Monday, June 30, 2008

All Hail the SAVIOUR!

It all started when life was getting too complicated. People were offered too many choices. And they could not make the right one. Someone had to rescue them from the misery and the pain. “It’s too difficult. I can’t think right. I don’t know what to do during my free hours. There’s just too many channels to watch. I’m so frustrated that I just want to shut off my TV and sleep”, said one such victim. They couldn’t stand it any longer. Someone had to do something, and quickly. Shutting off the TV? No! That just can’t happen. So they took to the mantle and shook TV out of its slumber. TV would never be the same once they arrived onto the screen. Yes, it’s the rescue squad of Indian TV, the greatest channel there will ever be, INDIA TV!

There’s just too less space to write about them. So here’s just a brief on what to expect on this explosive and mind-blowing channel.

You get up in the morning. You wish to read the newspaper but it has not yet arrived. No worries. India TV is here to save your morning. Tune in and watch how we wake you up so you can have a fresh day ahead and use it productively. Hear the forecast for the day by the wise and mysterious shamans and soothsayers so you can be forewarned about the ‘Ides of March’. Give your body the exercise it needs by following the right fitness gurus of the modern/ancient era and revel in the Indian culture by purifying your soul through the words of the ‘sagacious one.’ You are ready to start your day.

Housewives/husbands need not panic too. India TV has just the shows for you. As the day progresses, you can catch all the latest gossip from the entertainment industry. Who’s with whom, who is not, and why? Get your answers here. The men can satisfy their hunger for sports through the sport features if you missed your Euro yesternight. And yes, nature lovers will get to see the wild and untamed battle it out for survival and Darwinian Theory come to life right here on India TV as they focus on the fauna of the planet.

Tired of the educational stuff? Not to worry, India TV brings the latest ‘Breaking News’, a phrase it has virtually introduced and helped popularize. Catch the latest developments in the Talwar case or listen to some expert views on the nuclear pact and all the latest stories, updated minute by minute, so YOU don’t miss out on ANYTHING! After all, what will you say in your friends’ gathering if you are not updated?

Getting too serious? Have a breather as we dish out the latest comedy show clips for you. Laugh your heart out. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Never mind the world happenings. There are also snippets of cartoons for children. Ever wondered how a magician pulls off a trick? India TV reveals the arcane and secret world of magicians.

Women who have missed your serials and reality shows, India TV will put you out of your misery. There will be a rewind of all the shows so YOU don’t miss out on ANYTHING! Music lovers, hear the latest songs and hot videos here.

There is also something for astronomers and science fiction lovers as we delve into the deep and mysterious world of aliens. There faces, bodies, lives shall be revealed to you and you can hear expert views from both the religious and scientific point of view. As night falls, a recap of all headlines is called for and the latest news is ‘broken’.

ACP Arjun raises awareness through the cruel criminal cases (brought exclusively to you by India TV). Horror freaks, dive into the unreal world of ghosts and the paranormal but remember to sleep tight and be aware. Sweet dreams, and no worries about waking up tomorrow morning.

India TV is here to save your day.

DETAILS: Contact your cable operator for getting this life-saving all in one package of education, drama, comedy, news and stories or this toll free number 01234509876.

Don’t get scared of the operator’s voice. We like to keep it dramatic.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

At WIIT's Ends?

If you're wondering what's WIIT, its Womens IIT. LOL.

It’s the IITs again. For starters, there are plans of and all-woman IIT being setup in Amravati, the hometown of our President. Reports say that the proposal has come from the Bhavan itself. What they seek to achieve through this medieval step is beyond me. Why would you want an all women IIT? It’s shocking that when the feminists talk of ‘equality’ and ‘women empowerment’, we still wish segregation as long as it can churn out means to fulfill our desires. When the Presidential elections were being held, the very basis on which the campaigning was done was the ‘woman’ tag. The strongest advocates of the feminist movements,(Shobaa De, Renuka Chowdhary and some others) opposed this, as the Presidential post is not one to be played around with.. It is purely based on merit alone.

Same is the case here. The argument given is that fewer no. of girls are getting into the IITs. But there is no deterring factor, is there? I have always maintained that merit should be the pure basis of selection. JEE is known to be tough and if you work hard, you get through. Otherwise, it’s not the end of the world, you know. The cause for the decline in no. of girl students maybe due to the fact that most people leave their homes and go to the coaching institutes in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh as they think it’s the sole path to the IITs. And parents won’t send the girl away from the house. Agreed the institutes do produce most of the IITians but have you ever bothered to count how many of them were actually freshers? If you study well enough, you can get in, irrespective of whether you are at home or in a coaching institute. So I don’t think that the current system is unfair to the girls.

College years, especially the 4-5 years of the graduation are said to be the crucial years of life. Most of the experience you gain from here (not only academic but also social) tends to reflect in your career and life. Interaction with a variety of people and learning to adjust to situations are all the traits picked up at college. As the working women are bound to interact with their male counterparts (they being a majority), the college (being a co-ed institute) experiences will help them cope with different situations and handle them adeptly. Assuming a women’s IIT is made, what will be the kind of students it will produce? How will they cope with the work pressure and the gender bias (which does exist, despite the rosy picture companies portray)? Well yeah, the good ones will surely excel but that is the case everywhere. They will excel even without having gone to an all girls college. So a women’s IIT is an unnecessary step. And how comfortable will the professors (most of them male, at least in engineering education) be, in an all girls’ class?

The no. of girls in engineering is in fact, on the rise, at least in the NITs (where I and some of my friends study). If they can do well enough to get through AIEEE, a bit more effort will see them through to IIT.

So why, then, should we have a WIIT?

In that case, let us a build a separate institute for women in each of the professional course offered in India like B Com, BA, Medical studies, Fashion design, BMM. Oh wait, these have a good no. of women.

Should it be men’s institute for these then?

I said for starters earlier. Main course to follow soon. Or if this is main course, then dessert soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eye Candid # 2

Well, it seems there are a lot of interesting things going on in the world. As long as people exist, I guess I’ll write.

Anyway, I live in Thane and when my dad got transferred to Himachal, people there laughed when I said I was from Thane, as ‘thane’ also means police station in Hindi. But guess what people would have said if I was from the following places:

Shitterton? No. Not a ton atleast!
Penistone. Ahem, I know only the guitar tone.
Thong. I can only say LOL.
Ugley. A milder cousin of Shitterton. It also has (had) a Ugley Women’s Institute. They complained of low attendance. I wonder why. The name was changed it to Women’s Institute of Ugley. They will still complain, methinks.
Crapstone. Imagine your address. And then laugh.
Slutshole Lane. WHAT?
Butthole Road.

All these places exist and are in England (How ghastlay!). I read this in a local Mumbai tabloid and laughed so much. They even had photos of the signs.

I also read recently that Hitler was a very funny man and loved to crack jokes. Everyone seemed to think so too.

Everyone alive that is.

And last but not the least, Aryan Vaid (Yes, it’s him again) is going to play the role of Duryodhana in Ekta Kapoor’s Mahabharata. This role was immortalized by Puneet Issar in BR Chopra’s Mahabharata. We have a more ‘emotional’ Duryodhana this time who might just cosy up to a female co-star for support (if you get the ‘Bigg Boss’ drift).

This version of the epic aims to show all characters in a different perspective, while maintaining the traditions. It’s certainly a start in the 'perspective' area.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eye Candid

Here are some of the things that caught my eye and to some extent, my imagination.

1. A guy walked past me wearing a t-shirt that said,” Real dads don’t read instructions.” I guess that’s why he’s a dad.
2. A group of teenage girls in the US made a pact to get pregnant. They are about 16-18 years of age. One even paid a 24 year old man to do the honours. Well, this just leaves me with a question. Doesn’t the pact exist (though not between the girls themselves). I think its called ‘marriage’.
3. Barack Obama will be more than happy to have Senator Clinton’s full support for his presidential campaign. Only he might have to pay her debts which she acquired during her own failed bid for the White House ticket. That was pretty smart. Hey BO, I’m behind you as long as your money’s behind me.
4. Mr. BO will also have Lord Hanuman for support. A statue of the “Pawan Putra’ will make its way to BO’s camp as apparently, he’s a devotee. Let’s see if he wins or not, shall we?
5. Today is the 25th anniversary of India’s historic win in the 1983 cricket World Cup. While all news channels are busy celebrating the event, today also notes India’s failure to bring home the cup after 25 years (or rather, 6 tournaments) and crores of rupees of investment while Australia, have won it 4 times. By the way, India produces an Australia every year. It’s high time we give importance (meaning money, infrastructure and professional involvements) to other sports. Sorry for the acidic tone, but I’m not much of a fan of cricket.

Anyway, a hearty congratulations to Kapil and co. on their unparalleled (yet) achievement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sarkar Raj review

I watched Sarkar Raj last week and here’s my take on it.

It starts with the introduction of a proposal to set up a power plant in rural Maharashtra. The proposal is forwarded by a rich NRI businessman who is looking for ways to cut through the red tape. He sends hi daughter Anita (Aishwarya) to meet up with ‘Sarkar’ by the CM of Maharashtra. Sarkar rebuffs her plan as it would have caused the displacement of 40,000 people of Thakarwadi. But Shankar (AB Jr.) sees this as a long term investment for the ‘tarakki of Maharashtra’. Together, they embark on a journey to convince people about the project and garner support. They are then met with opposition from a rabble rousing young leader of Thakarwadi, Somji. The film then goes on about how the project was a part of a bigger game for power (and this not referring to the one which would have been produced by the plant) and politics. Oh ya, there is also Dilip Prabhavalkar as AB’s mentor pitching in a miniscule but god performance. After the Gandhi act, this one was, well, to say the least, different. I won’t spoil it because it’s one of the better films of the year.

The film is well shot and the cinematography is excellent, though it did seem a bit too dark in some shots. Dialogues are written well enough, but it gets tiring to hear them being delivered as a lecture as if to instruct the people on politics, especially during the journey to the villages. Some scenes exude brilliance, like the last one (go watch it, I won’t reveal what it is) and some are downright silly (the one with AB and Aishwarya Rai towards the end). Initially, AB is almost relegated to a vegetable as AB Jr. seeks to put things right to empower his cause for the project with the ‘Main sab sambhaal loonga’ line coming up several times, which makes you think why AB has taken up the role. Don’t worry; you will get the answers later.

The background score is awesome, and apt to the situations. Hats off to Amar Mohile (I think??).

I kind of predicted the end after 2/3rd of the film was done but my friend said that was too silly to be true. But it was and that was a bit of a dampener but otherwise, the film is pretty good.

PS: I’ve been told to reveal more in my ‘reviews’ by some. I promise to do so if I find it to be bad. :)

And yeah, next article won't be a review, so relax. ;)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oranje Squash(ed)

A very curious incident happened yesterday which made me realise how reputation and the image one projects to society is well, important, even if it causes a loss. As Nana Patekar said in Bluffmaster,” Sorry ki baat nahi. Image! Image ki vaat laga di tune. Main apni hi nazaron mein gir gaya!” Well, enough crap and lets get to the point.

Yesterday, the ‘Oranjes’ were squashed and how! (And I’m not talking about the Nagpur ones either) Netherlands lived up to its reputation of being a choker in crucial games. It had breezed through the 1st round, massacring all three teams on the way. It was the ‘Yamaraj’ in the group of death. Italy, France and Romania were the scalps it had conquered.

And then there was Russia.

The game started on a pretty scrappy note with both teams squandering chance, notably by Roman Pavlyuchenko and Kolodin and some missed/untaken chances by Sneijder, van der Waart, de Jong etc. In the second half, Russian pace proved too much for the Dutch with a series of crosses being put in the Dutch penalty box. Van der Saar was the man for the Dutch. But he too was breached by Pavlyuchenko, when he met a cross by Semak. Russia looked a completely different side after the return of Andrei Arshavin.

The Dutch pushed forward with van Persie, Sneijder and co. Sneijder tried a shot every minute he got the ball near the box, but failed. Sneijder finally succeeded in putting in a cross which was met by poacher supreme van Nistelrooy. But instead of going for the victory, the Dutch switched off and took the game to ET (extra time).

In ET, the Dutch looked tired and lacked the punch which had been in abundance in their earlier games. They were inefficient almost complacent. The Russians were incisive in their build up and fired home two more two help the Dutch retain their title of being chokers. Edwin van der Saar could only look on as the the 3-1 scoreline took the game beyond the Dutch. Mr. Hiddink, take a bow. Have some 'Oranje juice'.

Even if the game had gone on to penalties, Netherlands had the odds against them. I doubt there would be a worse record in penalties than Netherlands. Its 1/5 times that they have won in the matches which went to penalties.

So, 2 teams I support have choked. Now time for Spain to prove me wrong and go through to the semis.

Of course, they too can choose to maintain their reputation. After all, image ka sawaal hai.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Education = Marks?(And its a serious one, people) Take # 1

Well, this ‘news’ is a bit stale but I can’t help it. I was in Bangalore and this happened. Anyway, a local newspaper (tabloid rather) conducted a test on some our very own toppers (or ‘mayyreet rankuuurr’ in Marathi) on GK and most of them failed miserably. I don’t blame them. The system of mugging up the answers and regurgitating it out on paper is to blame. And the questions were not exactly lifted from the finals of TCS Crucible Lateral Connect round (which, if you don’t know, is so tough that you won’t even understand the answer even when you are told the answer). They were just asking the President of India, BCCI full form of SEZ and very basic GK questions which most people would (or rather should) answer at least 70% correctly. The toppers ended up with scores like 2/10 and 3/10. I don’t mean to say that all toppers are dumb. That would be hara-kiri. But not all the meritorious students are, well, to put it right, good. The definition of a good student would not be one who gets full grade or tops the class but one who is conceptually strong in his area or subject, whatever it be. The ICSE and CBSE systems of education are a bit ahead with their project oriented methods where students are made to think. I don’t know about CBSE but, in ICSE, the main emphasis is on the core points which an answer should have. If those vital points are covered by the student, then full marks are awarded, no matter what style, diction or language a student uses. The project system of working has helped me and lots of my friends to think better and more productively.

One such instance is where one of my friends, in a course for market research, had to choose a thesis topic and present a student thesis paper proving his assumptions correct. What he did was to research books and chose a good topic and started work on it, being given 2 weeks’ time which in his words was less. What some smartasses did was to submit a survey with the observations. When the guy complained that that was not a thesis, the teacher handed him lesser marks as an explanation for arguing. This incompetence on the part of teachers causes good students to lose hope and determination to succeed which is akin to killing. What most colleges do is hand out marks so that their results look good. But when the students actually go into the industries, they find it difficult to cope up. Well even in our own college, everyone knows what happens when one is assigned a project to do. We totally rely on Page & Brin’s baby (which incidentally was their college project).

One more though to ponder upon is our tendency to celebrate toppers. Ceremonies are held where the minister presents medals and certificates to the students. They are immediately on TV and all the local newspapers. I’m not saying we stop celebrating. It’s a huge achievement to top a whole country obsessed with marks. Parents push their children to come in the merit list, NOT to know the subject well. This is a huge setback for the students who have missed out. There is a complete loss of self belief and frustration creeps in.
There are lot of other things to say, so I shall keep this post in two parts. I won’t rant on any longer. One important issue is when parents force their kids to go for engineering or medical studies. That I shall continue in the next part.

PS: I have not even looked at the post twice. It’s a straight from-the-heart post with no editing. This has been on my mind for quite a long time and its intensity was magnified after our summer placements.

3 Mistakes of My Life 'review'

Well, I just finished reading Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel, ‘3 Mistakes of My Life (I know it’s a month late). I’m not sure if I’m ‘qualified’ to write a review, but it’s a free country so, here goes. If not a review, consider this as an opinion.

Well it’s a story of businessman and his two friends set in Ahmedabad (or Ambavad as the protagonist Govind likes to call it). It revolves around the 3 things which an average Indian would give most importance to – cricket, religion and business (maybe in the same order). They grow in business, evolve in their thoughts. The book traces their life through the Gujarat earthquakes and subsequently, the riots as they harbour a talented Muslim (you guessed it) boy.

The novel has all the makings of a commercial flick for ‘Hamara Bollywood’ or the Indian film industry as I like to call it. All the angles are covered and you can just imagine the scenes yourself. But as a novel, it makes for a good one time read. The author captures the angst of the young generation well and one can relate to it (if you are from the same generation that is) but the writing style and diction is nothing to brag about. In Chetan Bhagat’s own words (I think), he is not much of a writer but is a good storyteller.

Go read it once. It’s cheap anyway, unlike your Dan Browns and Archer novels.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Indian Television: The Dawn of a New Era(of stupidity and ignorance)

As I ponder over what to write as my first post, TV provides me the food for thought. My mom was watching one of the umpteen reality shows one can get on the tube now. I have a good mind to actually list out all the shows that have, are and will be going on air. Since I have to cajole myself to actually get out of my room and switch channels from Euro to these amazingly arcane and unintelligent shows, I promise to do it later. Till then, here are some points to ponder on:

Most shows are scripted. My brother has attended two shows (Saregamapa and Mission Ustaad) and he tells me that there is a huge LCD screen beneath the stage showing each and every dialogue that one has to mouth. Even the judges’ comments are penned and they are shown with expressions accounted for in the display. Well, I guess reality is one thing not in store for us. But the people continue to get swayed and moved over by emotions and hang onto their hearts as their ‘manpasand stars’ carve their road to supposed glory.
Have you ever noticed that each judge has more or less the same thing to say? And I don’t blame him. If you ask me how 10 guys sung some arbit songs, I won’t remember either. (This brings back memories of my ‘audition’ for the college freshers function J)
Each contestant has one thing to learn and that is to beg for votes. I think there must be manual to how to make a show. If not, consider this as a guide.


1. Get people to participate: Most people are jobless and will jump at the possibility of becoming a star (?). If not, dig out a bunch of jobless celebs and you have your participants aka Big Boss. It had Aryan Vaid (who you cant make out if he’s on the ramp or in a film scene if you blacken the background), Rahul Roy( of Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Ayi fame i.e. 15 year old fame), Rakhi Sawant (no comments), Rupa Ganguly, Ravi Kishen (Bhojpuri Shah Rukh on a hiatus I guess), and a model and others whose names I can’t remember, even after the show.
2. Get the ‘honourable’ judges: The procedure is to be the same or pay huge money and get someone good. I saw a channel with Divya Dutta as the judge for a comedy show.(?????) How? Why? What qualifies as a judge? I have no clue.
3. Get a host: This guy/girl has the best/worst job depending on how you look at it. He is a fly on the wall, looks on as all the judges and contestants battle it out for the most coveted possession in India’s history - marks. He is a neutral observer in all the fights, tears or laughter filled sagas and just has to keep the show on. But keeping you ‘glued to the screen’ is no mean feat. He/she also has to prolong the show to help stretch it for 1 hour.
4. Get sponsors and a channel: Most importantly, get people to pump in the moolah.

There you go. My first post and that too about one of the dumbest things on television. The sheer magnitude of shock which I experience when I watch the amount of stupidity that goes on TV is astounding. Has Indian TV actually gone so bad or are we just so dumbed down that we are satisfied with anything we are offered? Or is it just that everyone knows it, they are just waiting for someone to start so they can join later? That I guess is what we like to call the typical Indian attitude, the world famous ‘Chalta hai attitude’.

Lets see what else the holiday joblessness can conjure up here on the net.