Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspiration for Ghajini

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4
Aamir Khan was always thought of as a perfectionist. A thinking actor. During his earlier days, he took up roles in movies such as Hum hain rahi pyar ke, where he plays a responsible single parent and Sarfarosh where his Indian nationalist supercedes everything else (yes the one hit wonder of John Matthew Mattan who recently came out with his second movie Shikhar). Sure there was a Baazi too somewhere in between where he got to experience what it felt like to dress like a woman, but well it was all in good spirit.

All in all, with him it was more about articulation rather than flaunting his naked body.

And then came Lagaan. Well one could argue that since he was playing a poor farmer and living in a land which received direct sunshine for over 300 days a year, the role demanded it from him.

Probably even for Mangal Pandey or as I like to call it: Retro Alpha Male, one could again use some sort of reasoning to justify this:

This is in accordance with the fit yet not overly masculine AK that we have known throughout the ages. Either ways, the real Mangal Pandey wasn't known to have a smashing bod either. So alls still well.

But then he does this:
Now, is it just me or does this look similar to another fine fellow with a well chiseled body:

This puts in league with the Grawp whose graphical impression was inspirated by Alfred Neuman.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Real deal behind 49-O

Sunday, December 07, 2008 1

When I typed in 49-O in my search browser I simply couldn’t locate the Indian government website, because it was overshadowed by a thousands of blog posts, forum debates, discussing the impact of 49-O on our electoral and democratic system. And they all seemed to say that it was something to do an Act passed on in 1969.

An email has being doing the rounds, even more so after the Mumbai blasts claiming that the citizens can invoke article 49-O through which they can tick "no vote" on the ballot. 

But here's the strange part: there’s nothing about elections in the 1969 Amendment Act. What the masses are referring to is in fact “Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961” document. And here’s what it says: (from the Indian Government’s Website)

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

DNA also carried a news item a couple of days ago where they gave us the low down on the whole affair. According to the article

Retired high court judge, Hosbet Suresh, says, “We have discussed negative voting a number of times during our meets, and even put forth a proposal for the same, but it’s yet to be put into action.”

This means two things:

1) You have to reveal your identity. Because once you decide not to vote you will have to sign next to your name claiming so. Now this is ok, a lot of us are agitated and wouldn’t mind revealing our identity even if it goes against the spirit of the secret ballot (but in this case it’s a special situation since you aren’t really “casting” a vote, you’re refraining to do so).  

However the second thing it also means is that:

2) There will be no re-polls.

The result will remain the same, the guy who gets the highest number of votes wins. Which also means that even if the majority of the nation feels that amongst the candidates standing none of them fits the bill and none would do justice to the nation as the next PM, theres no rule (as of now) which will ensure re-polling.  

Apparently this mail has been doing the rounds for the last 2 years urging people to “take the initiative” to “change” the nation.

The guy who drafted the email; and I’m sure his heart is in the right pace, just became the initiator of a hoax and putting this mail in the same league as that of Jessica, the cute little girl who has been suffering from leukemia AND has been 10 ten years old for the last 9 years.

People tend to follow the masses and go with the flow. So as of now, refusing to cast a vote for any of the candidates (meaning voting for none of the above) and not getting out of your bed on the day of voting means the exact same thing.

Or maybe not, maybe if a substantial percentage of the registered voters opt for "none" we can show the nation what the nation really seeks and send a message across. (thanks @Pranav for the last paragraph

Friday, December 05, 2008

Grassroutes: My plans for this winter

Friday, December 05, 2008 0

My original plan for this winter was to look for a brief internship and invest all my time in it and gain some valuable experience, preferably in the field of social media. I was almost certain about my plans this winter but that’s when I got to know about Grassroutes. 

So what is Grassroutes?

Grassroutes Fellowship Program sponsors teams of adventurous, passionate young people on their road-trips to discover change-makers at the grassroots and understand first-hand the problems that plague our nation. From their journeys, these social journalists will bring back stories of ideas, inspiration and change, that we believe, will get the rest of us thinking of ways in which we can do our bit.
At first glance the fellowship seemed fun and had a certain RDB-esque feel to it, to break free from the shackles of the routine that we’re so used to and just DO something. Grassroutes seemed like just the thing. But as the deadline approached and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that apart from whatever personal gains my team and I might derive out of the fellowship, we have a responsibility to document everything we see and experience, to support the cause that the NGO concerned is fighting for.
We have been mapped to environmentalists in the Nilgiris who are out there to preserve the landscape and wildlife of the Mudhumalai forests. Check this link to learn more about the issue concerned.

As part of the fellowship we will be making a documentary (a social activist's roadies? Nah), compiling reports and writing tons of articles about the same after spending 10 days on the road and absorbing all that we gather along the way.
Will be come out of this trip as more responsible citizens and bloggers with lesser typos, probably not. But will we give this documentary our best shot (and obviously excel at it) and help spread the word to thousands of people out there, you can count on thatfor sure.
With Grassroutes I am so confident (overconfident?!) that I will have so many stories to tell. 

Only recently did we find out that we’re off to down south for our road trip. More about that later in subsequent posts.

Follow our pursuits on
Twitter: @Hungryfools

As a parting note for this blog post, a person whom I really admire told me, “In fact, you’re living many people’s dream”.
Here's a team snapshot, I'm the fat guy.

Cupcake conversations

The other day I was having a conversation with a gentleman. I told him that I felt the safest in Pilani since every other place in India; urban or suburban is a potential target. He asked me if the monumental increase in terrorist activity over the years made me want to reconsider India as my home and move base to America upon graduation. I retorted saying that Pilani was probably safer than any place in the US right now. The drug lords that once ruled the sands have had their age catch up with them but despite that I think Pilani is peaceful and serene.

Since migration is nothing new for a Kashmiri who have plenty of experience in this domain, he was expecting me to give him a nod and so my obscure reasoning might have raised his eyebrows. However, I quickly changed the topic to why I felt it also made good economic sense to stay in India, giving him the low down on how our economy will stabilize sooner than other nations. So if it was imperative for me to move camp, I’d rather shift to China (since their economy is also doing well). He told me how on his recent visit to China he observed that the people there were extremely hard-working. Agreeing with him on that point I also chipped in another interesting yet peculiar observation; the lack of hair on their body.

At this juncture I urge you to take a moment and try to remember when was the last time you saw an oriental man sporting a beard, or for that matter a chinkey girl having hair on her legs, and no they don’t wax their legs (thus saving them thousands of yuans throughout their lifespan and increasing their propensity to save); their follicles just don’t produce enough hair.

This prompted him to change the topic of our conversation to his next international visit; to Pakistan, which he recently cancelled. Having been to Pakistan several times, he disclosed that even though the people have been extremely kind to him the times just weren’t suited for such a visit. Probably his numerous visits to the land would invoke suspicion from the Indian Government and spur off an investigation. Alternatively he also believed that its only matter of time before India launches an attack on Pakistan, in which case he would be detained and made a POW.

Upon me telling him that, if such a situation were to ever arise, international groups such as Amnesty International would come to his rescue, he scoffed saying that his head would’ve been smashed to pulp by the butt of a Kalashnikov by the time any action was taken.   


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Showing the love

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 2
Please light a candle to show your support for the innocent and brave souls who gave their life away. Or if you happen to possess a weblog or two, please change its template to something white. Or perhaps, wear a white shirt for an hour to show that you care. And in the meantime, sign the petition to stop terrorism as well as an open letter. If we collect a billion signatures, we will show to the terrorists that they have not harmed us. Divided we fall; true, but we are anything but divided. We want to show to the terrorists through our peace marches and our open letters that they have wasted their effort in attacking us.

So what if they continue to attack one part after another.

Let us tweet about it, showing how frustrated we are, let us have the marches and maybe even an anti terrorism beerfest (after all isn't it about staying united and the media attention here? Promoting the fact that we're united even during terror strikes repeadtedly).

Aditya puts it rather succintly here on Patrix's blog
All that these people want is to get a sense of satisfaction about having done something post-attacks however useless the activity might be.

But then looking back, I ask myself. Don't we all want to feel responsible about it and do something? So what if its a tweet up? The final act of communiating out our thoughts isn't lost is it? So what if we're buying a million candles (and this way also increasing the revenue of the wax industry)?

Look, at the end of the day we all need a reason. Many of us do not know how to contribute to this situation. One reason might be because most of us have never experienced it. Being a Kashmiri, I still don't know about the perils and fear my people have faced. Sure I have heard of it, but have never felt it. 

Last summer I was involved in a startup called YoFa. At that time it's motto was Think, Speak, Do. It was about Youth Activism. However, it never specified how much of each should be done. That was left to the person concerned. Similarly, maybe some people want to show their activism through speaking a lot, hence the tweeting, facebooking, endless blogging, some want to think, and some want to do.  

But then there is a fourth activity which was never mentioned in YoFa but which has a role to play. And that's "follow". There are many amongst us, who will move on (or already have) and who have absolutely no idea about how to contribute. So we Retweet, we share links and quote others and so on. And I don't think this wrong. I remember someone once telling me, "if you don't know what to do, follow the crowd". And barring few situations, it hold true. It certainly holds true in this case.

I guess this is what most of the people who go on these candle marches and wear those white shirts also believe in. But as long as it isn't harming anyone, let each one do his own.

Sure if you WANT to go ahead and urge the politicians and ask them to step down, do that as well. 

P.S: YoFa has now transformed into something cooler. They now send people on 10 day road trips to NGOs and become agents of social change. Check their latest initiative Grassroutes
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