Saturday, December 06, 2008

49-0: The Myth

You must have gotten the email about Article 49-0 in the constitution. So did I. I immediately thought of publishing it here but then thought better of it. I know too many email chains which are factually wrong. This was too big to post without verification. However, that work was quickly done by other people and as it turns out, it was a hoax:

However, this does not mean that we cannot possibly introduce such an article into the constitution. The idea is sound and makes eminent sense. Anyone have any ideas if there is even an inkling of a movement to introduce such a measure?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jaago Re – One Billion Votes Campaign.

This post was long due. And, the timing could not have been better.

No doubt you have followed the events in Mumbai. No doubt you have felt angry, frustrated and helpless. No doubt you have balked at the sheer incompetence of the incumbent Congress government.

What are you going to do about it? -- This is the question which plagues our minds. "Oh! This is out of my control", "Oh! What can I do?" is the usual refrain from most of us. In the grandest democracy in the world, a system which was designed to give the power to the people, we whine like children about how we can't do anything, how we are powerless. Well, you can! And you are the one who has to do it! The one, who has to influence the change. The one, to become the change you want to see.

What I am asking you to do is simple - be active citizens. Do not let our incompetent politicians get away with burning our beloved country to the ground while we stand by and watch. Stand up and come up to the front - Vote !; Influence people to vote; Make sure people come out in the hordes to vote; Make sure people know the issues at stake while voting. Yes, voice your opinion, even though you might think it is wrong, even if you are wrong; Voice it, for that's what democracy demands. Otherwise it is defunct. Voice it, for that will bring about change, real change.

Please, I beg of you, be an active citizen and Vote !


Jaago Re – One billion votes campaign, is a joint effort by Janaagraha and Tata Tea to get people out to vote. The aim of this campaign to inform the voters, facilitate voter registration, explode myths and simple get the vote out. The importance of such a campaign is immense and the recent events have only underscored it.

However, such an effort is not done easily. We need volunteers and as many as we can get - People to participate in voter registration drives across colleges and institutions of India – absolutely anywhere possible. Please come forward and volunteer. You can find the details at / I implore you to sign up, no matter what city you are in.

I will admit that I personally have not been committed to this excusing myself with the "busy" signal but I hope to change that now.


I will not hide my disdain for the current congress government. I just wish they go already. After these attacks, they need to simply resign on moral grounds if not for their cowardice. I personally think, Congress alone has been responsible for bringing the country down to its knees with 61 years of sheer incompetence, needless grandstanding and pandering. They have indulged in one bad decision after another only for the sake of retaining power. The country is paying a huge price for that.

But, that's my personal opinion. I invite you to form an opinion on your own. But, please, form one! And form it based on facts. It will decide the future of the country.

I hope BJP comes to power in the coming elections. But the bigger hope I have is that as active citizens, we keep any and every government on its toes. Give them no reason to become lax once they have been elected to power. The example of this could be the current BJP government in Karnataka. BSY has indulged in big words but in little action since he has come to power. A lot was expected of him. He needs to realize that little things will go a long way in improving this state; big projects alone will achieve little.


"Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." - George Bernard Shaw  (Thanks, Ameya)

We deserve better.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Evolution (Vs) Intelligent Design

There is a lot of debate on this issue in the western world and of course another hot topic during the elections. The debate seems lop-sided and it is without doubt that human beings have undergone a process of evolution to reach the stage in which we are today. What I want to talk about is how intelligent design is a plausible theory if not to explain the past then atleast to explain the future.

To begin with, what I understand by evolution is simply "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest". And intelligent design is the ability to create something totally new by design only. I will use this as a premise for my arguments.

I work in the flower industry now. In order to gain knowledge in this completely new industry, I obviously attempted to read a few books related to the industry. One of the books read in this process was " Flower Confidential". The book gave a lot of insider details of processes of the flower industry with examples from Colombia, USA, and Holland. What struck me the most in the book was the concept of breeding new varieties of flowers. The breeders strive to create new varieties via cross-pollination and other methods, to achieve strong characteristics of desirable colour, long vase life, and a few other features. However, the quality of scent was missing in the list. I found out there is a trade-off between scent and vase life of a flower and since long vase life is a highly desirable characteristic, breeders have been suppressing the scent in flowers for decades now. As a result, today most professionally grown flowers have lost their scent. Surprised? Why not. It is a reflex action for most people to bury their nose in a bunch of flowers even when there is no scent. Most of us do not even realize the absence of this. And this is the reason you are surprised.

The other extreme in this industry is artificial flowers. I personally have a great dislike for artificial flowers and never want to be around them. But increasingly I have noticed that artificial flowers are beginning to look very natural. There have been times when I have been truly confused whether a flower is artificial or natural. Of course I am a relative novice at this but even speaking from a layman's perspective, the inability to distinguish is unnerving. Then it struck me. Isn't this exactly what breeders are striving for? Artificial flower have an extremely long vase life (almost infinite) and their colour can be of any hue you can imagine. How long will it be before breeders are able to achieve this. And if they do, what difference will remain between artificial flowers and natural ones? This scares me. This seems to me like intelligent design.

Let's take human beings as an example. The past century has seen great advancements in medical science. Virtually every disease has a cure now and we have state of the art research going on to find cures for the remaining ones. New diseases crop up now and then but the lives they claim are fewer. Now, if human beings meddle so much into the process of who survives and who doesn't, where is "natural" selection? We have taken away mother nature's job! I even read a comment recently from scientists that the rate of evolution has slowed down considerably in the past 100 years. !.

Genome mapping is a reality now. I am sure there will quickly come a stage when we will be able to eliminate persons in the womb simply based on their imperfect dna. Or, atleast be able to correct their DNA at a very early stage. To extend this further, we will definitely be able to design the perfect human DNA with all the desired characteristics. Maybe when there is a need to travel in space in search of other planets, we will desire human beings with a long vase life. We will design super humans/alternate beings/species. They will go to another planet and inhabit it and centuries later wonder who made them. Aren't we God then?

It doesn't have to be evolution vs intelligent design, it can also be evolution followed by intelligent design.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

About: Abortion

Most of you must have followed the recently concluded historic elections in the US of A. Congratulations to those who rooted for the big O and for the McCain supporters – too bad folks, Sarah Palin did you in!

Anyway, this is not a post about politics (obvious from the title), but about one of most burning issues of the whole race – Abortion.

The issue is hotly debated and there are die-hard fans for both sides of the argument. Either you are "pro-life" or "anti-life". These terms represent the most dangerous pitfalls of partisanship and a proclivity to look at every issue in a black and white manner. If there is one thing I have learnt in my life, it is that there is always a lot of grey in between. There is hardly ever an issue where it is as simple as black and white. We were never meant to have things so easy.

The issue of abortion cannot be resolved in a neat manner, turned into a neat book and tucked away into a corner of a dust-filled cabinet of law books (apologies, computers and the digital age don't lend to imagination-sparking and eloquent descriptions). The whole issue of "Life" has to be understood at a more fundamental level. Is living by itself the end or as a civilized society we think that a life is called a life when the living standards, or quality of life is above a certain threshold. If that is the case, then we have to understand the effects on the quality of life on all the parties involved in the case of an abortion. In the case, of a rape child, the involved parties are the potential child, the mother, and maybe a horrified husband whose wife got raped. Then, it is important to measure the future effects on the quality of life of all the parties involved should the child be allowed to take birth and also, if this was not to be the case. Say the rape child makes the remainder of the life for a mother a living hell where she has to see the evidence of the horrific incidence day in and day out and is not able to bar those emotions; her life is as good as snuffed out. Do we really want that? Of course, not. We would ideally hope that the mother is able to overcome her memories and is able to raise the child in a healthy environment to lead a good life. But being human beings this is just wishful thinking. So if the life of the mother is going to be made a living hell in lieu of a new life, we have to ask ourselves if it is worth it. Wouldn't it be better to let the mother abort and try to lead a good life with atleast a chance of erasing the memories? As a civilized society I think it is vitally important that we give the already living atleast a fighting chance.

Let's say during the pregnancy stage itself, it was known that the child has some rare disease which would render it a cripple for it entire life, the quality of life for such a child would be low but importantly much lower for the parents going into the future. Wouldn't it be better to end the misery of the child and the parents by aborting the child? Here, of course we assume that these are unwilling parents. But let's not judge them too harshly if they decide to abort. It would take a lot of courage on anyone's part to live with such a situation and I greatly admire people who are able to do this.

And on the flip side, aborting for flimsy reasons is also something which is not acceptable. Informed individuals who have engaged in consensual sex have no right to abort the child just because they don't want the child. Even if we take the quality of life as a guiding parameter, the resulting loss of quality of life for these consenting individuals would be much lesser than the life which is not let to be.

Of course, extending this line of thought, I would even say that I support euthanasia, again taking the quality of life as a guiding parameter.

My overarching point here is that there is no such thing as being "pro-life" or "anti-life" just based on whether you a let a child life or not. You are "anti-life" even if you have let the child live but have caused a lifetime of misery for the mother. So based on the above you would think I am "anti-life" but if you have understand the line of my arguments correctly you would know that I am actually "pro-life".

Have a good day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Delhi Blasts

"We always have intelligence information about such attacks, but we never know where and at what time the attacks may take place," he added." – Shivraj Patil

"We should not jump to conclusions. Stringent punishment would be given to whoever is responsible for this". – Shivraj Patil

Can someone please ask Hon. Shivraj Patil to step down?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

About: Democracy (Part 3) & a bit of religion

Further to my earlier post, where I argued about how the fate of a country is ultimately decided by a few individuals. And that ultimately it's just luck whether we have someone at the top who has the right ideas or flawed ideas.

As a result of the above realization, I have to conclude and comment that in our lifetimes, it is extremely important and almost imperative that we come to the front of the class and speak up when we oppose existing ideas or have new ones which we believe in with unwavering conviction. This is the bedrock of a democracy and especially that of India. We are fortunate to live in a country and I am fortunate to live in a city where endless debates are encouraged. Where ideas and innovations are aplenty and the good ones get refined through soundboarding and numerous discussions. Therefore if you believe in something, you better come up to the front and speak up.

In the past one year I have become a great believer in Hinduism [let me state here that I have equal respect for all religions] and I really hope that sometime during my life I am able to study it. In my view, Hinduism is a religion which is now so old and has gone through so much churning and revision that as of today, it seems to have the answers to all the human dilemmas, new and old. In the same vein I believe that the model of democracy and governance in India will be constantly renewed and refined and the final product will be something which the world will behold and strive to emulate. The Chinese model is a flash in the pan in comparison. This will happen of course over an extended period of time and we might not live to see it. Hinduism is a religion in which even atheism is acknowledged and given its due place and respect. That itself sold me out. It is perhaps unfortunate that its very flexibility and all encompassing nature threatens to make it irrelevant.

Moving on.

I would again like to clarify that when I do not oppose democracy per se but oppose the process of electing the leaders of it. I do not advocate any other form of governance. The debate about democracy vs autocracy or theocracy is long dead and is very 20th century. We have to now refine the idea of democracy further to make sense to the modern times and lead humanity to a more peaceful world with capable leaders.


[Standard disclaimers apply]



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Calcutta and its love for strikes

I once commented on how much Calcuttans (no not kolkatans) love to go on strike. This struck me in no less measure than a notice in the Calcutta airport 6 months back over the proposed strike over the Bangalore and Hyderabad airport. I failed to take a snap of that incredulous notice but the undying love for strikes for every cause and everyone's cause was underscored for me.

So why not outsource all strikes to Calcutta? Seriously, they love doing it so much that anyone in the country or the world could just outsource the strike to them. They could go one step further and take footage for the tv and even have them stage the protests in movie sets made to look like the city or country being "protested" for. This would save potential revenue losses for the organization originally planning to go on strike and let calcuttans do what they love the most. Efficient division of labour and everyone is happy!