Sunday, May 28, 2006

The results are out...

So after the tense exam season, even more tense result season is here. And you will admit that the nervousness, tension and high drama are at their respective peaks in the metros.
Partly due to the higher career consciousness and cut-throat competition between students. Partly due to the social structure in these cities where the educational institute (school/college) and academic standing of their ward is yet another addition to ever expanding criteria for status war between the high and mighty. And partly due to yet another example of the media hypocricy!
The editors, associate editors, sub-editors, assistant editors and other gazillion editors of every newspaper and news channel will write reams and speak terrabytes of crap to convince us that exam pressure is ruining the youth in our country and that education should be rescued from this vicious circle. But come the result season and they will be out there with full force covering this phenomenon as if country's next 100 years are going to depend on these results only. With so much media coverage and glare of cameras who won't feel the pressure. On one hand the media is making the exams a high pressure activity and on the other hand crying foul. Perhaps the reason enough that 90s are just not sufficient anymore.
I was also a CBSE student, an average student in a middle class city of Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad. I scored 82 and 83 percent marks in 10th and 12th Board exams respectively. You may say I was mediocre (I won't mind if you rate me lower!) but I was satisfied, and so were my parents. Later I felt that competitive angst in my father's words but that was not related in any manner with my results in these exams.
But ofcourse life was easier in those days. After all CBSE results were never publicised much in local papers and even with UP Board results everyone played cool! One had to wait, sometimes whole day, to get the results newspaper, with vendor charging upto 10 Rs. if your number was there and nothing if you had ducked!
But the times have changed. The information just got faster, the competition tougher, the pressure more severe and since all other aspects of schooling and education have changed (some even lost their innocence and reached adulthood!) maybe it was natural path for the results to follow.
Congratulations to everyone who just stepped outside the school finally.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Great Indian Robbery

Let me clear at the very outset, I HAD great respect for the PM, Manmohan Singh. I believed and trusted the CEO-Chairman relationship between him and Mrs. Gandhi. I thought that even though he is not a great statesman like Vajpayee, atleast he is professional who knows that he has to deliver and deliver within certain timeframe. He started well, and even though his boat was occasionally rocked by Left, the duo managed to sail smoothly.

Things started going in rough weather : privatization drive nearly died down, infrastructure development activities started lagging and halted routinely, agricultural sector continued to be ignored, terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and Naxalite activities in almost whole India continued unabated (when Government was busy giving us statistics over how these activities have come down actually) , prices rose like Sensex does (the only difference is that prices never crash like hell). But the government continued its honeymoon period! Left Parties were blamed for anything and everything! I still respected the PM!

But instances in past one month or so, have made me rethink. First the increased quota issue. I think that PM in his heart knows that this move is going to set India back by a decade atleast, in the field of higher education and technology areas. But he is helpless. He can't muster up courage to speak up against his own partymen and colleagues and the leaders (do they deserve to be called leaders actually?) of his coalition supporters. He must have been in a fix becuase his own very special men in National Knowledge Commission have resigned over this issue!

And to be very honest, this is one of the reasons I don't respect him anymore. I had envisioned him as a visionary. A real technocrat who has the understandings of things. I understand that it is the politics that is making him do these things, but I think he would have won more supporters had he initiated a debate over need and efficacy of the reservation. He could even have become a "martyr" like Mrs. Gandhi! But maybe it's too demanding. After all you don't get to become PM of India everyday.

Second is his behavior in Kashmir Round Table conference. Hurriyat Conference openly insulted him and all Indians by first demanding a high level talk and then refusing to attend it, calling the senior political leaders there 'a group of Hypocrites'. I understand that at times you should keep quiet for the sake of diplomacy but I can't support that PM says 'We hope Hurriyat will join us at the right time'! Sorry Boss.That's plain spine-less behavior.

Now you get why I said in the beginning, I HAD respect for the PM,Manmohan Singh.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rang Dala Basanti!

See the photos of Police Tyranny in Mumbai

I had watched Rang De Basanti (now more popularly known as RDB) in the latter half of my ILP in Bhubaneswar. And though I had loved the movie I had maintained a strong opinion that almost complete second half of the movie was superficial and director and writers had taken too much creative freedom. No police force, under no matter how much political pressure, can just march up and mercilessly beat up silent protestors, no matter how much publicity they are garnering. This was what I thought. Till 13th May ofcourse!

On this day, young medical students protesting against increased reservation for backward classes in premier higher educational institutes, were beaten by Mumbai Police using batons, lathis and water cannons!

Since then the protests have engulfed almost whole country. Today (20th May) Delhi is hosting a massive rally in which people from all walks of life are participating (The striking students and doctors had the Delhi police by surprise when they ended their rally by singing the national anthem, forcing them to join in themselves.) Tomorrow such a protest march is scheduled in Pune. Candle Protest Marches, silent dharnas, hunger-strikes. Nation is facing everything!
And something that almost everyone, including the protestors, the media and the fence-sitters, are talking about is the 'RDB Effect'! A news report talked about many protests in the recent past against issues like injustice in Jessica Lal murder case or police inactivity in Meher Bhargav murder case taking the RDB route. And now these anti-quota protests too seem to take a cue from the movie and its aggressive spirit acting as eye-openers.
Photo Courtesy CNN-IBN
But will WE (yes please count me also as one of those who support equality in opportunity) really succeed? Will the greedy politicians like Arjun Singh (read a very good article by Sheela Bhatt in respect the will of the nation or keep on harping the tune of caste politics in the name of 'social equality'? Will the Prime Minister make the mockery of National Knowledge Commission set up by himself or act what the country hoped he will when they voted him to power? Only time will tell.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The postcard just got faster!

As I was writing to Nakul about mailing, I suddenly remembered Amul Surabhi.
Every sunday 9pm Doordarshan National used to telecast this programme which was a potpourri of National Geographic Channel, Animal Plannet, Discovery Travel and Living and Doordarshan Bharti all rolled into a thoroughly enjoyable half-hour refresher course on the hidden (and known) aspects and facets of India and the world.
One day they were travelling to unknown jungles and islands and the other day they would be sitting in a crowded dhaba on the road from Delhi to Jaipur! The window to the world was never so multi-hued and never so simply presented. Who can forget Siddharth Kak and Renuka Shahane and the very Indian sets they would be sitting on!
Well this isn't why I remembered Surabhi suddenly! Last 10 minutes of the show was the quiz time and let me say, the prizes were really worth dieing for!! Fully paid trips to tourist destinations around the country with stay in luxurious hotels (I think these were in all the five weekly prizes) apart from gift hampers from tourism departments and related PSUs.
So every sunday we watched Surabhi and tried to send the answers on a postcard. Later when Surabhi started getting more than 5 lakh postcards per week almost routinely, Government introduced 'Competition Postcards' worth Rs. 6! Most of the times our replies (addressed postcards with answers written) were eventually swept away because they were not posted on time!
Today in the age of Instant Gratification, you have SMS to send in your answers, and coincidentally most of the services charge the same Rs 6 every SMS !!
The postcard just got faster!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Watching 'Pokiri'

I had said yes to my coming to 'Pokiri' with my telugu friends and colleagues and had decided to take it as another experience, but this confidence had started waning off when Kaycee told me that you won't understand a word!

So there was some jitteriness when I settled in my comfortable chair in PVR Hyderabad. There was a sense of deja vu. I remembered watching umpteen movies in Noida multiplexes. But almost everything had changed. The people I was watching movie were different, I didn’t know anything about the movie (normally I have pretty much information about any movie I go to watch) and most important I was not sure if I would be able to understand anything! Also, I had never watched any film in any PVR cinema, though we had planned to watch 'Swades' on Neelima's treat but it was just released and was sold out that Sunday.

Today I had chosen my seat carefully. On the left was Chaitanya and on the right was Aparna. No, no I had not taken extra care to be seated between girls on both sides, but so that both could tell me what was going on the screen, who was saying what and all the little tid-bits. And thanks to both, I could understand most of the movie. This is another thing that I didn't like the content! But now atleast I know how it feels to watch a movie in a language I don't know and of course spending 100 bucks on it!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Death of a Human Being

As I sit in my cubicle (on a saturday!) listening to songs on my friend's new Video iPod, not-so-comfortable thoughts haunt me. This week has been terrible, no not for me personally, but for the country as a whole, perhaps the world! Should I give you an account of tragedies in this week? OK, these are the ones that caught my attention:
  • Armenian Plane crashed killing 113 onboard.
  • Militants killed 35 people in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Bus fall into gorge in Uttaranchal killing all 21 passengers.

And apart from these, Pramod Mahajan and Naushad Ali left us.

You will say, what is new in this, accidents occur with regular and frightening frequency and people die, killed in these accidents, shot by their brothers or simply due to organ failures. You are right.

I am just surprised by my apathy! Why is that my heart doesn't cry for the victims' families? People who kept on waiting for their dear ones to come with the ill-fated plane or that bus, people whose families were butchered in front of their eyes?Why have I become so selfish? If those people are not my relatives or friends, I am not at all bothered!

Am I losing my humanity?