# Vantage point

## Saturday, June 28, 2003

MOIST SLATE

When I was about 10 years old, Maths was my favourite subject. I would love practising it by solving as many sums as possible. However, no rainforests were hurt for my maths practice. My parents told me to employ the good ole paati pencil method to solve these sums. This means that I used a small rectangular slate and a chalk.

My "maths kit" consisted of this black slate, a few thin white chalk-pencils, and a dustrag to wipe the slate clean. The usual routine adopted was that I would solve the sums on the slate, then wipe the writing off with a dry dustrag, and start over again. Since I used a dry dustrag, and since a slate is no blackboard, remnants of the chalk would remain. The slate would not be clean black as before, but greyish.

As I did this over and over again, the slate would become dark-grey and it would become difficult for me to read what I had written. many times a 5 would seem like a 3, or vice versa, and I would make a silly mistake in solving the sums. My efficiency, accuracy and technique were compromised by this haziness of the slate.

Then what I would do was dip the dustrag in water, and wipe the slate with it. The water would wash off all the chalk particles and the slate would be sparkling black again. I would then let it dry for a couple of minutes and admire the smooth and clean black surface, as compared to the shabby grey slate, because of dry wiping.

When I started doing the sums again on the shiny black slate, there would not be any mistakes, but it felt as if I was making a new powerful beginning without any mistakes.

## Friday, June 27, 2003

WHO REPEALED THAT LAW?? PART 2 or MATRIX ENERGISED???

I saw Matrix Reloaded.....but I want to talk about something that has been bothering me since I saw the first part of the movie. This whole "fields of humans" concept which is the basic reason for designing the matrix in the first place. At first sight it seems inconsistent with the Law of Conservation of energy. Analyse it carefully and you can think up scenarios to somehow rationalise it, but it still seems untenable.

This is what Morpheus says to Neo while explaining the matrix -

Without the sun, the machines sought out a new energy source to survive. The human body generates more bio-electricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 B.T.U.'s of body heat. Combined with a form of fusion, the machines had found all the energy they would ever need.

It is shown that the dead are liquefied and fed to the living humans intravenously.......now with such a low level energy input, will the body still produce 25,000 BTUs? And how long will they be able to feed the dead? Even in the most passive form, the energy requirements of a human body are considerable. We will need many dead bodies to be fed intravenously. This means that the number of people dying will have to be a lot more than the number of people living. If not then this closed system of "human fields" will have to be fed some extra energy from the outside. If the system needs extra mass/energy to be provided from outside, then it is not a "source" of energy, but merely a way to convert some other energy input into electricity. Now with technology as superior as the machines seem to possess, it would surely be conceivable to design a more efficient way of producing electricity for the fusion than a field of human bodies.

Now again, about the ambiguously mentioned "form of fusion". I would like to know more about this "form of fusion". Without this fusion, the whole idea seems wrong even in theory. If the sun has been shut out of the "system" then how will any new energy enter the system? It can happen only through fusion, the same method by which the sun produces energy.

Now even in fusion, mass is converted to energy, so surely the total number of mass in the earth "system" will keep decreasing, albeit at a very gradual rate.

WHO REPEALED THAT LAW?? PART 1 or INVERTED LOGIC

I am talking about the Law of Conservation of Energy. I have made two obervations at two different levels which make me wonder if people are even aware of such a law.

The first observation is about the whole inverter issue. For the uninitiated, many parts of India suffer from power shortage due to which the local Electricity Boards, mostly run by the government, have to employ a method known as load-shedding. This means that they shut off the power for some hours. This duration varies from 6 hours a week in Maharashtra, to 8 hours a day in Madhya Pradesh. There are regions where the situation is even worse.

Now very often, you are working on a computer, or are using a machine that will be damaged without a proper shutdown. There are industries which need to keep production going at all times. To solve such problems, we have generators, UPS' and inverters. So if you are working on a very important project on your computer, the UPS will keep it working for a fixed time until you can save the file, and shut it down properly. Many industries work round the clock thanks to gen-sets.

However a recent trend has been to purchase inverters that are available at a very affordable price these days. People buy inverters that can work for upto 6 hours, in case of a power failure. So whenever there is load shedding, the inverters keep the electricity in their houses flowing. How nice and convenient.

But if the root cause of the problem is insufficient electrical energy, how the hell will an inverter solve the problem? After all you connect the inverter to your main line, right? What happens as a result is that you are not really shedding any load during the load shedding. You are just saving up extra energy and then using it up. Right now very few people have bought inverters. But the prices are falling and very soon at least half the households will have such inverters. Then the electricity boards will realise that the load shedding is not having any effect at all.

See what I mean? An inverter is just a short term solution, which may even end up compounding the situation. It is not like a generator. In a generator, the source of energy is external. You pour diesel in it and the thermal energy gets converted to electricity. So you are adding to the energy that your electricity board produces and so are not burdening during load shedding. But the inverter gets electrical energy from the board.

It is like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!!

Have started working out again. It is good to work out in the IIML gym. It has all the facilities without the crowds that one encountered in the Chaitanya Health Club back home.

One thing that is missing here is the "Puny Expert". We had one such guy in Chaitanya. He was an old man, at least 70 years old, but was very Dev-Anandish...by that i mean he didn't accept his old age. That ain't a bad thing as long as you dont start paining other people. This guy did that. He would get all huff-puff-huff-puff after benchpressing even 10 Kgs, and yet he strutted around the gym, dispensing advice to everyone but the gym instructor.

He was a funny little fella really. Would not be weighing more than 50 kgs, but spoke as if he and Charles Atlas worked out together in the 50s. I suppose every gym has these self appointed experts, who teach others stuff that they themselves haven't the foggiest about.

Reminds me of a story by Munshi Premchand....I can't recall the name though, maybe someone can help me out here. It is about the elder brother of the narrator who always has this didactic approach towards him. He is scolding him at all times about how he should study sincerely and not waste time etc. When the story starts the elder bro is in 9th and younger one is in 6th. By the time the story ends, the elder bro has flunked so many times, he is still in 9th but the narrator is in 10th.

And yet the elder bro keeps scolding him about studies.

:-)

## Monday, June 23, 2003

This post is regarding Pushkar's recent blog post.

Politics is supposedly the last refuge of scoundrels. These scoundrels succeed in politics only on the basis of their guile, their cunning, or basically their ability to delude people into falling in line with the rhetoric they throw up. A couple of days ago I pasted an excerpt from Orwell's 1984 to show how superbly American politicians (mainly Republicans) have succeeded in giving a slip to key issues by whipping up certain sentiments, the most useful one being patriotism.

This intense opposition to India-Pakistan cricketing ties is a manifestation of the a similar successful tactic of the Indian government.

The standard line is "Our armymen are being killed by Pakistanis and you want us to play cricket with them?". Such propagandist spin works only when dirven by the fire of pseudo-patriotism. Some people feel as if they have patented patriotism and their definition of the concept will be applied everywhere. So be it America or India, or any other country, the most illogical smokescreen-like arguments can be passed of in the name of patriotism.

Let us examine the facets of this issue one by one.

Firstly, how exactly are we helping our country's cause by not playing bilateral cricket with them? If we have such a major peeve, why don't we break off all sporting ties? Why is it okay to play hockey with them in a tri-nation tourney in Australia, but not OK to play in a tri-nation cricket tourney with them in Morocco or Toronto? For that matter, why did we play the World Cup match with them? The message one gets from this is "yeah we really care about our armymen, good we dont play Pak....oh what did you say, World Cup? Why, it just comes once every 4 years and is multilateral. Come on, let's go watch the match....armymen? They'll watch the match too, right?....."

The Vajpayee government would have us believe this is "principled" foreign policy. B-u-l-l-s-h-i-t!!! The same government that ignored the sacrifices made by the armed forces in capturing terrorists, by escorting those fellas to Kandahar during the 1999 hijacking? The same government whose Defence Minister resigned after charges of corruption in Arms deals......sanctimoniously claimed that he would wait to be absolved by a commission of enquiry.....but was reinstalled even ebfore the enquiry's report came? Of all the governments we have had, this one has the shakiest record in terms of "patriotism".......but of course, not according to their patented definition of the concept.

I am not against using sports as a political weapon. But I do find it incredibly stupid if this use is misconstrued by some as an extremely patriotic pr principle-based move. India had a principle-based policy some decades ago. This was when we forfeited the 1975 Davis Cup finals(imagine, FINALS!!!), beacuse that would have meant playing an apartheid-ridden South Africa. Does our government have the guts to prevent India from playing Pakistan in the World Cup.....or if we had ended up in the finals together?

There is a line of argument that goes "Why help pakistan make money through cricket?". If these people hate Pakistan so much, why don't they rally against the Most favoured Nation (MFN) status we have given to Pakistan? Why don't they burn all the pirated 'sadaf' CDs of Pakistani origin which are causing a big dent in the revenues of Bollywood and filling Pakistani coffers? Why don't they see that Pakistan made money even in the recent hockey tournament?

Another argument is "Pakistanis treat it like Jihad, so we shouldnt play them". What?????? How does it matter to us how they treat it? I am not saying call it a "Friendsip Series" and hug them before every match. Treat it like sports, in a calm dispassionate manner. Let them do what they want. Our players have shown themselves good enough to take on these so called flannel-jihadis.

Politics is a dirty business. That is what they do. But educated people like you and me should have more sense than to be fooled by their jingoistic rhetoric. Not playing bilateral cricket is a smokescreen used to evade the real issues. Just like the Shivsena and the whole "Mumbai-Bombay" issue or the BJP with its Ram Mandir issue. Their utility is to divert the attention of the masses from the real issue at hand. Thackeray, Advani, Vajpayee et al could do a PhD on this skill.

They feed the pseudo-ego in the desktop or cohc-top patriots. We feel as if we are doing some great thing by opposing cricketing ties. Are we deluded or what?

Our armymen watched the 1st March World Cup encounter with as much glee as we did. they did not say "Hmpf, they send terrorists here, we ain't watching the match." Everyone saw the match, despite their holier than thou attitudes. Why?

Because people want to watch an India-Pakistan match. And what people want, should be given to them. No one has the right to dictate morality in a demcracy. The problem with Pakistan needs to be dealt with as well.....but freeing terrorists, announcing 6 month long unilateral ceasefires, re-installing a corrupt man as a Defence Minister, stationing the entire Army at high alert on the border for one year and pulling it back without any tangible achievements does not seem to be the best way to go about it.

But apparently cutting off bilateral cricket ties is either a brilliant strategy or some grand patriotic gesture to our Armed Services!!!!

Whoever said that coercion never pays must read Satyen's recently updated blog.

## Sunday, June 22, 2003

If you've been reading the good blogs, then you definitely must have read Pushkar's blog over the past few days and noticing the high entomological content in his posts. Can't blame the guy really, because bugs have come out by the millions since it started raining here last week. In fact there are more bugs here than in all my C++ programs during the engineering days combined.

I have accepted their existence in a very philosophical way. I believe it is their duty to infest this earth and it is my duty to kill them in the most efficient way possible. The bugs and I have reached an understanding similar to Buffy and those vampires who keep popping out of the woodwork for a 2-min job, wherein they make repulsive faces before kicking the blood bucket. Yesterday, Sunil said he had killed at least 100 insects in one day, no exaggeration. Now that makes me insecure, much the same way Buffy would feel if another vampire slayer started outperforming her (dunno if that's ever happened, regular watchers of the series confirm). I have to start practising my side-swat, top-swat and backhand-swat. I must also brush up on my overhead-stomp, wall-crunching stomp, and sideways stomp. There are a few other moves in my arsenal I need to practise but I can't disclose them because I haven't taken a patent yet.

So Sunil, I shall be back in contention. You and I will have a bug-headcount competition, just like Gimli and Legolas had one about the orcs they slayed.

By the way, one new feature of the insectdom in IIML this year, which was absent last year. You know crickets? In marathi, they are called "ratkeedey", which means "night insects", for that is the time they kiss their wives and kids goodbye and get down to business....i.e. start making that irritating noise. However this year, I think a huge delegation of crickets has come here from the United States, possibly to pass sanctimonious judgement on the protection of insect rights in India or to teach us about insect hygiene....maybe even flush out (oops) insect members of the Al Qaida. Whatever the reason for their visit, they are here and their body clocks are still running on EST/PST/MST....whatever the hell those time zones are.

The nub of the matter is that they start their crickety noises in the morning, at about 9 a.m., and this goes on until 6 in the evening. As soon as darkness falls, they pack up their equipment and head back to their hotels for a snooze. So we have crickets that go about their work during the days instead of nights.

Such are the idiosyncracies of the bug world.

Back to black!

I have decided to revert back to my old black template for the time being. The people I outsourced the design selection to are busy for the next week. And the stopgap arrangement I put in place makes me do a 'Kramer'....as someone put it......everytime the page loads.

So ole Calvin's back!

Chhalte Chhalte (not Chalte Chalte!!)

Take 1 kilo Saathiya. Smash it into a pulp so that all the realism, taste or class evaporates and you are just left with the skeleton of the story.
Then take 2 kilos Raja Hindustani......no need to smash it, it is already classless, unreal and tasteless......and then mix it with the smashed Saathiya.
Add a sprinkle of Raju Ban gaya Gentleman.
Let the concoction cook for about a year or so.

In the end you get an insipid dish which is called 'Chhalte Chhalte'....that translates as "While torturing". Since you want people to come and watch it, drop an 'h' each and make it 'Chalte Chalte' which means "While walking".

Arrrrrrrrrghhhhh. There's 3 hours of my life I ain't getting back. :-(

## Saturday, June 21, 2003

LEFT OR RIGHT?

Friend: I see you've taken a potshot at leftists again.
Me: Yeah :-)
Friend: I don't get it, you hate the leftists, and you hate the rightists.
Me: So?
Friend: So don't you feel confused? Or are you a Centrist?
Me: Centrist is one of the most ridiculous terms I have ever heard. :-P
Friend: If you are not a Leftist, Rightist or a Centrist, that pretty much exhausts the spectrum, dude.
Me: Fortunately, I don't live in the textbooks oF Euclidan geometry, or on a number line, where you can be either a positive, a negative or a zero. In the real world, are left and right the only dIrections? Isn't there above, below, front, back?
Friend: Yes, so which is yours?
Me: Haven't allotted philosophies to those directions yet, but since I very immodestly feel I am "above" the crap leftists as well as rightists dish out, call me an "ABOVIST". :-)

Browsing books in a bookstore at Hazratganj, I saw a copy of Orwell's 1984. Randomly opened a page and I saw these words -

"Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Eurasia has always been our ally."
I smiled and searched elsewhere in the book for the other line. Ah yes, here it was -

"Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Eastasia has always been our ally."

And then I found the profoundest line -

"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."

Notice how well this fits the current scenario. In fact when I read 1984 last year, I noticed how easily one can replace Oceania with America, Eastasia with Russia and Eurasia with Afghanistan/Iraq.

America is at war with Russia. America has always been at war with Russia. Afghanistan/Iraq has always been our ally.

America is at war with Afghanistan/Iraq. America has always been at war with Afghanistan/Iraq. Russia has always been our ally.

And yes, the line bears repetition -

"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."

Seven-six-two millimeter, FULL METAL JACKET

Just finished watching Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket', definitely one of the better war movies I have seen. Not too gory, not too much gunfire, and yet it conveys its message so well. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, it is like 2 movies rolled into one. The first part of the movie is about Boot Camp where fresh recruits to the US Marine Corps undergo training. Now we have seen moves like 'Prahaar' where boot camp is portrayed as a glorious means to a patriotic end, serving your country. The portrayal in FMJ has a cynical tinge to it.

After the boot camp story ends, the movie heads to Vietnam where the mood in the US camp seems to be sullen. Our protagonist, 'Joker' is a military journalist. These are some of the dialogues from the movie I loved, and some observations I made

Joker wears a peace button at all times and his helmet says "Born to Kill".

RAFTERMAN: Yeah ... You know what really pisses me off about these people?
JOKER: What?
RAFTERMAN: We're supposed to be helping them and they shit all over us every chance they get ... I just can't feature that.
JOKER: Don't take it too hard, Rafterman. It's just business.

Joker: The dead know only one thing, it is better to be alive.

Lieutenant Cleaves, who is scowling, visibly lightens on hearing Joker is a journalist. He keeps grinning an artificial smile while speaking whenever the photographer is clicking.

Eightball: Now you might not believe it but under fire Animal Mother(Adam Baldwin) is one of the finest human beings in the world................. All he needs is somebody to throw hand grenades at him the rest of his life.

These people (Vietnamese soldiers) we wasted here today ... are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we're gonna miss not having anyone around that's worth shooting.

The helmet of Animal Mother says "I am become death".....the quote from the Bhagvadgita that Oppenheimer used after the Atomic explosion.

As they all stand looking at the bodies of 2 marines who died in combat.
ANIMAL MOTHER: Better you than me.
RAFTERMAN: Well, at least they died for a good cause.
ANIMAL MOTHER: What cause was that?
RAFTERMAN: Freedom.
ANIMAL MOTHER: Flush out your head gear, new guy. You think we waste

EIGHTBALL: Personally, I think, uh ... they(politicians) don't really want to be involved in this war. I mean ...they sort of took away our freedom and gave it to the, to the gookers, you know. But they don't want it. They'd rather be alive than free, I guess. Poor dumb bastards.

DONLON: I mean, we're getting killed for these people and they don't even appreciate it. They think it's a big joke.

JOKER: I wanted to see exotic Vietnam, the jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture and ... kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill.

The film is full of typical Kubrick-style symbolisms and ironies. I could write a lot about it, but the one that strikes me the most is the one about Vietnamese women. The part in Vietnam starts with a Vietnamese whore enticing Joker and Rafterman. They bargain with her, and are finally able to get her to 10 dollars. Even later while on ground, a local Vietnamese girl approaches the unit Joker is with, and quotes a similar price. The soldiers do it with her inside a cinema hall. Again they manage to bargain. So the two Vietnamese women shown in the movie so far are both whores.

In the climax, a sniper cooped up inside a cinema hall is targetting the same unit. Three soldiers have been killed by the sniper. When the rest of them finally manage to get the sniper, they discover that it is a young Vietnamese woman....the sniper inside the "cinema hall" was a woman. Get the irony...with all the bargains earlier?

Anyway, the movie is amazing and I heartily recommend it to everyone.

Hold it, NOT everyone. People who watch war movies as "action movies" should stay away from FMJ. They will not appreciate the nuances of the movie. A few days back I read on someone's blog that "Apocalypse Now put me off war movies". That is like saying "Tendulkar's century put me off cricket" or "Listening to Bhimsen Joshi put me off Indian classical music".

Those who still view war flicks as good vs evil, us vs them kinda no brainer things, watch J P Dutta's "Border". Stay away from Full Metal Jacket.

## Friday, June 20, 2003

Kid: Mom, who are those people?
Mother: They are leftists
Kid: Why are they called leftists?
Mother: Because history has proven that they are never "right".

:-P

## Thursday, June 19, 2003

I am kinda sick of the same blue-on-black template of my blog now. It has served me well over the past months, but I think it is time for a change. Now I have read the book "Who moved my cheese?" which tells us to be proactive in anticipating change and dealing with it. But I have also read about "I moved your cheese" on Sarika's blurty. This book is a self help book for those who want others to do everything for them.

I am relying more on the second book's advice. So I have outsourced the work of selecting a new template to more aesthetic and competent eyes. Expect a change in the blog's look in the coming days.

## Wednesday, June 18, 2003

THIS WHOLE CONVERSION MESS

The whole conversion issue is raising a lot of dust in India. People don't like some of the tactics adopted by some unscrupulous evangelists to get people to convert. It is almost like they "buy" their faith or "trick" them into believing.

Personally, being a libertarian, I would say, let them. If tomorrow a person is desparate enough to sell his kidney, he should have the right to do so. It is his kidney after all. Again, if he wants to "sell" his faith, he should be allowed to. I have been holding this viewpoint in any debates I have had with anti-conversionists. However like most libertarian viewpoints, this one too is very idealistic and not easy to implement especially in a country like India. So for the sake of thinking of a more practical solution, one accepts the points of these anti-conversionists. OK, some evangelists do use unscrupulous methods to proselytise. And something needs to be done to stop this.

However the law Jayalalitha passed in Tamilnadu is not quite the answer. This law requires every conversion to first be ratified by the state government. if you wish to convert, you have to tell this to the government. The government will then "investigate" each case and allow conversion only if it is satisfied that no malpractice was involved.

This is so not the solution. Firstly, the governments are all short staffed. there is a lot of load on bureaucrats. Adding this means giving them one more avenue to earn bribes. "Gimme 10 grand and I'll ratify your conversion in a day", they'll mumble to you. And you have one more avenue for corruption. There is another bigger reason.

I oppose the Tamilnadu conversion bill mainly because it gives the state government the regulatory rights. Now in a country where religion is a part of politics, such power can easily be misused by the government since there is a clear cut case for conflict of interests. So tomorrow the state government may just refuse to ratify even the most transparent voluntary conversion to earn a political borwnie point. It will become a nice tool for enforcing Hindu hegemony.

A solution I had this morning may be termed as...quasi-libertarian, if you will. All religions in India should come together and set up a regulatory body. This body should have representatives from every religion, and maybe some more scholars from the social and legal domain. They will get together and decide on some common norms to define what is fair and what is unfair. This regulatory body should keep an eye on conversions. It should examine if there were any irregularities in the conversion process.

Every conversion should be deemed as 'revocable' if any irregularities are found at a later date.

Of course I realise there can be problems in this too. I just thought of it in the morning and so posted on it. Let us discuss it, shall we? Is such a regulatory body, set up without government interference a viable idea? What are the hurdles? The lack of a well defined Hindu religious leadership for one....and the chances of factionalism within such a body....there could be a few more. But at the moment it seems to me the most viable and acceptable alternative, without infringing on any personal rights and freedoms.

Watched Haasil the other day. Usually the first place I go to read about a movie is George's blog. However this time, I had missed what he had to say about the movie, due to my days with limited internet access during the summer. So I thought I would write my independent 'review' before I read his.

The movie starts very well. Its first half is brilliant, with a good pace, lucid introduction of characters, great dialogues and a very realistic portrayal. The story is set in a town in U.P. and you can see that the writers have put a lot of thought into portraying it realistically. Right from the accent of speaking, to the atmosphere in the college, to the awkward chemistry between the couple - Jimmy Shergill and Hrishitaa Bhat....everything is indicative of a lot of thought being put into it.

The first half shows the gripping story of the rivalry between two student politicians - Gourishanker(Ashutosh Rana) and Ranvijay(Irfan Khan). The politics even in the campus has a tinge of casteism, just like in UP and Bihar. However not too many direct references are made to it, probably to avoid trouble with censors. Aniruddha (Shergill) and Niharika (Bhat) are two students in love, and quite separate from all this dirty business. However Ani gets involved when he asks for Ranvijay's help to punish some goons who molest his friend's mother. It is from here that the involvement grows. The gang war gets bloody, with Gourishanker being bumped off. Killing off such a powerful actor midway might have been a ploy to make the audience sit up and notice. Just like Ramgopal Verma bumped off Paresh Rawal midway in Satya. However, for a movie like Haasil where the only two actors of calibre are Rana and Khan, it proves a fatal tactic.

After Rana is bumped off, one expects some kind of escalation in the campus war. But the plot takes and unexpected and rather insipid turn. It focuses on the love story of Ani and Niharika. Her father comes to know of their clandestine affair(how he comes to know, one realises later) and catches Ani and Niharika cootchie-cooing in a theatre accompanied by his nephews. These nephews manhandle Ani. Ranvijay convinces Ani that if he doesn't beat up those cousins of Niharika's as a revenge, she will think he is a sissy. Ani gets convinced, and in the ensuing fight, kills the cousin in a fit of rage.......shades of Romeo and Juliet here.

He runs away to Mumbai to escape from the police and stays with a friend of Ranvijay. This friend attacks him, at the behest of Ranvijay. Suddenly Ranvijay is revealed as this schemer who was behind the whole issue, right from informing her parents. Since he is from the same caste as Niharika, her father agrees to give him her hand in marriage.

After this point the movie really takes a major nosedive. What started out as an engrossing tale on campus politics degrades into the story of a crazy hoodlum obsessed with a girl. Other than the fact that the story took this insipid detour, there is also the fact that no proper explanation is ever given for Ranvijay's volte face.

The end would make an excellent case study for the chaos theory, with the most unexpected characters behaving in the most unexpected way. There is the "mandatory moderate muslim" thrown in as well, to show the filmmakers are "secular" folks. The movie which started off with a refreshing approach to an unexplored issue ends with an avalanche of cliches. It suffers from an acute case of the SSH (Sagging Second Half) syndrome, a term coined by George.

It reminded me of Shool, which had made a similar powerful beginning, again set in small town North India but ended in the most yaaaaaaawn way.

The movie has its pluses though that would make it worth one viewing. The dialogues are well thought out. My favourite one is when the goons are watching a hindi gangster movie and say "Yeh mumbai underworld to bahut chhota business hai. hum log to desh chalatey hain". It has a lot of humorous scenes too.

The performance of Irfan Khan is amazing. He has been lurking around in the TV world for the past 10 years or so, giving ample display of his potential, but this role should get him good work in the future. Ashutosh Rana is his usual efficient intimidating self. Hrishitaa Bhatt plays the role of the vulnerable small town girl well, her innocent looks coming to aid. Jimmy Shergill......I dunno.....he has been around for so many years, but he does not seem to be growing. His best performance was still one of his first - Maachis.

The direction and the screenplay are good until the sag sets in. I saw the movie on one of those Pakistani Sadaf pirated VCDs....(very amusing trailers of some Paki films b t w) so the songs had been edited out to fit the movie in 2 CDs....except for a qawwali set in a dargah. One of my parameters for judging the direction is to see if the songs are well placed and don't act as a hindrance.

Anyway, overall, the movie was worth it, but it left me with a feeling not unsimilar to that I get when Virender Sehwag gets out in the 30s after an excellent start.

Some guys have it all. It is as if they were sired by the creator himself.

I know one such guy.

He is intelligent, very good at academics. Did his Computer Engineering with excellent marks and is currently doing his Masters in the US. He is great at almost each and every sport there is. In cricket, he bowls superfast and has a good hand-eye co-ordination. He swims very well and plays excellent water polo. He is great at almost every sport, right from table tennis and badminton to even cerebral games like chess. And yes, he is good at computer games like NFS too ;-P.

He is quite good looking (girls would be more eloquent on this trait). He is an excellent artist. His paintings, especially his seascapes are absolutely top notch. He is great with musical instruments too, adept at playing the synth and the tabla. He is also a good writer and a writes great poems.

You know, there is literally nothing the guy can't do.

And yes, now he has started blogging as well. Please welcome Chaitanya Gharpure to my blogroll.

## Monday, June 16, 2003

Hmmm....something strange. Even if there are comments to a post, the link says "Click to have your say" instead of indicating the number of comments. I did not change the template or the YACCS settings. Wonder what's up. Will have to check after classes today.

MOVIE TAGLINES ;-)

Here are a few movie taglines, based on some wordplay on their name. Some of it is marathi-based so those who can't understand that regal language, kindly excuse.

JEENA SIRF MERE LIYE
The story of a man extremely possessive about his staircase

DIL CHAHTA HAI
The story of a man whose heart was like an umbrella

PRAN JAAYE PAR SHAAN NA JAAYE
The heart rending tale of discrimination based on names

KAANTE
The story of some forks

KUCH TO HAIN
The tale of a man searching for his missing toes

HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM
The unselfish tale of a man who donated an organ

HUMARA DIL AAPKE PAAS HAI
A sequel to "Hum dil de chuke sanam". The story of a man who comes back from the dead to reclaim an organ he donated

The rags to riches story of a prestidigitator

## Saturday, June 14, 2003

IF ONLY IF ONLY.....OH SHUT UP!!!!!!!

For the past few years there has been a huge rise in the "if only" articles one sees in the media. You get to see a lot of such posts on blogs too nowadays. The one point agenda of these articles, other than getting all misty eyed and wondering "what if" something had happened, is basically to shred to pieces those two individuals named M.K.Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. It becomes a "G&N" bashing exercise.

I am a fan of history, and I know the immense knowledge it holds for us. By going over past mistakes, we can learn to avoid them in the future. Since it was Gandhi and Nehru who were the leaders of India, obviously, mistakes were made by them. These mistakes were detrimental to our country's progress. And yes, others appear not to have made any mistakes....but don't you think that is because they never got a chance to rule?

It is easy to ridicule Ganguly for electing to field first in the World Cup final, but how would you react kindly to an article fantasising "what if Dravid had been the captain?" and "what if Parthiv Patel had been the captain?". Asinine, I would say. To blame India's defeat in the final on ganguly alone would be stupid. See my point?

In the same way, blaming everything on "G&N" smacks of the ostrich syndrome. Of course it is nice to live in a delusional world and say "If Patel were the PM, we would have been a superpower" and "If Rajaji were the PM, we would be so strong", and the best of them all, "If Netaji Bose were alive, partition would never have happened!!!!".

These guys, had they made it to power would have made mistakes of their own. If you write an alternative history, you will find people writing "if only" articles about Nehru.

The fact remains that when you see some things wrong in a country, it does not make sense to blame just 1 person for it. The way some libertarians and rightists go hammer and tongs at Nehru, it would make one seem as if the country had 50 crore free market proponents and just 1 big evil dictator who ushered in poverty. When you want to remove something or uproot something, it is good strategy to demonise everything about it. So people who want to do away with the "license permit quota" raaj use that strategy.

Reality is much more complex than that. Hitler can not be the single person responsible for rabid anti semitism. There was an entire society that was receptive to his ideas and made him powerful. In history, you will always find that most successful leaders were only spearheads of idologies, not the fountainheads.

There is a fine line between mulling over mistakes in history to learn from them, and digging up mistakes from history and blaming them for everything. Most of the articles that irk me cross the line and become an excuse-seeking exercise to justify our lack of progress. That is clearly a regressive way to go about bettering the country.

As Yazad and I discussed the other day, 'Nehru bashing' is not something one likes to indulge in. Though his Fabian socialism is poles away from my economic beliefs, I believe the man ended up doing more good for the country than bad. Despite aberrations, we are still a by and large secular state. The democratic institutions, while prime cases for improvement, are at least there and working at a basic level. The army is firmly in control of the civilians. Look around us. Look at Nehru's contemporaries in Asia!!! Tell me who did a better job than him under those circumstances?

While it is fair to say that Nehru's policy may have prevented us from being another Korea/Japan, it would also be churlish to deny that had it not been for Nehru's 17 year rule, we would have become another Central Africa or Yugoslavia.

We are moving ahead. We need to liberalise more and give more power in the hands of people. Socialism has to go. But why do we have to burn effigies while we are at it, is beyond me.

After 15 years of hell, Kashmiris are sick of terrorism. This was evident, first by the peaceful and successful election last year. And then one keeps hearing news stories which further prove this fact.

All Indians know what Operation Sarp Vinash was (in case you don't, you are either an NRI or an RNI). Now we all know the big part Saudi dollars play in festering terrorism in Kashmir. However news articles such as these (courtesy DN) come as a totally welcome surprise

Hill Kakaï¿½s untold story: NRIs came home to fight terrorists
A group of around 20 Muslim youth left their Saudi jobs for a cause

*stands up and applauds*

Iss waqt ko koi darr hai unn_sey
Ki wahii chanchal ghadii ke kaantey
Jo tanhai mein kachuey ki chaal chaltey hain
Unki mau_joodgi mein khargosh ban jaatey hain

Kaash zindagi ki ghadii mein koi aisa pench hota
Jo tanhaa ghanTo.n ko khatm karta ik pal mein
Aur unke saath bitaye har pal ko
Chalne deta ghanTo.n tak

## Friday, June 13, 2003

Good knock by the future captain of the Indian cricket team - Mohd Kaif shines for Derbyshire

'In cricket you can hurt the cheats by hurting the team. Perhaps a set of regulations could be drawn up, enforced by a warning followed by a yellow card. Then, if someone oversteps the mark again he is sent from the field for a session' - Dennis Lillee

LOL, that would mean tests involving Australia would get over in the second session of the day. ;-)

I am back in the familiar environs of IIM Lucknow. Everybody is back and though we are complaining about the oppressive heat, there is consensus on the fact that IIML rox. In the past 2 months everyone has realised the true value of this place and now we all are kinda sad that we have only 8 months more to live here.

So if you see no complaints from me on any front about IIML, attribute it to the wisdom I gained during summer.

WILL THE UNREAL SHANKARACHARYA PLEASE SIT DOWN?

I have always been against religious leaders poking their heads into political affairs. Ever since Advani took out his ratha-yatra, the Ayodhya issue has become more of a political issue than a religious one.

Which is why I get irked when this dude makes statements like these - Ayodhya solution in two-three months: Kanchi seer. I also don't like it when the media gives him too much publicity.

In fact our media has this penchant for giving religious leaders more coverage than they deserve....especially the wrong kind. Imam Bukhari of the Jama Masjid in Delhi will make idiotic statements which the media will be prompt to splash on the front page making it seem as if he is the caliph or the Agakhan of Indian muslims. Many muslims send letters to the newspapers begging them not to publicise Bukhari as the "head of Indian muslims".....but the media seems more concerned about a spicy byline. They ignore that he is but the imam of "one" mosque in Delhi and can in no way be considered the spokesperson of India's 150 million string Muslim community.

Anyway, coming back to Jayendra Saraswati. I also dispute the use of the term 'Shankaracharya' with his name. He seems to be the only publicity hungry religious leader, so the media gives him the limelight making him out to be one of the heads of the Hindu community(!!). Now I am no religious fanatic, but I do know that Adi Shankaracharya established 4 "peeth"s in the country about 1500 years ago. They were.....to the best of my recollection........Shringeri(S), Badrinath(N), Dwarka(W) and Puri(E)......the peeth at Kanchi was not one of them and is not even considered a peeth by many. Why we should accept its head as a 'shankaracharya' is beyond me.

So even if a hierarchy of Hindu priests is drawn out, this guy would not be in the top 4. So where does he get off......?

## Tuesday, June 10, 2003

INDIA - AN OUTSOURCING DESTINATION......FOR DEATH?

This is a reference to US requests (demands??) that India send forces to police Iraq. Why are the American neo-cons doing that, one may ask. If they view themselves as the supercops for the entire world, why ask India to step in?

Simple. The neo-cons can be a force to reckon with only when they are in power. With Bush's re-election due next year, they are worried that American casualties in post-war(!) Iraq could spell doom for their electoral fortunes. The stats show the casualty rate to be 1 American soldier a day. American officials who were crying "Democracy for Iraq, democracy for Iraq" suddenly inform us that Iraq is "not ready" for democracy yet. How convenient. There are talks of bringing the Hashemite king back. So the transition is not "dictatorship to democracy", but more of "dictatorship to monarchy". How nice!

Anyway, the point is that Iraq will have to be policed by outsiders for a looooong time to come. And even if the casualty rate drops to half, you have about 250 odd bodybags going to America till November 2004. So how does the Bush administration negate this point that the Democrats will have to beat hem with?

Just "OUTSOURCE" the casualties. To the world's favourite BPO destination, India. A dead American is worth votes. But a dead Indian...ahh who gives a damn about them brownies, eh, Dubya? We didn't even know their leader till we wanted to be President.

If India becomes a dominant constituent of the policing forces in Iraq, we will also have to bear a bulk of the casualties. After all, if Al Qaeda is behind the attacks as the Americans claim, India is not exactly Bin Laden's favourite country, is it? Since Indian lives are supposed to come "cheap", America would feel no qualms about bodybags going to Delhi.

So far, the ABV government is resisting this move. After all, India also faces elections in 2004. If Indians are killed in Iraq, the Congress could use this issue against the BJP, though it may not be as big an issue as it is in America. But what if they eventually have to cave in?

Let us look at it with "national interests" in mind, the phrase having the same meaning that Americans have given it. This could be the chance for us to offer them a quid pro quo. If the Americans can convince Pakistan to totally turn off the terror tap in Kashmir, gift India a lot of recostruction contracts, and most importantly, stop all "anti-BPO" legislations in the pipeline in America. If the Americans promise even 2 out fo these 3, then I guess the deal would be worth it. The Kashmir issue being the most important issue.

The Indian army faces a trickle of bodybags from Kashmir too, like Americans in Iraq. If Kashmir becomes peaceful so that the army can breathe easy there, we should have no problems going to Iraq. After all, India is said to enjoy a lot of goodwill among the common Iraqi people. The only threat will be from a random suicide bomber. It will be an easier assignment than Kashmir, where the local population does not love you, and suicide bombers are a dime a dozen.

We actually have a bargaining chip in our hands, i.e our well trained and universally respected army. We may well be able to get a good deal out of the whole issue, both in commercial terms as well as in humanitarian terms. If the violence in Kashmir drops (maybe an overly simplistic expectation) due to American pressure and we get economic benefits, then we should not mind being the destination for "outsourcing of death".

Foreign policy should always be divored from morality.

## Monday, June 09, 2003

Spent Sunday afternoon at the COEP Boat Club, with Ramanand, Harish and Saket. Did a bit of quizzing, and as usual, talked about many topics which I can talk about so well with them, because there is an initial foundation present.

Our Saturday afternoon quiz club meetings have evolved into so much more. It is almost like a confluence of similar minds. When we all talk, it is magical. As Harish said, it is difficult to speak with others in the same way about such topics.

Take Edward Norton for instance. We all admire him a lot and have talked about his movies so much, that if we have to talk about him some more, we can just start off where we left off some months ago. I don't know if I am describing the rapport I have with these guys very well, but it is very special. In strictly "friends" terms, we probably aren't as close as we are to other people. We don't know about each others first crushes or last heartbreaks. We very rarely discuss personal life. But still we just click instantly when we talk about the topic we do talk about.

It really is amazing. Missed the presence of others like Samrat, George, Niranjan etc this week. A session with all of them ends up to be more intellectually stimulating than anything else.

One thing that came up during our conversation was, as I said, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. These two guys seem to have the most impeccable taste for movies that they choose to work in. Norton is universally regarded as a great actor and any movie of his is usually amazing. What kinda works against Pitt is his face. He is always viewed as a handsome heartthrob first and an actor second. But look at the movies he's worked in. Amazing. You can blindly pick up a film starring Norton or Pitt (or both, like 'The Fight Club') and rest assured that you are going to enjoy it.

By the way, I saw a movie on HBO last week, Higher Learning. A movie about racial tensions in a campus in America, starring Lawrence Fishburne, Kristy Swanson, and a very hot looking Jennifer Connelly. Decentish movie, but it reminded me of 'American History X' that i saw some months back. This Norton starrer is one of the most powerful movie I have ever seen. I am far removed from the whole black-white issue in USA but still I could "get" what the movie was trying to convey. In fact it can so easily fit the communal issue in India.

We have the Abbas Mastans, Mahesh Bhatts and Vikarm Bhatts of the world remaking mindless drivel from Hollywood. How about adapting American History X for the Indian scenario? With permission of course, we all know what happened to Karishma. Ever since I saw that movie, I have been creating an Indian screenplay for the movie in my mind. I am sure it will be a movie that will not just be a commercial success, but also deliver a very powerful message in these trying times. And I can picture only Aamir Khan doing justice to Norton's role.

Do watch AHX if you haven't.

## Saturday, June 07, 2003

YEH HAI PUNE MERI JAAN

I just came to know of something that happened in Pune last week that makes me love my city even more and justifies the fanatical obsession all of us Punekars have with it. I tried to search for the link of this news, but did not find it on Times. If I can get it on some other newspaper, I'll post it later.

Some days back, a girl named Tejal had gone to study somewhere near (or in) BMCC. She was returning from there alone at 11 p.m. on a bike when she saw a guy lying on the street. He had obviously had an accident and had injuries in the head. So this girl stopped and decided to help him, even though it was so late at night and she was all alone. There is a phone number in Pune - 105 owned by the 'Heart Brigade' of the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital, which is dedicated to trauma are. She used her mobile to dial 105 and let them know about the accident. Then she stopped a few passing vehicles and made them all train their spotlights on the injured guy so she could administer first aid on him.

Within a few minutes the heart brigade arrived and took him to the hospital. He was treated promptly and that is why his life was saved.

Big applause for Tejal who showed great presence of mind and acetd like a model citizen. Also big applause for a city where a girl travelling alone on a bike so late at night can stop and help people on hr own without worrying too much about her safety. And an even bigger applause for the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital, which in a short span of just one year proved what a gerat boon it is to the residents of Pune. Most affordable fees, best facilities, trauma care....and many other initiatives aimed at helping people rather than minting money, like it is for some hospitals.

WEIRDEST REFERRALS

Ever since I put up the referrals link on my blog, it has been a source of amusement for me. Whenever I come to the page, that is where I head, because it gives me the weirdest referrals ever possible.

The most common one is a google search for "gaurav sabnis". I wonder if this is done by just one person who can not remember the URL or if different people keep doing this all the time. Whatever the case might be, I always see that referral on my page. Just today a search for "Shantanu Joshi" had guided someoen to my page. Then there are searches for the most bizarre things that end up at my page. Most of the times, I don't give a damn about these things.

I don't give a damn about the National league, American league or All stars game which I assume to be phrases related to one of those mindless quasi-sports the Americans play among themselves and call the winner "World champion" (by this I mean baseball and American football). But the latest search to land up at my blog was "test the hypothesis that the National League scores more runs, on average, than the American League in the All Star Game". How on earth did my page feature all these words?

Some days back there was a search on "why seinfeld is better than friends". Ah eys, I've written tomes on this topic. :-)

Then today there was a search - "pakistani actress kavita". Ehhh?

There has also been a search for "bill lawry", one of my least favourite commentators I lambasted on my blog once.

Once someone searched "the salary or pay structure of junior level employees in the power sector in north india". I can assure you, that person must have returned empty handed.

The referral service I use does not permit archiving, so most of the stuff gets lost after some minutes. In the past I just used to read the funny referrals, laugh and forget abotu them. Now I am gonna note them and post them.

Does the mind have a language? Thought of this after reading a post on Shuchita's blog dates 4th June.

I asked myself, which language do I think in? Yes, when i am 'speaking' to myself, there is a definite language. It is either marathi or english, depending on the occasion, context etc. But the actual "thinking" process? When we analyse, apply logic....whatever that process is. Does it have a specific language? If so, then should some research be done about which language is the most thinker-friendly, i.e. in which language should you "think" if you want your brain to be the most productive? I know that research on computers has shown that Sanskrit is the best language for them. But will it be the same for the human brain?

This is one for Roger Penrose to answer.

Saw the video of this song some minutes back. One of my favourite songs ever. Promptly googled the lyrics.

Smash Mouth - I'm a Believer (Shrek OST)

Thought love was
Only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else
But not for me
Love was out to get to me
That's the way it seems
Disappointment haunted
All my dreams

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

I thought love was
More or less a given thing
But the more I gave the less
I got, oh yeah
What's the use in trying
All you get is pain
When I wanted sunshine
I got rain

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

What's the use in trying
All you get is pain
When I wanted sunshine
I got rain

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

Then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
Now I'm a believer
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm a believer
I'm a believer
I'm a believer

FREE SEAT!

My project has come to an end. ASn you all know it involved a lot of travel in public transport. Based on my experiences in the past 2 months, I have discovered a gift that I possess. I am seat-ically gifted.

It means that I get a place to sit very easily, no matter how crowded the bus or train is. I noticed this during my first stint in Mumbai. Whenever I got into the Bus no. 461 at Borivali, it used to be crowded. So I would stand at some point, holding the bar overhead and dig into my pockets for the fare. In a few minutes, the person on the seat right in front of me would get up, and YEAH, i would be seated for the rest of the journey, lasting 45 minutes, while folks who had been standing since the first stop would continue to do so.

Most people work hard to get a seat in the bus, at times more than they work to get a seat in a good college. They will observe the public, notice someone fiddling with his bag and rush to that seat, assuming that he will be getting up to leave. But they are mistaken, he was just taking out his mobile, to launch into an hour long cootchie-coo with his girl friend. Others will make an effort of asking everyone who is seated, where they are getting off. Then they will covet that seat. I guess Moses never said

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's seat."

However I have been very lucky. I have never travelled a distance of even 3 stops standing. Invariably, someone gets up and I plonk myself there. This phenomenon extends to local trains in Mumbai, and to buses in Delhi. So my gift is not geographically restricted.

In DTC or Blueline buses, it was the same. Your average Delhiite....a very testy fella by the way.......would spend hours staring at someone willing that he get up. Some people have also tried telekinesis. But to no avail. Moi however, gets a seat as if I am a VIP or something.

Well, I ain't complaining. I still have one more bus journey to make as I go home from here. 8:3 I get a place to sit within 10 minutes. You game?

## Friday, June 06, 2003

THE ART OF PROPAGANDA

As you can see from the right bar of this blog, currently I am reading Mein Kampf. I have been busy with finishing my project report over the past fortnight and so did not get much time to read it, except for the times when I was travelling in buses.

I have finished about half of the book and I will write a post about my overall impression about the book later. However, there is one thing that struck me which I just have to write about.

Hitler did not hold the German press in high esteem. He says their approach to propaganda was all wrong. Before the war, they kept portraying Britain as the proverbial 'Nation of shopkeepers'. The stereotype painted in German minds, through cartoons, articles etc was that your average Britisher is a "shrewd" businessman, but a "coward" when it comes to fighting. On the other hand the British press always painted an average German as some ruthless cold blooded Barbarian(!). What happened as a result was that when the first WW started, the Germans took it a bit easy, because they expected the poms to be cowards and only 'shrewd'. The poms however were prepared for an army of 'Huns'. The result is there for all to see.

Notice how this exactly fits the Indo-Pak propaganda relationship? In Pkistan, the Indian (or rather the 'Hindu') is painted in the very same light. Those exact words are used, "shrewd" and "coward". Ayub Khan said during the 1965 war that "One Pakistani is equal to 10 Indians", or something to that effect. In India however, the image of the Pakistani is that of a bearded fanatic Jihadi. This is why whenever India and Pakistan have met in the battlefield, it is the former that has come up successful.

In 1948, whatever territory was captured in kashmir was captured BEFORE Hari Singh asked the Indian army to move in. Once he did so, the march of the Pakistanis (tribals...armymen, you pick) was halted by the Indian army and we would probably have won back a lot of the territory had the whole UNSC thing not happened.

In 1965, the war was initiated by Pakistan. Ayub Khan expected a rebellion to break out in Kashmir after the Pakistani attack and he expected Kashmir to "fall into Pakistani laps". That was quite a lapse, if you ask me. The Pakistanis, already buoyed by the humiliating defeat China had inflicted on India three years back, expected a cakewalk. But they were repelled on almost every front. They lost what is regarded as the biggest tank battle since WW2. They did not gain any territory. Again, if it had not been for a ceasefire, they might have ended up losing territory. But when you start a war and don't win any territory, it is a defeat, though some may call it a "draw".

In 1971, we started the war on 22nd November. Not only was the huge inflow of Bengali refugees, numbering in millions, straining our infrastructure, but it was also a golden opportunity to neutralise one of the three hostile borders India had then. So, contrary to what most Indians believe, we started the war. And it was a well planned war, with Maneckshaw resisting Indira's pressure and delaying military action by 6 months. The arming of the Mukti Bahini at all, the whole process was an example of tactical brilliance and military superiority. In the end we inflicted a crushing defeat on Pakistan, cutting it into two.

But you know something funny. Pakistanis are still told that India won the 71 war due to its "shrewdness" rather than bravery. They don't realise that it was the might of the Indian army that forced a whopping 92,000 Pakistanis to surrender themselves as POWs. In spite of this, the stereotype painted is still "shrewd cowards" while they are said to be epitomes of bravery.

A similar mistake is being made in Kashmir, and so the sponsoring of terrorism for 2 decades. They thought that like the Soviets got sick and left Afghanistan, India would get sick and leavce Kashmir. It has been 15 years now and frankly, the Indian forces in Kashmir aren't clamouring for an exit. Yet more and more Pakistanis and PoK-Kashmiris pour into J&K for "freedom struggle". This is because the stereotype painted is that Indian army only rapes women and commits atrocities on children and old people. While these claims in itself are somewhat half-truths, no one in Pakistan reports that the Indian army has been very competent in fighting the jihadis. It has been 15 years and the terror policy has borne no fruit. Because Pakistanis live with the "shrewd coward" stereotype of the Indian army.

Which is why you have misadventures like Kargil. India could pull off Siachen. We could occupy the heights and stay there. However Pakistan could not pull off Kargil. As the first televised war in India showed, the intruders of the Pakistani army were thrown out, peak by peak, until 90% of the area had been cleared. It was then that Clinton told Sharief to withdraw the forces. Big deal, hardly any people were left.

And even now the mistake continues. Instead of being good losers and honestly accepting Kargil as a blunder and a defeat, both strategically and tactically, more propaganda is being peddled. Kargil is said to have been a victory that Nawaz "sold out" under American pressure. They don't see that the fiercely patriotic Indian army is as brave and committed as any army. They keep painting stereotypes and inventing excuses.

You know, despite all this racial hogwash that Hitler has written, I believe that there is no difference between races in terms of their fighting skills. It is not something genetic, but something that is a result of training and dedication. This stereotype of "Brave strong Punjabis and Pathans" vs "Short skinny Hindus" is a stereotype, which very frankly, is beneficial for India. In military terms, it is always better to overestimate the enemy than underestimate them.

So as long as this egoistic propaganda is kept up, India will continue to get the better of any encounters in the battlefield. Which is why if any Pakistani newspaper or leader (read 'General') wants to keep calling me and my countrymen "shrewd cowards", I will smile and accept it as a compliment, because in the long run, it hurts them more. :-)