Friday, 11 November 2011

Cultural purity

         I never gave two Knuts about cultural purity. But something I found recently in a Pakistani cultural forum got me thinking. They were complaining about people dancing to hit Bollywood tunes for parties and how it erodes the purity of Pakistan Islamic culture.
        I thought of starting a debate in the topic dissecting so called 'Pakistani Islamic cultural purity'. But then had visions of my Gmail and FB account being hacked and so controlled myself with difficulty and logged off. The people in the forum were complaining about how outside influence is corrupting Islamic culture. For starters, Islam itself is foreign to Pakistan. It originated in Saudi Arabia and spread to rest of the world. Before Islam came into Pakistan, they more or less shared so called Indian/Hindu culture. So where the hell is cultural purity?

          Let us take the case of the Shiv sena fanatics cribbing about so called traditional Indian culture. To start with, are they sure Indian culture is pure? Thing is, Indian mythology is very similar to ancient Greek mythology. Swastika, our symbol of peace, became the symbol for Aryan supremacy. Thus, the obvious conclusion is, all these stuff must have originated in some common place and spread to other places. So at least some part of the so called Indian Culture is foreign to our soil.

         There is also the difficult issue of separating culture from religion. Culture of a particular place is a summation of the learning, experiences, and habits etc. of the people belonging to that area. That can be common to people of the region. And involves the best practices and survival tactics suited /customized for the local society (this ceases to be true if they refuse to change according to the times). Religion is just a way of praying to god (I used to wonder about this as a kid; What if the guy/gal we call as GOD is Satan in reality?) while introduction of a new religion invariably brings about some socio/behavioral changes in the new devotees, there is no need to totally reject the local culture. It does not make sense; the reality is, organized religions evolved to satisfy the needs and counter the issues of a particular society at a particular time. So when it spreads to a totally different region with different issues and different history/culture, it needs adapting. Point I am trying to make is there is nothing like religious purity as such. Though purity is a desirable when it comes to manufacturing/science, it is rather a dangerous element to introduce in socio/cultural scenario.
There have been some wonderful scenarios of cultural integration. The journey of the Parsi’s is one such amazing story. The Parsis migrated from Iran to India around 10th century A.D. Inspire of having a different ethnicity, they integrated themselves deeply with the Indian society. For so small a community, they made truly remarkable contributions to India.
Now if we are considering the spread of religion, I would say that Buddhism is truly remarkable for integrating with the local culture. As we all know, Buddhism originated in India. But when it spread to other regions, it only carried its essential ingredients. It discarded the unnecessary & local elements of India. Subsequently, today we don’t have Pan Buddhism (thank God!). But it integrated so well to the local culture that today we are lucky to have Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism (practiced in Sri Lanka and all) and many other branches. Each with a sweet local flavor of its own. I would say that Buddhism aimed at spiritual invasion rather than cultural invasion


      Cultural evolution is an ongoing process. People belonging to different cultures interact and in the process exchange their ideas and processes. There are dead cultures and stagnant cultures; but nothing like a pure culture unless you are part of some yet to be discovered obscure tribe.

P.S  Knut is the least valued coin in Harry Potter Lingo

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Heart's true desire -A talisman


Ever since I started Infy, I was toying around with the idea of an alternate career. Like all electronics graduates, initially I wanted to work in my core field. Then again, as I had not wasted any time in   college studying, I felt that I was not ready to be released in to unsuspecting public sector core companies. After all, I did not want to blow up a missile or satellite by accident. So i thought of increasing my knowledge as well as percentage by doing M-Tech.
       In the first year, I qualified Gate , went to Coimbatore and  strutted around the Amrita College Campus with characteristic arrogance. ( I had reason to strut, almost all of the applicants had come with their parents. I was the rare breed who had turned up alone! These are times I just love my parents!) When it was time to join, I could not bring myself to commit myself to two years of studying.  I called up my father , informed him that i was not ready yet and will join next year. He grumbled something noncommittal.
       The next year, I actually studied something instead of relying on lady  luck and improved my rank but managed to lose my Gate Score Card! To my credit, i discovered this only on the last day of submitting application. I was informed that i need to get an FIR filed to get a duplicate score card! Seriously, that was too much! Being the lazy git that i am, i laid the matter to rest.
         Anyway, by this time , i had discovered infy blogs and thought i would like to go for journalism. Started an external blog, announced my decision to parents and dreamed for a week about Sainath, Tehelka etc. By the end of the second week, i got bored with the idea. Journalism seemed too lame!

        "Follow ur heart" i have heard this advice too often. But if i had followed my heart every time it wanted something, i would be now homeless, jobless , friendless etc not to mention probably living on street. I sincerely envy those people who knows what they want out of life and stick to it.

          So one fine day, i set out to find out what i really wanted o/o life. I ended up creating a talisman. Here is this.
" Ask urself what would you like to do if there is no power, money, glamour , fame, prestige, etc.,, offered! What would u like to do just for the sake of doing it? Choose it!"

I asked myself this question and the answer i got was strange. I wanted to be green peace volunteer! As my parents were hardly likely to approve this , i took the test once again. I got answers like green entrepreneur either in the sector of renewable energy or e-waste management.Hope things will work out.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

The amazing FBM Rebugger

Recently, they introduced a new tool called FBM rebugger in our project. It is an amazing tool! While I can't describe all its awesomeness in its entirety, I will try to give you an overview. The main advantages of the tool are as follows

1.       Teaches you more patience
I used to be an impatient person before using this tool. Now, thanks to the invaluable experience gained from this, I am able to easily handle the queue @ dentists and billing queue @ lifestyle/West Side showrooms!

2.       Increases interaction among team mates.
Thing is, once u enter in to the gigantic labyrinth of the fantastic rebugger, chances are high that you won’t be able to come out without external help. So you will be forced to seek help from your colleagues thus improving knowledge sharing and team interaction! In fact, I have interacted so much with my team mates over the last few days that they are getting mysteriously away/offline the moment I ping them!  Way to go!

3.       Social networking
Seriously, is there any other testing tool that helps you to interact with clients as well as testing team from other companies? Nope, I presume! There lies the specialty of rebugger! As soon as I log into rebugger, I receive sweet messages from our XTS testing team as well as clients asking me to kindly log off. Now, I am close buddies with two XTS people and one client side techie! We regularly IM each other!

4.       Increases your average time
Any day from today till the end of the quarter, I can walk out of office @ whatever time I choose and  can still  maintain 9.15  average hours per quarter . I know that most of you will be turning green-eyed with jealousy on reading this. You are welcome to join our project anytime u wish! We are very open hearted people who accept new comers graciously!

5.       Increases creativity
Now this is the most important advantage as far as I am concerned.  I even started infy blogs while waiting for my job to enter Rebugging state. Now I can’t imagine living without rebugger. Imagine the joy of submitting a critical analysis job and waiting for hours for it to enter rebugger. U can blog away to ur heart’s content while waiting!

       Thing is, I believe that this magnificent tool should not be confined to our project team alone. It is not fair to the rest of the organization. They also deserve a chance to work with this. I am hoping the higher management will take due note of this fact.

P.S. work of fiction. Any resemblance to any software, active or obsolete is purely imaginary!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

India - A society without vision

Yesterday, I was getting tea from the office food court. The girl at the counter was nearly my age, and while getting tea coupon from her, this random thought crossed my mind. “Thank god that she did not want to be an engineer! Or who would be giving me my tea?” While my thought was definitely exaggerated and probably selfish, it points to a serious problem our society is facing. A healthy and balanced society requires not just engineers and doctors but it requires   mathematicians, geologists, agriculturalists, historians, and so on...
  Unfortunately, there is complete lack of planning in our country. We chuck out probably millions of engineers who end up as small scale mechanics in service sector. (Including myself). This trend will probably obstruct our overall growth as a society. We have to plan for a balanced job force and form our education policies accordingly.
   Whenever I hear India is developing, I ask myself - "Is this development in the right direction?” One of the major things showcased as development is our growth in IT. But what does this so called elite IT'ians do? Speaking from experience, I do  small small  patch work for an American Insurance client. It is not even development! To be perfectly honest, I do not consider TCS or Infosys as success stories. They are just the plus effects of our comparative proficiency in English and the profit made in dollar-Rupee conversion.
  I would have called it as development if India had an Intel or Microsoft to boast of. Because they does the real thing... the real foundation development of engineering.  But this work in service sector is like building without foundation. God only knows when it will collapse! We are second-handlers, to borrow Ayn Rand's phrase.
    The reason for this deformed growth is many. One of them being the financial insecurities of middle class. I wanted to take up political science or literature for graduation. But I heard too much reasoning about lack of opportunities in that field. Coming from a middle class family, @ that time, job and money meant the whole world to me.  Also I was not sure I would get a government job. See, I belong to the unreserved class, paying for the sins of our supposedly 'Upper class’ forefathers .Anyway, so many people end up in IT because it is easy (?) money and because of lack of job opportunities in the field of their choice, like me.
    How does this lack of opportunities in Non IT fields arise?  There is the issue that we do not have leaders with vision. Almost all polices our leaders roll out are short-term oriented. A good leader should think far ahead, should plan for at least 2-3 generations. But do we have a leader who can at least plan ahead for the next 10 years... (I shudder to think of the day when Rahul Gandhi becomes Indian PM.. Anyway, better him than Mayavathi who blamed Team Anna for not including a dalit in LokPal bill committee. It is high time she learned that some things are not birthright, but earned by merit!)
   Another side effect of our short-term vision syndrome is the absence of real research carried out in this country. According to my friends in research field, the only place in India where real research is taking place is TIFR (Tata Institute of fundamental research). Coming to TIFR and our only pride ISRO, they exist today only because our founding leaders had vision. They are not our achievement to be proud of but just left-over legacies from previous generation. The question is, what type of legacy we are creating for the coming generations?..

   P.S. leave my case aside. I am not very talented. But it is saddening to see people who would make excellent lawyers, teachers, artists, designers, authors... etc, wasting their days in IT without really contributing anything meaningful. Just imagine the situation if all of them had the chance to pursue their field of choice and talent. India would have been unstoppable!  


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Destiny.. the journey to within..

                        Destiny - The journey to within-

It was an odd path and that was certainly an odd junction. Standing near the  distorted rusty rail, Anuradha felt a feeling of exaltation as she hasn’t felt for a long time. The type that has your chest opening up to the wind leaving a longing to hug the world all around you. The type she hasn’t felt since childhood. The train was due in ten minutes. People were hurrying to the main platform. Tired looking, women in faded rajasthani skirts, some with children tugging along with them. Men looking grave in turbans. She followed them to the Main platform to wait for Rathnasagar Express. The train that will take her to Ranthambore.

      May be it was the thrill of going to a totally new place. Or the fact that for the first time in her life, she was completely free. With no one she knew around her, no commitments, no expectations, no self made constraints and with  no serious plans for future. She felt weightless- and even the crowded train and the fact that she hadn’t managed to get a seat yet was not able to dampen her mood. Everything was exhilarating. The greenery that slowly paved it way to dry paddy fields. Sun light creeping into the train, and the light wind that played with her duppatta.
    
    She had first read about ‘Ranthambore’ in article in a local magazine. It was written by lady journalist who had been there to study about the thriving coal business. But it had turned out to be an article in women empowerment as well. The journalist had devoted quite some space to discuss the woes of the women working there. Their ability to cope up with even the most difficult work which was typically done by men. But Ranthambore was a poverty stricken village-the draught hadn’t left anything much for the villagers. So every bit of money earned, had counted even if it was earned by their womenfolk. The article had immensely attracted Anuradha. The 11.15 shift of the work and very short intervals in between had certainly applied to her aesthetic sense. 

            Rathnasagar express began his journey uphill the Nanda hill tracks. Ranthambore was just on the other side of the Nanda hills. Instead of cutting a tunnel through it, Government had opted for a twisted rail track hoping it would attract more Tourism.
   As the train became nearer to Ranthambore, Anuradha began to feel nervous. Will I be able to fit in? Also there was the problem of communication. How will she understand her supervisor or fellow workers? She knew absolutely no Rajasthani and her Hindi and Tamil were limited. But .She wanted to put her very soul into work. Her complete, undivided attention, concentration and dedication. To do something perfectly for the first time in life. To feel competent for the first time in life. To experience that joy that comes from a job perfectly done. That feeling of worthiness. To stand proudly before life and feel that she has earned every bit of that.
      Train slowed in to a station. It was MeshaKott. Ranthambore was the next station. Anu gathered her things. She didn’t have many things with her as she was planning to do her shopping from Ranthambore. She wanted to purchase the type of dress the womenfolk there, especially the coal workers wore.

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 P.S.1. To be continued...

 P.S.2.  My first attempt at a novel. I know people generally start by writing short stories and then expand to novels. But I am doing it  the reverse way. I was hesistant to start writing because  I read a lot. I was afraid that things I read will uncosciously make its way into my writing, making it a work of plagiarism. Hope this write-up is okay.



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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Keralites deserve all this and much more..

Once up on a time, Kerala was god's own country. We had good climate, scenic, beautiful landscape, plenty of rivers, educated and cultured people. We had everything. Then we sold our souls to Satan. The details of when and where this happened and what we got in return are not clear. If Kerala had a patron saint, I would imagine him to be like Dhritharashtrar. We know things, but we pretend not to know, prefer not to see. We are content curling up in our comfort zone and being easy chair philosophers.
   Let us analyse the present scenario. The number one red zone is how Keralites treat their sisters, mothers and daughters. While it is true that we don't necessarily kill our girl child, the Kerala society does everything it can to make their life miserable. Recently, a girl called Thasni banu was attacked for travelling late at night with her colleague. Moral policing at its height! I have been living in Tamil Nadu for nearly 3 years now and I don't have any complaints about the people here. I have travelled alone, travelled late @ night. But I have never encountered any problem. While in Kerala, it not advisable for a lady to travel alone after, let us say, 7.30. p.m. Even in broad daylight, girls encounter problems in Kerala. As a high school girl, my friends and I used to prefer walking 2 kilometres than boarding the local bus.
  Then there is case of our so called secularism. Fortunately, its facade slipped away during the last elections. We gladly sold our votes to religion and caste. I would say it is worse than selling our votes for money. The people who sell their votes for money do it because of their helplessness and also because they don't know better. But we know better. Yet we are not ashamed of doing that.
    Another serious concern is the increasing inaccessibility of education for the poor. While it is true that the church played a crucial role in educating Keralites in their early days, now it has become nothing more than a  greedy  money-oriented corporation. I am remembering the tale from bible where Jesus drove the buyers and sellers out of the church. What would he do if he sees the thriving education business going on in Kerala under his name? And the government lacks the political will to take tough measures which is not surprising seeing as how the church sponsored their ascend to power.
      Hmm. Then there is our so called 'Intelligent main stream' film. It is totally pointless to blame producers and actors for the lack of good films. The bitter and difficult to digest truth is that, the taste of the Malayali audience has changed. We no longer want to see good films. I should say, our taste reflects what we have become.
   If Kerala still retains the title of 'God's own country', it is because of the scenic beauty of our land God unwittingly endowed us with. Rest assured! It is a work in progress! We are doing all what we can to destroy it. First there is Mathikettan, then Munnar... (I don't know the latest  ...don't read much of Malayalam newspapers nowadays)
    What I feel is, we are a society of pseudoes. We are pseudo secularists; we have pseudo morals and we are totally two faced people. But what I am wondering is, when and where and why this transformation occurred? Is there a way to buy back our souls like in the movie 'Ghost rider' where devil offers a chance to buy back the human's soul?
   Pour in your thoughts. I am curious.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sree Padmanabha Temple Treasure

 In Malayalam, my mother tongue, there is a saying "Deepasthambam Mahashcharyam; Enickum Kittanam Panam". It roughly translates to "The light house is great! Give money to me as well". The context of the story is something like this. The old king of travencore constructed a new light house and invited his courtiers to see that. The greedy courtiers began to praise the king and the light house hoping to get money by pleasing the king. They even wrote poems praising the light house. The court jester alone remained silent. When the king asked his opinion, he simply said the above written lines revealing the greed and insincerity of his fellow courtesans.
        If you are wondering why I am narrating this old story, I was reminded of these lines while watching the fiasco over Sree Padmanabha Temple treasure recently discovered in Kerala.The treasure was found while opening the century’s old vaults in Sree Padmanabha Temple. Lord Padmanabha is the family deity of the Travencore Royals, who submitted their state to Lord and ruled as his representatives taking the name Sree Padmanabha Dasa ( Servants Of Lord Padmanabha). Even though the royal family was aware of the immense wealth in the temple vaults, they didn't use it for their purposes, but remained faithful guardians of the wealth. The vaults were only opened recently following a court order.
        Once the contents of the vaults were known, chaos reigned. Each and everybody were laying their claim in the wealth. And every Tom, Dick and Harry pronounced their opinion on the topic. But underlying most of these sentiments was bare, pure greed. The only exception being the Royal family who said that they don't need any part of the wealth and that the wealth belongs to Lord Padmanabha only.
         It was quite amusing to watch total frauds who have never done an action of charity in their life talking about how the wealth must be utilised for the poor people. (As if they are unaware of the fact that we are living in India and money would never reach the needy hands). Some people were saying that money should be given to Keralites because it was discovered in a Kerala temple. Some of them were even more specific saying that money should be distributed among people belonging to the old Travencore kingdom (Wow! What an idea Surjiii!) Then again, there is a section of really patriotic people saying that we should sell these ancient heirlooms and use that money to eradicate poverty in India. Sure, next we can sell off Taj Mahal. It would surely purchase quite some money! Many people in Kerala and around are losing their sleep worrying over what to do with the treasure .The only people sleeping peacefully are those who don’t want any piece of treasure. All in all, the most humorous thing is, the treasure is roughly estimated to be 1 lakh crore Rupees while the loss Indian treasury incurred due to 2G scam alone is 2 lakh crore. Looks like even the richest of the god can't compete with our politicians.
         One thing that amazed me all throughout the entire fiasco is people's greed. Even some of my well-to-do colleagues wanted a part of the share. They don't pause to think if they deserve the money, or if they really need it. They need more and more money, whether they deserve it or not. That is all.
       Anyway,  the only  thing that worries me is, Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple is a really beautiful, calm, serene temple. But I am afraid that the temple will lose all these soon. It will get filled with treasure hunters and curious travellers. The sincere devotees will have to barge in their way through the crowd.

P.S:  A forwarded SMS. Sree padmanabha calls up the deity of Sabarimala, the Lord Ayyappa and tells him: “If u have any valuables, hide it away quickly. The looters just took everything of mine!"


Fighting Communalism

 After the recent Mumbai blasts, the general mood of the public is one of despair and hopelessness and acceptance of the fact that with every step, we Indians are taking a chance. The government applauds the spirit of the Mumbaikars yet again and (As if they have any choice other than to move on!) and continue to make stupid statements like "There is no intelligence failure"(hmmm, intelligence failure occurs only if there is any intelligence to begin with!)  And "The terrorists had the advantage of surprise (Good one, Mr. MMS!). Now, even if the government enhanced the security and acted tough and efficient (which is expecting too much), it does not address the basic issue, the root cause. That there are Indians working against India, trying to destroy their country.
       We, the general public can do a lot to fight the existing terrorists and to prevent the creation of new terrorists. After all, they come from us, they were people among us, people like us. We can fight corruption, poverty, lack of development and just about everything provided we stand together. But communalism prevents the very idea of standing together. The question is how can we fight it-how can we prevent more terrorists from being made. If people among us are turning terrorists, it is our own failure.
      The need of the hour is for people to have a scientific / rational temperament. Statistically, I am an Indian and Hindu. But that is not my identity. My identity is that of a free independent human being. I didn't have a choice in any of these matters and anything that is not my choice, does not define me. Being an Indian or a keralite or a Hindu are just my circumstances. (I love my country/state/religion, but that does not define me, that’s all) The trouble with most people is that, they confuse their circumstances with their identity. Society also plays a major role in it. When society looks @ a person, it does not see or acknowledge A or B as they are. They are identified or judged by their religion/caste/nationality. Thus people are forced by society into accepting a social identity. Instead of squeezing ourselves   into these readymade robes, we have to create our own identity.
       Let us take the case of a Hindu/Muslim/or any other believer. From childhood itself, he/she grows up worshipping their deity and that belief is deeply embedded in them. They grow up hearing all the good things about their religion and little/false things about the other religions. So naturally, when they grow up, they think that their religion is the best or even worse, that it is the only true one! Seriously, how stupid can human beings get?
       We teach our kids science and history and even religion. But we do not teach them to think rationally, independently and scientifically. They are learning science, but the spirit of science is lacking. The world will become a better place only when individuals are able to think rationally.
       We can try to be rational and scientific. Also, next time we see a person, let us not judge him/her by their circumstances. Let us try to see the human being inside. Let us also encourage them to think rationally. We may not be able to convert existing terrorists. But we will be able to prevent more terrorists from being made.