Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Media as cheerleaders for power politics

“If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Malcolm X

Unfortunately, in AP and across India, Media has become a controller of politics whereas it should have played its actual role, that of a social institution with a responsibility to report on facts. Just report and leave it to you and me to interpret and make decisions.

The age-old criteria of mass hysteria only got a boost with the media, upon which they are riding to make some big money. A recent phenomenon that is evident in India and particularly AP is ‘paid news’ which is now estimated at 1000 crore industry AP alone. The corporate houses of media, as against a social institutions, surrender their loyalties to a party that they think is of use to them both politically and financially. All you need is money to invest in media houses so they get busy into the lunatic act called ‘Media Mass Hysteria’ through which they try to convert people’s loyalties to whoever the master is that paid them.
Media turned cheerleaders for the power politics that only seem to get worse day by day. I am sure they don’t mind becoming strippers if their commanding political entities order a sensual show to revel people into their charm.

The only possible solution lies in people resisting Media Mass Hysteria (just like they would resist Mass Hysteria, read back my Mass Hysteria article in this blog for some ideas on boycotting Mass Hysteria through a positive catalysis) and not look up to the rotten media houses to make decisions for them.

Shame on such media. Pity on people who rely on such media houses to form an opinion, to make a decision

Edit on 22nd: While the rest of the media is feasting on sensationalism out of show of wealth and opulence in the name of protests for farmers, Prof P. Sainath writes a bold article about the oncomming mayhem in AP and my only reliable media house, The Hindu boldly publishes it. You can read it here Those Other problems in AP by P.Sainath

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sriram Chandra wins Indian Idol 5

I remember how Karunya was the judge’s favorite in Indian idol 2 but lost to Sandeep Acharya in the deciding votes from audience. Many people ruled out a telugu guy(or a South Indian for that matter) ever winning this contest due to the watching patterns of a Hindi language telecast. I never agreed to this though. The reasons are that audience is usually more inclined to what judges have to like and are usually more sensible in judging the talent than getting lost in regional feelings. If judges really, and without any doubts and confusion like someone for their true talent, that influences audience poll too. Also, its not entirely true that people from South India do not watch Hindi language telecasts.

Sriram Chandra dispelled all those myths and reinforcing my beliefs that a Telugu guy can win, emerged the winner of Indian Idol 5. As my wife watched the Indian Idol 5 and relayed what is happening over TV (as I don’t have live access to this program today), I told her that there is no doubt that Sriram would win. Congrats Sriram Chandra, we are proud of you. This not only proved that a South Indian can win Indian idol but also confirmed that Indian audience are not emotional about regions but encourage true talent without any good-for-nothing jingoism. Jai Ho India!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The American Football Night

It was a great opportunity last night for me to have been invited to watch the most popular American sport, the American football. Sitting just yards away from the field, club class access to bar, right in the pavilions filled with stars of the game, rubbing shoulders with coaches, almost-on-your-lap kind of access to cheer leaders ;-), thronged by who's who of Texas, I thought it was an unparalleled sporting experience!

Having watched the Springboks team of South Africa win the Rugby Union World Cup from South Africa, I knew the Rugby game more or less. Watching Australia, New Zealand and South Africa play this game, I always felt it was like soccer as the focus was to retain the ball possession and score a try by crossing over to the opponents’ goal line. It was fun to watch given that the game was focused around a ball and any physical activity outside of the ball zone is restricted by tough rules in the game. Also to score a try in Rugby, like scoring a goal in Soccer, the player had to go past the goal line and touch down the ball. ‘Yes-I-made-it’ feeling after some hard work by running, passing and strategizing around.

On the other hand, I did not find American football very interesting (no offence to any hardcore fans of American football, its only my opinion), though everyone kept saying that it’s a preseason game and Dallas Cowboys (the supposed champions) were not playing their full team and up to their full potential. When I actually watched the match between Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders, I strained to understand the rules of the game. I figured out later that when given an opportunity with the ball each team has to advance at least 10 yards before 4 downs else they loose turn to the opponents. However, if they do it, they get 4 new tries to advance another 10 yards line the end goal being to reach the end zone. So the game was gradual moves and nothing spontaneous but given a chance, regardless of where the ball is, people get on each other. And on top of this, probably to support such extreme jolty uncertain physical activity, they are heavily dressed, like some aliens dressed in space suits. The touchdown (like the try in Rugby and goal in soccer) is actually no touch down, quite ironically. All the player had to do, was to get to the end-zone and win some points though there are some other ways to gain points too. And the most disappointing part in last night’s game was that there wasn’t a single touch down by Dallas Cowboy champions that eventually made them loose to the underdog team (supposedly) of Oakland Raiders. But my feeling was that the Oakland Raiders played well and deserved a win at the end of it.

So apart from the glittering lights, deafening loud speakers, rocking music, bubbly curvaceous cheerleaders, overflowing beer, greasy food, loads of commercial interests in terms of companies doing all their advertisements (American companies pay millions to ad agencies to do ads just for the NFL season and their super bowl games i.e the final games of an NFL season), infinite promotions, and some serious panache about the whole thing, all of which were excellent and excited me...there wasn’t anything game about this great American game, which has its roots in Rugby. Or its probably that, I still don’t understand! While I appreciate the fun that is woven around this whole game, the game itself is not very spine-tingling that I expect from a super sport of this nature!

I am grateful to the current client management for having chosen me to this privileged club class access to one of the most popular games of America, and managers at my current company who I could go along with. And I am glad I could go with some of my buddies from the project, though I seriously missed some others there.I would not have afforded one myself to a game like this now, not atleast in this class where the price of the tickets would have bought me my favourite ipad.

More pictures in the recent pictures section on thr right side bar

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mr. President

How often do you almost ram into a person, apologize, he says hi and you come out and realize that he is the President. The President of America! Albeit ex-president. This happened to me this afternoon when I set out for lunch and was hurrying out of the elevator lobby on the ground floor, which is also the common lobby area for the 22 floors in this building.

I was always told and in fact a couple of my colleagues in last one year or so, have seen Mr. President. The reason is he has his office in the same building as the client I am working for right now. President George W Bush, more poplar than most other American president of the current times, was waiting to walk into an elevator and as I walked out said Hi as he saw me coming into him. Usually, its not uncommon strangers say Hi to others in the US and especially to prevent someone from ramming into you. He was surrounded by a couple of people who are casually dressed but from the build understood that they are his bodyguards.

The President himself looked a little older than I saw him on TV recently along with Bill Clinton and the current President Obama during earth quake relief in Haiti, and he was not formally dressed or anything.

It was so quick all this happened that before my brain processed and sent me signals saying he is the President, he walked away in the elevator on his way to his 22nd floor office. I turned around and he wasn’t there but sure one of my other colleagues too saw him, just so that I am sure he is the president and one of my other colleagues who were waiting for me to have lunch together at the other end of the lobby missed him.

I think it’s a moment, however fast it passed, which can be treasured and remembered, though not captured in any way, be shared! Which is exactly what I did just now…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Persona called Wal-Mart

· 17 years to become a billion dollar company and 28 years to be become America’s No.1 retailer.

· Multiple stocksplits and a technology pioneer.

· Respect for individual, service to our customers, striving for excellence as 3 basic beliefs.

· 10-foot rule, Open door policies, Servant Leadership, Wal-Mart Cheer, Sundown Rule-All of them focused on the people whether it’s a customer or an associate.

If you still did not guess it to be the Wal-Mart, probably you live in the jungle. Wal-Mart is a retail success and needs no certificate. Is there something for us to learn from a successful business like this, apart from the way they conduct their business, which is already a hot case study in B schools across the world? Well, there is. Or at least I will try to explain that there is.

What I learned from my trip to Bentonville, the birthplace of Wal-Mart and the stronghold of its founder Sam Walton, is that businesses have a personality too and they inherit the traits from the founders, just like a son acquires his personality from his father. A son might be influenced and add-to/mar his personality as he grows and that applies to the businesses too, as it carries on to the next generations and new leaders manage it.

While studying to graduate in economics from the University of Missouri, he was one of the poorest boys in America but that was not to be forever so. He worked multiple jobs to support his family and he was always someone who wanted to make it to the chosen goal, come what may. All this, while having the respect for the individuals around him, since he believed in the social connection and learned early the importance of being a social animal. It was said that Walton could have won all the post if he contested while at the University and JC Penny’s, his first job as a Management graduate.

He wasn’t an instant success or an overnight patriarch of riches. He failed, failed and failed. But he never gave up. His first store wasn’t a kill, the Eagle brand he started was a flop, Five and Dime did not do as great. But he never gave up!

Success came late, but it did. Wal-Mart, started first in 1962, was called so after a suggestion from one of his workers, never looked back. Wal-Mart became a Billion dollar company in the year I was born and became a role model business for retail industry by the time Sam Walton died in 1992.

To do what one wants to do and be a good social person reflect in his empire’s (Wal-Mart’s) 3 beliefs and also various policies he has had devised. No doubt, his business acquired his personality. A personality that gives jobs to many and sells affordable stuff to millions. All this while he is not physically in this world. He left back a personality, not just a business that keeps growing…


Monday, May 31, 2010

Child-like and Childish!

I am a child. I want to keep reminding me this because otherwise I will cease to be one! The drawback in ceasing to be a child is we tend to become more complex, rational and practical by killing all the child-like innocence, magic, magnanimity and simplicity.

I still remember how I enjoyed moving in a certain path which came to my mind and not just walk straight, how I did things twice or even thrice for some heart felt goodness, how I shouted yeeeeeeeeee into the skies and believed I can fly, how I watched stars all night trying to spot Venus (literally as it was the brightest star). I did a lot of things during my childhood that I want to keep doing. Without a logic to it, without being rational and without being practical for w while! I want to be child-like forever, whenever I can.

When I was actually a child, I was also probably jealous, possessive and adamant about certain things. Well, that is how all children are, aren’t they? This is something we don’t want to carry up into our adulthood otherwise which we remain childish and not child-like any more. While it is good to be child-like, I feel it is absurd to be childish.

Grown up and in a madly practical world, I thoroughly enjoy being with friends and love to take pranks, jokes and satires from them alike. For this gives me an opportunity to live my ‘Be a child’ philosophy. But I would definitely want my friends, and in fact request, to not brood over something that I might have done while I was a child to such a level that it ceases to be a joke and starts to be an intolerable, pungent, spoiler. I loathe the fact how some friends enjoy it so much trying to prove God knows what? Such instances while spoiling all the child-like reliving we are doing together, make them look outright childish.

Unfortunately, to kill the ill effects of such childish poke, the only shield that worked was to kill my child-like philosophy during those times and be a practical and serious adult.

I would also like to take this article as an excuse to thank all my childhood friends for being part of my wonderful growing up and also extend a sorry if I hurt someone back then. Remember, I was only a child back then! Grow up and steal moments of child-like living by joining me in the fun. But dont spoil your adult life by being childish, if you are being one!

Photo Desc (Left) : In my PPI(Pre Primary I), how I won the first prize for drawing out something I remembered from my stellar viewing the night before.

Photo Desc (On the top) : Jack and Jill went up the hill...I was the Jack!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mass Hysteria in the air!

Fact: As I landed in Dallas/Forth worth International airport in the year 2009, the world press reported a case of Mass hysteria in Forthworth where 34 people were sent to the hospital after they complained about having symptoms when they mistakenly thought they had been exposed to carbon monoxide.
From Dancing Mania in 1500s to Halifax Slasher to the more recent New Delhi Monkey man and Forthworth carbon monoxide, Mass Hysteria has been seen regularly among people. The following article is about one such, but more mysterious and undetected mass hysterias…
Educated Masses are people who are well educated, professionals, good earners (for themselves). This species do not care for their contribution to society and follow many others in their species blindly, with little or no time to innovate and contribute to society by stop being a victim of mass hysteria. All of them together are lost in a race of something they don’t need- Desires as they are called, as against needs! Desires keep them so busy that hey have no time left for anything else. From unwanted cars to unwanted bungalows and houses in plenty, they amass everything. Unfortunately, this is contagious and you don’t want to be the other animal in your set of species.
I hope all my readers are the elite class and none fall into this class of species. But there is an imminent threat that you might be sucked into this kind of species (Didn’t I tell you they are contagious)… You know what you can do if you find this animal? Start a catalytic chain reaction of contention (as against greed) to stop a catastrophe. Be the starting point of contention and start a revolution.

PS: Original article cut short by the author to save a war!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Project Aadhar- Don’t we deserve something better?

Social Security Number. I was asked to apply for one as soon as I landed in the US. My medical insurance, my drivers’ license and all my details are tied up to this one single number. Some people went up to extent of saying that I cannot continue for long in the US, without this number. I always wondered why would something called a social security number be my national identification number. I started looking out for some gyan on this and to my relief I found that facts are different!

The Privacy Act of 1974 in the US clearly ruled out mandating SSN for identification purposes when it stated “It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number.”

Now that leaves it at a par in purpose of use where we use our Indian voter’s ID, or a PAN number or even a ration card which along with serving a particular purpose identifies a citizen, it being a government issued card. Its nothing more than a number assigned to a wonderful system of government that brings you the benefits against old age, health, unemployment, and other risks.

Now the SSN is only a number, mistaken for national identity of an individual because of heightened dependency of the agencies that want to recognize an individual. Now, I always find it tough to understand the utility of a Multipurpose National Identity card, an initiative by Government of India’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) division, which has a conservative estimate standing at 150,000 crore rupees budget.

The primary purposes , the masterminds from the government claim, are save elections from rigging, stop widespread embezzlement of funds, prevent illegal immigration and hence terrorism from external sources. I say, elections that come once in a blue moon does not need a massive program like this one, embezzlement is primarily due to corrupt politicians and administrators, Internal security is a bigger risk than external threats for India now with the rise of Maoists and Naxalite movements.

Civil liberty is a big blessing of any democracy. Now, is someone wants to centralise everything and want to see what I do to eat to what I do to save. And from where I get treated to where I invest, my liberties are at stake. UIDAI itself admitted that there is no legal framework supporting this massive budget, overly ambitious project. Clearly civil liberty is at stake!
If that were not enough, if some corrupt politician or an administrator sells this information even in little chunks, it’s a huge security issue. Security of the system and hence the individual is at stake.

No doubt the best of minds have been roped in to lead this project. I am proud India wants to do something of this scale. Jingoism aside, shouldn’t I be thinking the real usefulness of this project. Shouldn’t we first think about creating a social security system like that in the advanced countries, for ourselves. India needs it more than any other country with majority of the population under poverty line and earning less than a dollar a day. So called benefit programs are limited to people in formal working sectors only. Most of the India population is not in that segment. Like in the US, UK, Japan, France and other countries, we should have a system which protects all, and not just who are self sufficient already, from old age, retirement, health, employment and other risks.

Now that is what is called a justified budget and useful investment by a responsible government, and see how everyone applies for a card for themselves, which can then be used for identification or whatever you need to do.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Cyclone Laila

Elusive are the ways of Mother Earth! When people have been complaining of extreme heat, sunstrokes and raising toll due to soaring mercury, strikes Cyclone Laila.

Incessant rain, gushing winds, uprooted trees, twisted signboards and dead cattle as against scorching sun, humid winds, parched trees, shining signboards and dead cattle again. 180-degree change, in weather, in less than 2 days. The common thing in both the extremes is the damage. To cattle, crop, property and human life is not spared too.

Hurricanes and Tornadoes are a constant threat in the West too. When nature strikes, the so-called Great economies are no exception. Massive destruction and loss of lives are a characteristic of any such natural calamities. Talking of natural calamities, these hurricanes and cyclones are smaller compared to Earthquakes and Tsunamis.

The world’s deadliest cyclones occurred in the Indian sub subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Burma and Bangladesh). Low-lying cyclone threat prone areas and excessive population, along with nonchalant attitude of political machinery who care not for people who elected them.

There is only so much Mother Earth can take. We don’t care for the nature, cut trees, pollute and don’t do things to subside ill effects of pollution. As if this were not enough, a little money will put our entire common sense to rest. We start buying bottled water to dump plastic, aerosol filled fresheners and whatever else it takes to burden earth. Paradoxically, countries that burden the most seem to have not-so-much affect from this nature’s give back.

Mother Earth’s give back is a certainty if we don’t stop burdening her and start acting responsibly. How I wish, Mother Nature could see international boundaries when striking back. As insane as it may sound, I meant, shouldn’t the poor people be spared from the sins of economically lunatic peoples’ acts?

When my mind speaks...

Will my mind speak? Well, minds can speak, laugh, sing, mimic, act, write, erase, sleep and among many other things also think. However, speaking, I feel, is the most expressive form of one's thoughts. So I choose to call my blog the title you see 'when my mind speaks' because I don’t want to sound funny by saying 'when my mind thinks'. I always think, or for that matter minds always think. It’s research-proven that thinking minds determine a person. No wonder all self-help books are filled with thoughts on thinking, and now a days, no book is spared. Back to 'when my mind speaks' as against 'when my mind thinks', I think always but you bet that I don’t want to share everything on the blog, just like you (or your minds) don’t speak everything you think of!
So with that little icebreaker para and a conversation-starter, I hope I have justified the title of my blog. However, as I claim on my social networking profiles, I am an extrovert and a people person, So all thoughts from my friends and everyone will be considered seriously and if I change the title of my blog you know you have influenced my mind to speak your mind. So all comments and contests are a welcome.I promise you I am not rigid and am ready to speak your mind if you can convince my mind to speak your mind. I double promise you, I will give public credit to that mind!