Friday, November 30, 2007

Respect the sentiments

How often do we hear the above mentioned words?

Especially in situations when there are chances of someone not taking anything well, or a comment not going down well with audience; in the situations when one needs to be politically correct and socially correct and be seen as morally upright.

But if we remove the facade of the mushy gushy all-OK things, we can look into sort of ugly interiors of what respecting the sentiments mean ... and what it hides.

Some of these reasons for expecting someone to respect the sentiments can be -

1. Person/ groups whose sentiments need to be respected are not open minded enough to hear a counter point of view, and my not be capable of any rational thoughts in that matter
2. There is something undesirable, or something ugly, or even something cancerous that needs to be hidden.
3. The truth might be extremely uncomfortable one, and ignorance might be a better option.
4. Deviation from the accepted norms is not desired. Reason - It has never been done so or no one has ever dared to go against it.

True. There might be many a situation, when these points may not be true, and not respecting the sentiments might not serve any purpose, nor give any point of view, nor expose an undesirable thing ... but more than it is often that ugly thing that which we wish to desperately hide, when we mention the term. So probably a line needs to be drawn.

But where to draw the line ?

... And sorry if I hurt any of your sentiments by my words.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

National flag

Figure this -

Some (publicity hungry!?) lawyer sues Mr. Narayan Murthy for showing disrespect to our national flag!
Some other (publicity hungry!?) lawyer sues Sachin Tendulkar for showing disrespect to our national flag by cutting some Tiranga cake!

There have been many other controversies related to insult on national flag, and pertaining to millions of code of conduct to deal with it. But, probably these two have been he most high profile ones in recent times!

But all seems too idiotic to me. Probably these two persons in question have contributed million times more to the nation than those 'petitioners'. And they are being belittled on basis of doing some act which they think is a proxy for insulting national flag, which they believe is a proxy for disrespecting the country.

Hadh hai !

But, a part of blame lies with the kind of laws and code of conduct that exists for national flag. Maybe, we are too much concerned about proxy for respecting a nation, than doing something constructive for the nation!

Holier than thou

X to Y - "You have done this and this. It is a shame. You shouldn't have done this"
Y replies- "So what? What you did in that case was also not right"

This and that could be anything that is most likely to be some deplorable act.
X can be anyone - an individual, an organization, or a political party. Although in public domain, it is usually political parties that are more dominant in following such approach.

For instance one political party says - "X party did wrong thing by sanctioning misuse of power to kill innocent people in the village". And other retaliates - "... (blah blah blah) 13 years ago when they were in power, they allowed killing of hundreds people in their state".

Such examples are many. Without taking any sides, I think this is too dominant in our system. Instead of not doing wrong or accepting the wrong doing, we often justify it saying that it was of less intensity than others and similar things!

Such 'holier than thou' approach actually becomes 'less unholier than thou'. And being 'less unholier' doesn't make the act good!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Om (Ctrl C-Ctrl V) Om

This is a case study in how to make a presentation or a project report in a B school. This is a study of how to copy-paste from various sources (at the same time acknowledging it) and presenting a complete package with some excellent glossy packaging!

For example, the movie - Om Shanti Om had the basic template from the movie Karz. The main attraction was inspired from John Jhonny Janardan’s title track. There were generous doses of movies like Madhumati and Karan Arjun. Some traces of Maine Pyaar Kiya, some Rajnikanth movies, some Jeetendra movies, many 70s ki movies, many actors ka style and lives etc. etc. were present. Thrown in was some amount of nostalgia in order to emotionally connect with the audience.

Some quotes were from various sources (The one mentioned 3-4 times was from “The Alchemist” –“When you want something, the whole Universe conspires to help you realize your desire”!)

And then all the ingredients need to be mixed in right proportion so as not to have an overdose or absence of any element.

Maybe, people can take some cues from the movie on “How to make an excellent project report/ PPTs”!!!

The trick lies in presenting the complete entertainment package, so that the audience enjoys it!

For the real substance … Who cares!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why study ?

Philosophical it may sound, but was just wondering what is the purpose of education?

a. Get good jobs, a good status in society so that you can flaunt your status, and leverage that to maximum.
b. Get a good jobs, and follow the 'pre-existing' model of things good and bad without questioning and think as you are ordained to by these models.
c. Make your own judgments of what is wrong and right, make your own decisions and apply a rational thought process.

Or anything else ?

I think it is a combination of (a) and (b).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gunaho ka Devta

During last few days, I had a privilege of reading one of the most accomplished works in Hindi literature - "Gunaho ka Devta". This was the first time I read a Hindi novel after being highly recommended by 2-3 different people. I was kind of compelled to read it after initial 15-20 pages which were largely in an unfamiliar territory of Hindi literature!

It is a novel set probably more than 50 years ago, and is a philosophical cum love story. It is one of those books where I can't be sure about how I feel. It is an excellently written book (... or maybe it was the first time I was reading a Hindi book ... but probably this is not the explanation!), with the entire spectrum of emotions thrown in generous doses.

The scenes are recreated almost poetically, emotions mentioned perfectly. But at times I am tempted to question basic assumptions of it all. At times I am tempted to say that he is preaching many things which I don't believe in, which I find improper, but then I realise that maybe, it is one way in which the norms of those days were reflected in the story.

For most of the parts of novel I felt I was watching some Sanjay Leela Bhansali's movie (probably a combination of Hum dil de chuke sanam and Devdas), and like what I feel after watching these movies, I was extremely unsure of how I felt. Yeah, at least for me such were the parallels. In those two SLB's movies I did not like the movies, but probably liked almost everything about the movie, especially the way emotions are portrayed. The characterizations are wonderful, the narration is good albeit painful ... but painful is what it was meant to be at the first place! Things were quite unfair ... but unfair is what they were meant to be! The audience can probably empathize with the characters, their small triumphs and their big failures.

But like these two movies, in the end I was confused about how I felt. At one end I am tempted to say "wow!", but on other end I think it is not fair .. .what are they trying to say or preach? Things are not justified. They should not have been like that. But as they say, not everything is fair!

Monday, November 05, 2007

One movie, Few observations, Many thoughts !

(Seems that this is becoming a movie review blog! But I couldn't resist posting about this!)

I saw Dead Poet's society(DPS) recently for the second time. First time I saw it, I loved it. Second time I saw it, I loved it more!

One of the Bollywood movie Mohabbatein has its plot loosely inspired from it, although DPS is based upon topic of free will while the desi version is mostly a love story, with elements of free will, discipline, tradition etc. strewn in.

DPS is about an unorthodox professor John Keating (played by Robin Williams) in a prep school, who arouses student's love in poetry, seize the day (carpe diem) and follow their heart. As expected the school authorities and few parents don't like it. Its last 10 minutes are excellent, probably one of my favorites!

As one of the move tag lines puts it - " He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary."

Few random observations and many random thoughts -

We often get so deep into things like tradition, honor and discipline, that we forget that there are few things which may not require some of these. In fact it is often too deep ingrained, or rather made to be deeply ingrained as a matter of learnings, and at times these constrain learning. And in fact it may instill fear due to use of things like corporal punishment (... although people of 'Spare the rod and spoil the kid' school of thought may not agree!)

Often there are things other decide, and often under assumption that a person is not capable of making that choice, and hence doesn't deserve the chance to make the choice.

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. " - DPS

Often we tend to look in short term, probably as distant as will this activity will lead to grades or a CV points, and that all. Cliched it may sound, but in this process we often forget that there is a life beyond it. As once mentioned in Orwell's 1984 - "I know how, but I don't know why" often holds true

Once we read something, we need to look from what we think, and not just blindly what the writer thinks! And yes, there are often other views also and hence need for looking at things in different ways, putting ourselves in different shoes.

I Went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. " - HD Thoreau (said by John Keating in DPS)

Carpe Diem, because the days don't stand still!

Overall, an extraordinary product by an extraordinary film maker!

Although, it did not arouse my interest in poetry, but it is an inspirtaional stuff, me says !!


Friday, November 02, 2007

Child Labor

He was 10 years old. When asked he said that he was 15 years old. He didn’t know why. It was just that his master told him to do so. His name was Raju. When he was born, he was named as Shivkumar, but that name did not suit his master. So his name was changed. His master owned a small juice shop in some big institute, with around 500 people. Most of these students were his customers. They visited him regularly for juice, cold drinks, eatables, cigarettes etc. This was a popular hangout, chiefly because of large credit extended by Sharmaji

Raju had 3 other siblings -Two sisters of age 13 and 11 respectively and a brother of 7 years. The eldest sister worked in a small carpet making unit. She has been employed since 3 years and worked for 12 hours a day without taking and day off. Probably, in a year or two she will be married to someone from a nearby village. Probably her family would get few thousand rupees in bargain! The younger sister was employed full time with a sort of well to do businessman’s family. Their family had a son born around a year and half ago. She had been employed since then. After all they needed someone to help to look after the future scion of the family, so that other family members can enjoy other things in life!

The youngest brother would be employable in about a year. The neighborhood tea stall may probably employ him. Currently he was enjoying playing with similar guys in the street outside the slums where the family stayed. Their parents were laborers, and were at times employed and managed to earn. Else they whiled away time, with mother cooking and cleaning and the father squatting in the slums smoking a bidi or having booze. The family managed enough to get two square meals a day.

The guy with a light beard and long hair was N. He was one of the people often found outside Sharmaji’s shop, and a regular consumer of chips, samosas, soft drinks and cigarettes. He had developed a rapport with the students visiting the shop. Today, a professor mentions in the class about child labor in one of the classes. Things like children below 14 years should not be employed in hazardous industry (although domestic help or the ones like Raju may not be included in this … so technically it is not child labor!). Also, he mentioned that the root problem was that child labor laws were not implemented properly. As a result, these children who were supposed to be studying in some school were working here.

After the class, N and his friends, sitting at Sharmaji’s were now discussing about the issue. Q mentioned that, the problem is about the education system. Even if Raju goes to a school, he may just waste his time and may not be able to learn anything that would make him more employable, and also he loses the money he earns through it. So as the prof mentioned, the benefit of extra hands to earn was more than loss due to having an extra mouth to feed. Hence, the population was huge, and this also led to child labor. T mentioned that it was all because of our feudal mindset. Among many similar points, P mentioned that to a great extent, we often tended to undermine the impact upon the society in long run.

What P mentioned was some management junk, someone remarked. They, still unsure about the root cause and the solution headed for the next class. Probably the phrase mentioned by Prof S – “The more you know, more silent you become” suited them!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hunting Good Will and Good Ideas !

Good Will Hunting (GWH) One of the movies is saw today ... It was a repeat telecast. First time I watched it, I thought I missed some of the subtle aspects of the movie. An it was definitely worth it!

Earlier, I found it good, but now it is among my favorites it seems!

In a nutshell it is about a young mathematical genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon), who works as a janitor in MIT, but is fighting with demons of his past and fears to open up with people, spending his talent and energy uselessly. It is also about a psychologist (Robin Williams), who helps Will to cope with it, to follow what he want and all that. Strangely, Robin Williams somehow reminded me of his role in Dead Poet's society, which was completely different! Apart from the script, performances few things, rather ideas stand out in the movie!

Few thoughts apart from usual channelizing your energy, looking deep within yourself kind of stuff -

One is that based upon a person's talent, often others set criteria about what will give him/ her success, what are the parameters for success et al. In the process we often forget what that person actually wants. (probably more in Indian context) E.g. Someone might be a mathematics genius, but he may like to do something else ... or he may not want to spend his entire life proving those theorems, but we often fail to realize it. And few years later if he is just some ordinary citizen living a contended life as a small time photographer (maybe he is not as good as a photographer, as he is in mathematics, but he loves photography more ... although it may sound somewhat contradictory!), but we may label him as a failure, or not someone who hasn't done well in life, or someone who hasn't utilized his potential ... because he doesn't meet our criteria for success!

Awesome movie!