Contagion

This is an article I wrote sometime back as a reaction to a mishap in Mumbai on New Year eve. I just finished reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. It had few examples of social upheaval and even degeneration which I could relate to with this piece.. particularly with it’s last paragraph.

Contagion

1st of January, 2008
Juhu, Mumbai
01:45 am

Two women were molested by an unruly mob on the New Year’s eve in Mumbai. The women, accompanied by their male friends, had just left a party when the mob attacked them outside a five-star hotel. They tore their clothes and also manhandled their friends, who were trying to save them from the allegedly drunk and out of control crowd.

Post this, media got busy chastising Mumbai Police for the unpleasant incident and the delay in punishing the accused. That was the only noteworthy mishap on the eve throughout the city; evidently the Police was well prepared (or skeptically, unaware!).

A similar incident had happened exactly a year ago, when a girl was molested by New Year revelers at the Gateway of India.

Will the Police be there to guard us everywhere? When will we start targeting the root cause instead of the symptom? That group of 70-80 people belongs to Mumbai. They are amongst us. We, our friends or our friend’s friends or some other people we regularly deal with were there, either doing that crime or committing a bigger crime by being mere spectators.

A society does not jump, it merely creeps. It does not take a certain stand or acquire a particular behavior all of a sudden; the degradation is gradual and contagious. There is a relation between its acceptance, approvals, tendencies and actions. We have encouraged eve teasing in one way or the other in our lives. Either by doing it, or by applauding or meekly accepting it. We are the source, and the harvest, I must say, is pleasant.

Do take care.

The Earth Hour :: Does it make sense?

Had I flicked my light switches off tonight for an hour I would have done my share our commitment towards our planet. I chose not to.

The growing rate of consumption all over the world (of not just energy but also resources) is a concern we all need to address. Indian cities like Mumbai and Delhi have population ranging up to 20 million. These two cities put together are more populous than Canada or Spain. Their energy consumption has grown by roughly 10% consistently since years. And as expected from Indian governance and planning the generation capacity has been more or less flat.

The recent power plant projects (which will be commissioned at least a year or two from now, and are all either Coal fired or Gas fired) will be absorbed by our never ending internal growth potential, besides adding to the growing pollution. But shutting shop is not the solution. We cannot and should not put a cap on our growth just because we appear to be caught in a “energy crunch – harmful emissions” cycle.

The problem we are facing is not as easy as it looks, or rather is made up to look. The complexity and gravity of the situation can be understood by the fact that the solutions which can be implemented to effectively counter this hydra headed monster are available and very much feasible since decades (Solar, Geo-thermal, Wind, Fuel-Cell, etc.). This explains that our world is inherently drawn towards its doom. And this inheritance is an unexplainable result of the way economics and politics are intertwined.

I see people cringe every time Petrol and Diesel prices go up. What they do not understand (and are never told in those switch-your-lights-off-for-an-hour-today websites) is the colossal effect such small changes have on our planet. The reason why the already available solutions were never implemented is Economics. And ironically if we ever get serious and implement these solutions the reason for sure shall be Economics.

Let’s see what happens when petrol and diesel prices go up… The sector hit directly is transportation, which means movement via rail, road and air becomes costlier, which further puts pressure on industries, because they depend heavily on movement of goods. This may also affect your utility if it is dependent on fuels like Coal and Gas for power generation, which means costlier electricity. It also affects service companies like ITs and ITes (think Server Farms and Air Conditioning and Office lights). Thus a rupee more for Petrol or Diesel could mean higher operational costs for everyone around. And nothing else in this world (not even this world’s doom itself) has more power to stimulate and bring about change than Money. Only when it hurts corporate balance sheets and common man’s budget is when Government Policies will change for the good.

There is no harm in creating a general awareness about the current situation. Masses should be involved if such a drastic problem has to be dealt with. But the way this has been propagated since few years is creating more problem than it is solving. It is not the message of doom anymore but a nice topic for dining-table-debates. And as Thomas L. Friedman says we are just having a “Green Party”. And this Earth Hour Gig is just another bash thrown to celebrate our Greenness, our commitment to the cause of saving mother earth. You just have to pose “Green” (Take a look at the “Green” site of one of our Indian power companies below). So much discussion and so little effort (just a flick of your light switch) are hurting the cause by belittling its gravity. I do not question the intention of the move; I doubt the understanding and sincerity of the followers.

The "Green" Us
The “Green” Us

The best thing you can do today is keep your lights switch on all night, just to prove that you are not partying any more. It is the question of our existence and is definitely not a distant condition. This is not something our kids will be facing alone; we’ll be by their side when the D-day comes.

The Savior Returns

How dare those jehadis entered our coutry and made us laugh, disguised as stand-up comedians? Even worse, they sung songs and acted in our movies… But don’t you worry, our savior MNS is teaching them all a lesson. They are being beaten up and threatened and thrown out of our land. Pestering bunch of insurgents.

MUMBAI: Pakistani stand-up comedian Shakeel Siddiqui was driven out of a television set at Mohan Studios in Andheri on Wednesday by members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and asked to leave the country immediately… Last week, MNS had burnt CDs of Pakistani performers and had forced stores to withdraw books by Pakistani authors.

After few months of lull our saviors are back. They are saving us from Pakistani Agents who have the impunity of entertaining us in our own country. How dare those jehadis entered our country and made us laugh, disguised as stand-up comedians? Even worse, they sung songs and acted in our movies. Look what they have done, their songs have become hits all over the country. Our people are getting lost in their melody. And then some of them used the weapon of words, published Pakistani text on the Indian soil. But don’t you worry, our saviors are teaching them all a lesson. They are being beaten up and threatened and thrown out of our land. Pestering bunch of insurgents. They forgot we have MNS to save our souls.

So what if Mr. MNS and his hooligans were nowhere to be seen when Pakistani Insurgents entered our Mumbai and kept it captive for a couple of days. Pakistanis hurling hand grenades at us are tolerable but we should not accept Pakistanis giving us smiles. Its OK if they kill our innocent men and women but they should not share their art and culture with us. Our savior let them get away after committing heinous acts of terrorism. So what, these are small things, to be forgiven and forgotten. We should instead focus on the real issues and look only where Mr. MNS wants us to. Lets kill them all!!

Looters and Moochers

The good might happen by itself, but the evil is done, coldly, professionally, thoughtfully. The people who follow his irrational outcries are guilty. Thackeray is just the charmer. It is the lured who must resist their inherent temptations to claim against their needs.

My parents never told me to reject something I didn’t deserve, specifically if it were good. I don’t accuse them; their parents too probably didn’t. What this makes me, an average Indian, is integrally challenged.

I go to any extent to spend one quarter of a penny less and to earn another quarter of a penny more than what is justified. And such halves make me a fraction of a person. The issue does not end at Money. Go out of the way to help me and I’ll chant your name forever. Make some consideration, compromise or a special favour and I’ll place you with the gods. Who knows, I might even profess your holy kindness on my blog.

I am saying all this to prove that Raj Thackeray is not at fault. He is merely using his political skills. I am sure he knows how wrong he is. The good might happen by itself, but the evil is done, coldly, professionally, thoughtfully. The people who follow his irrational outcries are guilty. Thackeray is just the charmer. It is the lured who must resist their inherent temptations to claim against their needs.

Moreover, all the action taken against Mr. MNS will only lead to his glorification amongst the mindless masses that already dietify him. The best way to deal with these hooligans is to leave it all to them. Let them run Mumbai (and the rest of Maharashtra) and tap its potential for their “son’s of the soil”. Cause the actual creators do not need a Mumbai to create a Mumbai. What they need (and what actually burns in the furnaces of this economical giant) they’ll carry away in their skulls.

This is a fairly old post. It was first posted on my previous blog at a time when Maharashtra was seething with its “son of the soil” sentiments. The upsurge caused a lot of damage to Maha’s and specially Mumbai’s cosmopolitan image. What I really love about this post is its relevance to all Indians, Raj Thackeray or not.