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.