My Experiment- Lok Sabha 2014

I am a registered Indian voter from the Chennai South Parliamentary constituency and I want to make it clear that I will be voting in the upcoming elections. I am still very much an undecided voter though. Hold on- before you Political parties start wondering whether you should send me an online copy of your Manifesto or a couple of bottles of alcohol, let me make it easier for you and tell you that for a change, I have come up with my own Wishlist. A Wishlist that I expect my future representative Member of Parliament to strive to work for in the coming five years of his or her tenure. So without further adieu, I present to you my Wishlist for India in the 2014 elections:

Wishlist

 

My Conditions

As one can clearly see, I have outlined what I believe is needed for India as well as what I want my candidate to do with my list in order for me to vote for them. Obviously, I have no time or patience for promises. The art of ‘God Promise’ and ‘Mother Promise’ belong to the corridors of Kindergarten and not in the parliament. I want my MP to show me a visionary plan and operational prowess because sadly even today, India’s politicians harp on archaic non issues to garner votes while comfortably bypassing vital issues. A simple example is this:

A few days back, a popular political leader interacted with Auto Rickshaw drivers in a city. While the auto drivers poured their heart out with all the problems they face in their profession including police harassment, flawed permits, increasing fuel pricing, traffic etc, the leader startlingly did not come there with any sort of plan to produce a concrete solution road map for them. Instead, the leader parted company with the hapless auto drivers by stating, “I was thinking of working as a rickshaw puller for a day to understand your problems but it would not be enough to feel your pain”. This pretty much explains the state of affairs today- Political posturing and sentimental oratory have ruled the roost ever since Independence to garner votes and win elections. I’d rather have seen that leader draw up a plan over the last five years and taken it to the auto drivers to leave it to their judgement. If they like your specific vision, they’d vote for you. If not, try a better plan next time. That is the politics I want to see- Our leaders giving us solutions and encouraging us to be part of the solution. I don’t want my politicians to simply talk about systems and solutions while carrying on with ‘business’ as usual.

I am sure that some of you might wonder why the obvious ‘problems’ that India faces like Corruption, poverty, illiteracy do not figure in my list.  I simply wish to say this- Corruption and its cousins are nothing but effects. They are the by products of the real problems that India faces like Education reform, Judicial reform, Police reform and Election reform. Our politicians have comfortably avoided wading deep into the turbulent waters of India’s real problems and have only been too happy to point Indians towards the effect rather than the root causes. I have had enough of it. I, as a responsible citizen am ready to be part of a societal team that wants to tackle India’s real problems rather than fighting a mirage. It is time the politicians show me their commitment in matching my aspirations for a greater India. The ball is in your court.

NOTA

If none of the parties can convince me by Election day, then I will be forced to walk up to the polling booth and press the last button. A button that reads ‘None Of The Above‘ or NOTA. That is right, in this election I am ready to reject all candidates and put forward a message saying that as a responsible citizen of this country, I am not ready to make an ill informed choice and repent helplessly for the next five years. I am ready to identify the real problems we face as a nation and I am also willing to be part of the solution until the next elections. But for that I need a representative who listens to his voters and not his party bosses. If I cant find one in this election, I will wait until the day I find one. I shall continue to vote. It just wont be for anyone. NOTA, in my view is a vote for India.

In conclusion I want to say that if anyone wants my vote, they have to work for it.

Don’t shout
Don’t cry
Don’t Smile
Don’t protest
Don’t accuse
Don’t lie

Just sit down and think. Then come to me. My finger is waiting…

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The Endangered Policy called Honesty

Over the years, rarely have I renewed my annual vehicle insurance on time. More than procrastination, the remote possibility of being apprehended by Law Enforcement Authorities played a bigger role in my attitude towards the issue. This constantly wrangled upon my conscience until one day I made myself a promise- In the event that I get caught by the Traffic Police for an expired insurance, I would pay a hefty penalty in accordance with the law rather than trying to bribe my way out of the situation. That was the punishment I would give myself for my careless attitude.

A fortnight went by after that promise before the inevitable happened.
I was pulled over by a traffic constable one evening while returning home from work. As the constable guided me to the Traffic Sergeant, I reminded myself of the promise and waited patiently until the sergeant who was yelling at another young man turned his attention to me.
‘License’ the sergeant snapped as I rummaged through my wallet and handed it over.
‘Insurance’ he asked moments later.
‘Sir, my insurance has expired’ I replied casually.
‘1500 rupees fine’ he said and turned away to deal with the young man again.
I took out my purse and realized that I did not have that much cash on me.
‘Sir, do you know where the nearest ATM is?’ I asked
Looking slightly puzzled he pointed towards one end of the busy four way junction.
After withdrawing money, I stopped at a shop to buy myself some chewing gum. From the corner of my eye, I could see the sergeant noticing my every move now as I sauntered back towards him.
The sergeant reach for his receipt book and seemed to fill in my particulars before hesitating and turning back to me
‘Why have you not renewed your insurance on time Sir?’ he asked
‘I was just caught up with work’ I shrugged
‘You are in IT?’ he asked. The spontaneous decision to pay such a big fine without a fight perhaps made him think that it could only be IT money!
‘Not exactly Sir. I am a designer’ I replied
‘You are educated Sir. You should always renew your insurance on time’ he smiled.
‘I know and that is why I am ready to pay my fine for not doing so’ I replied
The sergeant hesitated for a moment unsure of what to do before concluding ‘Sir, just pay 300 rupees and leave’
‘Sir, I’d rather prefer to pay the full fine amount. I will pay 1500 and I want a receipt’ I said sternly, wondering if he was asking me for a bribe
‘Why?’ he asked, genuinely confused
‘Because if I don’t pay the hefty fine now, I don’t think I will renew my insurance anytime soon’ I replied
The sergeant remained silent for a minute before thrusting his hand out.
‘I don’t know what to say but I really appreciate your attitude’ he smiled as we shook hands and I paid the legal fine.
‘But as much as I am proud of you, I do feel sorry for people like you’ he added as an afterthought just as I was about to leave.

That evening, I realized how easy it is in our society to be corrupt rather than stay honest.
I perhaps paid the full fine amount that day only because I had the time, money and preconceived intent to do so. But what if I hadn’t had that much money or time on my hands? Would personal integrity alone have been enough to the temptation to bribe myself out of the situation? The answer is probably No. I might have taken the offer of 300 rupees and left. This just highlights the fact that Law enforcement authorities cannot afford to tempt its citizen’s integrity quotient too much. Only strict Enforcement will produce a collective surge in our societies respect for the rule of law. More importantly, I believe strict enforcement will erode the ‘endangered’ stigma attached to honest people’s minds in a society as dishonest friendly such as ours.

P.S- I renewed my insurance within a week after paying the penalty.

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From Azakiri to Kanimozeee, The notorious ‘Z’

z

So I was talking to my boss the other day and he had a question:
‘Which idiot decided to use the letter Z while writing Tamil names in English?’
‘Its to denote the letter   which is unique to the Tamil language’ I replied proudly, curling my tongue as required before uttering the sound of ‘la’ just as my grand mom had taught me the art of pronouncing the  letter ‘zha- .
But why not just use the letter ‘L‘ rather than ‘Z‘? he reasoned ‘Its much closer to the original than Z‘ he shrugged.
The man had a point.

The Z has been a misfit even in the English language. Except for Zebra, Zip or Zuckerberg, its usage is limited to algebraic formulas in math class.No wonder it was relegated to the last spot in the list of alphabets! So when Z was substituted to take the place of the letter while translation, it was destined to beat the shit out of the Tamil language. Take the examples of Kanimozhi, Azhagiri and Perarivazhan. These three names have been made famous in the national media over the past year for the wrong reasons. Most Tamils should be able to pronounce correctly (though I feel the capabilities of new age Tamils and Chennai’ites in pronouncing is declining drastically!) But the moment you hear a non-Tamil utter these words, all hell breaks loose!
Our news channels today provide the best example of the confusion created by the letter Z in place of . This is what you might hear from a non Tamil:

Today, the supreme court has asked Mrs. Kanimozzeee to appear before it on the 3rd of June. The Union minister Mr Azzaagiri has blamed the congress for all the problems of corruption. Mr. Azaagiri is also expected to meet Mrs. Kanimodi along with Mr. Pazzaa-ni-man-cum and convey their support to her on behalf of the Dravid Munnera Kazzzaaacum.

Naturally, we Tamils aren’t pleased to hear our language being butchered in such fashion on live TV. But I refuse to entirely blame the others for the sorry state of Tamil or any other language when it is in the mercy of a translation medium. I simply feel that by replacing ‘Z‘ with ‘L‘, the Tamil language will suffer much less at the hands of those who want to use it by force and not by will.

Kanimoli, Alagiri and Perarivalan are much more recognizable and user friendly compared to the dreaded Z!

I, just like many other Tamils love to use the wherever necessary. But it would be stupid to expect non Tamils also to pronounce it in the same fashion. I certainly don’t make any attempt to pronounce words properly in Hindi. I think the Z has only helped in scaring away non Tamils from this magical language. Protecting the purity and sanctity of a language is important but to expect another language to also justify and preserve that sanctity is simply naive.

Every language has its own unique characteristics and the above example of translatory abuse will hold true for many such predicaments across languages of the world. Unless we find easier ways of representing our mother tongues to the outside world, they will never want to learn it or respect it. So I kindly submit to the Tamil world to drop the stupid Z. Its the best way to respect the beautiful 

Peace.

(P.S- Thanks Abhijit for the brainwave!)

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Lessons from the Grand Anaicut of Tamil Nadu

The story of the Kallanai imparts some very important lessons for us all. Find out here:

Lessons from the Kallanai

Regards,
The V

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The 2013 Budget- Guna’s Opinion

The budget has just been presented. The reactions have been so far mixed (In a country of 1.2 billion, can there ever be any other reaction other than mixed?). Anyway, while the brilliant men and women of this country who are fortunate enough to air their views on TV continue to analyze this Budget, I thought it is important to go as lower in the society as possible to find out what they thought about this Budget. And who can get lower than Guna, our very own Auto driver from Chennai. As a ‘ration shop rice‘ survivor for two decades, Guna epitomizes the phrase ‘Born to comment on a Budget from a poor man’s point of view who is also a drunkard of an auto driver from Chennai who also likes to party and support the LTTE’. So lets hear it from the great man himself. Guna and his views on the Budget:

Guna's Opinion

Guna’s Opinion

Me: Hi Guna
Guna: Burrp…
Me: So what do you think of the Budget?
Guna: Is Alcohol cheaper?
Me: No
Guna: Petrol?
Me: No
Guna: Women?
Me: Excuse me?
Guna: Anything for Thaikulam (women) in the budget?
Me: Yeah, a little bit.
Guna: Good. How about the rich Bastards?
Me: They need to pay more tax.
Guna: What about underwear?
Me: Underwear? What about it?
Guna: You told me you will buy and come that red type of underwear that Arnold is wearing in the poster in kabali’s Gym?
Me: Er yes, I shall get you your underwear soon. Can we please continue?
Guna: What about Current?
Me: Nothing in the budget about it.
Guna: Punitha Peeye! (Holy Shit). How much longer I have to sleep naked, I don’t know. Too much sweating without currendu ba!
Me: Umm.. So what do you think?
Guna: Well, thaikulam is happy means I am also happy.
Me: So you think it is a good budget?
Guna: Ya Ya. Tell Chidambaram Saar to change his Specks Ba. Nalla Illa! (Lights a cigarette)
Me: Oh Guna, cigarettes have become costlier by the way.
Guna: What? Ot#@, OMM@l@… Worsht Budget ma this! Thu! Chi! Get me cigarette, cancel the underwear ba! (Putting out the cigarette and tucking it away for later.)

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Solving India’s Problems- Langur Style!

I love the way we Indians solve our problems. Be it the simple piece of folded paper below a rocking chair or the introduction of FDI in retail to boost our economy, Indians love myopic and temporary solutions that only serves in complicating the original problem.

langur-monkey-jumps-615

Picture courtesy National Geographic

A classic example of the manner in which we solve problems in this country is the case of the famed Langur monkeys of Delhi. The Delhi municipal corporation employs Langur’s to get rid of the common Rhesus monkey’s that infest the Capital city. Rhesus monkeys, which aren’t scared of humans are gripped by fear upon laying their eyes on a Langur. Whenever a complaint is lodged by someone about the monkeys creating nuisance in a locality, the Langur and its caretaker go to the problem spot. As soon as the monkeys lay eyes on the Langur, they disperse from that area, shrieking with terror. Mission Accomplished! The Langur and its caretaker happily collect their fees and retire for the day.

But wait, where do the monkeys actually go? That is a question nobody wants to ask or answer in India. The truth is, the monkeys just shift from one location to another. In a couple of days, the same Langur or a different one is called upon to act on these very same monkeys who are wreaking havoc in a new locality where they recently shifted. So the current solution for this problem is that the monkeys will be chased around from one area to another. The system only tries to distribute the burden of the nuisance equally among its citizens without really finding a permanent solution!

India has a lot of monkeys- Casteism  poverty, illiteracy, terrorism to name a few. All these monkeys are only made to jump from pillar to post, hidden away from society behind the screen of Apathy and ignorance. Neither has there been a concrete plan nor any united action since Independence to weed out these nuisances. Instead, we Indians carry on with our lives, selfishly trying to ensure that the monkeys don’t land on our doorstep.

But the monkeys will come one day. And we will then run around looking for the inefficient Langur’s that we have created in the form of our systems and services, all the while cursing the government and society for its failure to provide a permanent solution to our problems. But before we go around blasting everybody else for our problems, spare a thought to all the monkeys we have created which now roams on someones lawn- The bike you park in front of a gate, the plastic bag you throw out from your car, the mobile phone you answer while driving, the money you bribe a policeman with… the list of self created monkeys goes on and on… Its time we stopped creating more monkeys and actively took part in finding permanent solutions to those existing ones. India is far too great a country to be held back because of its Langur Style!!

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How to Win an Oscar- A 10 point formula

Guna

Guna

So ‘Argo‘ wins the best movie award at the Oscar’s this year. Frankly, I thought it would be Lincoln. But then there was Zero Dark Thirty which certainly seemed like a strong contender until a few weeks back. The increasingly tough competition at the Oscar’s points to only one thing- More and more movie makers have learnt the art of making an Oscar winning movie. It doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad, what matters is if it satisfies a few ground rules laid down by the academy. Let me present to you a 10 point formula that one needs to keep in mind if he or she wants to win an Oscar:

  1. The Jew Factor-Make movies about Jews. They can be a pianist, a terrorist or a barber for all you care- The role doesn’t matter. As long as your protagonist is a Jew, you are in with a good chance to walk home with an Oscar
  2. War on Terror- Gone are the days when the Rambo’s and the James Bond flicks tried to cash in on the cold war. If you want an Oscar  pack your bags and go shoot a terrorist flick in Jordan. The plot does not matter- All you need are a couple of suicide bombers and a group of triumphant American Marines. Throw in a few choppers and Bombs, you got yourself a winner.
  3. World War II- Saving Private Ryan is a classic example of why the great war is still an Oscar Magnet even after so many years.But what makes the combination even more deadly is again, a Jewish story during World War II. That is a 100% Oscar award winner.
  4. Avoid Historical American Wounds- America is the land of freedom.You can make any movie you want and criticize anyone but if you are serious about winning an Oscar  please refrain from rubbing wounds on American History- As the Zero Dark Thirty and Avatar teams have now realized, you cant show the Americans torturing their prisoners or Destroying the natives land and still expect to win an Oscar for it!
  5. The Miserables- Any movie on Africa, Asia, Poverty, AIDS, rebels, genocide etc are given at least 1 Oscar.
  6. Biography- A biographical movie has a strong chance of winning an Oscar. It doesn’t matter if the person who the movie is based on is alive or dead, rich or poor, good or bad, boring or interesting.
  7. Family- Any movie that revolves around a Dysfunctional American Family is certain to knock down at least a few awards.
  8. Sci-Fi Alien Movies- If your storyline revolves around an american hero saving the entire world from anihilation because of an attack by aliens/mutated beasts/ comic book villians, then  Congratulations- You just won an Oscar.
  9. Mental Disorder- One interesting way of winning an Oscar would be to make the protagonist in your movie to suffer from some form of mental disorder. The academy loves schizophrenia, psychosis, dementia etc.
  10. Meryl Streep- If nothing else works, even if you plan to make a movie as bad as Mars Attacks, make sure you rope in Meryl Streep. She is the surest and easiest way to get your hands on an Oscar!
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