There we go again

Tamil film screenings disrupted in Bangalore

Step 1. Find a random, preferably soft target to represent whatever it is that you disagree with
Steo 2. Smash, stone, hit, kill, main, burn.

What a wonderful way to voice one's protest, and to gain the moral upper hand. The word "Vedike", in the Bangalore context, is rapidly deteriorating into meaning "thugs". Unfortunately it will get coverage in the print and electronic media, and without being the voice of the real Bangalorean (which is a far more sober, friendly and sane voice), will end adding some smear on our city's face.

A lot of good men continue to stay silent, and the noisy, shrill fringe gets a bolder voice. Once again.

Cycling ?

One Way to Encourage Urban Cycling: Traffic Protected Bike Lanes | Autopia from

Given enough bike lanes - Bangalore would be perfect to bike in. Short distances, good weather, no major slopes. Safety, as the article and subsequent comments demonstrate, is a function of a multitude of factors. And any mode of transport can be less or more safe than any other, given the right circumstances. Idiot bikers, idiot drivers, idiot pedestrians, we're all part of the problem awaiting a solution :)

Tension in Tibet

The Dalai Lama finally did speak for peace, and has threatened to resign if the violence continues. Of course, actions would have spoken louder, and this episode has made me see the strength of Gandhi's conviction in his idea.

China continues to say the Dalai Lama wants a free Tibet (and I'd say he should) despite his repeated protestation that he's looking merely for greater autonomy and freedom within China, and that the Tibetans should befriend the Chinese. The Chinese line is beginning to sound like a not-really-disguised excuse.

The Indian position continues to disappoint - though the GoI has asked China to talk, but the Chinese have expressed satisfaction at the Indian stance. This is also a great opportunity to hold a few cards against someone who plays hard all the time - we WILL have to negotiate on Arunachal too, sooner or later.

Tibet Trouble

This is sad indeed, on many levels.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Dalai Lama's Tibet bloodshed fear

On my Ladakh trip, I've come to admire Buddhism even more for its base thought-process. Also have always had a huge soft corner for Tibetans - they've had it really bad, and merely because of China's might, there isn't too much support for their cause.

(Ok there go my chances of ever being able to bike in China. Oh well!)

I'm also a little disappointed with the GoIndia for not speaking up for the Tibetans a little more. They're toeing the China line a little too much. Pragmatism and poilitical expediency is ok, but on the other hand they don't have to keep reiterating that they believe China rightfully owns Tibet.

I can empathise with the Dalai Lama's stance - though I wish he played the role of the Spiritual Leader a bit more and made the Chinese cringe. He's had the opportunity to play today's Gandhi - and that includes not giving in - but I do think he's squandered it a little bit.

The deepest anguish is with the Tibetan people. When Indians resort to violence it feels sad - when Tibetans (or any other Buddhists) do, one feels a little hopeless - if those who've grown up in the tradition of the middle path shed it and cannot force matters without hurling stones and bombs, there's very little hope for peace in the rest of the world.

I certainly cannot understand the Chinese point of view. Its a culturally different region. Its tough to maintain and administer, and can only be a drain on resources. It did have its usefulness as a buffer between China and India, and controlling it made sense from a military strategists viewpoint, but is that a valid concern or need in this day and age ? On the global stage, its only a blot on China's image - but for a few issues like these everyone's pretty impressed with them and wants to do business.

The only rational explanation one can forward is that the Chinese establishment still harbours thoughts of military expansion - and thats very scary for the rest of us, and regressive for them.

The whole thing's gone downhill in every aspect. I hope the Dalai Lama - like Gandhi always did - feels ashamed of his followers and apologises to the Chinese on their behalf. This might shame them towards a more peace-led yet resolute approach, and in turn put greater pressure (with less of a moral ground to stand on), on the Chinese. Right now they can very easily point to all those pictures of mob violence and justify a crackdown. When you're in a fistfight, who started it first stops mattering.

State of _ ?

the need to fly usurps
besieged by questions, though
how do i spread my wings ?
can i even walk anymore ?
is it my own, or,
did i just borrow desire ?
will i merely burn down to cinder
if i do ignite the fire ?
is it free, or high, i seek ?
do i want to fly at all ?
perhaps my road is different.
or am i afraid to fall ?
is it a rush i'm after ?
or an elevated zone ?
all i need is to explore
before i turn to stone.

State of mind/city/stock market/economy/nation/startups ? A little bit of each, i guess.

Spokeo Alert/Apologies

I responded to a friend's request to signup for Spokeo - with my gmail id.
Without realizing it, in a few moments, effectively ended up spamming all contacts in my address book - tried sending apology mails - after the first lot seem to not be able to send mails using my gmail account any more. For those of you who got that Spokeo spam - my apologies.

The Cup Runneth Over

I consciously paid for a coffee at Barista after a while today. What I mean is I actually looked at the bill, and saw the prices.

"51? Isn't the regular Cappuccino 34/- ?" I asked [ I'd asked for "1 cappuccino please"]
// a cup of coffee for a dollar and a half, in Bangalore!!? Ridiculous by most yardsticks
"No sir - its 51 - where does it say 34/- ?" said the man.
"Isn't that 34/- there on the menu there...." I pointed to the wall, which, to my embarrassment, was 34/- only for the Espresso.

Ah - there was no "Regular" Cappuccino any longer. 51, plus taxes - nearly 58/- for a cup of coffee and a few minutes of chair occupancy! I was both embarrassed, and shocked, with the latter feeling winning the mindspace battle and slowly turning into a slight feeling of having been had. I expressed the same to my colleague, and said CCD seemed to be relatively more reasonable (though neither could get close to the VFM a regular darshini offered). He remarked that I seemed to be biased against "large corporations" and chains.

Hmmm, was I ? Before I was anywhere being closed to being a grown-up - I remember as Bata being a "large chain" we could trust anywhere. Good shoes, good prices, even an exchange policy! Shubha and I have leaned towards Titan, and Tanishq, for their respective wares. I do like my Dominos/Pizza Hut pizzas more than the ones that Pizza Corner delivers - so I don't think I'm that much against big brands (though I do love to see a local store take on the biggies, and succeed). I even appreciate what Namdharis sells despite them never offering even a slight discount, ever.

Yet, there was an element of truth in what he said. I guess it was the feeling of having-been-had, or trying-to-charge-infinity-more-cause-i'm-a-big-brand alone! Titan makes great watches, yet tries to "compete" and provide "value". I know its intangible, but thats what it is! HP seemed like a rip-off when they asked me to change the entire LCD screen cause a teeny diode in the screen's power supply - a distinct component - was all that was not ok. BPL, otoh, has impressed in the past with great after sales and their attitude of fixing-the-small-issues-with-small-fixes approach. Even a surge at my parents' place merely meant a 40/- buck fuse replacement, not some major "oh but we have to change the whole component" crap.

If you run a consumer product company, or a chain, or whatever - remember - I - and many consumers - hate the feeling of having been had, whether its a legally tenable position or not.

It didnt help that the Barista dude was not too polite, either, even though I was wrong. [ Pizza Hut once gave me a free Pepsi refill that I dropped! ]

"Poor Farmer"...

... or the systematic deglamorization of the food production industry.

Disclaimer: I'm no economist. I do not even claim to understand all aspects of farming and its markets. I'm just perplexed about why its so uncool to do it.

Food Clothes and Shelter

The clothes and shelter guys are raking in the moolah - or at least branded-apparel-retail and housing/infrastructure seems pretty big. Food, if at all, is the most critical of all those necessities. There's a guaranteed, growing market. More people, younger people, and if news reports are anything to go by - more people are eating more, there's more veggies on peoples plates on an average, and a lot many people seem to be ok paying a lot for not just everyday stuff, but even exotic erstwhile-unpronounceable stuff. Any other industry with this kind of a consumer profile would be extremely attractive. What's so wrong with agriculture ?

Industry ?

1. Commercial production and sale of goods.

There are a bunch of other definitions, most of which could easily include the citizenry involved in production and sale of food for the entire population. Some have capital (land) which they put in skill and effort into producing something worth paying for in the market, while others do not possess capital, and operate at a lower profitability level by selling skills to either get a share of the produce or in return for some cash and benefits.

Profit? Market ?

Over the last few decades, the government seems to have denounced the economics part of what should've primarily been a market activity. It tried telling them what to grow and when, how much to sell it for, and to whom, and dictated costs (and sadly, the quality and availability) of the raw material and other inputs needed. To be fair, even the "finished goods" industry lived under these circumstances, but I guess they were better organized and more into economics than the farming community to start with, resisted, and found ways around it - and finally managed to surge when the rules eased up.

Pride ? Real, livable, edible, monetary pride ?

The farming community, in the meantime, has only been further beggared and impoverished by their supposed do-gooders, and probably know way lesser about economics than they started off knowing. They've been painted in a permanently-stricken-by-poverty shade, consigned to inertia-unless-the-government-doles-something-out. They've not been free enough or helped enough (I honestly don't know if the latter is needed for the former) to learn enough about insurance, or drip irrigation, or re-learn micro-irrigation and water harvesting, etc. They haven't wisened up enough to make a healthy percentage of what the final market pays. The government, where it has removed the middlemen, has become one itself.

Over the years, "farmer" and "poor" have been made pretty much synonyms of each other. Along with reduced land holdings (and lack of co-operative farming ideas, or newer higher yield farm management) this has meant the only "respectable" options are those in-the-city.

Why isn't the average farmer a smart businessman, capable of managing the risks associated with the uncertainty of the rains, and of understanding and exploiting the demand/supply cycles without having those controlled by government decrees to ensure sugar mills are bound to buy X tonnes of cane at Y price etc ? Why aren't at least a decent percentage of people taking up farming as an alternative lifestyle after a few years in an urban career ? Why is it always a "brave/foolish" step and means a reduction in opportunity/lifestyle ?

I guess as long as the farmer is "poor" and every interaction with him guided with that as the foundation of it, the repetition of the fact will ensure its truth.

As an aside, the cities aren't much better for it. There is much more competition for much fewer jobs - I wish the security guards and maids had lesser competition and could earn better wages, and more "respectably". A healthy countryside economy (I'd rather not use the terms "rural" or "agrarian" because of the subtle negative connotations they've assumed over the years) will indeed be good for all of us. It may take some of the "truths" away from those trying to hoist Red flags and bring in improvement through "revolution", not the more sustainable market-driven approach. For God's sake - food is NEVER going to go out of fashion - just make sure you teach them how to recognize and profitably use that fact, not how to use automatic firearms, morons.

I await the day a retort to a post like this will emnate from a village - not by some "rural-BPO" employee but someone who's got a stake in a vibrant food-indutry-driven economy thats not just dying to sell all its land to the next mall as the neighbouring city eats into the landscape.

[ Yes I've made a lot many generalizations. Also, one cannot probably merely start treating all farmers as businessmen and leave them to their fate and hope to see wonders overnight. However, that MUST be the long term aim - to see farming and agriculture as a primary option for many - to see more innovation in that industry - to see more money - more pride. All dialogue must assume that as its cornerstone - and not dole out "alms" by way of 60k crores being written off. It must be a "trade", however benign it needs to be to start with. ]