Indian Immigration Policy


Indians seriously need to be taught a lesson on love thy neighbor. The PIO card website states that the eligibility criteria for PIO card is “All persons of Indian origin who are in possession of the passport of any other country except Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Sri Lanka…” Who exactly is eligible then? Probably India would be the only large country in the world whose ALL neighbors hate/have dispute/cold war/active war(with no exception). That probably is a notable record for a so called peace loving nation.

At the time of Independence India had a sizable population of people from Indian origin. But they locked them up for 5 years without any trial/justified reason. Between 1962 and 1967 differently looking people were rounded up (sometimes at the middle of the night) and shipped to remote desert concentration camps Deoli, Rajasthan. Some were never heard of again and some were forcefully deported. Defense of India Act 1962 and war with China were a convenient excuses to do an ethnic cleansing and seize the property of these folks.

This was not a one of incident. In Feb 2014 the Delhi law minster did a citizen arrest of Nigerian nationals living in Delhi. They were released soon afterwards because authorities could not charge them for any violations. Bangladeshi immigrants are prosecuted everyday due to political reasons. Infact we sometimes don’t even spare people of Indian origin. You don’t have to go in history to read about Mihirakula or find why Buddhism was eliminated from its birth country. Anti-sikh riots of 1984 or Anti-Muslim riots which happens several times every year are live examples.

What I am trying to ask is by what right do we ask Western countries modify its foreign policy when we ourselves are not tolerant of foreigners or cultural diversity?

Retail store: Museums of E-commerce


Yesterday, I walked into a Titan store, spend 30 minutes browsing through the display and trying on the different models of watches (expensive bracelets as many youngsters now call it). The second I spotted the perfect piece, I immediately logged online, compared prices and bought it online.

Are stores becoming relics of the previous generation/centuries? It is common place for people to bargain on the mobile, tablets & electronics by showing the retailer online prices/discounts. Buying purely on specs is also in vogue, but still most people like to physically feel, test and use the product before buying it online. The retail shop has now become little more than a museums where people visit not to buy but for the physical experience of the product.

People are caring less about physical world and more about the virtual world. The man caught without the gadget probably ran out of battery or was pick-pocketed.

Recently a product RedMI 1s has bypassed the physical store, distribution & logistics completely and decided to sell exclusively online. (it sold more phones in 4 seconds than what established brands sell in months) 10 years ago Reva’s G-wiz was sold in London not through showrooms but through online booking for test-drives. Several retailers now charge “slotting fees” to the various brands for stocking, display and demos of the products rather than a commission on the sale. It would be long before high rentals of physical store will make them unviable.

Raanjhanaa


Normally I am not a big fan of Hindi movies. Often I find the entire story of a 3 hour Hindi Bollywood flick can be summarized in 3 minutes, but Raanjhanaa was a pleasant surprise. It is a very emotional, sad story of love across religion. Yet it surprisingly handles it in a very mature fashion, which is realistic and yet does not offend Hindus, Muslims (or both).

Life is complex and the humans in it even more. It is a love story about a hindu boy who is madly in love and a muslim girl who likes that boy (but as a friend). Unlike the typical No item songs, inappropriate scenes/dresses (but lot of curse words), or unnecessary gore.

Since the movie was released 18 months ago. I will talk about it with spoilers.

The worst part of the movie is the opening song in which Sonam Kapoor and Dhanush, both in their 30s or late 20s dress up as teens and think the world cannot tell the difference, but the movie recovers after that. It starts with a street urchin, Kundan (Dhanush), a son of a Varanasi Pandit (hindu priest) who is madly in love with Zoya, Sonam Kapoor, a daughter of a muslim professor. Sonam likes the attention but rejects his advances as she does not have feelings for him.

It has one of the best performances of Dhanush and a masterpiece script. The story shows him maturing subtly but dramatically from a carefree kid to a man filled with remorse and guilt. The way the movie portrays the complex human emotions is also remarkable.

swachh bharat abhiyaan: 7 point metric


Just do a small experiment, don’t clean your room for a week, throw your laundry around, tilt your paintings & decos and you yourself will notice a perceivable difference in your attitude & emotions. Now imagine the entire country has been in the state of disarray for centuries. I cannot even extrapolate what benefits we can accrue by cleaning it up.

Hygiene is important not only for aesthetic and psychological reasons, according to UNO it has tangible economical benefits too. A substantial portion of productive manpower is lost due to illness and weakening due to chronic diseases caused due to consumption of unsanitary water, food and air. The degradation of environment due to human waste imposes additional cost to the consumers who need to clean their food, water and other natural resources before consumption. Foul smell and uncleanness triggers our primal survival instincts. Several research has proven that youth brought up in clean & green neighborhood are less prone to acts of vandalism & crime. Also hygiene is one of the most important criteria for tourism and even investments/expansions or even procurement decisions.

India has has a long history of clean and hygienic practices.  Even the religion degrees Hindus to take bath daily, daily clean the house before putting the rangoli/white powder drawing in the front yard. These were followed in the times when the rest of the world practiced weekly/monthly baths. However somewhere down the line we forgot to develop on these noble thoughts.

Modi’s mission of clean India is an amazing policy initiative whose benefits will accrue across demographics, industries & pan India. I have a simple metric to gauge to gauge the relevance of any public policy:

1. Is it tangible? The benefits/results of the movement can be gauged by individuals themselves.

2. Does it inspire? It primarily involves changes in attitude & behavior and can easily become a self sustainable engine.

3. Who benefits? Unlike subsidies that benefit only those who have connects/well to do, there is no license/document requirement to enjoy the fruits of the initiative

4. Can it provide some short term low hanging results immediately to sustain the momentum: 2nd Oct drive itself was a great showcase story.

5. Does it improve the socio-economic mobility? (help the poor to overcome adversity that limits their ability to achieve “pursuit of happiness”) The poor will benefit the most from improved sanitation, lesser instance of diarrhea, cholera, malaria, good toilets, clean drinking water and food.

6. Intangible benefits: Cleaner environment and improved state of public resources (streets, rivers, air, public places etc.), better health.

7. Investment requirement is also minimal. Hence it is unlikely to be reversed/slashed by the subsequent government.

The only other policy in the past 3 decades that had such remarkable impact on this 7 scale metric was mid-day meal which aimed at eliminating child malnutrition and poor school attendance due to pressure from the family to earn (child labor). I am hoping that this policy will make India a cleaner and greener place.

Don’t talk just message


There are some genuine advantages of leaving a message over a real conversation/phone call:

  1. Apologize to your angry wife
  2. Communicate with a deaf/mute or with a speech impairment (that includes spouses, girlfriend and anybody with a high pitched shrill voice)
  3. Silently communicate from meeting hall /movie theater/rock concert/lecture hall.
  4. Safely drop a note to a blabbermouth without giving them license to talk back
  5. You are a nervous wreck and you intend to pour your heart out without being judged/mocked
  6. Not being accused of disturbing somebody in the middle of night or act of copulation
  7. You are cheap and your carrier provides you with a zillion free sms/whatsapp

In real life you don’t get 15 minutes to think of a clever comeback line. You might impress someone temporarily through proofreading your message before sending. But messages are not literature and cannot hide the fact that you cannot hold an actual conversation without blabbering like an idiot. Forwarding jokes & links might be amusing but does not improve your social standing (unless you aspire to be the joker)

Messages allow us to skip the small talk, exchange pleasantries or even smile and say hi. This is good if you were a robot, but unfortunately most of us are not. This whirlpool of convenience might allow you to talk to multiple persons and indulge in plethora of pursuits at the same time but is it doing anybody any justice. On an average it takes thrice as much time to get your point across and yet is neither as emotionally gratifying nor as effective as meeting someone in person. If you respect that person, then they deserve your undivided attention. Spend time understanding the other person and show empathy.

Indian Restrooms| Hygiene


Why is it so difficult to get a decent, clean rest-room in India? Furthermore 9/10 restaurants/petrol-bunks/service establishments would not even have running water, lighting or even a remote resemblance of sanitization. Flushes will not work and faucets would be leaking. Furthermore they would put a big lock on the washroom as if it is a storehouse of the entire establishment’s wealth.

Forget tissue paper or toilet roll or even a clean towel. A typical Indian restaurant/petrol bunk would have one of the 3 options:

  1. no soap
  2. Liquid soap which is not 8 parts water and 1 part liquid soap. I wonder if it can still clean because I can never generate any lather out of it for sure.
  3. A bar which is of the size of a 1 rupee coin and rendered practically impossible to scrub with

You would be lucky to find running water or a dry washroom. In most cases we have to pour water a bucket… gosh how unsanitary…. The customers could probably take their bum elsewhere for a crap but have some consideration for your employees and the owner themselves. They have no  other alternative but to use the establishment’s facilities.

The purpose of knowledge and culture is to develop on your heritage. If 5000 years ago Indus valley civilization (Harappa, mohenjo daro) could develop the concept of toilets, running water and drainage why can’t we today do the same?

Thermal Cultural shock


Winters in north India is no joke. It may not snow and rarely do people freeze to death, but single digit mercury temperature is not uncommon. If it rains in winters, then the situation becomes even worse. Yet surprisingly very few Indians invest in centralized heating and we could seamlessly move from inside of home/office to outside.

On the contrary, wearing a jacket indoors in Europe is kind of an insult to the host. It is a subtle accusation to the host that the hospitality is not warm enough. In India, removing the pullovers or layers of clothing might hint that you are getting a little bit too cozy. How the same action/inaction have totally different  cultures . I wish I had a cool T-shirt that explains people “I am from an alien culture and not to think too much in trying to interpret my habits”