Naming of Things

Some years ago I came across a single-panel cartoon which showed a statue of a figure on horseback. It was clearly the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha hero. Standing in front was a little kid with an adult. The kid was asking, “But what was the statue called before it was renamed Shivaji Maharaj?”

In Mumbai, the trend is that everything gets renamed after Shivaji. And in the broader context of India, everything gets named after Nehru and his clan. Naming things is easy in India. “Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal, Indira, Rajiv, and Sanjay” are the choices for the first bit, as in “Jawaharlal Nehru University,” or “Indira Gandhi International.” It won’t be too long before we have “Sonia, Priyanka, Rahul, Spotty” added to the list. (Spotty is just a place holder as I am not sure what the name of the Gandhi family dog actually is.)
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World Bank Complicit in Indian Corruption

A recent Wall Street Journal article, World Bank Disgrace, (hat tip: Prakash Advani) reports that an internal review of five WB health projects in India totaling US$ 569 million in loans shows major corruption. The report begins with

Credit Robert Zoellick for knowing how to put the best face on a profound embarrassment. On Friday, the World Bank president announced in a press release that the bank had “joined forces” with the government of India to “fight fraud and corruption” in that country’s health sector. This is happening at the same time that Mr. Zoellick’s colleagues are hounding bank anticorruption chief Suzanne Rich Folsom, the person primarily responsible for bringing the scandals to light.

Joining forces with the government of India to fight corruption is reminiscent of joining forces with General Musharraf to fight terrorism. One bank managing directed is reported as saying that she is “encouraged by the Indian government’s “strong resolve” to deal with corruption.” Exactly like the strong resolve of the fox in guarding the hen house. We can now all sleep soundly since the Indian government has resolved to . . . whatever.

If your corrupt government is strongly resolved to deal with corruption, you might be a third world country.

PS: Let’s remember that all the stolen money is a WB loan to India. That means, we, the tax-payers in India, have to ultimately pay back all the embezzled funds.

Weep for Taslima, and then for India

I was born in India. Most of the time I am quite content that the land of my birth is not a hell-hole. But every now and then I am rudely awakened to the fact that to a very large extent, it is ruled by a bunch of slaves, criminals and myopic morons. I read Taslima Nasreen’s heartfelt question “What is my crime?” with rising disgust and distaste for what India appears to be at times — a pathetic Third-world country with the morals of a bottom-dwelling creature and the ethics of pond-scum. Read the whole thing by Taslima and weep — a bit for Taslima but a lot for Mother India. Here’s just the last bit.
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Air Indian — Part Duh

So then the two state-owned Indian airlines are going to merge (according to this rediff report — hat tip: Tejaswi) and the merged entity will be called — umm, let’s see now — “Air Indian,” the title of a blog post last month on the merger.

I have written earlier about the stupidity of changing the name “Indian Airlines” to the even more generic “Indian,” repainting a few dozen airplanes spending tens of millions of dollars, knowing full well that in a matter of months the whole exercise will be repeated when the name is changed yet once more. Time to revisit that piece.

Like I say, India is not poor for nothing. It takes concerted cumulative stupidity over decades to bring a large economy to its knees. Behold the bureaucrats and marvel at their madness.

Air Indian

Imagine a restaurant where the number of employees exceeds the number of seats. Would be a very expensive restaurant indeed. Now imagine an airline where the number of employees exceeds the the number of seats. Actually, you don’t have to imagine that one as India has two such airlines where all the employees cannot be seated in the planes simultaneously. When the two state-run airlines merge shortly, they will have about 132 airplanes — my estimate is around 20,000 seats — and 35,000 employees.
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Governance Cafe Baghdadi Style

Cafe Baghdadi is a little hole in the wall restaurant in Colaba, Mumbai, just around the corner from Regal Theatre and next to the famous street restaurant Bade Miya. Baghdadi’s fried chicken would beat KFC’s chicken any day of the week, by the way. That chicken is good. What tickles me at Baghdadi is a sign which lists a set of rules for its patrons. The list is long and fairly detailed. It says, for instance, that “Customers are not allowed to argue with the waiters,” and that “Alcohol is forbidden.” The list tells you in no uncertain terms what you, the customer, are allowed to do, how you are to behave, and so on. Basically it puts you in your place and tells you who is the boss.
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Abhorrent Discrimination

A Letter to Dr Manhoman Singh

If there is one thing that makes me see red, it is senseless discrimination in general and unfair treatment of people. But when it comes to discrimination based on a person’s religion, I abhor it with every fiber of my being. It disgusts me and I feel nothing but contempt for people who discriminate based on religion (or lack of religion, in some cases.) One of the distinguishing features of a civilized society is that it does not treat people differently based on their belief systems. Those societies that do discriminate based on belief systems are retrograde, regressive, backward, ignorant, bigoted, intellectually bankrupt, and generally deserve the derogatory label “third world country.”
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Blog Censoring by the Goverment of India

“Somebody must have asked for some sites to be blocked. What is your problem?”

I can just hear the derision in that question. That is what Shivam Vij was told by Dr Gulshan Rai, director of CERT-IN, which is the organization which is authorized to issue orders to ISPs. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of the Government of India asked that certain domains be blocked (but does not reveal exactly which though it is clear that the list includes *.blogspot.com, *.typepad.com and geocities.com/* .)

Like the imperial rulers they are, they did not bother to explain why this attempt at censorship. I write “attempt” because on the internet, you really cannot censor anything. The net treats it like it were the failure of a link and routes traffic around the failed link, as anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the internet knows. Continue reading

Export Quality

Haldiram’s is perhaps the only brand known around the world which comes from Nagpur (my home town). They make a great variety of wonderful namkeens (traditional Indian salty snacks), sweets, and other stuff which can be lumped as Indian junk food. It may be my cultural chauvinism which is speaking but I think that Indian junk food (like Indian food in general) beats any other variety of junk food hands down.
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Enough already of not being filthy rich for me

Dateline May 4th, 2005, Kolkata: The Slimes Times of India reported that IIT entrance test set for overhaul:

The IIT-Joint Entrance Exam may soon be easier to crack. The Union HRD [Human Resource Development] ministry feels the examination is too tough, causes immense stress to candidates, and needs to be toned down immediately.

The ministry has formed a committee … to modify the IIT-JEE pattern.

Clever, isn’t it? In related news, another ministry has expressed concern about the fact that hunger is a problem to some few hundred million people and something needs to be done immediately about it. So a committee is being formed which will revise the daily caloric requirement from the current approximately 2000 Kcals per day to about 1000 Kcals. This would reduce the number of hungry people by about 80 percent.
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