Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MBA anyone?

An old post, but a good one.

Came across this checklist for MBA preparation. Do visit.
And yes, all the best.

Double Whammy

Fanaa: Three reasons to watch Fanaa are Kajol, Kajol and Kajol. Whew!!! She has taken it up from where she left off. The bubbly smile takes you back to those impish laughter in KKKG, or the shy wishing-at-the-sight-of-a-meteor girl in KKHH. Her dance is as graceful as it ever was, and the emotions flow like a river in spate...its so tangible...Apart from that, there's Aamir, one guy who is never content with one look. He looks a bit aged, though. And has a telling paunch in the rain scenes. His other looks are good though, loved the one in which he moves around with a laptop. And the shaayaris at the drop of a hat....dear me!!! And of course, Kashmir is outsourced to Poland. And its sooo beautiful. Its the only beautiful thing in the film which stands up in comparison to Kajol, but just falls short. Allright, I over-did it a bit now. The songs are hummable, and are picturised well, too.

But there are a few nuances too. Serendipity is one. Kajol's parents seem a tad over-enthusiastic about their daughter. It's as though they want their daughter to fall in love with the next person who crosses the street. It all seems too easy. The film is a wee bit lengthy. They have taken the concept of a 3 hour film a bit too seriously, because it does stretch that long. A couple of quick cuts, and some crisp editing could have made the movie slick and pacy. Also, there are many little inconsistencies, which do not fit in the scheme of things.

In any case, the absence of any other big banner movies, and the controversy, I think it will just make enough money to be stamped a HIT.

Da Vinci Code: For those who have NOT read the book, in one word, I can say the movie is gripping. For those who have, the word is "diluted". If you haven't read the book, it has you on the edge of your seat, wondering what might come up next. The pace is good, yet it runs to over two and a half hours. Look out for the scenes where Sophie drives the car in reverse, Silas punishing himself before the Christ and the explanation how a CRYPTEX works.

Now, for those who have read the book, the movie has done quite some justice to it, but again, it all seems too easy. He unscrambles the codes in a matter of minutes, whereas you enjoy the vivid five-page descriptions in the book. Same is the case where they go to the Zurich Bank. They put in the account number, as if it were the most natural thing to do. The book scores over the movie in scenes like these. By and large, the movie is good, and holds your attention throughout. The way the letters shine out individually reminds one of Ron Howard's earlier movie A Beautiful Mind.

Reports show that it opened to a good audience, but X-Men did better.

Another review of Fanaa here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Know - Can't Say

And we have for a minister, Mr. Arjun "I don't know" Singh. Courting unwanted publicity and gaining dirty mileage by bringing about the Reservationgate, he answers Karan Thapar in his show. And how...

For almost 60 straight questions put by Thapar, Singh answers 7-8 saying "It is the decision of the parliament", "I am the parliament's servant", "The parliament is supreme", "It was a decision taken by the PMO", "The PM's decision is final" so on and so forth. The most sizeable chunk of his answers, more than one-third, comes as a combination of "I don't know - I don't think - I can't say". Twenty two times in his interview, he says he doesn't know. The Union HRD Minister does not know answers, or cannot answer, or does not think he can answer twenty two of sixty straight questions. BAH !!!

And he says Karan Thapar's figures are not right. Thapar, who talks of a research conducted by the IITs themselves, of a Parliamentary committee report, of the observations made by Sukhdev Thorat, chairman of UGC, and of all the facts there are in the public domain, is being told that his figures are wrong. That his research is fallacious. And Singh goes on to imply that "the perceptions of a modern society do not fit INDIA entirely". He says he cannot share with the public what the government is planning to do on this. Need I talk about the Right to Information Act? Propriety, he says, does not allow him to share it. Well, what does propriety allow him to share? A combination of twenty-two "I don't know-I can't say-I don't think"s?

Go on...Read for yourself.

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to the Devil's Advocate. As the debate over the reservations for the OBCs divides the country, we ask - What are the government's real intentions? That is the critical questions that I shall put today in an exclusive interview to the Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh. Most of the people would accept that steps are necessary to help the OBCs gain greater access to higher education. The real question is - Why do you believe that reservations is the best way of doing this?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to say much more on this because these are decisions that are taken not by individuals alone. And in this case, the entire Parliament of this country - almost with rare anonymity - has decided to take this decision.
Karan Thapar: Except that Parliament is not infallible. In the Emergency, when it amended the Constitution, it was clearly wrong, it had to reverse its own amendments. So, the question arises - Why does Parliament believe that the reservation is the right way of helping the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Nobody is infallible. But Parliament is Supreme and atleast I, as a Member of Parliament, cannot but accept the supremacy of Parliament.
Karan Thapar: No doubt Parliament is supreme, but the constitutional amendment that gives you your authorities actually unenabling amendment, it is not a compulsory requirement. Secondly, the language of the amendment does not talk about reservations, the language talks about any provision by law for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes. So, you could have chosen anything other than reservations, why reservations?
Arjun Singh: Because as I said, that was the 'will and desire of the Parliament'.
Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development , believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.
Karan Thapar: The right way?
Arjun Singh: Also the right way.
Karan Thapar: In which case, lets ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?
Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.
Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know 'what percentage' they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don't know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.
Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.
Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?
Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.
Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.
Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.
Arjun Singh: College seats, I don't know.
Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.
Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?
Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that far.
Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don't have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?
Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that that is not an issue for us to now debate.
Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?
Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.
Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.
Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliament has said.
Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of 'need' that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work. For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.
Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.
Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?
Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.
Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes - that is a Parliamentary body. It says that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.
Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don't need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, 'no reservations need to be done' is not correct.
Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.
Arjun Singh: As I said, the kind of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and of course, there is an element of prejudice also.
Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can't be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.
Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.
Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don't have a case for reservations in terms of need, you don't have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: I don't want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallicious.
Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.
Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.
Karan Thapar: Let’s approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalised for being upper caste.
Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalised and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalised.
Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary - Reservations also gives preference and favour to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?
Arjun Singh: I don't think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.
Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can't claim to be treated as one?
Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.
Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you Jawaharlal Nehru, a man whom you personally admire enormously. On the 27th of June 1961 wrote to the Chief Ministers of the day as follows: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster. What do you say to Jawaharlal Nehru today?
Arjun Singh: Jawaharlal Nehru was a great man in his own right and not only me, but everyone in India accept his view.
Karan Thapar: But you are just about to ignore his advice.
Arjun Singh: No. Are you aware that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who introduced the first ammendment regarding OBCs?
Karan Thapar: Yes, and I am talking about Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, when clearly he had changed his position, he said - I dislike any kind of reservations.
Arjun Singh: I don't think one could take Panditji's position at any point of time and then overlook what he had himself initiated.
Karan Thapar: Am I then to understand that regardless of the case that is made against reservations in terms of need, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of efficacy, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of Jawaharlal Nehru, you remain committed to extending reservations to the OBCs.
Arjun Singh: I said because that is the will of Parliament. And I think that common decisions that are taken by Parliament have to be honoured.
Karan Thapar: Let me ask you a few basic questions - If reservations are going to happen for the OBCs in higher education, what percentage of reservations are we talking about?
Arjun Singh: No, that I can't say because that has yet to be decided.
Karan Thapar: Could it be less than 27 per cent?
Arjun Singh: I can't say anything on that, I have told you in the very beginning that at this point of time it is not possible for me to.
Karan Thapar: Quite right. If you can't say, then that also means that the figure has not been decided.
Arjun Singh: The figure will be decided, it has not been decided yet.
Karan Thapar: The figure has not been decided. So, therefore the figure could be 27, but it could be less than 27 too?
Arjun Singh: I don't want to speculate on that because as I said, that is decision, which will be taken by Parliament.
Karan Thapar: Whatever the figure, one thing is certain that when the reservations for OBCs happen, the total quantum of reservations will go up in percentage terms. Will you compensate by increasing the total number of seats in colleges, universities, IITs and IIMs, so that the other students don't feel deprived.
Arjun Singh: That is one of the suggestions that has been made and is being seriously considered.
Karan Thapar: Does it find favour with you as a Minister for Human Resource Development?
Arjun Singh: Whatever suggestion comes, we are committed to examine it.
Karan Thapar: You may be committed to examine it, but do you as minister believe that that is the right way forward?
Arjun Singh: That could be one of the ways, but not the only way.
Karan Thapar: What are the other ways?
Arjun Singh: I don't know. That is for the Prime Minister and the other ministers to decide.
Karan Thapar: One way forward would be to increase the total number of seats.
Arjun Singh: Yes, definitely.
Karan Thapar: But the problem is that as the Times of India points out, we are talking of an increase of perhaps as much as 53 per cent. Given the constraints you have in terms of faculty and infrastructure, won't that order of increase dilute the quality of education?
Arjun Singh: I would only make one humble request, don't go by The Times of India and The Hindustan Times about faculty and infrastructure, because they are trying to focus on an argument which they have made.
Karan Thapar: All right, I will not go by The Times of India, let me instead go by Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels - that is all universities, IITs and IIMs - there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. 40 per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent. Given those two constraint, can you increase the number of seats?
Arjun Singh: That can be addressed and that shortage can be taken care of.
Karan Thapar: But it can't be taken care of in one swoop, it will take several years to do it.
Arjun Singh: I don't know whether it can be taken care of straightway or in stages, that is a subject to be decided.
Karan Thapar: Let me ask you bluntly, if you were to agree to compensate for reservations for OBCs by increasing the number of seats, would that increase happen at one go, or would it be staggered over a period of two-three or four year old process.
Arjun Singh: As I told you, it is an issue that I cannot comment upon at this moment because that is under examination.
Karan Thapar: So, it may happen in one go and it may happen in a series of several years.
Arjun Singh: I can't speculate on that because that is not something on which I am free to speak on today.
Karan Thapar: Will the reservation for OBCs, whatever figure your Committee decides on, will it happen in one go, or will it slowly be introduced in stages?
Arjun Singh: That also I cannot say because as I told you, all these issues are under consideration.
Karan Thapar: Which means that everything that is of germane interest to the people concerned is at the moment 'under consideration' and the government is not able to give any satisfaction to the students who are deeply concerned.
Arjun Singh: That is not the point. The government knows what to do and it will do what is needed.
Karan Thapar: But if the government knows what to do, why won't you tell me what the government wants to do?
Arjun Singh: Because unless the decision is taken, I cannot tell you.
Karan Thapar: But you can share with me as the Minister what you are thinking.
Arjun Singh: No.
Karan Thapar: So, in other words, we are manitaining a veil of secrecy and the very people who are concerned...
Arjun Singh: I am not maintaining a veil of secrecy. I am only telling you what propriety allows me to tell you.
Karan Thapar: Propriety does not allow you to share with the people who are protesting on the streets what you are thinking?
Arjun Singh: I don't think that that can happen all the time.
Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.
Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don't want to go into that.
Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?
Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.
Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.
Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.
Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?
Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.
Karan Thapar: The CPM says that if the reservations for the OBCs are to happen, then what is called the creamy layer should be excluded. How do you react to that?
Arjun Singh: The creamy layer issue has already been taken care of by the Supreme Court.
Karan Thapar: That was vis -a-vis jobs in employment, what about at the university level, should they be excluded there as well because you are suggesting that the answer is yes?
Arjun Singh: That could be possible.
Karan Thapar: It could be possible that the creamy layer is excluded from reservations for OBCs in higher education?
Arjun Singh: It could be, but I don't know whether it would happen actually.
Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.
Arjun Singh: Why?
Karan Thapar: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn't proliferate.
Arjun Singh: I don't think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.
Karan Thapar: Is that not acceptable to you?
Arjun Singh: No, it is not the logical way of looking at it.
Karan Thapar: So, with the possible exception of the creamy layer exclusion, reservation for OBCs in higher education will be almost identical to the existing reservations for SC/STs?
Arjun Singh: Except for the percentage.
Karan Thapar: Except for the percentage.
Arjun Singh: Yes.
Karan Thapar: So, in every other way, they will be identical.
Arjun Singh: Yes, in every other way.
Karan Thapar: Mr Arjun Singh, on the 5th of April when you first indicated that the Government was considering reservation for OBCs in higher education, was the Prime Minister in agreement that this was the right thing to do?
Arjun Singh: I think, there is a very motivated propaganda is on this issue. Providing reservation to OBCs was in the public domain right from December 2005, when Parliament passed the enabling resolution.
Karan Thapar: Quite true. But had the Prime Minister specifically agreed on or before 5th of April to the idea?
Arjun Singh: Well, I am telling you it was already there. A whole Act was made, the Constitution was amended and the Prime Minister was fully aware of what this is going to mean. Actually, he had a meeting in which OBC leaders were called to convince them that this would give them the desired advantage. And they should, therefore, support this resolution. And at that meeting, he himself talked to them. Now, how do you say that he was unaware?
Karan Thapar: But were you at all aware that the Prime Minister might be in agreement with what was about to happen but might not wish it disclosed publicly at that point of time? Were you aware of that?
Arjun Singh: It was already there in public domain, that's what I am trying to tell you.
Karan Thapar: Then answer this to me. Why are members of the PMO telling journalists that Prime Minister was not consulted and that you jumped the gun?
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know which member of the PMO you are talking about unless you name him.
Karan Thapar: Is there a conspiracy to make you the fall guy?
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know whether there is one or there is not. But fall guys are not made in this way. And I am only doing what was manifestly clear to every one, was cleared by the party and the Prime Minister. There is no question of any personal agenda.
Karan Thapar: They say that, in fact, you brought up this issue to embarrass the Prime Minister.
Arjun Singh: Why should I embarrass the Prime Minister? I am with him. I am part of his team.
Karan Thapar: They say that you have a lingering, forgive the word, jealousy because Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh and not you as Prime Minister.
Arjun Singh: Well, that is canard which is below contempt. Only that person can say this who doesn't know what kind of respect and regard I hold for Sonia Gandhi. She is the leader. Whatever she decides is acceptable to me.
Karan Thapar: They also say that you brought this issue up because you felt that the Prime Minister had been eating into your portfolio. Part of it had gone to Renuka Chaudhury and, in fact, your new deputy minister Purandar Sridevi had taken over certain parts. This was your way of getting back.
Arjun Singh: No one was taking over any part. This is a decision which the Prime Minister makes as to who has to have what portfolio. And he asked Mrs Renuka Devi to take it and he cleared it with me first.
Karan Thapar: So there is no animus on your part?
Arjun Singh: Absolutely not.
Karan Thapar: They say that you did this because you resented the Prime Minister's popular image in the country, that this was your way of embroiling him in a dispute that will make him look not like a modern reformer but like an old-fashioned, family-hold politician instead.
Arjun Singh: Well, the Tammany Hall political stage is over> He is our Prime Minister and every decision he has taken is in the full consent with his Cabinet and I don't think there can be any blame on him.
Karan Thapar: One, then, last quick question. Do you think this is an issue, which is a sensitive issue, where everyone knew there would have been passions and emotions that would have aroused has been handled as effectively as it should have been?
Arjun Singh: Well, I have not done anything on it. I have not sort of what you call jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.
Karan Thapar: But your conscience as HRD Minister is clear?
Arjun Singh: Absolutely clear.
Karan Thapar: There is nothing that you could have done to make it easier for the young students?
Arjun Singh: Well, I am prepared to do anything that can be done. And it is being attempted.
Karan Thapar: For seven weeks, they have been protesting in the hot sun. No minister has gone there to appease them, to alley their concerns, to express sympathy for them. Have politicians let the young people of India down?
Arjun Singh: Well, I myself called them. They all came in this very room.
Karan Thapar: But you are the only one.
Arjun Singh: You are accusing me only. No one else is being accused.
Karan Thapar: What about the Government of India? Has the Government of India failed to respond adequately?
Arjun Singh: From the Government of India also, the Defence Minister met them.
Karan Thapar: Only recently.
Arjun Singh: That is something because everyone was busy with the elections.
Karan Thapar: For seven weeks no one met them.
Arjun Singh: No, but we are very concerned. Certainly, all of us resent the kind of force that was used. I condemned it the very first day it happened.
Karan Thapar: All right, Mr Arjun Singh. We have reached the end of this interview. Thank you very much for speaking on the subject.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Quota Sikka

"In Delhi, 94 medical students who were on a fast for 96 hours collapsed in the hunger strike. The media has been prohibited from covering this event, so he wanted me to forward it to as many people as possible."

"Subhash shrivastav (AIIMS Student ), has died b cos of hunger strike protesting against reservation & media is not covering it. Please pass to everyone you know. "

These are the SMSes that are doing the rounds from yesterday.

I believe that education and sports should be on the basis of merit, and merit alone. This lobbying, quotas...they have been used, misused and abused to such an extent that everything seems like a big farce. From the time I can remember, I can visualise my mom coaxing me to study well, for "we get only a meagre percentage of seats in good institutions, we are not eligible for any Quota. And we dont have that kind of money either. So if you don't study now, you CAN'T study later." I suppose it is the case with most of you guys of my generation, for whose parents, a program was a show on the television.

As a kid, I always wondered why anyone would need a quota, or any kind of reservation. Did it not make him start with a lacuna in his heart? Even if he did well, would he not feel the guilt that he did not run the whole race? And if he did not do well, did he not feel remorseful of denying a better person a chance to prove himself? My questions remain unanswered.

During my CET, I saw many of my friends who had a quota, but opted to take seats from the general category. They did not turn up on the dates scheduled for sports quota. Instead they came according to their ranks, on the day the general quota seat selection was on. Reason: They wanted to come up the stairs, and not make use of the lift.

And now this hullabaloo over the reservations in premier institutes of education. For "backward classes". Pray, someone please tell me who are these, and in what way they are backward. I can understand reservations for the physically handicapped, but branding a sizeable chunk of the nation's hale and hearty youth as 'backward', and giving them reservation teeters on the edge of absurdity.

If they are financially backward, by all means give them sops. Reduce their fees by 50%. In cases of exceptional performance, waive the whole fee amount, no issues. But why compromise on merit?

Reservation on basis of caste? Does birth determine performance? It only reeks of the rancid sectarian politics being played here. If you ask me, I would ask for removal of the caste field in every application there is, and have it introduced in the fee payment challan, so that the "backward classes" can avail financial benefit.

There was a protest march arranged in Pune yesterday, from University circle to Corporation circle. In case you missed it, you can sign an online petition here. And there is a blackout planned today from 2000 to 2015 hrs. All lights, TV, mobiles will be switched off, protesting Arjun Singh, and the Government of India, who failed to respond adequately to the youth of the nation, which is sitting hungry in the hot sun. A government which persists with its reservation policy, which has proved to be its "Quota Sikka".

PS: In the deepest of my heart, I wish this agitation will wake some sane mind in the government, and lead to abolition of quota, altogether making merit alone, the deciding factor.

Cross-posted in Pune Bloggers.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The beginning of the end

Anth ki shuruaat hamesha aise hi hoti hai...

We five came to Pune together, some twenty months back.

Literally, sitting in side-by-side compartments in the same bogie. It is another matter that three of us did not know the other two. Much amusement resulted when, after knowing each other and becoming a single family-like entity, three of us saw OURSELVES in the snaps which the other two had taken at the railway station.

Pune station saw me whipping out a cellphone and dialling a number to get the address of our hotel, while he went in half-pants to get a bottle of water, and another guy was writing down the address on a folded newspaper, and the other two were stretching their legs, which had become numb from the journey of 20 hours. Little did we know then, that we would forge such bonds with each other.

And even though two speak a bad dialect of Telugu, and one speaks Tamil, and two others, Kannada, the language was the first binding factor, which made us stay together. In the hotel accomodation, and then the company accomodation, and now in the flat we are currently in. And this has been a good reason why we don't miss Bangalore so much, because all the time, we speak in Kannada. A very close friend of mine, who visited us recently, went back happy saying that she got to speak in kannada for a full three days, which she seldom gets to do in Hyderabad.

Over time, we forged relationships with others here, and formed a boisterous group, exploring places around Pune every other weekend, to such an extent that if we think of going anywhere now, it would be a repeat. It was a tough time finding a table for lunch, because we all had to sit together. We were twelve: We five, the three of them, the symbol, the Goa-belle, the kudi-punjaban and Chechi. Others would join when we went on trips, and much fun would come.

As a group, we have covered forts (Sinhgad, Tapola-Pratapgarh), hill stations (Khandala, Lonavala, Karla Caves, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani), beaches (Alibag, Murud-Janjira, Dive-Agar and Goa) and pilgrimages (Narayanpur Balaji, Baneshwar Ganpati, Shirdi Sai Baba). But all good things have to come to an end. And this I guess is the beginning of it.

The Goa-belle left to pursue higher studies. Her friend Varun got a transfer to Bangalore. One of those three went to California. Wedding bells are ringing for another one of those three. Kudi-Punjaban and "one of us" are in the UK. Today, we happened to sit at a very long table for snacks. And it reminded us of a time when twelve people actually sat across and cracked jokes. When we devoured plate after plate of whatever each one of us brought. When we actually checked what the others ate, so that we could bring something else, so as to not repeat a dish. When all of us ended up bringing the same dish, because nothing else was good.

I could almost hear the talk, the laughter, and the mirth. Like when we sat dining till the canteen lights went out. Like when we were the last to go out of a restaurant. Like when we saw to it that the girls went home, before walking back together. Like when ...

Omar Khayyam says in the Rubaiyat:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

And now, he has a got a call from another company, and its an offer he can't refuse. And if he goes by the 1st, as they want him to, it will leave just the three of us here.

And that will surely be the beginning of the end. Of a vivid, vibrant, colourful chapter in our lives.

Update: Links have been removed, because the linked persons had some reservations.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Currently listening to

Ya Ali...Raham Ali...Ya Ali, Yaar pe kurbaan hai sabhi,
Ya Ali...Madad Ali...Ya Ali, ye meri jaan, ye zindagi,
Ishq pe haan, mita doon, luta doon main apni khudi,
Yaar pe haan, luta doon, mita doon main ye hasti.

Ya Ali...Raham Ali...Ya Ali, Yaar pe kurbaan hai sabhi,
Ya Ali...Madad Ali...Ya Ali, ye meri jaan, ye zindagi...

Mujhe kuch pal de kurbat ke, fakir ham teri chaahat ke.
Rahein bechain dil kab tak? Mile kuch pal to raahat ke.
Chaahat pe, Ishq pe haan, mita doon, luta doon main apni khudi,
Yaar pe haan, luta doon, mita doon main ye hasti.

Ya Ali...Raham Ali...Ya Ali, Yaar pe kurbaan hai sabhi,
Ya Ali...Madad Ali...Ya Ali, ye meri jaan, ye zindagi...

Bina tere na ek pal ho, na bin tere kabhi kal ho.
Ye dil ban jaaye patthar ka, na isme koi hulchul ho.
Sanam pe haan, Ishq pe haan, mita doon, luta doon main apni khudi,
Kasam se haan, luta doon, mita doon main ye hasti.

Ya Ali...Raham Ali...Ya Ali, Yaar pe kurbaan hai sabhi,
Ya Ali...Madad Ali...Ya Ali, ye meri jaan, ye zindagi...

Got wind that this was a direct lift from a song "Ya Ghally" by Arabic band GUITARA. Also, other songs of Gangster, Lamha Lamha and Tu hi meri shab hai, are also seemingly "inspired" by Kal shab dekha and Sacral Nirvana. More dirt and inspired songs here. Beware, for like Shruthi, you might end up finding out that so many of your fave songs were, alas, second-hand stuff.

But personally, it didn't make any difference to me. This is some great music here, and I first heard it as "Ya Ali", and I liked it. If I had heard it as 'Ya Ghally', may be I would have loved it then, and cried foul now.

The debate on liking plagiarised stuff, and not acknowledging the original will go on and on, but all said and done, this song here ROCKETH.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Viky avarinda modalane ardhashataka...

Ok, this is my fiftieth post here. In order to make it special, this is in vernacular.

eega kelawu dina keLage, nanu nanna friend na keLde..."Enappa samachara bengaLooru hegide?". awa reply maaDida "Lo Viky, bengaLooru poorti kelawu jeevanada sathyagaLu rounDu hoDitaide".

nanu shake aade...yoonu yavaglinda jeevana, tatva anta hoda anta...amele mail bantu...

jeevanada sathyagaLu : aagatto? aagalvo?

1. bus hodre bus sTanDu alle irutte, adre cycle hodre, sTanDu jotege hogatte.
2. neenu bussalli hattidru, bussu ninmele hattidru, ticket thagoLodu neene.
3. ticket thagonDu oLage hogodu 'cinema theatre', oLage hogi ticket thagoLodu 'operation theatre'.
4. cellnalli BALANCE illa andre CALL maDakke agalla, manushyange CALL illa andre BALANCE maDakke agalla.
5. train eshTe faaaasTagi hodru, kone bogie barodu konegene.
6. cream biscuit madhya cream iratte, adre beNNe biscuit madhya beNNe iratta?
7. naayige naalakku kaale irabahudu, adre adikke kaal mele kaalu haki koothkoLakke agatta?
8. soLLe kachchidre 'aane kaalu' barutte...adre aane kachchdre 'soLLe kaalu' barutta?
9. hattu iruve seri ondu aane na kachbahudu...aadre hattu aane seri ondu iruve na kachchake agatta?

adu haage irli biDi, nange idella sumaru SMSgaLu bantu....along with 'suryange torcha?', 'saraswatige tuitionna?' thara messages. ella odi sumaru maja bantu...adre yelladikkintha maja bandiddu namma AYHAY dialogue gaLalli....(AYHAY anta nanna roomie, ille pune li biddu vaddaDtidda, eega London nalli Thames neeralli snana maDtane...bere nu eno maDtane, adre adirli)

hmm, onsala ayhay sakkat chaLi li walking hogidnante. thara-thara naDugiso chaLi li avanige allello dooradalli ondu bajji-gaDi kaaNtu. "ohoho" ankonDu ayhay gaaDi kaDe hoda....eNNe banDli pakka meNsinkai, baLekai aloogeDDe ella bajji ittu...
ayhay - "saar, bisi en ide?"
bajji-awa - "saar, takshNakke, eNNe bisi ide".

ayhay alle flaatu.

onsala aytalla, sumne irbeku taane. illa. huDuk-buddhi elli hogatte? hoda namma krishna bakery kaDe ge. shelf nalli line agi jentuppada bottle iTTiddru. togobekagiddu one pound breaddu. taleharTege keLda -
ayhay - "saar, jentuppaddu bottle eshTu beeLatte?"
bakery-awa - "en saar heege keLtira? beeLsidre ella beeLatte."

hangandidde taDa, breaddu etkonDu oDu...

Sadly, inonsolpa "gems" collect maDoNa anno ashtralli London ge relocate agbiTTidane...irli...en barode ilwa? bandre mataDode ilwa? awanu mataDidmele innenu...avnu heLodu hechcho, nanu illi bariyodu hechcho?

PS: title nalli modalanedu yake andre nanu eraDu mooru kaDe baritini....God willing, and Me willing, nanu allu on fifty hoDitini....

10 words, right from the heart

It goes this way: You comment on this, and I give you a letter. On your blog, write ten words beginning with that letter, describing what those words mean to you. If the words are esoteric, or you are giving your GRE in the near future, you can include the meanings as well. Chandni gave me 'D', so here goes...

Dreams: ... where your imagination shapes up and you feel motivated to achieve something. It is in dreams that you visualise your future. It is in dreams that you paint vivid pictures, which push you to raise the bar every single time. And it is in dreams that you do things the first time, before doing in actual life.

Dance: ... it is such a blissful sensation to see the perfect sync of limbs. To see the way the body gracefully sways to the rhythm, and reaches a peak where the mind, the body and the music resonate together, building up the tempo to the final crescendo.

Date: The first one, to be precise. The silent probing, the getting to know each other, the joy at finding something in common, the ease at which differences are accepted, the dry humour, the one-upmanship, the tingling tension, the dressing up for the date, the stolen glances when the other is occupied...SIGH...Some memories are so fresh...

Dawn: ... the cool breeze tickling the leaves and awakening the birds with its whispers, the light mist which makes you feel as if you were the first person on this virgin piece of land, the distant chants of "suprabhatam" in MSS's mellifluous voice, the birds which chirp in accompaniment as you come back from a jog, and the refreshing taste of the just-made tea at the chaiwalla down the road.

Dew: ... It makes the leaves look like they have been studded with diamonds, it wets your feet in such a way that you don't know whether they are wet or not, and the way you flick it onto your face, and enjoy the feeling as the drops run down your cheeks.

Drive: Be it ripping on the highway on my bike, or cruising along in a car, listening to great music, driving gives me the ultimate high. Forget driving in the city, to experience a good drive, you have to get away from the city, and pick a direction (not a destination). Driving alone is best, but nothing like it if you can take your partner out for a drive. (Love the Alto ad, where they drive up a cliff, and have tea on the top)

Donuts: Okay, I meant koDbaLe....because I love them so very much.

deja vu: ... when you know you have felt this, but don't know when, or where. It gives me a strange eerie feeling sometimes, and sometimes I am left biting my tongue at my follies.

Defeat: ... it is the the thing that makes you go further, push harder, do better. It is the backbone of every success you have had. It is responsible for so many decisions you take. It is the fire that hardens the steel in you.

And finally

Death: ... it is so mysterious. So dark. So cold. So sudden, that we shudder to think of what may befall our loved ones. So unknown, that we fear it, unconsciously.

Friday, May 05, 2006

One leg at a time

Came across this in some forward I received -

"If we jumped into our pants simultaneously placing both legs in at one time, we would land heavily on the ground. As a majority of us are getting dressed at the same time of the morning, the cumulative effect would cause an earth tremor. Due to the use of time zones, the tremor established In Eastern Time would arrive in the central zone at precisely the moment all those people were jumping into their pants. The tremor would increase in size exponentially, and proceed west to combine with the mountain zone folks as they get dressed. As this cycle encircles the globe, it would feed upon the next day's Tremor and eventually cause the earth's crust to break apart and float into space.

This is why we put our pants on one leg at a time."

Whew... in case you can't see me at eye-level, look down. I'm on the floor.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fatal Fratricide

Pravin Mahajan: Poor brother of a rich, illustrious and media-loved icon of Indian politics, Pramod Mahajan. Moderately successful builder in Mumbai, and consultant to several companies of the likes of Reliance Infocomm. Drank occasionally. A caring father, a loving husband and yet, was the black sheep of the family. Was repeatedly slighted and ill treated by his more famous sibling, yet he adored his Pramod dada. Journo Sreevalsan Menon walks down the memory lane and remembers him as a technology hungry person who thought highly of his brother and praised him at every oppurtunity. Like all of us, he loved the good life. On April 22, he walked into his brother's bedroom and pumped three bullets into him at point-blank range.

Pramod Mahajan: The most lovable face of the BJP front runners. Aspired for the top post in 2014 elections. Has a coterie of people following his cellphone-and-laptop toting persona, but none have words of praise for him. Courts controversies like the pickle on his curd rice. Accused of brokering deals in the corridors of power. Leads a high profile life, which goes against the basic principles he learnt in the RSS. Accused of favouring Reliance during his tenure as the Communications minister in the NDA government. Found many-a-time dining and wining with media moguls and industry bigwigs. Was accused to have extra-marital relations with slain journalist Shivani Bhatnagar (in fact, Madhu Sharma, wife of RK Sharma, screamed all over the TV asking for the whereabouts of Pramod Mahajan at the time of Shivani's murder).

Like chalk and cheese, these two brothers' lives hardly match. One struggled to make ends meet and led a normal middle class life in Mumbai. The other led a high-profile life with multiple cellphones and plotted party tactics on laptops. One was a model neighbour (The next door lady went public on TV saying "Achche log they. Hamare liye to bahut hi achchey they.") The other was too busy for family (He asked his brother to meet him by taking appointments with his secretary). One always sang praises of his brother (Ask Sreevalsan Menon, about the trip to Germany). The other always slighted and ignored him (Pramod continued reading the paper after he saw Pravin, and allegedly mistook him to be a newspaper boy).

There was no property at stake, there were no ill feelings. Yet if a non-criminal like Pravin goes into his beloved brother's bedroom and shoots him down, it means there was a strong reason for him to get rid of Pramod. And look at the stoic replies he gives the police. That he was repeatedly mistreated by his brother, that he was ignored at family functions, that he had debts to clear and his brother didn't help him. Very normal reasons to pick a fight perhaps, but fail miserably as reasons for murder.

And he was mentally stable enough to give himself up and court arrest. Is he trying to hide something? Something big enough to kill his own brother, and then by giving himself up, diverting attention towards himself, and away from both the families. The media too, talks of only the brothers, and nothing about the families. It reeks of the feeling that Pravin wants to save his and his brother's families of an embarassment, much bigger than a brother-killed-brother saga.

Add this to the fact that the money from Pravin's consultancy (about Rs 70000 per month) was remitted to his wife Sarangi's account. And that Pramod Mahajan had acquired shares of a prominent company in his sister-in-law Sarangi's name. And that the police say that the murder was pre-meditated. Keeping in mind Pramod's high profile life, and the accusations in Shivani murder case, it puts a weird feeling in my mind.

Did Pramod Mahajan have an affair with his brother's wife Sarangi?