No Vote – No Voice

Though we are still in the midst of a Recession, there was absolutely no shortage of money being pumped into the Promotion for this year’s Political Elections. All three areas of national interest were involved – Bollywood, the Cricketers and of course our rather compelling Politicians themselves. The circus leading towards voting day was as eventful as ever and feelings of anger, frustration, indifference, ridicule and fierce loyalty clashed against one another and created a furor!!! Great! But what about the voting?

Indian Flag, umennetOnly an estimated 50 percent of voters exercised their vote in Maharashtra. and just 43 % in Mumbai!! As usual the picture was brighter in the South and disintegrated gradually as it headed towards North India. Though a few more cities are yet to go, I don’t see how this trend will change overnight.  Likewise, in Maharashtra, the day began quite disturbingly but developed to see lazy voters crawling out of their homes past lunchtime to ink and get it over and done with. Though the ones vacationing were up bright and early whizzing off to new locales for the long weekend!

The point to be noticed however focuses on the group that’s not mattered much in the past but suddenly is being targeted as a crucial one – The YOUTH. Special effort has been made towards attracting new voters by which one is referring to those between the ages of 18 and 24. And with good reason – It is from this section that the voice to change our country is hoped to be heard…

The youth has always formed a potentially large electoral base, but this time is being given a great deal of attention. Most college campuses across India are conducting on-campus registration of students aiming towards a renewed interest from the youngsters in the country’s political framework.  Apart from holding voter registration camps, debates among students about whom to vote for, and what to look out for in a candidate is also being encouraged, sensitizing them about their voting responsibility.

Campaigns sounding like the latest hits “Pappu vote kar…” or then straight from the Reality TV Guru who says “This time I’m not telling you to shut up! Speak out about the elections” are all speaking to the same TG.

MTV Voting election umennet

But are the efforts paying off? An election officer in Mumbai noted that if there are 100 eligible voters in the age group of 35 – 45, 97 or 98 have registered. That number for young first-time voters stands at 60 or 65. So voting being the second step, the first one of getting registered remained unfulfilled by almost 40 % of Mumbai’s youth.

Why?

Well, some volunteers who tried to mobilize young voters on polling day, said that the kids were found confused, some disillusioned but majority I can bet are Ill Informed and Ignorant.

To quote one such well-read youngster “I did not vote and I will not vote”!

Firstly, this doesn’t speak much about commitment and loyalty towards one’s country. To block out reality and go on with life in your own comfort zone is close to committing a crime. Such individuals do not deserve to be a part of society as this type of mentality is dangerously contagious.

Another argument being put forth is that there is no one worth voting for. How does one arrive at that conclusion? Have they studied all the parties in detail, the candidates, their backgrounds etc? I doubt it. It’s just easier to dismiss and blame than get involved and find a solution.

It’s equally easy to criticize the roads, electricity, water, you name it…. without getting involved. So the person, who does not vote, should not be allowed to question the functioning of the country or speak derogatorily towards it.  No vote = no voice.

Secondly, no citizen in India claims that any Political Party is perfect. The maturity lies in finding one that holds most of the ideals which you stand for and possibly has an intelligent team working within it. Each member need not be perfection personified. And if we take a painful step closer to Real Life, we can even ask  – Who is? That is, how many of us are lucky enough to be associated with the perfect mate, friend, boss, maid… the list is endless. What is important is that we realize the good in each and encourage it. And not define the person (or party) with only the bad. Understanding the political game is not an easy task and very few scholarly people have been able to figure it out. A mere citizen need not speculate on what goes on backstage… It’s a dirty game and it’s the same….. ALL OVER THE WORLD!

It’s due to the complex diversity of our country and the new, emerging media that it seems worse back home. Plus it’s closer.

Added to which, how does anyone expect a perfect leader and system where we are seen breaking rules on a daily basis? Unless we change and learn to respect the laws and abide by them, we will never have a perfect, non corrupt system. It’s the way we sow our own seeds….

Lastly, how can things improve if the youth of our country don’t try to understand it and thereby improve on it? There is no real next generation of potential political miracle worker. Is it from this section of disillusioned and confused youth that we can expect to see some hope? It’s about time the youth proved that they are able enough to take over and do a good job, better than any other generation before them. Now would be a good time kids…

Should I Vote back this Government?

 

Its time of elections. For those who vote and even for those who prefer to abstain, there is always a clear stand about who should be the nation’s next Prime Minister. I recieved a mail, in this context, Just posting here.

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I have been witnessing a spate of  ‘feel good’ propaganda films of Congress on TV these days, transporting me back to the golden ‘Shining India’ times. The publicists have very cleverly used rural background in nearly all these advertisements. I have deep roots in my village and firmly believe that unless rural economies improve and people have decent incomes and dignified life, people will keep streaming into cities and all cities will slowly become mass slums – with people leading dog like lives in these slums.  

General Elections 2009 umennetFrom this point of view NREG scheme is welcome. But, unfortunately it has become like all socialist schemes – a money making racket for the middle men, mostly belonging to ruling parties. You just have to read Jean Drez’s interview in TOI to understand what I mean. Thus, all the hard earned money of citizens like me has been sent down the village nullahs by this government to garner votes. Just as farmer loan waivers have only benefited their big fat farmer friends and not those who are actually starving to death and giving up their lives. The numbers are mind numbing. It is ironic that the government which came up through the funeral pyres of unfortunate farmers couldnt reduce, let alone stop these suicidal deaths. 

But, for the present, let me speak as an urban citizen as most of the politicians take urban voters for granted, though they collect all legal and illegal money for official and unofficial purposes from cities. 

Mr. P. Chidambaram, who has been the FM for nearly the whole term and talks down to anybody who doubts his superior knowledge and intellect has done his best to nearly halt the liberalization process initiated by Mr. Manmohan Singh  in his earlier avataar, as a person possessed, to  undo whatever he had done as the yes man of socialist parasites during great 5 year planning eras. NDA had taken the momentum forward and took some bold steps in a very graded and planned manner to unshackle the economy  with stable policies. Thus, we saw an unprecedented growth trajectory, which Indian economy had never seen under Nehru rate of growth, taking our economy to a new orbit.   

This government of ‘aam aadmi’ has made the taxation system incomprehensible again By increasing the scope of service tax and TDS to include more and more ‘aam aadmi’ in the net and  empowering more and more ‘babus’.  

Just take an example – one first charges service tax then the payee deducts TDS. Then, one adjusts service charges that one paid against the service charges one charged!  We have FBT to penalize the companies who work harder and have people on the street to sell more and work harder. We also have various kinds of surcharges and cess to compound the confusion further. Thus, more and more paper work has helped auditors and babus, but not the ‘aam aadmi’ who sweats it out to earn is daily bread. Privileged classes like Doctors and Lawyers don’t fall into this spreading out of net. As an esteemed lawyer, he knows best why they shouldnt be brought into the net. 

Ofcourse, he has a soft corner for his rich friends, so periodically he allows them voluntary disclosures so they can sleep well. No such luck for poor salaried class. The driblets of concessions he gets in basic income tax are more than offset by reduction in savings incentives. Yes, our FM is smart! All the talk of less paper work for common man is a cruel joke on him/her. The attack is from both sides – income as well as expense. Our intelligent FM believed that Indians save too much and don’t gamble on things like stock markets – the Gods of modern economies – so incentives on all kinds of savings has been reduced. Ceilings on housing loan deductions have been reduced. In the process, we have also squeezed the infrastructure based savings through housing finance etc. Idea is to discourage savings and drain them on consumerist life style, the bane of western civilization. We haven’t learnt the lessons of history that real growth comes from real savings. Now, having been hit by recession, the truth may dawn on us, but at what cost?  

In return for all this pain, what have I got? Infrastructure? I think, I will die counting pot holes, dug up roads, horrible roads, drainage system, poor conveyance options. My power bills have gone up, thanks to ‘privatization’ without accountability. May be my kids will enjoy the fruits of this painful crawling growth, may be my grand sons/daughters? Highways stopped expanding. I wonder where is my petrol cess going? All trains seem to lead to Bihar where nobody pays for them. I still have to go through a loopy root to Bangalore taking 25 hours though the direct and shorter link is available. May be the bus operators offer good incentives to our rulers for not paying attention to this region. I still take 17 hours to go to Hyderabad while buses running on such poor highways take only 13 hours! I have no fast connections between Mumbai and Chennai. I am told that many of these are still single track routes. I sincerely believe that Railway ministry should be rotational so the whole of India benefits. 

Yes, air travel has grown multifold, courtesy a few brave men like Capt. Gopinath. From our government we have received two dozen foundation stones in the last month of its existence, so the sauve Civil Aviation minister and his generations to come will see his name plastered all over India. I think, after Nehru Gandhi family, his name would appear in maximum numbers all over India! But, till things improve, I will suffer with poor infrastructure  and always take a flight with prayers on my lips for safe landing. 

The lack of fiscal discipline and disincentive on savings, lack of infrastructure has magnified the impact of global recession much more than it should have. Had this government been prudent and carried on the good work already done by earlier govt., our economy may not have been in the shape that it is today. Here we have a government that likes to pat itself on its back for reaping the fruits of past government but eager to shrug off the failures on global trends! 

And now my honest and well meaning PM, who couldnt control his FM or put some simple home truths to him wishes me to vote for him. What for? To preside another term of anarchy of a cabinet where each minister is on his own trip and country is left at the mercy of such a cabal? 

Ratan Sharda (rnsharda@gmail.com)
29th March, 2009

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This mail was sent to me by:

Mr Sandeep Singh (sandeepconsultant@gmail.com)
Author: Business of Freedom- an initative for school of Indian Management
www.swastiks.blogspot.com

Disclaimer: umennet does not support/recommend any party that is contesting for the Indian General Elections, 2009. We are providing a platform for general public to interact the public and help them take an informed decision. It is upto an individual to vote for a party/candidate at his own discretion.

The Mega thing called Nano

 

Nano is the biggest Launch this year. All the auto experts in the world were waiting eagerly for the launch of, world’s cheapest car which costs less than $2000!!! Finally it is launched and it is up to the expectations. But as per our Indian tradition, there are people opposing it. Here are few points which have been said against NANO, and its answers

Its Too small: Yes, it is Small, but Spacious. Tata Engineers have built a small car, which looks like a toy, but it still has 20% more space than Maruti 800!! The back seats can easily accommodate 2 persons, without them being uncomfortable. The front of Tata nano has a space of around 80 Lts, which can be increased to 500 Ltr, by folding the back seats. Tata Nano is taller than Santro Zing, making it easy for tall persons also to sit easily.

Its not safe: Tata Nano is not made of fiber or other light material as Reva. Its a normal CAR. Its made of sheet metal, with a strong framing inside. It is as strong as any other car. yes, It lacks ABS & Air bags ( to be provided in future versions), but it still is safer than 3-4 people travelling on a bike.

Its cheap so compromization in Standards : Wrong. Tata has been known for their strict standard adherence. Tata Nano has been built up to standards and no compromise has been made.

It will cause pollution – Again Wrong!! Nano’s emission norms are Euro-4 ready. where as most other vehicles in India are just Euro-3!!

Tata Nano umennet

So, how come Tata can build such a car for such a low budget?? here’s the answer:

1 – The engine of car is rear mounted. So there is no load on front wheels which makes it easy to maneuver. so no need of power steering.

2 – Base model of Nano has no AC, No power windows

3 – Engineering, Nano Engineers has designed Nano with some specialties to save money on  production. For e.g., the Rack & Pinion system for steering is generally in 2 parts, but Tata Engineers made it 1 unit so that the assembly time & money is reduced.

All these points add to make Nano the cheapest car in the world!!!

And lastly,

 

1 – Its a Dream Car!! –  yeah!! in India every family dreams of having an four wheeler. We cant negelct this dream by giving excuses of traffic! Its the Govt.’s duty to have more wider roads, and proper traffic managing.

2 – We dont say a word, when long, wide, costly cars ( taking up space of 2 small cars) are allowed in India, costing from  few lakhs to some crores (Hyundai i10 to Rolls Royce), but you cant digest a car which is affordable by most of the Indians.

3 – Now a days, parking is a big problem. parking Smaller car means small parking area.

4 – Can you imagine, if Nano is replaced with all the taxis & autos, It can be more comfortable, cheap n safe. Tata are going to launch CNG and even battery operated Nano. Its much more safer for kids, makes city beautiful, The foriegners coming to India will feel good about India.

5 – last but not least, We should be proud of India being the first country to produce our very own “The peoples’ Car”. Which every car manufacturer has always dreamt since years!!!

Reality shows – Too Real For Comfort

Is an ambitious, dare-devil, high-flier youth breed a figment of our imaginations? Or a hope we harbor to console ourselves that the world will be handed over safely into better, more able hands? The conditions are all facilitating and the opportunities galore! The world is our oyster and together we can….or can we?!

MTV roadies umennetIf the latest shown through Reality TV was to offer us a window into what the next generations have in store for us, I believe we could be in for a rude shock! Either  channels look for the kind who should not be permitted to breed, let alone be aided in the process of getting them together and finding perfect matches! Or then… THIS IS IT!!! This is what the crux of India’s youth consists of…. Badly brought-up, selfish brats of low intellect who have zero sense of loyalty or integrity.

To begin with, I strongly feel that INDIANS CANNOT DO REALITY. It just doesn’t fit the frame. We’re too conscious, with no wit and atrocious senses of humour. That’s a fact. When a camera is put in front of us, all these qualities assume gigantic proportions and due to insecurity woven into the very fabric of our beings, the result is anything but candid. To further develop on the idea, Reality shows involving typical Indian youth is even more unbearable… I have nothing against any TV channel but the fact that shows such as Splitsvilla and Roadies originate from the similar shed, is hard to miss. Yes, it’s the same TG…agreed. But what are we trying to project to the  impressionable lot?

  • That’s it’s quite alright to live your life oblivious of any social or civic responsibilities?
  • That I can cheat and lie as long as no one finds out. Even if they do, it’s their bad luck?
  • That I can get fame and money by being a total B*&^% ?!
  • I don’t need to have respect for ANYONE, let alone any elders. When I’m rich and famous, none of this will matter in any case!!
  • That abusive language sounds cool and peer pressure is to be bowed down to?
  • I have no family that matter.  The friends I make because of this show are those who will be by my side throughout!
You get the drift, I’m sure.

The dismay according to me however is manifold. Primarily, I worry about the motivation that lures the youth into aspiring to be associated with these programs. I have managed to sit through a few episodes in which starry eyed juveniles claim that it is their dream to be on “so and so…” program. How does a platform where you will be subjected to embarrassing and aggravating situations appear as a dream to you? Where are those ambitions that aim to lead with innovative yet honest ways? 
This reminds me of one episode which I must mention here, no names, no references but more real than reality itself… The teams were offered laxatives after a heavy loaded meal. Post consumption, anyone who could not ‘hold it in’, would get out and let his/her team down. The rest is up to you to imagine… I know that the brainstorming department of this particular episode, must have been mighty pleased with itself, but how is this of interest or entertainment to anyone….I fail to understand. And what is it a test of? The most constipated bowels?? I don’t get it! Maybe I am getting too old…
Another aspect is that of the viewer – It’s the youth who watch of course (right on target with the TG) but why? Some think that they’re so much better that the idiots on TV and so are highly amused! Others are just like them and so can identify totally. The shows, mind you, don’t really require any qualifications except a good face and or body for camera. They also tend to make special efforts to select those who possess the power to aggravate the viewer the most!

mtv-spitsvilla-umennetOverall, my worry however is the tendency of our society to take part in and then watch these shows, week after week. According to me, they encourage ‘wrong’ and validate it. As Indians, we are known to put one another down and revel in another’s defeat but the behavior being displayed in these programs takes disgust to the next level. I’m sure the families of the participants cannot be watching and encouraging their children, and if they are, God help us all! As such are the families from which those that can go to the extent of murder in the name of ragging originate. 

With a youth potential of almost 50% of our total population, there are some important questions we should be asking apart from which of Satan’s creations will win this week’s episode!
It’s not the show concepts that are faulty, it’s more the bi-products and after effects that need to be given due attention to….as the TRP’s keep rising….!!! 
Note: This write-up has been authored by Barkha Prabhakar, who is a Guest Author at Umennet.wordpress.com.

Shahrukh Khan – The Moment of Truth

Shahrukh Khan has been requested to host Indian version of “The Moment of Truth”. Shahrukh Khan is not new to TV, He has his association with TV, since the days of Fauji, Circus, Dusra Kewal. This is also not the first time Shahrukh is hosting any TV show. Earlier he has hosted “Kaun Banega Crorepati” & “Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain”. But This time, the game show is quite different one, and doesn’t involve general knowledge questions or questions from school syllabus.

the moment of truthThe Moment of Truth, hosted by Emmy nominated, Mark Walberg,  has been a bold show in the real sense. The host asks contestants a series of 21 questions for the chance to win half a million dollars.

Whats new in that??? Here comes the answer –

The questions are based on the contestants’ personal life. This is the only game show where participants know both the questions and the answers before they begin to play. Prior to playing, participants are strapped to a lie detector and asked a series of questions by a polygraph expert, who records their answers. At any time, between the polygraph and the televised game, participants can change their answers or walk away from the competition.

To win, participants have to answer either yes or no to the questions asked. The questions are easier when the stakes are low  but as the prize amount increases, they will be challenged to face the questions which they might normally answer a lie. Some questions are dangerously revealing as participants reveal the answers in front of spouses, relatives and friends, hanging on every word. If the contestant answers honestly, according to the lie detector results, he has to face the next question. However, if the answer is false (as as per the lie detector) or a refusal is made to answer a question after it has been asked, the game ends.

The difficulty and the nature of question (in personal front) increases with every question asked. To this date no one has reached the last question. Sometimes as a surprise, the contestant’s friend, relative or ex-partner also join in to ask questions. During & after the show, sometimes, contestants (or their relatives) break in to tears, or even break relationships.

Wonderhow serious the show question-answer can be?/ Here is an example –

Contestant Lauren Cleri admitted to committing adultery and that she believes she is meant to be married to an ex-boyfriend instead of her husband..The latter was a replacement question after Lauren’s sister hit the button to keep her from answering the question of whether she’d leave her husband if the same ex-boyfriend (who was present to read this question and the replacement question to her) wanted her back. She won $100,000 and went on to play for $200,000, but lost everything on the question, “Do you think you’re a good person?” She answered “Yes,” which, according to the polygraph, was revealed to be false. In May 2008, Frank Cleri filed for divorce.

Considering the Indian scenario, where such personal openness is still a taboo, it would be interesting to watch how the game is setup for Shahrukh Khan - the Moment of TruthIndians. And the contestants, will they be ready to face such questions? and even if everything is OK, how will they deal with the protests against the show or its pattern.

But When  Roadies, Big Boss & MTV Splitsvilla can be accepted in India, This too can be accepted. and it has more than one reasons to be accepted. We Indians crave to peep in to others lives. And what better than people themselves accepting this openly.

Any which ways, this game is sure to raise money as well as some eyebrows too!!

And the Indian version of “The Moment of Truth” can be called – “Sach ka Pal” or “Dil Sachcha aur Chehra Jhootha” or may be following the tradition of “K- Series” it can be “Kuch Pal Sach Ke”!!

Any more suggesstions? Whats your opinion?