It is 1984.

Big Brother is watching. This is the ominous note that strikes me whenever I think about George Orwell’s amazing book. It makes sense in a senseless world. We are aware of our governments watching us. But I’m not going to talk about intrusive governments. I’m going to talk about something else. Ever since I joined ADN, I’ve been part of a growing debate over privacy concerns regarding Facebook and developer concerns over a now well-locked down Twitter API. I’ve read about Facebook’s new Graph Search, I’ve read about Twitter’s fight with Instagram and I’ve read about Dunbar’s number. But today, when I saw a link about Twitter being the fastest growing global social platform, is when I realized where all of this is going.

Many months ago, I read an interesting article on Quartz about how Facebook is looking to Africa for its next Billion users. The method is simple – provide Facebook access for free via SMS. In this classic move, people get addicted to the free social network and Facebook gets marketable user data on a Billion more. This despite the fact that we’ve well established that Facebook isn’t what it’s all pegged to be – a way to connect with people. Then I saw this new post about Twitter today and I realized where this is all going. Those of you who’ve read 1984 will know that in the book there are three main countries, each too large to be defeated by the other two, even if they try to combine forces, which never really happens because of ever-changing alliances. All this while, the common people of each State are fed misinformation and trained to accept it as fact. This is an Oligarchical system that cannot be broken. There is a perpetual war and all available resources are concentrated towards it, sacrificed from availability to common man with the hope that it’ll help in the war effort. But the most important facet? Everyone is watched. Continue reading

Twitter isn’t as impartial as some expect

They’re on our turf now, not the airwaves.

via Moneyball for Votes | Jason Putorti.

Jason Putorti made this comment 3 days ago. I just read the post. The context is that Politicians have been spending massive amounts of money on print, TV and direct advertisements without caring about talking to their voters and having a real relationship with their constituents. That way, the politician with the most money wins because they cast the widest net on the most sources. He goes on to point that this is not longer the case because of the growth of the Internet and specifically, Twitter. Continue reading

Of late, I’ve noticed that Gawker is too much of a tongue in cheek blog. Most of their headlines are scathing, almost as if they’re doing so to get more hits on the site. First they criticized App.net and called it snobbish and a waste of money and now they published a headline about Obama on Reddit that sounded like they got paid by the anti-Obama camp to do the headline. I don’t understand why they’re doing it and if it’s succeeding, but this gold-digging behavior on Gawker’s part does not bode well for the website. No one wants to keep listening to the lone rants of an angry man (both articles are by Adrian Chen) and we as netizens would much rather look at brighter sides of the stories than concentrate on the first bad thing that comes to mind.

A Quick Note about the Wisconsin shootings

I’m not one to comment on politics. But events such as the Wisconsin shootings disturb the mind and make you ask questions that sometimes you do not want the answer to.

For those who are looking for updates, follow SepiaMutiny’s twitter account here

Or WISN’s Live Blog here

The questions that I’d like to ask but perhaps do not want the answer to are –

  1. Why attack religion? Religion is sacrosanct. People take a day out of the week to spend with their families and friends. Besides, isn’t Sunday God’s day in nearly every religion?
  2. Why attack Sikhs? Do you understand who they are and where they come from? Do you understand their philosophy? Most importantly, do you understand that they are not the perpetrators of violence that you are fighting on foreign shores?

I hope to not get the answers to these questions. I just want them, who act violently, to think about these questions.

India wants to control your Internet, Again

A few months ago, a report came out that India wanted to exert more control over the Internet, specifically social networking sites, in a bid to control the flow of discussion about it’s political leaders. A huge ruckus was created by the media, calling India the next China in Internet censorship. The whole ‘mela’ lasted a couple of months with wide online harassment of the political leaders behind this scheme. Then, the dust settled down and the Indian government got what they wanted. Facebook and Google agreed that they already regularly monitor and remove content that is negative towards famous people or towards religious sentiments of the people. They did not, however, as requested by the Indian government, hand over censorship controls to the Indian government, calling the idea outrageous and not feasible. (Further reading here)

 

This time, the Indian government wants to go one step ahead in their control of the Internet. According to this news report by the Indian newspaper The Hindu, the Indian government is pushing the United Nations General Assembly for government control of the task assigned to the non-governmental, non-profit organization ICANN. For those who don’t know, the ICANN is responsible for handing out IP addresses to websites so that they can operate on the Internet. Currently, this task is accomplished at lightening speed because of limited governmental intervention and bringing in government bureaucracy will only slow down the growth of the Internet. The task ICANN performs is vital because the impartial handover of IP addresses to those who require them is directly responsible for the free speech model of the Internet. If India has it’s way, all businesses will have to go to the government to get IP addresses, adding another layer of corruption to the already weak model of economic growth in developing countries like India. Also, such a move will allow the government to exercise undue control over the Internet such that it can threaten to cut off any website that it deems harmful to itself. The consequences to free speech are only one imaginative step away.

 

It is clear that when direct intervention failed them in the case against social networking sites as well as when popular social change leader Anna Hazare chose the Internet to channelize supporters, the Indian government chose to go behind the scenes in order to try and cut off their opponents directly by gaining control of the Internet. It is to be seen whether the leaders of the first world decide if this is a viable proposal on May 18th when the UN General Assembly meets in Geneva. With any luck, this proposal will be tossed out the window.

How Indian Politics is doing what China can’t in a Hundred years

The politicians of India are decidedly against the concept of India as a Nation, a single entity with One Status and One System, an Open country with no biases and certainly no reservations against any of it’s long parts. While citizens of many other countries in the world fight over sports, break each other’s bones over the singular football match or hate each other over long histories of wins and losses in Ice Hockey matches but come together when the Country’s solidarity is questioned, Indians fight and kill when it comes to region, religion and water, but don’t care a paisa’s worth over local sports, partly because of it’s non-existent local sports and partly because it’s easier for it’s politicians to raise anger against other communities and religions instead of building dams, bridges and stadiums.

The Chinese think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies claims that Beijing

“should work towards the the break-up of India into 20-30 independent states with the help of friendly countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, support Ulfa in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet”.

It argues that a fragmented India would be in China’s interests and would also lead to prosperity in the region. Further, it goes on to say that if China “takes a little action, the so-called great Indian federation can be broken up”.

A lot of people on This Pakistani Forum agree with the Chinese and have even provided a ‘Map’ of India after Partition and claim that India has never existed as a Nation but Pakistan has been around since 3300 BC. Tall claims, for sure, but they need not crib so much against India.

Gandhiji had strict instructions regarding Quotas, they were a system to bring the backward classes of India’s Society into the mainstream so as to provide Total Equality, yet more than 60 years after his death, the system continues, reinforcing the sickly condition of India’s education, job, social and moral infrastructure. Some time back, a few more quotas were introduced into the Education system with a keen eye on the voters. Then the concept of quotas for teachers was thought up, bring up a whole new system of prejudice ( People can say, “I am a Khatri, why should I study from a lowly class teacher?? “). Recently, Maharashtra reserved 80% jobs in state industries for locals. Shiv Sena and BJP promised to implement this rule strictly if voted to power.  There’s not going to be much time before every state starts playing the ‘sons of the soil’ card and promising such ridiculous reservations. What will the outcome be?? Well, what happens when you reserve jobs, the most important reason for migration of people? The flux of people stops and soon regions become tightly locked strongholds of Politico-Religious affiliations and look at every outsider as an enemy or worse. This kind of attitude leads to glorification of the State above the Nation and though this is relatively healthy for the growth and cleanliness of areas within the State, it is bad for the concept of the Nation as a whole and Pride in the Nation. How many Indians today even utter the words, “I am proud of India”? The ultimate result, that of disjointed, hateful and suspicious states, is what many political powers wish to achieve about India.

Let us now look at an Organisation where this will not happen. The Defense Forces of India, the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy, are prime examples of anti-quota systems. No matter what his father earns or what his caste is, every soldier kisses the mud in the NDA training. No matter how much bank balance a person has, they all get the same houses at the same Rank, they all drive the same vehicles to work and get the same ration to eat food. A Squadron posted in Madras does not crib when it gets a Commander from Kashmir and a Platoon deep in the jungles of Assam will not say a word if a Rajasthani boss comes and tells them how to execute guerrilla warfare. Nor do they reserve 80 pc quota for locals. For this reason alone, they do not have any qualms about making friends with people of different religions, cultures, color or social standing. They have an open institution where anyone can be posted to any part of the country, ensuring that they fall in love with India and not Maharashtra, Assam or Haryana.

There are a lot of NGOs willing to fight the Tatas from building Seaports and to launch massive protests against private organisations for their wrong doings, but very few NGOs stand up against such blatant misuse of Public power by politicians to destroy the sovereign status of India.

Do you really want to see India as this one day??

The future??

The future??

Very few organize human chains, unending sms lists, forwarded emails and collect online signatures to present a letter to the President of India (who, strangely, has no power at all).

Very few organize human chains, unending sms lists, forwarded emails and collect online signatures to present a letter to the President of India (who, strangely, has no power at all) when politicians continually abuse Indians with Vote-gathering schemes based on instigating the common man’s anger against ‘outsiders’. Very few indeed…

There ought to be more.

My Govt’s got Balls!

I am truly Amazed! My Government suddenly seems to have found the balls to stand up to the non-sensical rantings of the Chinese Government. They have been trying to provoke the Indian Government into doing something stupid since a long time, for example crushing the Asian Development Bank’s proposal for development in India’s Eastern states, specifically claiming that since Arunachal Pradesh is “disputed” property, the ADB can’t pump money into it via India. I don’t get it, How can AP be disputed?? It’s Our territory! Anyways, the other day there was the news about Chinese incursions into Indian territory along the Line of Actual Control and it seems that China wants us to keep diverting more personnel and resources into the area for at least one stupid mistake to flare up into a big issue, but it’s ok from their side to fire at us and injure two of our soldiers. Also, there was the noise about what the Indian Democracy should Not do about The Dalai Lama (read-we shouldn’t let him in!!!). Apparently it’ll be bad if we let him go to Tawang to reconnect with his roots…

Here’s what China’s stance has been about India-

  1. We’re not here to listen to your nonsense
  2. You better listen to us or we’ll give grenades to Pakistani Terrorists the next time they come to your country (oh wait, we’ll do that anyways…)
  3. Give us Arunachal Pradesh and anything west of that, we’ll be happy with that.

Oh did I forget that a recent report by a Chinese think tank says that the best way to win in the future is to make sure that India is broken up into twenty-thirty small states and effectively destroyed?

So, what’s India doing about all of this?? In the recent past, they were stupid enough to let the CPI(M) jeopardize it’s integrity but now they seem to have done quite a bit to reverse the idea that we are breakable…

India recently caught a Chinese plane carrying Arms and Ammunitions across Indian airspace, apparently they forget to tell us that they had some nice missiles on board. Good for you India! Way to go!

And just today, India said to the Red Dragon, hey, too bad, the Dalai can visit any time he wants, We Like him… Also, something which sounded like,

Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India and the Dalai Lama is free to go anywhere in India

Finally the right moves India, Cheers!

I wonder who we should be thanking for this, Manmohan Singh(uhh…), S M Krishna (ya, maybe) or Shashi Tharoor and his new ideas?

Seriously, people, start reading the News, you’ll learn a lot!

Freedom

The Freedom to make mistakes. That’s what Mahatma Gandhi asked for when he said that India must have Complete Freedom. Today, as the players in the field of Law are being jostled by Various Human Rights Agencies and Motivated Individuals into changing the Laws of our land, I would like to point out two instances where the misunderstanding lies in the fact that we want to shop at a QuickieMart for a good Constitution. Unfortunately, the QuickieMart, a symbol of traditions too foreign to be adopted, cannot give us something which has to other countries by decades of freedom- Experience. And although India stands free for more than a half century, we are too young to be adopting foreign laws without looking at where our country stands today.

The first is the demand for a very strict law against ragging. It is now being said that ragging is a sin and no senior at any college must be allowed to take pleasure in it. However, any Hostel Warden with an experience of over 20 years will tell you one thing very clearly; whether it be today or a score years back, there is no chance that WITHOUT ragging, a batch of students can have good relations with their seniors. The life of a college student starts in the first year with a sense of freedom, a feeling that perhaps now their decisions will be their own and they can finally break societies barriers and some home rules as well. High on this new-found freedom, a freshers fails to learn to respect his seniors and also respect with that, the hierarchy that exists in society. This causes a failure to respect the system of education into which they have been included and hence they become misfits, causing a lot many more problems than they would if they had been ragged and in the least, been introduced to their seniors as tough task masters at first but as very good friends later. I speak with some experience. Another important thing to understand is thus- ragging today is being equated to something ghastly being made to do by the freshers at the behest of their seniors under the influence of alcohol. This is what the lawmakers and others are primarily against. Agreed, today ragging is causing many deaths and suicides as the juniors come under pressure to act in a particular fashion in spectacularly humiliating scenarios. But are the Board exams not causing the same? Are our Board exams anything more than a soulless show of toppers who slogged out nights to remember spectacularly useless facts with no practical relevance to life in general and are these exams not causing an equal number (and a lot more) of suicides by students who failed at reaching the grade? Then why is our Supreme Court not banning the Board Exams or at least replacing them with a system where a student is not judged by the number of books they can LBH! (Learn By Heart)

Second comes the problem of Capital Punishment. Many countries in the world, specially the European Union have laws against extradition of prisoners to countries which have Capital Punishment. This and other factors have induced a call for removal of the concept of Capital Punishment. However the amount and types of crimes being committed in India today require not only speedier Justice but also a harsh one. The number of Gang rapes, dowry deaths, Infanticides and other such crimes which cause a huge outcry need nothing less than Capital Punishment in order to deter the Guilty and others who have similar mindsets. If India today decides to do away with Capital Punishment, we will be doing away with a huge opportunity to straighten out the crooked and to learn from the mistakes we might make in the future. One might say that if we have to learn, if we have to remove Capital Punishment later then why not today. But if we do so, there will be nothing left to deter these criminals who today feel safe enough with the number of appeals they can put in and the number of years they can waste of our courts by stalling the proceedings. Even the poor, handicapped “rarest of rare” cases based Capital Punishment needs to remain in order to help India have the freedom to punish the guilty and the freedom to make our own mistakes.

Today India does not need Laws it cannot use. If we must adopt Laws, we must learn to understand that our society is too different to be judged with the same glasses as the societies of other countries are today.

Here’s An Interesting Solution

The Problem I wrote about in my last post was the reservation issue which is being shoved in the face of the IITs by the Government right now. Ideologically speaking, the Government can claim that the IITs give only too less back to the Government as compared to what they get as grants. This is due to the Brain Drain. Even though a lot of Companies have started to Relocate to India to gain the benefits of cheaper labour while keeping their cream- the IITians near home and feeling happy, thereby temporarily offsetting the problem; most IITians still aim at getting jobs which immediately take them out of the country and to Foreign Shores.

Here’s a Solution I propose that the Indian Government can apply to Gain back from the IITians and IIM Grads some part of the amount of Funds that goes in their Education-

Many of us know about Compulsory Military Training which some countries insist all their fresh graduates undergo to gain a sense of Discipline and to work in teams and learn to Respect others and to Defend themselves (don’t worry, I am not asking all IITians to be sent to the Barracks)

What the Government can do is to ensure that all IIT and IIM Graduates Compulsorily work for Two Years in some part of the Government to gain experience and to ensure that the Government gain from their Knowledge and Smartness before any other Company does.

The Grads may be allowed to choose the field they wish to work in- whether the Executive, the Bureaucracy or Aid in the various development contracts around India on Important projects like Dams, Highways, Town planning etc.

This way, the Government gains as it has a continuous supply of fresh brain to apply on their problems of Development, Finance and Judiciary and the Grads gain as they get high amount of Exposure and the Experience of working in and handling Government Machinery. Maybe some of them might even like their work and be allowed to Join the Government immediately.

This will ensure that all passing Graduates from the IITs and IIMs understand and Value their Country and learn to respect it before docking on foreign shores. Meanwhile, the issue of Castes and basing reservations according to them should be done away completely as they are nothing more than Social Evils which weaken the Fabric of Indian Society. I refer to the Idea of Castes Dividing us and not to the people who comprise them.

This may not be a very viable solution but it is certainly a step towards one because many Graduates would welcome this effort to create a Government based on Intellect and Knowledge instead of Politics and Party Agendas.

Hoping that someone out there might be affected by this post.