Thursday, April 01, 2010

Please Wake Up!

It is disgusting to note that Bangalore recorded dismal voting percentage yet again. This time it was the BBMP elections and the voting percentage was less than 45%. Even more disgusting is the fact that it is mainly the educated lot which didn't vote. Such performance even after many NGO, RWAs and even the government trying their best to encourage voting! I know a personal friend who has dedicated so much time and energy in encouraging people to vote and I can gauge his disappointment and frustration.

Do these people who don't vote understand how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that polling is peaceful and successful. My mother in law is a lecturer and she often goes for poll duty. She rued the fact that it took her 2 hours to reach her designated booth last Sunday and to her dismay the turnout was miserable. Her effort has meaning only when people turn up to vote.

Or do these educated, yet ignorant people understand the consequence of not voting? The other section which votes regularly doesn't always vote for the right reasons. Consequently, the wrong people (often thugs, rowdies, caste leaders, rich businessmen with self interests, etc) get elected.

I am at a loss trying to understand why people dont vote. It cant be lack of time. I hardly spent 5 minutes at the voting booth. The election commission has done a remarkable job to ensure that there are enough polling booths so that we dont have to wait in long queues.

Is it the lack of interest? Or simply apathy? In either of these cases, I ask - What do we lose by voting? At the max, 30 minutes of our weekend. We can surely afford to forgo this time for a noble cause once in a while. Also, the person who doesn't vote, loses the moral right to speak anything against this city, state or country and its elected representatives.

I think it is high time we make voting a fundamental part of our life, just like eating or breathing. The elders in the house, I feel, play an important role here. They must educate the younger generation about the importance of voting.

Each of us should understand that every vote counts and even one vote (or the lack of it), can make a huge difference.

Its high time we wake up!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Friend Raj - A short story

I recently met my dear friend Raj after quite sometime. He had requested the meeting and when we met, I could clearly see that he was troubled.

After few minutes of niceties, I asked Raj why he looked worried. He twitched for a moment. With a sad face, Raj started telling his problem.

"Last week, I had a performance review in my office. My manager told that I was a good performer. Naturally, I asked him why I was not rated excellent even after a superior performance.

My manager simply asked me whether I was passionate about my work. I was angered. I rattled out all my achievements. I eloquently described how I bettered others.

My manager repeated his question. I tried to tell something, but kept quite. After a while, he agreed that I had performed exceedingly well for the current year. But then, he asked me about the future and if I had the passion and the vision to take me to the next level? He told that if I was given a task, I could perform it well. However, I have never ever tried to do something on my own. He claimed that these are the things necessary for getting an excellent rating."

"Oh, work related." I exclaimed, relieved that it was nothing major. "Its terrible maga. I am worried", Raj said somberly.

I egged him to continue.

Raj started again - "While returning home, I asked the same questions to myself. Am I passionate about my work? Instant answer is a loud No.

Next question - So, what are you passionate about which you can turn into a career? Answer - Umm, not sure. Rather, don't know!

The corollary, therefore, is I can never excel or succeed! All of what my manager had said was true!"

I was amused at Raj's naivety. I said "Wow sisya!! How could you get convinced so easily? You know, managers are paid to utter stuff like this."

Raj disagreed. He said that he concurred with his manager's assessment. I then asked pointedly, "Raj, why then did you take up CS? Weren't you aware of this before?"

Raj sighed. "I wish I knew. Though I cant claim that I was pushed into computer engineering, it was not my choice. My uncle was by far the most well read and refined person in our household. Invariably, I regarded him as my role model from childhood. I was an above average student and hence, my uncle also showed keen interest in my studies.

In school and pre degree, my interests were literature and sports (especially cricket). I topped in both Kannada and English and had excellent command over the language. In addition, I was highly influenced by my physics teacher in pre degree and developed a keen interest in astrophysics.

I told my uncle that I wanted to study physics. However, he discouraged me. He said that science graduates were struggling to get jobs and that computer engineering was the hot thing. It would ensure that I get a decent job. He reminded me of my lower middle class background and my dependent parents. I understood that there was no use talking about my other interest - literature. That was no money spinner either.

I wrote the entrance exam, got a good rank and got admitted to a top engineering college. In college, I was obviously an average student. However, due to the extreme demand for software engineers, I landed a job.

But the question which lurks at me like a giant ghost is - Can I survive here for all of my work life? Our product VP once warned that software engineers have just 10 more years of fun. After that, we will in no way be cost effective and only competence matters.", he uttered. His last few words were barely audible as he was trying to control his emotion.

I knew half of what Raj told since I was his engineering classmate. However, I didn't want to interrupt him. I also concurred with Raj that the fun days for computer professionals were numbered. Reality would dawn upon us, sooner or later. But I thought it was a natural transformation in any industry. Raj, for one, believed he couldn't adjust.

I tried in vain to talk him up. It was as if he had concluded that he was in the wrong place. Clearly, my friend was struggling. I finally asked him - "So Raj, what do you have in mind for the future?"

Raj looked lost. He gazed at the evening sun for a long while. Then he said "I am not sure Abhi. I cant afford to lose the money I am making here. You know that I am the only bread winner in my house. At the same time, I am dying of suffocation each day. I don't know what I am good at. I don't know what my passion is. I have forgotten my interests due to tremendous amount of apathy over a long time. Man, life in middle class is cruel!"

I didn't know how to console Raj. Though initially I wished his role model was someone who knew better, later I felt that the person had Raj's larger interests in mind. We were silent for a long time.

"Cheer up buddy! Start making a conscious effort to renew your passion. If not as a career, at least as a hobby. It will help relieve your stress.", was all I managed.

Raj got up to leave. He said "I really hope I can start something before I go mad."

I hugged him warmly and wished him good luck. As I rode back home, I prayed God to show Raj the way. He desperately needed it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ending 2009 on a sad note

The last week of 2009 (and of this decade) is proving to be an extremely painful week for Kannadigas.

First, we lost C. Ashwath, a great singer and music composer who made "Sugama Sangeetha" a household name. Ashwath ensured that hundreds of poems written by various poets reaches the common man which otherwise would have remained only in books. C. Ashwath is most famous for composing music for Santha Shishunala Sharif's poems. Ashwath's high energy singing was very very contagious. My wife, who was lucky to have attended one of his concerts, remembered that when Ashwath sang, everyone had goosebumps. Some of his best ever compositions include - "Subba bhattara magale", "Badavanaadarenu Priye", "Kodagana Koli Nungitha", "Gupthagaamini", "Bangaara Teera kadalaache", "Shravana banthu naadige" and many, many more. Ashwath's versatile singing was evident in the song "Kechalo Machalo" from the movie Kariya which is one of the most youthful songs in Kannada.

I am sure that C. Ashwath's amazing rendition of "Taravalla Tegi Ninna Tamboori Swara" will remain with us forever. May the great soul rest in peace.

Just when we were all recovering from one big jolt, Kannadigas were hit by a lightening -- Sahasa Simha Dr Vishnuvardhan's untimely and tragic demise. Vishnuvardhan stormed the kannada film industry with a stunning performance as the protagonist in "Nagara Haavu". He won the best actor award for that movie. After this, Vishnu never looked back. Delivering hit after hit, Vishnu reached a stature next only to Dr. Rajkumar. In fact, Dr. Raj and Vishnu were regarded as the two shining stars of the Kannada film industry. It is unfortunate that the two acted together in just one movie - "Gandada Gudi".

Some of the star's hits were "Nagara Haavu", "Bhoothayana Maga Ayyu", "Guru Sishyaru", "Sahasa Simha", "Jayasimha", "Hombisilu", "Malaya Marutha", "Mathe Hadithu Kogile", "Veerappa Nayaka" and many more. In fact, the two biggest hits came pretty late in his sparkling career of over 3 decades. Both "Yajamaana" and "Aptha Mitra" smashed all records for collection prevailing during that time.

Can anyone forget "Bandhana" where Vishnu portrays a heart broken lover? Or "Muthina Haara" where he excelled as an army major? Or the action flick "Kotigobba" where he is a don in disguise? Or the thriller "Nishkarsha" where he leads an operation against deadly terrorists who have held a bank hostage? Or his heart rending performance in "Karna" where the hero donates his kidney in order to raise money for his sister's marriage? Or the freedom fighter's role in "Veerappa Nayaka"? Or "Maathaad Maathaad Mallige" in which Dr. Vishnu fights the bad forces through Gandhian style satyagraha?

These performances ensure that Dr. Vishnu will live with us forever. His last released movie was "Bellary Naaga". Everyone was keenly anticipating his next film "Aptha Rakshaka" which is dubbed to be the sequel of the super hit "Aptha Mithra". Vishnuvardhan was also keenly hoping that "Aaptha Rakshaka" would provide him the commercial success which had eluded him of late.

Even though Dr. Vishnuvardhan reached super stardom, he remained an extremely humble and a very friendly person. He always had a smile on his face. He had keen interest in philosophy and spirituality.

One of his songs instantly comes to my mind - "Ee Bhoomi Bannada buguri, aa shivane chaati kano; ee baalu sundara nagari, neenidara meti kano; ninthaaga buguriya aata, ellaru onde ota; kaala kshanika kano". The song is from the not so successful movie "Maha Kshatriya". It translates into something like this - "This world is a coloured top and the lord is the spinner; This life is a beautiful town, you are the architect; when the top stops spinning, its just one race..."

Truely, Dr. Vishnuvardhan is a "Kotigobba" (One in a million). May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In search of topics to blog...

Its been a month since I wrote something. So, my mind was always on the prowl in search of blog matter :-)

There are so many things happening around the world. However, none of it is anything new.

Take the Copenhagen climate summit for example - The hype given to it by the media was unprecedented. However, as usual, the talks are heading nowhere. The rich countries don't want to pay for their earlier misdeeds while the rest of the world is hell bent on committing the same mistakes. The bottom line - Global warming and climate change deserves only lip sympathy.

Next on my list is the Telengana issue. I have lost count of the number of times the Congress Party has hit the khuladi on its own leg (Apne hi paav par khuladi maarna). This time, its on the brink of losing its government in Andhra Pradesh. Poor Mr Rossiah.

Next is Tiger Woods. Looks like he is a serious competition to Bill Clinton. Poor fellow was enjoying the best of all worlds till a few days back. Unfortunately, his luck ran out. But if everything written about him is true, he was living a dream life :D

There you go. Hopefully, I will have something meaningful to write next time around :-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Austerity - A mere buzz word

Of late, "Austerity" has been the buzz word in government circles. Our central government, the Finance Minister in particular, has been trying to introduce various measures which cut unnecessary government expenditure. These steps include - ministers flying economy class, staying in official residences, etc.

Even with all these in place, the FM must realise that the government is doing precious little to save costs. The money which elected representatives make would envy any businessman/CEO in the world. In addition, they enjoy many perks including exorbitant DA, TA, telephone allowance, etc etc. Add to this, the yearly MPLAD and MLALAD funds which the representatives must ideally use for development works in their constituency. How much of this reaches the people who faithfully elected them is a million dollar question.

All of this is legal money. One can only wonder what is the illegal wealth which each one has amassed.

The latest slap on the face of austerity is by our Karnataka's ministers. Not surprisingly, our CM is leading from the fore front. He has spent 2 crores to renovate his official bungalow and a mind blowing 35 lacs to renovate just one bedroom!! Other ministers have spent anywhere between 10 lac and 80 lacs for their house renovation. And mind you, all these are official bungalows which they need to vacate when they lose power. The next person will redo everything according to his whims by spending an even higher amount of money. I feel sick when I realise that the money these people spend belongs to tax payers like us, who struggle all our life to have a decent livable house.

I can only wonder about the audacity of our politicians who are spending crores on frivolous reasons when lakhs of people are suffering due to floods in north karnataka. No wonder politics is the profession of choice for many people, today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Indian cricket team selection - The joke never ends!

Today, the selection committee announced Indian cricket team for the forth coming seven match ODI series against Australia. As has been the tradition, the selectors have again made a joke of themselves. This time and not for the 1st time, the scapegoat is Rahul Dravid.

Just a couple of months back, the K. Srikkanth led selection committee had recalled Dravid into the ODI fold for Champions trophy after nearly 2 years in oblivion. The explanation given at that time was that Dravid's technique and temperament was essential in South Africa against a battery of fast bowlers. He was to be the linchpin of a floundering middle order. At that time everyone in the echelons of power in BCCI were waxing eloquent about Dravid's excellent batting ability and class. Its another matter that the same BCCI had done the grave mistake of ignoring Dravid for almost 2 years.

Dravid justified his selection. He scored 180 runs in the 6 matches that he played (Compaq Cup and CT) at an average of 36. He was in fact the top scorer for India in the champions trophy. It was not an extraordinary performance, but what else can be expected from a person coming out of a 2 year rut.

Now when Dravid was looking good for a couple more years of ODI cricket, he has been sacked. The explanation being offered now is that youngsters should be given a chance. One really cannot understand the logic behind this move. The very reason of including Dravid was to improve our middle order against fast bowling. Has our batting become so strong in just 2 months that we will be able to face the Australian fast bowlers. Agreed, we are playing at home. But there are a zillion instances of our team struggling against fast bowling even at home.

Its really a shame that a legend like Rahul Dravid has been subjected to such humility by the BCCI. No one can question Dravid's contribution and commitment to Indian cricket. He has scored more than 10000 runs in both forms of the game and has been the mainstay of our batting for more than a decade. He has been an excellent and a dignified sportsman - a great ambassador for Indian cricket.

I fully acknowledge the fact that we need to groom youngsters. Obviously the seniors cannot go on for ever and we need to nourish our bench strength. However, that doesn't explain the now on and now off stand taken by the BCCI. The BCCI will have to understand that it cannot treat the senior cricketers in such a shabby manner.

I really hope that the BCCI corrects its mistake and take back Dravid into the ODI side as soon as possible. He is still hungry for runs and his fans like me are hungry to watch him in action. After all, we are not playing many test matches, are we.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

An Appeal to our Chief Minister Mr B.S Yeddyurappa

Its strange how the climate changes so fast. Till a few days back, Karnataka (and our entire country, for that matter) was in drought. Now, North Karnataka and Andhra are ravaged by floods!

North Karnataka has the distinction of bearing the brunt of nature's fury on either extreme.

The situation is very grim. Hundreds of lives have been lost. Lakhs of people have been rendered homeless. Infrastructure - bridges, buildings, roads - worth crores of rupees - has been washed away.

The state government has started the relief and rehabilitation work in the right earnest. Displaced people have been accommodated in various shelters. Food and medical relief is being provided to them. The chief minister himself is on the ground coordinating relief work. However, the disaster is of such great magnitude that it has affected 1.8 crore people in almost 1500 villages. Rebuilding the lives of so many people is not a small task and the money needed is enormous.

Naturally, the state government has appealed to the centre for aid. Knowing the fact that central aid will take its own sweet time, our Chief Minister has also appealed to the general public to donate liberally to the CM's relief fund.

In fact, the CM will kick off a rally in Bangalore to collect funds. He has also specifically appealed to the industrialists to donate liberally. He has also ordered all state government employees to contribute one day's pay towards flood relief. I am personally glad that the state government is so proactive in ensuring that the relief work doesn't get hampered due to lack of funds. However, our chief minister must understand that money collected is only half work done.

There are enough kind hearted people, philanthropists, noble organisations in our country who readily donate in such times of crisis. However, they all have second thoughts for only one reason. The money they donate with such good intentions should reach the final beneficiary in totality. It should not be siphoned off by middlemen, local politicians and corrupt government officials.

So, Mr CM, here is my appeal. While appealing for donations, assure people that the collected funds will reach the beneficiary without any pilferage. Follow up this assurance with results on the ground - Account for every rupee collected. Spend the collected money to bring succor to the millions of flood affected victims.

When this is ensured, Mr CM, donations will flood your relief fund. Also, you would have earned the people's goodwill which will take you a long way.