Friday, November 28, 2008

The Greatest Weapon Against Terror

Mumbai again is at the epicentre of attack. It might be one of the biggest attacks ever made by terrorists so close to home. The shock of the world and the country is expected and so is the delayed response by the politicians and the maybe even the unpreparedness of our defences (God bless the souls of the the brave cops who gave their lives to save the hostages). But this post is not about blasting terrorists into smithereens, parading of the Spirit that is Mumbai or blaming the government and armed forces of its incompetencies. No , my friends this post is trying to see from a personal perspective what the root cause of this evil, this terror is.
Terrorism, knows no country boundaries as we have clearly seen in the past decade. Where does this terrorism get its fuel? Where does it get the funding? Where does it get its terrorists. And more importantly where does it get its origins ?

I'll start with the origin. I truly believe that terrorism is what you get when you mix power and money hungry people without a conscience with socially outcast or discriminated people with a weak mind(whether rightfully or wrongfully). In a way its marketing 101 and supply and demand at work. People who make guns and other weapons want to sell more and more weapons. How do you do it ? Influence the need of the target segment by satisfying the want. Target segment - Socially discriminated people with fickle minds, who feel the need to get back at society for what's being done to them. The "suits" tell them, here you go- the latest weaponry technology can provide. Want meets need. Job well done. But then there are not enough people with the need. So what now? Create the need. Create leaders for these groups of people to motivate people on the edge over to their side and brainwash more and more daily. Now you have a steady set of people who keep falling into the need trap and keep taking it to demand stage by plundering and plummaging. How else could you describe the coming up of a new faction of Islamic jihadi group every week?

Now over the past decade ,I feel it has so transpired that Muslims have had to bear the brunt of this discrimination the most. They are the second largest religion in the world. Their customs and practices are different from the western world. And being different scares people. I'm sure it all started with a small disparity against them somewhere. A group of them got together disgrunted and took adverse action. This brought about greater racism against Muslims from a bigger group of ignorant fools who don't differentiate between the person, the action and the religion. This further hurt the sentiments of the the weak and fickle minded among the ones who are discriminated against. More people fight back and the vicious circle starts. Now take these ignorant nonsecular fools (who don't differentiate action and religion ) and the fickle minded people and add the fuel of weapons manufactuerers while making them leaders on the world stage. George Bush and Osama bin Laden come to mind as two examples. Now you have this spiral going out of everyone's control. Cause Bush thinks that all Muslims should be killed and Osama thinks all things American burnt.

Who wins? who loses? First answer very guessable. Check the brand names of the latest companies manufacturing weapons. Laughing all the way to the bank.
Who loses? each and every single one of the 6 billion people on the planet.

Why?Coz, We didn't have the sense to understand that the action and person are separated from the religion and hence kept on discriminated against them. We didn't have the ability to be Secular.

I am born a Hindu, raised a Secular. Infact if I look closely at my circle of friends , I would have more friends from other religions than Hinduism. We are a Secular, Socialist, Democratic, Republic country. These are the words from the Constitution. Its no wonder Secular came first in the list because without that India would have split into a million pieces by now. First question many westerners ask when they meet me, Are you a Muslim ? I feel so tempted to tell them I am and see their reaction. Instead I tell them I'm a Hindu. They look relieved. Not because Hinduism doesn't breed its own terrorists. Just that the Hindu terrorism has not reached them. But do you think in this current scenario the war mongers will not encourage the Hindu fickle minded youth retaliate? Once that happens, Should me or my children fear to tell the truth as many Muslim men, women and children feel ? Or should we unite and say once and for all - Every religion has a right to exist peacefully and we will stop discriminating against any one of them.

Does playing the blame game with one another solve the situation or increase the rift? Will we let the war mongers get away with blood money of our family, friends and neighbours. Or will we use our heads, show our strength, our secularness - and use TOLERANCE for all things different as the greatest weapon against terror? That's when I would say we live in a globalized world.

Pic: Courtesy Getty images

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Soumya honoured in Stockholm

Soumya Vishwanathan along with 5 other Indian journos were honoured at the Stockholm Journalists Memorial 2008. Read the full story here Whats specially disheartening to read is that the no one from the Indian embassy in Stockholm felt it fit to join in the bereavement. Are you seriously telling me that the elite bureaucracy in Stockholm representing India are so overloaded? Disgraceful is the word that comes to mind.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Beginning of the End of an Era

Well this could feel like a continuation of the last blog post on Change and it might well be one, but its just seems that time of the year. New year's around the corner and things change.

This blog post is dedicated to the heroes of my generations childhood. The ones whom we pinned all our hopes on after coming back from a exam gone horribly wrong, after suffering mom's beating for being up to some mischief, fights with our siblings ; all things bad for a child- to sit in front of the tele and smile and cheer again. This post is dedicated to the Fab Five (not just 4)of Indian cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, Rahul Sharad Dravid,Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Lakshman and Anil Kumble.

We have grown up watching these amazing athletes play for the country in a sport that is a religion in India. Cricket is what football is to Brazil and Argentina. Half the office goes on sick leave, shops shut early,housewives forego their soaps for the day, buzzing streets have an eerie silence, fathers come home early, and it might not be far from the truth to say that even crime rates drop when India is playing cricket. Such is the euphoria,the ecstasy,the pain and sheer heartburn associated with the sport. Everyone over the age of 5 is commentator and an expert cricketer. He shouldn't have cut the ball like this but driven it like that, what was he thinking bowling a full toss?? I'm sure if the comments made by Indians while watching the game could be stored in a database, it would run into trillions of terabytes.

These 5 athletes have brought out the best and worst in all of us. We have celebrated their centuries and 5 wicket hauls as much as we have crucified them for their bad days. Lauded as Gods of something or something one day and effigies burnt the next. Still they have persevered. For the last nearly two decades or so they have come to become part of our families like siblings whom we love to hate and hate to hear any criticism from an outsider with equal fervour.

I'm sure plenty of sports writers and commentators will be saluting these cricketers and describing their achievements and records(for they can fill 5 books each) but for myself and my generation its near that time to bid adieu to Fab Five bunch. I'm sure they have plenty of cricket left in them as you don't lose your greatness even when your body is creaking and screaming for you to stop with such athletes. But its better to leave gracefully than to be kicked out in the ungracious fashion which international sport is used to.

Anil Kumble-619 Test wickets and 337 ODI wickets as he hangs up his boots. Finishing off as captain of the country and a near impossible to duplicate 10 wicket haul. You have won us many a match for us with your always criticized "non spinning" spin bowling.You have shown every kid who dreams of playing for their country what it means to be a gentleman of the sport. You have toiled harder and longer than humanly possible and played with a heart so large for the country that no one can touch you.

Sourav Ganguly-7,127 Test runs and 11,363 ODI runs and 132 combined wickets plays his last day of Test cricket tomorrow. The most successful test captain India ever saw, your aggression was a welcome change from the soft Indian sides of yore. Personally not my favorite but admittedly the sheer elegance of your off side shots a treat a to watch. You brought about a breath of much needed fresh air into the captaincy of India and as is usual had to suffer for it too. And you proved it with your comeback in the best way an cricketer can-with your bat doing the talking.The pride of Bengal,The Prince of Calcutta, the Maharaja of Indian cricket , We will miss you.

VVS Lakshman- Very Very Special Lakshman. This sobriquet defines you absolutely. The proof that laziness is grace in motion too. To watch you play effortlessly making it look so easy and turning fools of the ones who believe it to be too. Coming in whenever we are down in the dumps and given up all hope and coming on top with an innings which is never short of miraculous. You make us watch the game after all hope of victory is gone and an agonising defeat is staring at our face and turn the agony into pure ecstasy. And then you go on to do it again and again and again...

Rahul Dravid. The Wall. Test cricket batting defined. Did you follow the rulebook on cricket or did they MAKE the rulebook watching you play? The one whom the country depends on when we are out of home and out of sorts. You made sure repeatedly that India were not described as "Lions at home and kittens on international waters". You made us believe that we were safe as long as you stood your defiant ground. And we worshipped the ground you stood on.Every budding cricketer wants to play that cover drive down on his knees like you do and will always wish they could.

Sachin Tendulkar. God. That's what this man is to Indian cricket. Even mentioning that he might retire from cricket one day might bring millions of hate mails at my doorsteps. I can't write enough about a man who has inspired a billion people every game he has stepped out to play for the country. Undeniably the best cricketer the world has seen not just for his game but the sheer power of his mind to take on the hopes of a billion people day in and day out. There might(just might) have been better batsmen in the world but none of them had to go through the pressure outside the cricket field that you have gone through. From a tender age of 17 to an age where your kid knows why a country worships you, you have proved what it means to represent a country in international cricket. I'm sure a 100 books have been written on your past ,present and future and 100 more will be written. You are India's Pele,Maradona,Jordan,Schumacher, Tiger Woods all rolled into one. I know a country will cry the day you retire and wish time would turn back and give us our greatest sportsperson (not just athlete) ever back.

And time is fast approaching for the remaining three to bid their farewells from the game too. I'm sure the young guns will take over from your able hands the pride of donning India's colours on the modern day battlefields of international sport. But for my generation the chants will be heard by our children and grandchildren that they weren't as good or as great as you. Cricket is our religion and you,the Fab Five have been our Gods. We Thank you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ode to Change

Yes ,Barack Hussein Obama is the new president of the US of A. Dawn of a new Generation. Hmm sounds like a Pepsi tag line. Oh wait Pepsi has a new logo too. Rebirth of a Drink. Thinking of rebirths- Japanese scientists have cloned dead frozen mice. Whoa...Change hear we come. Back to Obama again. The circle of life continues...

Lets see what changes are brought about by these 3 completely unrelated events. First Black(ok semi black) president of America with a Muslim sounding name. On his shoulders lie the twin burdens of the biggest economic crisis in history and the biggest war against terror. They say if we had used the $700 billion dollar crutches for greater good we could have alleviated world poverty.So even less needs to be said about $3 trillion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Change was definitely needed from Bush. But what the bloody hell that change is going to be(Obama has never be clear about that) is any one's guess. The story will unfold itself. On a side note its funny(or not!) how many people today told me that they expected Obama to be assassinated within 3 years.

Like we said change is good. Or is it? Case in point- Pepsi's new logo or logos in plural. The Smiling Logo, the smirking(or grinning) logo and the laughing logo. All for the same brand. Is this a first? Different(slightly) logos of the same brand? Maybe some of the readers can clarify. Anyways when profits are down, a $1.2 billion spent on new logo which has not been radically changed since the 50's(I mean the circle of red and blue with a centre wave) doesn't seem the smartest of all moves. A basic definition of a logo is to uniquely visually identify a brand,company or product. Three logos for the same brand seems like confusing the customer to me. Emotions with logos or brands are excellent for brand identity but are you telling me a Pepsi customer identifies with the smile, The Diet Pepsi one with the grin and the Pepsi Max customer with a laugh? You must be kidding me. No pun intended. Taking different logos to line extensions is definitely a stretch. Have Pepsi's marketing team all done all that could be done before embarking on this great mission ? Or was someone's office joke taken seriously by top management? Let see what this change ushers, hey I'm no marketing guru. BTW did Nooyi vote Democrat , if you know what i mean?

Finally a change that sci-fi novelists have written about for years. Bringing back the dead.Literally. Japanese scientists have brought back from the dead or rather cloned a frozen mouse who has been buried 6 feet under(of ice mind you) for 16 long years. Now they are talking about bringing back the Mammoth. Jurassic Park here we come. It does sound really cool though doesn't it. What will happen next? Wait and watch - the best (or worst) is yet to come. Ode to Change!!!

Pic: Obama pic courtesy
Pepsi logo courtesy Brand New blog