Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So they said

Some interesting quotes (taken from zigzackly's site) that I really think make sense. Usually the whole quote-unquote deal can be pretty boring to read, I know, but some people say things that genuinely make me feel like I should have said them!

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
~ Satchel Paige

Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.

~ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.

~ Henry Winkler, actor (1945- )

Manners be damned…?

I was returning to Bangalore by flight yesterday. There was an aged couple (both at least 80 years old) travelling on the flight with their daughter (at least 50 years old). At the Bangalore airport, on the shuttle bus from the flight to the arrivals terminal, there was no seat left for the old gentleman to sit, as they alighted from the plane last. I offered my seat to him – indeed I could not have imagined doing otherwise. But to my surprise and consternation, not one other single person offered their seat to the other lady.

I have done the same on the London tube, and on a local Coimbatore bus. Am I expecting too much when I say that basic courtesy dictates that any aged person should have priority of seating? And is India so heartless than in a flight full of what I would assume are educated individuals, not even one other person has the so-called Indian culture or values in them?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The monster called IIPM

As a blogger, I feel it is my duty to rise to the occasion and let the people who read MY blog know what is going on. Amit Varma has summarized the issue well, but anyway here is my little bit on it.

I was writing just yesterday about freedom of speech and expression, especially that of the written and blogged word. As it happens, that has direct reference to what I am about to mention. Rashmi Bansal, editor of a youth magazine called JAM is being targeted by IIPM because of an article published in her magazine way back in June. The article was an expose on the tall claims made by the management 'corporation' (I can justify my using that title because of the kind of advertising the organisation has been doing, more like a corporation than an educational institute), Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), headed by Arindam Chaudhuri. I have read a number of their advertisements in many dailies over the past months and have been highly skeptical about what they say – that the institute is almost on par with the IIM’s, that their students are placed in top companies, their infrastructure is out of this world (Wi-Fi, swimming pools and so on and so forth). The truth is that a lot of these statements are not facts, and this is what was unearthed by JAM. Anyway, to cut a long story short, Rashmi’s blog got some ridiculous and disgusting comments targeting her personally, over the last few days. None of the comment-posters (supposed to be IIPM or ex-IIPM students) clearly mention their identity or are able to refute JAM’s claims. In addition to this, Gaurav Sabnis, an employee of IBM and an active blogger in his own right, took up her cause and wrote his own views about it on his personal blog.

It so happens that IBM supplies laptops to IIPM. After issuing a legal notice to Gaurav, IIPM put pressure on IBM to ask him to delete his posts with reference to IIPM and the JAM article and apologise, or resign from IBM.

Today, Gaurav Sabnis resigned, because he believes that that was the right thing to do, that it was the ONLY thing to do to keep his self-respect intact.

Desi Pundit has a lot of links to people who are raising their voices in support of Rashmi, Gaurav and free speech. Blogging can be a powerful tool to spread awareness, and I intend this post to be one too.

Monday, October 10, 2005


This article by Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram brings to the fore a question that must puzzle many an intellectual – where should a journalist draw the line when writing or exposing information for public review? The article mentions Spain’s sentencing of Taysir Allouni, an Al-Jazeera reporter, to seven years in prison for alleged links with the Al-Qaeda. Allouni interviewed Osama bin Laden a few weeks after 9/11, and the prosecution apparently used excerpts from this interview as evidence against him, a point that has been brought up by Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit working for the rights of reporters worldwide. They argue that if terrorism was what he was sentenced for, then his interview (which was a professional engagement more than anything else), should not have been brought up in court.

"It is inherent in the nature of the work of any professional journalist to meet and extract information from players on all sides of the political spectrum," head of the London-based Arab Press Freedom Watch organisation Ibrahim Nawwar told Al-Ahram Weekly. "In the case of Allouni, he cast doubt on his intentions by meeting Al-Qaeda heads."

Extending this argument to you and me, suppose I were to be vocal about my opinions on America, which are probably not to the liking of the current government there. If someone were to read something I wrote about my ideas, would I be liable for prosecution? Probably, in a fettered society. And yet student protesters even 10 days ago were killed in Meghalaya for making their voice known. Does that make our 21st century society a fettered one inspite of the onslaught of media reports and systems that we have access to that were not available decades ago?

What happens to freedom of speech then?

This of course throws up a host of related questions: does anyone have the right to censor someone’s expressions or voice or, because it is not in keeping with one’s personal beliefs or views, persecute them? Reminds me of an episode of The Big Fight I saw on NDTV once, where people were debating the right of the Censor Board to decree what people can and cannot watch. My 20-year-old cousin was a member of the audience and I recall her answering Barkha Dutt’s question and opining that she did not think the Censor Board had the right to question the intelligence of the public, to discern what was right or wrong for them. That choice should be left to them.

Likewise for us. I think we all have the right to write about our actions as long as we can stand by them and they do not harm anyone.

As an educated individual, that is what I believe. The battle is on and my ramparts are officially manned. Counter, you fanatics out there!

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's a time to move on...

I’ve been busy the whole week. New city (sort of), new people around and new work. Too many new things at once. But that’s what life is about, in a way, I suppose. Moving on to greener pastures. Incidentally, my new house-mate was talking about how she was looking for a new place to stay some time last year, but that was just when she got a new job. So she decided to stay put because too many new things at once would be too much to handle. I agree with that logic too – everything all together can sometimes make you feel like Alice in Wonderland. But I suppose those kind of situations are where your real mettle shows through. Either you can, or you can’t. At the end of the day, its all different for different people. That’s the beauty of humans. No two people will react the same way to the same situation.

Anyway, life has been busy, and I’m grateful. Work sees me wondering what on earth I’m doing versus what I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m getting the hang of it!

On a completely different note, I’ve been noticing that lots of bloggers have an Alice in Wonderland quote somewhere on their pages. And no wonder – some of them are genuinely funny, or just shockingly philosophical, given that the age at which most people are introduced to them is sub-ten years. Some interesting ones:

'But then,' thought Alice. 'shall I never get any older than I am now? That'll be a comfort, one way--never to be an old woman--but then--always to have lessons to learn!'

`But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.`Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'`How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.`You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'

`Now, I give you fair warning,' shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; `either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!'

I don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it.

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.

Ah! Then yours wasn't a really good school. Now at ours they had at the end of the bill. French, music, and washing -- extra.