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Thursday, 18 December 2008

MLM dreams

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This is the story of Bolenath who was sucked into the eternal dream of attaining financial freedom through one of the multi level marketing scheme called “Network Way”

Bolenath had just finished his work and returning home by his scooter. It started raining and he took shelter under a nearby tree. One more guy came in his bike and also took shelter under the same tree. The rain was steady and Bole was admiring the cars driving past him. A Merc passed by him and he could not resist turning around for a second look.

The guy next to him told “How nice it would be if you had such a car?”

Bolenath laughed and said “Nice thought! I can’t even afford to pay for even its one service”

The guy replied “How if I taught you a way to buy that car”

Bolenath quipped “Loot the bank which is opposite to us”

The guy “No, I will teach you how to build a pipeline of money”

Bolenath “What? Who is going to provide the flow? What sort of business are we getting into?”

The Guy “Hi! My name is Shant. Here is my card, You can call me tomorrow morning we will discuss in detail. My only request is not to discuss with anybody about our meeting until you know the full truth. It is upto you whether you want to let go an opportunity of lifetime, just write down your biggest dreams and we will talk about it tomorrow”

Bole said “ok”. Soon it stopped raining and they went their way. That night Bole’s dreams were full of money all around him. He was imagining how nice it would be if they had a big flat and a Mercedes. How nice it would be if he can take his wife and daughter to Switzerland? How wonderful it would be if he could be the boss? Bole wrote down all these things in a slip and went to office the next day.

As soon as he reached office, the first thing he did was to call Shant. Shant was articulate in his talk and fuelled his dreams. He added more colors to them. He asked Bole to meet him that evening outside a prominent community hall. He told an expert from Australia would explain the business and that Bole would have to pay Rs.300 to listen to him. Bole agreed and went that evening to the appointed place.

Inside the lecture hall, flash power point presentations were shown about the products; business model; small clipping of a financial expert’s talk in which he professed need to build a pipeline, blah, blah; videos of foreigners who were successful in the business and mighty rich, etc.

Later the successful domestic business owners were introduced. Everybody introduced themselves as a professional and how fed up with the 9 to 5 job they had turned to business and were fast heading towards financial freedom. They also boasted how “Network Way” had changed their lives. One guy who was from one of the IIMs said that this business had taught him more than his education at the IIM. Infact some of them had already become mighty rich just like the foreigners. Except for a few, the dress of most of them was middle class and not the super-rich they were supposed to be.

The products were introduced and most of them were of daily consumption. It was stated that your profit margin would be as high as 40% and this amount otherwise go the dealers in conventional business. It was also stated that an individual by using this products and recommending them to others could make truckloads of money. The task of referring to others it was said was as simple as recommending a movie to your friend.

Next the expert from Australia spoke. He showed with pictorial proof how his life style was 10 years ago and how it is now? It was another matter of fact that the “supposedly 10 year old photos” seemed more new than the “supposedly new photos”. He boasted how his children went to the same school as the children of a legendary Australian cricketer and how both of them met for a drink. He even showed pictorial proof of the same but the picture seemed to convey that more than having a drink together this guy was serving the cricketer! He showed pictures of his home which seemed like a “resort” out of “Discovery Travel and Living”.

After the meeting Shant introduced Bole to C. Halu (chalu!) who was his upline in the business. He worked for a major software giant that offered him only a monthly salary but not financial freedom. Bole was totally sold to the credentials of the guy.

Bole was given a few CDs to listen to. The CDs contained all the good things how great the business was; how credible the company was; how important the CDs, meetings and books were for success, blah, blah.

Bole could not wait to sign up for the business. He called up Shant and got this reply “Don’t hurry, take an informed decision”. Bole was very impressed with Shant’s discretion and he started trusting him wholly. Shant told that this is a family business and he would be coming down to Bole’s house with his family on the following Sunday. They should first understand each other and later think about initiating the business. He also asked Bole to get a couple of friends to his residence to introduce them to the business.

Bole waited for the d-day when Shant and his family would come home. He asked his wife Gudiya to remain at home. He called a dozen of his friends, most of them found a pretext to refuse him and one of them said on his face “If it is Network Way, don’t make a bakra out of yourself Bole”. Bole would not listen to him because he was blinded to the “Financial Freedom” dreams.

On the appointed day Shant came with his family in a rickety car. Gudiya nudged Bole and asked “Is this the success he has achieved in 2 years of doing this business?’ Bole gave an angry glare and that was the end of her reasoning. A few friends and relatives turned up at Bole’s house just to keep him in good humor and the relationship going.

Shant took Bole outside and guided him how he should praise him in front of the guests before he started his presentation. Bole did the same but nobody signed up for the business. Shant said the reason was because Bole had not signed up for the business. He told “You cannot ask others to jump into the water and swim, when you are standing on the banks”. Bole paid the Rs.5000 for signing up. Shant told that he could get a refund of the money within 180 days if he was not satisfied with the business.

Next week one more meeting was arranged in Bole’s residence. Nobody signed up. Bole looked quizzingly at Shant and got this reply “You don’t have the tools for being successful in this business. You have to sign for the CDs and books programme”. The monthly cost was Rs.2500/-. The CDs were priced each at Rs.250 and the books at Rs.1000 each. Bole would get 6 CDs every month and a book. The same books were available at Rs.500 in the most reputed book stall of the town. When asked he was told “This is the royalty you have to pay to listen to the success stories of experts. The book price is compensation for the experts who read books from world wide and recommend the best book for you”. He was told that once he became successful, his cassettes too would come out and he would get royalty from sale of those in addition to the money he earned by selling products. He would also be paid for reading and referring books. This he was told would be more than the income earned by selling products. It was explained to him that he was making an “investment” and should not crib about it because the returns would be unimaginable.

Next the product kit was delivered to him and to his shock all the products were priced atleast three to four times a high end product in the open market in its category was priced. When he questioned Shant, he replied “These products are made from natural components and are value products. A paste purchased here would last you 3 times more number of days than one from the open market. Moreover you get a discount and also it is your product, if you don’t use it, how can you recommend it to others. Here buy this VCD which contains all details about the manufacturing process and pricing details, it is just Rs.250/-. Because you are a distributor you will get it at Rs.200/-“

After seeing the VCD, Bole was totally sold to the “Network Way” dream. He used a pinch of the toothpaste believing that it is sufficient to take care of his dentures. A drop of shampoo was all that his little daughter Sheetal was allowed to use. She loved to foam her shampoo but was not allowed to do. The hall became a place for regular business meetings. She could not watch her favorite cartoons. Friends who did not sign up for the business were not treated very kindly. Weird strangers started coming home. She found Shant uncle and his family extremely artificial and plastic. The little angle was feeling really let down.

Only “Network Way” CDs could be played in the music system. You see, you have to listen to positive things, if you have to grow in the business. The business was not growing but Bole was advised to stay focused on the dreams. The Bole family was getting socially isolated. People were scared to cross his path, least he should prospect them for the business or sell a product. Bole was advised to stay away from such negative people.

Next Bole had to attend meetings. There were 4 type of meetings viz, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly (regional) and the Annual convention. A weekly meeting cost Rs.300; a monthly Rs.1000; a quarterly Rs.2500 and the annual convention Rs.4000/-. Ofcourse the company was gracious enough to give huge discounts if you booked the tickets well in advance much like airline pricing. These meetings were essential to keep the spirit going and you need to be amongst people of your tribe to think big. Ofcourse, how could you afford to miss out on the talks of all the experts from abroad? The meetings were badly organised. There was no proper ventilation in the halls. Bole had to pay even for a glass of water to drink leave alone complimentary snacks. Bole felt like paying for an “Executive Air class” air ticket and getting “Budget Airline” treatment.

The business was going nowhere. Whenever he asked questions, he was sold one more study material with an instruction “The expert in this CD/ book also felt same as you early in his business”. This was not it, he was supposed to sell atleast 2 or 3 CD subscriptions and bring along atleast 20 people to the annual convention that was to take place the next month. Bole had sponsored atleast 10 people to the monthly meetings and a lot more for the weekly meetings. He did not dare to repeat it for the regional and annual conventions. For this lapse, he was chided by Shant.

Selling products and getting commission was not easy as projected. Every month you had to make a minimum sale to get a commission. Otherwise, the points accrued will be carried to the next month. Even if you reach threshold of the minimum commission you cannot get it in cash (It was said in the meetings though that Network Way would pay its distributors in cash). If you had to get your commission in cash, you had to reach a higher threshold.

Bole was five months into the business. Not even one downline had signed up to do business under him. The house was full of CDs, books, products, etc. Gudiya dared to ask him “What do you think we are doing with our savings?”

Bole said “I don’t know but they say so many people across the world have been successful at it. That is why I am so serious about it. You know how much our personal life has changed after this. We have exhausted 50% of the savings we had for changing the flooring of this house”.

Gudiya replied “I mailed to my brother details of all these Australians who are supposed to be mighty rich and here is the reply”

Bole saw the reply and got a shock of his life. Most of the guys were mechanics, car drivers, and plumbers in real life. The cars shown in the slides belonged to rental companies. The houses shown in the videos were fancy resorts owned by some one else. As suspected the guy who was supposed to have a drink with a cricketer was a bartender in the pub which the cricketer frequented.

The next day Bole applied leave and went to do an antecedent check on the projected domestic success. The biggest domestic success was living in a garage shed and doing accounting jobs for small businesses. The IIM guy was the only guy who was having a posh lifestyle, that too because of his job and least of all due to this business, as was revealed by Bole’s enquiry.

Bole went home bundled all the cassettes and books. He took an auto to Shant residence (Shant lived in a modest house not because he did not have money but because he was investing into the business. Moreover, he wanted to build a dream house much like the bartender had!). He dumped it at his doorstep and said “This is the end of the Rs.75,231 nightmare for me. I won’t get back the amount atleast I hope I get back my friends”. Shant tried to stop him but got a solid punch on his face and the words “Apply some leather cleaner for the wounds, you are a thick skinned a** h***”.

Bole came home called up all his friends and told them that he was throwing a party to celebrate his successful escape from the “Millionaire Dreams” of Network Way. Most of them turned up and life was back to normal.

Bole never stopped for rains anywhere because he purchased for himself a car no it was not the Merc but a second hand Santro. Yeah, he did get refund of Rs.5000/- , the amount he had invested for buying the product kit. The books were good and Bole kept them for reading. He used the refund amount to buy Gudiya a mobile phone and got himself a new SIM card.

Sheetal was happy with her dad’s decision because she could get back to watching cartoons and doing doll parties on Sundays with her friends. No more business meetings in her drawing room.

Balu

The above mentioned Balu also became an Ullu to the MLM dream but not as bad as Bole

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Amavasya Girl


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This story is not about fostering superstitions. This is just about how an individual can convert perceived negative traits to benefit society at large. I am opposed to any superstition which demeans an individual. This short story is an attempt to debunk a popular superstition that a girl born on Amavasya becomes an immoral woman and is prone to theft. This is the story of Shwetha, a girl who combined these perceived qualities for saving her country.

I don’t know anything about ethical hacking and its technicalities. Any glitches in this regard may kindly be excused. A certain amount of sleaze is involved in this story. I understand that this will read by people of all hues and have attempted to avoid any type of undesirable content. However, reader discretion is recommended.

The most wanted criminals of India were finally apprehended in a neighboring country and deported back home. The jails of the country were overflowing with associates of these criminals. A huge network of terror and mafia had collapsed. The country could finally heave a sigh of relief. All this was possible due to “Operation Deceit” (OD) launched by the intelligence agencies a year ago.

One of the vital cogs in this wheel was Shwetha. No, she was not a Commando but an ethical hacker who did more than crack computers in OD. She had revealed her face, body and had cyber s** with a terror operative, in a distant land. She was the only face whom the terror network could identify from OD. As OD was reaching its final stages, her identity was getting changed; looks, date of birth and location of the family. Shwetha will very soon be a face in the crowd but the stigma of being an “Amavasya Girl” would no longer haunt her.

Shwetha was born on an amavasya day. She was dark complexioned and to debunk detractors she was named “Shwetha”. The stigma of “Amavasya Girl” was stuck to her by her granny. Adding fuel to the fire was the prediction of an astrologer that she will perform an act of enticing a man, steal his prized possessions and spoil his reputation in society.
Despite being dark skinned, boys liked to be friends with Shwetha because of her effervescent smile and warm nature. She had more boy friends than girl friends right from the age of 3. Her granny took strong objections to this. She would chide her by saying “This is in your birth, you will bring bad name to this family”. Shwetha was too young to understand what her granny was upto. Her mothers asked her not to mind granny’s words and continue with her friendships.

Shwetha had a great liking for sweets. She could never wait for them to be placed before the God and would silently flick a few pieces to eat by herself in a corner of the house. Granny who was always tagging her would catch her red handed and scream “She is the perfect amavasya girl”. Shwetha did not mind her words and continued her pranks. Even in school/college, she would play pranks with her friends thanks to her quick hand work. She would exchange the tiffin careers of a vegetarian and non-vegetarian or tie the shoe laces of girls sitting in the front bench.


As Shwetha grew older, she started hating her granny for all the negative remarks about her. There used to be frequent exchange of her words between the two and things came to such a stand still that a separate room was constructed on the first floor to allow Shwetha to concentrate on her studies without “granny bickering”.

Shwetha had completed her graduation in engineering and was pondering on her future. The “granny bickering” was unrelenting and one day she narrated her fate to Sheetal aunty, her classmate Raghav’s mother. Sheetal was a career counselor by profession. She liked Shwetha very much and taught of her as a prospective Bahu.

She called Shwetha for a counseling session. She asked Shwetha to do a Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat analysis of herself. Shwetha dutifully replied the questionnaire. Shwetha being a whacky girl wrote in the opportunity column “Thief” and gave the sheet to Sheetal.

Sheetal stood up when she saw this and told “Yes, that’s what you should be doing given all your traits, you should become a data thief!” Shwetha “Aunty, do you want me behind the bars?” Sheetal “Shwetha dear, I am asking you take up ethical hacking?” Shwetha liked the idea and left home. She spoke to her best friend “dearest mommy”. Her parents had never stopped her from doing anything. They had full confidence in their daughter’s abilities and integrity. Shwetha took up the course in a reputed Government Institution and in a year became a certified ethical hacker. Money was never an issue for Shwetha and hence she joined a R&D institution of the Government. She was first assigned the job of securing the Government’s Tourism Department’s website which was recently hacked by miscreants from across the border. Shwetha not only secured the site but also challenged the hackers to redo their cowardice. They tried only to find their servers infected with viruses.

Her bigger assignment was to come a few months later. The intelligence agencies tracked upon a terror operative in one of the gulf states who was obsessed with “cyber s**”. He was a sharp guy who could easily find out if a man was pretending from the other end as a girl. The task of chatting to him and trying to crack his laptop for possible information was assigned to the R&D organisation which Shwetha worked for.

The Chief called all the lady operatives in the organisation and explained the task on hand. He gave all of them 30 minutes to decide on who would take on the task. All the ladies except Shwetha left the conference hall miffed with the responsibility of handling such a task.

Shwetha was in a confused state of mind. She sat to make her SWOT analysis for this project too. Her strength was that men were naturally attracted towards her. Her weakness for this project was that she was another ordinary girl with all her ethics intact. The threat was simple if found out, she could be eliminated by the terror group. She sat thinking, what could be the opportunity? Then she remembered the astrologer’s prediction. The monkey of his prediction could be off her back if she could entice the terrorist, steal the information and leave him to die amongst co-terrorists in a distant land. “Yes, my moment of reckoning has come” she said to herself.

Immediately she rushed to her Chief’s cabin and asked “Sir, I will take on the project”. The Chief was delighted because the other ladies were bringing on pressure not to assign the project to them. Shwetha was given a briefing on the guy she was supposed to make her “Cyber *** Partner” who chatted under the id “ever ready”. She was given strict instructions not to make any moves without specific permission to do so. Her immediate goal was to keep him engaged and to make him believe that she was desperate for ***. The next few days were spent in reading and viewing porn stuff. Shwetha became adept at the terms used in these type of chats. Shwetha was given a broadband connection at her home. She took an id dark_beauty and entered the chatroom where “ever ready” chatted.

As soon she entered the chatroom, he buzzed her with “asl”. She did not answer him and instead chatted openly with the other guys. He then sent her a message describing all his physical attributes. She just sent him back a smiley. Encouraged by the response and unaware of the trap that was being laid, he sent her another message giving details of his capabilities but she just replied him with a “really?” This was nothing sort of showing red rag to a rampaging bull. She sent him across her vital stats, logged out of the chat and shut down the PC. “Ever ready” was being monitored by other intelligence agents present in the chat room at the same time. It seems he went mad after she logged out and sent desperate messages to her in the chat room.

dark_beauty did not log on for the next few days and “ever ready” was looking around desperately for her. Finally she did and engaged him in a lively chat. She asked him for his yahoo id as she would be more comfortable chatting him on a yahoo messenger. He readily gave it to her. Then they started chatting over the messenger. This went on for next 1 month. He wanted to see her picture, hear her voice and possibly see her on the web cam. She putting him off by saying she did not have enough confidence in him as of now. He was disappointed but did not terminate the chat. Shwetha informed this to her Chief. This according to the intelligence officials was the first signal that he was getting obsessed with her.

The intelligence agencies tried to track down his location but found that he was chatting from one city but from various accounts. He had kept his laptop unguarded but it hardly contained any details except countless porn jpeg images. Shwetha was encouraged to continue chatting to him because as per the information available he was an important operative in the terror network. They all knew sooner or later he would falter.

Meanwhile female colleagues of Shwetha had potshots at her for taking on this project. They ridiculed by neither saying that the project will not end but her desire will end and her would-be hubby will be a deprived creature. Shwetha was used to more rigorous ridicule of her grandmother so this banter did not affect her even one bit.

The project had various components and Shwetha was one of them. Shwetha was called by the Chief one day to his cabin and told “Shwetha, we have to move to the next level in your assignment”.

Shwetha “Sir, What should I do?” Chief “I know it will be tough on you. I know I will never say this to my daughter but it is felt that you may have to comply with his requests for seeing a snap of yours. There is no point in continuing with this chat otherwise. You are free to pull out of this mission and the same will not be held against you in future, that is my word”

Shwetha was only waiting for orders in this regard but said “Ok sir, I will do it but wont send him any inappropriate visuals of myself”

The Chief replied “No never dear I will ask you to do such a thing. If it comes to that point, we will discard this portion of the mission itself”

The next time she chatted with him and agreed for a voice chat and later appeared on the web cam. Subsequently, she sent him a few images of herself. He was totally captivated with her beauty and after 3 months, one day as predicted faltered. He started chatting from his mobile and whenever he did chat from a terminal, it was from his laptop which contained truckloads of leads about the terror network. No attempt was made to hack his mobile or laptop for the first few days. When he was totally convinced of the harmlessness of “Shwetha”, she sent her Trojans and in a few hours all the information on his laptop and mobile were in the custody of intelligence agencies. She signed off from the chat saying that her hubby would be coming on a vacation from abroad and she won’t be able to chat with him for the next few weeks. By now he was in “love” with her and agreed to wait for her.

The leads received were analyzed and built up with further corroborative information on the ground. It was conclusively proved that the terror network was actually being operated from the neighboring country. The set of information collected was placed in various forums of the world. The information collected was so solid that the neighboring country could no longer deny that no specific evidence presented before them. The evidence collected included voice transcripts of calls, location of the caller, references to terror acts, bank account details, passport numbers, etc. The neighboring country realised that their game was up and agreed to arrest the most wanted criminals of India and hand them over to the Indian Government.

Meanwhile, Shwetha wanted to visit her family once before her identity would be changed for ever. She went home and to her surprise found her granny waiting outside with a garland in her hand. She hugged Shwetha “Forgive me my child, I have been harsh to you all these years, I have hurt you so much” Shwetha could not control her tears; the tears were a mixture of victory, happiness and overcoming her birth weakness. She decided that there was no way she was going to change her identity. The fact that her granny had accepted her was enough for her. She called up the Chief to inform of her decision and he asked “Dear, your life maybe at risk”. Shwetha replied “So what sir, my granny’s blessings are with me”. The Chief was bemused but before he could reply, Shwetha had hung up. Knowing her, he just appreciated her bravery and put down the receiver. Shwetha ran to her granny and slept on her lap like a child.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Enough is Enough is not a cliche


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Enough is enough! We have voted enough. It is always a case of musical chairs and hardly the choices matter. Let us have a National Government. Let the politicians first provide us one full calendar year without terror attacks, then we can talk about holding elections.


Enough is enough! The politicians have made us fight enough on parochial basis. It is time such political parties are debarred from elections, organisations banned and the leaders sent to the jails.


Enough is enough! Terrorists cannot be allowed to be on trial for years. The Courts have to believe the cops version and give early judgments. First hang the guy who attacked Parliament and has been sentenced to death. Anybody who supports him should be treated as a terror suspect.


Enough is enough! We should not be socializing with a country which regularly creates fear and havoc in our land. Stop all cricket tours, musical programmes, trade, bus, and train with Pakistan. You never know which Pakistani is collecting what information about India when they stay in the hotels, visit our monuments, etc.


Enough is enough! We find unity only in adversity (be it Kargil or Tsunami). Let us not lose the unity and determination we have today. Let us come together (either as a city or a locality) one Sunday every month to discuss and solve civic problems. This will keep the politician on their tenterhooks and compel them to perform.


Enough is enough! Our cops and security forces cannot be paid peanuts and expected to be ready to die for the country. Give them a salary which will enable them to be honest and eager to answer the country’s call. Arm them with the most modern weapons and gadgets.


Enough is enough! Government is not able to conclude many defence deals for fear of allegations of kickbacks in the future. Our Coast Guards require ultra fast trawlers to patrol the vast coast line; our armed forces require latest weapons to counter insurgency and the cops need a replacement of the Tatya Tope age guns. Bofor guns were part of a famous alleged kickback scandal, but who cares; they saved the day for us in the Kargil war.


Enough is enough! We have had a professional qualified Finance Minister for the past few years and the growth is visible. It is time the post of Home Minister is also professionalized. We should have a security expert as the Union Home Minister as well as in the states. Same should be case for the Union Defence Minister.


Enough is enough! Our youth are becoming obese and masters of the mouse. Make one year compulsory military training part of the university curriculum. NCC training should be made compulsory in schools. For sake of escaping during terrorist attacks, the above 30’s generation should keep themselves physically fit.


Enough is enough! The salaried employees and corporate sector dutifully pays their taxes. We don’t know how much of this money is spent for internal security and what broad steps are being taken to make the country secure. Corporate sector should come together and refuse to pay the advance tax for the coming year.


Enough is enough is not and should not be a cliché. It is upto to us to make it work. The future is in our hands. Let us not forget the martyrs of Mumbai siege a few months down the lane. Jai Hind!



Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mumbai attacks reflect a failure of intelligence


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It happened again in Mumbai during the late hours of 26/11. Terrorists have again targeted the symbols of urban India with impunity and we are left clueless. Enough is enough! United States of America has not had any terror attacks after 9/11; United Kingdom has had none after the tube blasts but in India it has become a common happening.


India seems to be the softest target for terrorists. Till late urbanites had to be bothered only about poor infrastructure now they have to be scared about hidden bombs, trigger happy terrorists, etc.


In a couple of days, life will be back to normal in Mumbai and it will be attributed to the “indomitable Mumbaikar spirit”. I have the greatest regards for the average Mumbaikar and his contribution to the growth of this nation from times immemorial. Hence, don’t misunderstand me when I say that the average Mumbaikar who steps out on 28/11/2008 will have a mindful of fear. Given an option, he would confine himself to the comforts of his home but he dares to step out only because he has to earn a living and not due to “dare the terrorist” attitude.


I have no clue how many thousands of crores is being spent on intelligence in our country but given the threat perception the amount should be huge. That being the case, how are the terrorists able to carry out their plans with such impunity? I do understand that India is a huge country with a vast coastline and that it is impossible to plug every gap. The law enforcing authorities are doing a great job but there has to be a serious review of our intelligence mechanisms. If funds are the constraint, divert from wasteful expenditure; raid the black money hoarders; tax luxury but for the sake of reputation of this country and its great freedom fighters it must be ensured that we don’t become a soft target for terrorists.


Laws like POTA are a must but it is useful for dealing with the aftermath and not a prevention mechanism. Only improved intelligence can save our country from terror attacks.


The living condition of an ordinary policeman has to be uplifted if we are to be successful in the war against terror. I am not holding a brief for them, but if we were asked to fend at such low salaries, most of us would become susceptible to bribe. Cops should be equated with the armed forces in pay scales and facilities. A constable’s life should be insured for a minimum of Rs.10 lakhs and paid to his family when he dies in action either fighting criminals or terrorists. In case he superannuates, he should be given half that amount.


An elite force has to be raised for fighting urban terrorism. This force should be kept out of political control and bureaucratic wrangles. It must be independent like The Judiciary and The Election Commission. Somebody like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam should be given the task of guiding such a force. Senior police officers with impeccable integrity should head such a force. Battalions of this force should be present in all the state capitals to tackle any emergent situation.


There will be a monetary price I will have to pay to make my life secure. Most urbanites are ready to pay this price provided the money and effort does not go down the drain. It is time for the ruling class to stand up and deliver. The ruling class should stop using clichés like “Mumbaikar spirit” to glorify the helplessness of citizens’ necessity to come out to work and concentrate on improving intelligence to curb such attacks. Let somebody own up responsibility for the failure and take it upon himself to set right the situation


Yes, I can sacrifice going to a shopping mall every weekend for fear of security but I can’t skip going to the bus stand daily for commuting to my work. I don’t know which maniac is waiting there to spray bullets on unsuspecting people. That is the fear which the Government has to address in a hurry



Friday, 21 November 2008

Are the protests about Bangalore International Airport justified?


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Ever since its beginning, Bangalore International Airport (BIA) has been in the eye of the storm. I would like to confess that I have not traveled abroad even once and not physically used great airports of the world. My air travel is limited to the Metros of this country. Here is my perception of the BIA protests:


1. BIA is too far away from the city.


True, but this fact was known to everybody from the date of its planning. Why did they not protest at that time? Some of the companies do own large chunks of unused land; very well they could have given it to the BIAL for setting up the airport in place of their convenience. To my knowledge, new international airports in most cities are away from the city. You could have had an airport in middle of the city, if India was not a democracy. It would have been easy to vacate thousands of acres of land forcibly. Authorities have to litigate hard to get a few meters of land for road widening, metro rail work, etc.


2. The proposed User Development Fees of BIA is high for domestic and budget airline travelers.


This is a very justified issue. The BIA should have 4 four levels of collection of UDF i.e. international passengers; domestic passengers (First Class, Economy Class and Budget Airlines). The UDF should be highest for international travel progressively declining for the subsequent classes.


3. The seating and rest room capacity of BIA is limited.


Yes, this is another justified issue. The seating capacity has to be increased given that people coming from long distance would like to reach ahead of time so that they don’t miss their flights. The rest room capacity is woefully inadequate and needs to be augmented.


4. The old HAL Airport needs to be re-used for domestic flights.


This demand is as absurd as the one that was made in Singur (WB) that ancillary facilities of the Nano plant have to be shifted out so that land can be returned to the farmers. The Government has an agreement with the BIAL authorities and is bound to honor it. Going back on this agreement may set-back Bangalore’s image as an investment destination for infrastructure projects. These are times of depression and air travel will be the first weapon of cost control. Such a big facility cannot be left to fend with dwindling international passengers. Come out of nostalgia folks, HAL Airport is history.


5. The BIAL looks like an industrial shed.


As it is we are complaining that the UDF is high, let’s us assume if this was an architectural marvel, what would have been the UDF. Moreover, an Airport is a transit point (forgive me for my naivety), if you want to see an architectural marvel go to the Vidhana Soudha, Taj Mahal, Charminar, Qutub Minar, Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Eiffel Tower, etc.


Yes, connectivity has to improve, the street lights have to get better but that is not the problem of BIAL authorities that is the Government’s responsibility. It is easy to ridicule anything but more important to realise that something good has come up. The BIA cannot be done away and at best can be improved. To be fair to BIA, it is quite comfortable (if you share my view of an airport being a transit point). The best thing about BIA is that you can commute to and fro by a bus from its door step.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Single Screen theaters of Bangalore



These are the days of swanky multiplexes. Bangalore has/had some great single screens. Here are some of the wonderful single screens of Bangalore which were a part of my growing-up. Those which have ceased to exit have been highlighted in red.

Mukunda: It is located in Maruthisevanagar. It is a middle class theatre which mostly screens regional and sometimes Hindi films. The best film I have seen here is Big B’s “Hera Pheri” and SRK’s ‘Daar”

Ashoka: This was located in Frazer Town. It used to screen Tamil and Hindi films. I don’t remember to have gone to this theatre.

Naga: What a theatre, sirji! This theater was located in St. Johns Road. I really felt bad when this theatre went down. The screen was fabulous so was the parking. I saw the first movie of my life in this theater. I have seen countless films in this theatre and the last was “Rang De Basanti”.

Lavanya : Situated adjacent to Naga, this theater screens only Tamil films. I found nothing special about this theater.

Lakshmi: Situated next to Lakshmi, another of those theatres which screened only Tamil films. This theater had one of the most cramped parking spaces but I remember to have seen some great movies of Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth.

Shree: This theatre went out of business almost a decade ago. It used to be shut down frequently due to labour problem. They used to screen old Tamil and Hindi films. The best films I have seen are “Namak Halal”, “Yarana (Big B’s)” and a couple of Shivaji Ganesan Movies.

Ajantha : It is a multi lingual theatre. This theater screens Kannada films in the morning show. I was a fan of Vishnuvardhan and seen a lot of his films over here. The one thing I did not like about this theater those days was when there was a hit film very few tickets were sold across the counter.

Lido: This is one more of those theaters which I classify under the “What a theater, sirji!” The single screen does not exist but a multiplex has come up in its place under the brand name “Fame”. Top class theater, screen, audio, snacks bar and a great parking facility. Most of the tickets in this theater got sold in the counter and I am a fan of this theater for this very reason. Any day a movie in Lido, is a pleasure for me. Gandhi is the best film I have seen here as also India’s first 3D film “My Dear Kutty Chatan”.

Symphony (Shankarnag Chitramandira): I have seen numerous English films in this theater. The only thing I don’t like about this theater was the number of steps you had to climb up if you took a balcony ticket because more often than not, the lift here never works.

Blue Moon and Blue Diamond: Wonderful theatres. Both went out of business more than a decade ago and a commercial complex has come up. There used to be a book seller as well as a shop which used to sell Coffee and Samosa. It used one of the favorite hang-out corners for me and my friend when we went to MG Road just to admire the chicks passing by.

Plaza: The best of English films used to be screened here but same cannot be said about the quality of rest rooms of the theater which were awful.

Rex: What a, What a theater, sirji! Hats off to this theater ya in all aspects. I have never seen the tickets of this theater being sold in black.

Galaxy: The interiors of this theater were great but it had an awful parking lot. People used to get into fist fights during getting in and out of the parking lot.

Hardly have I gone to the other side of Bangalore to see a movie, I just can’t comment on them. However, I would like to mention about Sagar, Santosh, Sapna, Triveni, Majestic, etc. There was also a small theater in Ulsoor area, where I remember to have seen a movie, I just can’t remember its name.

One movie for a family of four in a multiplex could easily mean an expenditure of Rs.1000/- and three movies can easily buy you a DVD player. Everybody talks about piracy and its evil impacts. I am totally against film piracy but piracy cannot be curbed if you put movie viewing beyond the reach of a lower middle class family. The best way to curb piracy is to think about reviving the single screens or come up with budget multiplexes across the country. When we can have an economy class in all spheres of life, why not while viewing films? Everybody loves to go to a movie with their family but not at the cost of food on their plate. This is the message the entire film industry has to understand if they want to curb piracy. Citizens alone are not responsible to curb piracy.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

We should first fight against Naxalites (Red Terror)


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Which is the terror form India should fight first? Is it Islamic Terror or Saffron Terror? I think the first terror form that has to be fought is the Red Terror (Naxalites).


They are longest surviving terrorists of the Independent Indian society, spanning across the country and spreading across religious and regional barriers. Naxals run their own governments in many tribal areas of the country. They collect taxes and do so-called “welfare activities” (which are nothing more than a sham). They are not accountable for the taxes collected. Naxals mercilessly kill candidates and voters who take part in democratic processes like the elections. This is evident from the havoc they wreaked during the first phase of pools in Chatisgarh.


Naxalites pretend themselves to be protectors of the poor but are no better than the merciless landlords whom they are supposed to fight against. They control people with terror and strong arm tactics. They frequently target law enforcing agencies in the form of mine blasts. Many tribals are fed up with their presence and want to come out of it. However any rebellion is quelled with the same old tools of murder, arson, looting, rape, torture, etc.


Naxals are more merciless towards the civil society than the hardcore terrorist groups. They don’t mind taking help from India’s enemies across the border to carry on with their nefarious activities. Use of sophisticated weapons in their attacks is a clear pointer towards external support. Their influence has been growing off late in southern states also. It is time that the civil society came together and raised its voice against the Red Terror. If these forces are not eliminated mercilessly, in a few years from now, we may be heading for a civil war. We require huge budgets and a dedicated force to fight this form of terror. Most importantly, all those political formations which support their ideology must be banned.


Balu


Mr Hayden we dont need foreign assistance in demeaning India


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Mr. Mathew Hayden one of the members of the vanquished Australian cricket team has called India “a third world country”. This is on a day when the Indian tri-color was proudly placed on the Moon by Chandrayaan-1.


I quote him “Often we find ourselves with hands on hips waiting for someone to either “face up” or someone in the sightboard to move away; all the little frustrations that happen in Third World countries


I abhor anybody who calls India a third world country. How would Mr. Hayden feel if we called Australia as “a land of convicts”? Possibly, he would file a racist complaint against the speaker. If Hayden calling “India as a third world country” is acceptable, then what is wrong with the supposed “monkey” remarks which were supposed to have been made against a team-mate of his? Monkey is a common word in India for anybody who irritates.


On expected lines, BCCI has kept mum. After all they kept a mum when Gautam Gambhir was banned for a test match by Mr. Chris Broad and they also kept mum when the same match referee fined Ponting just 20% match fees instead of banning him for slow over rate.


ICC presidency is more important than fairness of justice.


Ensuring the participation of stars like Mathew Hayden and Ricky Ponting in IPL is more important than the national development being slurred.


Having the support of Cricket Australia to strangulate the growth of ICL is more important than national pride.


What concern the BCCI are its coffers and annihilation of ICL, other things can wait. Dil ki awaz bole mange paisa more.


Hope the Government of India wakes up and atleast sends a verbal rejoinder to the Australian Government to refrain her distinguished citizens from demeaning other countries. We have enough authors desperate for Booker to demean the country, no need for foreign assistance on the subject.




Saturday, 8 November 2008

Guru Devo Bhava :Teacher is God


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Parents are the one who give birth to us but teachers (Gurus) are the ones who mould us. Teachers are like sculptors, they can shape the society from being a good one to a great one. Here are some of them who shaped my life and made me whatever I am today:


Mathew madam - Whatever little I write in English, I owe it to Mathew madam. She taught me both in the middle and high school. She would nurse a dull student but would never tolerate an intelligent but indisciplined one and thus got the ignominious nickname Peyi (Ghost). She was from a rich background and used to bear the education expenses of many poor students. Even today mention of the word discipline brings to my mind image of Mathew madam and VD sir.


V Doreswamy Iyengar– He taught me accountancy and commerce in junior college. He was perfect in accounts and had a commanding voice. If you cannot understand accountancy taught by him, the possibility is that you have vacuum between your ears. He would suddenly prop-up questions from the first chapter or even from 1st year textbooks. The student (does not matter even if you are a girl) who did not know the answer would get a public preaching on the need to concentrate on studies rather than diversions of youth.


Sathyanarayana – He taught me English in the junior college. He used to repeatedly stress the need to write English in a simple way and without use of complicated words. It never stuck a chord with me those days but now with experience I have understood the importance. He is one of the calmest individuals I have seen. He had a throat problem and at the end of every sentence had to say “hmm”. Being teenagers we used to find it funny, even girls used to mimic it but he would dismiss it off as “indulgences of youth”. He used to advise me to cut down the “aggression” in my speech and writings and till date I have not complied with the advice of my dearest teacher.


B Aresh – He taught me Statistics in junior college and later I attended private tuition with him for business mathematics and statistics while doing ICWA Inter. He is a true style king in dress, talk and attitude. When it comes to being immaculately dressed, there was nobody better than him. Many girls had a crush on him. He was a person of great integrity and used to return tuition fees of students who did not show signs of improvement even after 3 months of coaching. At the same time he imparted free tuitions to many students who came from poorer background but were receptive to his coaching.


Devarajan: He taught me Economics in ICWAI Inter course. It is only under him that I understood that Economics could be an interesting subject. He was a great advocate of economic reforms during the early 90s when “Capitalism” was still a bad word. He was a great democrat and it is from him (apart from my father) I learnt the need to voice opinions on public issues. I have never seen him sending off a student because he was late to the class by a few minutes; he would just remark “It is better late than never”.


These are the men and women who shaped my thoughts and deeds. I may have lost track of most of them but never of their preaching. I have been only a marginal success when it comes to implementing the vast knowledge they imparted to me. Their persona always surrounds me and pulls me through the bad times of my life. I owe whatever little success I have achieved to their reverend feet. I only hope that I can achieve everything they wanted me to be. My journey towards that goal continues.



Balu

Friday, 7 November 2008

Nukkad celebrate Barrack Obama's victory


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This is only a tribute to the makers of Nukkad, the popular TV Serial which ran during the 80’s. Due to my inability to write in Hindi, I am writing all the dialogues in English.


I will be willing to give the pseudo-copy rights of this episode if somebody can translate it into Hindi. Any inconsistencies please excuse because I have written the dialogues with whatever I remember about these characters.


This is just an imagination of how the election of Barack Obama as Prez of US would have been welcomed in Nukkad


This episode starts off with the theme song “Bade Sehar ke ek gali mein basa hua hai Nukkad”.


Enter Teacherji, Guru gives her the yearning glance and she announces “Listen, Obama has become the President of USA and it is great honor for us because his family still lives in a nukkad like ours”


Dukhiya “What use it is to us?”


Guru “Aree, Dukhiya, what is the use in being you born, Teacherji knows better than all of us, when she says better listen”


Thambi (in a low tone) “Carry on Guru with your efforts”. Teacherji explains briefly about Obama, White House, importance of the election results, etc.


Enter, Radha “Will I get a chance to work at his palace what you call White House?”


Hari “Radha cant you think beyond yourself, tomorrow we will celebrate the success of Obama”


Kadar Bhai “Samosas and Chai sponsored by me”


Khopdi steps in to say “Will I get to drink?”, everybody give him a banning stare and he changes his tone to say” When Obama from Kenya can become a President, why not a President of India from Nukkad?. Everybody gives him an appreciate look.


Ganpat Hawaldar joins in to say “Sometimes Khopdi you make a lot of sense”.


The entire Nukkad starts discussing who could be their Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidate for the next election, first they propose the name of Guptaji, later decide he would be another John Mcain and decide to propose Teacherji for Prez and Guru for Vice-Prez. They all get busy with preparing for the next day celebrations of Obama victory and the episode ends.




Thursday, 6 November 2008

A Kenyan by descent can become President of the USA


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What could be the biggest lesson that Indians can learn from Barrack Obama becoming the 44th President of US of A? Barrack Obama is a Kenyan by descent but that did not prevent him from becoming the President elect. Subsequent to his election, nobody has questioned his nationality; nobody has questioned his commitment to the country; nobody has questioned his religion; nobody has questioned whether he would compromise with a fundamentalist group on security of the country; nobody has vowed to go bald if he took oath as the President of America.


During 2004 when Sonia Gandhi was tipped to become the PM of India, the country witnessed a lot of protests. A particular lady leader’s throat went hoarse crying that Sonia Gandhi was actually “Sonia Mario” and how her children name also resembled Italian names, etc, etc. How Rajiv Gandhi had got converted into Christianity before marriage became a subject of national debate? PILs were filed in the Supreme Court questioning her possible appointment as the PM of India. Somebody came up with a theory that the national security could be compromised because of her becoming the PM of India. Ultimately even if it was for attaining political high ground, she declined to be the PM of India.


I am not comparing the caliber of Barrack Obama and Sonia Gandhi nor am I a supporter of Sonia Gandhi becoming a Prime Minister. I am only trying to drive home the point that Americans are equally patriotic but they don’t raise national emotions over trivial issues. A true testimony to their patriotism is that after 9/11 there have been no terrorist activities on their soil. We as a society especially the polity could learn to get over narrow minded pursuits and learn to progress and protest the country. The citizenry could also do its bit by being an awakened society on the core issues that affect the country and not be lead by those seeking political gratification on trivial issues.



Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Dont abbreviate KISS


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Acronyms have made our lives so convenient. Emails, ATM, etc are used by us subconsciously. Some use acronyms without knowing their expansion and quite often, situations in life throw their own new meanings for existing acronyms.


Disclaimer: Most of the acronyms used here have been received by me through emails/SMS.


I understand that a distant country named Ediot Who-swallowed-it-ya have had its own sub-crime crisis. Any royalty accrued from this blog will be donated towards SCREW (Sub Crime Relief for Ediot Who-swallowed-itya) since the acronyms used here are not my original creation.


ABCD is American Born Confused Desi, what would be A to Z, here it goes, American Born Confused Desi Emigrated From Gujarat Housed In Jersey Keeps Lotsa Models (what’s that?) Named Omkarnath Patel Quietly Reached Success Through Underhand Vicious Ways Xenophobic Yet Zealous.


Talking of NRI’s, one of the funny expansions is Not Reliable Indian which I don’t find funny because many of them do a good work. However if the depression in West prolongs, it will become Not Required Indians because who would want a NRI without money. NRI could also mean Not Responsible Indians which most of us are given our civic senses. Talking of uninvited guests, when they leave we say in our minds GRBR (Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish)


When our mobile does not connect, we are forced to yell Mera Telephone Nahin Lagtha or our broadband acts like a junkband we feel it is a Very Slow Network Limited.


There is no transparency in our official dealings despite the RTI act, so we could call all the RTI activists as Confused Indian Citizenry (not to be confused with CIC appointed to monitor the RTI Act). RTI Act the way it is being implemented in India would mean Right to Trample Information Act by the implementers.


Television is called as the Idiot Box (not to be wrongly read as IB). The national channel puts up lousy programmes and right called as the DD (read Drowsy Darshan). Usually when people ask me “Are you born and brought up in India?” . I reply by saying “BBC in Bangalore” which means Born Brought-up and Corrupted in Bangalore. On the last count 11,235 people have stopped to talking to me because of this stupid joke.


ICU in ICU would not be the ideal send-off message you would like to give a friend because it would read I Cee U in Intensive Care Unit. Talking of people, we should never become a Vicious Vacillating Insensitive Person. If we complicate our thinking process, we will become a Person In Maximum Problems. So Keep It Simple Stupid.






Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Implants are the in-thing


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The mention of the word implants no longer rings the moral bell in anybody’s ears, that situation was years ago. Implants are the in-thing. If you see at the end of the day, there is nobody free from the need for an implant.



It is a known secret that every female celebrity who want increased ba… err eyeballs has to go in for an implant .


Given the number of heroes who take off their shirt and what not, there is a distinct possibility that some of them may have had implants.


Recently global economies had an implant in the form of a bailout package.


Indian cricket team for the past decade or so has been having an implant of foreign coaches.


Lyrics writers devoid of ideas have an implant of remixes.


Politicians devoid of issues have an implant of regional/religious passions. They further require an implant of bogus votes to win elections.


Broadcasters devoid of programmes have an implant of reality shows.


Reality shows require implant of controversies to sustain TRPs


Reality show contestants in turn require implant of viewer votes to win.


Laziness within an organisation/country leads to the implant of outsourcing.


News channels have regular implants of breaking news.


Movies devoid of content have an implant of censor cuts, protests, etc.


We have a protruding implant of a hands-free to answer calls.


People with weak hearts have an implant of pacemakers sadly there is nothing for the brains


Our roads have had an implant of plastic waste but sadly there has been no improvement.


Last but not the least, Earth requires an implant of greenery to save it from global warming.


This thread of implant does not end here and will be updated as and when I have an implant of haywire brainwaves.



Monday, 3 November 2008

Good bye to Anil Kumble, a competitor and a true gentleman


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Don Bradman could not get a boundary in his last innings and Anil Kumble was hit for a boundary off the last ball of his career. No, I am not comparing the two but when it came to playing the game in the right spirit, Anil Kumble was only a couple of notches below the Don.


Anil Kumble made his debut for India in 1990 and could make a comeback only during the historic South African Tour of India. Blame it on the idiosyncrasies of the Indian selectors, Jumbo never made it to the ill-fated Australian tour of 1991-92. Had Kumble played in that series, being an unknown propotion and the Aussies historic aversion to leg spin, India would have had better memories of that series? This was also the last series of the famous batsman Dilip Vengsarkar whose scores in the series put to shame most of the emergency numbers in India. It was in a test match in SA, that Kumble first took 5 wickets in an innings and after that there was no looking back. The Englishmen on the 1993 tour were flummoxed by Kumble’s spin or the lack of it. This illogical concept of lack of spin in Kumble’s deliveries was held against him throughout his career but it made no difference to him or to any of his 950 plus victims at the international level. What Sehwag is to batting today, Kumble was to bowling those days? No footwork, spin all these don’t count as long as you deliver the goodies.


Anybody who saw Kumble bowl in the Hero Cup final is bound to acknowledge his effectiveness. His record against Sri Lanka may not be much to write home about but then everybody is entitled to their own nemesis. There was no better keeper to Kumble deliveries than Nayan Mongia and no better slip fielder than Dravid and Azhar. According to me, Kumble’s best performance was not the perfect 10 but his performance in Australia in the 2004 Adelaide test. Kumble in his typical gutsy way had put a lid on his critic’s mouths.


Kumble was a decent batsman. Very few will forget his heroics on a Vijayadashmi day alongwith Srinath in winning a one day match in Bangalore against the Aussies. As a testimony to his batting skills, he was tried as a pinch hitter in a couple of one day matches. His best test innings was an 88 against the South Africans in Calcutta, when he alongwith Azhar lent credibility to a dismal score card. Kumble did manage to score a test century at the fag end of his career. Most followers of the game would admit that had Kumble showed a lit more application in his batting, he would have ended up with a couple of more thousand runs. Kumble was a far better test batsman and hardly have I seen him giving his wicket away without a fight.


Kumble was a fighter to the core but more than that a gentleman in spirit and deed. As a player, he was never summoned to the Match Referee’s chambers. Possibly, this unassuming attitude led to him landing up with only a few advertisement campaigns. Kumble did not know how to change his hairdo often; laugh childishly in press conferences; poke fun at seniors and make much ado about nothing. Kumble is no less than Sachin Tendulkar in achievements and stature. The gentleman that he is could not take the constant barbs by a former cricketer who himself took donkey number of matches to make an impact at the international level and was hardly a team man. Kumble has called it a day and it is only a matter of few matches, when we start feeling his vacuum. All good things have to come to an end and so did Kumble’s career. Here is wishing a perfect team man, competitor and a true gentleman a very happy and prosperous retired life. God no longer makes cricketers like Anil Kumble.


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