Hail dictator Gandhi: Strange India

Indira Gandhi did not declare emergency on 25th June 1975 because country was at war (it happened for a 13 day period from 3-16th December 1971). She declared emergency because she was found guilty of corruption and wanted to circumvent democracy by imposing dictatorial rule on India. Times of India summed it really appropriately in its obituary column:

“D.E.M O’Cracy, beloved husband of T Ruth, loving father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice, expired on June 26”

A dictator who subdued the freedom of this country is widely respected and remembered in India. A large portion of the population condones the mass castration & atrocities that her son unleased her own citizens. The draconian policies, 97% income tax rate, inconsistent nationalization policies brought India to the crisis and institutionalized corruption. Yet the TV and radio praise her as mother of reforms & liberalization. What they don’t realize is that by when Narasimha Rao only undid her policies that country could grow and break the hindu-growth rate stalemate.

My daughter opted to dress up as Indira Gandhi on the independence day as part of school’s fancy dress competition. I couldn’t stop laughing at the irony but surprisingly neither my family nor the school authorities could understand why this is so wrong and disgraceful. I guess history can be written and re-written a 100 times. What people remember is the propaganda which survives and that is usually popular fiction unrelated with truth.

Inkjet Printer vs Champagne

  1. Ever wondered why there are no monochrome (black ink only) inkjet printers? You cannot print a simple B&W document from a printer if the color cartridge is empty/missing?
  2. Most inkjet printers have a water-based ink (that is more expensive than champagne) and will dry after 3-6 months irrespective of how little you used them.
  3. Did you know that most printers have an auto cleanup program that squirts out a good deal of ink every time you power it on? What’s worse that if you did not power it on for a month, the ink-nozzle might get clogged irreversibly.
  4. Earlier you had a provision to manually refill the ink. But now most companies have sensors-chips in place and have sealed the cartridge to prevent any re-usability/recycling.

Essentially, like a drug dealer, the printer is shipped for free and the dealer makes money from the repeat business. It does not matter whether you use your printer or not. Your printer will sip Champagne every day and make you pay of the full bottle. Cheers!

A basic HP/Cannon printer costs less than 2000/-, but I need 550/- for a black cartridge and another 450/- for a tri-color cartridge which expire every six months. So 1st year total cost of ownership is 2,900/- (assuming I replace the demo cartridge after 6 months). After two years the printer warranty will expire and you will develop paper jam/mechanical issues that need constant intervention of service engineer. Why do we tolerate this highway robbery?

Airline boarding pass, tax forms and maybe a few articles that I wanted to file would define my printing needs. Like most people, I need an occasional printer and a realm of A4 pages turn yellow before they are consumed. There is a print store not more than 500m away and my personal printer is the price of luxury. But how much should I shell?

Today I was contemplating buying a laser printer instead. Pros:

  1. It uses a powder toner rather than water based ink. Hence no risk of drying/clogging
  2. Laser printers are monochrome (at least the personal ones are) which means only one consumable to store and refill.
  3. Designed for heavy use and one 500 bucks cartridge lasts more than 700 pages compared to less than 100 pages (if your ink does not dry first)

Cons:

  1. They are bulky and cost almost two-three times more (although I found a good Ricoh basic laser printer for 3.4k) but it has no fancy stuff that color, photography, scanning, fax or wi-fi that you expect from a inkjet of the same cost.
  2. No color printing to indulge in occasional pleasures.
  3. These heavy machines take 5 minutes to boot and are designed for mass printing
  4. They are not portable and no wi-fi connectivity for mobile printing
  5. There are designed for offices that print 100s of pages each day not for somebody that prints a page a month.
  6. If you get the toner refill wrong, your hands, clothes, window drapes and carpet might pay for your folly.

Essentially I am looking for simple printer that has low cost of ownership. A dot matrix printer with a much finer print quality would be sufficient. Is there no company that understands my need and can meet it? Am I not a big enough market segment?