Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why do we drive with high-beam on?


I just started driving a four-wheeler on the Indian roads for the first time. Of course, I am training my brain to make sure I enter a road on the left side and not the right side, to anticipate random people coming from any direction any time, so on. However, driving at night is such a tough task - many cars, trucks, vans and even two-wheelers drive using high-beam ON. Driving at night puts so much pressure on the driver to the point of being completely unbearable and downright risky.

You are completely blinded when facing such high-beam headlights. You can’t see the curb, you don’t know if there is a pot-hole or not, you don’t know if there is a pedestrian or not. For few seconds you are completely blind – you don’t know where you are going, and you lose your bearing.

I am quite sure that I am not the only one who is blinded by such high-beam headlights. I am quite sure most humans do get blinded by such high-beam lights. In fact, most animals do. They just stare at the oncoming vehicle and get run over.

So, how come we still use high-beam headlights while driving in a city, or on a road with oncoming traffic? Isn’t it obvious for each driver the inconvenience and discomfort it causes? Why do they continue to practice something that causes so much discomfort while enduring that discomfort? Is it something like, ‘Yes, I know I am doing something stupid here, but I would like to continue doing it because others are doing it!’

Instead of escalating the problem, why don’t we tone it down? Like, driving on low-beam in the city, and moving to low-beam in face of oncoming traffic? One would expect that it is the most sensible thing to do. It is just common sense. I have driven for many years in US (and Europe). It goes unsaid that you lower your beam in face of oncoming traffic, and if for some reason you forget to do that, the approaching person blinks his headlights or honks and that is good enough reason for you to feel embarrassed. You almost feel like you have committed a grave crime.

What is it about us that don’t allow us to practice something that makes sense right away? Is government involved here? Is the system wrong here? Are the politicians corrupt here? Is it caste-politics or communalism here? What is it in play here?

Or is it just about our attitude- the utter lack of social responsibility?

This lack of social responsibility is seen in other phases too. I was watching two young girls walking on the road next to my office. Very nonchalantly, they just threw trash, plastic and paper on the middle of the road while conversing away to glory. That particular scene was imprinted in my brain. They were educated girls, could be college-going or could be software professionals, they were nicely dressed, were talking in English. But just look at the apathy. I am not illustrating this to accuse those two girls. This shows how we raise our kids, how we teach our kids, how we as adults do not set examples where necessary, or may be, we do set examples- but they turn out to be bad examples, like driving with full-beam lights knowing very well how inconvenient that is to everyone!

Imagine the conversation, where the son says, “But Dad, this big light completely blinds us. Then, how come we are driving with big lights?” and the Dad replies, “This is the only way to get ahead in this country, son! Push or be pushed!”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Corporate: Why Product-making companies?

I insist on high tech product making companies for India. No matter what we do with our IT-ITES sector, we will not scale dramatically to be able to become an economic power. The case is strong for technology-product making companies. So, what are we going to do about it? Read more.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

One ‘Area of Improvement’ for India

The list of areas of improvements for a person or a nation cannot be a long list. At the most a person can work on 2 or 3 areas and not more. We need to prioritize which areas are more important and which are not. 

What is one area of improvement for India?

I thought about this for quite some time now. What is this one dream that I want to see happen in this country. What is that single thing from which everything else will unfold? What is that single thing to achieve we have to improve everything else? This is my dream – it’s quite simple actually.

I want a clean India.

I want Indian streets, roads, houses, parks, toilets, hospitals, hotels, offices, schools, temples clean. I want to see this everywhere and anywhere in India. I want to see no garbage. I want to see clean toilets everywhere. I want all Indians to get clean hospitals and schools. I want clean landscape and parks. I want to see clean neighborhoods in cities and villages.

The more I think about it the more I feel that the only person who understood India and Indians well enough was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. And for this crime, we shot him dead. It was almost like- “Look, you know too much about us. We don’t want you with us!” His emphasis- or overemphasis on clean toilets is something I completely empathize with. I think he correctly realized that the root cause of our attitudes was in that single action- ability to clean our own shit.

Yes, I want us to be able ‘to clean our own shit’ and be proud of it. Casteism, poverty, untouchability, corruption, unemployment, illiteracy, population, and all other problems combined will get tackled or will need to be tackled to achieve this single dream of clean India.

The pseudo-values such as ethics, morality, family values, traditional values, sampradaya, neeti, etc, are of NO use, when our streets and toilets are really dirty!

Teaching ourselves to keep our country clean will solve many problems. We will need to educate our kids in values- on keeping the country and our environs clean. They will grow to be mature and responsible individuals. Building responsible citizenry is more important than sending our kids to IIT, AIIMS, IISC, NIT, or IIM.  Without a sense of responsibility our kids are turning into citizens without social responsibility, fighting for selfish ends, making avarice a value, trying to emulate their parents in hoarding wealth, building bungalows, while practicing the Indian family pseudo-values of not eating meat, not drinking wine, and not visiting a prostitute. Of what use are such youth to India? Not much good will come out of them. 

Instead we need are the youth who are more conscious of their responsibility, their impact on their environs, with ability to tolerate Indian diversity, understand it and respect it. We need the educated to promote rational thinking, tolerate criticism, with constant endeavour to improve oneself and the society. We need a creative lot, who are keen on creating something original even though it is risky, instead of copying someone because it is safe.

Let’s admit it.  India is dirty country. There is filth, garbage and sewage everywhere. India is almost like a giant garbage place.

This is one dream that is good enough for me- to make it clean.

Keeping our India clean will allow us to plan our cities better. To make sure whole of India is clean, we need to bring prosperity to the rural areas. They have to be taken into stride in our economic successes. People will getter better schools, better hospitals. To make it happen we will have to generate more money- which will result in more employment. To educate everyone we need all kids to be at school, this will bring in literacy. To make sure all houses are clean, we need to have a minimum standard of living in India, which will combat poverty. To make sure we know what it takes to keep India clean, we have to come up innovations in technology and come up with methods to get clean energy.

When one cleans his own toilet, he may start respecting the lower castes. He will find them no different from himself.  When one clean his own shit, he will feel responsible for his own shit. He will not blame others when things go bad. To be able to clean shit, he will own up responsibility, he will join politics to clean it up; he will join industry to clean it up. He won’t say- ‘I won’t join politics because it is dirty’. Instead, he will say, ‘it is my shit, I will clean it’.

A Clean India!

It’s one goal I can live with.

Indian Actors

What does it take to become a Cinema Actor in India?

‘Talent for acting, necessary skills to act, an innate flair for acting, taking up acting classes, having acted and displayed the necessary skills in school dramas, shows, TV, etc?’

If your answers are any of the above, you are wrong. To be an actor in India, you should either be related to someone who is already in acting business or a politician, or be a beauty queen.

What I have done is compiled a list of actors and actresses who is related to someone in acting business or a politician, or is a beauty queen.

Women

Aishwarya Rai, Amisha Patel, Amrita Arora, Bipasha Basu, Celina Jaitley, Esha Deol, Juhi Chawla, Kajol, Kareena kapoor, Karishma Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Kirty Reddy, Lara Dutta, Lisa Ray, Manisha Koirala, Neha Dhupia, Pooja Bedi, Pooja Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, Rimi Sen, Rinke Khanna, Riya Sen, Shamita Shetty, Soha Ali Khan, Sushmita Sen, Tanushree Dutta, Twinkle Khanna, Yana Gupta, Yukta Mookhey

Men

Aamir Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Akshay Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Ashmit Patel, Bobby Deol, Fardeen Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kumar Gaurav, Nagarjuna, Rahul Dev, Rahul Khanna, Ritesh Deshmukh, Saif Ali Khan, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Shahid Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Tusshar Kapoor, Uday Chopra, Vivek Oberoi, Zayed Khan.

I know that my list is incomplete. I am not a great fan of Indian cinema. I don’t know half these actors. I got the list from a Google site and typed each name to see their biographies. I couldn’t get information on some of them from web. But I am sure many out there would be able to add some more names to this list.

What is appalling is the number of actors who seem to fit this narrow category. It looks like Arts is completely hereditary or is related to being a beauty queen. Are we dynastic in nature? The way we choose our politicians, who are related to each other, we also seem to prefer artists who are related to each other. Is Arts in India hereditary?

My first year of blogging

It’s been a year since I started blogging. Before that I didn’t know much about blogging. A month before I started writing blogs, I never read a blog. I heard about it, and I thought it was something like an online diary. The first few blogs that I wrote, I would consciously send out my blogsite to my friends and family hoping they would read it.

When the topic of ‘reservations’ came about, I started writing blogs answering some of the questions that I faced when I was growing up. I ended up writing 13 episodes on that topic alone. With that my blog started to receive readers whom I never knew before. Receiving such audience was something that I was not prepared for. It was both good and bad. Good, because you are able to reach a wider audience. I became friends with some nice people because of that. Bad, because the commenters could write anything hiding behind the curtain of anonymity. When I saw few nasty things written about my family, I started to monitor the comments that I receive. If I find comments insulting, I reject them.

Though the blogs reach wider audience- it is extremely small compared to any mainstream media. Imagine an article written in THE HINDU or a program on NDTV. Such articles and programs reach millions and sometimes even billions. I compiled some statistics here on my blog from the last one year.

So far, I have received a total of 28,440 visitors (as of Feb 1st, 2007). The current average (taken over last 7 days) is 137.83 visitors per day. That’s extremely low compared to what one can achieve using a newspaper or a TV program. And in the last one year, I have written 90 articles on various topics.

The number of visitors for each month (starting from Feb 2006 and ending in Jan 2007) is:

138, 200, 777, 2704, 2962, 1476, 1083, 2751, 3655, 4067, 3989. So, there has been a steady growth since I started out, the peak being December 2006.

The top referrer to by blog has been Google, followed by blogger.com, desipundit.com, thecrimson.com, nanopolitan.blogspot.com in that order.

Most popular articles on my blog site are:

MF Husain and nude paintings

Adolf Hitler and Indians

Reservations V: Apotheosis of IITs and myth of merit

Telangana - A New State

My Stand on Reservations I

The number of visitors from US is 11737 (42.28%) and from India is 11040 (39.77%)

According to Technorati, my page rank is: 119,313 with 104 links from 31 blogs.