Day 94/ 365 – Satyamev Jayate

So after the grand success last year, Satyamev Jayate is back once again this year. Just like last year, the show attempts to highlight the problems which India is facing and just like last year the show will not offer any solutions to any of the problems India is facing. May be the aim of the show is to only highlight the problems India is facing and how badly those problems are affecting the people of this country. However, if that is only aim of this show then I am not sure why viewer like myself and most urban viewers should even watch this show. I mean, we are already aware of most of the problems which this country is facing. May be in some parts of the country, the problem is more severe than others, but the problems are the same. My main issue with the show is that it does not offer any workable solutions which can be implemented or for the solutions it does offer, there is no follow up on if those solutions have been implemented or how they have been faring in the areas where they have been implemented.

Take for example, the show which was broadcasted today, it covered the sensitive topic of rape in India and how nothing has changed since the Nirbhaya rape incident in Delhi.  The show covered, how the rape victims face hurdle at the police stations while registering the complaint for rape, how the hospitals are not really very helpful, how many rape cases are pending in the judiciary and the how the judiciary is very slow in responding to cases which have been registered. I think most Indians are very well aware about these problems. I dont think we need an Aamir Khan to come on a Sunday and tell us the same thing. May be if Aamir Khan was to come and provide a solution which he and his team had worked out with the local authorities, I would still watch this show. However, as of right now this show is nothing more than news hour focusing on just one show. If I have to watch a news show, I would rather prefer watching Arnab or any news channel to watch the same issues.

I know my views on this subject are different compared to a lot of people out there and I know I am going to get a lot of brickbats for this post. However, I stick to my views on this topic – I don’t need a show to tell me what the problems are – we know what they are. What we need to know is how do we resolve those problems and make this country a better place to be.


Day 92/365 – No return policy

Getting used to a new technology can sometimes be a very challenging task. We are used to operating our phones in our own unique manner and if we have been using the same handset for a very long time, getting used to a new handset can be quite a challenge. We encountered this challenge yesterday, when we upgraded my wife’s phone from Nokia to Samsung Grand 2.  My wife is one of the very few people who does not like using qwerty keyboard and prefers a 4×3 keyboard. The new phone does not have the option of 4×3 keyboard, while there may be some apps available to address this issue, but most of such apps do send out data to their servers and she is not comfortable sharing that information. We went to the Samsung store today and asked them if we could return the phone. They told us that while they can buy it back, we would only get 75% of what we originally paid. So what do we do? In India – nothing. If this was US or UK, the clear answer would have been to return the phone and get the phone which gives you the required feature. The return policy in US for electronic items is very clear – the items can be returned within 30 days of buying, of course, the items need to be working condition. This not only allows the user to test the product and determine if he is comfortable using the product and all features work as expected. One thing to definitely keep in mind though is the markets in the US/ UK are much more matured and the process of dealing with returns is also well defined. However, in India there is no such return policy and once you have purchased an electronic item, there is no way for you to return it unless the product stops working within the guarantee period – and there is no guarantee that the item would be replaced.

There is clearly a need to introduce some sort of the return policy in India too – however, the probability of the policy getting misused is very high and thus companies have been avoiding it. But until those policies do come into existence, consumers like my wife are stuck with products which we are not comfortable using. 




Day 81/ 365 – Will the Indian Bowlers please stand up?

Just been extremely disappointed with the current performance of the Indian bowlers. I can’t recollect in any of the recent matches where we have conceded less than 300 runs while bowling first (today being an exception, since NZ only had 280 runs to win), putting tremendous on our batsmen. It seems they cant figure out where to bowl and I am not sure if anyone is even guiding them. If yes, then they dont seem to be implementing that guidance. I cant figure out for the love of God, why is Ishant Sharma still getting selected in the one day team. He really needs to figure out how to bowl, because sometimes it seems that he is absolutely clueless on what to bowl and where to bowl. Only one fast bowler seems like doing a reasonable job and that it seems to Mohd. Shami, however, it seems that he has taken over Ishant’s mantle of bowling wayward in the last couple of games. Bhuvneshwar Kumar does not have the pace without the swing is not a threat at all. On these pitches in the upcoming World Cup, I am not sure how useful he is going to be. What we need is someone who is out and out fast, someone like Mitchell Johnson or a Dale Steyn who even on a bad day are able to scare some batsmen and get wickets. I cant understand why we never have those types of bowlers. I mean we have one of the best pace academies of the world and yet don’t produce a world class genuine fast bowler.

The positives that I see is that we have exactly one year  to rectify all these issues. The wickets in Australia and New Zealand don’t have a lot of swing, but have a lot of bounce and carry and we need to have bowlers who are able to use that. I think this defeat should act as an eye opener for the Indian team and hopefully they get their act together. If not, it is going to be a very bad World Cup for us and we will end up losing the title of World Champions.

Day 23/ 365 – Mission to Mars

Yesterday India launched a satellite probe to Mars – first of its kind for India and on shoestring budget of Rs. 450 crore (equivalent to $73 million – less than some of the movie budgets and definitely less than the transfer fee paid by Real Madrid for Gareth Bale) and within 15 months of Government approval. If probe manages to reach Mars, it would be the first from an Asian country and put ISRO at par with NASA, European Space Agency. This is quite an achievement by ISRO. After the launch news was announced, I spent some time going through Reddit to see what the reaction of the users was. I was anticipating a lot of racist comments and a lot of comments about how this money could be used to eliminate poverty etc and to be honest I was right. The initial reaction of the Reddit crowd was very negative, however, slowly and steadily a lot of positive comments were sent across by the users which was really heartwarming to see. Lately India has became very popular among the Western world for the amount of rapes which take place and how women are being harassed and generally all things negative. Anything positive that India does also tends to get drowned out by the negative voices. So I was glad this feat got applauded by the community .

I would consider the entire achievement as a lesson in frugal engineering. I think we are the masters when it comes to frugal engineering. Ask any FMCG company or any healthcare provider and they would readily acknowledge this fact. Considering the amount of poverty that we have in India, a lot of companies have come up with ways to reduce manufacturing cost to ensure that the production costs are kept to the minimum which turn keeps the overall cost low, else people aren’t going to buy it. Same thing is applicable for the healthcare industry, a lot of low cost solutions have been devised to ensure that treatment is provided to people at affordable prices and at good quality. We have already seen a lot of citizens from the Western world come to India and get treated at a relatively cheaper cost than back home. I think the world can learn a lot from India as far as frugal engineering goes. May be one day they will.

Mars probe liftoff
Mars probe liftoff

Day 15/ 365 – Bowlers bowled out

So we saw another high scoring game on Wednesday between India and Australia. While India did manage to win, it makes me wonder how the new ODI rules are simply making bowlers irrelevant especially in India where the outfields are superfast, grounds smaller and pitches are a batting paradise. The entire game has been made very lopsided. Earlier, I used to think that the Indian bowlers have lost their mojo, but now I think it is just that they don’t stand a chance against these rules. Reverse swing is a crucial asset for a bowler, especially in dry conditions. But with the two new balls and ball change at 35 overs mark, that advantage has also been taken away. Meanwhile the batsmen have everything going for them. Broader bats, smaller grounds, one less fielder in the outfield – nothing to stop them. If we observe the changes that have been introduced in the game of one day cricket over the last 20 years – most of the changes have been made to make cricket more entertaining – whereby losing the aesthetic value of the game. First came the 15 over rule, which was then extended to 20 overs and has now been reduced to 15 overs again – where in 2 fielders and now 3 can remain outside the circle during this period. Earlier, you could have fielders anywhere and it wouldn’t matter. This gave rise to the batsmen like Jayasuriya, Kaluwitharna from Sri Lanka, Adam Gilchrist, Sachin Tendulkar – the list is endless. Not sure if the bowlers got anything in return. Then the smart men managing cricket decided to come up with a interesting change of allowing 2 bouncers in an over – while this did help bowlers to some extent. Bowling bouncers on Indian pitches is some kind of a joke as the ball sits up nicely to be hit. So the smart men thought.. what else can we do to make it more spicy – right lets now play with 2 new balls at either end and reduce one more fielder from the outfield. So that basically makes bowlers even more handicapped. The truth is – cricket grounds in India have been turned into a slaughter house for bowlers (ours and theirs).

I am not sure how many youngsters out there would really want to take up bowling. What role models do they have? There was Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, and Zaheer Khan. Who do we have now? I am sure no kid would want to look at Ishant Sharma and be like I want to bowl like him after seeing get whacked for 30 runs in an over. I believe the pitches in this country need to be changed drastically to ensure that our bowlers get a chance to perform, else the rules need to be changed. I completely agree with MSD that in these conditions the bowlers would prefer a bowling machine then them throwing the ball.  There is nothing more awesome than seeing a fast bowler run charging in and send thunderbolts at the batsmen who is ducking, weaving, leaving good balls and punishing the bad ones. But when the good ones start going over and above the boundary rope very frequently, something needs to be changed or very soon we would have ODI’s being played as 4 innings T20 game and that would be a serious blow to cricket.

How have we become like this?

Today me and my colleagues were having a very interesting conversation in the cafeteria. The topic was “How have we become like this”? Considering the fact that we got independence in the year 1947 and since then how as a society we have become more and more corrupt. We compared the corruption levels in India to other countries and realized that we are probably worst of the lot and were left wondering where did we go wrong? Is corruption so imbibed in us that we will never change? Or have we started to see some change in the society? During the conversation, we tried to identify the beginnings of India being corrupt. We agreed that we were corrupt since the time India was ruled by many kingdoms. During those times, there were constant fights between two kingdoms with one wanting to establish supremacy over the other and obtain the resources of the other kingdom. During those times, allies would have been paid fees to fight and thus quite a lot of money would be exchanged. Some of it would be exchanged to return a favor, some to get certain work done etc. We felt this how corruption got its roots in India. Greed – was the root cause of corruption.

There is corruption in all the countries, but not to the extent that we have in India. The reason we felt was lack of implementation of laws. While we have laws, we do not have the will to implement the law, thus allowing people to get away with corruption. Once people stop fearing the law, it becomes a way of life and that’s what we are seeing today. Every one from the top to bottom goes scot free even though they would have broken a thousand laws or would be involved in scams worth billions of rupees. In developed countries, people don’t get away. Law is applied equally and hence everyone fears committing a crime or being corrupt.  We don’t have equality in our laws and thus we end up creating more problems rather than solving them.

While there are always a few people who are fighting for the right thing, people in general need to awake and move towards changing their behavior. Even a person accepting a bribe is successful when someone pays him. If we don’t pay, chances are people won’t ask. I believe if we have the strength to apply laws with equality and speed up the judiciary process, we should be able to move towards a better society.