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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Give a man a fish

"Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and he is fed for a life time" ...much quoted lines..

after all why should it be only about food ? Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests

people come to me with computer problems, hardware, software and skills...

they are not stupid people , (they are generally smarter than me) and they can easily do what I do, through a bit of googling and a bit of experimentation.. but then they enjoy taking a fish from me , rather than learning how to fish.. though sometimes someone does insist on learning but then complain that I don't teach well...!?

the bottom line is that I enjoy fishing and giving fish to people and they enjoy receiving their fish free of cost and using their time and effort in more productive ways, for example partying or networking.. I don't complain at all, since the whole effort makes me feel good ;-)

How I wish the whole world adopts ubuntu for their OS, and I am saved from the pain of seeing innocent people suffering from virus attacks , formatting and reformatting of hard disks, data loss, rampant piracy and anti-piracy operations in the cyber space.. not to mention the financial loss to all except Bill Gates and his like ?

I do feel strongly that there is a great injustice perpetrated on innocent computer users. But who am I to complain ? who am I to change the way people use their computers ? I restrict myself to making some noises where I can, just to please myself.

coming back to the first line ...sigh .. sigh... will I, or someone else ever be able to teach the world how to fish ?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A tale of two indians

In the past month, I read two books with similar settings , but diametricaly oppposite story lines., "the White Tiger ' by Arvind Adiga and 'a tale of two Indians " by Maharshi Mehta. 

Both the stories are set in rural India and have protagonists struggling to break out of a vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance, casteism and feudalism .

That is where the similarity ends.The white Tiger, from rural Bihar  finds his way to Delhi through cunning and deceit and finally obtains a fortune by murdering his employer. He then goes on to use his ill-gotten wealth to bribe the powers that be and become what he calls an entrepreneur.  

The second story, set in rural Gujrat, follows a course diametrically opposite. Our hero, loses both parents early in life; and he is particularly upset that he could not save his mother as medical help could not reach her in time due to poor roads. Fired by his mission to participate in building good roads in rural areas, he struggles through his way , through sheer grit and handwork to become an engineer in Goverment service. Through out his life he faces more than his quota of  tragedies and yet finds ways to overcome his personal grief by serving his fellowmen. It is also significant that most of the characters in the novel are based on real people , as mentioned in the 'acknowledgments'. 

The 'white tiger ' won the Man Booker prize, while 'the tale of two Indians' is hardly known. Is it necessary to expose the dark underbelly of the country for an Indian work to win an Oscar or a Man Booker prize? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Freedom to break laws

This is cartoon from DNA, on 26 Jan 2012, when our nation celebrated  the 63rd Republic Day.

In India, if you are a  big shot, you have  to break more laws and with more impunity to prove your worth in the society. It is not as if we live in a lawless area like a tribal belt in a frontier region. We have plenty of laws, as any civilized society should.

Oprah Winfrey, on her recent visit to India, exclaimed, "...No, like, what is it with the red lights ? I mean, does the red light mean stop or not ? or is it just for your entertainment ?" . Ma'm we know what a red light is meant for . It is just that we like to break a few rules wherever we can. It is a land of 'speed breakers' not 'sign posts'. If a motorist is to be stopped it has to be through speed breakers or better still barricades. A 'Chaudhary'  is simply not intimidated by a mere red light.

The higher you go in the social hierarchy, you need to break more laws. It also rubs off on the kith and kin. The children can merrily cheat in their school exams and where else can you find news headlines like "IAS officer's wife slaps cop " ?

Encroaching on public property is a birth right, it is our country, our land, isn't it ? If you own a DDA flat, a one bedroom flat with some ingenuity can be converted into a three bed room flat with overhangs here and there.

Intellectual property is a great joke. IP lawyers can fret and fume, but we reserve our right to buy and sell pirated books and CDs at pavements, railway stations, inside the trains and well, wherever we can. And now  we have become tech savvy.  A computer buyer, demands a long list of software to go with it. Shops selling mobile hand sets in small towns, invariably flash a sign board saying "Downloading done here" . Even simple rural folks are not happy with just the handsets ( having 32 GB, storage capacity, all for under Rs 3000/-). They want their handsets with plenty of songs and Video clips of all kinds !

Not every one can break every law every time. A beggar sleeping on a pavement is promptly chased away. A hawker is tolerated as long as he follows certain 'conventions '(not laws, mind you). Then comes an ambassador  car with a red light on top, and it can be parked wherever for however long. 

When you are really big enough, and when you can get away with a murder, not just figuratively, you are ready for bigger roles in the society. Run out of laws to break, some of the law breakers, even mange to become law makers,  so that they can make more laws  to break!

No harm in dreaming . If only,...if only, every Indian decided to abide by the laws of the land,..atleast there will be wider roads, cleaner pavements and no traffic jams. Revenue collection, in every department will soar, to be used for all sorts of welfare measures.