Saturday, April 29, 2006

Red Hot Quote # 3

"Padaipavar Brahma. Kaapavar Amma. Matravar Ellaam Summa."
Starlet Babbita while campaigning for AIADMK. As quoted in Tamil daily Dinamalar.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mandal Questions That Merit Answers

Jayati Ghosh, the omnipresent apologist of the quota regime, raised a few interesting questions last night, in a verbal slugfest on CNN-IBN, hosted by the Badshah of Big Fights - Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai.

The telegenic professor from JNU chose to pose her searching queries to two hapless doctors who clearly knew more malaria than mandal. Being unequal combatants, these two medicos parried the issue with some deft tap dancing. Thankfully, Rajdeep ended their agony quickly by wrapping up the program, rather curtly.

Why I am recounting this here is, knowing the mandal lobby, they’ll parrot these questions again and again at all available fora in the near future. As the de facto assistant associate sub-spokesperson of the pro-merit group, I thought I should nip these arguments in the bud, before they can cause any further damage.

Argument-1: Tamil Nadu has had a 69% quota regime for years. How come there’s been no of whimper of protest there? How come people have accepted it?
Well, what do you do when all the political parties gang up against you and pass a law that makes a mockery of meritocracy? You approach the courts. What do you do when the court verdict is treated with contempt by the same political parties? You realise protesting is futile and you focus on joining institutions that give you an equal chance. That’s what happened in Tamil Nadu. The so-called Forward Castes stopped applying to government colleges and started getting into self-financed colleges and meritorious institutions like the IITs, IIMs, AIIMs, NIFT, etc. So it was more a case of resigned acceptance. The moment you extend this quota regime to self-financed colleges and premier institutions, you break the last straw of hope for the remaining 31% of Tamil Nadu.

Argument-2: To say that the quota regime produces mediocrity is ridiculous. Look at South India where mandal is in operation. It has some of the finest hospitals and doctors in India.
Oh yeah? That’s like the rooster taking credit for the dawn. Nothing could be farther from the truth. South India has a very fine medical reputation only because of its private hospitals. None of these hospitals hire doctors using the quota principle. On the contrary, they go purely by merit. I wonder if that’s the reason why people who mouth such arguments choose private hospitals over the mandalised government hospitals.

Argument-3: What makes you think that the OBC students are of inferior quality? How dare you assume that they can’t cope with courses in premier institutions?
Who said the OBCs are inferior? Research shows that they fare quite well in entrance examinations. So now that we have conclusive evidence that they are as good as the Forward Castes why not choose students by merit? Why give more weightage to birth certificates? Why not let the examination certificates do the talking?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Water Has Fire

I rarely subject you to my opinion on movies. But I think, I'd be commiting a huge crime if I don't shout out my approval for Deepa Mehta's "Water". It's fantastic, to say the least. I wonder why our mass media hasn't yet celebrated Deepa Mehta for her masterpiece. If you liked Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding", you'd love this disturbingly powerful flick. Catch "Water" for its beautiful visuals, sensitive direction, and some fine performances by Sarala, Seema Biswas & Manorama. Go here for the official spiel. And here for a third party review. Me thinks "Water" is the finest film made by an Indian, in the last 3 years. What about you?

Lines from my oven # 79

Work is work is work. Work by another name will still smell like sweat.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's a free country!

Where the poor get free colour TVs
Where pregnant women get 6000 bucks for nothing
Where you get 15 kilos of free rice
Where housewives get free LPG stoves
Where weavers get free power
Where the essentials will be home delivered for free
Where the humble farmer needn't repay his loans
Where you can go scot-free after making such promises

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thought Bubble # 87

How can one say that time travel is not possible? We do it all the time, with our minds.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Simple Model For Analysing Complex People

I've always found people fascinating. I revel in unraveling the hidden layers, the secret agendas and the unspoken words. But when someone asks me my considered view of a person, all I am able to mouth is stuff like 'nice guy', 'decent chap', 'bitch' and other such cliches. I thought I should do something about it. Hence this model.

5 Parameters for analysing anyone.

This parameter is a summation of all things physical. Short, fat, thin, dark, paunchy, sexy, disproportionate...everything gets captured here.

This parameter measures the goodness of the person in terms of selflessness, compassion, love, grace, magnanimity and commitment.

This parameter measures the visual, verbal, analytical, mathematical and financial acumen of the person.

This parameter takes into account the behavioural aspects of the person in question. Things like ability to get along with people, mood swings, complexes, wimpishness, and bouncebackability get captured here.

This parameter is a measure of the level of spiritual evolution of a soul. One doesn't have to be a religious guru to score a perfect 10 here. Basically it's all about how deep a person, one is.

On the face of it, the model might seem too simplistic. Before you rubbish it, I suggest you take the following steps:

STEP-1: Study the parameters. Assign the 1s and 10s in your head.

STEP-2: Apply the model to yourself. See how you evaluate yourself.

STEP-3: Then analyse a person using the same parameters.

To extract more from this model, assign your weightages for the parameters and then add up the scores. The final score will reveal where you stand vis-a-vis rest of the world. If you were as jobless as me, you will start computing the scores for historic personalities. Imagine comparing yourself to people like Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler and Aurobindo. I swear it can be a trip.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

And now, the real thing...

Finally, some pro-meriters have hit the road. IIT Delhiites were the first to protest. Then the angry young men at IIT-Kanpur. And now the ballsy blokes from BHU. But is anyone listening?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Believe it or not

The Mandal Commission identified 3,743 caste groups as OBCs using census data gathered in the year 1931! Our politicians have been bandying this figure ever since 1980. No one has bothered to check the economic and social status of these castes ever since. Fact Source: India Express. Link Alert: Youth Curry.

The Dreaded M-word

The media is downplaying it. The politicians hate it. The discriminated see it as a hurdle. Liberals find it downright patronising. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the most feared M-word in India, today: Merit. Any takers for it?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mandal Politics Deconstructed

Some pundits feel that the protests from the student, academic & business community will make little difference to the quota regime debate. Finally what will tilt the scales is Sonia Gandhi’s performance at the hustings. So I’ve done a scenario analysis of the Assembly Polls. If you’re pro-Mandal, hope for Scenario-1. If you’re pro-Merit, pray for Scenario-4.


Congress wins

Tamil Nadu
DMK + Congress + Left Wins

UDF wins

West Bengal
Leftists win

Congress will attribute victory to Sonia’s sacrifices and Mandal.

Congress will implement Mandal aggressively with an eye on OBC votes in the cow belt. Left will be forced to stick with Congress.

After Effects
49.5% at all private colleges will become a reality. Demand for reservations in private companies will grow.


Congress wins

Tamil Nadu
DMK + Congress + Left wins

LDF wins

West Bengal
Leftists win

Congress will attribute victory to Sonia’s sacrifices. Leftists & DMK will pressurize congress to implement Mandal.

Congress will be forced to implement Mandal.

After Effects
49.5% at all private colleges will become a reality.


Hung Assembly. Congress forms government with difficulty.

Tamil Nadu
DMK + Congress + Left wins

LDF wins

West Bengal
Leftists win

Congress will get cautious. Leftists very aggressive.

Congress will drag its feet as it won’t want to lose its middle class base. Leftists will start pressurizing the government. Might even topple the UPA government over this issue.

After Effects
49.5% regime might be referred to a committee.


Hung Assembly. AGP forms government.

Tamil Nadu

LDF wins

West Bengal
Leftists win

Congress will get introspective. Mandal will be blamed. Third Front will get jubilant.

Left parties might entertain visions of coming to power by tying up with the Third Front. Might dump Congress over Mandal implementation. Congress will bury the Mandal report but might be forced to take a stand on it in its Manifesto for the next Lok Sabha elections.

After Effects
49.5% implementation will be deferred till next Lok Sabha election. Or till Supreme Court clarifies the position.

NOTE: I’ve not mentioned BJP anywhere as it’s irrelevant in the poll. If it manages to do well in Assam and Scenario-4 happens, BJP might play the same game as Congress. As in, dilly dally over Mandal.

The Goose That Killed The Golden Eggs

First they said the IITs and the IIMs. Then they added the Central Universities to the hit list. After that the whispers started about including premier private institutes. Now they've decided to finger elite residential schools in metros. The latest I hear is, soon the Indian government plans to extend the 49.5% quota regime to private companies. Allah, is desh ka kya hoga?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

How To Beat Mandal

All is not lost. We can still save the IITs and IIMs from Arjun Singh's Quota Raj. The way out is easy. Just rename the IITs as Islamic Institutes of Technology and the IIMs as Islamic Institutes of Management. And then ask the boards of these premier institutes to declare themselves as minority institutions. This way the 49.5% regime will become null and void because you cannot force reservations on minority institutions. A luscious legal loophole indeed. Think about it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hey you, zombie!

Yeah, that's right. I am talking to you rhino-hide. If you think this Mandal issue is about some rich-ass IITians and IIM grads, then forget it. The shit's gonna hit the ceiling soon. Because Minister of Generosity - Arjun Singh, has indicated that he'll go the whole nine yards with the 104th ammendment. On his hitlist are AIIMS Delhi, JIPMER Pondichery, CMC Vellore, the NIFTs, the NIDs, the IHMs, Central Universities, the FTIIs, All Private Engineering Colleges, Medical Colleges, MBA Institutes and believe it or not even schools like DPS and Doon won't be spared! So what are you gonna do now? Lemme take one guess: nothing.

The 104th Joke At Our Expense

On 27th December, 2005 when most of us were making plans for new year bashes, our parliamentarians were making plans for burying meritocracy. On that wretched day, 379 of the 381 members present in the Lok Sabha dared to pass the 104th Ammendment to our constitution providing reservations for the socially and educationally backward classes, in all private aided and unaided educational institutions. Minister of Generosity - Arjun Singh, is now using this very weapon to deliver the final blow. And as usual no one is protesting. All I can say is Mera Bharat Mahaan!

The Silence of the Lambs

Just discovered a beautiful poem by Martin Niemöller. Written during the Nazi era, it kinda sums up the state of the Indian middle class who remain silent, no matter what.

When they came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Big Idea of the Year

A big idea is one that's very extendable. If that's the criteria, then Arjun Singh, the new messiah of the under privileged, deserves a hajaar har har mahadevs. Because inadvertently he has just picked a bright idea from the garbage of history. I am talking about his proposal to reserve 49.5% of the seats in the IIMs, IITs and Central Universities to SCs, STs and OBCs. The idea is truly remarkable and deserves to be taken to its logical conclusion. If the thinking is to give the backward sections as much access to positions they've never held before, then there is so much more we could do as a nation, if we apply this 49.5% principle to the following institutions...

1. The Union Cabinet
2. The Parliament
3. The State Assemblies
4. The Supreme Court
6. The High Courts
7. The Indian Army
8. The Indian Airforce
9. The Indian Navy
10. The Indian Cricket Team
11. The Indian Hockey Team
12. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
13. DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation)
14. National Security Council (The one that shapes our defence policies)
15. National Defence Academy (Not to be confused with the ragtag coalition NDA)
16. Border Security Force (BSF)
17. RAW (Research & Analysis Wing)
18. CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)
19. IB (Intelligence Bureau)
20. State Police
21. Indian Olympic Squad
22. Atomic Energy Commission
23. Reserve Bank of India
24. Rapid Action Force (RAF)
25. AICC- The policy making body of the Congress(I).

Don't you see the possibilities? Isn't the idea staggering in its sweep? If you think so, I suggest you doff your forward-casteist, blue-blooded hats to his majesty Arjun Singh.

Tamil Nadu's Santa Claus & His Mathemagic

In a fit of large heartedness Saint Karunanidhi made the following election promises:

a) Free LPG stoves to all poor families.
b) Quality rice for Rs. 2 per kg for ration card holders.
c) Free colour TV sets to every family.
d) Employment Opportunity to 3 lakh unemployed youth.
e) Assistance of 1000 per month for 6 months for pregnant women.
f) Free power to weavers.
g) Waiver of cooperative loans to farmers.
h) Reservations for minorities.

To help you fathom the magnitude of this gesture, I've done some basic mathematics. I would appreciate if you go through it at leisure...

Google tells me that there are at least 26 lakh families living below poverty line in Tamil Nadu. If one stove were to cost even 500 rupees, the cost of this proposal will be Rs. 130 crores.

PROMISE B: Rice for Rs. 2
Google tells me that there are 1.61 crore ration card holders in Tamil Nadu who will be eligible for this scheme. I gather rice is currently sold at Rs. 3.50 a kilo. Even if you assume it's sold for Rs. 3, Saint Karunanidhi is giving a subsidy of Rs. 1 per kg of rice. For simplicity of calculation, I shall assume 10 Kilos of Rice are consumed in a family. Which in turn means, this proposal will cost Rs. 16 crores at the least.

PROMISE C: Free Colour TV
Saint Karunanidhi in his infinite wisdom has now decreed he would dispense with 53 lakh colour TVs in the first 2 years. Assuming the government is able to source cheap Chinese colour TVs for Rs. 5000, this would mean 2650 crores.

PROMISE D: Employment for the unemployed
The 3 lakh unemployed youth that Saint Karunanidhi has in mind is rural youth with no fancy qualifications. Assuming each of these blokes earn at least 60,000 a year and the cost of creating these jobs as 10% of the salary, that would be 6000 x 3 lakhs = 180 crores.

Promise E: Pregnant women allowance
The Saint has sworn that he shall give 1000 a month for 6 months for all pregnant women. That's like 6000 for every pregnant woman. Assuming, he does a flip flop on this and ends up giving this amount to just 1 lakh pregnant women, this would add up to Rs. 60 crores.

Promise F: Free Power to Weavers
I have no clue on the cost of this, I am being niggardly and allocating 50 crores for this proposal.

Promise G: Loan Waivers
Since google didn't offer me any numbers to crunch on, I am going to put a very conservative ballpark figure of Rs. 100 crores as the outflow this proposal.

Promise H: Reservation
My sixth sense tells me the Supreme Court will strike down this generous gift from the Saint.

If I add up the costs, the sum will be roughly 3000 crores. That's like 10% of Tamil Nadu's annual budget. For a state that's just started making money, this will be one helluva shock to absorb.

One more interesting observation: There are around 4 crore voters in Tamil Nadu. And Saint Karunanidhi is offering goodies worth Rs. 3000 crores. That's like Rs. 750 per voter!

But is 750 bucks a good price for your vote? We'll know on May 8th.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tamil Nadu Riddle

Will the captain help the fat lady by stealing a significant portion of the old man's votes?