Final Contact

18 01 2008

Folks,
This is the last post I’ll be writing for Chronicallysane. I’m moving my blog to vetti.in and digitallydrunk.in to offer a more targeted (for lack of a better word) reading experience for you.

The reason I split between two sites was that I wanted to start writing about work-related items. Being that I work in IT, Digitallydrunk is a very apt way to describe my state of mind after I have spent way too much time dealing with technobabble. Digitallydrunk will feature content on technology such as product reviews, tutorials, rants on technology (I can’t give up ranting), etc.

Vetti on the other hand is my playground. The word Vetti is a tamil slang term used to describe a person who’s idle/jobless/got-time-on-their-hands. Vetti will showcase anything interesting I find when I’m not working, or I feel like writing about.

It’s true I could have implemented this with CS. But, I took a good hard look at the concept, and I felt that I would be devaluing a post on some serious technical issue if the next post was about four-titted sheep. So to better separate and enhance the value of each content type, I’m doing this.

This is not the end of CS. This is its next avatar. Just point your browsers to vetti.in and digitallydrunk.in to get your fix of CS-like posts.

Thanks for reading for the past year.





Don’t Clumsy My Brain With English

24 07 2007

I heard a story a few months back from my aunt, from when she was taking a course/workshop on how to use English properly at the Asian College of Journalism. At the time, she had a student who had a knack for being able to convey exactly what she meant, despite the fact that proper grammar and a strong vocabulary weren’t really her strengths. The other thing about her, the student, was that she was missing classes once too often, and the college management was getting concerned. So my aunt asked her after one of her classes [incidentally, she never missed any of my aunt’s classes… might have something to do with the fact that the classes were in the evenings…] why she was missing classes. The girl responded, “Ma’am, there’s just too much to remember. [I think this is what she said. If not I’m paraphrasing.] I don’t want to clumsy my brain.“. [This line is verbatim.]

When my aunt told me about this, we were in the midst of a discussion on how poor the standards of English are in India. On hearing the line “I don’t want to clumsy my brain”, I just burst out laughing. I had never in my life come across the word “clumsy” being used to indicate a state of mind. However, I did understand what she was trying to say, that she didn’t want to confuse herself with too much information. Upon reflection, I have to admire the way she was able to convey her meaning so clearly while not actually using the right word. But the whole problem is just that. I had to take extra time after hearing the statement to reflect and try to absorb just what she was saying.

The above example is representative of just how poor the standard of English is in India today. At this point, I’d just like to clarify that I’m not trying to bash India [well, not too much…] but rather trying to highlight the general apathy that seems to exist when it comes to using what you think is English, as opposed to what actually is English. The girl thought she was she was using correct English, and while she got her point across, it wasn’t grammatically accurate. You can argue that written and spoken English are different, but the fact is that the same basic rules govern sentence construction for both. Otherwise, you could get away with something like, “King illegal forest to pig wild kill in it a is!” [Hey, I managed to sneak in a Mel Brooks line into this.] Yes, a bit of an exaggeration but if you read of some of the stuff I’ve come across recently, its not half bad.

My biggest beef with India, especially being in IT, is with two words. To the not-so-clueless I think you know which two I mean. For the rest, the words I love to hate are “Upgradation” and “Updation”. Up until 10 years or so, they were malapropisms. The words simply didn’t exist. Then came the IT revolution and Y2K, and with it the arrival of the Indian IT engineer on the global stage. With his/her bag full of tricks, armed with considerable mathematical and analytical talent, and the ability to communicate well (in his/her personal opinion) in English, the world was suddenly flooded with all sorts of new fangled jargon, courtesy of Tanglish, Hinglish, and every other sort of -lish you can think of. Words like “updation” and “upgradation”, and phrases such as “now you can able” or “can’t able to” became commonplace in offices and IT support centres from Frisco to Tokyo.

Instead of saying “I’ve finished the update and the upgrade”, they decided to show off their command of the language by “verbing” the noun forms of update and upgrade. So today we have to endure hearing “I’ve finished the Updation and Upgradation.” It’s almost as if they’re trying to imply that they’ve achieved a monumental task.

“Hey, have you revised those addition formulas in that Excel spreadsheet?” “Almost Sir, I’m just finishing the updation.”

This Calvin and Hobbes strip pretty much sums up what these clowns are doing:

Fast forward to 2007, “Upgradation” and “Updation” are now found in Webster’s New Millenium Dictionary, the first edition of which was published in 2002. What I suspect happened was that by the sheer volume of usage, the words became commonplace and were eventually absorbed into the English language, which says more for English rather than the people who started using the words incorrectly in the first case. Never mind that they were not even words 10 years back. But, the language is willing to adapt, and thus it is now law. I can no longer strike out those words from any written communication with my usual gusto and grammatical fervour. *Deep Sigh* I’ll miss that. C’est la vie.

But thankfully, the laws of English grammar and common sense still prevail in some respects, and the phrase “can’t able to” is still illegal. But, people in India continue to use the phrase, either due to ignorance or due to apathy and an unwillingness to change.

Just consider the sentence, “I can’t able to do this.” This is something I hear every day at work. In its entirety, the sentence reads as “I can not able to do this.” The whole problem with this is that you’re using the word “can” as a positive, followed by the word “not” as a negative, followed by the word “able”, which is a positive on its own, to imply a negative meaning. You wouldn’t immediately notice this in a conversation, but doesn’t it look wrong written out? Why on earth do you want to confuse the issue? Why not just say “I can not do this” or “I am not able to this” ???

When I point out this mistake to people, they question why it’s wrong. When they use the Tamil “Yennaku panna mudiyilai” it translates correctly, according to them. I point out that the word “panna” from the root “panarthu” means “can”, and “mudiyilai” means “not able to do” or “can’t do”. So, if you literally translate the Tamil phrase, it reads as “I can can’t do” or “I can not able to do”. The whole problem here is that you’re using the word “can” and the word “can not” in the same sentence. You end up with a contradictory statement. So given the negative context of the statement on hand, you should only say “can not”.

Also, you can’t really use the word “can” twice in the same sentence, whatever the context. The only time you even use “can” twice in the same sentence is to refer to the “can-can”, a dance popular in burlesque clubs in early part of the 20th century.

Ironically, Indians know this rule so they substitute “able” instead of “can”, but stick to the original “I can can not do this” formula. So, “I can’t able to do” continues to torment me and and those like me who were forced to learn grammar from Messrs. Wren and Martin, while having to endure our parents glaring at us and threatening us with no snacks and tidbits or the even more dangerous threat, “no playtime until you finish your English homework.”

Having been around the world and seen the various ways English has been corrupted and bastardized (try listening to Singlish if you ever get the chance. Thats whats found in Singapore and Malaysia.), I thought I was quite immune to how badly people can use the language. But, upon reading the following email sent a few weeks from a company’s receptionist back to a prospective candidate, I realized I was wrong. I was mortified.

“You supposed to join on or before 23rd July 2007 as per the Offer Letter. Have a confirmation of this by sending Mail or make a call .”

I couldn’t help wondering, “Why the heck is this person so bloody pissed off?” If I had received this message, I would have flat-out turned down the offer. I found it rude, insulting even. It has a demanding tone. You don’t do that. You request a confirmation. The first line seems like an accusation that the person didn’t join on the specified date. Given that this was sent in the first week of July, it’s absurd to take this tone.

Analyzing the usage of certain words and sentence construction, you start questioning “Is ‘supposed’ the right word to use?” “Is the first sentence constructed correctly?” “What is ‘Have a confirmation of this by sending mail or make a call’ supposed to mean?” It looks like two half-written sentences joined together!!! It’s just down-right unprofessional.

One way to write this message would be, “As per the offer letter you received from us, you are supposed to join us on or before the 23rd. Please send a confirmation of this by email or call us.” Simple, polite, and to the point.

Another one that I got recently that set me off was, “This mail is regarding the telephonic conversation had with Mr. yesterday. I had a discussion with my PM regarding your offer, I understand that he needs my service indispensably, I am in the critical position now to accept your offer and I regret for the same, please bare with me regards this, thanks for the opportunity.”

If you notice closely, the second sentence is actually 5 sentences joined together using commas. He would have been better off using periods/fullstops rather than commas. But more interestingly, what does “I am in the critical position now to accept your offer and I regret for the same” mean? Is he taking the offer or not? Or is he deferring the decision, given that he said “please bear with me regards this”? I eventually called this guy and found out that he couldn’t be relieved as promised, so he was turning down our offer.

Sometimes I really don’t understand why people try and use certain words in conversations without fully understanding the meaning of those words. They just end up writing absolute rubbish and leave the reader confused as to what the author’s trying to say. I recall an English professor of mine from college, who ripped one of my early papers apart. His beef with me was that while I wrote well, I unnecessarily used certain words when simpler words would have been enough. He pointed out that the objective was not to impress the reader with fancy words, which would only leave them confused if they didn’t understand the meanings correctly. The objective was to communicate the message in a way that was effective, yet simple and unambiguous. He was more caustic than that actually. He said, “If you want to write a novel, you write like you’ve written here. Otherwise, write as I tell you to.”

Getting back to the bad English at hand, when I was in school here in Chennai around 10 years back, most of my classmates were able to write coherent and grammatically correct sentences, even though some didn’t have the same exposure (which is a common excuse given today as to why people’s English is bad) that some of us had. Okay, they had funny accents and all, but when it came to the written word, they adhered to the fundamentals of grammar and certainly didn’t succumb to stuff like “Have a confirmation of this by sending mail or make a call” or “Can’t able to”.

But today, I’m having to cajole my engineers to take classes outside of work to improve their English by focusing on their grammar, and have even started impromptu classes in the lunch room during tea time with some of the guys to get them to improve their English. I’ve had to convince people by pointing out the career growth prospects, and even mildly rebuking them in front of others for incorrect usage in an effort to get them want to improve, basically using the carrot and the stick approach. All in the name of better English.

Of course, I still get gems like “A Thesaurus is a container of words”, or “A Thesaurus gives word meanings and Dictionary gives meaning of words”, but I at least feel that I’m being proactive rather than just complaining about it. I’m even talking to some people to try and setup a website to help people learn and improve their English. ‘Course, I’m looking at the financial benefits as well, but I really do see a huge need for tools to help people improve.

For the most part, my guys have reacted well to my criticisms. They have asked me how to improve. I suggested reading books and magazines, not the filmy crap, and watching English programs on TV, preferably the BBC or movies, to understand usage better. I’m not asking them to become literary pundits ala Shakespeare. I’m just trying to get them to understand and use the basic rules of the language properly to communicate effectively.

One major stumbling block though is that the newspapers and magazines here are not much help. I regularly find errors in grammar and usage when I read the papers. And god help us with the SMS shortcuts. I’ve got no problems if people use the shortcuts for a SMS or a personal mail. But when a person tries and use that in formal letters/emails/reports, you’re just asking to be screwed.

I have two reasons as to why I’m writing all this down. One, I believe that India is asking for big trouble in the near future unless people are aware that this is a problem and take steps to correct this. These days you really need to communicate well to interact with people not just from the native English-speaking countries, but from practically anywhere in the world. You can’t go about writing “can’t able to”, and “clumsy my brain”.

Secondly, I needed to vent and get it out of my system. A year of bottling all this up really saps at your patience. It was almost starting to “clumsy my brain.”

Ironically, just as I was finishing this up, I received the following link from a friend.

One of my favorites on that site is:

Maybe there’s hope for Indians yet. Incidentally, another example of verbing and the problems being created is covered in this article. Apparently, some clown TV journalist used the phrase “to podium” as a verb. It also examines the etymology (for lack of a better word) of “verbing” through the ages. It’s an interesting read. Oh and its got the Brits blaming the Americans for bad English. 🙂





Possibly The Worst Ad Ever Written in English

16 07 2007

What more can I say??? I had to read the text 5 times before I could finish it without bursting out laughing… And I still am not sure exactly what the ad’s for… It’s so pathetically funny… But this is what some people think is good English… Says a lot for the standards in India doesn’t it???

Funnily enough, I was in the middle of writing a post on how poor the grasp of English is in this country when I received this. Makes a good preamble to what follows. Stay tuned.





The Same Pay For Half The Work

27 06 2007

Wimbledon has started, and with it two months of tennis mania, culminating with the US open in late August. Highlights at SW19 this year apparently are that Centre Court has no roof, Federer is gunning for his umpteenth title, and for the first time in history equal prize money is being offered for the women and mens tournament. Which frankly I think is bloody unfair to the men, and a classic case of the organizers trying to be PC about things. Cue the feminists with their burning torches, pitchforks, tar and feathers.

Today, the world is supposed to work on the whole concept of equality. Irrespective of gender or race. So how is it that women in tennis can get the same amount of money for playing a maximum of three sets of tennis, which is the equivalent of the minimum number of sets in the men’s game. Isn’t a case of getting the same pay for half the work? If they want the same amount of money, make them play in the same format as men. At least then, they’re entitled to the same wages.

I think its madness that people [i.e. the organizers] are actually willing to pay the same amount for a game that ends in an hour, compared to one thats at least 2 hours. Where’s the value for money? After all, watching a tennis match is about entertainment, right? And I obviously want more value for my entertainment dollar. Yeah, I’d like to watch a match between two major stars like Henin and Sharapova, but if its over in an hour, what next? It doesn’t beat the intensity of match like what happened yesterday between Henman and Moya. Now that was a fantastic match. 5 sets, 2 days, 13-11 final set, over 4 hours on court. They deserve what they earn. But, can you recall a women’s game that lasted 4 hours? Nope, you can’t because it’s over inside 2 hours.

Looking at it from an effort-to-reward ratio perspective, the women have it made. You could say its a case of more buck-for-bang. And I know there’s a whole bunch of people out there who’ll say that, “Women don’t have the stamina/endurance of men. They can’t play a full 5 set match regularly.” If that’s the case, they’re not really equal are they? In which case, why should they be paid equally if they’re not equal?

If you’re going to harp on equality and all that, then you have to be true to the word. You can’t selectively apply the rules as you see fit. Frankly, I see this as a PR stunt by the Wimbledon organizers to maintain their place in the spotlight. Fine, its their prerogative to decide how to allocate the prize money. But I just hope this doesn’t start a trend at the other tournaments. Otherwise, the men will be the ones who lose out. And if they do make a major issue of out this, you can be sure the feminists will be waiting to scream “bloody murder! suppression of female initiative! equality! blah blah blah!”

For all you feminists out there, you can’t claim equality unless you’re willing to play on the same level. If you can’t put in the same level of work, you’re not entitled to the same amount of pay.

Maybe its time to start a male-inist movement, the male equivalent of feminism, to fight for equal opportunities for men. Any takers?

Sidenote: Does anyone know what is the antonym of feminism?





The Fallacy of Internet Censorship in India

11 06 2007

Last night, I was walking by the TV at home when my aunt flipped the channel to NDTV, where Bharka Dutt was hosting her weekly “We The People” show. The topic was on whether the authoritiets should start banning sites like Orkut and such. Now, digressing a little bit, I personally can’t stand Bharka Dutt. I think she has a mistaken view that to be a good journalist you need to loud, brash, rude, and impertinent. Ok, you want to get to the hard truth. But, you don’t need to be uncouth about it. Sadly, thats what most TV journalists in India think. But, getting back to Bharka, the word “rabid” keeps coming back to my mind whenever I happen to be exposed to her shows. She has this absolutely horrible habit of cutting people off mid-sentence, then twisting their words, well whatever they got out, to fit her viewpoints. Hardly what you would call letting the public express their views. People like Bharka ought to be more aware of their influence on society and try and set a better example for those budding journalists out there. End of mini-rant. Back to the main rant.

Getting back to the show, I started watching a little bit because quite a few people were complaining about how the Internet promotes negative activities, and how steps need to be taken at policing the internet, and protecting kids. In a nutshell, the whole complaint boils down to, “The Government is not taking sufficient steps to safeguarding my kids on the Internet”. I’ve got one question to all these whiners. “Just what do you want the government to do?”

The Internet is a juggernaut with over 1 trillion webpages, and with thousands, nay millions of pages being published daily. It spans the globe and in reality is a world of its own. Just how the heck does a single Government police this? How do you sift through all these pages and say “This is good, so let people see it!” or “This is Bad! So block access!”? I can publish a website, call it the “The Mahatma Gandhi Internet Memorial”, but actually use it peddle pornography. All the text could be about Gandhi, but all the images could be porn. Or even more effectively, use a Flash website to display all the images and still have the search engines and filters think its a site about Gandhi. How would the Government be able to stop that? They can block the domain, but I can relaunch the site under another domain. How can the Government effectively shut me down if I’m willing to relaunch it again and again under different domain names? It can’t.

Let’s examine the argument of how sites like Orkut are corrupting the moral fibre of India’s youth. I’ve been using Orkut for a while now. I find it a great way to keep in touch with old friends, and get in touch with new ones. Yes, some people have abused the service, but by and large it serves a great purpose of letting me be in touch with my friends. I don’t “misuse” the service by patronizing the “call-girl” communities and such, nor do I abuse people [not intentionally anyway]. So, why should I be denied this service just cause a small section of the people on the site use it in a distasteful manner?

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech but places “reasonable restrictions” “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality.” Fine, illegal stuff shouldn’t be accessible. But, when I use the site in a completely legitimate and legal manner, is it right that I be denied access to the service? Just because someone else objects to it, does the Government have the right to deny my accessing that site? What happens if I don’t find the content objectionable, but someone else does? Who defines the standards of morality? My moral values can be quite different for the next person. Is it right for someone else to impose their views on me? Don’t I have a right to choose? According to some people. No! These people want the government to ban all sites that are used to promote “negative”, “anti-social” activities, even if its done by 1 or 2 among a million users.

Ha! What a lark! I don’t think that the Indian Government can be trusted, nor is it in a position to, to objectively define standards for Internet viewership in India. Nothing illustrates this better than what happened last year when the Indian government blocked access to all blogs on sites like blogger.com, and livejournal.com, for a week, when the order was actually against 17 specific blogs. The idiots in the Department of Telecommunications decided that since 17 blogs are bad, all blogs are bad, and since they were told to block the bad blogs, they decided to block all blogs. Actually, it was even more stupid than that.

Rather than type:
block site1.blogsomething.com
block site1.blogsomethingelse.com
block site2.blogsomething.com
block site2.blogsomethingelse.com


they decided it would easier to do:
block *.blogsomething.com
block *.blogsomethingelse.com

Those downright lazy bastards sitting in various ISPs didn’t realize that by doing the latter they’d blocked ALL sites under those domains. Net result, 60,000 Indian blogs were shutdown, rather than just 17. In response, our bloggers “rebelled” [I can’t think of a more appropriate term, but it does seem a bit much] against the order, and bombarded the DOT, questioning why their sites were blocked, until out of sheer exasperation the DOT rescinded the order and specifically blocked access to the original 17 sites. If they had done that in the first case, it wouldn’t have blown up in the Government’s face.

But more than governmental incompetence, I feel the whole crux of the matter is the level of ignorance that Indians seem to have when it comes the Internet. They don’t seem to really that it’s not a physical entity, but more ethereal than anything else. It’s not something that can be turned off with the flick of a switch. You can deny access to it, but it will still exist. If the government starts getting involved in filtering and such, then they have to power to define what to filter, thereby controlling what we can or can’t see on a larger scale, including news, political viewpoints, etc. If thats the case, then we might as well go for the full shebang and let the powers that be dictate what we eat, what we wear, what we drive, what we see, what we think. It’ll be just like George Orwell’s “1984”, only 23 years later on. It’s whats happening in places like China, Singapore, and Dubai today.

I know you think its a tad reactionary, but people need to wake up. You can’t expect the government to enforce your personal viewpoints. How does the government cater to 1.3 billion viewpoints then? It’s impossible. If people care so much about protecting their families from the “evils” of the Internet, then maybe they should start working on solutions from home. They should educate their kids on the negatives aspects of the Internet, and encourage them to adhere to the “house rules”. For those of you who don’t trust your kids to listen to your “advice”, you might also look into restricting the internet access by installing parental filters and such. There are tons of resources on the Internet to instruct you on how to restrict access to parts of the Internet, ironic as it is. Or, if you’re one of those extreme parents, deny them access to computers. They’re your kids after all.

In fact, the whole bloody value of the Internet is that there’s so much information out there, that there’s guaranteed to be something there for everyone. The downside is that due to its vastness, there’s bound to be stuff that you find objectionable. But what you find objectionable may not be what your next door neighbour finds distasteful. For example, say your next door neighbour buys a dog, but you hate dogs. Can you ask the government to ban dogs just cause you hate dogs? No, but you can prevent the dog from coming anywhere on your property by building a fence around your home. This is the same case with Internet. Use filters and other parental control software to block access to content you don’t approve of from your home computer. That way, you prevent your household members from accessing it. Let your neighbour do what he likes. As long as it doesn’t enter your home, it shouldn’t bother you. Besides you can’t control anything thats outside of your purview anyway, and the sooner people realize that the better off we all will be.

For those of you interested in more technical details about how to implement these kinds of parental filters, do let me know. I’ll put up a technical walk-through on how to go about this shortly.





The Easiest Goal Ever Missed

4 06 2007

My brother just sent me this video. Words fail to describe just how stupid this guy is. He didn’t even have to touch the ball. It was going in anyway. Any kind of mishit would have only helped the ball along. Instead, the guy does the one thing short of stopping the ball that could deny the goal. And he did so well until the finish. Take a look and marvel at just how the impossible it was to miss that goal. It just proves nothing is impossible.





The Voters Dilemma – Free Broadband, Free TV or 40,000 Blowjobs

27 05 2007

Got your attention with the title didn’t I? Well, what triggered all this was the Indian Government recently announcing plans for a scheme to provide Free Broadband to all Indians by 2008. I’d come across it briefly in the papers, but didn’t pay much attention to it until a buddy of my posted a mini-rant on this at his blog. Here’s the link.

Quite frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing about the outrageous promises that politicians make in order to get elected. No surprise there, I know. It’s what politicians are and do. But, just once, I wish they’d use the vacuum between their ears for something practical, rather than frivolous. Even Alice in Wonderland, with its white talking rabbits, cheshire cats, smoking caterpillars, people made of cards, and magic mushrooms, is more believable that some of the rot that escapes from the mouths of politicians. Anyways, on with the rant.

Now as Ram questions on his blog, why doesn’t the government focus on stuff like free food, free potable water, free education more rather than a stupid gimmick like free broadband. Look at the numbers. India is a land of 1.3 billion people. The number of Internet users today in the country is less than 100 million, or less than 10% of the national population. Furthermore, there are only around 25 million broadband users today. Check the TRAI website for the actual numbers. Ironically enough, its this section of the population that can afford a computer, has proper food, shelter, education, etc. So why the heck do they need free internet? They can afford to pay for it.

Speaking as one of the 100 million potential beneficiaries of this scheme, I wouldn’t say no to free broadband. But, I’d rather they reduced the tariffs to encourage more people to get on the Net, rather than offer it for free. ‘Cause they’d have to finance it somehow and the only way would be through taxation. As it is, we’re getting taxed for almost everything. So, I for one would like to avoid another tax somehow, and am still willing to pay for the service, only I would prefer if the costs weren’t so steep.

The Internet economy in India is just taking off. More and more people are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet and are investing in broadband connections to benefit from the fast speeds, always-on connections, etc.. But the cost of Internet Access is on the higher side compared to other countries. In Malaysia, for example, an unlimited 1MBPS broadband connection is available for RM77 per month, or Rs. 925 per month. The cheapest comparable plan in India costs Rs. 3600 per month or approximately 4 times more. If the Indian government could take steps to reduce the cost of Internet access to say maybe twice what it costs in Malaysia, then more people would sign up for the service, and the government wouldn’t have to shoulder the a huge financial burden in making the net more accessible. This is how I would approach this anyway. This way, its an achievable task rather than an complete load of bullcrap.

Doing some very rough number crunching, the average broadband bill in India is approximately Rs. 500 for 256k limited connection. An unlimited 256k broadband connection is about Rs. 1000 per month. Let’s assume that the government decides to offer unlimited 256k for free. It doesn’t make sense for it to be free and limited. So with approximately 15 million current broadband users in India today, of which about 85% would be in the 256k bracket, your cost of providing free broadband to this group is about Rs. 1,275 crore per month [15 million x Rs. 1000 x 85%] , or Rs. 15,300 crore per annum. Where the heck would you get that kind of money??? I doubt taxes would cover that cost. Ok, so this isn’t the cost of providing service but its the amount that is being subsidized. The actual cost of providing this service would not be that high. Even if its 50% of the subsidized value, its still over Rs. 7,000 crore, and thats money I’d prefer going towards more useful things. I’d rather see this kind of money invested into reducing our petrol prices or shoring up electricity generation, stuff that would really improve my living standards. How does free internet do that? What the heck do you do with it? For a desi, the average browsing pattern is check email, read the news, get on Orkut, browse porn, check mail, check dating/matrimonial site, Orkut, porn. Not very productive is it??? So why encourage that lifestyle even more?

Getting back to Ram’s main point, he states “While I see all the comments on the feasibility of implementing it or of this being a simple election (national elections are in 2009) gimmick, no one is talking about the fact that there are so many higher priority problems in this country that should be tackled first.” India has some really serious issues it has to tackle like basic education, sustained power generation to meet demand, potable water, food, clothing for the poor, the list goes on. Yet, the general public still seems to be swayed by empty promises like free broadband, free tvs, etc. Sometimes you really have to wonder how the public can actually vote for such imbeciles when said imbeciles clearly have lost the plot. I mean you can claim ignorance as an excuse once, but this kind of crap has been happening for over 50 years now. You’d think people would have learnt by now.

A case in point is the last state election in Tamil Nadu. The current DMK government was swept into power last year after they promised free TVs and free cooking gas connections to each household. Cooking gas is fine, people need to eat. But free TVs??? I mean come on guys. People are struggling to make ends meet and put food on their tables, and you give them TVs? How’s that going to help them live? By turning into mindless zombies addicted to the idiot boxes, who end up scheduling their entire lives around TV??? And what about the extra burden on the already faltering power infrastructure? Why can’t you invest more into stabilizing the power grids? Unfortunately all these facts and reality checks are irrelevant to politicians. The net result is that a year on, the DMK is in power, the free TV and gas plan is in shambles with only a small fraction of population actually receiving the goods, and the voters are no better off than they were before. Life goes on for them as it did before the election, despite the empty promises of the government they voted into power.

This free broadband crap is the same deal, only on a national scale. Some jackass wants to get some publicity so he decides to announce this scheme. And he’s probably never even used a computer before in his life. The problem is that politicians, particularly in India, believe that its grandiose schemes not practical substance that wins elections. So they make outrageous claims and promises to get elected, and once elected may or may not actually deliver on the promises. All I can say is I hope they just remember what happened to Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh a couple of years back. He was celebrated as the model IT-savvy Chief Minister, and people raved about his efforts to use IT to modernize the bureaucracy of the state government. But despite all the acclaim and recognition, he still lost the elections because he didn’t act when a really bad drought hit Southern Andhra Pradesh. For all his panache and media savvy, Naidu neglected the basic needs of his voters, who felt he didn’t care about them and consequently didn’t vote for him.

So, a warning to the powers that be. The Indian voter is not a predictable lackey. You can’t really predict how he/she will react. Rather than trying to woo them with glitter and giving them horse-shit in the end, try to actually do something constructive for them. They’ll remember that, and not the horse-shit, and love you for it in the long run, rather than turn on you in the next elections. You’re better off doing the practical and achievable, rather than the showy yet impossible.

On a lighter note, it looks like other countries are learning from Indian politicians about making empty promises. A Belgian politician actually campaigned for the Belgian Senate by promising, “I’ll give you 40,000 blowjobs.” Here’s the campaign website if you don’t believe me. Given the fact that she looks pretty hot and is nude in the ad, you can’t help wondering how many voters, especially male, would’ve said no to that particular campaign promise. Plus she also added that she was willing to travel anywhere in the world to keep her promise. I guess she really was keen on catering to a wider audience. Talk about putting your mouth where your money is. She even calculated that at a rate of 80 blowjobs a day [80??? Assume 6 hours for sleep, an extra 4 for breaks, lunch, showers, mouth rinse, etc… that leaves 14 hours, so that comes to just over 5.7 blowjobs an hour, or one every 10 minutes…], it would take her 500 days to fulfill her “obligations”, and even went into details on dos and donts for the blowjobs. Take a look at the website if you’re curious. Must warn you though. It can be considered NSFW.

Wonder of wonders, it was later reported that she failed to live up to her promises, and sent a Japanese assistant to perform the “dirty” work instead. El Reg had a good story covering this here.

I dunno bout you but at least the Belgian gimmick was appealing. ‘Course, that’s cause Tania has the looks to pull it off. Can you imagine if it this happened in India and that was one of our female politicians???

Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for any trauma associated with readers mentally imagining female Indian politicians such as Jaya, Mayawati, Sonia, etc. in place of Tania Devereaux. It’s your own damned sick fantasy, so you deal with it.