Sunday, 30 August 2015

Of News and Other Stuff-2

1.       The last time I was exposed to the philosophies of Brahmanism and Buddhism, I was 10 years old. If I barely understand the difference between moksha and nirvana now (a decade and a half later), how did they expect me to know it then?
2.       An old History textbook for schoolkids I have been reading these days says, one of the reasons for the decline of Buddhism in India was that the sanghs allowed admission to women. Who the male monks lusted after.
3.       Are you really surprised that people grow up to be Mulayam Singh Yadav?
4.       Can we stop belly-aching about Akbar the Great and Maharana Pratap the Great, and concentrate more on Ashoka the Great, probably the first Emperor in the history of the world to stand firmly behind soft power?
5.      OK, let's not completely forget Akbar. He was awesome. Plus the best bits in history ARE the conquests and how they are brought about. The details about the administrative, legal and taxation system on the other hand are yawn inducing. Yes, I recognise the irony.
6.       The Indian Express reported that a couple of years ago, Indrani Mukherjea’s ex-husband had posted a joke on Facebook about how grandkids are the punishment you get for not strangling your teenagers-a post Mukherjea had ‘liked’. Yup, deep insight into the mind of a killer. Thanks IE.
7.       The guy who shot his two ex-colleagues on camera in Virginia last week, posted the shooting video on social media before offing himself.
8.       In completely unrelated news, last Monday, 1 billion people across the world logged into Facebook. Zuckerberg said in a statement that “a more open and connected world is a better world “.
9.       Rajiv Chowk is a metro station. The centrally located market housed within the white circular Colonial era building, around which you have walked aimlessly for years but still can’t tell your way about in, will always be CP.
10.   Also, don’t pretend you know Aurangzeb Road from Shahjahaan Road.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Of News and Other Stuff-1

1.       Talk about unintended consequences
State governments impose high taxes on alcohol, ostensibly to further Gandhian (and constitutional) ideals of prohibition. Yet, during the period of the eighties when the women of rural Andhra Pradesh were demanding a ban on the sale of arrack, the state government was less than willing to listen, due to the revenues that the sale of alcohol brought them.
2.       It has happened. The government has finally run out of innovative backronyms and rousing epithets for its myriad schemes. Indradhanush, the MoF’s seven-point (clever right?) plan to rejuvenate Public Sector Banks, shares its name with the government’s child vaccination programme against seven (big surprise) preventable diseases.
3.       The new Political Science NCERTs feel like they were written by people who remembered exactly how bad their school education was, and then went about, correcting it systematically.
4.       They are also shamelessly designed to brainwash kids into being bleeding heart liberals. As a goal of education policy, that’s not too bad.
5.       I always think of China as a bit of a brat, though it’s been acting very grown up lately with the whole talk of its Belt and Road initiatives. South China Sea is a different matter-where it is in competition with its mostly less powerful neighbours over territory. Taiwan happens to have similar claims. China says that’s only to be expected, given that Taiwan itself is a part of China.
6.       The ads for Swach Bharat Abhiyan have been criticised as reinforcing patriarchal norms since they tell families that having washrooms will help protect the izzat of the women of the house. Say what you will, it is still an effective message for the limited purpose of getting toilets built. Given the tack that the current government has taken on different issues (from marital rape to education policy), an alternative could be to extol ancient Indian culture where people in Mohenjodaro (more than 4500 years ago) had loos in every house.
7.       In a weird coincidence, the 3 ancient civilisations of the Bronze Age-Mesopotamia, Harappan and Egyptian were all in areas that are in turmoil today. On second thoughts, not really such a weird coincidence given exactly how much of the world today is in turmoil-of one kind or the other.
8.       There is nothing inevitable about murder. Not multiple marriages. Not children out of the wedlock. (I am looking at you, Hindu).