Friday, January 29, 2010

Mile Sur mera tumhara... Will it ever?

The last Republic Day was my second consecutive in a foreign land, but this time, we did celebrate. 'Celebrate' of course translates to having a cool time with friends, fellow desi's, and munching snack goodies. But then, when did we ever celebrate India's Republic day ? On a philosophical note, there's nothing in it for us to celebrate - the closest that we can get to the event is to mumble a silent thanks for being born in a free and democratic country. But that is not the subject of my post this time, its something else that stood out like a bitter pill on that day. I 'happened' to see the remake of a song that is at least a couple of decades old, a song that I unknowingly grew up with, a song that was imprinted in my mind, a song that had subtled its message to me - 'mile sur mera tumhara'.

Yes, for those who are still surprised, there is a new version of the song out since this Republic day, called 'Phir mile sur mera tumhara'. Bridled with the underlying theme of unity in diversity, the original song was meant to invoke a sense of well being, unity and patriotism. Sadly, I cannot but call the second version nothing beyond a mere Bollywood album! I have held myself with great difficulty not to post the youtube links for the song, for the fear that I might inadvertently cause more people to watch it. Given that introduction, I shall restrain myself to call it an album hereon.

The primary fact that irks me is the screen presence in the album - most of them are Bollywood actors (and their fashionable self!). I would personally prefer not to represent my country with most of the faces in the album. Simply because there are so many others who are more worthy of being featured. Not that I have anything against our dear Bollywood- it is just that it becomes diametrically opposite to the theme to be portrayed. You might question the presence of Actors in the previous version as well - but remember, those were the days of just one channel and microscopic media. The only visual mass communication media were films and they are the only ones who might be recognized by the common man. Do you really think that is still the state of the current Indian communication scenario, where the TRP bids tick faster than the clock and each political party boasts of its own personal channel. In contrast to two decades ago when news from one part of the country came a day later to another part, people in India now know more of American politics and global economic crisis than the number of states in the country (a definite pun intended). Given this, the choice of celebrities for this version simply appalls me! Why did one have to stick to a Bollywood propaganda? Compare SPB and BMK's stature to Vikram's gorilla-chest-thumping and Surya's chocolate smiles. Compare Dr. Kalam's mighty stature to Salman's tantex style antics. Compare Vishwanathan Anand to Ranbir Kapoor and Mahesh Babu. Truly sardonic. 

And as if the choice of characters were not just enough - the apparent attempt to portray the 'modern' and 'youth' driven India is through fashion parades and Dard-e-discos! What in the world are we trying to achieve with these displays? Certainly not peace, proportion or patriotism! I'm surprised how mini-skirts (if at all there was one) and bulging biceps could even be remotely related to any of these. Is there no more context in one's personal  appearance in these days..? I thought we still lived in a culture where a 'ramarajan-style-cocktail-colored' shirt would still not be acceptable for an interview. 

During times when a 30 second advertisement conveys effective messages, a 16 minute album recreated out of its 7 minute predecessor leaves one stunned with its mediocrity and banality. It is not an anti-album propaganda that I am doing here, it is just a question that we should ask ourselves - is this the sort of message of National Integration that we would want to pass on to our next generation? Is this how you would want to represent your country to the world? Are these the personalities with whom we want our generation to be remembered by posterity? It makes me shudder to think how a remake of this video would look like 20 years hence. Sepulchral.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Why the campaign against quizzes

Well, without mincing words and cutting the short story shorter, its facebook that has made me arrive at this decision. Recently some intellect invented these quizzes and a few geniuses began scoring points on them. And frankly, I still don't get why people take up these quizzes despite my repeated assurances that they don't contribute to our general knowledge. For instance there was this absolutely perfect quiz that I found recently...

"What number are you from 1 to 10?" - And a person actually took the quiz and was even quite elated of that fact. Here goes some of the comments that I can recollect from that intellectual conversation...

A (the person who took the quiz): Whoa!! 5, Thats's so true.. I was born in the month of May !! :)
Yeah!! And so are 1/12th of the world's population.

B: Hey !!!!!!!! Same pinch !!!!!!!!
Will you please stop doing that! Exclamations still mean something in English grammar!

C: he he... You remember we scored a 5/25 in the recent apti that we took...
Big deal.. And you are proud of it!

D:  :D
Well, that actually was a comment.

A: True.., and you know what 25/5 is again 5!
Aha ! Now thats a true genius.

E:  Hey A, how do I take that quiz..?
Why in the world would you want to take that..?

F: doood, I goott six :)
Oh yes! And you should be proud of that! And please, please, please, sit through a 3rd grade spelling class!

I simply had to stop reading beyond that point. Well, if that wasn't enough, there's another of these ultra hi-fi quizzes...

"Which bollywood actor is your perfect date?" And the answer is S R Khan

A (the person who actually took the quiz): Whoa, the King Khan :) :) :)
Yeah! In your dreams!!

B: Hmmmmmmm...... I would have preferred Hritik..
As if your opinion matters! And since when did you turn into a honey bee ?

C: Hey!! Awesome yaaaa,..
I know that would be awesome, you weirdo! Get off my facebook !!

D: Liked, Liked! Hope it's a blind date.
Of course! He has to be blind to date you!

E: I'd suggest you go to CafeDay, its got a lovely ambience :)
Is there any more sanity left in this world?

F: He's married you know, but who cares .. he he..
Are you that hopelessly desperate? And stop giggling at your own fatuity!!

And these are only a few samples of these 'intelligentia' quizzes.  What's your favourite color? Whats your friend's favourite color? (Why would you take a quiz to find that). Who's your best friend for the day? (I'm sure he would definitely denounce you after this effort of yours!) What's your picture of the month/day/year/decade/century? (You are hopeless beyond this point). Identify this bollywood actor, your friend scored 100% (And the pictures are invariably SRK, Salman, Aamir and Amitabh).

Well, to this point, I had made this post create a jovial reading material. To move on to more serious aspects, there are some serious negatives to these apparently dumb quizzes. The questions that you answer while taking these quizzes are actually asking for information that might probably be linked to your real and personal life. You might actually end up giving more information than you would if you were subjected to a formal debriefing by the FBI with a lie detector! For instance, a conglomerate of these quizzes can actually help someone even identify what could be your password or your secret question for most secure websites. While most of us take care not to reveal our personal information beyond a point in these social networking sites, we tend to divulge more information on these seemingly irrelevant and simpleton quizzes. And while your messages, comments, etc.., are all a part of the social networking site (which guarantees (if there is any) safety and usage of these information) the quizzes and the results are saved out of the networking site's domain - which means not only do you allow these folks to access your information, but also you allow them to take away your information to their own databases on which you literally have no legal claim or knowhow. Well, that's that - just be beware my friends, tough these might appear to be fun initially, they might become more complicated. Beyond a point.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

An academic conversation

This post is the first one its kind that you would find in my blog- a discussion. Though most of you who know me personally would know how fond I am of these debates/discussions/arguments and I've found it very difficult to keep track of or document these just due to the sheer numbers. But this one, I was compelled to post- more due to guilt and the enormity of the opinions. I am one of the culprits, who has been educated with the common man's money, and have run off to another country for my academic pursuits. This, perhaps, is one of the ways that I can thank all those unseen hands who had worked/paid for my education. I hope this also reminds me about the debt I owe to my countrymen.

I have put up the entire conversation as such, for it is more than fair that I present them without distortion when I had copied other's thoughts. With due respect to the owners of these thoughts, of which I am one of the fellow conspirators..

"In TamilNadu Govt will sponsor for de BE MBBS edu for 1st person who goes 2 college in a family - take a look here."

"Of all the great policy by tamilnadu govt in distributing the tax income. like giving free TV, 2 rs rice (which eventually goes to fast food resturants), this is the only acceptable one."

"There are chances that even this move gets misused. Hope its used in the right spirit."

"Poverty and education needn always be related. And why only BE/MBBS ? Anyways, let's see how it works out."

"Shouldn't the economic status be a factor for the grant?"

"color tv didnt reach poor people, I know a poor carpenter near my area didnt get a free color tv, and the owner of that house sold that govt TV to carpenter for 500rs. All these free are bullshits.. the only ppl who might benefit from this offer would be politicians relations.."

"agreed totally.. which is precisely why we should see the reason in the earlier argument... Now that we are actually discussing this, where do you think is the missing link here..? Most BE/MBBS colleges are private institutions and this would attract more govt funds (clean money as white as snow) to those institutions which would again end up in the coffers of Mr.Rich Guys.. Strikes a thought..? Now to the aspect of it being actually useful to students., yes I do agree it might actually be helpful to few students - but does a guy who is inherently rich say Mr. Pollachi-with-20-acres deserve this award..? Yes, he does if he is meritorious - to promote ppl to study further, in which case this should be a scholarship and not a freebie. Whereas most middle income folks whose parents are not graduates would still have to take up loans to pay up the huge fee the private institutions demand. In fact, by plain economics, I wouldn't be surprised if the BE/MBBS fees get hiked just due to the liquidity boost in the education market due to this grant..."

 "I would assume that they wouldn be sponsoring for BE / MBBS in private instis that too with seats selling at 30+L for MBBS now !! Freebies/subsidies will always be a stop gap solution, but the trouble is with time it becomes a way of life (the subsidised petrol, gas cylinder, etc). The govt should more be looking at adding more coll with good facilities which will reduce the depedency on private colleges and also reduce fees gradually."

"Stats say that more than 95% of the institutions are private in TN (and more are under construction), and if they don't sponsor students into those insti's then about 95% of the folks don't get the so-called benefit. And if they sponsor just the govt colleges, its all the more unfair as these students are already being subjected to a ridiculously low priced premier quality education. To be honest, most of us who come from Govt. colleges are the most eligible looters since we have been literally educated with tax payer's money aka subsidy. The only justification we can perhaps offer is the fact that it's based on merit - a rough analogy for scholarships ( of course with reservation et al.). But with the entrance exams being doffed, TN education system is nothing but an alternative for lottery (which TN govt banned a few years ago)."


Friday, January 01, 2010

Deka-dian ramblings

I have always wondered what's wrong with the people who celebrate New Year's day. It's just some day in the year that someone back in time had marked as number 1. And we continued to count the days then on like the monkey's who threw the cap down. But then, what are metrics without benchmarks and would humans ever satiate themselves without comparisons. And so, I guess, 1st of Jan became a benchmark for us to help keep up with our math. And why am I amplifying this brain-dead fact? Today's benchmark apparently marks the end of a decade. The first decade in which my memory is stable enough to recollect the facts and fiction of the events that transpired (read: conspired) in those years that flew by.

I still remember the January of 2000 which heaved a sigh of relief to multitudes of people - for the pragmatics, Y2K wasn't as big an issue and for the phantacists - the world certainly did not end in an Armageddon. But it marked the beginning of my introduction to the realities of education, my 10th Board exams - a beginning of the race in which you don't even have the liberty to lose. And was I intimidated by it ? No - I was too stupid and brain-dead to realize the importance of what was scheduled to happen in the next ten years. And have I grown wiser? The next ten years would tell.

But for now, lets dwell in the past where a kid cramming up for his 10 standard exams grew up to be ten years older and still cramming for his examinations. The transitions have been many - from a school in Coimbatore to a University in a distant land. From playing pacman on a computer to writing rule systems on clusters. From Newton's laws to NP Completeness. From a leaky ink pen to a comfort-something gel felt tipped pen. From 512KB floppy to 1TB External HDD. From sleeping 9PM-7AM to sleeping 5AM-3PM. From 4.5 feet to 5.9 feet. Goes without saying - there have been too many changes. But then, changes are the order of the nature, the inevitable.

Talking about changes is not obviously interesting - they are but the order of the nature. Has anything remained static is what would be more interesting. Well, yes - I still do not care what people think of me. I am still without preferences, opinions and options. I am still incapable of crying. I am still incapable of understanding the physical meaning of De Morgan's laws. I still like Organic Chemistry. I still bite my nails. I am still a miniature numismatist. I still play badminton. I am still in love with books. I still adore age of empires. I am still in touch with most of my friends. I still like travelling. I still do not spend time in front of a TV. I still carry a bag to school. I still do think spirits exist. I still don't wear a tie. I still do pencil sketches. I still have a good handwriting. I am still slow in understanding concepts. I still don't understand why "Kyonki saans bhi kabhi bahu thi" never ends.

I am still wondering why this sudden contemplation and this abstract post - out of the blue. And why I don't yet have a good way to end the post, a conclusion that logically binds up the whole bunch of ramblings that flew out of me in the past 5 minutes. I still hate having to let go off things without a logical conclusion. Perhaps,  picture abhi bhi baki hai mere dost !