense they show on TV nowadays, about how Children in TV are shown to be arrogant or uttering things which do not suit their age, and then the topic turned to how there is too much 'freedom' given to today's youth, the fact that they are not bound by cultural ethos is making them directionless achievers; and as the discussion got accented, there was a hint that the world needs a dictatorial order - how youth need to be disciplined and made to act within the 'bounds' of our culture, how this will result in a more fruitful generation. This, I am sure, is a common debate in many households in India and even elsewhere; the conclusion of course is very typical of the rightist philosophy bordering on, though not absolutely, vigilante approach. I agree and disagree. Yes, freedom is a double edged sword, but absolute freedom does not have an alternative irrespective of its blemish

Conclusion - Why is the Indian model of a panacea for troubles of Middle East

Continued from here The root cause with several nations such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or even Pakistan, is that they are still kingdoms, and have not transformed themselves into modern democratic nations. There remains no way to govern them apart from a totalitarian and dictatorial government. [The fact that Pakistan is a kingdom, not a nation unequivocally explains why Pakistan’s history has been marred with coups and why the nation goes into tizzies of instability every time a ‘democratic’ government rules it.] The problem with kingdoms is that kingdoms cannot be multipolar, they exist because there is supremacy of one and only one force at any time - as Jean Bodin's concept of absolute sovereign commands. If that force is not a monarch or military dictator, there ensues a war between various factions to become that 'one force' which would govern the kingdom. One of the reasons why Pakistan has seen so many bloody coups is that it was not gifted with the visi