April 08, 2011

I return after a long hiatus. A lot has changed since I last opened blogger. In my life as well as in that of the world and this country. Everyone is aware of what happens in the world. This is the age of those who live life in the fast lane, after all. And no one gives a rat's ass about how everything's shaping up in the Beanp_ole's life. So I'm not going to do what all returning-bloggers do, rant about how they were naive when they entered college and how they're now guided by Prometheus' fire itself.

This is going to be about the Lokpal Bill and is directed towards two rather disjoint sets of people:

1. Those who support the anti-corruption movement without understanding it.

To be counted as one of the many who belong to this group of people, you need only have bought convenience from your local traffic policeman, local MLA(by voting for him in return), license tout, auto-driver, hostel attendant, college admin clerk or even your professor once in your life. Because for every Government official accepting a bribe, there's a civil society member paying it. You don't need to embezzle funds to feed cattle that don't exist or buy licenses for providing telephonic services (that you can't support anyway) on the cheap to be called corrupt. And no amount of "liking" Facebook pages or signing online petitions can undo this.

I will feel that I've achieved something if this post goes on to explain the matter. Because in most cases you didn't care to read what the wiki page or the petition or the note your friend tagged you in actually said. I will, therefore, include links to some of the pieces that require reading.

2. Those who are ready to engage in a constructive debate without casting aspersions on the integrity or motive of others.

First things first, here is a draft of v2.1 of the Jan Lokpal Bill as proposed by members of the India Against Corruption movement as an overhaul of the variant presented by the Government.

Now, it wouldn't be fair to expect everyone to read that document in its entirety. This Scribd document provides an analysis of the Lokpal Bill. Also, here is a (much) shorter version of what the Jan Lokpal Bill proposes for those who bleed blue but don't.

The bill and the movement have inspired commentary and discussion in mainstream media and on social platforms. There is support as well as disagreement from all economic, political and social strata of the society.

Bloggers who support Anna Hazare's movement:
MERA NETA CHOR HAI - Chetan Bhagat(Ok, this one was just for laughs and the put- badge-of-latest-fad-on-my-Facebook-profile brigade.)

Bloggers who are against the movement and/or the Lokpal Bill:

Of the few, by the few(Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the President of the Center for Policy Research)
Against the Jan Lok Pal and the politics of hunger strikes(Nitin Pai, for whom I have the utmost respect.)
On Anna Hazare's fast(Rohan Joshi, another objective columnist)
Bloggers who are undecided and/or provide other key inputs:
Dodging the drafts(PRS Legislative Research)
ENOUGH(B Raman, Director of the Institute for Topical Studies)
After reading through all this the main talking points appear to be the Gandhian philosophy of the movement(often termed coercive) and some of the clauses of the bill itself.

An increasing number of experts believe that the manner in which the movement is being carried out is undemocratic. Their argument is that while Gandhi was fighting against an imperialist power, the public today is trying to pressure a Government they voted to the helm themselves. Fair point. But so what? Should a Government, that has a post-election alliance as its foundation, be allowed to do as it pleases for its entire term? At the risk of being called an anarchist and/or an elitist, I ask, should politicians be allowed to have their own way just because most of the rural population that voted was given TV sets and in some cases, mixer grinders? A common rebuttal is "a people deserves the Goverment it gets". And this is where I disagree with Lincoln. Democracy is based on the false conviction that there are extraordinary capabilities in ordinary men. And honestly, is there no room for protest in a democratic India?

While I agree that the bill is not perfect in any way, it is downright stupid to rubbish it completely. The process of selecting the Lokpal, what needs to be done with the recovered losses are some issues that require greater deliberation. Amendments need to be made to the draft. Edges need to be smoothened. But the bill is closer to being a diamond than a piece of charcoal. The movement's spirit needs to be appreciated and other technicalities worked out so that it benefits everyone.

Finding a way to eradicate this malaise that afflicts the entire structure from top to down is of greater importance. And the inbuilt urge to buy convenience at the drop of the hat among most Indians is what makes this task tough (Sisyphean, as some might claim).

Most commentators who do not agree with Anna Hazare see 'voting for change' as the only solution to this problem. The carrot and stick treatment needs to be meted out. "Vote the corrupt out, every time, again and again until parties get the message. Vote!", as Nitin Pai says. This basically translates to UPA, BJP, UPA, BJP, UPA... I agree with that suggestion in all its spirit, but we live in a dystopian world where things rarely work out the way they should. Which brings me to some of the questions I want to ask them: Can the entire Indian polity just change the way it votes at the blink of an eye? And if it can, then why hasn't it happened already since we're all so progressive and insightful and well-meaning? How can someone bring fruit to this Arcadian fantasy(root out caste based voting, etc.), if given the responsibility and wherewithal?

Saying that India would have a better Government if everyone voted is like saying that India would be a member of the OPEC if everyone of us started working at an oil rig. That is how serious the lack of dependable leaders in our political system is.

In the hope that more informed gentlemen will give an amended bill a chance and progress will be made after the first steps have been taken, I rest my case in support of the movement. Comments, arguments and criticism are welcome.

P.S. All those who aren't interested in all this can find refuge here. Lennon had the uncanny habit of capturing the mood of the time.

The Guy in the Glass

January 08, 2010

Something interesting I came across, first a few years back and again quite recently.

When you get what you want in the struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what the guy has to say.

For it isn't your mother, or your father,
Whose judgement on you must pass,
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest
For he's with you clean to the end;
And you've passed your most dangerous and difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you are a wonderful guy,
But the guy in the glass says you are a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You may fool the whole world
Down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass;
But the final reward will be heart aches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

Oh yes he has!

October 10, 2009

After winning Nobel Peace Prize, US President Barack Obama has collected another shining medal to his award collection. He was awarded the Ig Nobel prize for Improbable Research in chemistry for inventing 'Placebo Piss', a new type of piss that flows not from the urinary tract, but from the mouth of the pisser. At the award ceremony held at Boston, Obama was awarded the honor for his remarkable ability to generate piss from his mouth and also for pissing off many millions around the world by winning Nobel Peace Prize without doing anything substantial in his initial months of presidency.

Also called as Pretense Piss, Pseudo Piss, Mouthful of Piss and Hot Piss, it is sometimes misspelled as 'Peace' which could have been one of the reasons, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee made the historical blunder and awarded him this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

What does Placebo Piss actually do? According to experts, placebo piss like placebo medicines is a sugary, inert piss which actually does absolutely nothing but when released from the mouth of a politician, preacher or a wannabe global messiah, mesmerizes thepatients audience causing them to believe the promises sprouting from his mouth. "Despite being just a placebo, its a very potent piss. Especially when emanated along with words like 'Yes we can change' or Change we can believe in', it makes the listener believe that the world is changing for the better." said Rafael Cladwell, chairman of the Ig Nobel committee.

Even when the world doesn't really change, the belief that the world is indeed become more peaceful does indeed have a therapeutic effort on the gullible listener who starts ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

"Obama's placebo piss has achieved tremendous success in just eight months of his presidency. Despite the fact that Iraq continues to burn, Guantanamo Bay stays operational, Taliban keeps on spreading its influence, Pakistan persists in avoiding termination and export of state-sponsored terrorism, Obama has succeeding in making a large section of international community believe that the world is becoming more peaceful." added Rafael Cladwell.

Unlike other politicians who are full of hot air, Barack Obama is a man of piss. Very early in the presidential campaign, he realized the diminishing value of hot air. "Politicians have been expelling hot air since time immemorial, but people are becoming immune to it due to their sharpening ability in detecting it. Obama being cleverer than most people has found a way to hoodwink them through a radically different way " said one of the admirers of Obama's pissful approach of solving world's problems.

Being a smart cookie, Obama knew he can't win the trust and vote of millions of Americans unless he learned to produce something new and different from the usual hot air. "Hot air emanating from the mouths of politicians releases a distinct rotten smell which alerts the audience in his vicinity. At the time of its release from the mouth, it tends to distort the facial features. The eyes generally become shifty indicating insincerity, the mouth widens more than normal indicating pressure to let out hot air along with rhetorical empty words and the nasal openings tend to contract in an attempt to block out the foul smell of the hot air being released from the mouth. Although people are not aware of the exact process which results in the distortion of the facial features of the person expelling hot air, many million observant voters through long decades of exposure to broken promises have become experts in identifying the precise set of facial distortions associated with release of hot air." said Steve Mayer, one of the members of the committee.

Obama responded to the challenge of his words sounding like hot air by learning to substitute it with placebo piss. "It is not really understood how Obama manages to convert hot air into placebo piss. Perhaps he withholds pissing for long periods of time and through a secret tantrik practise has learnt to move his piss upwards through the spinal cord from his bladder to his mouth where his piss loses its pungency and gets converted into sweet piss." added Mayer.

"But whatever the technique he may use, the effect of his procedure are there for all to see. We can see how the upward movement of piss through his spine makes his back arched perfectly and thrusts outs his chest. When the piss travels to the neck region of his body, it results in a slight upward glance which gives the effect of messiah-like man looking heavenwards for deliverance of his followers. Also notice the effects of his piss on his mouth region resulting in a sticky plastic smile that never ever wears off." Steve Mayer explained to his audience while announcing the prize.

"The pose that he manages to achieve during his sermonsspeeches is near-perfect. Unlike politicians shooting off hot air, his eyes never look shifty or deceitful. The sticky piss he generates makes his eyes look focused, his gaze steady, his tongue glib and his overall look that of a confident trickster who knows he has audience eating out of his hand." said Steve Mayer.

The cacophony that religion is

August 30, 2009

I am irritated as hell and it’s got nothing to do with the general state of affairs around me, the BJP’s implosion, the weather or the creative hate mail on my posts. My frayed nerves are the result of the surrounding cacophony attacking my ears which has left my brain in permanent vibrator mode (that may explain this bewildering blog).

Last week I got a case of the sniffles. Nothing serious, just seasonal flu, which escalated my irritability levels by a few megahertz. So, early Saturday morning, as I lay in my bed(at home) cursing the world and its viruses, my peaceful reverie(an indication that I was not in the hostel, a place where nothing is ever peaceful, and you can accord that to the unusually small bed that I've got. Sleep, thus is a precious quantity. Twisted muscles of the neck aren't!) was interrupted by a violent clanging sound from the vicinity. A quick investigation from the window showed someone looking remarkably like a priest banging a metal plate outside the temple.

Apparently, it’s some new custom copied from neighbourhood schools to lure in devotees and torture every other soul who doesn’t believe in paying obeisance to the gods. My frantic and angry gestures from the balcony asking him to keep it down only escalated the volume and the situation(and my hatred towards God's own man's undiluted act of schedenfreude).

That brings me to a question, the answer to which I seek in all earnest: Why do all religions have to be so loud about their daily rituals? It’s a sensitive topic so I’ll have to tread lightly, lest I get lynched by some religious zealots on my way back to Bawana Land come Monday morning. I also know that temples, gurdwaras and mosques won’t tone down the volume because a certain short-tempered blogger has got the flu. That’s just wishful thinking.

Day in and day out, these places of worship scream their devotion all over the country. I don’t know for sure, but I have a strong feeling that God is not deaf. The priests, however, always turn a deaf ear to these sentiments. Perhaps all these priests and clerics have a secret deal with the ENT specialists of the country. You scratch my back and I’ll send you the hearing impaired.

Another theory could be that these gentlemen want to make the somewhat less devout feel guilty about not going to the temple. If I was in their place, I’d change tactics… this is only driving away the remaining atheists.

Then there are the jagarans(no, not the ones you generally associate with exams). It would seem that the gods are more alert at night. Therefore, screaming your lungs out after midnight is supposed to get you closer to moksha. I believe the Supreme Court has some guidelines about noise levels (religious or otherwise) after 9 pm. Unfortunately, this being a topic of faith, you won’t find too many people willing to take on a mob to uphold a law, yours truly included.

So, how does one sleep when a thousand tone-deaf people are shrieking out devotional songs in unison a few metres from your house. Simple. Invest in ear buds, put pillows over instead of under your head and spend thousands in soundproofing your house. The other option: shift home. Although I doubt the second option is practicable. Religious is ubiquitous, you see.

Another thing I’ve noticed (and I am moving into the rounded-up-and-beatean-up-risk zone again) is that few of these harmless devotees are aware of the harm they are doing to music lovers in the neighbourhood. It’s not just the decibel levels that leave you grimacing, but the murder of melody. Tansen and his ilk must be turning in their grave. I think I should record this mass murder and sell it to the CIA. After Abu Ghraib they must have been looking for new ways to torment prisoners.

Anyway, I need to go and have a man-to-man conversation with the neighbourhood priest. If I cant’t get him to pipe down, at least I can spread some seasonal flu and God-willing give him a sore throat. Just hope I don’t have to participate in a jagaran to get God to listen to me.