Think I’ve mentioned a good number of times both on this blog and elsewhere about the lack of a rightwing media house in India, due to which people don’t get multiple perspectives to choose from.
If there was one, I think it should be called “Yeah, Right!”.
But maybe that would be too in-your-face, so maybe the media house as such can be called by a milder name, with one aspect of it called Yeah, Right!. Not the TV channel or the radio station… there are enormous problems in everyday pronunciation, and the cynical tone can’t be replicated each time someone mentions the name. A magazine would be perfect, but the title would be too informal for it to be taken seriously… maybe the magazine targeting the youth?
Or maybe the official blog.
If you want to cash in on this idea, contact me here… this blog is protected by a Creative Commons license.
End of post… pretty irrelevant, I guess… do read the longer and more passionate post on student activism I wrote. Check out the comments section of the post, too…. it’s bringing out some passion I see.
Yeah, I know the title sounds very heavy, but this isn’t a serious or well-thought or well-researched post. It’s just a random thought that occurred to me now when I was arbiting looking for things that will help with this. [Advertisement: NITK proudly presents Engineer 2008. Online events are aplenty, one of which is Virtual Bounty, everyone's favourite online treasure hunt which requires little apart from your Googling skills. Prize money to the tune of USD 250, and more importantly, bragging rights, at stake. Check it out! Event's on 10 Feb 2008, Sunday, 3 PM to 6 PM.. or 1500 hrs to 1800 hrs. Teams of Two. Everyone's eligible, whether you're a techie or a student or a teacher, or a doc or a lawyer.... all you need is a working Net connection. Tell your friends].
You find students, and in general, youth were at the center of any revolutionary uprising. Universities were cauldrons of simmering new thought and bubbling novel ideas. And student activism. Like it’s portrayed in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, or any of those ’80s Bengali movies. Student leaders were big fish who later moved on to mainstream politics. Like Laloo Yadav – I believe he was the Students’ Union leader of Patna University, from where he has a degree in Law.
Now however, all we have is the dregs. There’s Manohar Parikkar, ex-CM of Goa, who was apparently Mess Manager while he was a student at IITB. Oh, and there’s another rival Goan politician who’s also from IITB… I forget his name. And the last remaining vestige of the student activist or student politician would be Michael Vasanth from Aayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva (played excellently by Surya and botched up like manure by Ajay Devgan).
You don’t find such types anymore. Nehru saw to it when he took a critical first step of getting Soviet co-operation to convert the Hijli Detention Camp to IIT-KGP.
Since then, any Priya Venkateshan who would have come under the the influence of right-wing idealogy (or worse, left-wing), taken it upon herself to start and edit a student newspaper which would idealize and provide good press for Swami Vivekananda, Veer Savarkar, Bose, Godse, RSS and VHP (or alternately, China, Marx and Communism, with special attention to denouncing agriculture, hating Jews and pursuing an anti-US stance), spend half her youth in and out of lock-ups, wear khadi kurtas, thick-rimmed glasses and carry a jhola… okay, I’m getting ahead of myself… any such person has instead spent half her teenage in JEE coaching centers, then giving n-hazaar exams, and then wasting away at an undergrad college in the middle of nowhere, and which is certainly not a hub of original political thought, or anywhere close to one, and what she learns at college (if at all), has absolutely nothing to do with politics or running the country.
The brightest young minds in the country are busy swotting for entrance exams, so busy that they don’t glance at the paper unless it screams out about paper leaks or exam postponements. When they get together to discuss, it’s almost always about problems in Irodov or ML Khanna.
Student Union causes are now down to getting enough funds for Engineer, Incident, Saarang, Techfest, Shaasta, Mood I, Cul-Ah!, Down Sterling, Alcheringa, Strawberry Fields and godaloneknowswhatother college fest. Social causes, if any, include collecting money to be sent to earthquake victims at Bhuj, or cleaning the beach for the mandatory extra-curriculars Credit. Other worries include having nightmares about the (extracurricular interest) club website having crashed. Or worse, hacked into.
Instead of perusing political news and getting incensed, people now are forced to mug financial news and arbit stats; they need to be prepared for their IIM GD/PI. And anti-US sentiments ha! Which other place is affordable, Indian-friendly and provides good quality graduate education? The part of India that would probably have been incensed is safely in the US, sufficiently far away from causing havoc by voting. And the incensed ones that remain in India feel that the best way of lodging their protests is by *not* voting!
And we are the generation whose grandparents were members of Indira Gandhi’s Vanar Sena. And whose parents were brought up on the legend of Chacha Nehru, the kid-friendly PM. And who too, have grown on the same idealogy, so much that we would say “Nehru-Chacha? Naah…. how can you believe he sent Subhas Bose to the Gulag (concentration camp in the USSR) with help from Mountbatten and Stalin just because he feared Bose would be the PM? This guy loved kids! Any man who likes children can’t be all that bad…”
Mr. Nehru, you were probably the brightest person in your family (you were the last to get a college degree… only your great-grandson Feroze Varun has attained that distinction since… Antonia Maino failed to complete her spoken-English course… Rajiv dropped out…), your services would have been at great demand at Ogilvy and Mather. The US could very well take a leaf out of your book when it comes to shaping public opinion, perception and social engineering. You’ve basically insured generations of your progeny from public backlash irrespective of how much of their *own* garibi they hataao-fy.
Of course, your KGB Agent granddaughter-in-law tries her best, but being of foreign origin, she only divides and rules the country on sectarian lines by increasing Quota Raj and asking for head-counts of people of various religions in the Armed Forces, apart from pleading clemency for a convicted terrorist; she doesn’t quite understand the importance Indians give to education and social status the way you did.
PS: I don’t think students focussing on things other than politics is wrong. We need to focus on wealth-creation and technological innovation more than anything else now. But heck, just why are the inborn-leader kids not hitting the political scene?
Update: Ah, now that Virtual Bounty is done, I can link folks up to the inspiration behind this post. VBounty, btw was a huuuuuuge hit, record-breaking participation… more than 500 teams took part, and the server acted admirably under the load. If you find this guy anywhere, don’t hesitate to ask for treat . If you took part in this (the event, not the asking for treat), thanks for your assistance in making this event a colossal success, and we at Engineer 2008 look forward to your continued support in making our techfest a grand success.
Anyway.. the inspiration.. was this article about the uprising at Athens Polytechnic University (which I couldn’t link to, as it was an answer to one of the questions in the event) which was the first step towards overthrowing the Junta who were controlling Greece as a dictatorship. Just peruse that link… it was the students who started off the revolution and brought down the dictatorship. NOW, you dissenters, talk.
So I haven’t been in the best of moods over the past couple of days, and current events seem to have nothing to do with it. I went to bed early last night, my mood couldn’t seem to take going any lower, hoping things would be better in the morning.
I woke early, and it being a Saturday morning pleasantly surprised me; It’s close to four years now since I last saw what an early Saturday morning looks like. I didn’t seem to be feeling much better. I thought I’d call mum… but then I’ve had enough to know what she would say – the usual positive thoughts, attitude… rounded off by an injunction to performing Kriya and Pranayama… Mum and Sri Sri Ravishankar are the only two people I know who fervently believe the perfect cure for drooping shoulders and faltering smile and most other problems is right breathing.
Well, I had nothing to lose, did I? And maybe it was just lack of the right amounts of sun, water shortage, bad food and wrong breathing that was behind my mood… no wonder most religions of the world venerate these things…
So I opened the windows to let in the sun, and in the morning light, I see a nice little Indian kingfisher perched on the roof of the mess.
Now I really like kingfishers. Their awkward beak and dispropotionate head are offset by their very colourful plumage. Many an afternoon I’ve spent watching kingfishers dive in and out of the drain (urban jungle), fishing, wishing I’d had a camera. And now it seemed perfect, within close-enough range, the light was just right, and the blue just stood out from the off-white building.
So I get my camera, switched it to high-res, high-colour, and pointed and zoomed. The damn bird chose that precise moment to fly up to the top of the water tank. Fine, not good enough.. now I could only see the white underside of the bird.. but okay nevertheless. I took a couple of shots, which didn’t turn out so good.
And THEN my camera runs out of charge. I put in the battery for charging and keep watching the bird for ten minutes. It flies down low, does an astonishing series of acrobatics, and swoops to a more camera-friendly perch. I’m amazed.
I replace the battery, set date and time, switch to hi-res, hi-color, zoom in perfectly. And the damn bird chooses to fly away!
Just the sort of tragicomic crap that happens to me. Just the sort of stuff that turns me cynical and phlegmatic when I’m already in the up-against-the-rest-of-the-world rebel-without-a-cause mode.
As always, Ella Fitzgerald has the perfect lyrics for this: I thought for once it couldn’t go wrong / Not for long / I can see the way this ends.
I have no doubt if I was a Hindi novelist in the era of Munshi Premchand or of Dharmvir Bharti, I would have used this sort of story in my autobiography as a metaphor for the course things generally take. *Sigh*.. my mood isn’t any better, is it?
This doesn’t make an iota of difference to anyone or anything in the world. I’m normally the nicest of folks, but there seems to be no incentive to be so. I’m not pure evil either. But my attempts to be so would definitely be vindicated.
Stop saying “Yea sista, I so know what you are talking about”. Coz you don’t, you sneaky, two-faced, manipulative <insert choice swearword casting aspersions on character of the person>.
PS: One thing that’s been keeping me going is “Everything Happens For a Reason”. Someday, I hope to come back to this post and updating it with an “It Does!”.
Yeah, so reams have been written about how unfair Proctor was, how unfair the entire treatment of the Indian cricket team was, how Symonds deserves to be kicked…
On another blog about this entire thing, one commenter had suggested that we googlebomb Andrew Symonds.
For the uninitiated, Googlebombing is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by Google.
Now as we all know, Google’s PageRank algorithm works such that a page with a larger number of links from other pages leading to it is a higher-ranked search result. And Google also makes use of the words in the link in other pages to determine how/where to index the linked page.
That translates roughly to this: If a sizeable number of us with blogs/webpages link up Symonds’ profile on Cricinfo, with the word Crybaby [the link leads to the profile], in the link, good chances are that googling for crybaby would lead to the page on Cricinfo.
A good example of a precedent would be googling for “failure” or “miserable failure” and finding Bush’s page as the top result, or googling for “more evil than Satan himself” and the top result being the Microsoft homepage.
I’m not giving a jingoistic speech to induce people to do this, but heck, it doesn’t take too much to do, most bloggers have ranted on the unfairness already, and all they’ll have to do is edit a reference to Symonds with the word Crybaby and link that word to the Cricinfo page. And more people will definitely blog about the ongoing series in the near future; all they’ll have to do is have one reference to the page.
It isn’t totally unethical; Google doesn’t condemn googlebombing as such – Marissa Mayer, Google Director of Consumer Web Products says on the official Google blog:
“We don’t condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we’re also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”
I’m not wanting to claim any fame as the principal instigator of all this, and frankly, while I think it’s fun to do, I’m not yet sure of my moral position on this. If in case people take up this idea of their own volition, if enough people think of it as a good-enough idea to combat the biased Australian media, or are convinced that this is the pinnacle of Indian self-expression, and the ultimate Indian attack, the advantage of our long-criticized high population.. <insert any other justification you might find>, it’ll be something that’ll go down the pages of history…. maybe in small print, but still will. It would be something people would take notice of. Definitely more than just an enormous number of blogposts. And in my opinion, this might just unite and bond the Indian blogosphere.
Having said that, if at all enough people say they would take it up, this can be a good place to start for discussing and finalizing a page and a keyword. My suggestion has been Crybaby and a link to the Cricinfo profile of Andrew Symonds: http://content-www.cricinfo.com/australia/content/player/7702.html
If we do decide to do this, we might as well do it well, and to do that we need to be united in our efforts. And we need to work fast; the euphoria about the series will soon flag unless some controversy erupts in the following two Tests, and we soon won’t have the justification that this would boost the morale of our Men In Blue by showing them the Indian blogging community is with them on this.
If you think this is unethical, do comment here with your reasons. If you think this is a great idea, do comment here with your reasons. I simply think of this as an idea, with nothing inherently good or bad about it.
Comment here with your suggestions on keyword. Let it not be anything racist, but just mildly demeaning – a googlebomb merely creates an unsettling flutter, and the last thing we (and our Men in Blue) want is to be labelled a racist nation. The only one I can think of is “crybaby”. I think my suggestion for page to be linked is fine…. if you have any views on that, do comment.
Oh, and if and when it’s finally decided to go ahead with this idea, please make the keyword integrate with your post… like it’s part of a sentence, like it naturally has its place there – for example “The Men in Blue are too cool to be fazed by cheats and a simpering crybaby“. Google gives it more value that way.
Just done watching Taare Zameen Par. And it’s not done my image of Aamir Khan any good. Here’s why:
- People say it’s great, DIFFERENT even, that the spotlight is taken by that little buck-toothed boy, and not by Aamir Khan. Hell, that WAS supposed to be the USP.
- Agreed, Aamir Khan is not in every second frame. But why, oh why, does there have to be a child in every damn frame he is in, as if he’s some ChachaNehru-wannabe?
- It’s an hour-and-a-half into the movie that the first mention of the word “dyslexia” is made. And overall, it’s mentioned TWICE in the movie.
- Why does a “different” movie have to burst into irrelevant song and dance – whoops, montage – every five minutes? Or was it supposed to be a “different” kind of “different”?
- All in all, it feels like being murdered with a blunt knife, what with the typical Aamir-style long-drawn-out scenes. Like take the last half an hour for example. The kid is learning his spellings. That’s new to the audience. The parents are amazed at the report card. That’s expected, but fine nevertheless. Why the stabyard art competition whose results are a mystery to no one? Just to drive home the point teachers can’t draw?
Documentary… where did that come from, you ask? Aamir Khan’s lecture to the kid’s parents reminded me of those family planning or girl-child-is-also-a-human-being short films that used to be shown on Doordarshan. It really surprised me some arbit art teacher was the only one in the entire spectrum to realize it was dyslexia – any school Principal worth her salt needs to have finished a B.Ed course, and Learning Disorders is an essential part of any such course – That kid’s first Principal should have been the one giving the lecture, instead of saying “shaayad ise koi problem hai… kuchch bachche badnaseeb hote hain, aise bachchon ke liye alag se special schools hote hain”. What the hell was she implying there?
And… in spite of portraying the mother as someone who listens to her child, atleast more than anyone else, how come the question “Why aren’t you able to read and write?” figure even once? Wouldn’t that have solved the problem, as any urban parent, however ignorant, would have taken their child to a psychologist if such behaviour kept repeating? Or wouldn’t atleast the school have suggested it? Or if it was a posh enough school, wouldn’t they have their own in-house child psychologist? And for godsake, the kid says he “sees the letters dancing”. And no one found that a cause for concern? I mean… when Anjali Khanna was eight years old, she was reading long long letters from her mum, and thinking up ideas to create a spark between her daddy and Anjali-aunty.
I received a forward which wondered how Taare Zameen Par would have been if anyone else had directed it – Farah Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rakesh Roshan.. the usual suspects. But more than Aamir Khan, I’d've preferred someone like Shyam Benegal or Shekhar Kapoor had directed the movie. I watched Masoom very long back, and the sensitivity with which the children were portrayed was mindblowing. You would actually feel the tears welling up when the kid was going away.
If the movie was indeed about creating awareness about dyslexia, it would have been a better watch if it was a documentary with all the extra chaff removed, like the songs, and the Aamir Khan scenes, the kid-getting-into-trouble scenes, the yelling-daddy scenes. It could be one of those public-service documentaries in the style of School Chalein Hum or the ones we see about AIDS awareness. Oh, yes, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could still have composed background music… methinks they held Aamir at atknife-point to give them more scope in the making of the movie. It could still be a tasteful one with nice long speeches about Einstein, Da Vinci, Agatha Christie and Edison being dyslexic (IMO, that was the best bit of the whole movie), with the kid learning words and letters with other aids….
So what irks me the most is the kid and the Art teacher take center stage, and dyslexia seems almost incidental to the movie. The reason the movie brings a tear to the eye is because it portrays the underdog, it portrays his everyday suffering in ways that remind you of something similar you might have faced, and last but not the least, it portrays a superhero who saves the kid from a life of unmitigated torture – not even once do you feel that the kid is putting in as much or more effort than Mr. Khan in learning his lessons.
*Sigh* But I guess that’s expected when you’re dealing with a superstar who thinks not twice before playing a college dude when he’s twice the age of the average college-goer. Or when making a big-budget movie with many superegos clashing. All in all, the product is Aamir Khan, and the packaging is Children, Christmas Release, and Dyslexia… There! I’ve mentioned dyslexia more often than is mentioned in the movie.
And that is another reason a NFDC-sponsored documentary directed by Kanika-Bala or Vishal Bharadwaj would have been a better flick.
Addendum: It really irks me when the “system” and “establishment” are portrayed in movies as ineffectual in solving problems they are designed to combat, in situations where the opposite is true.
Addendum 2: If you’ve watched this movie, check out the following Calvin and Hobbes comic strips:
Remind you of anything?
And NO! Calvin is NOT dyslexic. He can write “Aliens Land Here” with Christmas lights and “My dad is a …” in the snow.
Addendum 3: If you thought this [Referring to the scene the comic strips might have reminded you of] was pretty original of Aamir Khan, maybe you should also know that the infamous beer scene from Rang De Basanti is from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Hmm…. maybe I should just feel happy he reads.
Addendum 4: Aamir Khan says Da Vinci wrote in mirror letters because he was dyslexic! It’s widely known that the backward writing was a “secret code” thanks to Dan Brown’s seminal work. But scholars are also of the view that since Da Vinci was left-handed, he wrote right-to-left to avoid smudging the ink. And no, I’m not holding this against the movie. I only hate misinformation.
Addendum 5: I don’t harbour any illusions of this being a balanced review, and would prefer it if you reading this didn’t, either. I wrote this five minutes after being through with the movie, and these were the only impressions that stuck. While I don’t have issues with others saying that the movie is good, and that they liked it, I’ll be the first one to protest if India decides to send this to the Oscars. And probably the only, but that’s to be expected.
My first year at NITK was a lesson-of-sorts. Coming straight from the urban jungle, it was at first unnerving to see little black worms with yellow markings all over the place, or watch snakes slither before your very eyes, or stop dead in our tracks maintaining eye-contact with lizard-like snakes or snake-like lizards when we did our laundry.
My first month was spent listening to tales of beautiful peacocks in the vicinity. I never did lay eyes on one until after the mid-sem exams. I did hear tales of wolves and jackals that came out after dark, but those seem to be akin now to tales of the Bogeyman, to make sure we didn’t wander around after block timings.
But second year on, we moved to a different block, and we’ve had no dearth of indoor wildlife since then. Orphaned puppies, kittens all found their way to our doorsteps. Some were occasionally cared for, sometimes with disastrous results – there were tales of someone bathing a kitten with soap and hanging it out to dry… and in some versions, it was a crow. There were innumerable strays too, attracted by the mess food (whoa!). Some apparently got birthday cake et al, and slept in the corridors of the hostel, but after one inmate got bitten, the authorities and we tried to keep those away.
Of course nothing kept Scratchy away… for the uninitiated, Scratchy was our most popular stray, a wolfish-looking, mangy thing with clumps of fur falling off, who died a sad death two days before AdCom. He will be remembered for posterity for licking puke off the corridors, for upturning dustbins and scratching through their contents over weekends, when the Maintenance staff had their weekly off. I never could get a shot of Scratchy; he passed on a month before I got my camera. But Scratchy has enough successors in upturning dustbins… here are a few:
But the true dustbin-upturning successors of Scratchy have to be the crows. I seem to have taken on RK Laxman’s penchant for crows – I snap them day in and day out. Mainly coz they are the only interesting creatures around. Ingenious, too, though not in the same league as Professor Shonkhu’s Corvus, in ripping open carefully-tied packets thrown into the bins. Funnily, the creatures that are so bold that they don’t even fly away when you clap your hands close to them take off at the first sight of a camera! It’s been impossible to get nice close-ups. But I did manage to catch them in action around dustbins a couple of times.
There are other birds around, too. We have pigeons that luckily for us, don’t behave like pigeons in Jhankaar Beats. They are more obsessed with fighting each other, and then making up. And thankfully they don’t come anywhere close to the dustbins.
If you step outside the four walls of the hostel, you’d find a whole host of coucals , better known as crow-pheasants. They aren’t too friendly, but they don’t mind you following them around with a camera, as long as you don’t get too close.
Then there are those really handsome birds to take good-quality pictures of which you need a camera with awesome zoom, coz they roost on very high trees, and they never do swoop down anytime. And they’re as shy as can be. I don’t know what names these birds have
Do tell me if you do recognize them – By the way, the bird in the first picture is actually blue and green. While taking pictures of birds, don’t make the same mistake I made: switch the camera to high colour and high resolution. I do know the names of these three below, though – the first one is a mynah [I need to remind myself to get a few pics of this species in bright light - their orange beaks and the ring around their eyes are a sight to behold], the second is a male koel, the one that sings melodiously, these are also notoriously shy, and the females, which are black speckled with white, are even more so. The third one is my favorite – the racket-tailed drongo. I’d only read about this bird in Tinkle, and had heard that it imitates the cries of other birds. And then I came to NITK… I find quite a few of these. The tail is normally much longer than you see here, with two tailfeathers quite prominently sticking out separately.
And… then we have the Kitten. It hung around for a couple of months, quite a long life for a kitten orphaned not very long after birth. We did take care of it, and no one gave it a bath, thankfully. And then the inevitable happened – it got mauled by the stray dogs. Kittie, R.I.P.