Archive for March, 2010

Unfortunate Figures


Advertisements

The Hypocrisy Of Democracy


In what is widely being regarded as a landmark decision in India, the Supreme Court declared live-in relationships and premarital sex between consenting adults as fully within the law and legal. This comes after the actress Khushboo’s controversial statement where she said that, “No educated man would expect his [bride] to be a virgin”. “Please tell us what is the offence and under which section should she be charged? Tell me how many people have been affected by Kushboo’s statement?” asked Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan. In a single unresearched statement the actress has questioned the morality of women of India, thats what’s wrong Mr. Chief Justice. And this coming from the very people who have the unwritten job of upholding India’s identity.

Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and BJP MP Rama Jois today said Indian scriptures bar premarital sex and Indian society still consider pre-marital sexual relationship not good. Quoting from scriptures, he said one of the nine directives of dhrama prescribed by Mahabharata was “Prajanseveshu dareshu” one should procure children only under wedlock which by necessary implication bars pre-marital sexual activity between man and woman, he said. In a predominantly religious state like India, where does the Supreme Court’s decision stand? Isn’t it just loosely based upon miming the West? Let me not even go into the health issues such practices can create. In a country where HIV has affected more people than in any other country, this new decision doesn’t help the cause. An estimated 19 million people a year in the U.S. become infected with some form of STD. Are we ready to face this in India? Will we handle it better than the US?

In a country where we harp about our cultures and traditions, this decision is a rude awakening call. With India opening to the West both technologically and culturally, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Supreme Court decides that we (the youth) should be mentally open to such “radical” ideas. Bravo to the judiciary system of India for trampling over what few moral values we have left in this “progressing” country of ours. Forget the need to educate the masses, to alleviate the poverty-stricken, to stand for what India truly represents; our honorable Supreme Court doesn’t mind corrupting the young minds of the nation towards the ideologies of the so called “advanced” West. Let us remember that it is the same country which had introduced the ban on bar dancers in Mumbai not long ago. Call me orthodox or conservative, but to me the need to accept the Western ideas while retaining our Indian identity is of primary importance. Now cynics may say that when we have accepted Western music, food, fashion, why do we a draw a line when it comes to this issue? The simple reason is that while our varied culture has allowed integration of a lot of Western practices, there are still some that are simply incompatible with it. Why don’t we go ahead and allow strip clubs to run here in India? It’s a western idea isn’t it? How about gay bars? The recently legalized gay community in India may soon make a demand for them under the right to freedom of assembly. Will the Supreme Court deny them that on moral grounds then? Why then do we cringe about these ideas when we’re open to all other western practices? Aren’t we being hypocritical?

“Marriage is an outdated institution with no security. A true relationship is devoid of social and personal pressures. It has less emotional breakdowns, but it comes with responsibilities,” says filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, who was in a live-in relationship with actress Ameesha Patel. A quick look at the readily available statistics reveal that 46% of all marriages in the US, the biggest proponent of live-in relationships and premarital sex, end in divorces. Where then does it leave Mr. Bhatts statement?

“Who is anybody to judge if two people want to stay together?”  asks Pooja Bedi, but goes on to add, “A live-in requires serious commitment. And now with the Supreme Court backing it, it is no longer frivolous”. By saying this does she mean that unless someone declares a practice frivolous, we are to continue doing it without restrictions?

On a different note, lets take a look at democracy in Europe. We must have all read about the French president Sarkozy’s promise to ban the veil in France. “The full veil is contrary to the dignity of women,” he says.  He has blissfully ignored the sentiments of the women, both religious and moral. Ask a woman why she wears a veil and she’ll tell you that it is to protect her dignity. The law does more harm than good. It instills the feeling of victimization among the Muslim fraternity. Mr.Sarkozy’s statement is a paradox then, isn’t it? Are we to accept France as a democracy then? A democracy which doesn’t allow its people to wear what they want freely without questioning them? How would the Indian public feel if the government banned bikinis in India? Isn’t a bikini “contrary to the dignity of women”?

Switzerland has recently banned the construction of Minarets stating that “Swiss residents should be able to block unwanted and unusual projects such as the erection of Islamic minarets”. Another puzzling decision taken in a democracy. Why shouldn’t a people be allowed to construct symbols of their faith? Does the construction of minarets harm anybody? Why then discriminate and victimize your citizens who are after all only demanding freedom of expression of their faith?

This is the hypocrisy of Democracy.

It’s about time we stop blowing the trumpet of Freedom and Democracy, because not only do we seem to be ill equipped to uphold the true spirit of Democracy, we are also engaged, knowingly or unknowingly, in advocating and encouraging an intolerant society which has tuned its back on its cultural and moral roots.

Facebook – Are you there yet?


Facebook came to me as naturally as crying to a toddler. The subtle levels of sophistication coupled with the blue and white backgrounds was indeed very appealing initially- a distant drive away from the masses. A breath of fresh air for the soul. But was it really? The idea was indeed very shortlived.

There were days when my mother whould ask for an residential address and note it meticulously on a notebook- till the last digit digit of the pin-code was in its proper place. In contrast- the other day, I asked for a friend’s facebook account rather than his cell phone number. My friend was in for a rude shock when I asked him if his account was under his own name or under some alias. Had I really stooped to such “LOW” levels of “Societal Norms” to even question whether a facebook account was under an alias?

Facebook has acquired some accepted levels of of sophistication – a fair parallel to the the society than we reside in. A society – that is demarcated along the lines of wealth or education. I prefer to call it the virtual demarcation. Socializing sites be it – Orkut, Hi5 cater moslty to the people, the virtual masses; a user having on an average more profiles than himself. Facebook, too has seen an exodus in recent times. With more people around the world gaining access to the internet, the number of Facebook users has quadrupled in the last 2 years. But the natural drive towards the higher echelons, the very zenith – to be aligned with the “bourgeoisie” of virtual society has never faded. Be it in the real world or the virtual: this inner drive towards alignment has brought about stark changes. Be it the drive to learn the English Language and construct proper sentences or to upload pictures that are more appealing and aesthetic.

Facebook, in a recent report, has had the most number of hits in the US. The figure stood at a staggering 7% of the overall US internet traffic., crossing its nearest rival – Google for the very first time. The radical Zuckerberg may have introduced into society something more than an irritable passtime. For a country like India, the radical has promoted to the betterment of the english language. But for the society – has minted a parallel society. the existing one where the teeming masses try to compete with each other in the real world. Another – the created: where the masses are presented with a platform to realign society sans frontieres.

The Art Of Asking Questions


Remember the last time you felt like pulling your hair out while watching a presentation ceremony at the end of a cricket match or during an interview with the manager after a game of football? Well then you would know why you also felt like punching the interviewer in the face then.

More often than not these TV “pros” end up asking questions that firstly, are too obvious even to consider answering; and secondly,  are unavoidable (since you cannot tell the guy to bugger off). These commentators-turned-interviewers make life miserable for the viewers at home, and frankly, would be much better off holed up in their box high above normal civilization. The other day during the Chargers match against the Kings XI, Sunil Gavaskar was having a chat with Rohit Sharma who was fielding. Now, in a situation like this one would expect him to ask questions like “Hows the pitch playing?”, or “Hows the outfield?”; but instead he goes ahead and asks him “What car do you currently have?” *gasps*. Just then the last ball of the over was bowled and a boundary was scored and the reply that Sunil got was “Shit!”. Well obviously you can’t blame Rohit for using the word on National television, but whether it was for the shot that was hit against his team or for the stupid question that he was asked, remains to be speculated upon. More than once Ravi Shastri has come up with questions like “How does it feel to score that century?”. Well I wouldn’t know about the player but I’d certainly feel like throwing up on him.

This disease isn’t confined to Cricket alone. Managers in football regularly get asked questions like “How does it feel to win/lose?”. Now innocuous as the question may seem, technically the question is a no-brainer. A manager who’s just lost wouldn’t say “I feel like its the end of the world for me”, nor would a winning manager say “I feel like Alice in Wonderland!”, yet there is an unwritten law that binds all managers to answer these abysmally stupid questions as nicely as possible. But once or twice there come managers like Gordon Strachan who’ll tell the interviewer off in the funniest manner imaginable.

Example No. 1:

On being appointed new manager of Southampton FC, an interviewer asks him “Do you feel you’re the right man for the job?”, Gordon replies: “No”

Example No.2:

Interviewer: ” Gordon, all good things must come to an end and bang goes your unbeaten record this season. Can you take it?”

Gordon: “No I’m just gonna crumble into a wreck, go home, become an alcoholic, and maybe throw myself off a bridge”

THAT is exactly how I would reply to questions like those and thats why I’m a big fan of the ginger haired Scot. What we need now are more such players and managers who’d do us a favor and hit these obnoxiously obvious questions out of the park each time an interviewer comes up with them.

Bollywood XI: The Tonic For Indian Football


I’m sure I speak for the entire nation when I say that Indian football needs drastic improvement. What with the team languishing at 132nd position on the FIFA ranking table. The Pundits have come up with an ingenious solution to this problem: Revamp the whole squad of players.  So we scouted Bollywood, looking for potential players because we heard a lot of commotion about Bollywood being “littered with talent”. The parameters used for the selection of the players were: Wealth, Recognition, Looks and Gossip Generating Power. We admit that we have neglected a few parameters like Footballing Skill, Ability etc. but we have unanimously agreed that those things no longer mattered in Indian sport. Hence after careful consideration we came up with the following team consisting of Bollywood’s finest:

Bollywood XI: The 4-3-3 formation at its best

Goalkeeper: The legendary Amitabh Bachchan was selected as the team’s goalkeeper. Towering at an impressive hieght of 6’3, he represents the epitome of Bollywood. Age and reflexes aside, his multitasking abilities are what set him apart. He can be a genie, a gangster, a ghost and even God if required.

Defence: The back 4 i.e defence, of any team is essential to its success. Our defence consists of Harman Baweja, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt.

Aamir Khan with his hard work and never-say-die attitude serves as a perfect central defender, although his tendency to disappear after a good performance remains to be a problem that needs to be sorted out.

We chose Saif Ali Khan solely because we once saw him playing in a charity football match and thought that shorts and wolverine-type facial hair went well.

Sanjay Dutt was a pretty obvious choice. His ability to aim and shoot down moving targets is industry-renowned. So we figured that he would be instrumental in shooting opposition players to extinction.

Harman Baweja  may seem like a weird selection but we stand by him due to one undebatable reason. His ability to scare people away remains to be his biggest weapon. He has done it to cinema audiences around India, and we know that it’ll have a similar effect on opposition players. His similarity to another team mate- Hritik Roshan, will be important in confusing the opposition.

Midfield: The midfield trio of Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Shahid Kapur was a carefully selected blend.

Salman Khan would be the perfect combative midfield player who breaks up play and stifles the opposition. His recent battle training for Veer was perfect preparation for him although the box office performance of the film admittedly wasn’t.

Shahid Kapur is our playmaker for the team. The long slow motion shot of him running alongside horses in the film Kaminey is what impressed us the most. Similar performances on the field will prove to be vital to the team. Although not very tall, his stamina sets him apart from other players.

Sandwiched between 12 packs of well built ab muscles is our very own Abishek Bachchan. Although he’s slow, not well built, not very good looking, yet his unique talent of pulling off unbelievably stupid roles with grace is laudable indeed. Another reason that we picked him was because we were told that Aishwarya Rai would do a promo for the Indian team if he was selected.

Attack: Scoring goals is the aim of any football team. But our attack not only score goals, they score goals in style.

Sunny Paaji was chosen to run at defences shouting “Yeh Dhai kilo ka haath jab kisipe padtha hai na…toh aadmin ut-tha nahi ud jaata hai..” and to cause mass hysteria and confusion among the opposition with his dance moves.

Hritik Roshan’s flexibility and showmanship is what earned him a place in the team. His job first and foremost would be to run around defences flailing his arms and legs much to the shock and amazement of the opposition. His ability to fly, climb walls and communicate with aliens were all considered during his selection.

Finally, serving as the central attacking striker would be Shahrukh Khan, the proclaimed Baadshah of Bollywood. His stealth and ability to produce hits out of the blue are his assets. He also blends well between his two fellow strikers. While the defence will be clamoring to tackle Sunny and Hritik, Shahrukhs job wold be to sneak past defences and score, an art at which he is perfectly adept.

Substitutes:

Vivek Oberoi – Because he and Salman don’t complement each other on the field, or anywhere else.

Govinda – Perfect entertainment for the rest of the team, can also woo public through false promises.

Akshay Kumar – Will be useful to provide drinks to the team because of the unlimited supply of Thums-up he gets everyday.

Tusshar Kapoor – Recommended to us by his siser as she couldn’t get him a job on tv.

Ritesh Deshmukh – Recommended to us by the Maharashtra government.

Comments: Notice how we have carefully separated the big 3 Khans from each other. This was done to ensure maximum compatibility and cooperation, a skill lacking in the current football team. Also, the lack of a manager for the team might be worrisome to some, but we believe that this team needs no manager and has nothing to do with the fact that no one in their right mind was willing to take up the job of managing 11 spoilt, rich celebrities.

Petabytes – What next?


The other day, I was merely browsing through an article on Silicon.com when I randomly came across a very unfamiliar term. It stirred up impulses within the numerous neurons within my Grey Mater. The foremost among the several being – What is a petabye?

Gone are the days when we compiled programs on GW-BASIC or TURBO-C++, where programs and codes would be to the order of 2 bytes or a couple more. Where Assembly Codes were just about 5 bytes. As the generations progressed, the level of Storage space quadrupled, as per the applications that were conceived with time. Data Cards these days store unimaginable amounts of memory. All for the that matter, the pendrive is also all but passe these days.

But Peta? No, I’m not talking about the same PETA with which Maneka Gandhi is well associated with. For all the readers with a non-science background, 1 peta unit is equal to 10 to the power 15. Thats 1 followed by 15 zeroes. So a petabyte is roughly 10 lakh gigabytes. Or, to state in very simplistic terms, thats memory contained withing 2.5 lakh 4GB pendirves.

But the ultimate question would then arise- what would a computer system do with such fantastic amounts of memory or processing capabilities?Surprising though it may sound, most contemporary cellular networks are accustomed to daily data transfers of a few petabytes. American Giant AT&T wireless transfers about 16.6 Petabytes of data a day! The Hadron Collider Experiment located high underneath the Swiss Alps will reportedly generate 15 PetaBytes of data from the Collision experiments that it will conduct by the end of this year. So a computer that will analyze such data will definitely possess comparitive processing speeds as well!

Internet Giants, Google too process more than 15 Petabytes of data annually, and their processing capabilites are too, on the rise. For the gaming fan,  World of Warcraft utilizes 1.3 Petabytes of Storage space.

Portrayal of Virtual Reality too consumes mammoth storage space. The advent of High Defition Media as well 3-D cinema has also brought to light the stark  necessities of storage and processing capabilities of such a large magnitude. The Oscar nominated “Avatar” has reportedly acquired 1 Petabyte of local storage as CGI rendering memory!

The final question that I propose to put forth. What next? Photo editing utilities such as Adobe Photoshop, are extending their brush and filter capabilities with every new version that theyintroduce  in the market. A petabyte requirement is definitely achievable within the few years. Astronomers are already processing a whopping 10 Peta Bytes of data each years. This adds another 10 to the multiplication – and voila, 1 Exabyte! The craze for data has brought us to unbelievable setups for data storage.

But the question remains- are we still prepared to soar into such unchartered territories this soon? Our networks are plagued by crashes and transmission losses. Fabrication of High speed OCDMA techniques are still within the confines of R&D. Another challenge that we must analyze before the advent of the ‘Exa’ stage id that of storage scaling and consideration in power utilization and outages. Once these problems are analyzed, Exabyte is just a breath away.

A Reality Check


It seems like ages ago now, but looking back I still remember how we used to rack our brains in front of our television sets, discussing possible answers and playing the game along with the contestants on the show. It was the time when Quiz shows like Bournvita Quiz Contest, Kaun Banega Crorepati etc. ruled the primetime show slots on television networks. Derek O’ Brien was a household name and everyone would back their school team to land a spot on the show. But then TV channels apparently felt that these shows weren’t attracting “enough” audiences and TRP’s weren’t high enough, I guess, because of the lack of controversies, cheating, use of expletives, and skin showing. Hence came upon us a new era of  Reality Shows, which aimed at the larger pool of audiences and with the help of whom the TRP’s skyrocketed to heights channels never dreamed of.

Shows like Fear Factor, Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachaao, Sach Ka Saamna, Big Boss, Bingo, Swayamvars etc. are now the rage. While one involves performing daring stunts and eating protein rich insects, the other is about a bunch of  out-of-work celebrities all huddled up in a house while the audience spies on them through strategically placed cameras. Frankly, the audience’s intellect is taking a huge beating through these shows. Children now want to do the stunts depicted at home while the adults vote for their least favourite celeb to be kicked out of the show. Many dance shows and singing competitions have also cropped up in the name of reality shows. While they may be a useful platform for people to showcase their talents, one cannot ignore the fact that these shows are causing premature mental depression in children who cannot deal with the emotional pressures of being voted out or criticized by the judges. Then there are the so called adventure shows like Roadies. Two bald guys decide whether you’ve got the talent to participate in the show and once you’re selected there starts an unending saga of back-biting, abusing, and plotting against other participants; and yeah there are a few tasks here and there too, just for the sake of it. The worst of the lot though, are the Swayamvar shows. It started with Rakhi Sawant who apparently would marry the winner of the show after she decided which one of the men was the most “suitable” (read: rich) for her. Then it was the turn of Rahul Mahajan to pick from a bevy of girls who lined up for him. Ask the girls and they’d say that they would do anything to win, all because they represent the “Modern Generation” who weren’t held back by silly rules of society. Clearly their culture and family values mean nothing to them and they have probably lost the respect of millions watching the show. Which self respecting man/woman would participate in these shows? It just shows to what extent people would go to be seen on tv.  Granted there are a few shows which actually bother about nurturing talent and bringing it to the notice of the public, but most of the other shows are just a sham aimed at wasting peoples time and money and ultimately only serving the cause of the celebrities who participate in them.

The worst part though is that the general public are actually accepting these shows which only encourages them to continue playing with the audiences. No one seems to be bothered about the slowly falling standards of Indian television, and so long as the people lap up these shows, the channels will only be too happy to keep feeding us with such garbage.