Tag Archives: United States

Seems Like Just Another Slap on the Wrist

By Anuj R

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It was outrageous to view today’s headline that the juvenile involved in the Rape case will be imprisoned for 3 years.

I am sure it has left all of us with some questions. To pen it down:

1) What we require at the moment is severity in punishments to change the course of the nation and not implementing judgement based on archaic laws that we have.

2) Will 3 years of community service really change what happens in future to the women of this country. Why are we being mild where it is required to be firm and severely strict ?

3) Stats say that once in 20 minutes there have been reports of rape. So once in 20 minutes something is wrong. Does the judgement provided in any way address this?

4) Why is it that if you are less than 18 years old, you can commit the same ‘heinous’ crime and escape what you really deserve?

5) Are we just going further backward and not doing the right thing?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King

Health and Wellness – Part II

By Tahira

health 2We often discuss health. But what is health – rather good health. We referred to the dictionary for the first post, but – to be very honest, good health is difficult to define. However, keeping in mind that bad health is equated with the presence of a disease, ideally good health should not only be the absence of a disease but, from a broader perspective good health should encompass a much positive idea about both – mental and physical fitness.

Every individual’s health is defined by several perspectives including social circumstances, medical care, behavioural patterns and also attitude towards life in general. So, healthcare in general is an important aspect in an individual’s life since good health does ensure happiness. While healthcare largely refers to prevention, treatment and of course managing health properly, our behaviour related to health is largely shaped by our own values; upbringing and also the kind of company one keeps. Healthy individuals succeed in completely mobilising all their resources – both mental and physical – thus enhancing their chances of survival and leading a happy fulfilling life.

health 4Achieving full health quotient, more so remaining healthy is an active process that requires constant efforts. Natural health is normally based on prevention of diseases while keeping our mind and body under complete control of ourselves. It is more about striking a balance and maintaining the same throughout through three major aspects – a balanced diet, right amount of physical exercises and proper regulation of emotions. Once we have been able to achieve this balance – health along with happiness is definitely ours.

Retribution – A Short Story

murder mystery

 

By Ganesh Subramanian

It was a bright morning in New York. Ritesh woke up to the sound of chirping birds beside his window. He rubbed his eyes for his vision to clear. He looked at the Christiano Ronaldo poster that adorned one of the walls of the living room. The poster showed Ronaldo ready to take a free kick. Ritesh was reminded of the premier league match that he planned to watch that night that featured Christiano Ronaldo. Almost as if stirred by memory, his eyes moved to the calendar which was hanging from one of the walls. The date 11th of December was circled in bright red colour. Ritesh smiled at the irony that the date was circled in red and not in any other colour. Today was the 11th of December. The circled date reminded him of the most important task that he wanted to accomplish that day, an accomplishment that would banish the demons of humiliation, embarrassment and pain, an accomplishment that would exorcise the ghosts of the past once and forever. This was something important that he has to finish at any cost. The premier league match can wait.

After a quick shower, he reached his office. After checking his mails and mailing his daily updates to his boss, Ritesh was waiting for a call which he was expecting that day of all days.  The next minute, his mobile screen flashed the name of Vimmy Veronika. Ritesh answered the call.

“Happy Birthday, my cutie teddy”, said the female voice at the other end.

“Thanks. Surprising to see that you have come to office on time”, mocked Ritesh.

“Only for you, dear”, answered Veronika. “Ok Listen. Come over for dinner tonight at my place”, said Veronika.

This was what Ritesh wanted to hear. But still he played with Veronika. “I have lots of work. Need to prepare that presentation for the board meeting this Friday”, said Ritesh.

“Oh, Come on. If you spend a couple of hours over dinner at my place, your board won’t sack you”, Veronika said.

“Alright. I will be there at 9.” replied Ritesh.

“Now that’s my boy. See ya” said Veronika.

Ritesh winded up the day’s work by 8 pm and when his SUV landed in Veronika’s Eastbrook apartments, it was 8.45 pm.

Ritesh and Veronika were from India, but now working in the US. Veronika was born to a Hindu father and a Christian mother, hence the name has a combination of Hindu and Christian names (Vimmy, short for Vimala, a Hindu name and Veronika for her Christian roots). Having got to know each other through a common friend, Ritesh and Veronika loved each other as if there is no tomorrow. Veronika told Ritesh that she will make her dad announce him as her life partner during her birthday party. Ritesh bought an apartment with his year-long savings to present it to Veronika. On the birthday party, Vimmy’s dad announced her engagement to Deepak John, an Indo-American businessman. Ritesh was heartbroken. The worst part was Veronika seemed to be happy with her dad’s decision. She told Ritesh that Deepak was well-settled and she could not disappoint her father. This sudden change in Veronika baffled him. Through some of his sources, Ritesh came to know that Deepak and Veronika had been pals in college and they had a very intense relationship and before they knew it, Veronika was pregnant. So this marriage is a quick heal solution before things could go out of hand. Ritesh’s blood boiled on hearing this. “How could she do this to me?”, he wondered. Although they both had kept in touch occasionally through the phone after this incident, things were never the same again between them.

Veronika welcomed Ritesh. After a sumptuous dinner, they settled on the couch and were having a few drinks. Veronika got up to bring another bottle. Ritesh got up and followed her. When Veronika pulled out the bottle from the fridge and turned back, Ritesh was standing close to her. He flashed a romantic smile. He moved close to her and put an arm on her waist. He brought his face close to hers. Past memories came flooding back to Veronika. She couldn’t resist. Anticipating a kiss from Ritesh, she closed her eyes. This was the opportune moment he was waiting for. He brought out a kitchen knife, its steel finish glistening in the dimly lit CFL lamp. In a swift motion, he plunged the knife into Veronika’s midsection. Veronika froze in horror and pain. The bottle dropped from her hands. Before she could scream, Ritesh’s left hand closed her mouth. He pulled out the knife and drove it harder into her abdomen again. Ritesh came close and whispered into Veronika’s ear – “You shouldn’t have done this to me, you lecherous bitch!”. Saying so, he pushed Veronika. She dropped dead on the floor.

One more task to be accomplished. Ritesh started his SUV and headed towards Maxington Lane. He reached Silver Oak apartments in Maxington lane and headed to Door # 145 in the 3rd floor. Jeevitha, a Tamilian from the southern part of TamilNadu, the occupant of #145, opened the door.

“Yes. How may I help you?” said Jeevitha.

“I am Ritesh. I am the brother of Mukesh, your reportee. I want to talk to you” replied Ritesh.

“Come in.” said Jeevitha.

“I know why you are here. To say that your brother is innocent. But the records seem to tell a different story. The 10 lakhs that disappeared was his responsibility. There were no expenses of that magnitude that day. Only way the money could have disappeared is when Mukesh himself had taken it. Better he admit his crime, so that atleast his punishment would come down” replied Jeevitha.

“Mukesh is not like that. He is innocent. He is being fabricated in this case for some moron’s crime. Do not go by what you hear. Listen to your heart. Save him from this mess”, pleaded Ritesh.

“I am sorry. I can’t do anything. Your brother has to face the consequences”, Jeevitha said firmly.

“Will you help him or not?”, Ritesh said in a menacing tone.

“No. If you don’t leave now, I’ll call the cops”. Saying so, Jeevitha moved towards the telephone.

Ritesh was fast. He pulled Jeevitha back and twisted her right arm behind her back.

” I am asking you one last time. Your statement against my brother tomorrow will finish his career. After that, Mukesh will not be alive. Think again.” said Ritesh.

Jeevitha didn’t listen to him. She extricated herself from Ritesh’s grasp and ran to the window to shout and alert the apartment’s security. Ritesh was equally quick. In one motion, he twisted Jeevitha’s left arm behind her back and put his right arm around her neck. Then he brought out the kitchen knife and slit her throat in a smooth motion. Jeevitha’s crumpled form fell to the floor.

Satisfied with his accomplishments, Ritesh left house no. 145 with the occupant lying in a pool of blood.

 

 

My India: The Mistaken Story – An Indian Woman’s Perspective

India the story you never wanted

Shwetha Kalyanasundaram rebuts this story which lambasts India and makes you feel the country is made up of vultures only looking for prey landing in form of women tourists. A must read for all, no matter what nationality.  

Ms. Rose Chasm’s article “India: the Story You Never Wanted to Hear” has been trending for the last couple of days, with many of my friends sharing the story on various social networking sites. The headline of the article prompted me to read and I was shocked to read about Ms. Chasm’s traumatic experience in my country. As a woman, my heart went out to Ms. Chasm. When I read your article Ms. Chasm, I was ashamed of my country (for the first time!). But pondering over your article, I realized that I cannot sit in my comfortable space and watch people tear my country down (with reference to the 1000+ comments left behind by people to your story).

As a citizen of this wonderful nation (and not a nation of snake charmers and elephants), I am writing in to clear the air and do my bit to support my country. I love my country. And I am not blind to the flaws that exist today.

India has been my home for over two and a half decades. As a woman who bears resemblance to a South East Asian (rather than having the typical Indian features), I have always been looked upon as a foreigner in my own land. I can understand how it feels to have hundred pairs of eyes follow your every move. There have been many instances when the local people have tried to sell their wares to me; with a hope their goods reach foreign shores. I wouldn’t call them advances, rather we are just a group of people who take pride in what we do and feel the need to be appreciated by somebody from a foreign land.

We have always been dubbed as a nation of brown-skinned people and I don’t have any qualms in accepting that we have an obsession for the “white” skin. That could probably explain why people stopped and gaped at you in the bazaars. And I can bet they weren’t just men who stared at you – women and children would have looked at you as well. As a foreigner, you must have been prepared to stand out in the crowd. I am sure you would have been briefed about the cultural differences between the two nations. Yes! It can be uncomfortable to be stared at and photographed but lady, you know ignorance is bliss.

Almost every woman who grows up in India has been subjected to some kind of sexual innuendoes. For the millions of women who use public transportation in India, there have been numerous cases of “accidental” brushes and gropes. There have been numerous cases where women have been stalked and flashed – at. But for every man who cannot control his libido and gives in to his over-crazed sexual drive, I can assure you that there will be ten men who will fight for you and your dignity.

The recent spate of rape attacks and incest cases that we hear and read day in and day out have definitely tarnished my country’s image. And your story just adds more fuel to the fire. If there had been an attempt to rape against you or your friend, did you reach out to the local police to lodge a complaint or did you approach your consulate for help?!? I assume, as an exchange student, you would definitely have been briefed about all these formalities in the event of any untoward incident.

In Sanskrit, we say “Matha, Pitha, Guru, Deivam” (translated: Mother, Father, Teacher, God). The meaning of this adage is the greatest truth and is the order in which we offer reverence. This is the basic tenet in existence from time immemorial and every man has been taught to place the womankind even above God. The Indian men know to treat their women with respect. And I cannot tolerate your generalization that Indian men are bad. You cannot blame the entire male population for the actions of few.

I have seen the best and worst of both the worlds, having spent a considerable portion of my adult life in America and the Middle East. In all the countries I have been to, I have been subjected to roving eyes and sexual overtures from men. I have been leered and heckled by cab drivers and pedestrians alike. Even a middle aged woman is not spared!! Let’s not be too dramatic here and accept that sexual crimes against women are a problem world over.

Do you know that every 1 out of 5 women in America are raped every day (This is according to a UN report published in 2011 and the same figure has been quoted in a NY times article, published December 2011). Does this mean I can issue a travel warning and tell people how unsafe America is?!? Your country is a beautiful place Ms. Chasm and a few bad moments are not going to deter me from travelling again. I just hope your personal experiences don’t make you too judgmental about our great country.

Ms. Chasm, I sympathize with you completely. As a woman, I understand the trauma of your three months stay in my country. Your problem is with that category of homo-sapiens bearing the Y-chromosome and not with my country.

It tears me apart that men and women have apologized on behalf of the Indian population and have left comments to your article. I’m not going to offer apologies. I can only offer you an olive branch and hope you visit my country again, and view this nation from a different and an unbiased perspective. 

MS Technology Management : Decoded

By Ankit Chandra

Man and Blue Ones and Zeros

It might be a late night with no action in Las Vegas that has prompted me to write this, but, I wanted to put this up for many reasons..

1) Frustration
2) Information
3) Education
4) Entertainment

Like our Marketing professor taught us, I am trying to segment, and then target different audiences of this blog: prospective students for MS Tech Program, bored internet blog visitors, and fellow people looking for jobs 🙂

So first the history: I was working rather well at naukri.com (India’s biggest jobsite), when my boss kinda motivated me to quit my job. Alongside, I was very enamored by the product team at naukri, for it seemed they had the best of both the worlds. There was also a person called Sujith Nair. He was a dynamic project manager at naukri, who was someone I usually looked up to. But being the Taurean that I am, I didn’t wanna take that much time (which was anyhow short) to get to where Sujith Nair was. Simultaneously, there were these new chaps recruited from ISB into naukri at seemingly ridiculous salaries… (grrr) and above all, I wanted a change!!!

So came into picture Technology Management.  My research on the internet for Technology Management (on  edulix.com, etc ) showed me a bunch of options, including MBA in Technology Management at Berkeley, MIT, EPFL Lausanne, and MS – Technology Management at UIUC (with one year course duration). I liked MS Tech at UIUC because the College of Business was ranked at 38 in the world (financial times), the program was at UIUC (a campus which has GREAT reputation), and this was a quick one year program (so I could get to earning money sooner). At that time ISB wasn’t ranked in the global rankings (now in 2012 it’s somewhere around 11 in the world), and IIMs were somewhere in the 100s… (plus I flunked CAT more than once 🙂 )

I applied, kinda after the deadline, and made it in. I was very ecstatic about it!  And then the program started… The fact that MS Technology Management was a one year program made it a very intensive course work. And before we had even unpacked our bags, we ran into our first and most critical Fall career job fair. I did my part of selling, and got interviews from many great companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook (which I couldn’t attend, and it turns out to be a VERY expensive mistake 🙂 ), Expedia, Cashnet USA, Capital IQ, ZS Associates etc, and got great feedback from all of them. It seemed they were very interested in the Technology Management program and what it had to offer…But there were 3 things which stood out after this:

1) They weren’t sure about what this Technology Management program was all about, and consequently there was a confusion about what profile they wanted me for.Some even asked me ‘So where do we place you’!. So some companies interviewed me for a software engineer position and some did for pure marketing… a major mismatch.

2) I wasn’t prepared enough with the MBA (which is what Technology Management is wrapped around) training to handle the interviews as yet. After all, it was just 4 weeks since we had come in, and were thrown in to compete with the one year MBAs… I was given a case interview when I didn’t even know what that was…

3) I wasn’t prepared even for the interviews where I thought I had a good chance. It takes at least 6 months ( in my opinion) to crack interviews at top companies, and I had only 1-2 months of clueless preparation effort. What I learned from this was that you MUST find out the ‘what to dos’, and ‘how to dos’ of interview preparation. Use career services, including engineering and business, your contacts and alumni to find that out.

As the program progressed into Spring semester, the whole course started to make sense. It is a great program in terms of what it teaches us… The bigger picture of technology and its management became clearer. I could now see the business value in the code I wrote, which till now I evaluated only on how smart it was and what cool things it could do… The holistic picture of Technology from Innovation, Supply chain, Process Management or financial perspective (like how should we value a dotcom) started appear clearly.

But sadly, there were more things happening in the ‘happening’ world, and the problem was multi-pronged:

1) some greedy people borrowed too much money and built houses with it, and caused the sub-prime crisis. (why does it always rain on me!!)
2) The fall semester job fair was gone and spring was mostly for internships (which we don’t have scope for, unless one goes out of the way and extends the program)
3) The career services department seemed as clueless about this program as the companies were :p

so ‘long story short’ as a speaker in marketing class said, we have to search for companies, educate the companies about the MS Technology management program, fight the recession (by praying to God) and keep looking for jobs everywhere… The final thing I realized was that this is NOT an easy job.

But with all that said, we went to HP Labs for a visit and made a presentation about commercializing a technology they had developed. They were really impressed with the multidimensional analysis of the technology we presented. So I think we are on the right track… what we need is a lil bit of hard (harder) work, and a lil bit of luck…

For all the people who want to come in to technology management stream, ( from anywhere in the world) please make sure that you have a good amount (around 5 years) of technical experience, so that u have the technology in ur head before coming here to see how to manage it. It also depends on what u wanna be after you graduate from the program (don’t join this program to ‘enter’ the management line). Also ensure that you understand what you want from the program, coz this is NOT a regular MBA and if you want to get into finance, accounting, marketing etc, this is NOT the program for you. this is simple and pure general management with a ‘technology’ focus (especially at MS Technology management- UIUC). So ur expertise will still be the technology u came from. Next, use UIUC’s brand image and network. Make sure u make great contacts in fall semester, coz I m not sure how many would land great jobs then. Use these contacts later when u r ready to take the technology management interviews. Job hunting is mostly going to be a year long exercise, and u must start as soon as u get here. You will get better with time, but start making those contacts as soon as possible.

Good luck. (pray the recession gets over soon)

PS: I did land a job by the end of the may 🙂 I joined this company after my OPT was processed, rather dramatically (But that needs a blog post of its own 🙂 )

Vegas Vices

By Ankit Chandra

wine-women-and-wealth

First the disclaimer: Any family member should read this only at his/her own risk, and always pretend that they never did. 

Man I so wish I was born at the times of Khajuraho Temples. The reason is either too obvious or it will most definitely be in the due course of this post.

All this while I was struggling to find the right way to sum up my Vegas trip. But intoxicated as I was, it was only now that I could re-gather my senses ( it took 2 days of day long business meetings to get me out of that) to come up and gather my thoughts.

The best way the whole Vegas trip can be summed up in two words is “confused dilemma”. At least for me. No let me correct that. I can safely say that for a good number of people from India. Dilemma of what? You see, there is this historic side of India all Indians so proudly brandish and brag about. Well at least we think that out past was glorious (if not the present) and that we proudly follow those traditions in our daily present day lives. In one of my first blogs, I had talked about the great Indian divide. That exists between us the eligible guys and them the eligible-yet-no-where-to-be-seen girls in India, coz their fathers keep them away from us. A very well made documentary film on this by a musician called Ishq Bector is here. (go to the link only if u wanna know how Indian parents ‘mind’ their kids 😀 )

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So how does this all link to each other? I mean the topic is Vegas, and I’ve talked about Khajuraho temples, Indian culture, contemporary Indian parents, and then the acclaimed (eh?) new age Indian musician? hehe so at least the ‘confused’ part of the problem is clear.

So now the other ‘dilemma part’. Despite the assurance by the Americans : “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, poor Indian graduate students, who haven’t even ever been to a dance bar in India ( trust me!) are left to the mercy of, shall we say ‘ladies’ in ‘non-indian’ dresses.

Have you ever observed your tongue become so long that it blasts it way out of your mouth? have you ever felt your neck crane over 180 degrees trying to help your eyes dig deep into certain things that are usually never to be seen? Have you ever had anatomy lessons in the middle of a casino? Have you ever had guys on the roads selling phone numbers of the other sex, instead of T-shirts? Have you ever sooo wanted to be behind a certain curtain, or behind a certain door that the only way you could take your mind off it is by concentrating on another similar curtain and door? How many times the truck in front of you carries a larger than life ad of something that you would want to give your right hand for? and that too at 50 Dollars an hour? 😀

If all this happens in Vegas, how can a poor Indian graduate student forget it all in Vegas… But thats exactly where the dilemma starts. The point is, despite all that happening to me, I couldn’t do anything but stay/stand/walk on… Call it a culture shock, or sheer cowardice, but anytime such opportunity arose, I couldn’t take the dive. For better or for worse. Be it a girl asking me to merely stick my tongue out for a picture, or a guy on the road asking me to just look at the card and the picture on it, I couldn’t stand up to the moment. Why? coz we as Indians aren’t supposed to do that stuff!!. Damn! now I am confused.

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In one of the pubs there, I was standing upright and uptight (God knows why) and just then someone brushed beside me. Her hand came into mine and she held it tight for a split second. In that moment, that split second, I sooo wished it was in Madhya Pradesh at the time of Khajuraho. Just so that I could follow my traditions and glorious past 😛

Defining Moments : India at 66

As India takes one more step forward, let us take a look at 11 defining moments after its Independence.

From Dominion to Republic, 1950.

From Dominion to Republic

The Dominion of India becomes the Republic of India on 26th January 1950 by adopting the newly drafted constitution. Today, we are the largest democracy in the world and the constitution is the largest one in the world and maintains its unique nature while adopting several portions from British, US & other constitutions of the world.

Biggest Gamble in History : First General Elections 1951-52

First General Elections 1951-52

It was like the biggest gamble in the history of India. Consider, first of all, the size of the electorate: 176 million Indian voters of whose more than 85% could not read or write. Each one had to be identified, named & registered. At stake were around 4500 seats – about 500 for Parliament and rest for Provincial assemblies. Again these figures are not enough, there were 224,000 polling booths, 2 million steel ballot boxes (made of 8200 tonnes of steel) and about 380,000 reams of paper were used. And with all this, India went to its first general elections.

Redrawing the Map : State Reorganization Act, 1956

State Reorganization

India is a land of many languages, each with its distinct script, grammar, vocabulary and literary traditions. And as we became independent, demand for states on linguistic and ethnic identities started growing. It was the 58 – day long fast of Potti Sriramulu that led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh and setting up the First State Reorganization Commission. Potti Sriramulu might be a forgotten man today but his fast and its aftermath sparked off a wholesale redrawing of the map of India on linguistic lines.

The Experience of Defeat ; Sino – Indian War, 1962

1962 India China War

As the Dalai Lama crossed into India in 1959 and China tightened its control over Tibet, the “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai’ slogans on the border were replaced by “Yeh Zameen Hamara Hai, Tum Wapas Jao”. Border & territorial claims of both the countries were starkly different and as China grew stronger under the Communist rule, it was determined to undo all the ground positions. As China attacked India in 1962, the war lead to a bitter defeat for ill-prepared India. The India-China conflict, then, was a clash of national myths, national egos, national insecurities and ultimately of the national armies.

Victory against Pakistan, 1965

1965 War

Pakistan’s ruler Ayub Khan and his company were encouraged by the debacle against China in 1962. But they forgot that it was in wet & slippery Himalayas, while war with Pakistan is on a terrain that Indians knew much better. The victory in the 1965 war came as a confidence booster to everybody, be it army, civilians or the Govt.

The Uncertain years and the Bangladesh War, 1967-71

Pakistan

Once the Congress was the national cohesive force, but by late 1960s, it was split into disputatious parts. Between Banking nationalization, slogans of “Garibi Hatao” and several other reforms by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, India was again facing trouble from its western neighbor, but this time on the eastern frontiers. The than East Pakistan was witnessing popular uprising for a separate nation and this lead to a war between India & Pakistan. Within 6 days, Indian army had marched till Dacca. It was hailed as the biggest victory ever in Indian history and it changed the map of the subcontinent.

The Emergency Years, 1975-77

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After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of electoral malpractice, she declared State of Emergency in June 1975. The emergency revived the debate as to whether India could, should, or ever would be reliably democratic. The emergency was lifted in 1977, and India saw its first non-Congress govt, though a short-lived one.

Operation Blue Star and Assassination of the Indira Gandhi, 1984

Assassination of Indira

As militancy and violence was on the peak in Punjab, the Indian Government decided to attack the Khalistan movement and “Operation Blue Star” was launched in July 1984. As a consequence, in October that year, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards and this was followed by large-scale Anti-Sikh riots in Northern India. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister.

Mandal, Kamandal & Economic Reforms : 1990-92

Babri Mosque Demolition

In 1990, the controversy rose over PM V.P. Singh’s decision to implement 1980 recommendations of the Mandal commission for further job reservations to “other backward classes”. The same year Bharatiya Janata Party launched nationwide protests over Ayodhya issue. After the tenth General elections in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE terrorists. The economy took a downturn, and gold reserves were pawned to stave off default on international debt. In 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished and riots broke out not only in India but in several other countries.

Peace & War, 1999

Lahore Bus Trip

As Prime Minister Vajpayee undertook a historic bus journey to Pakistan and signs a declaration of peace; within a few days, Pakistani soldiers crossed the LOC and infiltrated Indian Kashmir. India repulsed the attack and Pakistan lost the brief, but bloody, border conflict in the Himalayan district of Kargil.

Gandhi’s land in communal riots, 2002

Gujarat Riots 2002

As several Kar Sevaks were burned to death in an attack on Sabarmati Express in Godhra town in 2002, large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Gujarat leaving over a thousand dead.

When Raju Lost Faith in Ganga…

By Ankit Chandra

india_usa_011110

Remember that movie starring Raj Kapoor, ‘Jis desh mein ganga behti hai’ ? Raj kapoor played the role of a guy from I think Banaras, and goes on to use his sanskar and values to transform a group of dacoits. I think the assumption in the movie was that Raju had complete faith in the values of the mother land.

Cut to Champaign in US. I have met a lot of NRIs here. Some have no traces of India in them, some still have a very thick Indian accent, some dress in ways you wouldn’t imagine on Indians, and then on the other hand you would have people dressed in Salwar kameez, but as soon as they open their mouth, you get amazed at the American accent that hits your ears.

It is interesting to interact with these people, as they aren’t Indians anymore, but thats what they identified as, or they identify themselves as (when they have nothing Indian in them). So in a restaurant, you would hear an Indian American talking to her American friends talking about Aishwarya Rai and saying that Indian people have beautiful names, and that Aishwarya Rai has a portugese ancestory, as Indians don’t have the genes for such beautiful green eyes… Or I heard another NRI in a party saying that Indian people gang up against NRIs coz they are rich and if your car hits a person in India, they would get after you, coz you are a rich NRI and thus you should be punished for that.

I wondered, what was the reason for these people to leave India and come to US… Was it the land of opportunities, or was it something else? I was going for an interview to a Multinational company in a city in US, and my cab driver was an Indian. he said to me : ‘Hope that you are interviewed by a white guy. if you get an Indian, he might ask you for money to let you in…’. Oh my God! I thought. I knew thats so not true, but that exposed me to another perception of India, that I have mostly been unaware of. That of a very common man, who still undergoes a very torturous life of subsistence living, where bribery is still the order of the day, and you have to fight for basic amenities. Indians here are either the most prosperous immigrants who live in Silicon valley or they are these poor Indians who couldn’t find a place for themselves in India. Probably most of you who would read this blog from India , would invariably have come from backgrounds where we have either shut out the ugly side of India, or have created a comfort zone around it.

So why do people leave their own home country to come to such a culturally diverse land where you are mostly cut off from the main stream? I could come up with a few reasons, but this is NOT an exhaustive list by any means….

Lost faith:

One of the people I know here lost his home to a tenant, went to the courts, got nothing done for years, and then had to accept an out of court settlement, finally paid money to the tenant to vacate his house. In his words, there is no ‘enforcement agency in India’. Every time I talk to him about India, I can see his hurt face. The face of a man who expected his environment to provide him with a decent living standard. Most of his words seethe with a latent anger towards the system. He got a chance to get rid of it, and he did. He lives a modest and comfortable life here.

Never had faith:

Some people here came coz they always believed that India wasn’t a place for them. They prolly pick up the foreign accent most easily, curse India in everything they see, and eventually become the worst ambassadors for us. I have met these people in parties here, who would narrate their stories in India, when surprisingly all things that happen to them are bad things, and seemingly they find nothing bad in their current country of residence. (I can point out a few right here).

A special third category:

Is of the people who were born here, but were forced to remain Indian at home, and then left out in the open foreign air to convert into what we call ABCDs. These are a very special variety. Some of them would wear salwars and shirts which were in fashion maybe 20 years back, and when you see them, you would think they have just come in from a remote small town in India. But as they open their mouths, they spew out American english, with ‘Oh my GAAWDs’, ‘This is soo kewwool’ etc etc.

To a person I met recently, I had to say that India she knows and India that I come from are two entirely different countries! These people evaluate their India trip from the American perspective. So Mumbai trains are ‘Sow ppphackked’. And that you have to get into a local train while it is running! (Can’t you wait till it stops or till you get accustomed to it??). They are scared of lizards, and almost all lizards fall on them when they are in India (maybe coz they are NRIs and lizards want to punish the rich NRIs), and so on…

Some of the things that happened to them are real, and maybe, as Indians, we are just used to them. I was just reading the article in the Economist : “What’s holding India Back”, and the reasons mentioned there were pretty much on the above lines. I agree there still are differences in the standard of living here for an common man vs his counterpart in India. Maybe studying these NRIs gives us another perspective of what we need to change in our system to restore the faith Raju had in Ganga…

Why I Don’t Wanna Work for Infosys

By Ankit Chandra

all-about

Well that’s because I don’t like the Blackberry phone. The blog could end right here, but then if I don’t explain it better, you would keep me in the same category as Infosians, who I dislike anyway…

So what’s the big deal? It happened like this… We are a bunch of Indian students here at an American university, which is kinda considered one of the best in the world, and we feel quite proud belonging to this place.

Even more so when the job fairs happen. There are companies abound that come here looking for great talent and increase their organization’s productivity. All the stalls are brightly lit and the recruiters stand outside their stalls to ‘reach’ out to the students, so that they could talk to them and see if they are a good fit. Even if they are not, they are more than willing to listen to you and explore whatever opportunities there could be for you. Even if it turns out that there aren’t any opportunities available, you would walk away thinking that you had the best conversation you wanted to have, and too bad there weren’t opportunities, but you would want to try again…

The stalls are a story in them all together. draped in their company colors, the stalls are all lit up shining bright. These people go an extra mile to get their stalls looking great for people to get attracted like a moth to fire.

So I was having a good time in the job fair, talking to different recruiters, and having a quality time there… And then I walk into this next row of stalls… this row was kinda different. It had mostly hardware and earth moving equipment companies. As I walk down through the aisle, there came this corner… the stall was blue, and it seemed that either the lighting was not done, or some of the bulbs had prolly blown away. The caption there said, ‘The world is flattening.. are you ready?’ hmm… when i looked around there was just one person in that stall, and just above his wavy hair, I read the name, Infosys…

The recruiter here was kinda weird. He was sitting behind the table stall and was totally screwed on to his Blackberry Phone! a few people passed in front of him, and he didn’t seem to notice. I thought it might be his boss on the phone, and I would come later…

So I took a round of the hall and then went back to the stall. This time the recruiter was talking to someone. So as was the case with other stalls, I stood in line waiting. Generally, recruiters tried to give equal time to all people waiting in the line, and made sure that the line didn’t feel ignored. But the guy here at Infosys, looks at me, and says ‘I am talking to this person, and will take time. You can go and have a round of the hall, and come back after 5 mins.’ Well, umm taken aback by that, I smiled and said, OK…

So I took a round and went back to the stall.. The chat was still going on, and now the recruiter was actually sitting on the side of his table and it seemed that it was more of a gossip mode than recruiting. And he was still playing with the Blackberry in his hands while gossiping with that kid…

‘aah nevermind’ I thought, and moved on to Yahoo.. By the way, I went for the final rounds of interviews with Yahoo at SF, and they have a rocking atmosphere and campus. And of course, you are treated very well there…

Reflections On The Understanding Of Poverty

poverty

Malathy Madathilezham tries to decipher the real definition and the measures of poverty and more importantly tries finding ways to get rid of the malaise. 

Poverty is a much-debated topic. We all have at some or the other point discussed on some issue related to poverty. The ‘poverty line’ is a recurrent topic that comes into picture during these discussions. How do we define and measure this complex’’ phenomenon? More importantly how do we get ‘rid’ of it?? These discussions are never ending and inconclusive, there is no right answer.

During the major part of my life I had not been exposed to the abject levels of poverty that exist in India (and many other parts of the world!) What I knew was from what I read and heard or what was shown in the media. Even more appalling was my inadequate knowledge on caste (Yes, there WAS discrimination! That’s what I knew and actually thought it was not relevant in these ‘modern ’times!) It is safe to say thus that most of my arguments related to poverty were quite superficial and mostly hearsay!

What has changed now? In short, I can say a better (a long way to go still!) understanding of the theoretical aspects of poverty, some experience from interacting, living with the poor and a stronger conviction that the solution is not simple and neither is it going to be easy to work out.

There are success stories. Those glorified poster picks from various organisation on how so and so person has overcome poverty due to such and such project and his/her own will. Thank god for the fact that there atleast these success stories to take inspiration from! But we also have to look at the kind of society that we are living in. The levels of disparity that exists and that are overlooked by us daily.

Yesterday evening, I saw a group of 5 children, 3 girls and 2 boys sitting outside the apartment that I have taken for rent. They were basically searching for dry wood, plastics and other materials in the dump. They seemed to be from a nomadic tribe. Unfortunately I could not understand their language. But here they were, all children of school going age right in front of the house of a principal, scavenging!! How do we ensure that these children and many more like them have a better future ahead and not just in terms of an education?

We need to work on identifying the reasons why generations after generations, families continue to live in extreme poverty, with little or no improvement in the quality of life. This is in spite of the various agencies which include the government having different kinds of schemes, projects and programmes aimed solely at poverty alleviation/eradication/elimination! There is also a need to introspect about so many kinds of inequality and inequity that we have accepted as part of life and may be even consider it right!

It is still a wonder for me that just by the virtue of my birth in a particular kind of family I have a set of options and choices about the kind of life I can aspire for. Yes if I am one of the few persevering and determined kind of people that exist in this world, I can may be, reach the uppermost echelons of success. But largely our choices and options are governed by where we are born, who are our parents, our caste (a sad reality for many even today!) etc. It is important to realise that most people in our country do not even have any options to make a choice! They lead the same kind of lives that their parents, their grandparents lead… TV, mobile, bike and a formal education hasn’t done much to change their lives in a profound manner!

So what makes this happen? Does the society perpetuate one or the other kind of inequity and inequality?  Is it the poverty that leads to inequity and inequality or vice versa? What can an individual do to bring about change at one or the other level without being cynical about everything? These are some questions I am pondering on….