Tuesday, December 16, 2008

...and then there was light

Well, let me share a secret with you all. My childhood dream was to become an astronaut. I always dreamt of being an explorer on a distant planet and may be reuttering the words – “One small step for a man, one giant leap for the mankind” and imagining to look back at the earth rising from the horizon same as what Neal Armstrong has seen.

I also imagined an earth without life with people leaving in large spaceships planning to spend generations inside them in search of new home. And very few of you might know that I even penned a sci-fi story with these events.I also imagined myself getting “selected” to be members of one of those ships I named “Lau” (Hindi for a small peck of light. Symbol for hope in a dark). But I always knew that my this wish of looking at nature’s spectacular creations with my own eyes will never get fulfilled.

I remember when Prof Jayant Narlikar who also is my idol, visited IIT KGP campus to give a lecture on extra terrestrial life, and I went to Netaji Audi 1 hour before the scheduled start…and it all paid off as he was also there alone uploading and checking his presentation and gave me a surprised smile. I also remember when he described the four ways to detect exo-planets (planets to other suns) and told us about the Kepler mission which will directly look at these exo-planets.

But as time passed I forgot about the mission but kept the track of exo-planets through websites and they were discovering them frequently. But most of these were gas giants orbiting very close to their sun without any possibility of life. Then recently two events happened,

One, discovery of a terrestrial exo-planet and two, announcement of launch date of Kepler.

And it was again a nostalgic feeling of childhood the feeling of The “other” planet. And I felt a tinge of sadness for not being able to follow my dreams but to follow the society and fighting to get a stupid Masters degree in common sense called MBA.

Anyways, the Kepler mission website also contained an interesting proposition – register to send your name along with the Kepler spacecraft. I registered for it and received this certificate.

I know my name will be just among the millions and it will have not be of any practical significance but it gives me an enormous joy which I hope you can relate to – a joy in knowing that the craft which will show us the first terrestrial planet and may even detect life will have my name somewhere with it.

Kepler may represent first rendezvous of mankind with  earth like planet and I will be a part of it.

Yes, Kepler is the “Lau” of my story.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My encounter with myself

It was a nice bright winter afternoon on Saturday…and its not frequently you get to get holidays at a place like IIM L. So I decided to go for my much delayed “shopping chores”. 

After reaching somewhere in the city I reached a ubiquitous rickshawala. Trying to look like a localite by making a fake face of familiarity with the city I asked- “Sahara Mall ka kitna loge?”

“20 rupaye de dena sahab” – He said with figuring out that I was indeed a stranger

“20 rupaye !!” I exclaimed.

15 dunga….chalna ho to bolo - I knew that it shouldn’t be worth more than that

“Sahab baitho 18 de dena” – And I knew now that he can be squeezed more and I can save my 3 rupees

“dekho 15 hi banta hai….usse zyada kuch nahi dunga” – Again I knew that 15 hi banta hai

And he yielded. I felt a feeling of triumph that I saved my precious money.

It was some 4-5 kms before we reached Sahara.
I wanted to buy some chappals first so I entered into Metro. Saw some pieces there and selected one:

Excuse me please. How much is it for this one?

“Rs. 890 only sir”

Hmmm…little over my budget but this is Metro. I must be worth it- I thought

“Fine. Make the bill”

“It will be 930 sir” – The girl in a formal suit at the counter said

Uh-oh….okay those 40 rs must be some service tax etc. How can I actually question the integrity of the-girl-in-the-suit for 40 rupees. What a cheapskate she will think of me.

“Herez my card”.

Then i went to Mc Donalds for some snack. Just wanted to have some burger or something. At the counter, the-girl-in-the-uniform with a smile asked

“Would you like to have some coke as well to go with your burger?”

How caring she is. How can I say no to her – I thought


After finishing my burger I took the coke with me. 
At the rickshaw stand I realized that I can’t finish the coke. 
So tossed the half full glass of coke in a nearby trash bin. …and eyes of the nearby rickshawala followed it. 

.....AND then it hit me.

“University chaloge bhaiya”- I asked in a low tone

“Haan saheb kyun nahi. 20 rupaye de dena”

I nodded.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Is Gandhism Dead?

Today we celebrate the Birthday of a man- a common man who established his own empire agianst the british empire and defeated them. But more importantly, today there will be a national holiday!!

And if you have some extra time in your hands you can even go to your local Khadi stores and get 25% discount on this special occasion. And if you are lucky they will even throw in a pair of goodies with foreign labels which Gandhi would have burned in streets.

Today, politicians will garland Gandhi’s ubiquitous golden framed photos and will give speeches on non-violence to the contract audience , but more importantly , will distribute sweets !!... and if we are lucky we might even get specials in our lunch !

So, Gandhi was a good man…fine. Gandhism established itself as a form of revolt…fine. Gandhism is one of the most ethical and strong form of non-violent protests…very fine. Will you practice it..? Ahem…

Or the question is …Will anyone listen to you if you adopt Gandhian methods?
So the question is -Is Gandhism relevant today? …or even if feasible?

I don’t want to discuss much….i just want everyone to make their own view…I just want to give some food for thought-

Narmada Aandolan protesters adopted the non-violent route and they haven’t got a success yet after 2 decades.

AIIMS doctors and thousands of students adopted a non-violent route to protest against the reservation regime proposed by Arjun Singh. Protests went for weeks including hunger strikes and included lathi-charge and use of water cannon against the students. Final Result?- OBC reservation was implemented.

Gujjars turned violent asking for OBC status. They went on rampage damaging railway tracks and nearly isolated a whole state from rest of the country. Final Result? Within few days Indian Government bowed to Gujjars and gave them the backward status.

My questions to the elite think-tank (or so they say abt IIT-IIM guys) are:

Is Gandhism (or Gandhigiri for romantics) irrelevant today? Would Gandhi himself succeeded in the current world? Gandhi’s principles assume that oppressor will feel guilty at some point of time…is this assumption valid in today’s world?

Go Ahead...your views will be published as a post in my blog for discussion.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ret Par Likha Hua Naam

Before you start reading my first kavita i need you to read the disclaimers :D

1. This poem has nothing to do with my personal status ( I'm happily engaged :-) )
2. Being the first time i didn't bother much about hindi/urdu consistency. Purists may forgive me.
3. Constructive criticism is very much invited (including "Don't bother with poetry again" !!)

Pata tha ishq main mar mit na payenge hum,

Par fir bhi aashiqui ka shauq rakhne lage

Ab woh hume chahe ya na chahe

Par ret ke gharondo main hum hi apne khwab sanjone lage

Pata tha un aankhon ka pyala nasib nahi mujhe,

Use dosh na dena duniya walon

Jab uski ek nazar ko apne hisse ka pyar maan,

Hum hi apni khushfehmi main madhosh hone lage

Sagaron ki baat kahan karte usse,

Hum to lehron se bhi anjaan chale

Jo Ret pe kured ke uska naam,

Hum bhi apna prem amar karne lage

Par thokar to lagna hi thi jo,

Ek sapne par hum apna haq samajhne lage

Jin raaston ko taakti thi nigahain humesha,

Ab to we raaste bhi hume anmane se karne lage


Itna zulm seh kar bhi koi gila nahi usse,


Aakhirkar hum ab,

Pyar ka matlab samajhne lage

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Bullet Point

'So you want admission here' - He asked

'Yes Sir, i feel i am well qualified for this place. I did many good things in my life which you can see on my resume'

'Hmmmmmm i see that, but is there anything which you don't have on your Resume, for which i can reward you by admitting you into this place'

'No...this is everything i have. This is my life's work' I said nervously

'Are you pretty sure?' He pushed again

'Sir, i thought i will be one of the most eligible candidates because all the good work i have done in my life'

'Ya you have done good work but you have already received your returns on those by writing it in your resume and getting good jobs. And we have strict laws here. We can only provide a pass for your deeds for which you have not got anything in your life. You flashed these bullet points at every opportunity you got and reaped its benefits.But not here.

Sorry. Your application for entering into heaven is rejected'

Friday, July 4, 2008

India, Religion and Riots

...or should i say "Riots, Religion and India" ?

Today, on 4th July 2008, my hometown Indore is buring in fire.
Why? Because Court ruled against transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board (ASB).
By Whom? VHP and BJP sponsored a "voluntary" bandh which turned into a violent communal riot.
On Whom? Obviously a common peace loving man is at the receiving end of these violent acts from extremists from both the sides. As of now some Muslim families were killed and few Hindu homes were burnt by the extremists.

Many issues to be addressed here.
First, bandh was not at all voluntary, todays newspapers were filled with images of (so called)activists , pelting stones at the shops. So, can someone explain it to me what a daily wage earner...be it a Hindu or a Muslim, has done anything in his whole life to get kicked when trying to earn his bread and butter. Who will be responsible if his little children won't get food tonight?

Secondly, why these so called activists (read extremists) always attack innocent unarmed families? If they really believe in their religion and are ready to go to any level (so as they claim), why don't they attack each other and decide it among the equals? At least my country will be far better off without some of these people.

Thirdly, If such issues still are haunting India and are resulting in serious consequenses then are we really a communally neutral nation? Sadly we are NOT, everyone including political parties are afraid to call spade a spade. Hindus and Muslims are not called so but are known as "majorities" and " minorities" in India which itself shows our high level of sensivity to even take the name of religions. See these examples:

"The Kashmir government backed down after protests by Muslims who said the land transfer was aimed at changing the demography of the Muslim-majority region. The reversal of the decision, in turn, provoked an angry backlash from Hindus.
On Friday, two more people were killed in Indore, and several injured when police clashed with both Hindu and Muslim mobs."
(emphasis added)
Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idINDEL28689020080704

"Irked over the curfew clamped in the city since Thursday, a group of people pelted stones at the police in Khajrana area when body of one of the deceased, killed during the bandh, was being taken for last rites, police said. Police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas shells in the troubled area to bring the situation under control. Four persons were killed and 20 others injured in the violence on Thursday during the nationwide bandh called by VHP and supported by BJP on the issue of revocation of allotment of land to the Amarnath shrine board by the J&K Government. "
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Police_fire_tear_gas_shells_as_fresh_violence_erupts_in_Indore/articleshow/3197175.cms

I hope you see my point. The first example is taken from Reuters and second one is from TOI. And i saw many online newspapers to confirm the same. Even Indian media is "afraid" to "talk about that"
World is becoming truly global and "religious orientations" are just one's faith and not an identity but it seems India is a big exception.

But everyone is scared. Scared of few people who give bad name to their religions and their country. Even if they feel that they are doing this for religion, it is sad that they are putting religon over the development of the country. The passion, with which these people try to prove religious supremacy over others, i wish even if 10% of that is put for development of our country, India will touch new heights.
...but they won't, and they will even try to impair educated people who can make it. Another reason which can make talented people leave India.

I hope I am wrong.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


With the announcement of 49.5% reservation in faculty poistions in IITs, the bright days of India are coming to an end. As correctly put by one of the IIT Director ""Some of the finest people have given up top positions and fat cheques that were offered to them in other parts of the world to come and teach in the IITs, despite the low pay scale that the government offers. With reservation in faculty positions, I see a day, not far from now, when the IITs will crumble," Consider that even now IITs are facing severe faculty crunch because of lack of talent imagine what will be the situation when talented faculty move to corporate houses who respect the talent.And it won't be long before UPA's HRD extends this quota to faculty positions in IIMs also.And this crumble is really not far- according to HRDs orders this should be applied with immediate effect. This means either hire SC/ST/OBC Profs equivalent to the number of existing Profs !!! OR fire half of your existing Profs to make way for SC/ST/OBCs. My country is great ! Imagine a education system where sub standard profs are teaching sub standard students who are then going into important positions through quota. To put it in perpective its like using sub standard raw material to be processed in sub standard machinery and aiming for a world class product. Just one word to describe this - DISASTER.It is really sad that we are increasing backwardness in the name of equality. And even this brings a bitterness in the society. I can already see people talking in "them" and "us" languages ....is this equality you aimed for Mr AS?

Some reservation advocates talk about OBC population and numbers. Even if we assume that OBC population is 50% (on which all reservation figures are based on and this figure itself is based on a census taken in 1800s !!) reservation should be according to the SC/ST/OBC population giving the exam. But this is not so.

Fact 2: IITs were asked to fill 27% in three stages. i.e. for 2008 admissions 9% seats were reserved for OBC students. Students who were qualified enough- 7.4 %. And this despite of lowering the cutoffs and giving option of preparatory course to students scoring even lower than that. Imagine what will happen when this reaches 27%.

See the picture attached

Fact 3: Since increased quota is not finding any students now UPA is trying to increase creamy layer definition to Rs 5 lakh pa!! This means any OBC earning 40,000 per month is a backward ! If That qualifies for a "backward" quota i can't imagine what upper class is earning right now.

Fact 4: Last year 28 SC/ST candidates were expelled from IIT Bombay for their dismal academic performance. Being an IITian i would also like to point out that SC/ST/OBC students get one extra year to complete the course before being thrown out. Also, nearly all expenses are bourne by the govt. for their complete stay...and this is your and my hard earned tax money that goes down the drain when that happens. Now, these 28 guys have filed a complaint against IIT B alleging "descrimination" !! As if they were asked to write their caste on their answer sheets and Profs deducted their marks for being SC/ST/OBCs

Fact 5: The above facts are useless because they are intended to be read by educated and knowledgeable people and our politicians do not fall into that category.
(BTW approx 35% face criminal charges pending against them including rape and murder charges. See link in references for details)

Well....now at least i don't see my kids going to Indian colleges. Regardless of whether they are talented or not they won't have the "backward" tag ....and even if they managed to get into some institute they will be taught by Profs who themselves have got there through quota and not talent. This is how this crumble will begin and 20 years down the line...all "general" talent would be outside this country, students as well as faculty, and India will be a hub for education and employment - for the backward classes.