Heights of Selfishness!

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Two schools of thoughts are vying with each other – – for my attention, which is usually followed by rationalization and giving them a logical conclusion.

Recently, I had come across reports that violence has flared up in Congo. In this month’s GQ mag, I came across a letter to the editor where the reader had written about an article that was published in an earlier edition of the mag. The article “Congo: The Horror” written by Ed Caesar.
I did a quick Google search and got the article, but what impressed me was that situation in Congo was given print space in one of the elite magazines’. My enthusiasm was however, short-lived as I wondered how many people would really care (as most of the people subscribing to this magazine would be the upper crest of the society). Then reality struck me; even if the above mentioned article had appeared on the front page of all the leading Indian dailies’, nobody would have cared. Even if someone did, what could they do? There is enough crap in our own homes, why worry about somebody else’s crap?
What Congo needs is action. What is being done right now is not enough. Empathy, pity and care are nothing but feelings that soothe our guilt of inaction and their contribution towards solving / finding a solution to Congo’s problem, is ZERO. However, there are people who have set up camps decades ago, dedicating their lives to helping the people (by setting up aid and medical camps) of Congo. We need more of them, very badly.
I am tired of writing about the inhumane horrors the fighting in Congo has brought about. You can do a Google search and read for yourself. But what caught my eye was that men are now being raped in Congo.
I had read some where that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Right now there are very few good people who are doing their bit, but they are powerless to bring about a change. Change is what the people of Congo need.
The colored people had played their part in the revolution that saw slavery being abolished and racial discrimination being made unlawful. But what I do not understand is why this racial discrimination is being perpetrated by the colored people on their own kind.

It reminds me of a line spoken by the protagonist in the movie “Hotel Rwanda” where he laments that the ‘whites’ have abandoned them to their fate cause they are nothing but dirt to them (whites). In the case of Congo, the world has abandoned it. Nobody cares about what is happening in one of the poorest countries of the world. Let them die. They are nothing but cockroaches. Apparently, it is good for us that these cockroaches are killing each other as the world becomes a better place to live in with fewer roaches.

Now about things more local in nature, I saw our Honorable Chief Minister, on TV, allotting crores’ of rupees at the drop of an hat, to build memorials, for two noted film and theater / music personalities who had recently passed away. I cannot comprehend how the CM can allot crores’ of Indian rupees for memorials. That is criminal waste of the taxpayers’ (our) money.
There are far more pressing issues at hand to deal with and that require such sums of money. Is there no one to question the rationale behind such idiosyncrasy? Why are we letting this happen, unless this is nothing but a gimmick and everybody is in on it, except me?
In another part of our country, another Chief Minister is on a mission to erect statues of her mentor, party symbol and of course, her statues all over the state; all at the cost of thousand crores plus to the exchequer. The law has somewhat woken up and put a halt to it, but there are strong indications that the government will get away with it. Substantial amounts of money have already gone down the drain.
I did not realize that India is such a RICH country. We spend billions to satisfy petty whimsical notions that do nothing but assuage the egos of such ministers. Lots of Indians are getting onto the Forbes’s Billionaire list. But, when you go deeper, it hits you like a Shatabdi running on nitrous. We are selfish. I might be wrong, but I read somewhere that India is a country that has the largest number of billionaire’s (includes both legal and illegal). Yet, we are a poor country, still stuck with the tag “developing nation”. I have been hearing that since I was a small kid. We have billions to erect statues and build memorials, but we do not have money to build proper roads, public sanitary facilities and put in place an efficient public transport system. I am not even going to bother to talk about the corruption that has saturated our lives.

In both cases, of Congo’s and ours, we have accepted it. The people of Congo are used to the violence as generations have born and died under the umbrella of war, accompanied by the violence that is unique to the region. We Indians, we have accepted it, cause we are so selfish. We go to work, earn money, take care of our family and enjoy life. We do not worry about our neighbors and friends, apart from the show of concern. How many people go out of their way to help out? Very few. What about complete strangers. We certainly do not give a shit about them, do we? Why the hell should I worry about them? I have got enough to worry about – my job, my family, etc. That is why we have Governments. Is it not? To take care of the welfare of the citizens as a whole. And what is the Government doing? It is taking care of itself. Nobody cares. Complains fall on deaf ears. Life goes on…..

Sometimes I wonder, whether India would become as lawless as a Congo or a Somalia. But if such a thing were to happen, I wish it would happen after my time. Long after I am dead and gone. See, I am selfish!

But wait. Can we change? Is there hope for humanity? Will the world awaken and bring about a change in Congo? Will India get rid of corruption and become a transparent, peaceful and an honest country to live in. I certainly hope so. Do you know why? I am SELFISH!!!

Help! I have transmogrified into an AP pickup.

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I was lost in the world of 3D TVs and back-to-school deals for the past couple of months and was really looking forward to this Labor Day weekend.

Alas, my hopes of relaxation and fun over the three day weekend was horribly shattered as I came down with fever, cough and cold; also, add sore throat to that mix.

Yesterday, the last day of the extended weekend, was the worst. I had this really high temperature fever running throughout the night and had slipped into an incoherent and a hallucinating dream where I had become a pick-up of an AP article.

Yes, you read that right! I had become one of those innumerable, ubiquitous, pain in the *** pick up of an Associated Press article. In my dream, I was somehow transported into the world of online news, where the AP was the dictator and everybody else were nothing but pickups / repeats of the AP. I had lost my identity and was fighting against the corrupt dictator – the AP. However, unlike the endings in movies where the hero always wins, I was losing the battle and was on the verge of becoming an expired link / URL. And yes, unlike in movies, there was not beautiful damsel that needed rescuing either. Damn! That is so sad; pathetic actually, because it is my dream.

Then I woke up, with relief streaming through my whole body, that I was no longer an AP pickup. On the downside, my body was really sore and did not feel like getting out of the bed, I guess all that fighting had drained my energy.

The funny thing though is that I don’t remember the heading of the AP article.

That really tells me that it is about time I take a break long break. In fact, one is in the pipeline already. Just need to get it approved by the “powers that be”.

Media monitoring is really getting under my skin these days, with people quitting and their work being unloaded onto the existing employees heads; painfully slow pace of hiring replacements; working overtime which means that past couple of months I have been working on accounts / projects for free! cause the company does not pay for overtime.

It is a crazy world of media monitoring and we being crazy media analysts……. you get the point, right?

A Festival No More

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The Tour De France starts from a few minutes from now. But for the first time, I have no desire to watch it.

It feels strange.

The king of cycling is back (with a perpetual shadow of dope allegations still following him), which in all probability is his last Tour (still unconfirmed). The defending champion has already made his plans on neutralizing the king’s threat and win one more Tour.

I don’t care anymore. The black swirl of doping allegations around this sport, has robbed all the credibility, interest, spark and soul from it. The Yellow Jersey has lost its meaning and purpose.

Long live the Peloton.

Credibility

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I watched in awe as a teenager, religiously making sure that no one takes control of the TV remote when the Tour De France was being broadcast on the television. I used to get goose bumps witnessing Lance Armstrong attack – a rare phenomenon. Simply put – Lance was my idol, my hero and heroes do not need credibility.

On May 20 2010, Floyd Landis dropped a bombshell. I am not concerned about his admission of doping. What shocked me was his accusation against “My Hero – Lance Armstrong”.

It is an open truth that Cycling and Doping are synonymous. Yet once in a blue moon, someone like Lance Armstrong comes along and rewrites the script. He doesn’t cheat; he is a cancer survivior and has won the Tour De France a record number of times.

When Lance responded to the allegations leveled by Landis, he did so by invoking ‘credibility’. Expressing doubt over Landis’s credibility might have been a valid and legal point. But that got me thinking…

“Since when do Heroes need Credibility”?

I am no longer interested in Cycling. Lance Armstrong is no longer a hero to me. I don’t think there would be anyone who would be exalted to that status anymore – I have no need for ‘Heroes’. Whether the allegation sticks or not; it doesn’t matter anymore.

Credibility is not a virtue of a Hero. They don’t need it.

Between the rungs of a Corporate Ladder

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It is all hunky-dory, when one remains neutral and ignorant. I realized today, to my horror that it is an in-inescapable black hole into which one gets sucked into. Yeah. I am talking about the murky underworld of office politics. I have heard horror stories from my friends about how bitchy, cut-throat and sometimes downright pathetic, the office environment becomes; when one is entangled in the vicious web.

Seniors who are inferior in both talent and skills, resort to sabotaging the work of juniors (it is nothing but insecurity and lack of skill up-gradation that would otherwise put them on par with the juniors), and then lick the boss’s ass to secure their position. The juniors cannot complain because the boss turns a blind eye, leaving them with very few choices:

  • Put up with it and wage a lone battle. Bide your time, establish yourself and then show everyone who’s the boss (this rarely happens).
  • Start licking their holy asses.
  • Quit.

Why does the company tolerate such inferior talented seniors? I can think of two reasons:

  • Experience is on their side and the company cannot afford to lose seniors. Hence the company overlooks the lacunae that might be in them.
  • They have been licking the boss’s ass so much that the boss has gotten used to it and cannot live without them. Hence, the boss uses his/her all-mighty powers to protect the undeserving ass lickers.

There are some ‘museum pieces’ (read senior management level employees) that ought to be pickled, bottled and shoved up a donkey’s rear (poor donkey: it will probably die of constipation). They keep flipping (faster than a chameleon can change its color) according to the situation, deny what they said few minutes ago, come up with absurd reasons and excuses for their actions, total control freaks (need to consult with them for everything) and most importantly black tongued hypocrites. I don’t believe in God, but if one doesn’t pucker up to such pieces of shit then God help us. There is every possibility of being fired for some absurd reason, re-instating to everyone that they are indeed ‘the shit that matters’.

In the midst of all this, the company makes all the right noises about being just, transparent, fair and so on… If the company does not have the balls to take on the leeches that have dug in deep, the least they can do is job security to those who are unfairly targeted, as a result of office politics.

When the soul of a company is being raped by such vested, uncouth employees, undermining its foundations; where is the joy and satisfaction in working for such a company?

Castrate and Hang all Drunken Drivers! Especially Carpenters.

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I was least bothered about DUI until now. Now that I am a victim, I realized that there is no FUCKING point.

Around 10:45 in the night, on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010; I was going back to home from office on my Honda Unicorn. At the intersection of 100 feet road and Old Madras Road (under the metro construction), a drunk carpenter on his 100 cc bike drove through the intersection, looking straight ahead without blinking. I was already half way through the intersection and watched helplessly as he rammed into my bike at top speed, from the left. No amount of honking helped as he was pretty drunk and was looking straight ahead.

All I remember is screeching sound of metal and plastic. Next thing I remember is someone lifting the bike (I had fallen on my left side with the bike on me and my left foot stuck under the bike’s silencer) and helping me up.

A big thank you to the locals and the metro construction workers. They apprehended the carpenter who was trying to flee (the boisterous ones rained a couple of blows on the unrepentant, inebriated dickhead as he tried to pin the blame on me, for causing the accident) and were there till the traffic police arrived.

In the meantime, the drunken prick had called up his relative. This relative of his started suggesting a compromise and settle the matter before the police arrived. The compromise was:

  • to leave the scene immediately and me going to a hospital and get treated,
  • then call up the relative who would then give the prick’s house address,
  • go to the prick’s house and ask for reimbursement of medical expenses;
  • forget the damage to the bike as he was a daily wage labourer (the relative also pointed out that the prick’s bike had been damaged too) who is struggling to make his ends meet.

The compromise was refused and in retaliation the relative (an impotent crossbreed b/w pig and a donkey) threatened that he would file a police complaint on my father and brother (who had reached the spot by then) for assaulting the dickhead carpenter. We still did not budge and did not allow the drunken dickhead prick to leave the scene of accident and continued to wait for the arrival of the traffic police. The relative started to taunt us saying that he will get the prick released on bail for less than 1500 INR.

The Indiranagar police station is around 500 meters down the road and was almost deserted. A wireless message was flashed and after an excruciating wait of 1 and half hours a traffic sub-inspector and a constable arrived on the spot. They took my mobile number and noted my bike’s registration number. Then the inspector asked my father and brother (who had come to my aid) to bring the vehicles involved in the accident to the police station which was around 500 meters away. The dickhead was in no condition to push his bike that far. The so called relative (kinky bastard) was no where on the scene (he had gone down to the police station to file a complaint as he had threatened).

The sub-inspector then asked us to leave and get first aid. He also told us to file a complaint on the next day at Jeevan Bhima Nagar Police Station. We were shocked as the police confiscated the dick’s bike and let him walk free. I received first aid treatment at CMH’s Emergency Casualty Center. An x-ray revealed no broken bones. However, the knuckles on my left hand were severely damaged (5 days later I still can’t bend my fingers on my left hand) There are bruises on my left hand and shoulder and on my left knee and toes. A big blood clot has developed on my left toe.

My father promptly went to the police station to file a complaint, but the inspector started to coerce my father into reaching a compromise. Frustrated, my father called up our family lawyer for counsel. Surprisingly our lawyer suggested the same thing. He spelt out the following hard facts:

  • With the current backlog of cases in the courts, it might take more than 5 years for a decision. This is the situation in fast-track courts.
  • The police have every reason to ensure the case drags as they can fleece bribes from both the parties. (my father had to pay around 1500 when he went to the police station to file a complaint)
  • The lawyer’s fees over a period of 5 years would amount to more than 30,000 INR. Meanwhile the accident has resulted in loss of around 5000 INR (which includes my medical treatment and bike repair costs).
  • Instead, get the bike repaired and claim insurance by telling the insurance company that I damaged my bike when I applied brakes suddenly and the bike skidded off the road.

Forgetting, as if the entire incident never happened, was the best thing to do and that is what I am trying to do. Problem is that these painful injuries are a constant reminder that it has happened. The injuries I have sustained will put me out of action for at least two weeks. But, what gets my goat is that drunken PRICK escaped with few scratches!

I am ANGRY.

  • I am angry with myself for staying back in the office till 10:30, when my shift actually ends at 8:30.
  • I am angry with myself for not leaving the office at least 5 minutes earlier or later as I could have avoided this accident.
  • I am angry with myself, the society, the law, and basically everyone; on seeing that PRICK walking away with no injuries and punishment.
  • I am angry at the apathy shown by the police.

What The Indian Law says?

According to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 Sec 185 states that: Whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle,-

  • has, in his blood, alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100 ml. of blood detected in a test by a breathalyser, or
  • is under this influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle,

shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both; and for a second or subsequent offence, if committed within three years of the commission of the previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both.

In Bangalore, the fine for first conviction for drinking and driving is Rs. 2000 and Rs. 3000 for repeat offences (according to a recent research paper by NIMHANS).

This is not enough. We need to make DUI laws stricter. In 2008, a parliament standing committee has recommended stricter laws to tackle drunken driving. Sadly, the government is yet to accept the recommendations. For more information please read Times of India article “Stiff law for drunk drivers” dated May 01, 2008.

Indian Green Revolution: Flattering to Deceive?

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India was once a prosperous nation, abounding in its cultural heritage and moral values. But I am more interested in the ‘prosperous’ part! Being a prosperous nation, she not only attracted traders from various parts of the world but also invaders who looted her riches. History shows that we have been plagued by invaders throughout the time. However, they were not able to loot one thing – Land. The British did exploit our natural resources, but the land remained. They couldn’t take it away. India is blessed with fertile lands capable of feeding billions. Unfortunately, at present India is facing a serious food crisis, amidst a raging debate on Genetically Modified (GM) crops. Let’s delve a little deeper and investigate.

A major part of India’s disability to feed its population stems from the mismanagement of the agricultural system during the colonial rule in the 18th century. The partition made matters worse. The areas that were well irrigated were lost during the partition. India was left with more population but more importantly less food production capacity.

After gaining Independence, the educated middle class increasingly gravitated to the idea that ‘science and technology’ alone is the answer to India’s poverty. In the 1960’s the government started importing food from the Americans under their ‘Food for Peace’ program, failing to understand the need to develop India’s ancient cultivation methods. Obviously the domestic food production was way too short to meet the demand, especially when some of the major food producing northern states were reeling under famine. The Indian government had misplaced its priorities by focusing on industrialization, rather than achieve self sufficiency in food production.

Timely intervention by private philanthropists saw successful implementation of new agricultural practices in select farming regions, in the country. The Indian government was finally goaded into bringing about “The Green Revolution”. It consisted of cultivating high yielding varieties of crops that required high use of fertilizers. However, the Indian government was hasty in adopting this technology without proper planning. Seeds of High Yielding Varieties (HYV) that were developed for a different geographical region were imported in large quantities. These varieties required very high nitrogen content in the soil to grow and the use of large amounts of fertilizers became necessary. The HYV’s lacked in-built local resistance (to flood, drought, disease, pest and frost) and hence pesticides had to be used. In order to provide for all this to the peasants, at an affordable price, the government subsidized fertilizers and to some extent the pesticides too. Taking advantage of the Indian government subsidies, number of international and local fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing companies sprung up in India.

The overuse of fertilizers eroded the natural soil fertility. Un-abated use of pesticides resulted in the pests acquiring resistance to it. The results are telling. India has the lowest yield per hectare in Asia for certain food crops. Farmers are resorting to the costlier and complex pesticides to overcome the resistance. This raises the health hazard not only to the consumers of such food crops, but also to the local fauna. The subsidies are a huge burden on the Indian financial resources and many companies are resorting to fudging records to rake in the moolah.

In the 90’s, the stage was ripe for multinational seed companies to introduce their patented, genetically altered plant varieties as the solution to India’s fast becoming nightmare. They started with cash crops, more specifically cotton. If that gets accepted and successful, it would then lay a very strong platform to introduce genetically modified food crops. However, it took quite sometime for the Bt cotton to be approved by the regulatory authority amidst a raging storm over ‘terminator’ technology. The volume and nature of protests against GM Crops sent a strong message across to the multinational companies, that getting established in the Indian market would be anything but cakewalk.

What the multinational companies failed to gauge is that there was a lot at stake. The GM crops would require no pesticides, less fertilizers (when compared to the HYV’s). Hence, the fertilizer companies and the pesticide companies would lose out as the government would no longer subsidize them. This would mean that there is no longer a level playing field. Competition would result in cut-throat pricing when compared to the luxury of fixed government subsidies. However, having the advantage of entrenching themselves in the country for decades before the arrival of the new upstarts (read multinational seed companies), the fertilizer and the pesticide lobby played dirty. On one hand, they lobbied the government to withhold granting permits to the upstarts; on the other hand they spread false rumors about the technology among the un-educated farmers. However, they did not count on nationalists, anti-globalization groups, environment protection groups and several more joining hands to protest against GM crops. It was certainly a blessing in disguise and it enabled the fertilizer and pesticide lobby to work behind the scenes. They have been quite successful as they have not been exposed yet!

The GM crops not without issues either. There is a possibility that they can transfer the foreign gene to the native flora around the fields where they are grown, a phenomenon called gene pool contamination. Can they be safely used as fodder? What are the effects of consuming the meat and other products from animals that feed on such fodder? In the case of GM food crops, what are the effects when consumed by humans, both in the short and the long term? Is it safe for multiple generations of human beings to feed on such crops? The scientific community still feels that there is a need for a more in-depth study to be conducted before the above mentioned fears can be allayed.

The GM Crops were designed for the developed countries like America where the farms are huge and mechanized. It becomes futile to expect the GM crops (those that have been introduced so far in our country) to deliver similar benefits in a country like India, where the lands are highly fragmented and would cause many people (like farm laborers who weed) to lose their livelihoods.

However, GM crops have the potential in them to do wonders for India. In fact, they have the potential to be the proponents of a second “Green Revolution” in India. India can make do with crops that survive drought and saline conditions. They can be further enhanced with vitamins, proteins and other essential nutrients which would help in combating malnourishment. Even though it is far fetched right now, Edible Vaccines makes a lot of sense in a country like India!

Sources:

Confronting Agrarian Crisis: Historical Food Insecurity, the Indian State, and the Green Revolution By Joseph A. Arena

Genetically Modified Crops: Issues For India By Dr. Suman Sahai

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