Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Logical Protest, Radical Means!

There is so much happening in the world right now. Liberation marches to wars to financial gridlock to Apple iPhone5 release! The march by Wall Street protesters for the past week has been a pretty interesting one to watch. The cause is simple and resonating. Elimination of corporate influence from politics. Good idea, nearly impossible to accomplish. But unless average citizens voice their opinions, there will be no attention directed that way actively anyway.
I was on board with the whole Wall Street protesting agenda until I read the latest on this story. Protesters are dressing up as zombies and eating monopoly money to create a 'metaphorical impact'. Creative, but not effective.
When trying to make a point in the mass public, extreme gestures of anguish such as this can be perceived as ridiculous and lacking judgement. I am on board with the humorous-literal-ironic symbolism in this case, but most people won't be. Especially people who are trying to discredit this protest. They will use this gesture to their advantage as a sign of lacking proper agenda and common sense.
I hope the protesters regroup and rethink their strategy. Persistence is a great thing in this instance, but radical behavior might not have the desired consequences..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No more 'democracy' projects, please!

Middle East unrest is a never-ending drama, this has been realized. But the Libyan rebellion is a historic moment, no doubt. After tolerating 42 years of Gadafi's authoritarian and suppressing dictatorship, the people of Libya are ready for a change. Great. Before complete transition of power, however, there will be a period of chaos. This is what the western world needs to realize - capitalistic, money-hungry-contracting corporations veiling under interim western governments in this situation will not assure a smooth transition. I think we can look back not too far in history to get evidence for that.
President Obama has played a pretty neutral/NATO led role so far. He has not invested huge amounts of troops, money, or resources yet. However, listening to concerns from members of Congress and Senate it appears that US wants to get more involved. If America gets its hands dirty in yet another country's transitional period with the excuse of providing 'stability', the world will not buy the reason this time. Sure, democracy is a beautiful thing. But it doesn't work everywhere, and it certainly doesn't work the first time around. After four decades of a no-brainer government, Libyans will need some time to sort out their issues and take a unified stand. To control Libya by labeling the current chaos unstable is premature.
The Rebels, backed by NATO with weapons and moral support, are angry and aggressive at the moment. They have finally reached Tripoli after six months and raided Gadafi's compound. They are violent and hungry for change. But this excitement is seen as acts of terror by American experts. NPR reported a story where a Congressman was voicing his concerns about the Rebels and how the US must provide support. I think this is brutally unfair. First we give them ammo for rage, provide them with support and help on the ground, promote their reasons for rebellion, and when they finally succeed, we criticize their methods and question their efforts. There is nothing wrong with NATO nations providing humanitarian and civil support, but proactively getting involved in their unstable politics and key decisions as a method to invest in the country would be cold and calculative.
Americans are well known for their two sided politics and hypocritical foreign policy, but hopefully this time America handles its own domestic issues before taking up another 'democracy' project.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The World Likes Drama...

Phew. It's been a quiet month for this blog, but there is so much craziness happening in the world right now. It seems that chaotic winds are springing in all directions from east to the west. Uprisings, change, dissatisfaction. These words are blatantly omnipresent in current political happenings across the globe. Aside from the 'democratic uprisings' happening in Libya and Syria, England and India are protesting in their historical ways. After an unfair encounter in a racially divided neighborhood involving the police, London mobs went nuts. Vandalism and public violence took over the streets in London. Criminology and psychological experts explained that violence is a part of English history and heritage. The typical mob mentality that springs from a valid idea quickly turns to illogical and blind following by an angry crowd. It was recently reported on NPR that the two people that promoted these riots in London on facebook have been sentenced 4 years in jail while a minor was banned from social networking sites for a year and 3 months house arrest. Additionally, it was reported that of the thousands of protesters that were in the streets of London the last few days are being punished in harsher ways than typically allowed by law. Judges are ordering cancelling of public benefits and stripping welfare from family members of protesters.
While one government is using strict sentencing to prevent civil violence, another had to let someone free to somewhat control the general population. Social activist in India, Anna Hazare, has appealed to major vertical chunks of the Indian population and is resorting to non-violent Gandhian protesting against corruption. After being taken to one of India's most notorious jail, Tihar Jail, he was finally set free last week on demand by the Indian people. This movement, going on for over 8 weeks now, is at it's peak and can be a revolutionary change in Indian history. Given India's strong economic growth over the past decade, their huge potential for a consumer driven market, and less than 35% dependence on exports for generating a competitive GDP only has corruption standing in its way to prosperity. However this deep rooted disease that takes over basic tasks and everyday chores has been deserving attention for decades. Corrupt and influential politicians have to finally bow down to what the world's largest democracy is asking for. A week long fast by Mr. Hazare is raising concerns and ticking down the clock to a time when public service owed is being demanded by the Indian people. People are protesting all across the globe including New Zealand, New York and London. About time Indians stood united for something positive.
Being back in America has its joys, but the self centered and crisis-obsessed news channels are creating limitations for the American populace. Unemployement, debt, inflation, oil prices - huge domestic issues in America right now, but to some extent it can make us feel better that everyone is experiencing some sort of chaos. No matter where you are, there is a situation that is on the edge of getting out of hand - into who's hands, is a matter to wait and watch.

Monday, July 11, 2011

High fives for fair dives...

The American legal system might be disappointing consistently, but it seems that some parts of the public service system have their agendas clear and fair. After the Defense of Marriage Act 'defined' that marriage is a union exclusively between a man and a woman, it was concluded that same sex couples were not to receive any federal benefits including Social Security and health care. Highly unfair and let me add, unconstitutional since we are all about 'separation of church and state.' But just like the abortion issue, debates concerning same sex marriages are a hot social topic that are used to deviate the less informed electorate from the facts and get votes.

But the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts has found a solution to get their way with the feds. In order to make up for the unfair treatment of homosexuals and the cost of lost benefits, the city has decided to offer additional pay to gay workers. Being in a gay relationship can cost from $1500 to $3500 a year, and the city is paying their gay employees the appropriate amount so that there is no added burden on not being straight. Amen! If the federal government is bent on socially conservative policies, local governments can take matters in their own hands, and effectively. It shouldn't be anyone's business to define how I should live my life or even worse, punish me if I don't fit the norm. America - the land of the free? Free to do as you please. And if violence, sex, and crime is okay to air any time of the day, then defining the boundaries of 'true love' seems highly contradictory. 17 companies have joined the city in their efforts to fairly compensate gay workers. Hopefully this will catch on, and across the board.

There was also some fairness and credibility in the realm of international affairs. US has decided to withhold $800 million dollars in aid to Pakistan until they resolve their 'trust' issues. Just like a betrayal in an exclusive relationship, US finding Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has led to estranged feelings of mistrust and doubts. Tensions have escalated and relationships have strained following the raid on May 2 and to be honest, rightly so. Until Pakistan shows that it is indeed against the Taliban (even though this is contrary to documented evidence) and that they are willing to contribute to the demolition of terrorist groups across eastern Asia including Afghanistan, providing millions of dollars in the name of security assistance will only be used for unclear, controversial causes. It has now been uncovered by Admiral Mike Mullen that in order to snap at critics, the Pakistani government is believed to have been behind the abduction and killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad who wrote about the infiltration of Taliban militants in the Pakistani military. Clearly, once again, Pakistan has something to hide. US is acting appropriately given its crucial and self-vested monetary and security interests in the region and using the $$ card might add some strain for better talking points.

The US Justice system has its share of work cut out to provide fair and correcting justice, but perhaps certain parts of the government do have their priorities straight. Let's get some eyes and ayes on that..

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Incompetence needs attention! - Part II

The Law & Order/CSI like drama surrounding Casey Anthony has come to a surprising close. After weeks of testimonies and years of curiosity a 'fair' jury found 25-year old Ms. Anthony not guilty of first degree murder of her 2 year old daughter. It hasn't been an overwhelming obsession for me as it has been for a lot of Americans. I haven't been glued to news channels and paying attention to every intricate detail on a daily basis; but I did keep up with each day's summary regarding happenings in court. I'm not one who's against the death penalty. I believe that if you commit intentional 'evil' crimes then you should pay for it, with your life. But the verdict of this case has made me question the effectiveness of the jury in decisions pertaining to my life or death. An obvious, smack-you-in-the-face kind of trial as this was mishandled by 12 ordinary people who have failed to provide justice for an innocent little girl.
2 year old Caylee goes missing, and instead of reporting to authorities her mother is seen partying and having late nights in local bars and nightclubs. She has made up stories and characters to cover her lies and 'estranged' behavior. She has tampered investigations by misleading the police and distracting them with unnecessary disturbing fiction that ultimately worked in her favor. Granted that the prosecution didn't have much more than circumstantial evidence to link her to the crime, but common sense and social behavior has been completely disregarded. Isn't emotional intelligence a good reason to question and confirm behavior? All throughout the testimony Ms. Anthony hasn't shed a single tear unless it was regarding herself. She has put her own family's honor into jeopardy by claiming she was abused by her father and her brother just so she can explain why she behaved in a 'strange' manner when her daughter went missing. This was, of course, not proven and the judge eventually forbade the defense to use this angle in the case any further.
This is a case with overwhelming and substantial reason to believe she killed her own daughter. Instead, the jury took only 11 hours of deliberation to conclude that she was not guilty and could possibly walk free. Any jury verdict has to be a unanimous decision. Each and every juror must agree and be convinced of the group vote. Really? Out of the 12 people on the bench, not even one took longer than 11 hours to question this erratic behavior by a supposedly 'innocent' mom? If this is the level of intelligence and conscientiousness that is going to be demonstrated in criminal cases involving life and death, then perhaps it is unfair to have capital punishment in the legal system in the first place. This case has proven that jurors can not only be incompetent and clueless, but can also be easily manipulated and disregard obvious facts.
And hey, Florida has once again raised questions of credibility. Like the mess up in the 2000 election wasn't enough, now they are set on letting murderers walk free!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Can we live and let live...

Seems like the world is continually getting smaller given the quick and vast spread of internet and technology. It is rather amazing to realize that there are groups of people and a number of communities that are still isolated from the 'global party'. Earlier this week, Brazilian agency FUNAI discovered a group of indigenous people living in a deep pocket of the Amazon that remain isolated from the rest of the world.
The community strength is estimated to be about 200 and their dwellings were captured in aerial shots through satellite pictures. It takes some effort for our imagination to wrap around the idea that "Pandora" could be an actual place, without the special effects. Prior to all this technology and the cyber takeover, there was a time when people could be self sufficient and reliant and basic human instincts were put to better use. The group is confirmed to be growing their own crops and don't depend on outside resources for their survival.
But our discovery of this tribe is not necessarily a blessing. For the sake of our own curiosity and wonderment we will bother them more than we intend to. According to previous uncontacted-tribe encounters, whenever we try to mingle with these groups, the outcomes are rather grim for the group. So far every tribe encountered by us has fallen prey to our germs. Germs of the modern world that are not present in nature. Through our vaccinations and "latest" biotechnology discoveries, the complexity of virus and bacteria have ten folded in nature and it is clear how unnatural we have become by merely contacting the indigenous.
In the last thirty years, the Maku nomadic group and the Zo'e tribe, both out of the Amazon basin, have lost over half of their populations by contracting diseases after we (the civilized) tried to contact them. But we don't learn our lessons well. An American mission called Jocum is persevering to end these preserving people. Based on a film documentary that captures a tribe burying a child alive, the Jocum mission is fighting to approve a law in Brazil that permits intervening in such practices.
These tribes have been in existence for as long as the rest of human race and have been surviving without our help or guidance for over 10,000 years. Are we really the ones to judge their practices and determine what's right for them to do? Radiation, nuclear power, pollution, and industrial wastes have become a part of our environment for the past few centuries. The developed world has enveloped a self destructive perspective. Perhaps we shouldn't be the ones judging the wiser indigenous people from the outside. We might have mastered mathematics, physics, and learned to defy the rules of gravity but given their survival instincts and self reliance it would be fair to say that they know some things better than we do or will ever understand.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Save the political jargon: Facts please!

A recent online article in The Trumpet news magazine caught my irritated attention. The article titled President Obama's Disagreement with Winston Churchill 'claims', citing history and Winston Churchill's philosophy, that President Obama is making a huge mistake by underestimating Germany and not paying attention to what a powerful and influential Germany represents - as suggested by Churchill during World War II.
Every journalist or reporter that covers a story has a right to their opinion. Leaking it over into a story without stating all the facts is not only bad journalism, but it is also irresponsible. For most people, the 'mainstream media' is their only source for news. People don't have the time to dig up facts and old international affairs to crosscheck stories and facts claimed in the media bias. Which is why a good reporter will give sufficient background information and even share facts that might seem to hurt his or her own position on the issue at hand.
Winston Churchill has been raised on a pedestal in America. Agreed that he was a tremendous leader with a vast influential potential and stood for the premises of democracy, capitalism, and 'righteousness' as comprehended by most Americans. But he also had his share of questionable episodes that are often overlooked by the Western media.
During his time served in the British forces during India's independence period, Mr.Churchill had been less than supportive of India's independence movement. Not only did he openly state his discontentment with the idea of an independent India, he also conveyed his dismay with Gandhi's nonviolent movement. He went far enough to state that Gandhi's death was a necessity and that him going on a hunger strike and surviving triumphantly was a failure of Britain's national interest. There are historians that claim that Churchill's wartime government during the Bengal 1943 famine should bear significant blame for the mortality of 3 million people.
Leaders have to thrive midst controversies. Given. But to highlight the positives while ignoring questionable judgement and decisions is a disservice to the masses.
It is considered taboo for leaders of the West to sway against vetted leadership. It is time to take a detour from acceptable and expected leadership and pave way for one that is dynamic, fair and encompassing. Reporters have to promote the idea of global leadership and newfound principles that don't rely on stale, stereotypical schools of thought. Churchill with India, Nixon on Iran Contra Affairs, Roosevelt and his socialist policies, even Jefferson and slavery have all been branded as great leadership, yet share substantial controversial politics. Perhaps Obama's stance on strong German leadership has an agenda bigger than what was needed to be fetched 60 years ago. He doesn't have to equivocate with political jargon and blindly follow acceptable stances given today's world affairs. A good leader's decisions don't need unwarranted following. They can be backed up with unfaltering pragmatism and the truth.

Find the complete Trumpet article here: http://www.thetrumpet.com/?q=8378.7073.0.0

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weiner attracts negative publicity..(Pun Intended)

Turning on the news channel off late has been a hub of "bizarre" happenings. Protests, wars, earthquakes, waterspouts, scandals!
It is interesting to note how sex scandals get a taboo sort of undivided attention, while illegal lobbying, suicide bombings in war zones and third world agendas (or lack thereof) get less air-time. It's the great media masterminds at work. They know what sells and riding on that for as long as possible drives ratings and of course lots of dollar bills. But the reasons on why such issues sell are double standard and hypocritical in nature.
Case of Democrat House Rep from New York, Mr. Anthony Weiner is one that comes to mind when talking of recent media obsessions. Mr. Weiner thought it would be a good idea to post some sexually explicit photographs of himself via Twitter to his "followers". This caused an uproar in the House and apparently some people were upset. Mostly because he was married, and partially because such actions by an elected official are highly inappropriate. Apparently inappropriate enough to not be fit for the job. Really? Hmm.
Not saying that what he did was okay, but the consequences and reactions arising from these findings deserves some analysis. Even though 56% of the people he was representing believe he was still fit for the job, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi along with Chairwoman Schultz called for his resignation. The reason for their position is not needed. Mr. Weiner's actions are attracting negative publicity for the democratic party. Republicans, hungry for any substantial boost in their chances of winning, are capitalizing on Weiner's goof. Granted his actions were irresponsible and perhaps showed bad judgement, but is he really the sole one guilty of this "worst crime possible"? A large number of Americans, pardon me, millions of people from around the world indulge in such controversial activities on a daily basis. Some of them are surely CEO's of big companies, political figures, and other influential personalities. The rest guilty of this are average people with interests in what seems to be inappropriate virtual hobbies. But these activities don't necessarily make people unfit for their jobs. It's safe to say that by not getting caught most people are able to hide that they have such interests at all.
The cyber-world has become a new ground for political battles. But the true question is whether just because someone gets caught implies they are the only ones guilty. Before the chip-age took front stage, such events took place behind closed doors and sealed envelopes. Before we make judgments and start ridiculing high profile personalities, it is perhaps worth considering how many others were guilty of doing something similar but didn't get caught. In a country obsessed with violence, sex, and reality shows, America is acting a bit too prude-ish on this one. Just because things are more accessible these days, doesn't mean there was nothing to access prior to this digital age. After all, leaders are average people like you and me. They do, agreed, have an edge over us when it comes to influence and power, but believe it or not are human nonetheless. For Mr. Weiner, however, guilty as charged will sum up his time of shame.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

America: Still got it!

Returning to the US of A after a year (exactly) was crazy and eye-opening. We hear so much in the news about how America is deteriorating and the quality of life is depreciating, etc, etc. But living in India just for a year has opened my eyes to the harsh realities that exist in third world countries that in this day and age are only getting worse. It begins with something even as simple as the airport restrooms. In the states, they are clean and people are courteous. Basic hygiene is in order. Then you step out of the airport and wow, the traffic is organized. There aren't swarms of cars getting in your way as you proceed in traffic. Civic Sense. Two magic words. It is a sigh of relief to KNOW for a fact that other people on the road or using other public amenities will behave in a certain manner. They will not be rude or intrude in your personal space.
Despite all the negative news coming from America, basic comforts remain untouched. It's business as usual for most professional people. They are still pursuing the American dream and enjoying basic liberties. Yes, there are some things very wrong in the political arena, and social issues often clutter democratic principles. But it is still possible to be away from that and life goes on. You can choose to not get involved and go about your everyday business. This concept is non existent in India. No matter how rich or upper class you consider yourself to be, everyone has to deal with the corruption, greedy politicians, dirty water and food scandals. Everyone's gotta watch his own back.
Granted, India has come a long way. More people have access to internet, telephones and televisions. Sure. But it's a long haul ahead. The educated class in India is self interested and self concerned. India is starting to suffer with an ego-centric culture. People are delving into reality shows and propaganda driven news rather than an awareness in a global sense. It's the same problem that America has been suffering from for the last decade, maybe longer. The few things that most Indians feel proud of are being lost to West-obsessed culture while the country itself is lacking in basic infrastructure, access to education, and most importantly a government that cares.
Most Indians that call themselves "patriotic" take offense to constructive criticism. They downplay the positive aspects of the first world. There is nothing wrong with loving your country, no matter how downtrodden it is. But unconditional zest with no room for social improvement is not constructive. One strong argument for India in this context is a powerful word: culture. India is known for it's rich heritage and customs. But that is in fact a hindrance to social and economic growth. People hold on to the culture argument with all their intellectual might. If all else fails, one can always come back and say, "Well, India has culture, it is secular yet relatively peaceful. What country has that?" Good point, but that doesn't make a great nation. Culture alone isn't enough to be a successful country. What about culture though? Since that too is declining. Youth are astray and chase instant gratification. Nothing wrong in that. But that's what most people dislike about America.
It's time we talk about what we like about America. Perhaps that will steer India in the right direction. Focusing on the negative is having an unwanted after effect. A fact that is unquestionably true and remains undebatable: America is a standard and trend-setter in the developed world. As Stephen Colbert wittingly titled his book : 'I am America, and So Can You'. India, the alarm is going off, and we can't snooze any longer...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And the prize goes to...

The world has seen some eventful last 7 days. The 'Royal Wedding' extravagant affair took a lot of attention from all around the world, President Obama finally released his long form Hawaiian birth certificate, and then the President produced Osama Bin Laden's death certificate. So now we can all sigh in relief. Or something like that.
The least interesting event of the three is definitely the wedding. Not only did it symbolize a gruesome waste of taxpayer money in a country that's struggling financially but it also showed how senselessly bedazzled the world is with unconcerning fancy parties. No, I'm not British so I probably don't understand the "true meaning" of what this might symbolize but while the world is in the midst of multiple wars and unrests, genocides, poverty, tsunamis and tornadoes, the fact that two normal people decide to tie the knot does not excuse ALL the news channels to air this event. There are enough people who find this a very important happening, but in the grand scheme of things it means nothing to people like you and me. We won't at all be affected by what happens and neither does it symbolize 'true love' as some people have been suggesting. 3 out of 4 of the Queen's children, including Prince Charles, ended their grand weddings in grand divorces. So let's get real. They're pretty normal, and raising them on a pedestal isn't going to change anything except belittle the issues that so need attention and action.
Of course we all heard about President Obama's birth certificate fiasco. A humorous reminder that ignorance can never be diminished and seeing how he's been questioned on the authenticity of what he provided, it's pretty clear that some people are never going to be satisfied with his responses. I hope he learned his lesson well and won't stoop down to prove the crazies right again. Maybe not until election time at least!
The death of Osama bin Laden was pretty big news, though. Aside from the exciting-spy-thriller-movie-like-mystery about covert and clandestine operations by the CIA and Navy Seals, it was just a 'wow okay' moment. Millions of dollars spent and thousands of men looking for this al-Qaeda kingpin for the last fifteen years, and this guy is sitting in a mansion 60 km from the capital city of Pakistan. I mean if the Pakistani government had no clue that he was there (as they are claiming) then the term Pakistani Intelligence is definitely an oxymoron rather than an organization. I was watching the news anchors on all major networks last night speaking with either Pakistani journalists or some members of the Pakistani government and they are in complete denial that this is even possible. Pervez Musharaff, an ex-President of Pakistan, was quoted in an article yesterday stating that the United States, by entering Pakistan and attacking Osama's mansion, committed a breach of sovereignty and is irresponsible. Hello! We only gave them, what, ten years and ten billion dollars each of those years to strengthen their infrastructure, army, weaponry, and "intelligence" so that they could help us catch this guy. He's been sitting under their nose and they have no idea and yet they are talking about irresponsible breach.
So out of the three events, due to the nature of mystery unraveled and questions raised with meaningful answers that can shape diplomatic relations across the world for decades to come, the prize for the best happening this week goes to the blowing up of Osama bin Laden. No offense to any Pakistanis, and I know tons of them coming from Chicago, but this episode is a blunt indication of the shadiness that exists in this country. India has been screaming on the top of its lungs for the last four decades regarding Pakistan's credibility and their leanings towards housing terrorists. President of Afghanistan, Hamad Karzai has been pointing his finger towards Pakistan as the major terrorist State. No one listened. Now Pakistan has to answers some very difficult questions without posing to be a victim of the circumstance, which is what's usually done. Good luck Gilani, where are you going to hide now?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shameful ignorance wins..again!

Yesterday was a shameful day for America. President Barack Obama finally gave in to the racist rants and provided a long-form birth certificate to prove that he is indeed an American born citizen. Shouldn't Americans be focusing on more important issues that are pressing current news? I don't know, maybe we can discuss the Afghanistan or Iraq war, or Pakistani Intelligence directly orchestrating terrorism, or Libya, or Japan, or unemployment or national debt. I mean the list could seriously go on. But no. Donald Trump and like minded morons find it more important to distract the nation with unimportant and irrelevant details that will in no way contribute to a single crisis at hand.
The hue and cry surrounding Obama's birth documents is a clear indication that most conservatives have no clue of what's priority. Just like any issue, the only way they attract media or mass attention is through paranoia, fear and racism. Yes, racism. Considering America is a land filled with immigrants, the whole idea of the 'Birther' movement is racist. Just because someone isn't born in the country doesn't make them any less able to serve than a red neck in Mississippi. How did most Americans get there in the first place? Oh yes, that's right by snatching away land from the Native Americans and basically ousting them from what was theirs in every respect. But that's okay. I'm not here to argue whether we should rid the constitution of the 'need to be born on the great American soil to be President' nonsense. That's a separate issue.
The issue at hand is how low will the Sarah Palin and Donald Trump likes go to dodge answering real questions. Obama has fallen for the trap. He stayed above the nonsense for over two years but now with him answering to an unwarranted accusation, he has probably only created more heat for himself. I mean, these people aren't going to stop. They will question his religion, his loyalty to the country, his morals and principles until its election time and the lazy Americans who don't read the news will focus on these facts instead of anything else.
Anyone who says that conservatives demanding Obama's birth proof isn't racist is grossly naive. I don't think this topic would have risen had Obama been a blue eyed blond white guy. It's because his father is from Kenya and he looks different than anyone else been in the White House. Why are people so afraid to admit it. It was a proud day when Obama was elected - a day that will be remembered as a historical turn point in race issues. But the backlash of denial and ignorance has continued since the election in 2008 and sadly has only gotten worse among the crazies.
Donald Trump has boldly stated that he is 'proud' of himself for having Obama answer to an undignified demand. Yes, you should be proud Trump. Proud that you wasted precious time that the President could have spent on constructive problem solving and 'real' problems. Perhaps Don should step out of his sauna and turn on CNN or BBC to realize what's really happening in the world. Believe it or not, the world stretches beyond Hawaii and Alaska.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can we get some perspective on legal convictions?

It's been a proud week for Indians. I don't mean just in India either. You know, aside from the corruption campaign and the great IPL legacy (yeah right), apparently Indians all around the globe are trying their best to make themselves visible. And not necessarily in a good way.
First we have Dr.Death Patel. He's been in the news for a while now. He's the weirdo surgeon who randomly operated on patients and killed 90 or so of them for no good reason. Not that there's a really good reason to kill, but some are better than others. An obsession to perform surgery is definitely towards the bottom of the list. In a nutshell, Dr. Death (he wasn't born with that name, he was given the name by the media, duh!) initially practiced in the US in New York and then Oregon. Both places he was cut off due to his negligence with patients and eventually his practicing license was stripped. Some people should just give up. Well not Dr. Patel. He was determined to perform his serial surgery killings, no matter what. So he moved his 'operation' (pun intended) to Australia. Not like there's not enough prejudice there anyway, but he wanted the limelight. So he moves to Queensland and gets a job - as Director at a hospital! I guess no background checks by the Aussies. Note to self. Ahem.
So finally after vigorous whistle blowing from the nurses and other medical staff his deeds were brought to attention and he was confronted. He fled back to the US but due to extradition (thank you diplomacy) he was returned to Australia and tried in court. He was found guilty (his lawyers weren't that great) and sentenced to seven years. Even though his true murder count was quiet high, they were only able to get him on 3 counts of murder and one permanent injury. Okay, so he destroys or ends lives of 4 people and he is sentenced to 7 years. Wow. Of course, as most irrational people would justify, he thinks his sentence is too long and denies any wrongdoing. Well the good thing is that his appeal is denied, however, he's only gone for 7 years.
Next we have Mr. Dharun Ravi, 18 year old college student in New Jersey, USA. He definitely must have some serious issues because he was caught secretly taping his roommate's (who happens to be gay) sexual encounter with his partner and then later posting it online. But it doesn't end there. When he was reported and being investigated by, well investigators, he tried to delete his online posts (via twitter) and talk witnesses out of speaking against him. He also passed on false information to the authorities when asked for it. Again, wow. It was bad enough that he was biased and invading someone's privacy, but then he also tried to tamper with evidence and mislead the investigation. Well seems like Mr. Ravi is going to have to pay for that. If he is convicted for the 15 counts he is being tried for, he can face up to 10 years in prison.
Both the incidents are undoubtedly ridiculous. It does seem unfair though that a guy taping and posting something obscene online might get a harsher sentence than a murderer! Different countries have different laws, that is understood. But is privacy in the States really more important than a life in Australia?
Further evaluation needed.
Oh, and Indians, stop messing up in foreign countries! It makes us all look bad!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spicy people spice up on governmental blandness..

My recent rant in the last blog posted was heard by a higher power. Recent events in New Delhi definitely signal to that possibility. Late last week, a social activist Anna Hazare from Maharashtra went on a hunger strike demanding 're-conception' of a "India Against Corruption" bill locally known as the Jan Lokpal Bill. Currently the government has a bill in place that is responsible for following up on corruption charges against government officials, but clearly this bill is not being exercised with full potentiality.
I don't really want to bore with the minute details of the amendments in policy that the new bill will bring, but in summary this bill gives the average citizen the power to report corrupt doings by a government official and actually demand a consequence or punishment. It was interesting to see the youth of Delhi (all of India, actually) get riled up about a civic issue. Whenever I am in conversation with someone about how frustrating certain chores and dealing with government entities can be, I'm always given a simple response: It's just like this in India, can't do much about it.
Well, I guess the addictive zest for protest among people has swept along with some radiation (haha) from the rest of the globe. Mr. Hazare stirred up the population using non-violent resorts in order to demand something from the government, which is very well deserved in the world's largest democratic nation. Politicians will be politicians, of course. They got agitated and bounced back saying that giving people the power to put an official to trial is giving them too much power that can be misused.
But seriously? It was rather astonishing to see how many politicians were openly arguing that this bill was a bad idea. How so? Unless one is afraid of getting prosecuted due to corruption themselves, why would a 'public servant' be opposed to giving people the power to punish the system abusers. Even young politicians, such as Rahul Gandhi, didn't find it necessary to come show support for this bill on national television. I guess corrupt politicians are too afraid to take a stand. After all, how will their campaigns get funded if they don't support this bogus mindset of "buying into power" or "excuse granted in exchange of rupees" program. Perhaps a youth leader that can take this policy forward and be an example to others needs to take over this Gandhi legacy that's so prevalent in India since partition. It's a little overwhelming with no backing.
This India Against Corruption policy to fully take effect is the first step that India can take as a third world country to join the league of developed countries. Not that corruption doesn't exist in the Americas. Oh, it is so omnipresent there in the higher levels of institutions, including the government. But an average police officer will not seek a bribe when he pulls you over, neither will a court clerk demand money in exchange for speedy service. It is safe to assume that most everyday tasks don't include bribery. That's why civilians obey basic rules of the road, have common courtesy when standing in lines, littering, accidents, etc. There is a regard for consequences. You can't buy your way out of everything.
So this is a good thing. A good start anyway. Let's see where this will take us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Incompetence needs attention!

Being a US Citizen in India is more inconvenient than it seems. Not only can I not get a driver's license, I also cannot open a bank account. Residential proof is a basic requirement for anything related to civic rights! After my initial few weeks here last year, I tried to figure out what exactly I needed to get a residential proof, but after 4 trips to different government offices over 2 weeks, I realized that the only solution to my problem was a Marriage Certificate. Hence, I got married. Just kidding. Ha.
So, after a couple months of settling in to my new life, I figured it was time to apply for a legal marriage document which in turn would serve as my residential proof and lead to my regularity in everyday chores. Sounds easier than it is. Government office workers are not only difficult to get a hold of, they are also very useless when specific information is needed. We drove to the office three times before they finally figured out what we needed just in order to apply for a certificate! Okay, I do understand the minor confusion considering that I'm not Indian by nationality and so they need additional confirmations, etc. but the speed (or lack of rather) at which we were given feedback was astonishing.
Finally, after a few trips and signatures of key people, we got our date for April 5, 2011 at 10:30 am. Arjun and I called off work for the first half of the day and figured 2 hours would suffice in getting our document. Wrong! The magistrate in charge of signing the document was absent...for 4 hours of the day. Seriously. Dozens of people waiting, missing their day at work, extending planned absences just so an authoritative person, who deems his presence important solely on his own schedule, can show up to work on time. Ridiculous!
After much speculation, frustration, and agitation, the Honorable showed up to work, signed our papers and finally gave us our certificate. Phew.
Next on my agenda: Driver's license and a state bank account. I was dreading the preparation for these formalities. Since we had to take the whole day off, thanks to the sub-magistrate, we figured why not go open a bank account for me through a state bank. I was TRYING to avoid the corporate financial institutions due to their annoying sales calls or investment strategies. So I tried my luck at Punjab National Bank (PNB).
Stepping foot into PNB was an experience. Not only did we not get noticed for about ten minutes, we were actually actively ignored when we did ask for help. The employees were engaging in discouraging conversations with account holders and potential clients. When I expressed my interest to open an account, I was told that due to my situation (not having an Indian passport), they don't know if they can help me out - at all. We asked for an either/or decision since we didn't want to waste any more time. No response. Seeing the unprofessional demeanor of the 5 employees there, I was surprised that this bank even continues to have customers. We walked out and decided to try out luck at a private bank. Score! Within seconds we were helped by two associates and given undivided attention. It was ample clear then - corporations are viewed as evil, blood sucking monsters most times (!) but when it comes to customer service, no central or state government office in India can ever compete with them.
This might not seem surprising to most people living here, but the incompetence related to basic information and customer service by government workers is worth a rant. There are flaws in the system that prevent most employees from doing their jobs to the full capacity, agreed, but their nonchalant and careless attitude is the reason why most people in India don't have any respect for authority. Indian government officials higher up in the order have become numb to the constant nagging from the civilians that cannot get used to this nonsense, but they actually need to pay more attention to such appeals. I am a fan of India and will continue to be so, but on most days dealing with such indifference on basic services makes it very difficult to be proud to be an Indian. Thank God India won the World Cup, patriotism will linger for a couple more weeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who needs diplomacy when there's cricket!

So much craziness happening in the world right now. I generally refrain from commenting on big happenings such as Egypt, Libya, Japan like incidents because there is just too much being said already. You can't possibly do justice to such occurrences without being at "Ground Zero", if you will.
However, being in New Delhi and witnessing the madness surrounding the India-Pakistan World Cup Semi Final cricket match is an experience, to say the least. The 'sophisticated' cricket fans try to be politically correct and state that this is after all just a game and that someone has to lose, no matter what. But scratch a little bit beneath the surface and it becomes ample clear that this is SO much bigger than just a game. It is a build up of every political, cultural, social disagreement, event, misunderstanding between the two conflicting countries and this match actually signifies who is the weak one to succumb to pressure.
I am not a cricket lover. I have actually always found the game quiet long, drawn out and boring. But I have totally fallen prey to the hype of this upcoming match and it's really amazing to see myself get dragged in to the 'mob mentality'. People have dropped their important meetings, plans, deadlines just so they could witness this happening live. This is so extreme that the local vegetable seller who comes to our house on his little cycle cart has called off work too! That's when I knew it was serious.
Perhaps we should not downplay the importance of this game. It is indeed wise to acknowledge that this is just a sport and that it can't possibly do justice to decades of conflict between two countries. But this claim is also incorrect. Cricket is the only mainstream sport in India. Let's get real. Yes, there are hundreds of great athletes who indulge in other sports, but as a mass population cricket is the true winner in getting audiences together. So is the case in Pakistan. They are actually much more attached to the game, according to a recent documentary I saw about the country. A non-terrorist civilian (which accounts for 95% of Pakistan, believe it or not!) has not much going for him and he has no voice in government or social issues. His only motive is to survive and take care of his family. For this class of people, which accounts for a huge chunk of the Pakistani population, cricket is most likely their only activity for leisure. Watching, that is. So Pakistan's performance in the sport has high expectations and is the driving force for a lot of people to turn their television sets on.
Because of past unresolved issues between India and Pakistan that are so in our face now, direct confrontation is a no-bogus competition. Maybe they will never get issues such as Kashmir or Taj bombings or terrorist funding or money laundering resolved in a diplomatic manner, but this cricket match will surely determine who is leading, for now.
Go India!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Feelings? No voting for you!

"Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do." That was the catch phrase at a recent tea party group 'meeting'. Apparently the Republicans are really running out of candidates. Their new agenda is to prevent college students from voting by making it difficult to vote in the state of their university, and in some cases not be eligible to vote at all. They fear that since college students vote with their "feelings" and not "real life experience" they tend to vote for the wrong candidate.
Isn't that what democracy is about? What's next? Literacy and standardized tests? I am pretty sure that most ignorant conservatives wouldn't pass those either. But that's besides the point. I am not a liberal. But recent Republican tactics and low blows are just pushing most people like me over the edge. Just because the party is not capable of presenting a candidate that can appeal to people who apply common sense rather than prejudice and preconceived notions, it has to do whatever it can to limit people from voting. Kind of outrageous considering the fact that it is extremely UN-American and all that tea party advocates tend to talk about is "Patriotism".
If these laws pass, it will be another blow to the already deteriorating American democracy. Almost all of the basic liberties have been detoured through some sneaky government policy, but suffrage is the basic requirement for any country qualifying as a democracy!Claiming that feelings are not good enough to vote is very interesting considering Republicans thrive on emotional outbursts about abortion or homosexuality or religion. Very hypocritical and pathetic to see that since the Republicans are incapable of having an intelligent candidate that can appeal to majority Americans, they are trying to strip basic rights from people in order to increase their chances of winning.
Since college students are not good enough to vote, how about millions of
Americans that didn't go to college? Are they going to be stripped off their right to vote as well? Really makes you wonder, how low will the conservatives really go?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Palin's New Target: New Delhi!

Sarah Palin, in all her graciousness, is going to visit the motherland. Yes, she will be in New Delhi delivering a speech titled 'My Vision for America' on March 19. The first thing that comes to mind after hearing that is so what does she really want? It's pretty clear from her 'personality type and intelligence' that she is not coming here out of curiosity or genuine excitement. Just like everything she does or says in the American political scene, all her actions related to media have a particular agenda or play propoganda to something.
Well, this is surely the case this time as well. She wants to prepare herself for the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Is it 2008 again? She is really going to use this 15 minute speech as foreign policy expertise experience on her resume to run for the position of commander in chief. Granted that it's a good move by her strategists to come here considering that India is the world's largest democracy, one of US' biggest allies, and a key nation to contribute to any energy iniatives in tomorrow's world. However, her dozens of gaffs, ignorance in basic foreign policy issues, her anti-abortion agenda in any circumstance, and her countless other 'qualities' that might impress her American supporters are not going to help her here.
India is a third world country. Granted. Indians don't stand up to corrupt leadership. But Indians are not stupid. She cannot get away with unintelligent remarks and blabber on without people noticing. She will be watched closely and openly ridiculed if the speech she delivers (not writes, duh) comes across as any of her appearances on FOX News.
Personally, the fact that she is still on the news channels, on bookshelves, and on this blog is baffling me. She is the epitomy of American ignorance and yet she will be here in New Delhi, the capital of one of the world's most powerful countries, sitting with world leaders and trying not to make a fool out of herself and the Americans she so truly represents.
Choose your words carefully, Ms. Palin. The stage is much bigger and more crowded this time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Look twice, think none!

A US Supreme Court decision on the Westboro Baptish Church demonstrating at American soldiers' funerals was declared as 'okay' under the Freedom of Speech clause in the US Constitution.
So what was the church actually "demonstrating". Their hatred towards homosexuality. The church stems out of Topeka, Kansas (ew) and openly and actively expresses its unacceptance of Americans accepting homosexuality. Signs such as "God Hates Fags" or "Fags Die God Laughs" are brought over to funerals by 'devout' and 'religious' churchgoers at funerals of American soldiers who have served in the Iraq war. Regardless of how ridiculous their demonstrations are, the Supreme Court definitely got this one right. Unfortunate as it is to have such ignorant and obnoxious people in the country who find solace in hating in the name of religion, fortunate it is to live in a country that realizes such incidents as a weakness of the system in order to protect basic human liberties.
Most people in their right frame of mind would only be enraged by such signs and move on without letting it affect their beliefs about gay friends, colleagues, relatives, whatever the case might be.
However, it is amazing that people who claim to associate themselves with being truely religious easily use words such as Hate and Death along with God to give their opinion some weight; mind bloggling to say the least.
It was ironic though, that I read another article about hateful remarks the same day the ruling for this case was shared.
Apparently Mr. John Galliano, Christian Dior's chief designer, could face jail time on his 'Anti-Semitic' rants he made at a bar in Paris. To elaborate, it wasn't just "I hate joos" in Cartman's words. It was more to the effect of Jews deserving to be gassed. Terrible. In France, Anti-Semitic remarks are punishable by up to 6 months in prison. Insane. A whole flock of gay-loathing churchgoers are excused in American court at the same time a fashion designer might be going to jail for his Jew-loathing comments.
Agreed that both incidents are outrageous. But the truly notable thing here is that we are so caught up in what's legal and okay, that the hateful content of the messages carried in both occurrences is not paid attention to. Why question if what's being said and done is accepted by law or not? Isn't it more important to question why are these rants happening in the first place? Should 'whether punishable' be the only discussion point? Such hatred is usually a result of unwarranted prejudice.
I guess the famous proverb of think twice speak once has a newer version: Look twice, think none.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Slap or Spoil...

A recent news article about a Philadelphia judge that dealt with minors for misconduct was baffling. The article stated that former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella deliberately assigned juveniles to detention and treatment centers while making financial gains, even if the misdemeanors were trivial in nature such as insulting the assistant school principal, or skating in a prohibited park. Ha.
So much for judicial correction. Not that I don't believe in the state's correctional facilities to bring justice to the average criminal, but it is questionable as to how parents are expected to completely relenquish control over their child to some third party without being able to discipline their child themselves. It is usually unacceptable in the American culture, and now becoming so in Indian culture, to 'discipline' your kids using harsh measures. However, it is a commonly accepted assumption that you spare the rod, and you spoil the child.
In this case, wouldn't it be so much easier if these parents perceived it as okay to use some stricter forms of discipline than just "grounding" at an earlier stage? Perhaps we as a society become more open to stricter parenting.
I do agree that there are parents who will abuse their children if given the leverage and will take undue advantage of this acceptability. However, such individuals tend to abuse the system anyway. Most parents genuinely care for their children and only discipline when necessary. A few punishable consequences to their unacceptable behavior will send a clear message to young children at an earlier stage prohibiting legal misbehavior.
Go on, slap that child, proudly. Okay, I'm kidding. But seriously.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheese or Protest?!

The latest swing of protests, outside of the Middle East, is in Wisconsin! Finally, some action in the cheese state. So apparently Republican Governor Scott Walker has enraged Democrats in Wisconsin on his new bill that busts public employee unions and collective bargaining rights. So angry that thousands of citizens are marching to and protesting at the State Capitol in order to ensure that their voices be heard and this bill is not passed.
The Democrat representatives are in such dismay regarding this possiblity that they have fleed from the state to Illinois so that proper quorum cannot be reached in order to vote on the bill.
Sounds like an exciting (and only) time to be in Wisconsin..It is amusing to see, though, that news channels are calling these protests 'similar' to the Middle East protests in their nature. I believe that in directly comparing the nature of protests, they are being extremely unfair..to the Middle Eastern protesters. Egyptians, Yemenis, Libyans and the likes are protesting for their rights to overthrow decades of suppressive dictatorships and gain freedom. These are serious reasons for reform. In Wisconsin, however, there is a much less symbolic, important nonetheless, issue at hand. Sure, collective bargaining rights gave workers tremendous leverage to make deals with employers on pensions and benefits. But do most professionals get to do that these days? How many states have dominant unions anyways?
Let's get real. America is in a state of financial distress. Over 40 states are in deficit by billions of dollars, only increasing every year. Serious reforms and policy changes are necessary at every level in order to see some progress. This is a controversial, but a good place to start. Having worked for GM, predominantly employing unionized workers, I have seen how strong collective bargaining rights and union contracts can be. Strong and cumbersome. A small change in business policy takes meticulous effort. It is a slow and expensive process. Unionized workers are in some regard overcompensated when it comes to pension. In Wisconsin, for example, a mere 1% of contribution is actually required from the employee, the rest comes from the state. That is a little ridiculous considering the state barely has enough money to fund public programs. Protesting to preserve these rights sounds a little dreamy to me. Gov. Walker logically stated that he wants to do away with collective bargaining because the state has no money to bargain with. Sounds pragmatic to me.
If there is any comparison to be made between the two types of protests we are witnessing, it's for the protesters in Wisconsin to realize that at least they have a government that is considering voting on an issue that is clearly burderning the economy. Opposition parties are able to sit on the same table without threatening or killing each other and discuss an issue of such clear consequence with such detail.
Government corruption, lobbying operations with selfish motives, and health care - those are issues worth protesting about.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No, I don't have a gun...or do I??

Does Arizona understand the meaning of "Lesson Learned?" After coming across a proposed law by Senator Ron Gould (R, of course) known as the SB 1201, I can accurately say NO.
After the frenzy involving James Loughner going to town (literally) with his gun and shooting innocent people, what does the smart senator decide to do? Make carrying guns in public even easier.
According to his proposed law, people will be allowed to carry concealed weapons into all public buildings (except high schools, phew?!), not have to declare "accurately" to the police that they were carrying a weapon and sue the state or claim state owned vehicles/property if they were infringed on their rights to carry a weapon. WHAT!
The worst part is that when asked about what the effectiveness of this legislature will be, supporters said it was to ensure "safety" in buildings. I guess not knowing which crazy person was carrying a weapon makes it safe, okay well maybe not, but at least you have yours to defend yourself..(??!!)
Arizona already has the second most liberal gun laws in the country. They are also one of only ten states that permit firearms inside state buildings which includes courts. Yeah, thats not scary.
I don't know if its me or if Republicans aka Conservatives are starting to sound really dumb. I agree on Republican positions involving fiscal spending including taxation policies (to some extent), but some of their social issue propositions are getting outrageous.
It can be argued that guns don't kill people, people do. But, having access to guns makes shooting that trigger easier. Do we have to convince policymakers of something that trivial?
If such laws start getting passed at state levels, what is coming to America next?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pizza or Protest?

Apparently the 'people have power' agenda has reached Italian women as well. After 3 weeks of successful protests in Egypt, Italian women are taking their turn to voice their opinion about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlesconi. He's quiet the womanizer in Italy (as oppose to other Italian men) and stories about his sex scandals including parties and "14 hotties who sit around in a Milan compund waiting for him" have recently been exposed.
These stories have made Italian women irate on the image that is being portrayed of all Italian women.
Mr. Burlesconi has also dropped charges and pardoned theft for one of his "groupies" which added fuel to the rage simmering among Italian women.
Women aren't necessarily treated well in Italy. They are viewed as second class citizens with less than 50% employed outside the home and even those that work get 20% less pay than their male counterparts. I guess they had had enough disrespect!
So in order to have their voices heard, women rallied in more than 200 Italian cities (I didn't know Italy had so many cities!) only to have the billionaire Prime Minister say that he is a victim of an attempted "coup of moralists". That's not it though.
When Italian men were asked to comment on these escalating events, one comment from the husband of a protester summarized the majority opinion: "People vote for him because he personifies defects that Italians have in their DNA ... When you hear about what he does, 80 percent of men think, 'I wish I were in his place."
Wow. Men wishing to be powerful, rich, and have dozens of women around them? Sorry senor, thats not just in Italian men's DNAs, I think majority of men across the globe would call it their fantasy.
The men are paying for Mr. Berlusconi's actions though. Instead of pasta and pizza, they will be getting a serving of seasoned and well-justified protest for the next few nights..

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowfall Pays!

I recently came across an interesting finding that accurately depicts true American entrepreneurial spirit. It turns out that there is a bright side to all the snow blizzards this year, for those aware anyway. Since Chicago has been a crazy unpredictable ground for heaps of snowfall for the last couple years, a creative trader in Chicago decided to start hedging snow futures. Crazy? Not at all.
Using snow derivatives (aka method to the madness), Chicago Mercantile Exchange trades futures that pay or collect depending on the snow fall compared to Chicago's average of 37 inches a season. So, who's interested?
People with a lot of money OR businesses that depend on the weather for their business operations i.e. airlines and like businesses. Depending on what contract they decide to play with, they use these funds as an insurance for their downtime during bad weather.
Simply genius. Something as simple as snowfall can create a business for someone truly business minded. I guess an observation or idea is just a method away from a dream. Cheers to entrepreneurial competency!

Common Sense Uncommon

I generally refrain from making generalizations about people, especially in print, seriously. However, last night really tested my patience when it came to acceptance of ridiculousness.
On the way back from my aunt's house, my husband and I drove up to an intersection we pass everytime on this route. However, this time we noticed there was more traffic than usual. Not only was there a lot of traffic, it was not moving AT ALL! The other side of traffic was moving rather smoothly but we had crossed the divider and couldn't take a U turn (with all the traffic back up). After sitting at one spot for about ten minutes, we peeped out the window to see that there was a groom with his party of 40 people moving at ant's speed toward a party hall on the other side of the road causing this traffic back up. Seriously, what the...
Without having any consideration for the road, traffic, the fact that it was a Tuesday night or that someone out of the 300 cars backed up might have an emergency situation to attend to, this ridiculous party was taking its gala of a time to get to their venue.
It showed utter lack of common and civic sense and we couldn't do anything but wait in the same spot for 45 minutes. Of course, right after they gave us enough room to move an inch a minute, they actually turned over to the other side of traffic and started backing the other side up. After a lot of maneuvering and cutting people off, we finally got out of this mess, and could see the ramp coming onto the other side of the road getting backed up.
That's when I realized that because of the inconsideration and lack of social responsibility of some citizens, the possibility of India ever becoming a developed country in the near future is slim to none. The fact that people lack the ability to realize the consequences of their actions in such a basic situation is unbelievable. I guess people need a course titled Common Sense and Sound Judgement 101.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Can't Brown Do For You...?!

The US Border authorities recently stated that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Indians are sneaking into the US via Mexico as of late. The authorities stated that Indians are the largest immigrant group sneaking in from the Southwest border after Latin Americans. What!
Only Indians can find a sneaky, complex but workable way of getting to the other side of the globe undetected. Okay, so the report said 1600 have been caught in the last year, but there are hundreds that made it through before the US officials caught on.
The report further said that these people are crossing the border by working with Mexican gangs and organized criminals. Wow. Indians are movin' on up in their strategy planning. Befriending a gangster while illegally immigrating into the United States?! This is a great plot line for a potential film!
This situation does impose a dilemma of some sorts. The authorities are stating that this spike "belie[s] the assumption [that there is] unprecedented Indian economic boom accompanied by a purported American decline." Darn. India is finally propering, a few Indians (dot, not feather!) get caught at the Mexican border and now the validity of Indian economic prosperity is jeopardized. I'd say that these officials need to read a little and all Indians sneaking in must carry a disclaimer that validates the recent economic growth in India.
Of course, some of the claims made by some Sikh sneakers (lol) that they are escaping persecution from the BJP (Bharatya Janata Party) can be deemed as questionable considering that this sort of thing doesn't actually still happen in India. Not to the scale that you would want to fly to Mexico, team up with some gangs, and then pipeline your way into the US. Good story though, folks.
It does get better though. US officials state that they are certainly more alarmed because they want to ensure that none of the people slipping through are from the troubled regions of Pakistan and the Middle East. I guess being brown does have its disadvantages. Since terrorists are all brown and all come from these 'troubled areas'.
One clear comparison that comes to mind from that logic - just as easy it is to tell the next 'mentally ill patient' who's about to party with his gun, is about how easy it is to know who the next brown terrorist is. The reason majority of Indians go to the US is for economic prosperity. Mixing it up with terrorist driven motives only creates prejudice for all Indians living in the US. But again, what can't brown do for you?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No health coverage? Too bad...

Obama's Affordable Care Act gets another hiccup. Federal judges determined that this law would be 'unconstitutional' since it forces Americans to buy Health Insurance, which is a violation of the Commerce Clause.
Federal judges who are against the plan, including Judge Vinson from Florida, believe that scratching this plan is the only way to "not break the law". I smell something fishy here. Conservative judges ruling against a law that provides coverage for all? That's not surprising.
The reason for this act to not pass can be argued at length for various issues. Specifically one that comes to mind is car insurance. Yes, they might not force you to buy car insurance when you first go to driving school, but you definitely can't get a license without insurance, or a car for that matter. Now, an argument would be, well a car is not considered a 'necessity' to live, but honestly, can one really survive without a car in most of America?
You live in a buzzing metropolitan, fine. You don't need a car, but most Americans live in small towns and suburbs that do not have adequate public transportation to carry out daily functions. I am sure that not having a car can cause serious inconveniences. (I've had my license suspended, trust me I know the pain)
So, we can't provide health insurance to Americans who are unemployed, poor, or have a pre-existing condition because it forces everyone else who already has insurance or a few who don't want to spend on insurance to buy one. However, we can require all drivers to have car insurance if they want to own a car so they dont have to walk everywhere. Sounds pretty comparable to me.
These judges need to explain the difference in these two scenarios. If requiring every driver to have car insurance is not a violation of the Commerce Clause, then requiring every American to have health coverage isn't either. Living in a developed country like the United States and yet 10% of people can't go to the doctor unless they're about to die is ridiculous. Perhaps we need lobbyists, senators, representatives, and in some cases judges to think beyond the realm of fetching dollars from pharmaceutical companies and leap over to the basic necessities that should be provided to every American.
Hipocrisy and personal gains exist in third world countries for sure, but behind fancy doors, America still has its share of high level corruption to deal with.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No American Votes for Ludicrous Law...

Yet another controversial debate about abortion. This time, the House will tackle the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I don't want to paraphrase using my words so here is an excerpt verbatim:
The act shall prohibit:
"the inclusion of abortion in any health care service furnished by a federal health care facility or by any physician or other individual employed by the federal government. Exempts from such prohibitions an abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest with a minor, or if the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."
Wow. So if someone is raped or a victim of incest but not a minor, tough luck. It never ceases to amaze me how far from logic certain lawmakers will go just to get votes. No matter how ignorant their pool of supporters, as long as they win the election, they will support almost anything. It's already ironic that people who oppose abortion are "pro-life" while people who believe it's a woman's right and only her right to choose are "pro-choice" and they are used as opposites of one another to suggest that a pro-choice supporter clearly is anti-life. However, in reality, a pro-choicer has a higher value of life for the person who is already living. Instead of destroying two unstable lives, let's just let the one get back to solid ground. But that's not the discussion point here.
The discussion at hand is that it's scary that we have elected certain people into office that won't separate church and state or morals and laws. Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has proudly stated that “he wants to be the most pro-life Speaker ever”. Sounds like he should be reading a sermon in a church, not mediating legislature arguments.
I have sent my feedback to Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey). I hope that more people do the same. Being a Christian believer does not give one the right to impose his/her views and morals on nonbelievers. Maybe this is just a way for conservative Republicans and Democrats to throw a fit about Obama's HealthCare Plan. Regardless, this law has disastrous consequences for the woman's right to choose. I hope that there are no women out there who believe that just because you can't afford an abortion but have been raped or a victim of incest, you have to have a baby. I believe that a woman should be able to choose regardless of the cause of pregnancy, but limiting an activity even in such extreme situations is ignorance.
Conservative or liberal, I just hope that Americans will make the wise choice on this one.

Enjoy Jon Stewart's approach : http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-2-2011/rape-victim-abortion-funding

Monday, January 31, 2011

Religious Security Can Induce Laughter...!

Karma. A powerful and practical word that defines the belief of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Not just Hindus, I must add. The fact that your actions are sort of a boomerang, that eventually return to you in the same or another form is pragmatic and makes sense.
If Hindus thoroughly believe that, then how come Jim Carey making a sleazy joke on Lord Ganesha become so offensive all of a sudden? Apparently on a Jan 8 episode of Saturday Night Live, Mr. Carey did a little skit engaging Lord Ganesh in a sex act. Insensitive? Maybe. Funny? Perhaps.
Isn't that what comedians do? They are supposed to test boundaries to make their audience laugh. Mr. Rajan Zed, a Hindu Leader in Nevada apparently didn't laugh at all. Infact, he was irate at the portrayal of Lord Ganesh in such a "distasteful" skit. He, along with other Christian and Jewish leaders are now demanding an apology from the producers of SNL as well as Jim Carey.
Come on, folks. This high sensitivity to crude humor has been highlighted before. Protests on jokes on Mohammad have become all too familiar in parodies and adult cartoon shows and have left us nowhere, except the people who just sit back, take it easy and enjoy the show. Aren't we secure enough in our own religion to not feel insulted every time someone makes a joke about it? Mr. Zed should realize that demanding an apology is actually not Hindu like at all. As Hindus, we are taught to be at peace. We are not supposed to get worked up and angry on petty issues such as these. We should realize that what we believe is very personal and expecting everyone to respect it is a waste of time. Just because Lord Ganesh is sacred to us in our homes, we should not expect everyone in the world to be respective of that.
Consider it a sacrifice in the name of entertainment. There are people who aren't on tv who make jokes about various facets of the Hindu religion. They do it behind our backs, and grow in ignorance and groups. At least Mr. Carey did it on a high profile show and during prime time. He took a chance and let's just give him a break. I didn't watch the whole thing, but I bet it's really funny, if you take your insecurities out of it.
There are enough things wrong in the world that require our energy and action, let's not get worked up about something so trivial. Instead of coming together on a petty issue like this, maybe these leaders can come together for a greater cause, that can possibly have more meaningful consequences. How about education, nutrition, rural development? Hmmm.
Being one myself, I don't think most Hindus would lose sleep over what or how a comedian decides to portray a deity in an absurd skit.
Shall I prescribe Peace&Love?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birds of a feather, flock (or slam) together...

Oh lawdy.
Another strike! How IS America managing to mess up so much lately? Or getting caught after messing up, rather.
So this new development on those 200 starlings in South Dakota showering from the sky is quiet 'bird's' eye-opening. Ha. The US Department of Agriculture decided that birds are less important than let's say, cattle, who happen to provide us with milk, cheese, and the hamburger goodness. Of course, lots of $$ as well! So, in this time of 'crisis', they acted appropriately..As "USDA wildlife biologist Ricky Woods explained that a large group of starlings was causing problems in a north Nebraska cattle feedlot, eating the feed and leaving waste on both the feed and equipment. So the USDA put out DRC 1339 poison for the birds.
"Lethal means are always a last resort," said Woods. "In this situation it's what we had to do."..<-- Ya right!
So if the birds are just following nature's orders to you know eat and excrete, I guess you have to give them poison.
Wow. It's also pretty amusing that 'wildlife experts' stated that the 5000 birds died earlier were 'startled' by NYE fireworks and running into buildings. Thank you scholars for the hearty laugh.
Not that I'm a bird lover or bird watcher or a member of PETA or anything. But I guess this is another screaming example of how the 'government' (I don't just mean American in this case, however, due to the stupidity of the incident, it is exclusive here) constantly manipulates our surroundings to advance ahead how they feel necessary. I mean, did they take an opinion from the local population to see how they would feel if they killed 200 birds who harmlessly ate cattlefeed? How am I supposed to believe that birds can take away food from cows? I think that cattle should learn to share. It's only fair!
I guess this incident is a bigger warning for what's actually been kept hidden from the public in general. They only admitted to poisoning birds that dropped down from the sky, but not all wrongdoings have such loud, obvious consequences. Am I being cynical about the government? Sure.
The sad thing is that there is nothing anyone can do about these secret projects until they unveil. Do I have a distrust in secretive authority? Yes. I do believe that the government should have some covert operations to ensure the safety of its citizens and prevent mass paranoia, but when such trivial happenings occur, it does raise some flags on what the government is actually capable and doing behind closed doors. Do those 'experts' really believe that 5000 birds can randomly die from shock of firewords and buildings? I smell some bull****.
Keep an open eye and ask lots of questions. That's all you can do to play your part. Oh, look up to God and pray..watch out for any dead birds coming your way though.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Want to grade my parents? Check my report card!

I came across an interesting article on the 'Oriental' style of parenting that I thought deserved some discussion. The full article can be read by copying and pasting the link below (I tried hyperlinking, but it didnt work):


The article is pretty long, but I cited it so that it can be confirmed that what I'm inferring from it is in fact true. The author, Mrs. Amy Chua, proudly states the things that her daughters are not allowed to do, and how she is ensures that her children will be successful when they grow up. She goes on to suggest that her techniques and discussions are Chinese in that they are mostly Asian, and that when she compares her parenting style to her Western counterparts, she just means parenting that is more 'loose' than hers.
I have a lot of personal issues with Mrs. Chua's extreme parenting techniques, but aside from just that, her defense on why her approach is better is baffling to say the least.
To suggest that the only way to ensure success in children is to be extremely strict, insulting, belittleing, blackmailing, threatening, and superficial is outrageous. She suggests, or claims rather, that academic success is the only way to judge good parenting. So clearly, any student that performs horribly in school has horrible parents.
She further states that 'Western' parents care too much about their child's self-esteem and self-worth, and not enough about their success. How can one acheive the latter without the former two? Aren't those necessary ingredients to attain confidence and motivation to perform better?
I'm not sure if this is how all Chinese parents think, but if it is, then I can safely state that their kids lead very very sad and monotonous lives. If individuality and uniqueness is not promoted at home, how is the child supposed to realize their strengths, weaknesses, true passions, interests, etc? Are they all supposed to be robotic in nature and have one single goal of being number one in academics? Let's get real, there can only be one number one. Durrr.
I don't agree with a lot of the Western philosophy on life. I don't agree on giving up when it's too hard, or having a fragile psyche that hurts my character everytime I hear something negative about myself, but I definitely don't think that doing the exact opposite is the most effective way of parenting. Being insulted and called "garbage" just because I can't solve a math problem under 30 milliseconds is ridiculous. I think most 'Westerners' would agree with that statement.
I have excelled and gotten straight A's all throughout my academic career, but that was not due to good or bad parenting, but due to personal motivation, drive, and competence. Success is not simply measured by good grades, but by excelling in your passion. I consider myself pretty Asian in my beliefs, but if being Asian means being a cookie cutter parent with cookie cutter kids, I guess I'm as occidental as it gets!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pardon my gunshots, I'm just insane!

The recent shooting tragedy on Saturday, Jan 8, in Tucson AZ is yet another reminder that something is gravely wrong in America. Deaths of innocent victims saddens everyone, no matter what one's political affiliations or opinions are. There is no one person or one comment that triggers someone to act this way. Yet the political scene finds it comforting to constantly play the blame game through vitriol and try to collect some "points" from any tragedy that occurs.
This lunatic, Jared Lee Loughner, decides to bust out his Glock 9 mm gun and go to town, kills 6 people and injures another 8. Who is to blame for this incident? Umm, hello! No one else but the psychopath himself. And of course the lenient gun laws in the country that allow any person with no federal record to own a weapon. I mean, wtf! I agree that everyone who has a gun isn't going to go on a shooting rampage but maybe try to tighten the laws a tad might be of some catharsis to the public.
No one can get into the head of someone this extreme and figure out what their frame of mind is, but there has to be a reason for all these crazy shooting rants on the general public happening in a developed country like the US? Yeah yeah, it happens in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan but those countries are battlegrounds of war, and there are reasons to point to for such happenings there.
What is America's reason for these incidents? Mental Illness. What a joke. Is the government exposing us to some weird chemicals that causes normal people to all of a sudden experience a chemical imbalance in their brains and go insane? I'm sorry, but this "insanity" plea is a very sorry excuse for such radical behavior. The public needs to stop calling mass murderers mentally ill and realize that they are no more crazy as the average person. They are just sick in the unconventional sense. Serial killers and serial rapists are just as "mentally ill" as Loughner is. We need to realize that there are just some 'bad' people in the world who find pleasure in giving others pain. It's dark and gothic, but sadly true.
It's irritating to see these murderers being called "ill" when they are perfectly sane in everything else they do except killing people. These people don't need medicines or drugs to cure them, but life to capital punishment to make others realize that it is not okay to live in a civilized society and decide to "go crazy" for one day. Perhaps moving to a jungle is a good option? No one to fight there but wild animals. That'll make it easier to get all the "mental illness" out of them, I bet.
I hope this guy gets what he deserves, because too many times evil people go unpunished on the sorry excuse of "insanity".
RIP the victims of this horrible tragedy and I hope Americans learn that excusing evil doers as insane is the worst thing they can do for society at large.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wedding. Reality. Realizations.

I have been MIA for a while now. But considering all the craziness and insanity that involves in getting married, I think it is fair to say that I was ridiculously busy.
Big fat Indian wedding. This phrase is no overstatement. Considering that my own wedding was the first and only one I have attended so far (wow), I can say that this experience is definitely one of a kind. Aside from all the pressures of looking, behaving and engaging like the perfect Indian bride, there is a lot of unsaid aura in the air around this time.
Since most of my close cousins and friends came from overseas, their point of view was different than the other traditional guests and thankfully attending to my close ones took most of my time around the actual wedding.
However, a few months and weeks leading up to the wedding, there is a requirement to be in complete Indian mode and in dedication to the gala of functions that are about to happen in celebrations.
I had a "love" marriage to a guy I have known my whole life, whose family has considered me their own since god knows how long, but even then, I can say I went through a pretty traditional experience.
Aside from all the joy and great cloud nine emotions, there is another set of experiences that changes you as a person after going through this intense wedding fiasco. I think it can be safely said that the way weddings work in our society, and what is expected out of the families of the groom and the bride, that Indian weddings make you materialistic in process.
Let me explain. I would not consider myself a greedy or manipulative person. I am pretty simple minded and a hopeless romantic when it comes to matters of the heart. The great thing is that it's the heart at work until all the formal processions begin. What I found amazing was that from being a person that knew nothing about weddings or the formalities surrounding the same, I found myself getting sucked into all the politics and material "stuff". Superficial matters that will subside shortly once everything is over, but its a blackhole nonetheless.
It took some self analysis for me to realize what was going on, and after stepping away I realized that each of these wedding traditions had, at one point, a significance to the overall scheme of things. It mattered why certain people got certain gifts, or why the bride received X grams of gold, etc, etc. However, in this day and age, most of these practices have lost their true value due to the renewed sense of culture in our society.
Perhaps its time we revised these traditions to better suit what we want out of our lives instead of just our wedding. And I got to do some of that at my wedding. I didn't re-establish customs or omit any important ceremonies, but I did get to pick and choose what I wanted associated to our wedding.
It's been six weeks now, and I am happier than ever. I can't remember the controversies or the disagreements, but I remember having the perfect wedding I could have asked for. I guess having a fairy tale wedding is possible, as long as you're ready to walk away from all the useless reality.