Saturday, August 26, 2006

How good is caste for affirmative action?

Well, caste may be the simplest indicator of socio-economic status in the Indian society, atleast in much of rural and semi-urban Indian society. And so in a country where any kind of false certification (including false proofs-of-annual-income) may be produced in a dirt-cheap budget, caste may be an effective indicator for affirmative action. But the problem with it an individual of a higher caste one feels terribly penalized for having born in a higher caste. Its one of those things where interests of an individual are in exact conflict with the interests of society in general.

The solution? I can think of one: Better Information Systems that keeps track of beneficiaries of the action and thus making sure that their progeny are treated normal.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The terrorism of Mumbai's Infrastructure

Mumbai says, "Bomb blasts are just a minor part of the problem". That gives you some idea about the anger thats building up with in the city. The city reportedly contributes to 1/3rd of the total national tax revenue and yet has to grapple with the most basics of infrastructural problems like the rest of the country. The problems are so acute that people think that bomb blasts are just a minor part of it! Bomb blasts happen may be once every two years (I am ashamed to give a periodicity to the acts of terror, but thats the periodicity history indicates), but the infrastructural problems are to be fought with every minute. And yet red tape, bureaucracy, corrupt politicians, inefficient systems get nothing done. Naturally, its residents are angry but dont know where to direct it.

Its important that all this building anger is let out before pseudo outlets (like 'Maoists', balkanization of communities based on religion etc) become more popular.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Stone's WTC

Its unfortunate that we are in a time where we make movies like "World Trade Center" based on real-life incidents. I am not saying that such movies shouldn't be made, but what I am trying to say is its unfortunate that we are in a time to witness an event of such epic horrific magnitudes, both on and outside the silver screen. And when such a movie is made, it carries all the baggage that every other movie carries. IMBD entry, x/10, reviews, star rating system etc...and all of these parameters have to basically strive to distance the artistic merits of the movie from the actual human misery that's part of the real-life incident. But an incident like 9/11 makes it only more difficult.

With a title like WTC, one might expect something nothing short of a whirlwind tour of world history for the past 4-5 years OR at the least a political context to the crash and basic ground level rescue operations, given that its an Oliver Stone movie. But Stone chose a much narrower focus.

He tells the story of two remarkable cops who watch out for each other after they are trapped under tonnes of rubble. He tells the story of their families interspersing it with the rescue operations. One might ask why the title WTC for such a narrow focus. Isn't Stone using the powerful WTC brand name to pull more audience?

WTC stands for many things in our decade. We basically have a pre-9/11 world and a post-9/11 world in matters of world economy, politics, trade, immigration and religion. Such is its significance. So what is it you want WTC to stand for? Of all the things, Stone thought that the fundamental human instinct to help each other and watch out for each other, mostly because that's the right thing to what WTC most stood for. I would love to agree with him. But unfortunately, incidents like London Underground bombings, Madrid bombings, Bombay bombings, Transatlantic aircraft plots make it only harder to believe it.

Nevertheless, except for a single pro Iraq-war comment, I thought that the movie had been well crafted and makes you imagine what is it actually like to hang around the accident site. After being pulled out from the rubble, one of the guys asks where the two towers have disappeared! I kept thinking about how helpless-a-creatures we turn into, when we loose that simple big picture/orientation. And how big a blow was the 9/11 event to the political/economical/blah-blah orientation of all us including countries and governments.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to make money out of YouTube?

Or Who should buy YouTube?

theoretically, a consortium of companies.

One of them could be Netflix. Why?

Because, I never got a chance to see Monty Python on TV. And I saw bits and pieces of Monty Python, first on YouTube. Chances are that:
  • I've disliked them. End of the Story.
  • I've liked them to an extent that I want to buy a DVD of it. This one happens rarely. Even it happens, there is no harm in renting it before you buy it. One would feel less disheartened by renting it, if the whole thing didnt meet their expectations.
  • I've liked them to an extent that I want to try more of it. In that case renting from Netflix would be a good option. (This tells me that Netflix should probably add a "I'll Keep it" button after items-that-are currently-at-home.)
In a way, it is not very different from contextual ads but with one difference. I am talking about ad-companies where you can 'try' things before you buy. I think I am trying to use the fact that a certain amount of piracy is healthy as it is capable of bringing in more business.


Average year of birth of suspected arrests in the 2006 Transatlantic aircraft plot is 1981. And there is a guy who was born in 1989! I am curious to know if the average age is increasing or decreasing or just staying at 25.

30+ south-asian britons, feel happy that you are a lesser match to the stereotype.

But sadly Indian Police are not polite enough even though you dont fit the stereotype. NY Times writes here about police hunts in the muslim dense suburbs of Mumbai and the people's grunts about it. Being an immigrant and fitting a stereotype is one story, but being a match in your country is a totally different one. Sadly, that is part of growing global reality.