The Evils of Social Media

To those of you already on Twitter or know some friend on Twitter will understand the addiction that Twitter is. Twitter if it has to be described in one sentence is an unabridged direct feed of people around the world, talking to themselves. The fun thing about sites like Twitter, Youtube is unlike Facebook it gives you access to random thoughts of complete strangers in distant corners of the world.

One such lot of strangers I undoubtedly encountered was of course the Pakistanis. Now to say I am patriotic would be an understatement, because the number of times I have eaten a green GEMS before a blue one has happened, never! So, in short, the crazy fanatic types.

If you ever recall your childhood as an Indian/Pakistani the first thing you learn before you even learn your name is Pakistan/India is your rival. I remember crying uncontrollably as a child when my brother pointed out my favorite color green is a Pakistani color and by that logic I was a Pakistani. Or trying to push the walls of my house as a 5yr old so India has more space and the neighboring Pakistan less. (Yes I did that!) Or consoling friends when we got beaten up in a gully fights, “Chod na yaar woh log toh Pakistani hai”. So basically every evil guy out there. Pakistani.

So imagine my surprise when I saw hilariously witty tweets on everything ranging from politics, to love to cricket to religion by Pakistanis. Whoever thought Pakistanis were normal people? Whoever knew they could type in English? Where are the beards and bombs dammit?!

Another really cool accidental discovery I made was this hilarious young youtuber I now follow: ZaidaliT. To say that all of his videos are relatable is an understatement. Because they are so accurately on point you want to cry!

So am I saying Pakistanis are good? Do we let them win cricket matches now? Do we give them Kashmir? HAHA! But am I saying they support and bash their cricket teams as passionately as we do, slam their governments as vociferously as we do, indulge in Bollywood as religiously as we do, get hit by mom’s chappals as often as we do? Yes. Am I saying we are similar? Yes.

The intricacies of issues between two nations having a history of violence of 60 years are far more complicated than what naive amateurs like me can comprehend. But if there is one thing I have realized, assholes and intellectuals are on both sides. Sympathy for Peshawar attacks was on both sides. Outrage over bail to Lakhvi was on both sides. Logic is on both sides. Absurdity is on both sides

The question is not who is good or bad? Who is right or wrong? The question is, are we really different? Evil indeed, this social media. Poses questions we’re unprepared to answer. Makes us dream of the impossible

Does India deserve its innovators

I’m not saying engineering in India is a joke, but it got offers to be cast in a Himesh Reshamiya movie. Twice. Okay while this may be an exaggeration, there is no denying the fact there are some blatant flaws in India and its education system.

Recently Pranav Mistry, inventor of the SixthSense technology and currently Samsung’s Global Vice President of Research tweeted about being interviewed by Barkha Dutt, during prime minister Modi’s visit to USA. The sad part was Ms Dutt, who is one of the leading journalists in India not only failed to recognize Mr Mistry but also seemed to be blissfully unaware of who he was. Now as a daily survivor of the agonizingly irrelevant jargon, that NDTV passes off as news, that just hurt. I mean the least Ms Dutt can do after subjecting her viewers to the numerous pointless, imbecile news discussions is stay updated of one of the most significant names in technology.

Oh but we forget, to be relevant you need to leave a remarkable engineering/banking career and write four crappy movie scripts. Not that I have anything against Chetan Bhagat or his writing personally. But what his books lack in infuriating me is made up by his choice of profession. The guy was in an IIT, an IIM, which means he was one of the most brilliant minds in the country and he gave up all that to write bad films? Not that every engineer has an obligation to stay dedicated to the profession. But what is ridiculous is the amount of relevance that is given to the man! A brilliant talented engineer/banker who left what he is good at to earn money by making us endure Sohail Khan’s acting (that film based on one night st a call center anyone?) is our idol instead of the scientist who travelled from Palampur to MIT? Congrats India!

But who cares right? We are getting easy admissions in engineering colleges right? We are getting degrees by studying from previous year papers right? We are taking mechanical, electrical streams but still getting menial jobs in IT right? We are getting money, right? But we’re getting money, right?!!

Why is it that the country which produces the highest numbers of engineers in the world has no proportional engineering miracles to its name? Why is it that we are satisfied doing irrelevant menial IT jobs unrelated to our fields? Why is it that we even refuse to question the ease with which we get our degrees? Why is it that we teach our children to be like the guy who graduated from IIT but forget the guy who went to NIRMA?

What bothers me most about media’s (and the general public’s) lack of awareness about Pranav Mistry is not the lack of recognition (and respect) for an Indian innovator who had managed to be original along with being eminent but the fact that people refuse to acknowledge the enormity of how a scientist didn’t let tags like IIT/NIT be associated with success (Mr Mistry choose computer science in NIRMA, which was more to his liking, over mining in IIT kharagpur, swaying from the popular trend of ‘getting into an IIT for the IITian tag’) Summarizing, in a country which gave the world zero, email, usb the IITian who wrote ‘2 states’ grabs headlines but the inventor of Google gear is unheard of! Does India deserve its innovators?

The right reasons to hate AAP

Not that I ever believed it, but boy did Mr Kejriwal break the ‘Change-is-here’ dream in style! Before we discuss the very predictable and short-lived tenure of the people’s CM, let us first rewind to 2009, days when naïve young people like me were overwhelmed by the idea and the response of the ‘Jan-Lokpal’ bill and dreamed starry-eyed about the ‘revolution-that-has-begun’.
The Anna movement which was also an extremely cleverly marketed façade, captured people’s attention overnight. But we could argue it’s dramatic overtures were a tad bit justified, because it is too hard to hold the attention of an average Indian without a pinch of melodrama. But inspite of its overt emo content, Jan-Lokpal was a sane, progressive idea. A cause that needed attention. A cause that mattered. I was probably the biggest admirer of the Anna movement not because of the promises and hopes it held, but because I was too impressed that a small group of activists had cleverly managed to get an ignorant, sentimental nation to pressurize the government to pay heed to an issue that mattered. The genetically inherent melodramatic nation that we are, swaying public opinion is a child’s play. And the fact that, here were these group of clever intellectuals who knew exactly how to exploit the sentimental ‘aam aadmi’ and channelize his emotions into forcing the nation to take notice of real issues, almost made political romantics like me swoon. It was almost like ‘The Renaissance’!
But the ridiculously impractical solutions that Mr Kejriwal proposed to problems in Delhi were absurd to the point of being offensive and made it clear that Arvind Kerjiwal and team were merely brilliant show-masters. People merely good at portraying an idea not conceiving it. People may hate AAP probably because Arvind Kejriwal failed to live upto his promises. But I hate AAP because for me it was an organization which made sense, a people’s party in true sense, an idea people were enthusiastic about. For the first time people felt like being part of a change. More importantly AAP was a party which made the reluctant, foreign-obsessed average Indian who shunned politics stop and consider the possibility of a change. AAP was a party which could have had it all! But Mr Kerjiwal’s theatrics and the shortlived chaos centered tenure in Delhi not only bluntly shattered people’s dreams but also took away the one thing that this country needed the most- Hope. I hate Mr Kejriwal not because of the promises he could not fulfill but because he proved those age-old cynics right ‘Iss country ka kuch nahi ho sakta!’
In a country with deteriorating political culture every minute and a society which has accepted it, hope was a rarity. But when Mr Kejriwal resigned as the chief minister of Delhi he finished that too. But what pains more is that Mr Kejriwal’s theatrics not only reduced the ‘aam aadmi’ and some of it’s genuinely good members to a laughing stock but it also made the inherently pessimistic general public more skeptical about expecting leadership out of a non-politician. So in short Mr Kejriwal reminded us that we nothing but a mere helpless voter bank and voting is simply choosing the lesser of the corrupt candidate!
So hate AAP not because it was a party that failed, hate it because it was a party that never tried in the first place. Hate it because it permanently undermined the credibility of honest, genuine politicians. Hate it because it reduced a political revolution into a mere fatuous media circus. More importantly hate it because it was a political organization that could have had it all… but instead chose to throw it away!

AAP and the Emperor’s clothes Syndrome

The tremendous (and very well deserved) success of AAP in the Delhi elections this time, came as no surprise given the resentment and anger among the common citizens of India. In a country where 1000 crore scams make the news every second week, the Aam Aadmi Party and its genuine efforts towards transparency is definitely a breath of fresh air.

But what puzzles me is, how nobody in the country has taken the time to question the practicality of the solutions put forth by the Aam Aadmi Party. Agreed, Arvind Kejriwal and team have come up with highly ingenious and genuinely democratic ideas to tackle common political issues (proposals like, Delhi will be divided into different wards and the citizens of each ward will decide and regulate the matainence of each ward Or the people will decide the price of petrol and other daily commodities etc) but one can’t help but think if AAP is being too disillusioned.

For example, let us for a moment assume that AAP has it’s way and the common citizens are allowed to fix petrol (say) prices. But then why would a common citizen pay if he has to decide the price and not take it for free? Can we then hope the economy to thrive? Okay, maybe we can argue the common citizen is not a fool to demand petrol for free and what AAP means is common citizens will be a contributing if not a deciding factor in fixing prices. But then decisions of development and economy require expertise and debate and cannot be driven by mere public sentiment.

A nation of hypocrites that we are, most supporters of AAP, you’ll be surprised to find, are merely following AAP because being a part of “change” and “revolution” is the new cool. Just like the subjects of the emperor in the popular fable “The Emperor’s Clothes”** who merely ignore the obvious to seem part of the crowd. While some may scoff away the criticism and ridicule even the  thought of questioning AAP’s functionality, let us not forget mere ‘good intentions’ cannot be enough to govern a country.

In the end, the point being, even although AAP symbolizes transparency and honesty let us not get over-whelmed and also focus on whether they be trusted with development and progress.

“We thought we had the answers, but it was the questions we had which were wrong” – Bono

** The Emperor’s Clothes is a popular fable in which a emperor is conned by two men who sell him an invisible cloth and claim that it can only be seen by ‘intelligent’ people. Afraid of being called dumb everyone pretends to “see” it until a young boy points out the obvious.