Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Support your supporters

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"If your supporters aren't supported by you, what use is of supporters supporting you"

There is a movie called Kurukshetra in which Sanjay Dutt plays the lead role, that of a top cop. In the movie, a poor girl gets raped and murdered by a politicians son. Then starts an epic battle between good and evil (hence the title of the movie) and Sanjay Dutt fights on behalf of the poor parents of the girl. Naturally, politicians being politicians, have a nexus with mafia, and then there is a "good" politician (Oxymoron? You bet) who eventually betrays Sanjay. Throughout the movie, there is an enormous effort put by him, he almost dies, fights bravely and doesn't know whom to trust. Towards the end of the movie, Sanjay Dutt is invitied by the politicians to settle matters. On reaching the home of the politicians, he is taken aback by seeing the father of the girl present there - the politicians try to convince Sanjay to stop fighting this case, fighting for this dead girl, when even her own father has given up - No, he did not yield to threats. Rather, the politicians gave him a lot of money and an apartment in a prime locality. The father says - "So what if she is dead? She can't be brought back to life. But now, we (family) are better off, thanks to the money and the apartment" and the politicians in the backdrop share a smug grin as Sanjay Dutt feels the ground slipping beneath his feet.

Well, in the movie, after this, he flips his wig, and goes and guns down the politicians...

But note the point I am making here - If you are being supported by someone for a cause that you had been fighting for, and this person is a strong force, not yet another brick in the wall, and has been devoting a lot of time and energy for YOUR cause, and is also making progress......... and when you have such a person doing good for YOU, it would be highly unfair when YOU yourself give up on the cause or the person.

The best example that can be given at this juncture is Anna Hazare... The man has been putting enormous efforts for our cause - We have seen all the scams of 2011. The sheer sizes of amounts is greater than money most countries might posses, equals our yearly budget (only one scam was enough!!) and there were several that came out. It is OUR money that these people are stealing - and finally, there has been a movement that seems to be putting pressure on the politicians. And the politicians are coming up with really cheap antics to escape getting caught.

Like introducing reservation - this is perhaps the dumbest and most obvious escape route - What does caste and religion have anything to do with corruption? Corruption is spread evenly across people of all castes and religions, and we don't have to bother. But, by introducing this concept, now the debate starts getting shifted, with some people supporting reservation and some don't, and there is naturally going to be a divide. What we should remember is that we are all fighting for one cause, OUR cause, and Anna Hazare being the mascot, the leader, the face of the movement, we should all support him in all the ways that we can... I was surprised when I saw a Facebook group that asked Anna Hazare and his companions to go to hell, and today's headlines showing a decline in number of people following him.

If this movement fails, and if it doesn't go through - I won't be surprised if a group of people end up getting frustrated like Dutt did in the end of the movie and go about gunning down these politicians, taking law into their own hands, or as in Rang De Basanti, because the law does't support them and the people for whom this movement was for, didn't support the movement. And when that happens, don't call the shooters extremists. Call them as people who did what you didn't have the guts to do, people who took action.

(Note: I am not proposing violent action - I am merely suggesting that violent action may be a repercussion)


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Expectations and Choices

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"When you set your expectations too high, you are bound to be disappointed"

I happened to watch a very interesting video about choices. Today, we have a lot of choices when we are about to do something or purchase something. And while these choices may seem to be a good thing, an excess of choices creates problems. How can choices create problems? The video will answer all the questions.

However, what I wanted to talk about was expectations. As technology and society advances, the kinds of expectations that we have keep going higher and higher. I had some of these experiences personally where I have a really fast internet connection both at home and work. And on one occassion, when I had to access the internet through the mobile internet devices, like Tata Photon Plus, I found the speed pathetically poor. It is not that the speed itself is poor, because I used to have a dial up connection before broadband, and I remember clicking the button, and going to do something else while the page loads, or something else happens. And this is faster than that. But after seeing faster connections, what can actually be considered good becomes dismal.

And with high expectations and choices, we also end up spending (wasting?) a lot of time before picking something to buy. The easiest example is cell phones - When you decide to buy a cell phone, now you have to do a whole lot of computations, and pick one after comparing brands, platform, features and then depending on your budget ensure that you are getting the maximum features in your phone. So you go about asking a lot of people, reading reviews online etc. And after you buy a phone, as usual, within a short time, technology becomes obsolete and therefore that higher end phone that you had eyes on but no money comes to the price range of your phone - and you would have bought that! Had you just waited a little longer. Therefore you start getting disappointed in the choice that you made, though your choice was a good one.

I had this experience where I bought a decent phone as soon as it had released paying close to Rs. 12,000 and around seven months later, that phone is available at Rs. 7,000 from the same site from where I had purchased it. This will definitely make you sad, make you feel that you could have waited, or bought a better phone - that element of satisfaction lost. (It is a different matter that my phone went kaput in the rain and now I am using an ancient phone that can do nothing except call and sms... Well, this feeling is entirely different)

There should be varieties, and the varieties should also improve constantly, but creating too many varieties will create problems when you want to pick. Another example is Linux. I keep hearing newer and newer distributions of Linux every other day, and they also say that the whole thing is fully customisable - If you do something like this, then ensure that always provide a person default settings with recommended options so as to quickly be able to get started. I understand customisation is a great feature, but it is one helluva time consuming task, frankly.

Now that we understand too many choices is bad, why not extrapolate the same concept to politics and multi party system? People keep 'forking' out of parties and starting their own all the time. The result can be that the votes are going to be divided among every party and thereby getting fragmented... Thus forcing a need to form coalitions...

I would like to close this post on expectations - As long as you keep your expectations high, you are bound to be disappointed. I always love the quote by Lord Krishna -
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
 - which means, do your work and don't expect fruits. The problem with expecting something is, if you don't get it, you will be saddened. When parents expect good performance from children and when children disappoint them, the parents are disheartened, and thus the child is disheartened and then there are suicides.

Note: Yes, expecting is natural, having expectations is natural, and setting higher standards is definitely the sign of progress and advancement... But they come at a price... They always do.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"The world is shrinking, along with the thickness of smart devices"

Ever since the release of the fabulous iPhone, the smart phone industry seems to be in a mode of constant innovation. Fabulous apps keep coming out every so often and one that I would like to discuss today, is Viber.

So what's Viber anyway?

The development of phones has gone to such extents that very often we forget the original purpose of the phones - to make calls and send messages. This was the fundamental couple of features from the days of the venerable 3315. However, with a host of features that came along later, which makes your life greatly simplified, such as maps and GPS for navigation, locating places nearby and keeping track of events with synced calendars, one often had problems only in one case - When having to contact someone who is beyond your country.

This was also not really much of an issue with tools like Skype, Fring and Google talk. You can talk to people face to face, as well as chat with them. But two tools seem to have taken this to the next level - One is Whatsapp, and  the other is Viber. The main advantages of these is that they use your phone number and can be integrated with smart phones, like iPhone and Android.

Frankly, I came to know about Viber today, and installed them on an Android phone and iPod touch. Once installed, you can place a call to anyone, Viber to Viber, free of cost, as well as send a message to them - all this using phone numbers as contact IDs rather than creating a specific ID which you would have had to do in case of Google, Skype or Fring. You can still make similar calls with Google, Skype and Fring - Frankly, in that sense, I found that the features are very identical - and a message is just like a single message of a chat.

Which is probably why not many people I know seem to be using Viber - Only 4 of my contacts (1 included me :P) used Viber, while a large number of my dad's contacts use Viber. Which either means my friends aren't tech savvy :-O (Yikes!) or they don't know about apps like Viber and Whatsapp, or they just didn't see value in it.

As an app, it has a very clean interface, and can do things like Sending messages, deleting messages, placing calls, showing missed calls, etc. And a couple of features here and there. The biggest advantage, to summarise folks, is that you won't lose any money as long as you have wi-fi around (which is true with most of us these days) or with GPRS and 3G. So what are you waiting for, go get Viber.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Slut Walk

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Prevention is better than cure, it is better to avoid than to lure"

Today's newspaper article showed that the Slut walk campaign that was due to be held in Bangalore got cancelled because there was opposition from some groups against the campaign. I posted a link of one of my previous posts on Facebook, citing that the protest in itself was silly. Since were there were several discussions on that, I thought, let me put a clearer picture, solely dedicated to this protest here.

== Note ==
Read the whole post, do ample research. Knee jerk reactions will be not be commented upon

So, what exactly is Slut Walk?
On January 24, 2011 Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke on crime prevention at a York University safety forum. He said: "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." (wikipedia)

Then what happened?
This had happened in Canada. So people protested against it, saying that wearing provocative clothes is not an invitation to rape.

Ok, I got that - So, what's your problem?
Take the following situation - It is a lonely road late in the evening.

  • There is a woman walking alone on that road wearing a lot of jewellery. 
  • There is a couple walking, woman has a lot of jewellery
  • Big group of people walking, one woman has a lot of jewellery
  • It is a busy road, lone woman has a lot of jewellery
  • It is a busy road, many people walking as a group. Woman has a lot of jewellery
  • Same cases - only difference is, woman doesn't have any jewellery
My question to you is - What are the chances that she will be mugged? And which case has the highest chances?

The answer is - all cases can have mugging. Depends. There can be a big group of rowdies with weapons and they would have robbed you no matter which case. But the chances of that happening is less. The chances of chain snatching is still a possibility in all cases. However, the chances of a full fledged robbery, and that too by a lone man is highest in the case where she is alone and has a lot of jewellery.

If you don't agree with this argument - stop reading.

If you agree, let's analyse. What are the factors that brought about the robbery?
  • She was alone (no company)
  • She had jewellery
  • There were lesser/no people on the streets
Now, notice that point one and point three are nothing to do with the woman herself. They are merely companions who can defend her in case of problems and also serve as a scare to the predator. However, if she didn't have jewellery (lots of it, as specified before and on display) on her, chances of her being robbed is a lot lesser. It is not that she won't be robbed at all, but is lesser. Why? There is no direct lure.

It is common sense that if you are luring someone - there is bound to be a repercussion. This is also the reason why we lock the doors. It is an attempt to thwart an attempt. What you can call, as a first level of precaution. It is also the same reason why we don't go around advertising how much money we have kept in the safe, or discuss financial matters in front of servants. It is common sense that a prevention is better than cure, and this is why I said that it is sane advice - Avoid wearing skimpy clothes.

If you wear skimpy clothes, there is a higher chance that you will be ogled at. So that brings us to the question, why wear skimpy clothes?

Why wear skimpy clothes?
This is a question I would really like the girls to answer. What I feel is that they are trying to attract male attention and/or show off their body to attract attention. But yeah, mainly, you are trying to attract attention. As discussed previously, keeping a lower profile is more likely going to avoid an unnecessary attention to you.

Heck, I will wear what I want. It's the rapists fault!
Yes, the rapist is at fault at all points of time, and nobody is denying that. However, the question is, does wearing skimpy clothes really draw the attention of a rapist? So typically people say "Studies show that...." and therefore I decided to do a bit of looking up.

According to statistics (and there were loads of them) you can say that there was a 25% chance where rapists raped due to the clothes. Oh see? Not something like 85%, it was just 25%. Fine, I agree, it is not a very high percentage. But those 25% could have been avoided by following a simple precautionary step. Note, for you it is a statistical number. For those women, it was 100% and that is what I am saying. Every little step is a step towards the goal.

Still, what about the remaining large percentage?
The remaining large percentage was partially faults on both sides. Some cases, men wanted to show control over the women and thus they raped. Some cases, women went to bars, got  drunk and chatted up men, danced provocatively and teased them, didn't strongly say no, etc. And men were also in a drunken stupour. That said, the questions is - can we prevent this? Yes, this can also be brought down by a large extent by strongly cutting down the pub-culture, something that people are strongly against in Bangalore.

Dude, Bangalore's night life sucks
What happens is - When people get drunk, they lose inhibition. This coupled with the darkness makes it easier because of lesser people. This makes it a lot unsafe for people. You may not be the types who will cause trouble, but not everyone is as gentlemanly or lady like like you are. Think about the perverted punks who booze and have no inhibitions at a time where you, a decent guy are out with your girl friend, sipping breezers at a time when there are no people around to help you defend against a pack of wolves? Isn't it better to shut down parties at more human hours? It is, again, a precautionary measure and works a lot better than having to fight it subsequently through protests.

Ella ok, slut walk against yaake?
Now that I have told you all of this, let us see what it is that ticks me off.
  • Clothes are a trigger in a certain number of cases. It is sane advice to not wear skimpy clothes
  • Liquor is an agent that weakens inhibitions, results in all kinds of damage if unchecked
  • In cases where men wanted to dominate women and thus raped, these protests make no sense.
So should I protest?
Yes! You must. But you don't have to do a slut walk. A slut walk has no relevance here. First, write down what you are protesting against. 

If you are protesting by saying that, it is my clothes, my body, I will show off or hide, what's your problem? Then I will say - Prevention is better than cure, you will see that it is safer to avoid trouble than inviting it and then confronting it.

If you are protesting by saying - It is my life, my money, I want to drink when I want, where I want - Then I will say that in a society, it is safer the way it is now in Bangalore.

If you are going to say - The people in Canada did it and people world wide are doing it, I want to do it too! Then I will say that you are doing it because someone else is doing it. You are not doing it because  you believe in it, rather, you are doing it because you want to feel like a global citizen.

If you are going to protest by teaching self defence, or by spreading awareness, talking about repercussions, or trying to bring about a stronger punishment against rapists, helping police catch perpetrators by investing the same time and money into something that will aid safety, developing neighbourhood watch systems, etc. then yeah, I would say that this is the way in which you can protest.

La Tomatina - Now wait a minute, what?
The feeling that I get from people is that, there is a tendency to bring about a globalisation of everything. People did La Tomatina somewhere, people decided to bring it here in Bangalore. People did a slut walk somewhere, people decided to bring it here in Banagalore. People did a flash mob somewhere, and they decided to bring it here in Mumbai, Bangalore and other Indian metros. This kind of globalisation is something that I see in all kinds of silly things, which ends up getting a lot of media coverage. These are participated by people who hardly give a damn about what they are participating in - In fact, the zest is to be a part of the global community, and it is frankly no different from KFC or McDonalds where you are participating for the brand - because it is recognised. Later you can say, there's no difference between that of the US and that of India. The World Is Flat, said Thomas Friedman.

You may say - Dude, how can you club a serious social offence like rape with a tomato throwing festival? The answer is that it is the same group of people who will support all these. And the moment there is a protest against it, the immediate culprits are RSS, SRS and right winged saffron parties. I never see the same kind of globalisation when it comes to dedication shown by people in the West for something worthwhile. Anything nonsensical is first supported, anything worthwhile is not.

Attacks against slut walk protesters - Justified?
I am frankly against any physical attacks. But, I really get bored when people say that it s their way of protesting, etc. Everyone has a way of protesting, true, and everyone should really have the freedom to protest against crimes or anything else that they feel like. I agree that we should not stymie protests, because, as in the movie Gangajal, tomorrow, even an honest protest can be stymied by threats.

However, I have absolutely no feelings towards people who protest using ways like slut walks. You may say that it is for a cause, a good cause, even. Frankly, I am all for a protest against rape, even if it is as simple as holding placards and shouting at the government, forcing to make stronger laws against rapists, or shouting to increase patrols (though it is hard due to lack of man power) but a protest like slutwalk where you are a person with no conviction but one who is doing it just to be under an umbrella protest, like a KFC chain or a McDonalds chain, just so as to get some media attention, then you are not a serious protester. You are one who doesn't understand this post.

Comments from Facebook

Abhishek Kodankiry: As always, awesomely written!! :)

Anand Bhatia: Thanks for holding sanity's fort..i'd pitched in the other thread if not for my exams.

Ashok Kumar: Nicely put but then underneath it all is the question of equaltiy of sexes and whether society is ready to concede that equality and if yes then how to go about it...

Lavanya Krishnamurthy: This is the consequence of the idea 'anything western/global is cool' without understanding if it fits in with our way of life or is beneficial to us in any way.

Comments from cell phone

Poornima Rao:  Nice blog. U precisely put. I frankly dun think it applies in indian context. Coz vr more inhibited than west. Wont see many women in skirts even. Plus rare of

Thanks to govt. But if even expression s taken away. Then it becomes a land of powerful n rich in protests only. Common man vl literally hv no say

Minors is on a rise here. Need to address relief n speedy trial of cases. But wat got me upset was tat gangajal thing u said. As it is v hv few rights left

N blore has always been a tolerant city compared to others. Its shockin to seesuch weakness in e police. found it too cumbersome to put it up on fb :)