Monday, July 27, 2015

Why Indian Elite Cannot Solve the Problems of the Poor – Food

The recent ban of eggs in the midday meals to school children by Madhya Pradesh opens up questions on how as a society we solve some of the fundamental problems in India.  Most of the decision making in the legislature, bureaucracy, activist groups, and media, is usually done by the elite of India, who are most often well off.  And the challenges faced by the elite in India closely resemble the challenges experienced by the people living in the developed world.  And in most cases, like in deciding the nature of food and diet for nutritional purposes, those challenges are exactly reversed between developed and underdeveloped countries, thereby putting the elite in India squarely incapable of solving the problems of the poor.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Starving India through Vegetarian Bullying

If you have traveled the world as an Indian, you will notice one thing about the whole world that is so unlike India – you would realize that all other cultures on the planet eat some kind of meat in their regular diet.   You will stumble upon the great discovery that India is the only country on the planet which has highest percentage of vegetarians, where vegetarianism is proudly worn as badge of virtue and value.  Only in India would you see people preferring the vegetarian diet overwhelmingly, wherein even the non-vegetarian communities tend to consume mostly the vegetarian food with paltry consumption of meat one or two meals per week.

Upon this greatest discovery of your lifetime you may go through a debate, if you happen to have some curiosity that your mental faculties have endowed you with.  And if you happen to be one of those Indians who grew up believing India is the greatest country on the planet and it is your mission to tell the whole world how great it is, like for example, if you happen to be Modi bhakt, you would come to the same conclusion which many other have come to – that is – India is indeed the greatest country on the planet to have found the virtue of vegetarianism thousands of years ago, and therefore it makes more sense now to tell the whole world the greatness of vegetarianism, how you are kind to animals, especially the street roaming cows, and how you now hold yourself high morally and ethically.   Like many other Hinduphiles, you will ignore the complicated topics, such as dietary habits of various castes, and instead focus only on the virtues of the vegetarian diet.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Return from a long hiatus

I wrote my first blog post on 02 February 2006 - that’s more than nine years ago.  And in these nine years I wrote 540 articles, averaging nearly 60 per year – or 5 per month.  Of those nine years, the most prolific one was 2007 when I wrote 110 articles.  And in year 2014, I wrote only six.

The last one is from 23 July 2014 – that’s almost a year ago.   

I went through some rough period in life and I guess that’s the reason why I could not make myself write anything.  And in the recent few weeks I just could not muster anything even when I wanted to – call it a writer’s block.

So, I thought I should just go on a freewheeling mode and get started, and hence this post.

Modi is in power.  The unthinkable has happened.  The Congress got decimated – Indians rejected Rahul Baba and UPA III overwhelmingly.  And State of Telangana got formed. 

'Make in India' is the theme, so is the agenda to transform India into Hindustan.   

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What is Child Abuse?

I saw the following image posted by a friend on the facebook, and I couldn’t help but add my own inputs below.

The other child abuses are:
Teaching the kid that there is an imaginary, all powerful-man who judges people on their dietary, ritual and sexual habits.

Teaching the kid that there is an imaginary place where he/she will burn for eternity - for praying to the wrong imaginary man or for doing some silly human things, like disobeying your parents or cursing.

Teaching the kid that his/her country is the greatest on the planet just because he/she happens to be born in it.

Expressing your opinion in front of the kid that certain people are incapable just because of their color or caste or sex.

Exhorting the kid to study hard to get full marks in the exams, or win the games at all costs, just so that you want to see your glories through the kid’s achievements.

Preparing the kids for the real world too early whereby the kids do not enjoy their childhood.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What do you do when someone copies your post? [Part II]

I have a previous article on this topic at Part I.

Today, I woke up to get forwarded an article written by one A. Muthukrishnan on Telangana. The article was published on Counter Currents and Brave New India. And it was reposted at least on three other sites.

While I was reading it I immediately started to realize that it was the exact piece that I wrote on Telangana few years ago.  It was written on 13 December 2009 and was titled ‘Case for Telangana’.   It was 100% cut-and-paste job.  He added only one line at the bottom:

This year in June the state of Andra Pradesh and Telengana will be a reality.

And it has two spelling mistakes already.  Andhra is spelled as ‘Andra’ and Telangana is spelled as ‘Telengana’. 

It is unfortunate that Counter Current and Brave New India published this article without even making a cursory search.  The author seems to be a person of well-established background.  These two blogs introduce him as:

A.Muthukrishnan is a writer, traveler and activist who resides in Madurai, Tamilnadu

I have written to both these sites giving reference to my article plus the links to this article published elsewhere. 

I think I have to wait and see what they would do.

Coming back to the previous report (from Part I).  The article still exists on Sulekha. 

Related Article:
Kaavya and Plagiarism

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Indian movies at Oscars III

This follows from Part I and Part II.

Are Oscars fool-proof? Do they actually select the best movie and best actor?

Though we all tend to have a different opinion on who should be the ultimate winner of Academy Award, do we not generally agree on the nominations at least?  Take ‘12 years a Slave’ for example.  Most people on the planet would concede that it is indeed a well-made movie irrespective of cultural or ethnic background.  The same goes for ‘Gravity’. 

Well-made movies, irrespective of whether they win the Academy Award or not, tend to be recognized as ‘well-made movies’ irrespective of the audience’s cultural or ethnic background.   If a villager in India is shown these movies with subtitles or translations he would concede they are ‘well-made movies’.  Whether he would actually pay for it in a cinema theater to watch it is a different matter altogether!  If paying for the movies is the only criterion - then we need to consider this fact – he would pay more to watch a pornographic movie if it were to be shown in his village. 

According to me, Indians tend to love Indian movies for sheer nostalgia factor.   It is like Kolkatans loving Kolkata just because it is their home city – in spite of its extremely bad roads, bad traffic, congested trains and buses.  But no observer, however incompetent he is, would ever put Kolkata as top ten cities in the world.  The minute we start putting objective parameters for measurement, and remove the subjectivity of ‘love for one’s home city’ from the list, Kolkata doesn’t stand a chance. 

The same holds true for Indian movies.  Except for the fact that we tend to love them because it perpetuates our love for them for sheer nostalgic reasons, no objective criteria can place them in the category of ‘well-made’ movies.   Take the five nominated movies for the Best Film by Filmfare.  Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Chennai Express, Ram-Leela, Raanjhanaa, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.  I didn’t watch the first one, so I cannot comment.  The other four movies do not qualify as ‘well-made’ movies by any standard of movie-making, and it doesn’t matter who the judge is – whether it is an American, Brazilian, Scandinavian, African, Vietnamese, or Indonesian.   And if the Indian judge were to keep his ‘love for Indian movies’ aside, he would not qualify them as well-made.  

Aren’t Oscars overrated? Why should Indians even bother?

Oscars may be overrated. But by calling it overrated what exactly are we doing?  We are basking in the faint glow that comes from celebration of mediocrity in India Cinema while deluding ourselves that we are getting a suntan out of it.  A society can never excel itself unless its people or its audience seek for better or improved things – whether it is governance, music, sports or cinema.  The sports in any country improves when the spectators seek improvement, otherwise it will be a mockery event like it happens in India wherein some of the college sports are completely unwatchable. 

The same malaise which allows us to tell ourselves, ‘this is the best we can do, so let’s rather not complain’ to our political leaders and bureaucrats, also allows us to go in throngs to see extremely mediocre patchwork of untalented artists looking cute, mumbling some words, to make what is called an Indian movie. 

What kind of talent gets promoted in a movie industry is extremely important to any culture or society – because it is one institution where talent, originality, creativity score over everything else.  Unlike education and employment which are considered access to basic opportunities to live a decent life, and therefore has to be guaranteed to everyone, whereby quotas, reservations, affirmative actions are legislated or imposed, the fields of arts, sports, cinema, on the other hand, are supposed to be highly democratized and open, whereby the talent is recognized, celebrated and rewarded. 

Even during ancient times, while most opportunities were closed to the privileged classes, it was the field of arts, music, poetry, plays, which allowed people from underprivileged classes to shine forth.  Even before the US administration and government treated blacks as equals through legislation, it was sports, cinema and arts that allowed the inclusion of blacks (of course with some prejudice still intact).

How did we end up taking an institution that is supposed to promote excellence, talent, creativity and originality to completely corrupt it whereby the mediocrity is not just tolerated, but celebrated and rewarded?  Is it because it was imposed onto us, or is it because as people, as audience, reveled in this celebration and promoted it to incrementally degrade it and debase so much so that now it is nothing but a parade of unoriginality, mediocrity, plagiarism, untalented?

I have nothing against Deepika Padukone.  Poor girl! She just cannot act.  In any other country, Argentina or France or Iran or Korea, she would not have won any audition.  But in India, that completely untalented cute girl is the paragon of Indian Arts.  She won the Best Actress Award.  And that is just sad.  This corruption, degradation and debasement did not happen overnight. It happened over many years, where plagiarism was lapped up, then inability to act was lapped up, then extremely bad storylines were lapped up.  And very soon, before we realized, those untalented people and those unoriginal works, those mediocre patch works started to get awards. 

It is like PhD is in India.  It is like technology creation in India.  Mediocrity is not just promoted, but rewarded and celebrated.  That’s because we allow it, we tolerate it, we legitimize it, and then we institutionalize it.  

Indian movies at Oscars II

In response to my previous blog, some commenters (on another social networking site) have justified why Indian movies continue to be the way they tend to be – they said, ‘these movies titillate the masses, they give the people an escape from reality, they tend to make money or business case’. 

No dispute on that. 

On the justification of Indian movies continuing to be the way they tend to be – the best comparison that I can make is with pornography.  The pornographic movies also tend to titillate the masses, give the people an escape from reality, and they tend to make money. [I am afraid that pornography industry may take umbrage at that comparison, because it tends to throw up actors better than Deepika Padukone or Tusshar Kapur; and some soft porn movies have better script than Ram-Leela]. 

Upon inspection, the comparison seems to be apt in many respects – the acting skills are confined to having a repertoire of one or two expressions which are repeated throughout the movie, and is considered quite OK.   The script is sometimes completely absurd where anything goes – fiction is mixed with fact at the whims and fancy of the director and the audience has no problem in accepting such absurdities, all in the name of enjoyment.  The editing is sometimes much better in the pornography compared to some of the Indian movies. 

The award ceremonies are also very similar.  While the Academy devotes only 4 awards to actors out of a total of 24, giving importance to various other aspects of movie making like visual effects and makeup, Indian movie awards tend to focus on trying to satisfy as many actors as possible – with categories like best villain and best comedian.  In some award functions, the actor’s fathers and mothers are also felicitated.

The comparison in awards continues.  Most Indian movie awards have a category for ‘best debutante’ or ‘best newcomer’ which no other serious movie awards dole out – once again this comes from pornography industry which gives out an award for ‘best new starlet’. 

At the outset, Indian Cinema is a substitute for pornography, and I believe that Indian Cinema will improve if we allow pornography in this country – that way the whole idea of ‘titillating and entertaining the masses’ will move towards pornography where the actresses like Deepika Padukone would may get the best actress awards, while the mainstream will automatically be forced to improve.