Design can change Behavior?!

The next time you hit the brakes hard upon seeing a speed breaker on the road, please spare a thought for the reason behind that ugly bump in the middle of an otherwise smooth road. The world of design has developed many such products and systems that lead to behavioral change in Humans. But in the backdrop of an alarming increase in crimes against women and other social evils, one wonders: How important a role does Design have to play in raising awareness and changing peoples mindsets. Find out:

Behavioural Change through Design

Reagards,

The V

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An Ode to Design

What kind of a Design story can a mere Toothpick tell you? Find out:

An Ode to Design

Regards,
The V

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Why I support the Death Penalty

On a day like today, when the whole nation is mourning the loss of a 23 year old girl who died after suffering unimaginable pain and torture like many other daughters of this glorious country, I really feel like talking to my grandfather. Renowned for his honesty and integrity as a Judge, my grandfather’s views on the Justice System and The Death Penalty were well known.

Throughout his long career, my grandfather handed out only two Death sentences. He seemingly tried his best to avert such a sentence in both instances. His reason for opposing the death penalty was simple- As a Judge, he had been witness to many cases wherein lawyers exploited any and every loophole in the book of law to help convict an innocent or free a guilty man. And as an individual who was constrained by the evidence or lack of it while delivering ‘Justice’, cases that merited the Death penalty were immensely difficult to scrutinize simply based on evidence which sometime might be blatantly concocted.  After all, one of the primary arguments of Anti- Death Penalty activists is the fact that a falsely  accused person will be wronged beyond reproach if put to death.
This is probably the only point that I strongly concur with the Anti- Death Lobby.

Having conceded the initial point, let me continue to elaborate on why otherwise, I completely support Capital Punishment. 
Today I am convinced that the Death Penalty is indeed most important for a society. Before the Human rights activists laugh and the politician’s scoff at me for being immature, impulsive, aggressive etc. let me tell them that I have in the past also been an active supporter of the ‘anti death penalty’ drive. But I have changed my mind for good. I shall explain my reasons below by answering the common arguments put forth by Anti-Death Penalty activists:

‘Death is not a Deterrent’:

This is the one of their most common arguments  I want to ask them- Can you be very confident that Life Imprisonment is a deterrent to would be rapists and murderers out there? How can you ever claim that the fear of ‘jail for life’ rather than a primordial ‘fear of death’ will deter people from committing a crime? Has that been proved? No. The fact is that ‘Death’ will be a great deterrent provided Capital Punishment is used effectively. Hanging one person every decade will not scare the bad elements. Hang 100 Child Rapists, Murderers and terrorists in one year and observe the crime rate the following year. If it doesn’t dip, then your argument will be valid. But claiming that The Death Penalty does not act as a deterrent without even enforcing an efficient drive to hang the worst criminals in the first place is an argument that is fundamentally flawed.

‘Life imprisonment is harsher than Death’:

Do you know why this point is a joke? In a country where justice is delayed for decades, bail is handed out easily, corrupt prison officials provide cell phones and TV’s to hardcore criminals, presidents pardon child rapists and murderers and convicts are forgiven due to ill health and old age, how can anyone guarantee that the murderers, terrorists and rapists of this country will live out their life entirely in bitterness and remorse? How can you be sure that they don’t form friendships, enjoy their carpentry, yoga sessions, free food (Non Vegetarian sometimes!) and in a sick moment of madness, think back at their crimes and smile? Can you guarantee that over a period of time, they wont be released due to any Political leaders Birthday?In short, can anyone promise to the nation that these convicts will have a life devoid of fun and meaning (which they denied their victims)? The truth is, you cant!

Closure and Exposure:

In the case of a Death Penalty, there is a definitive end to the process of delivering Justice. Effectively and periodical publicizing these Deaths to the citizens will definitely impact potential wrongdoers rather than in the case of a life convict whose crime and punishment is forgotten over a period of time and rendered pointless by the cruel tendency of the human mind to ‘Forget’.

‘Punishment is to Reform’:

Trust me. Sometimes in life, one needs to have the courage to draw a line for society as a whole that proclaims- ‘Beyond that line, only God can forgive you. Humans cant’. I possibly cant see any point in trying to reform a Child rapist who rapes and mutilates two year old children.

‘Cost of Death Vs Life Imprisonment’:

One of the points that Pro Death Penalty activists cry out is the needless expenditure of keeping Dangerous convicts, terrorists and rapists alive. ‘Why should the state spend tax payers money on needless element in society?’ they ask
The Human rights activists immediately rebut this by pointing out that money should not be a deciding factor to hang an individual. But what they don’t realize is the fact that the Cost of keeping them alive is not just monetary. We all saw the cost of keeping terrorists alive during the Hijack of IC 814. We also saw the crores spent on Kasab’s protection and most recently the protection for the six rapists in Tihar.
More importantly, keeping bad elements alive only increases the chances of them spreading the poison in their mind to fellow inmates who might come out of jail as hardened criminals.

Last but not the least, when no other reason seems logical, the anti death activists fall back on the philosophical and religious reason:

‘Human Beings do not have the right to take another Humans Life’:

I shall answer this in a spiritual manner:

I am sure all of you have heard the saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’.
What this means in Layman terms is that- Don’t expect God to come and wipe your running nose or save your world. Do your bit towards humanity while believing that God is inside your body and mind, guiding you all the way.

People must realize that at some point of time, a human being loses his or her right to live.
Do you know?
Because mankind’s greatest gift is not the Earth, water, air or the wind. A human beings greatest gift is their ‘Life‘ itself! Life is our greatest gift. And a person who commits a heinous crime should lose that gift.

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2013- New Year Resolutions!

On behalf of The Vadakari team (Guna, me and my better half), here’s wishing you and your family a very prosperous, enlightening, healthy and courageous New Year. May this New Year make us all aware of our duties, responsibilities, passions and goals and give us the resolve to work towards them, keeping in mind the safety and wellness of our families, friends, neighbors, country and the world in general.

2013- Resolutions:

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  • Renew my procrastinated wish to start playing a sport again after a long gap (mostly cricket)

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  • Finish my version of Monet’s ‘Lady with a Parasol’ in Oil

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  • Finish my Novel (which has been hibernating for over 4 years!)

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  • Make peace with the stray dog down the road (Sigh, carried over from last year!)

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  • Watch a lion eat its kill in the wild

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  • Meet Powerstar Dr. Srinivasan!

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  • Go and see the Big Temple in Thanjavur! (The wonder of the world which I cant help but visit and get mesmerized every year!)

And last but note the least:

  • To live life to the fullest. Bring it on!!
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“The Promise”: My entry for the Get Published contest.

The Idea:

Can a woman love two men at the same time? How difficult and real is that love when one of the men isn’t alive anymore? This story is about the narrator’s tryst with a second shot at life and love, gifted to her by none other than the man she truly loved initially. A Promise made by the narrator plays a key role as she makes the painful yet necessary journey towards a new life in today’s India. A life that ultimately teaches her valuable lessons about love, duty and respect. But most importantly, the promise also helps her immensely in truly appreciating and experiencing the spirit of closure as she begins an unexpectedly sweet journey in life.

What makes the Story Real:

Inspired by the story of an ex- army officer who served in the IPKF, this story tries to capture the spirit of life through the narrator, as she tries to rebuild her life in today’s India- An India that allows a second shot at love and happiness if only the individual can summon the will and courage to move on.

Extract:

‘Why did you marry me’? I asked him suddenly as we both stared at the bright lights far away.
‘The Dowry, of course’ he chuckled, looking straight.
‘Bala…’ I prodded, turning towards him. ‘You knew about my past… my marriage…’ I hesitated.
‘I really don’t know’ he replied after a minute’s silence.
‘Do you regret it?’ I asked, looking away.
‘Not even for a second’ he stressed as he took my chin in his hands and turned me towards him.
That was the first time he touched me without my permission in our one year of marriage.

Why I want to write this story:

In a new India where relationships built on the magic word called love are increasingly turning brittle, I wanted to share this story that reflects the challenges that one has to face in resurrecting their life and love. While forgetting the past to move on in life may seem the easy way out, learning to appreciate, respect and experience the present is critical to finding new love in India.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal andHarperCollins India.

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Kony 2012- Revisited

One of the most interesting Social Awareness campaigns that happened this year was undoubtedly the Kony 2012 Campaign. Read about the interesting Design perspective to this campaign:

Kony 2012- Revisited

Your’s sincerely,
The V

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A Date to Remember- Part 2 of 2

Viyan had spotted her from a distance. The girl was sitting at the counter as he walked up to them. He just wanted to stop and say goodbye to the bartender before heading home. She looked hot in the frilled skirt and had a well shaped bottom which was glorified by the bar stool as he walked up behind her.
‘Hey Viyan, you want a beer?’ the bartender asked.
‘No dude. Am stuffed with Wine’ he replied, holding his belly.
‘He’s also stuffed with Looooouve’ mocked Shwetha as she swung around.
Viyan was startled to see her as he blinked hard through the dim lights.
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, holding her by the arm.
‘Relax dude. I just stopped by for a while on my way back home to meet Divya here’ she lied. ‘Oh and by the way, West Ham won the game. 3-0. Sorry you missed it’ she added.
‘What? That’s awesome. I have to catch the highlights then’ he said, checking the time.
‘Drop me home first’ she said ‘Your date took off right or is she waiting in a dark corner at the parking lot?’ she winked.
‘She left with her friends. Come lets go’ he said, eager not to discuss anything while others were around.
‘Can we stop by the beach?’ Shwetha asked as Viyan drove by the exit to the Marine Avenue. ‘I feel like taking a walk. It’s so windy outside’
‘Sure’ said Viyan as he turned towards the beach.

‘So, Mr. Hot shot. Are you going to tell me about it or not?’ she asked finally, as they walked along the concrete pavement that stretched the entire length of the beach. The place was almost empty.
‘Well…we spoke a lot. It was nice’ he said, smiling.
‘Are you guys together?’ she asked, walking ahead of him.
‘What? That’s ridiculous. We just met’ he laughed out loudly.
She said nothing, walking with her arms folded across her chest.
Viyan couldn’t help but admire Shwetha as he trailed behind her. Apart from the skirt that displayed her nicely curved legs, he also noticed how graciously her hair danced to the gentle sway of the wind.
‘You want to know the truth; I lost complete interest in this so called date just ten minutes into it’ Viyan blurted casually.
‘What?’ said Shwetha as she turned around almost too quickly ‘Why?’
‘I don’t know. Damayanthi felt like a complete stranger. She was not the girl I kissed a decade back and even if she was, I am not the same guy now.’ he said.
‘But you seemed to be enjoying it’ she said, taken completely by surprise.
‘Obviously I couldn’t show it out. You want me to sit and sulk in front of her?’ he chuckled.
‘Were you watching me all the time?’ he asked suddenly.
‘Well no! I mean… Wow, I never expected this’ she sighed, oddly feeling relieved for some reason.
‘Yeah, well I am glad it’s over’ he said ‘Damn, I had to drink wine’ he added as they both laughed.
‘So what didn’t you like in her? How has she changed?’ Shwetha asked.
‘Well, for starters she told me she doesn’t like Chennai anymore’ Viyan scoffed.
‘Oh… Then it’s definitely over’ Shwetha said ‘What else?’ she prodded.
‘She seemed self absorbed and quite high maintenance’ he said ‘Who did you say you met at the pub again?’ he asked suspiciously.
‘Never mind. Go on’ Shwetha said quickly.
‘Well, she did not seem like a good listener as she kept on rambling about herself’ he added.
‘But she kept laughing a lot like she was enjoying your jokes’ Shwetha said.
‘She was drunk. That’s why she was laughing for everything’ he said ‘I did not even feel like cracking a joke with her you know. I realized she wouldn’t enjoy it the way, lets say you do’ he added, looking up at her.
‘I like Chennai too’ Shwetha said instinctively as the wind picked up and her hair danced all over her face.
‘Yeah and she was quite boring. I don’t know what I found interesting about her back in school’ he said, kicking at a pebble.
‘Just say it dude, she’s not like me’ chuckled Shwetha turning away as she hopped into the cool beach sand barefoot with Viyan following her.
‘She’s nothing compared to you’ he replied softly as he watched her pretty feet covered by the sparkling grains of sand.
The rhythmic sound of the waves filled the gap of silence for a minute before Viyan spoke again.
‘Can I ask you something Shwetha?’ he said, suddenly stopping.
‘Sure’ she replied. Viyan had never called her ‘Shwetha’ as far as she could remember.
‘Why did you really come to the pub today?’
‘I was just… curious’ Shwetha replied after a long pause.
‘Are you sure you weren’t jealous?’ he mocked
‘Do you want me to be jealous?’ she shot back immediately ‘Because the last time I wanted to be in a position to be jealous, you laughed it off like it was a stupid idea’ she snarled, remembering the incident years back when, post a personal crisis and in a moment of weakness, she had entertained thoughts of getting together with Viyan only to be rebuffed by him immediately refusing to even think the proposal through seriously.
‘What do you mean?’ he asked
‘Do you want me to be jealous?’ she repeated.
‘I don’t know’ he replied, looking down.
‘Great. What do you know Viyan?’ she asked, exasperated.
‘I know that, sitting there today, I could think of nothing or no one else but you’ he blurted ‘I… missed you I guess’ he shrugged
‘Wow! thank you. Its an honor’ she said sarcastically ‘Next time you say you missed me, lose the shrug!’ she snapped.
Why doesn’t he make a move? she wondered, grinding her teeth. He could be so indecisive at times. Why did she have to like him so much?
‘So, what do we do?’ Viyan asked.
Shwetha decided it was time she took matters into her own hands.
‘I’ll tell you what we’ll do Viyan’ she said ‘Let’s have a race to the edge of the water. If I win, you should propose to me or else I shall propose to you’ she declared.
‘What?’ Viyan asked, not really sure if she was serious or just being sarcastic in anger.
‘Am serious, come on’ she said, drawing a start line with her feet in the smooth sand.
‘I don’t think we should decide our future with a race’ he ventured, still amazed at the kind of ideas that Shwetha always seemed to come up with.
‘You got a better idea?’ she asked with a straight face. ‘One only has to propose’ she reassured him.
‘But you’re running barefooted. I have my red tape shoes on and I am on a full stomach and my bladder…’ he moaned.
‘Shut up you Wimp. Be a man and race’ she chided. ‘You ready?’ she asked.
‘What happens if I win, again?’ he asked struggling to remember the rules.
‘Steady…’
‘Do we have to touch the water or just…’
‘Go’ she said and took off instantly.
Viyan started late and trailed behind her. His shoe was getting stuck deep inside the sand every time he wedged it in and the wine and food in his stomach wasn’t helping either. Shwetha meanwhile seemed to be focused as she continued to accelerate at a blistering pace. Viyan summed up all his energy as he began to pull the gap back. His shoe filled up with sand as the tiny particles pricked his feet like needles. The water was less than 20 meters away when Viyan realized that his bladder was dangerously close to an epic explosion as he was forced to slow down agonizingly close to the finish. Shwetha ran into the water first, triumphantly kicking around and doing an ‘Usain Bolt’ imitation. They both slumped to the wet sand, gasping for breath. It was Viyan who made the first move as he laid a hand on her thigh to keep her skirt from lifting in the wind and slowly turned her towards him.
‘You lost’ Shwetha said, breathing heavily as their eyes met.
‘I did’ he replied, looking at the glistening beads of sweat that decorated her face.
‘As per the rules, you…’ she started before he pulled her closer and planted a kiss on her cheek as she grasped his shirt and inhaled deeply. The cool sweat smeared each other’s face as their lips met and the waves splashed against their feet.

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