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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Larger Scheme of Things

Global warming has been shrugged off, quite conveniently. Even if Kyoto was of some consequence; Copenhagen was a total disaster (except o'course the fact that world excepted global warming IS a problem).

95% of Brinjal production in India goes waste. Total agricultural waste is nearly 30% of the produce. Can you imagine the price difference if this had not been the case...

Nearly 1,00,000 farmers have committed suicide. Newspaper column size for murder/death/suicide of an IITian == that for 100 farmers.

Nearly 770 million Indians live below Rs. 20/- per day. 330 million of these people live below Rs 12/- per day.

China holds more than $2000 billion of foreign exchange reserves. India's GDP is nearly $1300 billion.

There is no freedom of press in China. Only bulletin published is that by the government...

Monsanto Seeds. Watch the documentary called 'The world according to Monsanto'. It will scare you to bones. A company which is literally ruining our already ruined farmers through its patented seeds and super-harmful herbicides...

Recently Right to Education bill was passed. Currently there is a shortage of about 20 lakh teachers in India. Education bill would be but a false promise if something is not done in this regard...

IITians are probably THE most educated of the Indians. Several IITians daily brush their teeth, shave their coarse hair, wash their faces etc...with the taps open at full force (I've seen this countless times). Didn't we all grew up watching the DD1 commercial about not wasting water? Plus don't we all believe that the solution to lack of civic sense in Indians is better education? Is there an irony?

This is just for the starters...someone with more knowledge can go on and on and on...there are o'course positives: Current Government is doing quite well, the new rashan policy, if implemented, will bring great relief to the common man and so on...

Sometimes it feels like India really needs us...sometimes it feels like that we have a sense of responsibility which we conveniently ignore; entangled in the myriads of our own personal life, feeling insecure at each and every moment - and getting cozy with our own state of affairs at other times.

Wasting even a tiny bit of anything should prick our conscience (including the wastage of time...). It doesn't...It should...Shouldn't it?


PS: Check the figures. They are approx accurate.

PPS: This post in a summary of a late night discussion among Ankit, Kinari and I...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Crystal Priya: It's the time to Disco

Well, as it was just a few days to go before we all part our ways and waving each other, through misty eyes and shaking hands, say dosvidania; it was a great idea to have a batch treat, where people can come and dance together and with a final hug permanently cement their bonds of friendship for ever and ever.

There were discussions on batch treat from I-don't -remember-when but somehow something kept cropping up and the treat couldn't be finalized. Even the batch which proudly claimed itself to be the most united one couldn't come to agree on terms which were appealing to all.

I dared to say the 'most united' thing because I feel that somehow even with all our differences we respect each others opinion. Each batch has a google group, and each group goes through the same cycle of great chaos when some people post things which everyone else finds unsuitable for the purpose of the group or for that matter some people make it a habit to use the group as a medium to publicly malign and disparage people, institute and humanity in general. Our group too went through a similar cycle and at one point of time it had to be moderated, which aroused great sentiments and people united and fought against it - and for the right to say what they want to say. There was a great jubilation when the moderation was finally called off, but as according to me what followed this was something extraordinary: people started acting responsibly by self moderating the content they posted on the group, which according to me is an extremely difficult stage to reach for any given group of people...

But coming back to the point - the treat was in jeopardy and it is in such testing time that you need a champion who can galvanize people into action. I remember Director Sir once saying, "There is no cause without a champion - for every cause there has to be a champion". In our case it was was Shekhu who went from hostel to hostel - room to room; convincing people to come. And lo! they did come.

What followed was THE VERY BEST PARTY I've ever been to in my life. We danced for over 4 hours NON STOP. There is a great advantage in dancing with people who don't know how to dance but still have an enormous energy bubbling in their bodies, a shine in their eyes and an urge to dance their way through the night because then you feel a part of the group. You can dance even when someone is watching. The food at Crystal was great and I must recommend that place to anyone who would like to have a grand party. The Dj was super cool and the night ended with the song, "Yaroon, dostiiihiiiii badi hi haseen hai..." as we all sat down in a large circle, hands on each others shoulders,swaying with the music...

Listen to it one time; and as the DJ said, "feel the song..."

Click to hear music file

Or watch it here...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Visionary Nostalgia 1

"Life, usually, does not give me chance to say goodbyeBut now, when it has - I don't know how to say it..."

- Nishant, March 2010

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Trip to Chokhi Dhani

Speech # 3

I believe each one of you sitting here must have faced, on countless number of occasions, disagreements in group. Be it in your family - discussing on what to have for dinner, or with your team at work place - discussing how to go about a new initiative. And I believe you all being bright shining individuals are thoroughly aware on how to deal with disagreements in group. Therefore what I am going to tell you today is about the problem of agreements in groups. [Long Pause]. Yes, Yes I know - you all must be thinking - "The group is agreeing and this guy standing here is saying that there's a problem in that!"

Ok hear this story - Tejesh (my contemptory), Pooja (junior to me), Aniket (another junior), and I were sitting together playing the game of scrabble. We all were happy to be sitting there - playing the game of scrabble, when out of nowhere I casually suggested that we go to Chokhi Dhani for our lunch. After a brief silence Tejesh said mildly, "Ok". Aniket added, "If you 2 say so" and Pooja said, "Ok".

So we went to Chokhi Dhani. The way was long and filled with cloud of dust. The day was very hot and humid. It was suffocating inside the car and when we finally reached that place - the food turned out to be horrible. [on seeing an expression of disagreement on the face of audience] It is a sad truth that the food of Chokhi Dhani which used to be so good a few years ago had lost its taste. But anyways, as expected everyone was sulky and no one talked to each other on the way back. When we were back in the room - the emotions came out in the open. Fingers were pointed at each other and after a while all the fingers pointed at me. I merely shrugged off my shoulders saying that I had just suggested, I did not force you to go...

Whenever I recall this incident it makes me think - what made the people do this strange thing of suppressing their own voice and simply going along with what everyone else was saying? It seems like a paradox to me. For the time being let's call this the Chokhi Dhani paradox.

Now you must be thinking that how costly could this Chokhi Dhani paradox could be? At max it can cause another unsatisfactory afternoon meal. [Pause] But I can tell you that it has led to a debacle of atleast $1.6 billion [such wild expressions of surprise was something which I had totally not expected at this point to of time but I carried on...] , it caused the 4th largest IT industry of India to collapse endangering the employment of 53,000 employees. Yes people - I AM talking about Satyam.

Ramlinga Raju, the nizam of Satyam proposed that Satyam should buy 2 other companies run by his family members. Not only the price was stupidly overvalued but also these companies were in the field of real estate - something entirely different from what Satyam does. Such absurdity and no one raised finger! Board of Directors comprising ex-dean of IIT Delhi, dean of IIMB, professors from Harvard etc, all - ALL just AGREED!

Why? Why?

This thing - when people go against their own intuition and agree with what everyone else in the group is saying, is a classical management philosophy called The Abilene Paradox. Everyone in the group is vary that on disagreeing they would have to face the heat, would be given a cold shoulder, would be blamed for causing the deal to fall apart and thus they are reluctant to voice what they think is the minority opinion.

[on seeing that there was a person waiting outside to come in] Would you all agree that I should end my speech here and let the gentleman in? [Some people got confused - some people clasped their hands together in preparation for a speech ending clap...]. NO! You should not [Loud Laughs] - you should ask, "has this guy completed with his speech - has he told us everything we need to know" No. I have told you the paradox but haven't told you - how to resolve it!

And the answer is: question! Critically question whatever is being said to you. Critically question whatever you are being asked to agree upon. But questioning will not lead you anywhere coz if not done properly it can be seen as criticism or disagreement. Thus what becomes more important is communication. If our communication with our fellow mates are strong and open - we will not agree on seemingly stupid ideas just to please each other. And now I feel that I can hence leave you with this thought that better communication could save you $1.6 billion!


Idea Courtesy:

The Professional, Subrato Bagchi
Abilene Paradox was Introduced by Prof. Jeery. B. Harvey. More on Wiki

Friday, 12 March 2010

Tom Alter Maulana Azad

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

2 hours and 30 minutes. Can you imagine listening to a person for 2 hours and 30 minutes. 1 person. That too when he's not talking to you. Not only he's not talking to you - he was not even looking at you during the entire 2 hours and 30 minutes. And add to all this the fact that he's speaking in Urdu - on Indian History. How boring! How impossible to sit there for 2 hours and...

But hear this - Nearing the end I was sitting with my mouth open for atleast 15 minutes when the man was talking about Indian Partition. If there is one word I were to ascribe for this play it would rather be - spellbinding.

The play was called - Maulana Azad and a few things which made it spellbinding were:

Tom Alter

Remember a British man who used play all firang roles in the erstwhile TV shows? Remember Junoon?
kisi ko mohabbat ka hai junoon
kisi ko chahat ka hai junooon
juoon junoon junoon

Anywhoo - what a fine actor he is. His voice - his actions - the voice modulation - the suavaness. I cannot but describe. And his sponties - When in the middle of the play the lights suddenly went out, he qu

"यह भी जिन्नाह की ही कोई चाल होगी !"

"आज़ादी के बाद भी दिल्ली की बिजली का यह हाल है"

The great thing about these comments was they looked almost as a prepared part of play and totally in context thus leaving the audience all in laughs...


What a language - so neat, so respectful, so beautiful. I had never appreciated this language as much as I do now after watching the play...

I admit I was not able to get a word of the purely urdu sentences, phrases and gazals. But I was able to note down a few mixed versions.

" गाँधी जी सियासत के मामलों को मज़हब की ऐनक पहनके नहीं देखते थे"

" आप भी गज़ब करते हैं हुमायूँ - दस्तान ए आज़ादी आज़ाद के मुहं ही लिखने बेठ गए"


I had come to believe that I'd almost lost this language. When I was returning from the UK to India I decided to invest the 8-9 hours of flight time in writing a diary entry entirely in Hindi (I did and ended up teaching a little bit to the french girl sitting next to me too!). But again the play brought forward the fond memories of school when I used to enjoy reading the Hindi stories a lot. Just like every other language Hindi has some things, some thoughts, some emotions which could be best felt in Hindi only!

On Gandhi Ji's withdrawl of Non Cooperation movement"बस पूरी रफ़्तार से चली जा रही है और ड्राईवर ने आनन् फानन में ब्रेक लगा दिए"

" मेरे धुटने क्षल हो गए बैठे बैठे"

After criticizing Nehru in his book (Mulana Azad dedicated this book to Nehru!), he said that on reading this Nehru would say,

" किताब मुझे ही dedicate की और मेरे ही पराक्षय उड़ा डाले"


The humour was immaculate (as you can already see in the lines above). But there were more of such things:

"हुमायूँ आपकी अंग्रेजी में नेहरु वाली बात नज़र नहीं आती"

"कभी कभी तो ऐसा लगता है पूरी आज़ादी की लड़ाई २ दुबले पतले गुजरातियों के इर्द गिर्द घूमती है"

"में गाँधी जी का कट्टर मानने वाला हूँ - तो आज कल आनाज छोड़ रखा है; कबाब ही खिला दीजिए!"

Research and Practice

This was like the 100+ show of this play. It was first produced in 2002. The lighting, the movement, the dialogues - everything was perfect.

Well let me end by thanking the Dnd Club - IIT Delhi for organizing such an awesome thing. It brought back all those fond memories of my theater days. The good thing about this college is that you get to see such awesome things - just like that. I mean all you are required to do is to go there - sit and watch!

And this line
"I simply loved the lines when he said,

मौत को किस से रिश्तेदारी है; आज वह, तो कल हमारी है

What bonds does death have with anyone, today it is his, and tomorrow it shall be mine "


Another nice description of this play at Two Circles

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