Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Another kind of "universal coverage".

That's the more conventional approach. Now read this.
And more recently this is the strategy being employed.

        All of them raise a lot of questions about concepts of disease, prevention and cure. Personally I am diffident about any strategy that involves a large scale modification of the genetic content of an organism. India has seen a huge controversy over GM food with the Supreme Court banning new field trials. But the process has already seemed to have acquired an inevitable flow (as this article would indicate). Any plan of introducing GM organisms to ensure eradication of disease seems fraught with danger.

        A more significant issue, worth raising in this context is how these steps are also symptomatic of a larger flaw in our visualisation of society and its problems. GM mosquitoes may be useful or harmful but one cannot deny that their introduction is nothing but a stopgap response to mistakes that were committed much earlier---failures in planning and managing cities, failures in taking health care to rural areas and to the urban poor, failures in managing population..and so on. This is common to a lot of policies, seemingly off-the cuff,painful attempts at correcting systemic errors(the recent loan waiver being another prominent example). These attempts reflect nothing but a complete inability to think ahead and a total unwillingness to look back while making policy. Those who celebrate the vision and foresight of policy makers when they come up with such grand solutions would do well to look back and examine how many of the problems originated in the first place.

On May Day

        Today is the 1st of May. It's a holiday in most parts of the world. This post is indicative of the fact that that is not the case for yours truly. Ruminating over this I reach the following conclusions.

        The site I work on/in/at (an online collaboration platform) for my rozi-roti has a server based in Seattle. Simply put, it implies that Seattle time is our time. So technically today is still the 30th of April. In a couple of hours the 30th will give way to the 1st. But it will still be the wee hours of the day and of course, no one in Seattle works such outrageous hours. By the time the working day (8:30/9/9:30 am) begins in Seattle, my labour for the day will have been expended. So here I am, on the 1st of May, caught between two time zones feeling as though it's actually the 1st of April.

        Later I find that Seattle(and the rest of the US) does not celebrate May Day. Apparently all such thoughts were put on the back burner when the USSR started celebrating May Day big time. May 1 was declared Loyalty Day(of all things) in the US. Wikipedia says:

"Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom."

An interesting response to the threats from behind the mythical/mystical Iron Curtain.

        In case any of you readers harbour any misconceptions, I would like to emphatically state that my employer is not a "beehive-monolith" corporate but a small and extremely amiable firm which offers me immense flexibility with respect to my work.

Acknowledgment/Dedication: A friend who has been filling my head with fascinating ideas of/on labour for the past couple of weeks.

The most innovative Potter adaptation of 'em all.

An article from the TIME magazine. I am still a bit unsure about the tone :)
"That's right. Almost anything you need to know about Jews, you can learn from Harry Potter"

The Chosen people and the Chosen One! It was to be expected I guess.

Picturing Celebrity

"Shooting Britney Spears"
The endless loop of celebrity goes on. Now the 'captors' of celebrity are celebrity-ised.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Yep.Thats HCU

Katrina Awards

Readers(haha!) should know by now that Andrew Sullivan,despite belonging to a completely different political persuasion, has been quite a prominent influence on my blog ,specifically in terms of style. So no surprises as he and the Razzies inspire my latest innovation.


The citation:
Sheer cluelessness in the face of given circumstances and a complete inability to respond to the same. Special mention for those whose (in)action causes irreparable harm to institutions or individuals.

In case people misunderstand, the reference is not to the famed hurricane and the US Govt's complete and utter incapacity but to our very own Katrina Kaif and her "acting"

We are proud to present the first winner of the Katrina Award:

He is out of the picture but the havoc he and his IHF wreaked will haunt Indian and world hockey for some time. The jury is still out on whether he was just incompetent and stubborn or malicious as well but either way he deserves the award.

"She is 22,going on 23..

Aniket Alam on female foeticide and the "missing women"(although i am not very sure about the "cultural" assumption he makes).

        Dangling as I am on the precipice of 24 years on this planet and having attempted to keep as many options as possible open for the future, it causes me immense chagrin to see girls of my age and less losing a lot of options for no fault except for the fact that they were born women. This fact struck me with immense force about a year and a half ago as I suddenly realised that girls of my age were getting 'married off' in droves. Now many belong to socially and economically "settled" families and this makes the situation(for me at least) even worse. A lifetime of seeing dreams shattered,creativity drying up and social and political attitudes ossifying around me has at least made one thing clear.Marriage closes more doors than it opens.

        Discussions back home always led to frustrating stalemates ."Of course she should study.Who said we are against it? Its just that when a suitable match is found its always safer to get her married off..Who knows what will happen if we wait" was/is the most standard response. The other one was "She can always study after marriage". It's just that as time passes, children are born, houses are built and life goes on, a lot of things just die out slowly and steadily.Talents are drowned, bitterness grows and open mindedness is often replaced by a stubborn unwillingness to consider the other point of view.Of course these features are in no way restricted to women.Men develop most of these 'system features' despite there being so many more opportunities available to them. However one cannot but feel a sense of loss, a complete lack of comprehension as generations collaborate(willingly or unwillingly) to bury the dreams and possibilities of youth

        Of course "marrying off" a girl is not an isolated process. It begins at a tender age and reinforced through a series of gestures over the years ranging from subtle insertions into a conversation about how the girl is to go to another house to an early introduction to housework and cooking. These concepts influence how a girl is educated, what subjects she chooses and what career options she selects.It even influences her personality,the amount of noise she makes and the tone and tenor of her voice. It ensures that her thoughts are often tuned to keeping the family and her parents happy.And in the end this indoctrination prompts her to choose the better over the best, prevents her from holding out until she can decide a proper future for herself. Universities in the West generally encourage students to work a while after their masters and evaluate their interests before they apply for a PhD.We decide our girls' future much earlier.

        I realize that I am painting a "good and evil" picture here. I completely accept the possibility that this is a unidimensional point of view. There are many who do a great job multitasking their families,careers and interests. I also know that there are many who swim against the tide(occasionally with their families' consent)and have the courage and determination to ensure that marriage will not close doors on them .The indoctrination mentioned here is also not a norm.On the other hand there are girls who face graver circumstances and in certain contexts,these musings will be labeled as the self-obsessed ravings of a slightly jobless,upper- middle class man condescending to speak for the subaltern.But Anyway.

Here's to those who fought till the very end and to those are still fighting..

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nepotism Notes

A really funny one
However nothing surprising for us in India. Visualise:

Tuesday, March 15,2016
Indore: The proceedings at the 84th plenary session of the Indian National Congress turned ugly today as supporters of INC president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra clashed violently over the future of the beleaguered party. 1 AICC delegate was injured as he tried to immolate himself to express his support for Ms. Gandhi Vadra. Both Mr. Gandhi and Ms. Gandhi Vadra have condemned the violence.
        The fracas began when Mr.Ajit Pawar (son of former Minister Sharad Pawar)
accused Mr.Gandhi of failing to fulfill his promise of reviving the party's fortune. He called upon Mr.Gandhi to step down and requested Ms Gandhi Vadra to take over the reins of the party "in the tradition of your most noble mother and grandmother".This is the culmination of the on and off power struggle between the siblings that erupted 2 years ago when their mother Ms.Sonia Gandhi retired from politics to pursue what she called 'vanaprastha'.Attempts to contact Ms.Sonia Gandhi at her Rishikesh residence have not yielded any results.

wednesday 14 february 2046
otttapalam:in one of the most emotional reunions in the history of Indian politics, the indian national congress(i-r) and the indian national congress(i-p) effected a merger after 30 years of fierce infighting and rivalry which brought india's oldest party to the verge of destruction. the merger was officially announced at the 85th plenary of the inc (i) at ottapalam by antonia rahul gandhi and reihan priyanka gandhi vadra the presidents of the inc(i-r) and inc(i-p) respectively.It is worth remembering that the party split into two in 2016 after the acrimonious proceedings of the 84th plenary of the party and the famous lok sabha fight between rahul gandhi and priyanka gandhi vadra. antonia(36) and reihan (46) spoke in eloquent terms of the sacrifices of their parents, grandparents ,greatgrandparents, greatgreatgrandparents, greatgreatgreatgrandparents and countless other relatives and family friends including mahatma gandhi who had all given their lives to the is speculated that the reunited party might be renamed as the inc(jirsorp) after the names of the prominent members of the nehru-gandhi family to celebrate the efforts of the family and inspire the party workers. the new party has two seats in the lok sabha-rae bareilly which is held by antonia rahul gandhi and amethi which is represented by reihan priyanka gandhi vadra.

Invisible Cities

A conversation between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo from Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities"

"Why do your travel impressions stop at disappointing appearances never catching this implacable process? Why do you linger over inessential melancholies?Why do you hide from the emperor the grandeur of his destiny?"

And Marco answered "While, at a sign from you sire, the unique and final city raises its stainless walls, I am collecting the ashes of other possible cities that vanish to make room for it, cities that can be never rebuilt or remembered.When you know at last the residue of unhappiness for which no precious stone an compensate, you will be able to calculate the exact number of carats to which that final diamond must strive.Otherwise, your calculations will be mistaken from the very start."

Something to keep in mind while we endlessly discuss the meaning of development!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mallu mulls over Malls and Mals

An interesting piece
I detect certain "The God of Small Things"-ish eddies though.
Sigh! Such a cynical world.

BCCI's New proposal

Extract from a proposal submitted by Mr.Lalit Modi to the head honchos of the BCCI.
"....In accordance with the "Law of Enhanced Returns"*(Singhania and Mittal 2008), the Special Committee for Amassing More(SCAM) had come up with a series of proposals for enhancing the quality of spectator experience and ensuring greater player satisfaction with upcoming formats of cricket.We are happy to announce the completion of negotiations with interested parties for the next wave of Indian(performed on Indian soil) Cricket—-The IPL2.0-(Indian People's League 2.0)
As of now negotiations have been completed with the following parties:
Election Commission of India, Google, Sony Computer Entertainment,Samsung, Nokia,BSNL,Reliance India Mobile,AIRTEL, Dale Carnegie Foundation, Mattel Inc(producers of Barbie Doll),Mr.Upen Patel and Ms.Rakhi Sawant.

The Details-The team structure will be similar to the DLF Indian Premier League with the franchise format being employed.The schedule and venues shall be decided by the BCCI in consultation with the franchisees.

The success of this format, we believe, lies in its ability to ensure greater spectator participation and promote further team loyalty and interest in team affairs.

To this end we introduce the concept of a "Stakeholder"(ST).A ST is a spectator who will register by paying a specific amount.The ST is free to attatch himself to a team or remain independent. A spectator is also free to become a ST for one or more matches on payment of certain sums. As the name indicates,the ST by virtue of his status obtains the ability to influence key features of the games to be played.For instance the nature of the surface for the match(batting track,speedster-friendly condtions etc) wil be decided by STs(independent STs and those registered as supporters of the teams playing the match) through a voting procedure(see next para)

The matches will be reduced to 10 overs a side. At the end of the 7th over in the first innings, play will cease and all involved STs(independent STs and those registered as supporters of the teams playing the match) will be given a chance to choose the first innings score from a set of viable options. The poll will be conducted both online and via SMS.The players will then take the field again and together ensure that the score which has won most votes is achieved.At the end of the 7th over in the second innings, play will cease again and the STs will be given a chance to decide the end of the game. The players will again take the field and take the game to the conclusion that has been decided by popular vote.

Each and every franchisee will get a share of the revenue generated by the registration of STs who decide to be supporters of the particular franchisee.

All voting procedures will be monitored and certified by an elite panel from the Election Commission of India(ECI). Leading mobile service providers have, in principle, signed an agreement to permit ECI monitoring of votes.Google Inc.which has undertaken to run the website has also agreed to the same.

All players contracted to the IPL2.0 will lend their images to be used in a new generation of simulation games to be designed by Sony Computer Entertainment in collaboration with Nokia and Samsung.Sony shall also highlight the IPL2.0 in Sony PlayStation4. These simulation games shall be based on IPL 2.0 matches with an option for players to download real-time games at various points and play them on their cellphones/PlayStations.

Mattel Inc(The manufacturer of Barbie) has agreed to create life-size, realistic dolls of cheer leaders for interested STs who will be able to purchase them on becoming members of the elite “IPLatinum Club”

The Dale Carnegie Foundation,an authority on details of team cohesion and conflict, has undertaken to construct narratives of intra and inter-team harmony and discord which will be acted out by players.

Ms.Rakhi Sawant and Mr.Upen Patel have consented to host the IPL2.0 “Voice and Noise Show” to be aired on Sony Max.They shall become the media ambassadors of the new format.

Further details are being negotiated.

*Law of Enhanced Returns-"The revenue earned by “Cricket as a phenomenon”(Ghata and Ghosh 2007) is inversely proportional to the duration of individual matches and directly proportional to the quantity and quality of “extra-cricketual”(Bishnoi 2007) factors"---A study of Integrated Revenue Patterns in progressive and evolutionary forms of cricket”-Singhania and Mittal-2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nepotism Notes

Union Minister T.R Baalu responds to accusations of recommending a family controlled firm for a project.

"Yes I put in a word with the Petroleum Minister after
the UPA Government was formed in 2004. What is wrong in it ?”

He said he acted to save his companies from closure on

the request of many of the 40,000 shareholders and employees.

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly and its members seem to have gone much farther. The following incident happpened yesterday.(Context- the coming by-elections, especially the one in Khairatabad necessitated by the death of P.Janardhan Reddy)

Meanwhile, the APCC chief expressed the hope that the TRS
would not field its candidate from Khairatabad. Talking to reporters,
he reminded the TRS president that it was decided in the Assembly
session that all parties should ensure unanimous election of the
kin of
P. Janardhan Reddy and T. Jayaprakash (Therlam) as a
humanitarian gesture

So nepotism acquires philanthropic and humanitarian overtones.Way to go!

The King is Dead!Long Live the King

The Hindu today has an editorial,a leader page article and an opinion page article on the US primaries/elections and the accompanying hullabaloo

While the leading campaigner against the evils of L P & G would like us to believe that this is nothing but a reflection of the importance of these elections to the world at large, methinks The Hindu too has been seduced by the sheer drama that this election has brought with it to the living rooms and offices of a lot of us.

(It's my responsibility at this point to admit that yours truly was seduced a very long time ago by the abovementioned sheer drama)

Its very rarely that one will one find such extensive and intensive coverage of a foreign nation's pre-electoral hungama.If anything, it once again indicates the admirable genius of the American nation in dramatizing and hence commodifying everything under the sun.In fact the very act of conducting primaries for over a year and spending those insane amounts itself indicates a flair for self- absorption and self-obsession and a determination to ensure that others too are caught up in it.

The only parallel I can think of is the arranged marriage where the bride and the groom are excuses for a grand feudal ritual.

The whole world and half of America knows by now that Iraq,Iran,Global warming and host of other issues will still be in the headlines in 2012 when the whole process will be repeated again.It is also to be noted that the powers of the President of The US are actually considerably restricted by Congress.Yet the soundbyte-driven fest just goes on and on(the latest soundbyte is the appeal for an end to soundbyte driven politics).

Of course one can argue that the involvement of so many people in a nation's politics is a sign of a healthy democracy.Hey we are talking about the nation which elected George Bush twice,still esteems Bill Clinton and has established a pretty amazing record of dynasty politics(and what dynasties!)

At the end of the day the politics of a nation is dominated by large scale productions of images and this is why the mere participation of people alone does not a "healthy democracy" make.It's a cyclical process-the people make the images which dupe people to strengthen them and make more of them thus establishing a narrative beyond which the politics of that society will not move irrespective of the quantum of people's participation.At its most literal, we saw an example of this process in the Narendra Modi masks.In the US, it's just that more money is spent and the media used are both more direct and subtle at the same time.

So what do we do? As the educated intelligentsia aren't we supposed to be resisting the imposition of this foreign agenda tooth and claw and nail? Aren't we supposed to focussing on the manifold issues that are haunting our society? The only catch:navigate(with great difficulty) away from the US primaries/elections and th next thing you get to watch is the IPL.So you see-its Catch-1000..crores

Opening Mourns

Some existential/nomenclatural/epistemological issues:

The blog has to be updated daily.

There has to be some pheesh/beef