Its a Mind Game…

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Art of attracting crowds

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on July 29, 2012

As there has been so much hoopla around what has been called disappointing crowds at Jantar Mantar during Anna Hazare’s fast, I started to ponder as to what the reason might have been.

You really need to be an expert in the art of attracting crowds and following are some near sure shot ways to do it.

  1. Short skirt: Nothing beats this. Tactics has been successfully employed by news channels during ‘news’ broadcast, companies at exhibitions, F1 racing on the grid and what not. A pretty face in an immodest dress can be a clincher.
  2. Money: This again is a tactics that has been practiced for years, generally by the politicians, where a lump-sum is paid to the leader of a fraternity who is then given the responsibility to bring in crowds.
  3. Free food: There is something about free food that strikes chord with every class of society.
  4. Fear: This is the most cost-effective method for obvious reasons. It doesn’t cost a dime but, might take some time to build the reputation before you can start scaring people off.
  5. Celebrities: India loves their stars. A celebrity on stage is a sure shot formula.

Now, lets see which of the options above could have been used by 75-year-old Anna Hazare. It would be difficult for Anna Hazare to scare someone off so, option 4 goes out of the window. It will be difficult for a man who sleeps in a temple to pay someone off or arrange free food so, option 2 and 3 look a bit far-fetched. Celebrities in general have too comfortable a life to come out of their cocoon just to earn a few brownie points. So, option 5 is practically difficult.

Now Anna can always ask his young female supporters to help the cause but, a movement to eradicate corruption might well turn into a desperate attempt to prevent crime if he does that especially with the knowledge of what happened in Assam. Thus point 1, while possible, will be foolish.

So, Anna needs to rely on people’s own willingness to get out of their beds, commute 10s of kms, bear the brunt of heat and rain just to support what for all practical purposes looks like a losing cause to most. While that is asking for too much, people thronged Jantar Mantar today and gave a brilliant riposte to all the naysayers.

Having said that, to fight the way they have despite the likelihood of thin crowds, has raised Anna Hazare and his team’s profile more if that was possible. I hope, there will be a day when Winston Churchill’s quote will be repeated in India, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.

Posted in Controversy, India, Motivation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dummies Guide to Indian Politics – Part 2

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on July 8, 2012

Continued from here.

Pundits will say you are a good politician if you can slap someone’s bottom hard without hurting your hand and without making that someone feel too bad about it. Let’s quickly look at some of the planks this game is played on. Voters will be regularly referred to as ‘vote bank’. This makes sense as an election win can take you laughing all the way to the bank.

Caste Politics: India has history of recognising people first by their birth, then by their deeds. So, you are first a dalit and then a bank manager. You are first a brahmin and then a professional. So, Dalit considers other dalits as ‘own people’ and brahmin considers other brahmins as its ‘own people’. Our heart generally goes out to our family, our caste, our region and our country in this order. So, a dalit’s leader vote bank is the dalit community. He promises the moon for ‘his people’ and generally makes the promise with a straight face. This is key. You can’t be a good politician if you can’t keep your emotions in check and hide your true feelings. And you always got to leave the exit door open. So, in India you are a dalit leader, brahmin leader, muslim leader, backward or a forward leader. So, the formula to success is quite simple. Make sure the liquid stays insoluble (communities don’t gel), keep your flock together and if possible create division in your adversary’s vote bank.

Dynastic Politics: This is the kind of politics where the reins of political leadership is limited to a family. One thing that needs to be appreciated is that politics is not just a social service if that. This is also a business where you try to make money and try to secure the future of your family. Thus, it is quite natural for a Lalu Prasad Yadav to make his wife, Rabri Devi, as Chief Minister of Bihar and Congress making Sonia Gandhi its commander in chief. This country, some say, owes a lot to the Gandhi family with the fight for independence and all. But, there are also those daring mavericks who claim that in last few years, Gandhi family has started owning a lot to this country. Literally! But, who wants to get in the middle of these silly fights. Not me. Who cares if Sonia Gandhi is the most powerful individual in India. Who cares if she is Italian by birth and whatever Mr Subramanian swamy  has to say here. Aren’t we the proud largest democracy of the world? In that case, elevation of individuals like Sonia Gandhi, Rabri Devi, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh to the coveted political positions can only be jewels in our large democratic crown. If an IAS officer cleaning Mayawati’s sandals can appreciate this, why can’t we?

Developmental Politics: This is the rare and risky form of politics where politician works towards the development of his/her jurisdiction and hopes to please people. This is risky. Why is it risky? Well, strictly speaking, opportunity to make money for your family might be small if you are going to use that money for development. If people don’t recognise your development or choose to vote based on caste, you are stumped. You will not have money and might well get kicked out. That is pure dumb. So, what do you do? Rule is to make sure you don’t leave the first flavour of politics – caste politics. Make sure you don’t give everything to the public at once as you won’t have anything to offer when the elections come. So, you got to be very systematic in what you give. If you give car to your son as his first gift, what do you give him next? So, you got to start with a cycle and slowly upgrade it to a car.

India is a proud country. Thats the reason any finger raised in its direction meets with an outrage. It’s our country to spoil. Leave us alone.

India is not a country of equals. Not by a country mile. Reservation based on caste at the pretense of promoting equality is a cynical political game that politicians love to play as if they have to make sure it keeps breathing as there is no value of a dead. They have to make sure communities don’t gel. They have to make sure liquids stay insoluble.

Posted in Controversy, India | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Dummies Guide to Indian Politics – Part 1

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on June 23, 2012

It is well known that there are three things that unite India – Cricket, Bollywood and Politics. You might ask, ‘Politics? Really?’.  While a bandwagon of stars pull people towards Cricket and Bollywood, politics in India, on most days, is looked down upon. But, if we dig a bit deeper, we quickly realise that politics is engrained in every strain of our body. We start getting lessons in politics from a very early age right when we are in school where you are compelled to side with a particular group to create a stronger group dynamic to when you move to college where its all about getting a girl or a boy often resulting in gossips, backstabbing, fights and at times a compromise – you take that girl and I take the other one. And when you come back home, the fight is all about being the superior sibling either by growing on your own foot or cutting someone else down to size. How your life turns out depends on how well you navigate these social strains. So, by the time you turn 18, you are already well-oiled and are super confident to pass judgements and we do that without regret or remorse which is fair because we all have been well-trained, right? We folks in India are strongly opinionated. We have an opinion on everything and god forbid if you don’t listen. And why wouldn’t you listen because then its your turn to express yourself as we all are graduates of the same training school.

So, what happens when a nation of well trained, strongly opinionated fellas take the street? That’s right. While the strength of our nation, some say, is its diversity, those diverse communities live like different type of insoluble liquids poured in to a jar. While this might not seem very attractive, it brilliantly lays down ground for very colourful politics. I called it colourful but, some choose to call it dirty. To each his own.

Ok, so most of us are politicians in one form or the other. May be. But, what is that to do with Indian politics and if each of us are so well-oiled, why don’t we enter the fray and try to take our country to where it belongs- right at the top? Aha! Now that I have been asked that question, you are exactly where I wanted you before we dive in to the “colourful” world of Indian Politics!

Part 2 continued here.

Posted in Controversy, India, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

JanLokpal vs SarkariLokpal vs SelfLokpal

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on August 21, 2011

India is waking up. 74-year-old man is making sure that people wake up. Anna Hazare, a known crusader against corruption of last 2 decades has taken it on to himself to wake people up from a slumber.

There has been frenzied debate over the three versions of lokpal.

  1.  Jan Lokpal:        The one Team Anna (Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi,  Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan et, al.) has proposed.
  2. Sarkari Lokpal: The one that our beloved government has proposed.
  3. Self Lokpal:          I created this to accommodate those voices who think that we don’t need these lokpals and subscribe to the view that it will all go away with self-cleansing.

Note: Link to JanLokpal vs Sarkari Lokpal is at the bottom.

Is this outcry really about being in favour or against some specific version of Lokpal? While that is definitely one of the issues, it is about people being fed up of scams after scams and living in a country where every form of fees comes with a surcharge/bribe. Students are fed up that either they have to be brilliant enough to crack IIT/IIMs or rich enough to pay donation that most colleges demand. People might be divided when it comes to detail but, they are united for the cause. There has been some ridiculous argument against this movement (e.g., murder of democracy) and avoidable exaggeration by Team Anna (e.g., Anna is India and India is Anna) but, when so many people have opinions, you are bound to have some regrettable ones. However, there is one fact and one fact alone. Corruption has kept this country with tremendous potential on backfoot for several years and needs to be urgently addressed.

Government has placed a version of Lokpal so, why not wait? Lokpal bill has been in the dock for 42 years so, it is reasonable to doubt their committment to pass the bill let alone a strong bill. Bribes and Donations are far too common to escape any eye that wishes to see. How many convictions have we seen? Media and agitations seem to be the only time when government appears to be all eyes and ears. “Lok Sabha TV” is probably the only adult channel on Indian Television so, excuse me if I doubt parliament’s intentions. Excuse my scepticism when people like Manish Tiwari, Digvijay Singh represent the ruling party.

Why not Self lokpal? Self cleansing is not a new concept but, unfortunately we live in a “real” world and not “ideal” one. This revolution is not just about calibrating our own moral compass. It is more to do with coming up with a system which will prove deterrent for those who don’t have any moral compass to calibrate. While it is all too well to say that it should start with self cleansing (and it should), people more often than not get coerced in to doing things that they otherwise would avoid. Bribe often is extortion and donation the norm. If every one voluntarily plays their part sincerely, we wouldn’t have murderers in the society (thus no need for IPC 302) and there wouldn’t be people looting the luggage of victims of train accident. It has to start with you and us but, a country must have provision to hold guilty accountable. I haven’t bribed anyone and still there are scams worth thousands of crores. I pay my taxes honestly and still I can’t expect half decent roads. So, to think that SelfLokpal can eradicate corruption is naive and too simplistic.

To have your doubts regarding the movement is one thing and to undermine completely another.

Read here: JanLokpal vs SarkariLokpal

Some other interesting take on the issue (Following are two opposite views):

Swapan Dasgupta: UPA’s credibility is now History.

Tavleen Singh: Making of a hero
 

Posted in Controversy, India | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where are all the ladies?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 18, 2011

This is not directed at anyone and is just an observation. Accurate or not, you decide. :)

Doesn’t it feel that girls these days are increasingly appearing high on ‘testosterone’? It’s cool to swear. It’s cool to take multiple takeela shot. It’s cool to make circles from puff of smoke. Obviously, my observation is skewed as it is based on what I see around and up to a certain extent on the content of tv shows targeted at young audience but, we have definitely come a long way from the days of Indian naari (Indian woman). Arrogance and rudeness is not any guy’s prerogative if that’s how one argues in its’s favour but, it’s definitely not ‘cool’. It’s a big turn off. Thankfully, it’s not the norm. At least, not yet. And no, I am not sexist. :)

PS: Swear is slang and means ‘to use abusive words’. E.g. ****, *****, ******** etc’

Disclaimer: Again. This post comes with lots of asterisk and is not directed at anyone in particular or girls from any particular region, company, planet etc’. It is not intended to be provocative but, if you do feel that way, feel free to express yourself in words that you feel appropriate and I promise I won’t delete any comment! And you don’t even have to beep out your favourite words like I have done!

Posted in India, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Speak Asia vs Indian Media

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 16, 2011

I didn’t want to write another post related to Speak Asia but, I decided to write one for those who are being redirected here after the news conference held by the company. And then there was my own curiosity ofcourse after my previous post (Is Speak Asia Doomed to fail?).

Didn’t watch the live press conference but, did watch the recorded video at night. Here is what I think:

    1) It was a long press conference! I think it ran for over an hour and you need every bit of patience you are capable of
    2) There are only few sections of substance though
    3) What a bunch of “journalist” they were?! They were arrogant, rude and barely managed to ask a single sensible question. It felt more like a police interrogation room and less of a press conference. I behaved so much better at school!
    4) Journalists did not miss any opportunity to mock the Speak Asia Mgmt. Patted themselves for either asking an insulting question or for insinuating at every possible opportunity.
    5) To their credit, the panelists did manage to stay calm

What did panelists have to say?

    1) They talked about their business model. Explained Rs. 11000 subscription and the per-survey payout

    2) Explained their investment in technology and said their plan to invest more. Showed their new website due to go live in two weeks. Talked about having offices at 5 locations in India by August 1. Plans for new business – telephony, insurance etc’. Volunteered to show balance sheet.

    3) Gave some accounting numbers. Rs 350 crore turnover. Rs 250 cr given to panelists. Rs. 68 cr paid to govt. in service tax.

    4) Talked about the clients. Said that while they had done some research on the brands shown on channels, they were not commissioned by those brands and apologized for any mis-communication. They however confirmed that they do business through distributors and these distributors do remit money through ING and ICICI. Volunteered to show bank statements. Volunteered to show their client list subjected to people signing Non-public disclosure agreement.

    5) Showed their willingness to be investigated by government agencies and answer any questions they might have. They pleaded media to encourage agencies to investigate instead of passing their own judgement.

I barely watch Hindi news channels. I already have expressed my opinion about these channels in one of my earlier posts. Today’s performance was just as despicable. Surprisingly, most sensible questions came from a guy from Aaj Tak. :) Now, I don’t know how much of what these panelists said is true and relevant authorities should definitely do what is required for the peace of mind of those who believe in this company but, media’s curse can prove to be a big blow specially for a year old company.

Lets see which way this pendulum swings!

Posted in Controversy, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Is Speak Asia doomed to fail?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 13, 2011

My wife one fine day says, “I need Rs 11,000″. It is customary on our side to donate amounts to the tune of 11, 111, 1100. But, 11000? While my brain was going in 11000 different directions, “Its for Speak Asia.”, she says. “Speak what?” I asked. I knew she was up to something but, to score points with her (11000 big ones), I said, “yes” making sure it sounded as if its not big deal. Salaried people tend to think about, at least at some level, of every money that they spend. So, I decided to do some research. I typed “Speak Asia” in Google and the next word google suggests is “Scam”. Oh boy!.

What is it?

It is paid survey where you get Rs. 500 per survey and can earn up to Rs. 4000 per month if you pay subscription fee of Rs. 11000. You further get paid for direct and indirect referrals. If you are able to build strong enough network, there is potential to make big money.

Why so much skepticism?

You have to pay up front subscription fee of Rs 11000. Incentive model appears flattering and raises questions if it is sustainable. If you have to be successful, you have to get your incentive scheme absolutely right (Freakonomics). There are a few things going against the company (which they promise to fix). They seem to be operating from a black box. Past scams and the depth of corruption in the country make the matter worse.

So, is it sustainable?

Depends. It might not be sustainable in its current form but, will not necessarily fail. Its business is Market research. Do survey and sell the results to interested companies. So, it will be sustainable if it gets simple Math right. Generate enough from survey sales so that it can pay its panelists. Its biggest test will obviously come when the rate of subscriptions go down. In that case the only way it will be able to continue with the payout will be to generate revenues through sales or it will have to evolve/diversify. It cannot and should not rely on new subscriptions to meet payout demand. If thats what they are hoping for, that is fraud (Ponzi Scheme).

Can it evolve? Can it diversify?

It can. Its biggest asset undoubtedly is going to be its network and as a result its brand(ignore negative vibe for now). Network is a big asset. Having a network that you can leverage is quite something. The benefit of Network Marketing is that if you can generate enough momentum, it might carry you through. Its website currently gets about 100 million hits a month and about 1 million unique visitors! What wouldn’t you do to get such a website! :) If you can guarantee this number of visits, which this site can as panelists transact through this, opportunities are numerous. Advertisements being the most obvious. How, about targeted marketing based on the data people fill in surveys? People who are filling the surveys can surely start becoming consumers, right? The fact that they are charging helps you create a demographic. Isn’t it? You have got a set of educated people with some dispensable cash willing to give honest opinion (or else they won’t be paid). What about Facebook? How do you think it makes money? The reason we don’t question, and its a very valid reason, is because we have nothing to lose. But, we don’t question its sustainability, right?

Should you join?

It depends what your take of the company is based on what you have heard, read and experienced. Early subscribers are almost certain to make good money because of the rapid rate of subscriptions. Then it all depends on the view you take of company’s business and its ability to diversify and make money. If you take a positive view, you should invest (buy subscription) or stay away from it. This is true for all companies when you invest in their stocks. The price you are willing to pay for a company’s stock depends on the view you take.

Nobody knows if a company will survive. Wave of speculation can take down the mightiest in a day. That probably is one the biggest thing going against Speak Asia. The thing going in favour of Speak Asia is that the people I know have been paid as promised. So far so good!

Speak Asia vs Indian Media: This is follow up post after press conference.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 22 Comments »

Is this News?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on December 2, 2008

Recent events of Mumbai have given Indian news channels another low hanging fruit to latch on to and they have seized the opportunity with loudest possible bang. Emotional story of a survivor is shown with melodramatic tunes and loud gunshots and bomb explosions playing in the background. Same images are flashed again and again. Brave “citizen journalists” who went back inside the hotel amidst attacks to capture memorable footage is now broadcast on every channel and the citizen is now a celebrity. Narration has hit its lowest and news feels more like trailer of a bad, very bad, Hollywood action movie. If content has gone down the drain, quality of presentation is in a free-fall. Every piece of news is claimed to be exclusive to the channel brought to you in record time.

But, this is probably the curse of round the clock news channel with fiery anchors who always seem to be on adrenaline inducing drugs.

If there are any recommendations, do let me know but, every channel that I have tuned in to leaves me with flashing images and high pitched voice of loud-mouthed anchors.

Posted in India | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Candlelight Vigil held in London for Mumbai attack victims

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on December 1, 2008

Update: Event was also held at Canary Wharf, London on 3rd December. Link to photos below.

More than 350 people put a brave face and defied low temperature, breeze and drizzle late in the evening on Sunday to gather at Indian High Commission in London. While I don’t believe in passive action such as forward-this-email-for-a-cause, this event did bring forward a few people who had pain in their hearts and sadness writ large on their faces. The fact that what was meant to be a small private event organised by two friends generated this kind of response is evidence enough of the profound impact this disaster has had on these people. I will try and post a few photos so that it stays in our hearts for long time to come because it is just as easy to forget.

Photos of candlelight vigil held at High Commission and Canary Wharf are here

News Coverage

As a side note, let us hope that the Mumbai massacre does not turn in to an India-Pakistan issue because it is not. It was an act perpetrated by a minority who have misplaced motivation to cause maximum physical damage. I don’t believe that they represent any country, religion or faith. Of course, India needs to apply maximum pressure on Pakistan to take action against seperatist groups and Pakistan needs to do everything to prove that it was not ISI sponsored. To give free reign to such groups to train in the region will inevitably attract wrath of many countries who are suffering at the hands of these groups. But, we should resist the temptation of being drawn in to a tit-for-tat action because it is a vicious circle which is almost impossible to get out of and almost always the one’s to suffer are those who believe in innocent form of life.

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Mumbai Attacks: United we stand divided we fall

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on November 30, 2008

24 hour round the clock live coverage of devastating Mumbai attacks has made sure that the pain is felt by each and everyone throughout the world. And rightly so. It was attack on anyone who believes in the central theme of life. There can be no motivation good enough for such callous indiscriminate killing. But, let there be no bias in our condemnation of acts of violence. Every Indian has right to feel Indian in each and every part of this country. Raj Thackeray’s of this country should not be allowed to prosper. Incidents like that of Orissa should never be allowed to happen. There should be one true spirit. And that should be Indian spirit. That will prove to be the biggest deterrent for those who believe that they can puncture the social fabric of India by launching such gruesome attacks. Politicians will continue to be politicians and time will take its toll on the intensity or anger that everyone feels right now. Let that not be the case. Violence, any kind of violence, should be condemned in strongest possible terms. There are probably things that shouldn’t be said aloud but, this is the lowest I could keep my voice.

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You are fired!

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on November 21, 2008

Is it as brutal as they make it out to be? I found out on Thursday. “As you all know these are unprecedented times. We are having to take some very tough decisions...” It was coming from the speakerphone as we were rushed in to an audio conference to be attended by all our global teams. You could sense his tone. You could sense the mood in the room. Everyone knew what will follow. But, no one knew the number. Two, three, entire team? Logically, this was one of the strongest team in one of the best performing businesses so, something like that was unlikely to happen. Huh! If everything followed the course of logic, I should have been on a holiday. Everyone was going through the same feeling. “Come on, it can’t be that. Can it? What if it is? No one thought Lehman was going to collapse. No one thought blah blah blah.” Events with lowest probability of happening were capturing most people’s imagination because that was likely to have maximum shock-value. It was about to get unbearble and then he said. “We are having to let two people from the department go.” Just when we thought it was time to breathe a sigh of relief, we started wondering, “Who are they?”. And the heart started racing again. All the feelings were back. The desire to bang your head on to the hard fancy wooden table had never been so strong because you knew you won’t feel the pain. No pain was strong enough to beat the one that everyone on the conference call was experiencing. “Those two people have been notified...” There it was. It was not me. But, lets take a moment. I along with other members of my team had held weekly video conference with this team about 30mins ago. These guys were part of the meeting where we had discussed roadmap for next few months and these guys had active roles to play. Their next meeting turned out to be their last. Even though Citigroup stole the limelight with its shares plunging below $5, I had all sorts of emotions going through my head for the rest of the evening.

Posted in Career | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

What the hell, its for a good cause!

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on September 7, 2008

Its always a challenge when we have to go out of our normal course of lives to do something. Most of the time we shrink our head back in to our comfort zones for sight outside is either too horrific or too revealing. But, sometimes we manage to muster enough courage to take the fight to these fears just to see what it feels like to do something “crazy”.

My experience while collecting funds for Bihar floods has been interesting. While people from very unexpected quarters have come forward, most people have decided to shrug their shoulders after making sure that we know how “sorry” they are.

The fact remains that as long as individual’s self interest is protected, in majority of cases people confine their life to “Me, my family, my religion/caste, my state, my country” in that order. While contributing to such disasters might not be as easy as forwarding emails to five friends in order to claim their share of prosperity, it has revealed time and again how superficial life most people live. But, most people will boil when such a suggestion is made. While people continue to moan about things they would like to do but can’t, the fact remains that either you do it or you don’t. Its not necessarily a bad thing because that forms the majority. But still, its important that they learn to live with it for thats who they are and not moan about it.

One needs a far cavalier and positive attitude to come forward to help just in the name of “what the hell, its for a good cause!”. Thanks to all those who have shown this side of theirs and prove what my dad says time and again that “there are enough good people in this world to stop it from going in to hell”.

While it is not intended to offend, it doesn’t hurt to put mirror in front of people’s faces from time to time.

Related post: Bihar Floods – What can you do?

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Bihar Floods – What can you do?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on September 3, 2008

How bad is it?

It is bad enough to be declared a national calamity and 5 million (50 lakh) people are said to be directly affected. Worst hit are children who are estimated to be more than half the number. Some news coverage:

On how children are being affected
Google News

What can you do?

If you are religious you can consider this as act of god punishing people for their sins. If you don’t believe in god, you might feel vindicated. And if you are not comfortable taking sides, you can just sit back and watch the drama unfold.

What is being done?

There are a few people who are doing great job in co-ordinating some of the activities like managing funds and sending relief materials (medicines, cloths etc) to the affected region. It is a network of some NGOs and personal contacts based at relief camps.

How can I contribute/donate?

United Kingdom: If you are in UK, you can get in touch with me and I can arrange transfer of funds. Every amount is accounted for and every contribution will be posted publicly (unless instructed otherwise).

All funds in UK will go in to the account of BIHAR FOUNDATION UK. It is member of British Overseas of NGOs for development and thus is regulated. News coverage of the effort by Bihar Foundation.

India: You can again get in touch with me if you want and I can guide you. However, you can also look at following locations who as I said are also involved in such activities. I am in touch with some of them.

http://jayajha.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/many-avenues-please-contribute/

http://biharflood.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/more-avenues-for-contributing/

Ways to get in touch

1) Leave a comment

2) Use this form

3) +44 780 944 1527

Post script: Please note that if you have doubts about credibility of this effort then you will not be the only one. It won’t hurt though to get in touch.

Posted in Bihar, India | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Stupid? Its in your Genes!

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 25, 2008

Some people get turned on by intelligence and greater number get turned off by stupidity. But, if not learning from past mistakes is a measure of stupidity then we might have found a compelling evidence to get us off the hook when we turn in to a laughing stock for others. Yep. Its the usual suspect – genes. Bottmonline is that if you have certain genes (or lack of it), you might just not have the ability to learn. Some people just don’t learn. They can’t!

Don’t you just love Biology!

Posted in Psychology, Science | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Formula One: India Enters the Race. Literally!

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 11, 2008

Note: I know it is old news. So what. I don’t reach office everyday on time either. Moreover, they announced their driver recently which heats things up.

India takes another stride towards establishing itself as a global player. Enters Formula One! Strictly speaking, there is no such concept of a team from a particular country but, with us, nationalist sentiment invariably puts India at the forefront. Moreover, the team is called “Force India”. (Listen to the webcast on this website!) Only team with a country’s name in it!

Vijay Mallya says, “I feel proud that an Indian has put its flag on the F1 circuit.” This makes it quite clear how eager successful Indians are to put India on the global map. Tata did it by winning the deal for Corus and coming up with world’s most economical car, Tata Nano. And obviously, Tata is the favourite to acquire globally recognised luxurios car brands such as Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford.

More success will inadvertently subject us to greater scrutinly and thus the importance of being gracious has never been greater. We should not project the image that as the confidence of the nation is growing we are becoming graceless and arrogant. We need to learn from some of the mistakes we committed during the Cricket Fiasco.

Our country is growing. Its time to grow as individuals.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cricket Fiasco: Bottomline

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 10, 2008

You need to close your eyes in order to see clearly for there is so much chaos. At a time when we needed to show highest degree of restraint, we have gone berserk. If as a nation we want to play an important role on the world stage, we will need to show far greater maturity.

Australian Cricket: Australia did get carried away in the dying moments of the game when they were beginning to realise that their dreams of most victories in a row might remain a dream after all. But, are we trying to suggest that the Indian team would have not appealed had it been in similar situation? I am hurt because Indian lost the game but, the damage that is taking place outside of game is far too lasting than a game of cricket will ever be capable of. We are risking quite a lot.

BCCI: Its all about money. Look at the state of the Indian cricket. Why can’t we produce a team which can win or at least put a decent fight with the kind of budget it has?

Umpiring: Bucknor should have been asked to leave (or asked to voluntarily resign) simply for being incompetent in a job for which he is being paid handsomely as would have been the case in any other job. Not because he is a cheat or anything else that Indian media will like some of us to believe nor because BCCI likes to flex its muscle like some foreign media is getting obsessed with.

Media: What a joke. Majority of them thrive on being cheap and sensational. Screw them.

Now lets look at the case of Harbhajan. Comments like “We told you the first time not to call him monkey” is ridiculous. Its like don’t tell us that because we don’t like it. Who the hell likes when you sledge even if it is not racist by definition? The whole basis of provocation is the opposition not liking what is being done to him. There is no place of racism in sports. But, what makes sledging any more attractive?

To be honest, I personally think that Harbhajan might well have called him a monkey. But, it can’t be because some prejudice leading to racial taunt. Its because he did not like what was told to him and was hurt. He wanted to hurt Symonds and for a volatile and intemperate personality like Harbhajan, only one thing would have come to his head. Not because he is racist. But, because he wanted to hurt Symonds. That does not give mileage to Harbhajan mind you. In fact he along with Sreesanth should have been brought to task for indulging in such lose talk time and again. But, lets not make one person more equal than other because the other person was able to qualify the remark as racist. Ability to see the big picture will hold us all in good stead.

Bottomline: None of this was to protect national pride. Far from it. Different interested parties have blown everything out of proportion to ensure that we lose sight of the real problem because their best interest lies in it. To the Aussies: We don’t only burn effigies of foreign umpires and players. Our players and selectors are not spared either if the player from a certain state is not selected or if a player bats too ‘slow’. But, they do not represent all of India. In a vast country like India with one-sixth of world’s population it will not be wise to expect common sense from all of them when even three commentators sitting in the comfort of their air-conditioned box cannot come to a consensus. We are not racist, we are emotional. We are not stupid, we are passionate. If there is a line amongst all this, we are bound to stumble time and again. Lets not make a big deal and do what we do best. Wait for another scandal. Enough said.

PS: Here is what a comment read in one of the responses.

If my Mum had been in charge of international cricket, this would have been sorted easily. Every time I was in the garden playing with my friends and a game was threatening to get out of hand, she used to stick her head out of the window and say , “If you can’t play nicely, don’t play at all. If it carries on like that your friends can go home and you can clean the toilet.” It always did the trick.

Related Posts:
Shocking Journalism. Worst Protest.
Australia-Great Team Lacking in Spirit

Posted in Controversy, Cricket, India, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Shocking Journalism. Worst Protest.

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 7, 2008

I was hurt like any other Indian when India lost Sydney test and the manner of loss made it harder to digest. But, what disappoints me more is the way it has been captured in Indian media. Rise of Internet has ensured that people don’t have to wait till the next day to go through the newspaper. This is being exploited by the media who keep coming up with cheesy headlines and controversial stories – mostly concocted, to increase their popularity. If print media is bad, electronic ones are worse. 24 hour news channels have ensured that it is full of rubbish. Every channel tries to tap in to mass’s sentiment twisting every piece of news to spice it up as opposed to making an effort to present accurate information.

Cheesy Headlines, humiliating remarks, everything blown out of proportion. What is happening? The way Indian public has responded to this is shocking. Its one thing to criticise. Its another thing to humiliate. People have been posting absolutely absurd and mindless abusive comments in response to articles. And all this in the name of protecting our pride. Is this the impression we want rest of the world to have about us? My pride is far more injured by the events that is taking place in India as compared to what happened in Australia on the cricket field. What happens to the pride of these people when India gets named as one of the worst countries in the way children are treated here? This rarely forms subject of intellectual discussions because dealing with it will require them to be far more proactive as compared to showing anger in chat rooms.

When a few Australians did not carry themselves as we would have liked, we responded in the way we did. What about thousands of Indians who are proving to be no different? This is specially surprising when majority of the neutrals and quite a few Australians have shared our sentiment.

Same Australian public gave rousing reception to VVS and Tendulkar when they came in to bat at SCG and gave a standing ovation when they scored their centuries as if they were playing in front of their home crowd. It is one thing to be disappointed. It is another thing to be stupid.

Its true that we did not like what we saw in the test and what transpired thereafter in Harbhajan’s case but, our behaviour and that of quite a few journalists has not been very appealing either. Everybody is wrong but for us. Talk about fairness!

There are lots of decent ways to lodge protest and put your case forward. Calling names and posting abusive messages in the forums is definitely not one of them.

Update: All is not lost and I am not the only one to be incensed by the nonsense that is going on in Indian press which by its very nature demeans the cause Indians are fighting for. Here is an extract from an article in The Guardian that states as to what this post is about.

India is blessed with an extraordinary capacity for indignation. But occasionally there is cause. So even if it was a little tiresome to have to hear Harbhajan Singh’s mother on every news channel, watch donkeys with name-tags of the umpires Bucknor and Benson dangling around their necks, and find that 94% of viewers on one network wanted the team to return from Australia, it did not fully detract from the issue.

A few other people have written about the quality of journalism which they call over the top or in other words nonsensical. In Guardian, Dileep Premachandran calls it India: Where truth is up for grabs. (Cracking title but may have overcompensated by launching a scathing attack) and on Cricinfo Suresh Menon pleads for some balance.

Posted in Controversy, Cricket, India, Journalism | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Importance of Being VVS

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 5, 2008

If you are an Indian, Cricket is quite likely to occupy some portion of your heart. And it felt nice to have done justice to that Indian spirit of mine when I chose to watch cricket late at night even if that meant the prospect of high dose of caffeine during meetings the next day. But boy, it was so much worth it. Laxman stayed long enough to ensure that it was every bit worth. Every shot that he played could be watched several times but still would generate the same feeling of ‘wow’ on each occasion. It is true that Tendulkar played a bigger and an important innings the next day but, in the context of the series, Laxman once again reversed the fortunes of India from psychological point of view after they lost very badly at Melbourne and conceded a huge first innings score to Australia. You have to take bull by the horns in such situations and it was so nice to see the most elegant batsman in the world destroy the most potent attack with most delicate of touches. He saved the day and probably the series for India but, as a player he has earned himself just another inning to fight again because the next time he goes to bat, he will have to “prove” himself once again.

There rarely is a cricketing reason when he gets dropped. But, you don’t look for reason when somebody is more equal than others. Most make convenient choices and not the right one. Dropping Laxman is one such choice they make time and again because they know that their names will not be trashed in the newspapers and effigies not burnt on the streets. Best of games is played in the minds and not only on the field. But the game that Laxman has to play in his head every time he goes out to bat is more to counter the attack of people on the same side and not that of his rivals.

Sports unifies you as a nation. But in India for that to happen Saurav Ganguly has to be in the team otherwise Bengal becomes a different nation altogether. The most famous Australian we had on our soil is unanimously considered a legend. But, he, Mr Greg Chappell is now more famous for being the Indian coach who managed to show Saurav Ganguly the door. Now, thats probably the Australian way of doing things. Perform or perish. One year hence, Saurav Ganguly does nothing impressive on the cricket field and makes his way back in to the Indian cricket team. Now thats the Indian way of doing things. We reach greatest of heights with least of effort. You just need to know the right set of people. To be fair to him, he has shown greater resolve to perform ever since he returned. But, that in a way proves Chappell’s hypothesis based on which he argued the case of him being a destructive factor in the team.

Every country that India plays knows the importance of VVS. Its such a shame that his own country-men don’t.

Posted in Cricket, India | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taare Zameen Par

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 1, 2008

Just when you think that bollywood can’t set the bar any lower, somebody slides right under it. However, there are occasional movies which manage to escape the rule and its no coincidence that Aamir Khan featured in two such movies (other being Rang De Basanti) in recent past. He seems to be one actor who genuinely makes every effort to take the road of his own choosing without compromising his value system unlike most of his peers who almost always have a price tag attached to their morality. He has done it again with “Taare Zameen Par” which is refreshingly original. It is not only entertaining but, more importantly touches upon a subject which most parents and children will be able to relate to. As most parents continue to project their idea of life on to their children, the life turns into a puppet show with strings attached to every part of the child’s body each going in different direction but for the one the child truly wants to. Everyone who reads this will nod their head in agreement but, how many will go ahead and let their kids breath the air they want to?

Following is a passage by Khalil Gibran-The Madman, I read long time ago which beautifully captures this.

It was the garden of the madhouse that I met a youth with a face pale and lovely and full of wonder.

And I sat beside him upon the bench and said, “why are you here”?

And he looked at me in astonishment and he said, “It is an unseemly question ,yet I will answer you.”

“My father would make of me a reproduction of himself,so also would my uncle. My mother would have me the image of her illustrious father. My sister would hold up her seafaring husband as the perfect example for me to follow. My brother thinks I should be like him ,a fine athlete and my teachers also ,the doctor of philosophy and the music master and the logician they too were determined and each would have me but a reflection of his own face in a mirror.”

“Therefore I came to this place. I find it more sane here. At least I can be myself“.

Then all of a sudden he turned to me and he said, “But tell me,were you also driven to this place by education and good counsel?”

And I said, “No,I am a visitor.” and he said, “Oh,you are one of those who live in the madhouse on the other side of the wall.”

Posted in Bollywood, Movies | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

I Wish…

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on December 31, 2007

And here comes another year. The only thing that is going to excite most of us is the new set of hope nicely packaged in the comfort of our imagination that it brings along. Most will look forward to the new year rather then reflect on the year gone past for the fear what it might reveal. As we go around wishing for ourselves (and others) a “happy” new year, most will not have any clue what kind of happiness they are wishing for. In order to wish, one needs to have the will to act. In the world where all it takes to fall in “love” is a glance from top to bottom, where celebrities who spend more time in the rehab define our lifestyle, where we continue to be seduced by glamour instead of success, where we feel more comfortable living our lives on Facebook and Orkut, where it is just too difficult to prevent people from making ass of themselves, one can only hope that people learn how to live. If life is a game it takes more than a resolution in a pub to develop the ability to play against the odds. And if life is about fairness, it takes far more to be fair to one’s conscience.

Oscar Wilde said, “One’s real life often is the one he doesn’t lead.” He definitely had a point.

Posted in Life, Motivation, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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