Dear Barkha Dutt: The Buck Stops Where?

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Originally posted on Kafila:

On the of latest edition, (telecast a few hours ago, on the evening of the 15th of January, 2013) of ‘The Buck Stops Here’, (a flagship news show on NDTV anchored by Barkha Dutt) – ‘India-Pakistan:Another Tipping Point‘, Admiral (Retd.) Ramdas, former chief of the Indian Navy said he knew that Indian forces have beheaded Pakistani soldiers in the past. Gen. (Retd.) V.P. Malik, former chief of the Indian Army contradicted him, and said this had never happened. Barkha Dutt was silent on this matter.

Below is a summary of some highlights of the discussion.

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Aap Ki Dilli – Dil Se !

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Aap Ki Dilli – Dil Se !

Originally posted on Meera's Musings:

Today, Feb 10th, 2015 has been a very special and unforgettable day !

The stunning sweep of the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory, with 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha, has come at the conclusion of a long year, with many points at which the party had been written off by detractors.

As I look back on the past year, I believe these are the 5 most important reasons that Delhi voted so resoundingly for AAP.

1. The hard work and credibility of AAP’s candidates : Sir jee - AAP ki sarkar !

Candidates who had been elected as MLA’s in the 2013 election, conducted several Mohalla sabhas and meetings with Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWA’s) to ascertain the most pressing needs of their constituency. They then proceeded to expend their entire MLA LAD (Local Area Development) Funds, in line with these priorities. By the time the…

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A Word On The Crunchies

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

If you have not already heard, we hosted the Crunchies awards show at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall last Thursday. Some elements of the show have been criticized for being inappropriate.

If you were present, or watching the livestream, you might have been startled, if not offended, by some of the remarks that the host, standup comedian T.J. Miller made on stage. It’s also possible you found a lot of the show hilarious, which many people did.

There is no definitive line between funny and offensive. Comedy has a long history of being used as a tool for satire and commentary. Many at TechCrunch, however, feel badly about some elements of T.J.’s performance. The use of derogatory slang to refer to women or minority groups is unacceptable at any event TechCrunch runs, period. And we know many others feel the same way, even if it’s hard to find the words…

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Life Blog Series (Why I am talking to myself) – Part 12 – ( Lonely Planet ? )

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Caveat: This can just flip you out because you travel and possibly have traveled way less than the guys I’m talking about in this blog. So don’t flip out mi amigo!

Since Google’s Blogspot has no such feature such as reblog for me to write a referral post, I will just copy-paste the content of the article I found amazing and it made me fall flat on my back for a moment and think. The content that is to follow is snapped out of a blog which has been written by 2 German brothers who completed a close to 7000 Kms. of hitchhiking journey through the fuckin’ Silk Route. When I talk about Silk Route from now on, you should immediately keep a reference of this picture (below) in your mind.

800px-Silk_route

Without me even trying to provide you with a vivid and comprehensible way in which they achieved this feat, I will just ask you to delve deeper into how they did this and refer to their blog for more details. Life Blog Series feels proud to have featured this piece.

———————-Content Begins—————————–

7000 Kilometers. 107 Lifts. 5 Countries. 2 Brothers. One Road.

 It’s was bound to fail: Four weeks time to prepare for one month of hitchhiking along the Silk Road – today’s most dangerous and both politically and infrastructurally difficult route.

But yes we did! Thumbing up truck rides in the hottest desert on earth, got lifts with public bus through Kurdish Iraq, hitched a hotel, Germanwings and longtail boat. We put up our hammocks in picturesque moon-like landscapes and onlonely Thai beaches. We hitch-hiked the newest BMW and Indian tractors. We explored Istanbul with crazy CouchSurfers, enjoyed tasty Bakhlava in Southern Anatolia and zero-g-forces in Northern Iran. We played futsal in Shiraz and learned how to wash before prayer with Furkan. We were thumbing the road for more than 5500 kms together. Craig topped the 7000-kilometer-mark hitching to his second home Malaysia.

Everywhere, one of the first questions we heard was: “Isn’t it dangerous?” – No. It’s not. To go by car in the first place is the dangerous thing. Hitchhiking is as safe as you make it: We only go with people with who we feel comfortable. Other questions centered around the feasibility. Despite all adverse conditions (low population density, Iranian don’t know what is hitching) Iran turned out to be the best country to thumb up lifts. Even the other countries were far easier to hitchhike than Germany. With one exception … India.

We had an awesome time hitching Indian tractors etc. but we would rather go for the unforgettable train rides on future trips. Autostop in India is exhausting: Sometimes it takes you more than half an hour to only explain what you do. Other reasons: Extreme cheap public transport and scarce long distance traffic on roads. Can you imagine that one of the four principal highways leaving 20-million-Mumbai is a two-lane (!!!) road?

To all fellow hitchhikers who want to stage the Silk Road and those among them who have the dream of doing a full overland route – like we wanted in the first place: You need far more preparation time, approximately three weeks more than we had. You’d need to be fine with four days of desert only. Trust us: Desert is nice to see – but only for some hours. Another bound-to-fail-challenge: Try to make friends with somebody in the Pakistani embassy to get a visa for overland entry – otherwise it’s currently impossible. Then you’d need to change and expand the route significantly going for China since there is no usable Bangladesh-Myanmar land border crossing and heaps of difficulties to get required permits for India-Myanmar border crossing let alone for the troubled Indian border state Manipur. In plain English: It’s today’s most difficult route to prepare and realize.

Sometimes people ask us if we go with no money. In our opinion the idea of zero-expenditure-travel is nuts and close to scrounging – and that is not what you want your hosts to think of you. It’s also not practical: Perhaps we’d to bribe a border officer to enter a country. Sometimes you are simply hungry and need a Kebab or Samosa ;-) The currency you pay with while hitchhiking is entertainment.

Anyways you can still expect to enjoy a breathtaking fun time with a mini budget. We spent 100€ each to India (museum fees etc.) and another 50€ for Craig to reach Malaysia.

It’s however not our financial situation that inspired this trip. It was our lust for adventure and serendipities: Meet people, see places and go beyond frontiers. As we make friends along the Silk Road we advance cultural understanding and global peace.

We’d like to express our appreciation for all the people who helped us: The gay Dutch, the Thai policeman, Germanwings for the VDB, Hennessy Hammocks for the awesome hammocks, the CouchSurfers, our Mama and Papa, our friends Felix, Dany & Robert, Craig’s Malaysian family and anybody who made this trip possible.

Some people ask: “What comes next?” … Well, perhaps ‘Urban Tourism in the Bronx‘, ‘Parachuting over North Korea‘ or ‘Riding through Mongolia with only a donkey and a fridge‘.

Life Blog Series (Why I am talking to myself) – Part 11 – ( Caravan of Terrible Dejection )

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Caveat: Caveats are a ruse. Missing them is in itself like a fix to the incomplete jigsaw. So try and miss most of them. I write and I keep writing till I’m sure my reader can connect the dots looking backwards at the piece. I may not explain my position in full throttle. At some points, I may just leave the point it as it is, like the way I just did.

It’s a little bit off track from what I decided to write upon 5 minutes ago due to the recent developments hereby. I have been a humble provider, learner and exchange-r of knowledge in my university for the last 4.5 years and I have not seen such a state as I am today. I never liked the word “throng”, though it doesn’t mean anything very bad but whenever it’s used in my context or I’m anyhow related to the context of usage, I feel a gust of wind of negative connotation uprooting me due to its condescending implications. It according to Merriam-Webster means “a densely packed crowd of people or animals” and mind you, it doesn’t have to signify a purpose as to why. It hit me today that my peers had lost the purpose of their education by selling themselves to the top recruiting firms who visited my university for job placements today i.e. Monday, 1st December 2014.

I don’t want to suppose a moral high ground as I was a significant part of the process till I got rejected by the 2 firms I had enamored a small dream of getting into but as usual, rejection at times can trigger an eclectic variety of emotions as opposed to success. “If you want something, it can be done if you really want it”. Well, how many of you agree with this statement? I hope you all do but it deserves an analysis from the vantage point of someone who failed despite trying hard. Doesn’t it?

I thought that rejection and the dejection following it deserve a mention in the ongoing life blog series. So I am writing this piece at 4:45 AM (Indian Standard Time) after a very fruitful interaction with my colleagues who sat for the interviews, some of them who were hired and many of them who are facing impending rejection in the results about to be declared in a few hours from now.

Preparing yourself for a job is indeed the same simple basic notion with which industrialization began in the world, which is briefly defined as the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one. An industrialized society need either those people who are ready for the job, or those who are willing to get ready for it. Individual dreams other than being a live working contributor to the industrialized society is a different pursuit altogether. You’re welcome to be led astray(as they say) but it will be a tough fight and a long shot that you will make something out of yourself.

How convenient our system has become! Our recruiters pitch in front of us in the following manner and sequence. We have everything ready for you, they say. We provide you schools for education. We provide your parents a job in order to educate you in our schools. Then we provide you opportunities to work with us so that you and your progeny can exit this cycle. Those who can’t make through the only exit route have to keep continuing working small time jobs living the life we decide for them by implementing, affecting and manipulating grand policy decisions which have far reaching and deep rooted, sometimes inconceivable impacts on our economy, hence on our lives.

This doesn’t mean that I turned tables on our recruiters. I’m as curious to know about job life as those who applied for top notch jobs hoping they could make that cut being among the 50 odd people who would be the stars of tomorrow by grabbing fat pay cheques from them but unfortunately(not sarcasm) couldn’t. I hail from a middle class background like many of them from my university who after the recruitment process finishes, will own up to the fact that competition between us itself has failed the very purpose of this institute, the very integral part of which was peer learning.

We learn to compete. Well, that statement doesn’t sound very well to me. Does it to you? I want to stop at this juncture so that the reader can draw his/her own conclusions from the piece. My motive is not to drive a certain kind of anti-passion towards recruitments but a proper analysis at your part will give you an articulation of your purpose in looking for a job. Even if it’s only for pursuit of money and nothing else, It doesn’t disqualify you from being in the position of thinking for yourself. Does it?

I am very sure that many readers of this blog have no clue of what I am talking about but since this topic is as close to me as Ganges river to Gangotri glacier, I supposed that I should give it a mention in the ongoing series.

Stay Tuned for Part 12!

Life Blog Series (Why I am talking to myself) – Part 10 – ( Cacophony for some, Melody for some! )

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Caveat: You should spend the next 3 minutes letting this melody inflict concussions on your pea-sized brain(used in light humor) lest you have very good chances of missing the point. This post is nothing but a harbinger of what is to come in this series of life revelations. 

Life Blog Series (Why I am talking to myself) – Part 9 – ( Blurring the line of Utility Value. But Why ? )

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Caveats: Maximizing your utility while reading and using this article’s value as payoff can put you in a position of deep jeopardy because these floating thoughts are like asteroids in a deep space field ready to hit a vulnerable mind going to give a go for this article. I hope you survive well out of it, sweet & fine.

Let’s come directly to the question. Why am I dedicating a piece to utility value. What is it? Utility value is and has been a term and a topic of wide research in economics for past many years. Economists coined a word “utility” in context of how much value (which may be objectified depending on context) can you extract from a particular action of yours in relation to what actions other plan to take. If the cumulative utility that you expect to extract from your action is high enough, you go forward with performing it or otherwise you don’t. This definition may seem to fishy to the first-timers in economics but it has far reaching shadows in most of the activities you undertake or you plan to in your life on a daily basis.

If expected utility is all what we look out for and to some extent is rational too, why do we go against the flow sometimes. Why do we sometimes deviate from the conscious act of calculating utility before doing something ? It is because rationality has its own consequences. Rationality my cause a certain rise in utility but it doesn’t guarantee that both are correlated somehow. Causation does not mean Correlation. It is one of the primer Statistics 101 which needs to be remembered not only for statistical analysis but also as a general life principle. We are human beings with emotions, attachment, sense of identity(ego) and belonging which even now a days close to impossible to code as artificial intelligence. Our(humans) acts may seem to defy logic sometimes. It may go against actions prescribed by rationality. It may not stand the heat of reason and that’s why you find yourselves asking questions or exclaiming in utter disbelief as to “how’s that possible” or “how can he/she do that” or “This is totally irrational and insane”. Well, we humans have a generic code for when and to what to react in such a manner. This is not a special quality that only countable humans are endowed with.

I, for the most part of my writing refrain from throwing pretentious stories that may seem exemplary. I deem it fit for the reader to catch his own ways in order to digest the point that I want to make. In this way, you not only forced him/her to think beyond what a weak literary artist can, but also saved yourself from narrowing the field of view that your writing might or might not cater to. A literary art is important for the pursuit of understanding. Understanding in itself is very abstract point of no significance to me at all, once or if at all you claim to have it.

Renderings from every reader’s vantage point may be so different that it will surprise you to see the innumerable number of interpretations a single piece of writing can give rise to in diverse human minds. When you begin to think this way, writing not only appears to be fun but also a bit more challenging than what it used to be when you began writing. You will blur the line of utility value. The words and what those words mean to you may not be of supreme significance now. Your readers’ interpretation may now well be. That is why a famous author, a mid-famous author and a “niche unread / zero business bringing” author have eclectic mix of takes on the literary approach which may seem like abstruse goose to a “noob” writer.

Ramblings and Musings of Life Blog Series will return with Part 10 soon. Stay Tuned!

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