Sunday, September 1, 2013

Half a dozen things you can do, now that the 'Food' is secure

Now that the Food Security Bill has been passed, here are a few things honest, hard-working and more importantly, tax-paying citizens of India need to start doing. But before that, let me outline a few ways in which the FSB will impact us.

Rice, Wheat and some cereals will be cheaper. But not for you, because whatever available grain is there in this country, will go to the 67% of the country that you do not fall into. Now with the grains so cheap, there will be wastage and over consumption by those who get them. We don't have a problem with a little over consumption, I mean, as long as somebody's gob is getting stuffed (Not that it will be doing them any good, because they will still be malnourished from lack of most essential nutrients). But the wastage through an acknowledged under-prepared public distribution system means that whatever is produced in the country will go to 67%. The other 33% will have to find their own grub from elsewhere. Veggies will probably become a thing of the past (or again, too expensive), as farmers will be assured that their grains will be bought. Fruits will probably become so rare that your kid's books will have A for Anaaj (grain) instead of A for Apple. So basically, everything will become damn expensive, inflation will go crazy, the rupee exchange rate will go nuts, and whatever money you have saved for a rainy day will be worth peanuts. Well not actually, because peanuts will also be quite expensive.

There is a silver lining if you really want to see it though. Pregnant women and children under the age of 14 will get free meals. (And you thought we had a population problem?) So the kid might not have fancy stuff or education (too expensive already) or potatoes, but he will have a cereal breakfast, dry roti/bread for lunch and plain rice for dinner.

So how do you gear up for this?

1. I just mentioned the rainy day right?...well its here, or will be within the next 5 years, so start saving prudently. Buy gold. Buy land. Forget the fixed deposits and stocks. If you have the means, invest abroad (any country except Zimbabwe will do)

2. Take pictures of every vegetable you eat. You can show them to your kids so that they can be sure to grab one in case they ever come across one.

3. Save the seeds of any fruit you eat. Plant them wherever you can.

4. Quit your job. Fudging tax returns is too difficult and limited in scope for a salaried person. Do something really productive in the free time. Like growing fruits, vegetables and herbs at home. Convert a bedroom into a greenhouse, you won't need a bed because you will be losing sleep over it all anyways.

5. Start a business and pay yourself a salary that is within the zero tax bracket. Your business may fail due to the stagnating economy, but so will the company you work for currently, same difference. What? Your company is not Indian? Well they might be getting the hell out of here soon so start buttering up that on-site manager for relocation....and start working on a business plan anyway. What? you work for the government? Start networking to get in-touch with government employees in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) who can steal some grains for you....and drop in a mail to me when you do. I'll need some of that.

6. Don't let your kids learn too much. High school should be about enough really. After all, the three highest paying professions in India don't require a degree. Cricketer, Actor or Politician (in decreasing level of skill required) is what your kids should aspire to if they want to stay in the 33%. The last one is most recommended as everything is free for them anyways and generational continuity is almost assured.

Well, I am sure there are plenty more things we can do now that the 'Food' is secure, but you know what, if everyone starts doing these half a dozen things, we're going belly up as a country anyways. So it doesn't really matter what you do does it!?

Finally, I guess I don't have to emphasize the fact that I am going a bit of over the top in this doomsday prophesying, but things aren't really going to be much better than this. I mean I bought 3 smallish apples for 100 bucks today, and they were the cheapest ones in the store. I don't think I will be buying them apples anytime soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Apart from the odd drunken status and the funny video, facebook has become quite boring nowadays. Free and overused, it just evokes the been-there-seen-that-pic emotion now. I've observed a few things that piss me off about facebook and like a typical facebooker I decided I wanted to enlist these. If anything it would keep me off facebook for a half an hour.
    Everyone stalks, get over it. Stop clicking on links that promise to show you people who've 'checked you out'. For one, there is no such app because that data is not made available by facebook. Secondly, even if there was such an app and you did find out who visited your profile, before you give yourself an ego boost, think of the time when you were bored doing nothing and started clicking on random people and their friends. There's probably a term like 'wall-surfing' or 'profile-browsing' or something. If there isn't, there should be one.
    Likes for a pic put up by a girl = 10 x likes for same pic put up by a guy...but thats a given isn't it? 
    When people copy paste your status, they will comment something like "Cool! stealing this! " (stupid heart emoticon) or they might tag you in the paste. No guesses for the gender stereotype established here. Why can't you just use the 'via' option you flintstone-ic morons.
    People who send friend requests to unknown people are probably under the delusion that facebook friends equate to real friends....oh, and people who block such friend requests are most certainly under that delusion
    Every once in a while some topic will go viral and a whole bunch of people will try to display their wit by posting (or stealing) some pearls of wisdom/wit/stupidity till your feed is a constant sludge of putrid pearls
    Then someone will post a status saying how fed up he/she is of seeing that topic on his/her feed. Remember, this someone is trying to console his/her ego for not coming up with (or stealing) something on the topic
    For non-football lovers having football loving 'friends' like me could well be a pain in the arse. But that's just payback for how it is in the real world. We want to head down to the sports pub to catch the match while you have to insist on dragging us to the movies, well take this barrage of banter, pics, and meaningless/endless arguments. Ha!
    If you've just posted a comment on a pic saying 'like! " (stupid heart emoticon again)....congratulations! You just advertised your stupidity! They put a 'like' button there for a reason dumbass!...Don't even get me started on 'supah like! '
    Sites like Quora are a welcome relief from facebook, until everyone on facebook starts using them
    The side-bar of ads was timed perfectly was it not!? They waited for the feeds to become so boring that the ads seem more interesting now
    Some people like to deactivate and then re-activate their account often. No there's no wise-ass comment here, I just have no clue why people do that. Just stop using it if you are fed up!
    Fake accounts. Who the hell made all those accounts!! There are 13 accounts with my name (no i wasn't doing a narcissistic search)...atleast 12 of them are clearly fake...what the hell! Yeah, check your name now, you will be surprised...
    People who 'check-in' the movies they are watching are just feeling guilty about the calls they are not going to pick-up while their phone's on silent
    If looks weren't important, facebook wouldn't have been conceived, so take that bullshit notion somewhere else. On a related note, people with actors' pics as their profile lost the plot there a bit....Also when unknown people ask "Is that your pic?" to the aforementioned people, it is so freaking funny innit! Its like an army of idiots let loose on each other
    Respect to those who share interesting and thought provoking articles, videos and pics. But really its a losing battle people. Stuff like P Sainath's "Nero's Guests" goes unnoticed here. Well why wouldn't it, when kolaveri di went viral like it did.
    I quite like cribbing on facebook, I also like to see people crib on it. As long as it reduces atleast some of the cribbing I have to do or hear in real's a win-win in my book (pun intended). In fact, if you haven't noticed yet, this list is a crib...about facebook....i should share this on facebook.
    Endless debates and rants on someone else's wall also fall into the above category of win-win situations
    People 'wishing' everyone 'happy birthday' on is so cliche that the only thing more irritating is when the birthday person starts replying to each and every 'wish'. Someone write some code to block that crap from my feed
    Facebook messages. For the life of me i can't understand why it doesn't have a bcc option...
    When i say i am 'not-attending' an event, why does facebook still keep reminding me about it!?? And how can people add me to weirrd groups that i have absolutely no interest in!??
Having ranted, I think it is still fun to use facebook. Catching up with long lost friends, seeing pictures of new born nephew's and nieces, and friends going places. It isn't an entire waste of does have the potential though. As long as you don't take it all too seriously you should be fine wasting your time on facebook. Unfortunately, of late, the wrong kind of people have started taking it seriously...advertisers, parents and employers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Arvind and the Wall

"....but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. “

That’s a quote from the movie Moneyball. What it means is, whenever there is someone who is out to change the game, out to make a systemic change to how things are done, he will get clobbered. The dialogue goes further to say,

“It's the threat and not just to the way of doing business, in their minds it's threatening the game. But really what it's threatening is, is their livelihoods, it's threatening their jobs, it's threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it's the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people that are holding the reins have their hands on the switch.”

There are people who are holding the reins, they are part of the wall, the system. They will oppose any crusader coming to tear down the wall, they will bet that he is crazy. And if you think about the societal wall, the endemic system in our country, you would think its the politicians that hold the rein. But think for a while, why are we leaving out the media? Every scam is a TRP fest is it not? Wouldn’t it be a blow to their livelihood if scams stop? So lets add media to the list. Bureaucrats are on it too, because they might complain, but they profit from it just the same. The intellectuals profit as they have something to discuss on panels. The industry definitely profits, bribes are easier and cheaper than taxes. And by extension of industry, the workforce profits too. I mean, I am paid a salary that I wouldn’t pay myself in my wildest dreams, for a degree that, I agree I worked hard for, but I haven’t even bothered looking at it once since I got it a year back. Funny thing is, I am not even in the higher bracket of salaries that people of my kind get paid. Hell, I am no socialist, I am not advocating pay cuts. We may not be a part of the system, or a part of the wall, but we are surely sitting on it and enjoying ourselves slyly.

What I am trying to say is that, the bricks in the very wall that someone like Arvind Kejriwal is trying to break down, will without doubt tell themselves he is crazy. And spread the word too. They will mock his decision to enter politics. But that is what HE thinks will give him the tools. Will he succeed in bringing the wall down? Hell no. I have no doubts he will fail miserably. The lokpal bill will become a political issue and get blown by the wayside. If anything I think the ruling party are laughing themselves silly over it. All he will end up doing is divide the anti-congress vote further and ensure that they win the seats. Although, he might win a seat or two. 

The first guy through the wall always gets bloody, and many times he may not even get through. But once the wall is dented, once people see that it is coming down, there will be another guy inspired enough to chip away at that dent. Then another and another.  What if the one seat Kejriwal’s party wins is against someone like Digvijay Singh, or Kapil Sibal, or any of the DMK posse. Hell, the way corruption and criminality has penetrated our political class, any victory to his party will be welcome. All he needs to do is inspire more Kejriwal’s. After all we started with one Anna and now have Kejriwal, Bedi, Sisodiya, Bhushan and a handful of others. I see around me, people of my generation changing their attitude towards the system. There are indicators all around us. We may not all join active politics, but more people are appearing for civil services, more people are reluctant to go abroad for work, even someone who refuses to pay a bribe for not wearing a helmet and insists on paying the fine and receiving a receipt is doing something that was unheard of in the previous generation. It may take years for these efforts to fructify into something tangible. I don’t know how many, five, ten, twenty, or maybe even more. But the key is to remember not to condemn the man trying to break down the wall you are sitting on.

The first guy through the wall always gets bloody.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

But Sometimes Life....

Lately I've been thinking about life.
How our dreams seem wild and impossible,
when we wake up astounded and bewildered.
But sometimes life is even more unfathomable.

For life, as it unfolds, is like a dream,
dreamed by someone else, chaotic but fair.
We might try to anticipate the next turn,
but sometimes life will catch us unawares.

An exercise in futility it is for sure.
And when things don't turn out our way, we cry and rage .
We try to bind our lives in the shackles of destiny.
But sometimes life is too valuable to be kept in a cage.

They all say take life as it comes.
But I won't say that, it's not always true.
Sometimes you can just sit back and hope.
But sometimes you have to force your way through.

Monday, June 4, 2012

20-Something...and optimistic

Being in your 20’s in India is tough. For several reasons, perhaps too many to enlist in one article, but there’s nothing like having a good whine about it after spending a sleepless night because there was no electricity. The electricity bill for our two bedroom rented apartment, where two people live amounted to a whopping 16,000 rupees for 2 months. That, after 2 hours of daily power cuts, a minimum of 8 hours everyday when no one is at home, and the supply voltage so low during peak hours that none of the appliances work. All this with the hottest summer in five years. I know, I know, everyone is going, ‘Oh what a cry baby, there’s people getting killed, doctors mal-practising, and what not, just watch Amir’s show’. This brings me to the next part of my lament. Television. At this age, I’ve done my studying, I’ve found my calling, or rather stumbled upon it while getting shoved around in The Herd, and when I get home after work, I want to switch on the TV and be entertained. What do I get? Arnab Goswami demanding ‘answers on the behalf of the nation’. I click the remote and there’s Barkha asking Shah Rukh Khan not to be a role model and not to shirk from controversy. After bawling her eyes out and apologizing to everyone in her profession, merely a year back, she’s back in form. So SRK will do good to take her advice. The other anchors are screaming their heads off talking about some Team...Anna or Kolkata, I don’t know, and some Baba...Ramdev or Rahul, I don’t care. I mean, yeah ok, I do care about all that stuff and I carry out my bit of ‘social responsibility’, but I have worked hard enough to have earnt a few hours of entertainment. If I haven’t, my parents’ life of toil should have.

There are no sports on because Neo Sports has the rights to every half-decent sporting event, and I wouldn’t watch that channel even if I had shelled out the extra 100 bucks to subscribe to it. My high speed internet isn’t working because of some technical problems, and I can’t download movies (illegally ofcourse, what’s the point of being in India if I have to buy DVD’s) because the courts have banned the websites. Meanwhile, the internet data recharge I got on my prepaid phone has mysteriously expired before the due date and my phone balance is somehow down to 45 bucks. That’s not sooo bad is it? Well no, except for when I try to call anybody, there’s a highpitched voice telling me that my balance is Tamil. She then informs me the same in English. I could step outside and go for a drive, but after the fuel price hike, recreational burning of petrol is even more indecent than skipping Satyamev Jayate on Sundays.

So I am left to sit there, in the flickering tubelight, sweaty and smelly, (haven’t bathed, no water supply today), wondering whether my parents spent their lives, making sure I was able to spend my youth, giving exams and interviews, for this? Things better start looking up around here, and soon. And as my cynical, whiny, cranky, rant slowly subsides, I kind of start thinking that things will be better. Electricity is back, I call in sick for the day, I make myself tea from milk from a tetrapack carton, I find a hack to access a torrent website once the internet is back up, I recharge my phone online and call the electricity board helpline to lodge a complaint which is received quite surprisingly in a helpful and assuring manner. I am sure none of that happened to my dad when he was 20-something and optimistic.