Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Human Intelligence or Dumb Aggregation

Well, I've been looking all along for my perfect news source. I tried TOI's website, decided against it because of all the sleaze and modeling ads (Neelima, 20, Delhi, Mamta, 18, Mumbai. Reminds me of another category of websites I visited... I mean my friends visited back in College..). Next I moved my main news source to ibnlive. CNN-IBN I thought would be a reliable source since CNN is quite good at reporting (atleast I think so, I'm not sure if my American friends agree), but CNN-IBN turned out to be a disaster. Firstly, they were highly biased during the elections and was too sensationalist. Never once did they try to really report on facts and real issues. Timesnow was a definite no-no because their chief editor is an self-righteous, opinionated ass who couldn't understand what good journalism was if it kicked him in the head! Overall, here are the problems I had with the mainstream news sources:
  • They tracked too few stories. They always had only 6-8 stories and kept getting reactions, opinions, SMS polls and controversies around these same stories. I liked reading my newspapers because they were a good mix of different stories. I still get TOI at home, but that's mainly because my wife likes their dirt the best!
  • Absolutely everything is Breaking news. Leander Paes comes back to India; Rahul Gandhi itches nose; Dhoni didn't smile at Sehwag; Aliens are stealing our cattle and amazingly yesterday "An English poodle gets stuck in a drainpipe in the UK"! Need I say more.
  • There were more opinions expressed than facts reported. Overall, I began to get very confused as to what was really said by people and what these 'eminent' editors in chief interpreted. Everyone from Nitish Kumar to A.R. Rahman is misquoted and blown out of proportion. Barkha Dutt, someone I had a tremendous amount of respect for at one point has turned into a tabloid journalist! She's now trying to grow controversy where there is none. (Might I add that she's still miles better than that other editor-in-chief I mentioned above) Whatever happened to "Just the facts"! Nothing more. Nothing less
  • There is a very prominent bias amongst these TV channels, reporting some news repeatedly and shutting out others completely.The Teesta Seetalvad fabrication as reported in the Judicial Inquiry report. Why hide such a thing? Nobody reported it when Pramod Muthalik apologized for the Mangalore incident - I heard some logic that that would have made him look more benign in the public eyes! Frankly, that's insulting my intelligence. I want to know all the facts. I'll make my own decisions, thank you very much!
That's why I settled on my latest news source. Dumb Aggregation rather than Human 'Editorial' Intelligence picking out what I should hear. Google News Zindabad! Now I get varied news (Keep clicking 'More' and you keep getting more unique stories) aggregated from different sources (including some I mention above). So nobody can prefilter my news. It's highly unlikely that absolutely no sources of google report on a newsworthy item. Plus gives me newer sources that I've never heard off before! And what's the best? I have no intrusive ads!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


So I've really gotten into microblogging on twitter. I realize that there's a lot of stuff that can be said in 140 characters that can't be easily done in 150! My handle is @sujeetpillai and I promise you my tweets aren't just "going to work", "good night" and "good morning".

So got some Edge on my Windows mobile S710 and tried out this client called Twikini. Tried out other clients first but all of them were too minimalistic or too slow for my liking. Twikini is cool, gives u just the amount of freedom you need to interact with twitter. You can follow new users,
unfollow old ones (that's for the celebs, when you've had enough of "going to the gym", "in the makeup chair", etc.) and what I love about it is its twitpic integration.

How many times have you seen something funny, infuriating, strange or outright scary and thought, let's take a pic and email it to our friends. But the pic remains on your phone and that email never goes out.. Twikini with it's twitpic integration is just the right thing for that. Take the photograph on your phone, from within Twikini and it automatically uploads it to Twitpic and posts the link in your tweet! It's awesome.. Try it out yourself if you have a WM phone. Here's the link to download it:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Arrrrrrrgh! Get off our cricket team's backs

You english media dimwits - You made a total mockery of election debates, we bore it. You made the 26/11 attack seem to be a bloody soap opera, we bore it. But if you think for one second that you will use your imbecilic reality show sensationalist attitudes against the Indian Cricket Team and we'll stand by and listen, you have another think coming. Take a look at this article.
Not that I'm against the reporting a rift in the cricket team, but the self-righteous, 'we-believe-our-mole-more-than-MSD-and-the-Indian-Cricket-team' tone that has been used in this and other articles about this silly rift (if there even is one) in the team makes (to use a cliche) my blood boil.
For the first time since I've been born, we have a winning cricket team who's confident. For the first time we're favourites in a World Cup and our english media is acting as if they've been paid by the Rest of the World to break our team's morale and spirit.
I don't wish to make any comparisons to former captains, but I believe MSD's modesty and down to earth attitude will make him one of the greatest captains that Indian Cricket has ever had before he's ready to retire. Hence, I understand and totally support his behaviour yesterday. The english media somehow believe that everyone is answerable to whatever nonsense they serve and somehow they are beyond all reproach. Note the line below brimming contempt when Gary Kirsten gave them some criticism:
He even chose the occasion to preach the virtues and
needs of responsible reporting
Additionally they keep plugging the term "Indian People" in every sentence as if they actually believe that they are the collective consciousness of the population of India. Utter nonsense. The last line is the one that takes the cake:

And they want the media to believe that.

My response to that: I don't f@^&ing care what you believe or don't believe. Just leave our team the F&#* alone. We believe that they know how to manage and play their game better than you guys know how to do your own f#*@ing jobs! Or else!! I'll start watching India TV (Kya aapko pata hai ki aliens aapke gaay bhains chura rahe hai?)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Newspaper Cheese

Is it just me or are newspapers and news portals trying to come up pithy headlines for their stories and end up with very cheesy results. I'm guessing the elections have somehow opened all eyes towards India's youth and the news channels and portals are trying to fit their headlines to the youth's ways of thinking and is turning out to be a disaster. Guess you just can't teach an old horse new tricks. News companies still having self-righteous, pompous screamers for editors just can't seem to cater to the youth in terms of news headlines atleast. I'm guessing that's why people are turning more to online aggregated sources to keep out the news companies inherent biases and prejudices. Some examples of these lines:
  1. MS office installed, UPA 2.0 begins operations - Yuck!!
  2. Singh is king! - God haven't they used that like a 100 times already?
  3. Leno set to say 'No Tonight anymore' on the show - What the hell does that even mean?
  4. Wind beneath their feet - Guess what this is about
Of late I've had a few comments to make about how the news media especially the English media in India is going about their work. Probably will do a few posts on that soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It’s irrational .. but that’s us

Indians are an irrational bunch. We are so emotionally attached to things that people in other countries consider trivial.


The monsoons always evoke serotonin in even the most depressed Indian. That first rain brings some sort of weird hope/relief/excitement amongst us. I'm sure even Ram Jethmalani (He's probably the most depressed/depressing man I can think of in India) looks forward to the first rain! It's always been related to good rainfall giving good crops and a plentiful harvest, but most of us have long divorced the agrarian profession yet somehow the love for rain remained in our genes. The funny thing is that in the west rain is usually a spoilsport. People are depressed seeing rain, for them somehow sunshine is what brings cheer. Even in Hollywood, you'll always see the most depressing scenes associated with rainfall. In the west, you plan around the rain, watch those stupid weather channels, see if they predict rain and plan your day accordingly. India however is not challenged (There are rare exceptional days in Mumbai) by the prospect of rainfall in the disposal of their daily duties. Just pick up your lungi and walk around, through or over it. Somehow I believe a lot of bachelors dream of their honeymoons as being stuck in a cave with their new brides with torrential rainfall outside! It's irrational, but that's us – We love the rain! (As long as it spares our cricket matches)


Food never has been only a nutritional activity for us. How attached we are to our food is evident in the hours of hardwork we put into cooking our food. TV Dinners have never been and will never be a success in India. Even those who are most pressed for time will sacrifice sleep to cook himself a good meal rather than grab a TV dinner. Bad food is bad mood! And we need lots of it.. Don't decorate a plate with some green goo and a couple of cucumbers and call it French cuisine and charge us $200 for it. We'll pay you $210 for a healthy plate of rice, sambar, curd and pickles or a healthy helping of Dhoklas and amazing green Chutneys or freshly fried Pyaaz ki Kachodis or Spicy fried fish with boiled tapioca and crushed chillies or wholesome Aloo Parathas! We love different things in India, but we love it with the same vigour evenly across the country. If you want me to cut on my food to go to size Zero, I'd rather be size 6.. Don't you come close to my plate! Our attachment to food was well portrayed by a practice in the Mangalore area. Brahmins who have always been known to feast every day had this unusual custom of reciting the seven names of the Yamraj and keeping 3 morsels of food to the side before they began their meal. Their logic was that they wanted to please the Yamraj so that he would not take them away before the meal was over. So they're reconciled with death, but even at the time of the inevitable, they tend to ensure that they are not taken on a half-filled stomach. It's irrational – the west may call it gluttony.. But that's us!


Spirituality comes naturally to us. We may not exactly be the epitome of religiousness – no mass every Sunday.. maybe a temple/gurdwara now and then, but nobody can ever disassociate us from our base belief of somebody watching us. I bet even Prakash Karat at times of distress (like now!) looks heavenwards, hoping for a miracle. Some of us wear it on our necks, some on our tattoos, some in our wallets and some on our walls. But in India God is everywhere. He's the one that gets those 11 rupees when India needs 6 runs of the last over, or we need 12 marks to pass or to ensure that Shaalu doesn't look as ravishing as you do today and hence Akash will ask you out instead. He's the guy you think of albeit for a second when you start off a huge initiative in your life. He's the one even Sachin Tendulkar who's been blessed with more runs than other people have hair, looks to when the scoreboard gets to 94. We never doubt our confidence in our abilities, but never forget to ascribe our success to his benevolence. It's irrational .. But Inshallah, by god's grace, bhagwaan ke kripa se we've got him with us.. But that's us!

(For all the feminists, please replace all the masculine references to God with feminine references before reading. Don't blame me, Hollywood and Bollywood gave me the perception that God looks like Morgan Freeman, Amitabh Bachhan or Rishi Kapoor.)

Indianize everything

There's something that the Pramod Muthalik types will never get; that we're as much an influence on other countries cultures as much as they are on ours. Where else in the world would McDonalds separate out Veg and Non-Veg cooking areas and Kentucky Fried CHICKEN have a vegetarian menu. Bring in the Butter Chicken Pizzas, the Aloo tikki burgers, Schezwan dosas and don't even get me started on the Indian Chinese food. By far our youth listens to more A.R. Rahman than they do to Britney, Westlife et al. No matter how much the west may call our movies silly, we still are dedicated to it. A movie isn't a movie without a few songs, an item number, a fight sequence and the guy getting the girl in the end. Our Saas bahu serials still worked until the IPL began. The biggest evidence of this effect we have on the world can be seen in some so-called desi clubs in the US/UK/other rich countries that have H1B programs! As long as the DJ plays English music all the desi guys and girls have this strange 'cool' ritual of dancing without moving much of their body. Turn on the "Rang Barse", " Tunak Tunak Tun", "Dhagaala Lagli", "Aa Ante" or "Appudi Pode" and every desi guy and girl (even some non-desis) have their Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra and Tamil Naad uprooted from within them and in full flourish on the dance floor. It's irrational – You non-desis may call us crazy.. But that's us!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A new blog

Well. I realized that my regular readers might get bored with my political posts and hence decided to move that to this blog. Black Camel’s lair will only feature regular posts like before the 2009 General Elections began.

This new blog will essentially be the spewing point for all of my thoughts on right-wing politics in India. I’m hoping to present my thoughts on the ideological basis behind right-wing line of reasoning. The purpose is to explain to my readers that while right-wing ideology may be complex and not as easy to understand, it stands far superior and far more akin to the thinking we need to bring about change for the better in India.

The right's rights and why the right's right!

Hope y’all will enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Political Clouds

I came across this interesting concept at the An Unquiet Mind Blog. Just wanted to replicate some of that and include the BJP manifesto. Due acknowledgement to Mahendra for this idea. Below are word clouds representing the BJP and INC manifestos. The only words removed are "Indian National Congress", "BJP" and "Bharatiya Janata Party"

The BJP Cloud

The INC Cloud

Mahendra's idea has unleashed a monster. I realized that Wordle could also do RSS feeds. So I took google's RSS news feeds on both the BJP and the INC and created word clouds on what the news was talking about them currently.. Some interesting notes:

  1. Advani is bigger than Manmohan in the INC cloud. Lalu is even bigger than Advani.
  2. Surprisingly neither "Gandhi" or "Rahul/Sonia/Priyanka" figure much prominently
  3. The word "hindu" features in equal prominence in both clouds.
  4. The word 'infrastructure' features quite prominently on the BJP cloud, but not at all on the Congress cloud
Here are the clouds:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The National Game of India – Politics!

I've been pondering this idea recently of an anti-model code of conduct for all politicians close to the elections. The EC has got it all wrong. It should be the other way around. About 2 months before the elections, the candidates should get a license to SAY anything they want and get away with it. It will save the EC a lot of work.

This doesn't seem feasible, hence do something yourself. Just assume that the politicians mean almost none of the crap that they've been saying and look at the events and statements again. Anyway nothing that politicians say during election time anyway is adhered to. A beautiful fictional world of drama and one-upmanship will reveal itself that rivals the best director's efforts in bollywood. Truly an amazing replacement until this stupid film folk/multiplex strike finishes. Here are a few episodes:


  1. Varun Gandhi makes/allegedly makes a hate speech.
    1. BJP: Damn it! Now what do we do.. let's disassociate with that speech material
    2. Congress: HAHAHAHA! Now let's drive the stake in.. Let's keep referring to Varun Gandhi everywhere and portray the communal side of the NDA
  2. Varun Gandhi files appeal
    1. BJP: Crap.. it's getting worse, they're throwing the kitchen sink at him. Claim the CD is doctored.. some sort of damage control.. What can we do? Hmmmmm..
    2. Congress/RJD/LJP: Push it.. This is where we get our muslim votes.. Let's send rollers, Priyanka, Rahul, the Geeta, etc.. everything at him
  3. Varun Gandhi cancels appeal and gets arrested with much fanfare in Pilhibit
    1. Congress: Damn it!! Those wily b******s turned it around. Now the locals there will see him as a hero/martyr and he gets a lot of sympathy. God Damn it.. why didn't we think of this.
    2. BJP: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Two can play at this political game! Now everything you say in this matter will only help us!! Go Varun Go!! Now he comes out in a week or so on bail, and sweeps the local elections and this hate speech will be long forgotten.
    3. Mayawati: Hmm… Here's where I can get some of my Muslim votes. Bring out my NSA arrow.. Point and shoot…
  4. Varun Gandhi has NSA slapped on
    1. BJP: Crap!! The NSA may keep in jail longer and may spoil our election. Damn it.. Why didn't we think of this. Damn you behenji.
    2. Congress: Crap!! The NSA is a bit harsh isn't it.. But we can't say that out loud, it'll be as if we're taking Varun's side.. Damn Mayawati has put us in a fix!! Let's just shut the hell up on this. If anyone asks… BJP and Mayawati have a secret pact and it's an elaborate game played by both
    3. Maywati: HEHEHEHEHE!! That threw them off balance.. But crap.. if the SC throws out NSA, I'll get slapped..Did I do that right?
  5. And the story continues..
    1. Mayawati might have been better off if she hadn't slapped NSA, especially if the SC throws it out
    2. The Congress/RJD/LJP would have given less prominence to Varun Gandhi if they had condemned it and not brought it up everwhere. Now everyone in the country knows who Varun is.
    3. The BJP would have been better off if Varun hadn' t made that stupid speech in the first place

On Shoes, Tytler and Sikhs

  1. Jagdish Tytler gets clean chit from CBI
    1. Congress: Lets give Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar tickets, why don't we have the CBI issue a clean chit before they file, that way they won't have the 1984 riots on their heads while campaigning.
    2. BJP: What? Clean chit, 20 days before the election.. Even Lalu isn't that stupid. Nobody will even care if the clean chit is true or not.. the timing is horrible.. Let's bring this up in every show. The mainstream media will play it down, but we have to bring it up.
  2. Jarnail Singh throws a shoe at Chidambaram (Shoe misses)
    1. BJP: Hahahaha.. Some Sikh threw a shoe at Chiddu.. Call up the Akali Dal.. Make them offer him something.. Bring Sikh anger to the forefront.. Call that journalist a hero.
    2. Congress: Shit.. somebody threw a shoe.. And you know what the bigger problem is.. That journalist apologized already and everyone is saying he's a nice clean character. Damn it.. If it was someone with a NDA leaning and the shoe had actually hit it would have been better. We could have called it politically motivated and blamed BJP for doing cheap politics. The crappy part is this journalist is too clean to pin anything political on him. If we do anything of the sort, they'll come and kill us on that
  3. Congress withdraws Tytler and Kumar's tickets
    1. BJP: HAHAHAHA! If they think it's over they have another think coming. They've brought up the Gujarat riots way too many times.. This is the first election after 1984 that the 1984 riots is going to become a major issue on.. Push guys Push.. If anyone says communal, tell them about 1984!!
    2. Congress: Damn it, we had to withdraw their tickets and now ppl are asking if the CBI report was not manipulated why did we not stick with the same candidates.. What a load of crap we're in. Whose brilliant idea was this CBI crap anyway?
  4. And the story continues..
    1. The congress could've had it's pie and eaten it too if they'd just quietly fielded Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Nobody would've cared much. Their attempt to give them a clean chit before the polls just came back and bit them in the butt!!

On Amma, Karuna and Lanka

  1. Amma makes a grand coalition in TN
    1. Amma: heheeh.. This time I'm going to kill Karuna!! Last time he wiped me out.. This time he's going down!! And I'm definitely in the government at the center. I'll just go with whoever is in the majority, a simple two way bet guaranteed to win..
    2. Karuna: Damn it! Amma's got some ppl on her side this time.. Stupid PMK also ran away after all we've done for them… We might get killed this time.. What do we do, what do we do?
  2. Amma hunger strikes for SL Tamils
    1. Amma: Hehehe.. I get the tamil sympathy vote.. I was the first to do it, so I get it. If Karuna does anything now I just go and say that he really doesn't care and is just faking it. Moreover if he fasts for a day, he'll die!!
    2. Karuna: Damn it! She's getting more powerful everyday.. I need to come up with a response soon.
  3. Vaikko says Prabhakaran's blood wil cause a bloodbath here:
    1. Amma: Damn that stupid man.. Why did I coalesce with him? Well doesn't really matter he was in both NDA and the UPA and said all of this at that time too.. Which central party can ask me about him.. I'll just put it back on them. I'm too good.
    2. Karuna: Damn it.. Amma did it for the Tamil Civilians, Vaikko will also get that few LTTE sympathizers.. I'm in deep shit.. I better make a statement soon.
  4. Karuna says LTTE chief is his friend
    1. Amma: Damn it.. He said it too.. What happens if he gets some seats.. If the seats are split, my chances with the congress are less, because they'd have to dump DMK to get me and hence it would give them only a small gain.. I won't be able to play Kingmaker. What do I do? I know.. I'll taunt the Congress and Sonia.. If my taunts can get them to publicly dump the DMK, I'll have both the UPA and NDA options open and might get some extra votes here too.. Yup.. "HOW CAN SONIA, THE WIDOW OF RAJIV REMAIN SILENT"… "The Congress party must answer on its ally's position"… The BJP will anyway kill them for this unknowingly helping my cause to open a UPA window for me. God damn it I'm too smart for this polity
    2. Karuna: Shit.. Amma has begun to attack the Congress over me.. If I'm going to lose a few seats this election, my only hope of govt. is remaining with UPA.. After the Ram Setu stupid questions the NDA will never go with me. The UPA don't want to lose me since I'm pretty much the last of their allies. I need some damage control.. Here goes "We can never forgive the LTTE for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination" ..Damn it.. Hope that does it..
  5. And the story continues.
    1. If Karuna had not remained so silent for so long, he would be much better off. Too little, too late is more dangerous than nothing at all
    2. The BJP unknowingly is attacking the Congress by hoping that they'll drop the DMK the last of their allies, but that opens the door for Amma's alliance with the UPA.. Something the BJP doesn't know about. Game theory is a bitch isn't it.!!


DISCLAIMER: I realize that in this article it may seem as I have trivialized real painful issues to people like the 1984 riots and the Tamil civilians issue. My intent is not to do so. I understand how painful these issues are, I am only attempting to utilize these issues as political statements in the shallow manner that they do. I sincerely apologize if I have hurt any sentiments.



Thursday, April 09, 2009

More on Amisha Patel for PM

Well, I've got some good feedback on my Amisha Patel for PM Post. In a recent debate with a friend, I realized that Amishaji (All the PM candidates have that suffix) should not fight from the NCP but form her own party.

Name: Secular All India Brainless,Asinine Bimbos Association (SAIBABA - We're Secular)

Prime Ministerial Candidate: Amisha Patel (Right now we believe only Amishaji has the statesman like character to be PM)
Party President: Celina Jaitley
Other party members:

  • Riya Sen

  • The entire female cast of all MTV "Reality" Shows (Roadies, Splitsvilla, GTalk)

  • Karan Johar

Party agenda: To make India a more silicone implanted, Botox laden beauty, but reduce the average IQ by several points. This IQ has never been good for us. We don't have any, look where it got us?

Campaign Strategy: Get a mudpit and get two Roadies contenders and make them have a catfight, should attract enough voters. Celina Jaitley/Riya Sen could wow them with their Hindi spoken in English.

Campaign Symbol:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Alternate Polling form

I realized that the link that I sent out was limited to 100 responses. If you were not allowed to respond to that poll, please use the polls below. I will eventually combine both the results and post a combined results workbook on this page. I know it's a bit ugly, but that's the best I can do now!
Also please note that these two questions are separate polls now. Please choose your preference and click on vote on both polls one at a time.

Lok Sabha 2009 - Take the Survey

So, I wanted to get a feel of what the online Indian Voter was thinking. I designed a small survey for the same. Please fill out this survey. Should take only 2 minutes.

Please feel free to send the link to all your Indian friends! Not being racist, just trying to get some accuracy on the dataset. At last a chain mail that does make to send forward. But I can't promise you luck if you send within 5 minutes, only some good data, which I'll publish here on a weekly basis.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Sad Day!

Slashdot has a link to a story that talks of the UN Human Rights Council holding a vote on a law to introduce a law into the member states to enforce the restriction of defamatory statements being made against religions. This law was proposed by Pakistan (Ah! The last remaining bastion of freedom and human rights in this world) on behalf of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) and essentially makes Islam (and other religions) beyond criticism. It will now be illegal to criticize a religion or it's practices in the member states of the United Nations. So much for free speech huh.. You can just fling that out the window.

The vote won 23-11 in the house and had 13 abstentions. India, the glorious democracy and freedom advocate that it is, did not vote for the legislation, however it did not vote against it either. India abstained from voting with a few other strong democracies essentially allowing to pass in the house.

I do realize that the United Nations is now just as comparable to the League of Nations with more lip service than actual action or a voice of it's own, but I believe this vote is symbolic. Our nation, did not vote for the motion, but did not have the gall to go against such a vote and fight for freedom, but chose to do what it did with the resolution on the formation of Israel. Abstain!

If a lot of our rebels and fighters for freedom of speech, expression and self determination were buried in coffins, they'd be shifting uneasily right now!!

You can read the whole story here. FYI.. if you see a BJP ad on the page it's not my attempt to plant BJP propaganda, it's just google adsense doing it since looks like the BJP bought up all the ads on the net!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tigers and their prey!

It's a pleasure to read something you always independently believe to be true in a column. I have held the view for this election that nobody has a clue what's going to happen. The congress seems supremely confident, the BJP has a more cautioned confidence and all the regional parties already have their leaders measuring out their PM robes. There's one thing they keep forgetting. i.e. the people. The people of our great nation have become predictable only in one respect - their unpredictability.

What pleasure when you see one of your favourite columnists echo that view. Read the full article here.

I'll just leave you with his last paragraph, as usual a hit out of the park:

Never confuse the Indian voter’s temporary maun vrat with the silence of the lambs. This is the silence of tigers, as they pad noiselessly towards their quarry, shattering the air of the jungle only once, with a roar with the final leap towards the prey. When tigers feed only once in five years, the casualty rate can be terrifying.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Amisha Patel for Prime Minister!

So Amisha Patel is contesting from Rajkot on an NCP ticket.. I say let's make her PM.. I believe she deserves it more than most of the other PM-wannabe's out there.. Plus, there will be the following advantages!

  1. India will by far have the hottest head-of-state in the world. Carla is only first lady. Suck on that Sarkozy!!
  2. She won't be interrupted in the Lok Sabha like all our other PMs.. I'm sure most of those old-timers will happily let her speak for as long as she wishes as they ogle her.
  3. If "Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic" is anything to go by.. I think South Block will be painted pink, yellow and orange. (That place could use a bit of colour)
  4. The greatest gift that all Indians will receive is that due to her busy schedule.. "SHE'LL STOP ACTING"!!!

I say it's the winning combination.

Talivar Amishaji, Vazhuga

Amisha Patel Nethave dheerathyode nayicholu

UPDATE: I already have 6 supporters. Pledge your support by leaving a comment.

  • Sujeet Pillai

  • Amit Jain

  • Piyush Peshwani

  • Venugopal Balasubramanian

  • Rajesh "YES WE CAN" Nambiar

  • Moiz Husain

UPDATE: I have recently been updated by my wife and other TOI gossip experts that Amisha Patel contesting is really a rumour. I'm keeping the campaign going though!

UPDATE: Venu's contribution. You can already see that visionary look in her eye. With due apologies to the original ofcourse:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Let’s get to the point. No BS please

One of my professors from IIT, Bombay once said a line that has stayed with me forever. I continue to utilize that principle in every aspect of my life and I think it is the most powerful line I have ever heard:

Think straight! Don't get messed up, you must think straight!

Essentially, you'll always have a hundred arguments to justify and complicate the arguments for and against in a debate, however you'll be successful in getting to the root only if you think straight. Be objective! Think like everybody, but think like nobody.

M.J. Akbar, one of the few from TOI that I like, is a person who can shoot straight. No airflow induced deviations, no distractions, straight at the eye of the parrot. I just read one of his articles I missed, and found a couple of thought-points that coincided with mine. Thought I'd bring it to your notice. You can read the full article here. Here are some of his strongest excerpts:

Look, you must not confuse the Pakistan issue with the Indian Muslims issue. Their so-called alienation or their economic deprivation is not linked to the issue of Pakistan.
Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Pakistan. They have absolutely no sympathy for Pakistan. They know that Pakistan was the biggest mistake committed in the history of Indian Muslims. They know it. You can ask anyone in Baroda, Bihar or Mumbai. They know how they are suffering the backlash of all the consequences of cross-border terrorism. 

Brilliant! Especially coming from an Indian Muslim himself. Any of you who've been confused and thought Indian muslims and Pakistan had a sort of bonding.. "BULLS*^#@". Don't confuse it with Pakistan. If Indian muslims have problems, that is our problem, that is India's problem, has nothing to do with Pakistan or the concept of Pakistan.

Here's another gem in straight-shooting:

If whoever is responsible for protecting the nation fails, then he or she should not be allowed to continue in power. That is the toughest and sharpest message we can give. You can tell that you may be a soft State, but we are a hard people and we are hard voters.
We are not going to forgive you for your lies and deception and for your waffling. How many blasts do we need to understand that? When Jaipur , Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi happened no one who was genuinely guilty was caught.
We have to understand now that corruption has eaten away vitals of this nation. It is the biggest danger to the security of India. It is not just the case of some spectrum being sold to someone by some minister in. Everyone who is corrupt get out!

It's simple, don't confuse it with Congress-BJP, Shivraj Patil/Vilasrao Deshmukh, A.R. Antulay or what not. You're the govt., terrorists attack several times giving you a warning and then one major attack takes place. You were incapable of stopping them, and have proved your impotence in curing these 'infidels' as well. You don't deserve to be in govt. You have to go!

Lastly, this:

I don't know how many readers smoke hashish and other stuff, but I am accusing them of cross-border terrorism. Drugs come to India from Afghanistan via Karachi.

If you think you never did anything to aid terrorism, read this. All drug use directly funds those responsible for killing our people. Next time you pick up a syringe, joint, pill or snort, remember that you're practically drinking our blood.

I'll end with one of his best lines ever from a different article. It's one of those lines that makes you feel proud to be an Indian, when our country is reeling from almost everything :

On the day that terrorists attacked Sri Lankan cricketers, I had a previously arranged speaking engagement at a university in Delhi before largely Muslim students. I began with the suggestion that every Indian Muslim should offer a special, public prayer of thanks to the Almighty Allah for His extraordinary benevolence - for the mercy He had shown by preventing us from ending up in Pakistan in 1947. The suggestion was received with startled amusement, instinctive applause and a palpable sense of sheer relief.



Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time to pick the help

Ladies and gentlemen, let me give you a quick recap of what has been happening around us in the recent past:

  • The world faces one of the worst economic depressions in history. China has an appalling growth prediction of 8%, so you know it's true. The Free Market Economy is pretty much on its way up there to play cards with its old rival communism. The US and UK are nationalizing banks, trade protectionism is on the rise. And of course the Indian left is saying "Told you so, starving under Stalin was so much better than losing your job to these capitalist bourgeoise morons".
  • The Taliban is a short midnight drive away from our country's borders. You know one of these days a Talib hothead is going to get a little bit too tipsy and decide and declare that Madhuri Dixit is Taliban property and Indians viewing movies of hers is an offence against the entire Islamic world. He's going to jump in his jeep and come to claim her. (I don't expect him to know that she stays in the US nowadays! Shhhh!! Nobody tell him)
  • Terrorists have become more frequent that chaiwallas in our cities' streets. I have a feeling these terrorists really just are trying to find a way out of Pakistan, so they sell their souls to ISI and hope to come over shoot up some folks and blend into our crowd and never go back to Pakistan. I bet they do it for our saas-bahu serials.
  • Personal Freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all citizens of India (and any illegal immigrants) is at grave danger of being forgotten. Biharis driving taxis in Mumbai and Women drinking in pubs at Bangalore have a strange similarity. Absolutely everyone is offended by everything. I'm offended that Hrithik Roshan isn't overweight like me. His six-pack has offended us fat peoples' sentiments for years. It's time he puts on some weight.
  • Our government departments' efficiency, honesty and integrity is very close to the point of no return. I'm pretty confident the whole Provident Fund organizations work can be done by a well written software which would take less than 3 months to develop. Their offices look like a fire hazard with bundles of paper as old as the swinging sixties and people as old as the Tense Thirties lying around. I'm pretty sure they took kharchapaani from their father to give him his pension!
  • Our elephant economy image has eroded. The government has managed to neither implement good schemes for the poor nor make India a better place to do business. "We're pro-poor, so what if we couldn't make the poor any richer, we made the rich poorer didn't we? In a relative world, that's equivalent. We're not going to let rich people in their expensive Tata Nano's drive around our state. We prefer to be jobless than produce such luxury goods."
  • The whole subcontinental region is ready to explode. Lanka is in the deepest strife since Big Daddy Ramachandra went over to whoop some Ravanass, Bangladesh is not quite sure how they had a mutiny, Nepal has a huge Maoist hangover (It's true what the elders say, never mix drinks. Monarchy and Maoism never goes well down or out), Swat has a system of law finally (and it's not too good for the ladies who want to shake a leg), I'm pretty sure Baluchistan already has a national flag, the Tribal provinces bordering Afghanistan are kept busy with their narcotics agriculture and American target practice and then there's Pakistan. I still think Pakistan is the happiest of the lot since they have a very talented clown for their President (Sigh – Only if Sarah Palin had won).
  • Finally, our poor Mother Earth, who had been hoping all this global warming angst would help her out a bit, has no respite for some time now until all these problems humans create with their paper with presidents on them are solved. Cheers, wait a few years and Pune may have its own beach, and we can all go scuba diving to look at the lost city of Bombay.

Pretty historic times don't you think. And I was complaining that I was born in the wrong era, and nothing exciting ever happens any more. Oh, how I wish it were those good old boring times again. 'Ikkare nilkumbol akkare pacha'

Considering all these factors, I believe our future is going to be determined by the choices we make, the choices we make now. Let me say it now and say it aloud:

The next 3 months are going to decide our future once and for all. These general elections are going to be the single most historic, most important elections the republic of India has ever faced. The results of these elections will decide a government. That government will shape the future of India once and for all. It's that defining moment in India's history. Either we define the moment or the moment defines us. There is no looking back. This is the big leagues, this is the world cup, this is the final, this is the board exams, this is IT!

So I implore you to go out there and make your choice, because you will be held to it. An Al-Qaida prisoner once said:

"You claim to be a democracy, and as a democracy, you are responsible for your government's actions. So the government is equivalent to the people in a democracy"

Strange, how you can find truth in the weirdest of places. Let's make our choice, and not the choice of a few, not the choice of 50 odd percent, the choice of a billion people, and when we choose, the world shall watch because our government will decide our future and by relation the future of the world. So vote:

Vote so that people may call Barbers, Barbers in movies

Vote so that Biharis may drive taxis in any part of the republic of India

Vote so that women may drink in pubs

Vote so that Terrorism is prevented and not cured

Vote so that when push comes to shove, Indians have food to eat

Vote so that a poor man may receive his pension on time

Vote so that the poor and the rich may get richer

Vote so that we may watch Madhuriji's movies forever

Vote so that we may multiply our Olympian medal winners

Vote so that Puneites have to drive 3 hours for a beach

Vote so that Hrithik may remain the 'Ken' figure that he is

Vote so that fishermen may go out to sea without fearing their throats being cut

Vote so that I may have a coffee with my grandson at the Taj in Mumbai look at the Gateway of India and tell him:

"Jab jab desh par vinaash, asatya aur aneeti ka parinda mandraaya hai,

Tab tab ek junoon humaare desh ki janta mein punarjanamit hua hai,

Hum jo bhi hai humaari janta hai,

Aur hum jo bhi nahi hai humaari junta hi hai"


Monday, March 02, 2009

F*** Satyam – Check out the honourable Government of India

Business Standard is reporting a story how Rs. 51,000 crores of public money has gone into NGO/other independent bodies where the CAG (Comptroller Auditor General – India's Auditor) has no way to track what happened to that money. Read the full story here. Here's an excerpt:

The revelation by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that the government has been overstating the spending on its flagship programmes and other schemes meant for the welfare of the aam aadmi (common man) is distressing, but not a surprise. The report, released two weeks ago, said that funds worth over Rs 51,000 crore allocated for these programmes in 2007-08 were actually transferred to the bank accounts of non-government organisations (NGOs), autonomous bodies and district authorities. The government was apparently clueless as to how these funds were actually used, as the accounts of these agencies were not subjected to any official checks. It was not surprising, therefore, as pointed out by the CAG, that these funds either remained unspent or were diverted to other, usually unspecified, purposes, thereby depriving the intended beneficiaries, mostly the poor. 

51K crores is grossly 15% of all Direct Tax collections in India in a year. Yet our govt. has the gall to increase our income taxes in the name of education cess and poor b@#&$%%$ like me gladly pay up thinking my countrymen are getting a better education. Well maybe they are, the kids of some rich netas are probably going to B-schools in the US on my money. These schemes are probably used to better the conditions of some impoverished politicians, after all the hard work he did, he definitely deserves that new Audi – Poor fellow. Ugh!!

P.S. – I apologize for my language, I was just that disgusted reading this article.

Another WTF - Congress counts 8 Oscars as part of UPA `achievements'

I might be a week late on this but this is awesome. Read the story here. Here's an excerpt.

Keen to be part of the euphoric `Slumdog' bandwagon, Congress has counted the eight Oscars as part of the UPA's `achievements'. The party lost no time in claiming credit for the `Indian triumph' and hinted that good times had come with the UPA government. 

Well they're right, Slumdog Millionaire's story would've lost the charm without all the poverty, dirt and squalor from which the beacon of hope emerges from. Who else is responsible for all that other than years and years of Congress rule!

Friday, February 27, 2009

WTF – Obama nominated for Nobel Peace Prize!

Am I the only person on this planet who thinks this is BS. Since when have we begun giving Nobel Peace Prizes for a political campaign with great spin capabilities. Not that the Nobel Peace Prize has any credibility of any sort, since they never gave it to this man who deserved it the most, but this is just over the top. By that measure L.K. Advani should get a lifetime achievement Nobel Peace Prize, he's been campaigning for decades.

That's all we heard from over the seas for almost a year and a half "Obama", Obamania, Barak and more Obama. Isn't it way too much hype for a US president. Fine, I agree it's a watershed moment that a black man (atleast he looks black) was elected to the highest office in the United States. Other than that, how exactly do we know he's going to be any better than the last few presidents? Just because the man knows how to talk, doesn't mean he's a Vishnu-incarnate. As far as I know some of the worst men in history spoke as well or even better than Barak. I just think the US is setting itself up for a massive disappointment. I wouldn't be surprised, the way things are going (job losses, stock market crashes, anti-outsourcing policy) some conservatives soon begin to say that they always knew a black man was not up to the job. Such high expectations are most definitely going to have disastrous consequences.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where are our Lasantha Wickramatungas and Ramakrishna Pillais?

Sometimes I get the feeling that the age we live in doesn't have legends any longer. All the great characters have long gone and our world has been left with only the Shahrukhs and the Salman! Just when you are close to giving up all hope you read a story that makes every hair on your body stand on their ends. You hear about greatness in your midst. Greatness not of the kind of Alexander the great or Julius Caesar. Not of the kind that captures large territories and were close to being emperors of the world. I'm talking of the kind of great bravery amidst oppression. Greatness of the kind of M.K. Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. Those who looked into self-professed kings/rulers/reformers in the eye and had the guts to say

"You're wrong! You may hit me, blind me or even kill me, but I stand by what I say."

Not the kind that wins Nobel Peace Prizes, but the kind that doesn't need them. This is bravery that can strike fear into the hearts of the most fearful of people on earth. This is strength of character, this has no words to define it well.

Lasantha Wickramatunga was the editor of the Sunday Leader, a newspaper in Sri Lanka and these were his last written words:

If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader (his newspaper) is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted.  Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

Lasantha was shot dead by motorcycle borne gunmen on his way to work on January 8th. His gunmen still unidentified got away. Due to his fervor of unbiased reporting, we don't know and may never know whether the government or rebels were responsible. You can read his whole editorial here.

I have never heard of the Sunday Leader before this. Neither did I know Lasantha existed. However this news saddens me greatly because Lasantha was a rare species. Someone who still had the courage to say what people with power or firepower didn't always like to hear. Someone who didn't change at being shot at earlier (this was not the first attempt).

This reminded me of a little known great former journalist of British India. Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai. He lived in a time that Kerala was still governed by Diwans appointed by the British. His newspaper editorials in the Swadeshabhimani reprimanded the diwan, the maharajah of Travancore and the British administration for the level of corruption and injustice in the society at the time. The swadeshabhimani was started and owned by Vakkom Mohammed Abdul Khadir who resisted all enticements and threats from the administration and other oligarchs to shut his editor up. Its one thing to say the truth and another thing to completely stand by a man you believe only shouts the truth. Abdul Khadir did just that.

Eventually Ramakrisha Pillai's firebrand journalism had the effect of shaking the roots of the whole diwan system and they had to silence him by arresting him (without a warrant mind you) and banishing him from the princely state of Travancore at the time and sealing the press at the time. Ramakrishna Pillai spent the rest of his life in the Presidency of Madras. All Indian newspapers at the time decried his banishment. Abdul Khadir got his press back when India became independent, but by then he had lost voice behind it to death.

It's almost a 100 years later. Not even the Prime Minister of India with an absolute majority can stifle our freedom of the press for long any more. Yet I feel we've lost something to annals of time here in India. We've lost the truth. Instead we have sensationalism, journalism guided by ad revenue and "Kissa Kiss ka.. Jaari hai".

Where have they gone?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome Mr. Advani to our world

So L.K. Advani started a blog. I'd say a very positive step. I thought I should also contribute my tuppence to the myriad number of comments to his inaugural post giving him solutions to everything from world hunger to creating "potting soil" in India. More on potting soil here. Here's the comment I posted. Oh and if I haven't said this before, I'll say it now. Comments are more than welcome. I believe in the freedom of speech and unless you're trying to sell me male organ enhancing pills or weight loss magic drugs I promise to accept all comments on my blog. Here goes:

This is a very progressive step for the BJP. I have long held the view that Indian political parties are not using the web enough to promote their own agenda. Additionally I believe Indian political parties have the additional responsibility of educating the public on their democratic duties and helping them make the right decision for their own future and that of the country and the internet is an excellent medium for the same.

My only complaint to you Sir, is the fact that more of party leaders aren't doing the same. I was a big fan of the BJP government in 1999-2004 due to the fact that the cabinet and the leadership was a portfolio of stars. Atalji, the two Aruns, Mr. Fernandes and the others on your cabinet were all forward looking visionaries and every day I heard India developing on several fronts. It was a time of positive energy in the whole country. That is far from what I can say about the current government. They have a few achievements of their own, but the cabinet and the party leadership seems so uncharismatic and banal that I feel we have a rusty government. As we approach the next Lok Sabha elections, my wish is that BJP come back to power with a strong mandate. However your current campaign seems to promote that I'd be voting for yourself or Rajnath Singh rather than the greater force that is the BJP. I want to be convinced that what I'm voting for is not 1 or 2 individuals but that portfolio of stars. This is also a perfect way to illustrate differentiation from the Congress which begins and ends at Soniaji.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments,
Sujeet Pillai

As election season heats up watch out for more of my posts on that little debated topic. The Indian Polity.

Full disclosure: I'm a BJP supporter, I don't claim to be a unbiased observer or in the terms of those who have corrupted the use of the word for their own differentiation "Secular".

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bring the government closer to home

Nilekani in his latest blog post "Where was the mayor?" and Basab Pradhan in his "Singapore and Indian Cities" proposes the need for India to have more local government especially in cities. Our cities have specific problems which they need solved and a "closer" government may be able to help us further on this front.

Are we sure that the solution is more local government power? What makes us think that an additional set of 'responsible' local government functionaries would be able to fix the problems of our cities as compared to the state government? For example, in Mumbai's case, the state government sits in Mumbai, so I doubt that they aren't aware of the issues with Mumbai. Shouldn't the state government just have a sort of departmental system where urban centres in the state are managed separately and solutions are created for their specific problems. I agree that the west and some cities have prospered very well with stronger local govt. within cities and districts. However I'm unable to agree with the proposition that our unique problems may be solved with their solutions. This is central to my thinking on all governmental and policy related topics so I'll quote it.

"We have our own unique problems. We need to create our own unique solutions to these problems. Just like Newton's laws of motion does not apply to subatomic particles we can't use someone else's solutions to our problems."

I am against increasing the complexity in the governmental system by adding another layer that I as a taxpayer pay for. Although my resultant tax burden may remain the same, however the total cost to the govt. would increase to handle the logistics of this extra layer, leaving aside lesser money for more important uses. Obviously my argument being, if the state government couldn't get it right what makes me feel that a special local government could.

Education Control

Should education be in the hands of the government as part of a ministry? Does the fact that the government was democratically elected change your viewpoint? It seems that education we've taken as a given is run by the education ministry. Have we even questioned whether that was the appropriate way to go about it? Maybe not. We've accepted the status quo since that's the way it's always been done.

A bit of context here, my interest in the education system or the reform thereof has been one that I've held for quite some time now. If I were prime minister for a day, I'd dedicate that day completely to revamping our education system. This idea however came to me from a recent obsession of mine. I've just got my hands on all 47 episodes of "Chanakya" and was working my way through episodes. The education system portrayed there seemed to spark this question.

I'm not sure how much the serial had basis in historical fact, but the education system in medieval India was basically a set of schools/gurukuls. The heads of the gurukuls (who were essentially the most experienced/the greatest genius or the most renowned in that gurukul) in a city formed a sort of ad hoc committee which essentially held discussions. However the gurukuls were still able to dispose of the education that they thought most relevant. That cognizance came from the years the acharya's spent tutoring pupils and their actions in public life. I began thinking a lot of rhetoric has been written of the guru-shishya relation and how that has grown dilapidated with the commercialization of education. However, very little has been written of the system of education prevalent at that time and age.

The thing that appealed to me most was the fact that the people who decided on what should be taught were not insipid politicians but were the true intelligentsia of the age. They say in Utopia the intelligentsia rules the country. Atleast ruling the education system would be a start. The administration was responsible for the present of the state and the gurukuls the future. The gurukuls guarded their education system from involvement by the state and were essentially responsible in keeping the administration in check. The best students went into service with the king as ministers and moulded the opnions and practices of kings. In short, the gurukuls debated and decided the future of the state.

Considering we had such a glorious system 2300 years ago, I'm afraid the current state is deplorable in comparison. Reservations, political horsetrading, ugly commercialization and lack of a credible education authority has our education system crumbling. I believe we're in a downward spiral rather than in a state where we're improving our education year on year. That too at a point when knowledge creation is at its fastest. Our education system is not ready to determine its own future let alone influence and improve the future of the state.

But this is the scary part. How do we change the status quo? I have absolutely no idea!