Sunday, January 23, 2011

The art and science of development

The Times of India carries a piece which devotes half the space to what is called ‘Times View’ and the remaining half to ‘Counter View’. Today’s piece caught my attention as it was based on a subject that is close to my heart. The topic was Indians not doing too well compared to the Chinese in certain math competitions – Should we worry about it? I agreed with the Times view, though badly articulated that proficiency in mathematics is not a guarantee for success as a nation. It was the counter view that heckled me. It carried a short sighted conclusion that since we lack roads and bridges (read infrastructure and amenities) we need to churn out more people who are good at numbers (read scientists and engineers). This worshipping of mental number crunching abilities and its like have been the bane of our education system.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sex, kicks and video tapes

Russian femme fatale Anna Chapman will soon host a TV show. The espionage hottie will unravel dark mysteries for Russian channel REN, ala our own India TV and Aaj Tak. For all that we import from the west, it’s a pity we don’t have our desi equivalents of Anna and have to contend with bearded men to bring us exciting tales of the supernatural. However, the Anna Chapman type beauty is somewhat of an oddity these days. The seductive and mysterious female, which has been a key character in western spy movies and gothic horror tales has long been replaced by the kick-ass variety of babe, who would rather pummel the baddie and hero alike, rather than charm them. Credit to Tomb Raider Lara Croft for this transformation. Increasingly movies and video games have women as central characters, single handedly bashing up gangs of beefy men five times their size. Men apparently like such women, though is this a cause or an effect, it’s difficult to say. James Bond of the Sean Connery variety wouldn’t have approved, but James Bond of the Daniel Craig variety is certainly happy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The marriage contract

I am not a legal person. I don’t mean I am an illegal person. What I mean is that I am neither an expert on legal affairs nor qualified for it. However my job involves studying quite a few business contracts and occasionally drafting some as well, in which case I use CTRL+C and CTRL+V to good measure. The language used in contracts fascinates me. It stands as a language that has withstood the onslaught of cunning lawyers for centuries and has constantly evolved in order to become abuse proof. A lot of people, especially those who hate paperwork consider legal language as belonging to the Neanderthal era. This is unfair. Just as machines become safer, they also become more complex. So I have decided to draft one such contract which I shall get signed in triplicate on the day of my marriage, if and when it happens. It’s always good to be prepared in advance.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not quite Youngistan

We Indians don’t believe in quitting. Now before you think that I am gloating in self admiration about some never-say-die attitude I would like to bring you on track. What I meant was that the phrase ‘calling it a day’ is alien to some of us. Dada Saurav Ganguly and Uncle Anil Kumble would like us to believe that they got a raw deal in the recently concluded Indian Premier League auctions, in that that they didn’t get a deal at all. The Bengal Tiger and Bangalore Lion perhaps didn’t realize that even old tigers and lions walk away during mating season when threatened by younger lads. Those who don’t, end up with their pride hurt more than anything else. Dada and Uncle can only partly blame themselves. They didn’t realize that while they were ageing, the audience was not. Their set of admirers have moved to another age bracket and been replaced by those who have seen them playing only in reruns of matches on programs which have titles like “Glory days of Indian test cricket”.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get real !!

There used to be a show on Discovery TLC some time back named “Wife Swap”. I have to admit that when I first heard the title I was a bit scandalized and eagerly waited for the first helping. My one dimensional brain could not fathom that it could mean anything else. As it turned out it was more or less clean programming (since the expletives were beeped out) and I ended up disappointed. The series ended up sending one message very clearly – If you hate your spouse and can’t figure out how to live under the same roof, get someone worse. Most episodes ended with the couples reduced to tears and embracing each other with a look that said “I thought nothing could be worse than you”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everybody needs a lobbyist

Following was overheard at the Annual Summit of Dogs in Dec 2010. The meeting was being chaired by a burly German Shepherd (Sheppie). Members included an assortment of dogs – A Pomeranian (Pommy), a Labrador (Labby), A pug (Puggy) and Mongy (representative of stray dogs)

Sheppie - Comrades! This meeting of ASD is called to order! Before we set the agenda for the year ahead, let us spend some time in reflecting over the developments of last year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We will keep asking questions

Deciding what to write on your first blog is more difficult than licking your elbow. It presents dilemmas. Will my first blog create a permanent impression about the kind of person I am? Will it bother me if not too many people follow it? Will my employer give me the boot for my views? The only way to deal with these things is to say ‘I don’t care’. If you are not going to express yourself freely, there is no point getting into it in the first place. Since I have views on politics, media and society and everything under the sun, my first blog is about some of these. It is a fictitious account of a talk show on national television. The participants are a garrulous host (GH), a ruling politician (RP), an opposition politician (OP), and a social activist (SA). Strictly speaking this more a satire than a blog. It is not outrageously funny, but I hope it makes some people smile.