Beyonce, Coldplay angers fans over cultural appropriation

We Indians are a strange lot. We crib when people don’t talk about us. When they do, we want them to talk about us in a certain fashion.

 

I mean what’s wrong with this Beyonce music video or Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Don’t we celebrate Holi? Don’t we have sadhus? Beautiful girls bedecked in jewelry? Or is it that we don’t appreciate foreigners dressing in Indian ways.

 

If we take the other, Slumdog Millionaire’s depiction of India – Is there no poverty in India? Poor people struggling to make ends meet? Small kids thrown into begging trade.

 

So what are we telling international media – Don’t show us in a particular light. Don’t stereotype us. Not as snake charmers. Not as a poor, unclean country. Show us how maybe Karan Johar shows foreign locations in his movies – just the goody goody things – great locations, colourful people.

 

But we don’t we have a similar criticism for Anurag Kashyap for his Gangs of Wasseyppur though. I loved the movie despite the questions I keep getting for my birthplace Dhanbad.

 

And think about this as well. Do you think these music videos and movies are the only window foreigners have about India? This is the world of internet my dear. The videos we upload on Youtube and Facebook are there for everyone to see.

 

On other note: Why did Sonam Kapoor decide even to appear in this video? She disappears even before you recognise it is her.

 

Net-neutrality again

Do you know who is against Free Basics by Facebook or any other cartel floated by telecom companies?

 

Content creators, owners of applications, websites, games etc. If Facebook is successfull in launching its free basics program, they will lose a chance to get equal opportunity in the internet space.

 

I understand your stand content creators. But my concern is why should the consumers sacrifice their chance at free or low priced internet.

 

On other note, how much time it takes for a small time content creator (probably cribbing now about net neutrality) to move to the other side of the fence – just an angel investor required.

 

Unfortunately poor consumers don’t have such an angel to help them move up in life.
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And this was against a comment asking me about big internet companies elbowing smaller ones.
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I think there’s a point not many are talking about. Take internet penetration at 15% now (before Facebook/Airtel/Reliance launch any anti net-neutrality programs). At this level, both big and small internet companies are already competing. The smaller companies are also giving a strong competition; that’s why the big ones want to safeguard their interests by floating such cartels as Free Basics. This 15% will stay. In fact it will grow. What will not stay intact is the remaining 85% who will keep on upgrading. Therefore, smaller companies will still have a fair chance to grow like now.

 

The remaining 85% that will come to internet are a completely new audience. If the big internet companies are investing on exposing this 85% population to internet, why should they share it equally with the smaller companies. Wouldn’t it be unfair for them?

 

I believe we are looking at this problem in a very selfish manner. The cause of 85% cannot be sacrificed for a few small internet companies. We opposed Airtel and it was rolled back. We are opposing Facebook and probably this too will not see the light of the day. The 85% will still have no internet. In an earlier post I had suggested why can the government not launch such an initiative. Just replace Facebook with government. Then we can ask the government to give equal opportunity to both big and small internet companies.

Net Neutrality in India

What is this net neutrality debate and why is it so important?

 

To answer this, lets look at it from the point of view of the two parties that will face the greatest impact:

 

People or consumers: If Facebook/Reliance/Airtel is successfull in their plan, it will bring access to free or lower priced internet to hundreds of thousands of people who still are untouched by the power of the internet.

 

For the city/town folk, spending Rs. 100 for an internet pack may not be that big an amount. But for people in India’s villages, where monthly earnings hardly cross the 1000 mark, this amount is big.

 

Strangely though access to feature/smartphones has increased, both with city and village folk. Reasons are widespread immigration among villagers and reduction in prices of feature/smartphones.

 

If Facebook/Reliance/Airtel become successful, internet will become more accessible to such people. Facebook will be able to further widen its base, but so will ecommerce companies. Also information will become more available. More information means greater empowerment.

 

Content providers: Now lets look at the other party. Notable among the big content providers  are Facebook, Twitter, Flipkart, NDTV, Times of India etc. Interestingly they are not the ones who have problem with net neutrality. They are big already. They are only looking to become bigger and monopolize the business. In case a telecom provider like Reliance or Airtel floats a cartel, these content providers are sure to find entry in one or other.

 

The content providers who are shouting the most about net neutrality are the smaller players. Their logic – if your phone gives you free access to Facebook, why will you want to pay and try any other indigenous social network. Similarly a smaller but competitive ecommerce player will never be able to make a mark if Flipkart is available for free on your phone.

 

So now the question arises. Who should be given  priority? Consumers or content providers? It’s an either/or situation. If you thought of small content providers, the general consumer will miss this excellent chance at free internet. And vice versa.

 

So what’s the solution?

 

If Facebook is ready to offer free internet to millions of Indians, understand that it is not with a charitable motive. It is laying the infrastructure now, so that advertisers from around the world can sell to this new audience. And Facebook will earn in dollars for renting out this advertising space.

 

My solution: Why can’t the government of India set up this infrastructure instead? Imagine everyone connected with internet. Imagine the flow of information. Imagine the scope of ecommerce and mcommerce that will become available with this one move.

Nirbhaya Rape Case vs. Anonymous Juvenile

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You thought this is gruesome. How can such a practice exist in the present civilized world?

Consider this now. Something like this is happening in India right now. Not in some far flung village. But in an India that we live. Cities, towns, news channels, on social media.

The man being stoned is the anonymous juvenile of Nirbhaya rape case.

The men who are throwing the stones are us. Everyone of us who are baying for the blood of the juvenile.

Don’t get the correlation? Why is it so difficult?

Most probably the person stoned in the picture here did an act that was equally gruesome as the juvenile.protest

Now you will say that at least you are not calling for capital punishment. Just asking for justice to take its course.

Imagine what will happen to this juvenile if he is housed in say Tihar Jail. There are many options for him. He will further learn the ropes of the underworld trade, thanks to so many murderers, rapists, criminals who he will be staying with. Most probably he will have to bear the rape everyday that he committed once. What kind of a man he will be if he ever comes out of jail?

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.

World’s problems have deeper inter-connected roots!

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Sometimes I feel that more than 90% of the world’s problems can be solved in just two steps.

First, understand the root cause of a problem; how did it start? There must have been something that must have caused it. Whether it’s bigger problems like terrorism or smaller problems that smaller beings like you or me face.

Second, forget, forgive and make amends.

Terrorism is the hot topic these days. How do you think it started? Did some men just decide one fine day to hold the world to ransom? Or was there a background to it. There sure was.

Close to us is Afghanistan where Taliban was/is a force to reckon with. There have been claims that it was the creation of the US to fight the erstwhile USSR. USSR had made Afghanistan a base for its cold war operations. US instead made Pakistan its base and left the country handicapped by pumping money in buying warfare and creating a base for Taliban. India’s problems start after this.

Politics is a dirty field. World politics is dirtier. Afghanistan, a country that was once home to the mighty Kushana empire was left in a rubble. Because US decided to chase someone who had wronged the US in US soil for the first time. This someone was a product of Taliban. This is a classic case of Frankenstein’s monster.

But more baffling is why did US and USSR get into fighting each other when they fought together in World War 2 against Germany and the Axis powers. That was because both wanted a share of the imperialistic wealth that had made small countries like England, Spain, France etc. so rich. By the way half the new world is still fighting the seeds of problems sowed by these small countries. Take the Africas for example.

World politics is confusing. And most of the world problems arise because people just look into the immediate problems. They don’t look at what caused the problem. If they do, they will understand that whatever is happening isn’t all unjustified. And if it is not justified, we shouldn’t look for reaction in the way we do. We will understand that his or her action had a background. Maybe if I don’t react, this will end.

It will be difficult for politicians to agree to this simple logic because they have their own selfish motives. But at least common people like us can think this way. At least we will not have such strong reactions to things happening around us. Maybe this will then force our local politics to change and make way for a change in World politics some day.

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.

Globalization

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My lunch today is very inter-racial.

The cuisine as such is Maithili, from the land of Sita. Its called dahi-chura or curd and poha.

The chura/poha is from South India. The curd is from Dubai. The jaggery is from Kolhapur. The banana is from Philippines. The mango is from Pakistan.

That’s called globalization!

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.

Beef Ban

www.secularism.org.uk

secularism.org.uk

Since beef is the flavour of the season, here’s my take on it.

Raised as a Hindu, beef has been a strict no-no. However, it was easy to maintain safe distance from the dreaded meat until I was in India. Slaughter houses are normally different for chicken-mutton and bara (as beef is referred to in North). Restaurants that serve beef are either at the very posh locations or the shady ones; neither of which fit my bill.

Then I came to Dubai.I still don’t eat beef. But how do I manage these everyday situations. Beef and chicken are stored next to each other in supermarkets. In a restaurant, you order for chicken or vegetarian fried rice. But just before you the chef prepared beef fried rice in that same wok.

In Dubai, I came across this surprising fact. A majority of people from Kerala and other Southern states eat beef; Hindus I mean, whatever be the caste they hail from. I didn’t know of this back in India.

Then there’s the cool foodie, from all over India and no particular religion. The more varied meat you eat, the more cool a foodie you are. I bet most of these cool foodies took up the beef taste from before they came to Dubai

And a more surprising fact – the chances of a Pakistani restaurant not serving beef is more than for an Indian restaurant. Strange na!

So how has been my experience with beef. Not being a cool foodie has been difficult. I went to Europe last month and I would spend more time ordering the right meats…it is tough making the French or Italians understand why I can’t have beef or pork.

But I had beef once…accidentally. I didn’t find the taste much different from goat meat.

That doesn’t make me a less Hindu though. I wouldn’t have beef because I am not used to it. And I am too old to acquire the taste. To be frank I don’t like the reddish black color of the meat.

As a summary. Let people eat whatever they want to eat man! Why to interfere in other people’s eating habits. Imagine you being made to skip a food that you like. Any Hindus here who skip chicken or mutton for Saavan or Navratri. As soon as the period ends you rush to get your meat. So why are you not letting the beef eaters (they can belong to any religion) have their food.

Take a cue from United Arab Emirates if you can. A Muslim country that it is, it allows sale of pork.

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.

Durga Puja

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It’s 5 days before Durga Puja celebrations start in India. And I can’t but reminisce the good old days. This is just a monologue, so no likes or comments required. Just revisit your own childhood days if you can.

One man gained supreme importance at this point of time. The tailor. His appointment had to be sought at least a month before. You cringed when he charged more than his usual rate, but there was little you could do.

Our tailor was called Essco Tailors. He had a small rickety shop near Shankar Talkies, Maithon More; hardly able to accommodate us all at once- papa (he was there to oversee that we didn’t try something very fashionable) and we brothers, one at a time.

Before this trip to the tailor, was another trip to the cloth shop. Until my brothers revolted, all four of us used to be dressed in the same style shirt and trousers.

Both trips usually were on the same day. So we hardly got a good look at the clothes we were getting for Durga Puja. Did I tell you this was the only pair of shirt and trouser that we would get for the entire year? I won’t blame my parents. They raised us all in the bestest way they could afford, more than that.

We waited eagerly for our new clothes to come. Almost everyday we would tell papa to bring it while coming back from office. Because of the huge backlog at the tailor’s, it was the 5th or 6th day of Durga Puja by the time it arrived.

The new clothes were not to be worn before navami, the 9th day. This is the most important day of Durga Puja.

Everyone was dressed in their best. It was a great feeling. We had tried describing our new clothes to friends. Now we could show it off.

We were ready. For the mela (fair) and pandal hopping, checking out the Durga Puja decorations at each locality. Before we became old enough to hate going out with parents.

Those days are no more. No more does Durga Puja evoke such feelings. No more does the air have a festive smell to it, starting from Augustill till November. No more do new clothes encourage such excitement as then. Newer excitements have taken place of old. But the older ones still show up sometimes.

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.

It’s cool to not follow religion and culture

Fasting for some of my Hindu friends during Ramadan is a detox. They would like to try it.

Halloween for them is cool; although it has come to be associated with such weird things as actual Christian scriptures would have never imagined.

But fasting for a Hindu festival is not cool. I heard the weirdest of all reasons against Karwachauth fasting yesterday. That it is demeaning for women to fast for a man. ‪#‎feministspeaks‬

Why weird? First, there have been no known cases of anyone dying because of a day’s fast. Second, how does it demean a woman if she fasts for her husband’s long life. Are they afraid to spend a longer married life with the same husband? Or is it to avenge the Hindu scriptures on why they didn’t have equal responsibilities for the men to fast for their women. Present day men do that anyways. Following Bollywood and some their hearts, men nowadays fast with women folk.

BTW I can comment as Karwachauth is not celebrated in our state.

* This post first appeared on my Facebook profile. You can post your comments here or join the conversation on Facebook.