Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The fury of the crowds

Close on the heels of the death of the Greater Noida CEO about whom I blogged yesterday (a little in bad taste), the Union Labor Minister has warned the (capitalist) management of the country and calls the mob violence a mere omen of "simmering discontent among the workers".

I would request all the ministers, all of them, to step outside the bungalows they refuse to evict at 11 on Friday and stand there without the cover of their Z+++ security. For just half an hour. The few ones that might be pulled still half alive from their burning stakes might then teach Mr. Oscar about how discontent really simmers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free market - UP ishtyle

CEO beaten to death in Noida
The chief executive officer of a company was on Monday beaten to death by a group of dismissed employees inside office premises after a meeting, called to resolve dispute between them and management, failed.
L K Chaudhury, CEO of Gradiano in Udyog Vihar of Greater Noida, was killed when the agitating workers turned violent and beat him up, Senior Superintendent of Police (Noida) R K Chaturvedi told PTI.
As the clash erupted, Chaturvedi said, a security guard opened fire in air.
About 20 people were injured in the clashes. Chaudhury was rushed to Kailash hospital where he was declared brought dead.
There were about 200 former employees inside the premises when the incident took place. They were dismissed two months back for some reasons and were since then protesting against it.

What say Vishesh? This qualifies under both the survival-of-the-fittest and the creative-destruction of th market beliefs of yours.
I think this is a whole paradigm of management theory - management through violence.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

They don't orkut like they used to before

Two friends' birthdays whizzed by and the number of badde greetings on orkut ere signifiantly less compared to what it used to be.

Two possibilities - they're not as popular as before or people are orkutting less.

I go with the latter explanation.

People are orkutting less coz now that the first wave of euphoria - of reuniting with old friends, checking out their honeymoon snaps and kids - over, what next? Orkut's communities are too trivial: most of the people wear them like badges - I belong to this this and this club; I am this guy's fan; I am into this hobby and this movie - and not for active discussion.

The other reason is the walled garden syndrome that Guy Kawasaki mentions. Since each social networking site is a silo, you do not have a single user interface to manage all your network. Your social profiles in Orkut and Facebook are maintained separately, you have to upload the same snaps from the trp you took last week to Flickr, Orkut/Picasa and Facebook and your LinkedIn account is a separate issue altogether.

Kawasaki suggests the evolution of the meta-SNSes. A large social networking site could become a large repository of a number of relationships with smaller sites looking at it to specialize across horizontal uses (for example, creating a site focused on dating or job search) or vertical ones (for example, a site focused on information exchange between subject matter experts within one particular domain).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Le Diner the cons - with the Chopras

Seems like FilmFest Hamburg is having a private idiot party this winter. This will be hilarious!


This is a very interesting article on how IITians in Bombay are being curfewed back to a more wholsesome collegiate experience.
Having wasted almost the whole of my last semester on Quake, I know exactly what these students are rediscovering.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A splendid op-POTA-rtunity

in the aftermath of the bombings, two remedies proposed are

  1. Kill 'em all; let God sort them out - unrestricted POTA regime
  2. Nip it in the bud - Better intelligence

The first argument assumes that 'it will never be me'. History has shown that POTA-like acts quickly degenerate into brutal oppression of dissent: whatever form it may take, whichever quarters it may come from. Martial laws are effective only in the most extreme of emergencies and, if not repealed thereafter, result in juntas and fascist regimes. Hence, POTA is only a short-term solution if it is to be considered.

The second argument is for better intelligence. Easier said than done. First of all, what does it mean. For me, a civilain, that translates into autonomy and more efficacy.

Terrorism can sometimes be an expression of the broader will repressed by the state. Or it can be the violent fanaticism of the few.

In the case of latter, intelligence, with roots spreading far and wide, will be able to preempt most acts because the terrorists, lacking popular support, will be exposed regularly. Preparing and planting bombs does take an awful amount of co-ordination, time and effort; enough to raise suspicion in the ghettoes where they fester.

In the case of former, if it is the will of the people, the only long-term solution is dialogue. Force has never worked - not in Ireland, not in Jaffna, not in Vietnam.

The terrorism of Saturday is without any popular base. The overwhelming majority of any community in India wants its peace and fundamental rights.

Let's not give in to the stridency of the hour: let's rejig the system. For once, our blood-sucking beureaucrats and politicians are under fire: let's take intelligence away from their polluting influence and build something along the line of FBI.

Giving absolute power to the absolutely corrupt is stupid.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The unbearable stupidity of today

There is something so intrinsically beautiful in a pithy aphorism, in the cacophonous stream of relentless sound-bytes, that you sometimes accept them as the truth, the complete truth, without a thought.
An article I stumbled on counters the claim of an English professor, in his book titled - 'The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30)", by stating that
A. intelligence is not just knowledge of facts (esp. those presecribed by elders)
B. Don't blame the 'idiots', blame the context. The apathy argument.
And then it states the line that almost won me over - Alienation is not dumbness.

Beautiful, huh? Alas, it is only a word play.

The incidental facts that the elders espouse sometimes define the politics of tomorrow. The article states Santayana's 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it' argument but is very cavalier about its impication. Much of terrorism today is a lashback of the alienation of societies and nations at the fringes over this very apathy. The spate of anti-Muslim mails, some even hinting at mass-deportation and genocides, that followed the bombings yesterday are testimony to an all-round stupidity that we as a nation have stoned ourselves to - with generous help from a political system that thrives on rhetoric and emotional melodrama than issues and, in recent years, a dangerously illiterate tabloid-media.

Another apology for the apathy is that we, the elders, are not working hard enough.

"If you don't know which rights are protected in the First Amendment, how can you think critically about rights in the U.S.?" Fair enough... it reflects not stupidity but a failure of the school system and of society (which is run by grown-ups) to require them to know it."

This is plain bullshit. Come here you over-indulged Americans and see what school systems look like in the rest of the world. Anyone beyond 12 (I don't buy the 18 argument) who is not curious about the world he/she lives in, esp. when he has the means, is a disaster waiting to be unleashed.

I have said in an earlier blog that stupidity is a decision - beyond an age. We choose to remain stupid because knowledge involves effort and effort is, well, tiring. It's easier to voice whatever the media is ranting about than develop arguments of your own, treat everything like it happened without any history than read into it, have sloppy-sentimental notions of goodness in this world than stare at the stark problem of inequalities in the world and understand the institutional mechanics behind, it is easier to watch television that read and use your imagination, watch the escapist Bollywood fare than jar the depth of your intelligence and soul in world cinema.

We are stupid because we can afford to be.

Stupidity is the biggest problem facing the world today. It was always - but the contrast between the means at a person's disposal to enlighten himself and the actual intelligence has never been so glaring. Terrorism persists because of the stupidity of the masses that support the two-faced, self-serving states whose policies the terrorists usually fight against (Ask yourself honestly: how do you fight states other than by terrorism? Do you expect people to form a private army and then march to Kurukshetra and then be bombed out with a couple of minutes?)
Maybe the terrorists are stupid (after all, most terrorist outfits are bolstered by even greater stupidity of their misled support groups), but two worngs might not make a right, but two stupidities surely make a disaster.

Aren't we in such a mess because of the over-the-years cultivated and arogant stupidity of the most powerful nation of the world?

'Either you're with us, or against us!' Remember? Only the really stupid see the world in binaries, in black and white.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Are we being just to Sanjeev Nanda?

Justice delayed is justice denied. So the adage goes; the party denied presumably the aggrieved party. But what about the criminal? Esp. in a case of culpable homicide.

Sanjeev Nanda is the same age as me. Nine years ago, when he was driving the BMW, I was riding my first bike - a second hand Yamaha RX100. My only mishap that year happenned when I raced into a U-turning rickshaw, that suddenly decided that the way opposite was the way for him, somewhere in the city:but that was entirely to my disadvantage.

I remember reading about that night in the next morning's paper. Sabby was still my room-mate, Itawa and chirag were in the room opposite, Chiklu lived across our hostel, and I was in correspondence with Prachi. Ages ago.

There was a curious feeling of vindication at the overdue desserts of a coeval who was born with the world in his locker and the privilige of a life of no struggles -fast cars, babes, good looks - and flaunting it. That his family allegedly watered the festering, bulbuous corruption in defence deals and undermined the nation's security, of course, added to the thrill.

Over the years, the Nandas, allegedly, bought witnesses and ran the judiciary system, groaning under the rotting weight of its colonial convolutions, as smoothly and confidentally as a Formula1 driver. Now, it seems, like the host of celebrated and long-drawn cases recently, their luck has finally run out.

But what is the basis of the justice system?

1. punishment?

2. reformation?

3. containment?

Punishment, if not coupled with the objective of reformation, is not the concern of the state or any rational institution. The criminal might be asked to financially compensate the aggrieved party for the damage done. But incarceration/death for the sake of only feeding the desire of revenge, is neither rational nor the hallmark of any civilized state.

Hence, the objectives narrow down to reformation or containment.

Containment applies to criminals that might repeat their actions and, hence, be a threat to the security of the public. The act might either come with intent or, as in the case of culpable homicide, negligence. The objective is to contain the person till, in the first case, the criminal changes his intent or, in the other, he becomes more careful; both till a level that he is no longer a threat.

My argument is based on this understanding of modern-day justice systems.

Now, forget the mockery that the Nandas might have made of the legal system and the weeping widows; just like you might have conveniently forgotten that if the Nandas did play the system for their son, so, in all probability, would have you. (The only constraint would have been the power you wield and the bank balance you own.)

Try and think rationally (a tough request in these days of strident media-led kangaroo courts). Try to be a part of the panch parmeshwar.

Who are we trying to reform here? A 30 year old for something he did when he was 21? For what purpose? If I had killed that rickshaw driver that day nine years ago, would now be time to try and reform me?

The answer is clear - REVENGE; for thinking that they can play with the lives of the poor; for eating off the fat of the land; for this, that and everything.

They might be corrupt, arrogant, smug; in short, evil!

But is this the royal darbaar of Akbar the merciful or a modern legal institution?

Is this justice?

There is only one criminal here - the people who have made legal system thus. Of the murder of justice - eitherways - with intent. Purposeful negligence.