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Thoughts on the Civilizational War

When was the last time you enjoyed a dance without adding a political connotation to it? When was the last time you listened to a song without commenting on its language? When was the last time you went to a movie without checking the political leanings of the actor, the director, the producer or even that of the movie theatre owner? When was the last time you saw a Disney movie, and didn’t comment “subliminal liberal messaging”? When was the last time anything in life, existed without an underlying message or meaning? There was such a time, you know!! Question is, do you remember it? For men and women alike, do you remember a time when you looked and admired a person of the opposite sex, without wondering about their political / social leanings? Ever remember a time when you didn’t say “oh! she / he is beautiful / handsome, but … “?
We are quick to blame the left for hating. And it is legitimate. But, the question remains - are we becoming quicker? In our pursuit for our political goa…

The Diwali Pollution Scare

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It is that time of the year when all Hindus are shamed for celebrating one of their most important festivals - Diwali. Apart from lights, the festival is celebrated with fireworks and crackers. The common refrain is that the festival causes pollution, and serious harm to health of kids and adults alike. Besides which, we are also reminded of animals not liking loud noises, and the pollution killing off birds - all for one day. 
While smoke is an issue on Diwali day, we will take stock of the facts about pollution - and Diwali's contribution to it. There are few threads in this problem: a) the overall pollution levels and the source thereof, b) the persistence of firecracker / Diwali pollution, and c) the economics of firework / crackers in the recent years.
A Greenpeace report [here] reports that all around the year, Indian metropolii are uninhabitable with respect to air quality. Particularly, Delhi has the distinction of being the most polluted city in the world. Average year r…

RTE: Some Recent Churnings

Finally, the ills of Right to Education Act (#RTE) are coming out to light. Apart from the outcome based failures that have been discussed threadbare by even the Govt of India, the sectarian nature of #RTE (it applies only to Hindu run schools) is finally trickling down into public domain. The efforts of one anonymous twitter handle in this respect must be acknowledged: @realitycheckind (RCI). In a literal David vs Goliath, RCI has fought a long, and often lonely, battle to bring the ills of #RTE to public attention. Yours truly got educated from his tweets on this topic since 2012.

In a recent article, Education policy maker Meeta Sengupta (@meetasengupta on Twitter) wrote an article in LiveMint, where she discusses three major problems with #RTE factually. I say factually because the article doesn't bring out the whole truth in that issue - and in that sense, the article hides some and reveals some. I am also at odds with the overall direction of solutions that Ms. Sengupta adv…

Mirage of Mother Tongue Education

It is a fad today, to pontificate on the wonders of learning in one's own mother tongue. "It is a wonderful thing", they say. "All the developed countries do it", they say. "English is making slaves out of us", they say. 
Yet - they say all of this in English, on a platform called Twitter made mostly by men speaking English, based on computer languages that are predominantly written in English using algorithms that are mostly published in English. Never mind that those who say this, have made a living in India / out of India using their "English" knowledge, and have gone on to monetize on that advantage. Now, they want youngsters in India to forego English and learn everything in their own mother tongue.
What these warriors of mother tongue refuse to accept is India is vastly different from the other countries they mentioned. Let us first burst that myth. Here are the top 10 economies in the world, with their GDPs and population sizes. 

Tril…

Tamizh Nadu Lives in Interesting Times

Warning: Long Post / Rambles in some parts

The old Chinese curse: "may you live in interesting times". It is considered a curse, because interesting things to hear and read are often tumultuous to live through. "Interest" in a particular time period, presupposes life altering changes to countries or even civilizations. For example, volcanic eruptions produce some of the most fertile soil known to humans; but you won't want to be near one when it erupts.

Tamizh Nadu is going through some interesting times. The events are big - and in a subtle way, interconnected.

First was the demise of the reigning CM, Madam JJ last year. In what seemed to be a smooth transition, her prime loyalist Mr. O. Panneer Selvam (OPS) took over the reigns of the government. It was no surprise, since he had been her choice for CM whenever JJ was forced to not occupy it. Interestingly, the controversial friend and confidante(?) of Ms. JJ - Mrs. Sasikala Natarajan (SN), was found to hold th…

Thoughts on Jallikkattu

Jallikkattu has been in the news - and is proving to be a sharp dividing factor between people. We will look into the cultural continuity of Jallikkattu, its purpose, its position in the rural economy and agriculture, and the problems associated. I am not going into the power play behind the NGO / PIL / Supreme Court nexus that is hell bent on stopping this game - though we will see briefly how it ties up with the continuing colonization of India.

First things First: Jallikkattu (சல்லிக்கட்டு) is NOT bull fighting. "Bull Fighting" as a term creates a negative connotation where successive players try and kill the bull. In Jallikkattu, the bull is not killed. In fact, the multitude of men in the play do not even fight the bull. Henceforth, we will not use the term bullfight to describe this sport. There is a strong historic reason to not call it bull fighting.  The technically correct term for this sport in tamizh is ஏறு தழுவல் - "Embracing (தழுவல்) the Bull (ஏறு)".…

Demonetization Follow Up

Yesterday, the PM addressed the nation on the issue of demonetization and its impact on the general populace. It was a damage control exercise with two objectives. First was to acknowledge the hardships that everyone went through during this exercise, thereby mollifying rising impatience. The second was to outline a roadmap for what the govt aims to get done in the next year. The points raised in the talk came as no surprise.

In fact, as we had noted in an earlier blog - (here) - the main target of demonetization hasn't been black money itself. While the bank deposit wind fall has been accepted with due gratitude by the government, the main targets were Fake currency rackets, terrorism and naxalism. One facet that we had not thought of, but turned to be a blessing was the almost complete crackdown on human trafficking. One would also imagine narcotics business to have taken a big hit. Each of these problems have enormous prevalence in various border states. On the whole, it has b…