Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Poetry time continues...

I LOVE MY JOB (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

I love my job, I love the pay,
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss and he's the best.
I love HIS boss and all the rest.

I love my office and its location.
I hate to have to take vacation.
I love my desk, so drab and gray,
And love those paper piles each day.

I love my chair in my padded cell;
There's nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my peers.
I love their leers and jeers and sneers.

I love my computer and all its ware;
I hug it often to show I care.
I love each program and every file;
I even try using it once in a while.

I'm happy to be here, I am, I am...
I'm the happiest slave to my Uncle Sam.
I love this work; I love these chores;
I love the meetings with deadly bores.

I love my job and I'll say it again,
I even love these friendly men:
These men who've come to visit today,
In lovely white coats to take me away!

- Author unknown

"The Travails of Single South Indian men of conservative upbringing" or "Why we don't get any..."

Written by a dude from REC Trichy/IIMA named Sidin.
Thot id do my bit 2 make him popular with the ladies....
Yet another action packed weekend in Mumbai, full of fun, frolic
and introspection. I have learnt many things. For example having
money when none of your friends have any is as good as not having
any. And after spending much time in movie theatres, cafes and
restaurants I have gathered many insights into the endless monotony
that is the love life of south Indian men.

What I have unearthed is most disheartening. Disheartening because
comprehension of these truths will not change our status anytime
soon. However there is also cause for joy. We never stood a chance
anyway. What loads the dice against virile, gallant, well educated,
good looking, sincere mallus and tams? (Kandus were once among us,
but Bangalore has changed all that.)

Our futures are shot to hell as soon as our parents bestow upon us
names that are anything but alluring. I cannot imagine a more
foolproof way of making sure the child remains single till
classified advertisements or that maternal uncle in San Francisco
thinks otherwise. Name him "Parthasarathy Venkatachalapthy" and his
inherent capability to combat celibacy is obliterated before he
could even talk. He will grow to be known as Partha. Before he
knows, his smart, seductively named northy classmates start calling
him Paratha. No woman in their right minds will go anyway near poor

His investment banking job doesn't help either. His employer loves
him though. He has no personal life you see. By this time the Sanjay
Singhs and Bobby Khans from his class have small businesses of their
own and spend 60% of their lives in discos and pubs. The remaining
40% is spent coochicooing with leather and denim clad muses in their
penthouse flats on Nepean Sea Road. Business is safely in the hands
of the Mallu manager. After all with a name like Blossom Babykutty
he cant use his 30000 salary anywhere. Blossom gave up on society
when in school they automatically enrolled him for Cookery Classes.
Along with all the girls.

Yes my dear reader, nomenclature is the first nail in a coffin of
neglect and hormonal pandemonium. In a kinder world they would just
name the poor southern male child and throw him off the
balcony. "Yes appa we have named him Goundamani..." THUD. Life would
have been less kinder to him anyway.

If all the women the Upadhyays, Kumars, Pintos and, god forbid,
the Sens and Roys in the world have met were distributed amongst the
Arunkumars, Vadukuts and Chandramogans we would all be merry
casanovas with 3 to 4 pretty things at each arm. But alas it is not
to be. Of course the south Indian women have no such issues. They
have names which are like sweet poetry to the ravenous northie
hormone tanks. Picture this: "Welcome, and this is my family. This
is my daughter Poorni (what a sweet name!!) and my son Ponnalagusamy
(er..hello..).." Cyanide would not be fast enough for poor Samy.
Nothing Samy does will help him. He can pump iron, drive fast cars
and wear snazzy clothes, but against a braindead dude called Arjun
Singhania he has as much chance of getting any as a Benedictine Monk
in a Saharan Seminary.

Couple this with the other failures that have plagued our
existence. Any attempt at spiking hair with gel fails miserably. In
an hour I have a crown of greasy, smelly fibrous mush. My night ends
there. However the northy just has to scream "Wakaw!!!" and you have
to peel the women off him to let him breathe. In a disco while we
can manage the medium hip shake with neck curls, once the Bhangra
starts pumping we are as fluid as cement and gravel in a mixer.
Karan Kapoor or Jatin Thapar in the low cut jeans with chaddi strap
showing and see through shirt throws his elbows perfectly, the
cynosure of all attention. The women love a man who digs pasta and
fondue. But why do they not see the simple pleasures of curd rice
and coconut chutney? When poor Senthilnathan opens his tiffin box in
the office lunch room his female coworkers just dissappear when they
see the tamarind rice and poppadums. The have all rematerialised
around Bobby Singh who has ordered in Pizza and Garlic bread. (And
they have the gall to talk of foreign origin.)

How can a man like me brought up in roomy lungis and oversized
polyester shirts ever walk the walk in painted on jeans (that makes
a big impression) and neon yellow rib hugging t shirts? All I can do
is don my worn "comfort fit" jeans and floral shirt. Which is pretty
low on the "Look at me lady" scale, just above fig leaf skirt and
feather headgear a la caveman, and a mite below Khakhi Shirt over a
red t shirt and baggy khakhi pants and white trainers a la Rajni
in "Badsha".

Sociologically too the tam or mallu man is severely sidelined. An
average tam stud stays in a house with, on average, three
grandparents, three sets of uncles and aunts, and over 10 children.
Not the ideal atmosphere for some intimacy and some full
throated "WHOSE YOUR DADDY!!!" at the 3 in the morning. The mallu
guy of course is almost always in the gulf working alone on some
onshore oil rig in the desert. Rheumatic elbows me thinks.

Alas dear friends we are not just meant to set the nights on fire.
We are just not built to be "The Ladies Man". The black man has hip
hop, the white man has rock, the southie guy only has idlis and
tomato rasam or an NRI account in South Indian Bank Ernakulam
Branch. Alas as our destiny was determined in one fell swoop by our
nomenclature, so will our future be. A nice arranged little love
story. But the agony of course does not end there. On the first
night, as the stud sits on his bed finally within touching distance
and whispers his sweet desires into her delectable ear, she blushes,
turns around and whispers back "But Amma has said only on second

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Great Indian Absence - from media

Tsunami Relief — The Great Indian Absence
By Ashutosh Sheshabalaya | Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Why did the U.S. and European media virtually ignore the post-tsunami relief efforts mounted by the Indian military? Ashutosh Sheshabalaya argues that this failure is just another sign of the West’s inability to get over its stereotypes of India as a backward country. It’s time for the global community to give due recognition to this fast-emerging giant — or risk itself becoming out-of-date.

On January 5, 2005, several thousand tons of wreckage and debris were cleared from Sri Lanka’s tsunami-crippled harbor of Galle, following round-the-clock operations by the Indian navy. This effort paved the way for a sea-borne lifeline, to enable both relief and delivery of heavy reconstruction materials.

India to the rescue
Even as it coped with the tsunami’s impact at home, India moved decisively to help its neighbors.

On December 27, 2004 — within hours of the tsunami — an Indian naval hospital arrived at Sri Lanka’s Trincomalee harbor, followed by helicopter-equipped corvettes and other ships for search and rescue.

The Indian air force added muscle to the effort, using heavy-lift transporters to deliver fully-staffed field hospitals and clinics, as well as its own Mi-17 helicopters to airdrop relief supplies.

Late, but good PR
The Indian relief mission outstripped those of all other powers in the region, involved over 20,000 military personnel and almost 35 warships — operating in an arc from the Maldives to Indonesia.

For a variety of reasons, this colossal deployment went largely unnoticed in the rest of the world. Observed by bemused Indian sailors, the world media made a beeline on January 10, 2005, to welcome the USS Duluth to Sri Lanka — two weeks after the arrival of India’s navy to assist with relief operations.

Not much left to do
The irony escaped the Associated Press, whose January 17, 2005, report did nothing to explain comments by U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in Sri Lanka: “Help from U.S. military engineers,” he said, “won't be needed much longer.”

Largely unnoticed, the Indian military had already finished doing much of the work for which the Americans had, belatedly, arrived in that country.

Such a mindset — of overlooking an obviously huge contribution from outside the Western world — is central to what I call the Great Indian Absence.

It is part and parcel of the matrix of ‘us and them,’ which regretfully defines the worldview of many Americans and Europeans. They are handicapped by a continuing inability to accept India’s often quiet, but potentially dramatic, rise.

Europe behind the curve
Sure, there is plenty of awareness in the United States and Europe about the rise of India as an outsourcing power. But this development tends to accentuate — rather than diminish — the feeling that India is not an equal.

Thus, the observations by some European commentators about how the tsunami spared none — neither rich Western tourists, nor those (presumably serving them) from the poor Third World — are at least five years out of date.

Too little expertise in the media
In Sri Lanka, much of Southeast Asia and — in the near future — New Zealand and Australia, Indians are the highest-spending tourist group.

Part of such oversight is clearly due to the media’s poor military-technical expertise. In their reports about the challenge of delivering aid on the scale required after the tsunami, BBC correspondents repeatedly failed to underline that America’s proposed relief coalition with India, Japan and Australia depended heavily on India.

As it happens, the Indian air force has three times the transporter fleet of Japan and six times that of Australia. In addition, its IL-76 Gajraj carries twice the payload of the C-130 Hercules military transporters used by Australia and Japan.

In Washington, too
The Great Indian Absence, however, also extended to the Washington Post. On its website, the paper presented a striking sequence of pictures about the tsunami’s aftermath.

One showed a woman in India with outstretched hands, drawing attention to the “lack of helicopters” in the region.

Uncle Sam to the rescue
Another depicted an American SH-60 helicopter, stuffed with food. In spite of the Internet, ‘Post’ reporters had not consulted sources such as the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

They would then have learned that India’s military operates more helicopters than Japan, Indonesia and Thailand combined. This includes the Indian Dhruv helicopter, now being considered by several countries for search and rescue.

Notwithstanding its scale, the Indian relief operation involved only about one-tenth of its 225 military transport aircraft and 400 helicopters. In spite of the subtle allusions to a helpless but savaged region, India’s capabilities should never have been an issue.

Quite ironic
One of the most surreal examples of the Great Indian Absence, however, occurred when European experts on television were using Indian IRS remote-sensing satellite imagery on the tsunami damage — while complaining about a lack of technology in the region.

As it happens, IRS images about a potential Tibetan dam burst in the summer of 2004 led to a mass evacuation in northern India. This riverine equivalent of a tsunami might otherwise have resulted in several thousand casualties.

Indian high-tech
India’s high-technology early warning and disaster management systems go further than remote-sensing. They also include sophisticated weather satellites directed at the routine — but still-devastating — hazard of cyclones.

Across the entire Indian Ocean, seaborne search and rescue is enabled wholly via the Indian-designed INSAT 3-A satellite.

And more recently, India’s post-tsunami relief efforts were buttressed by sophisticated satellite hook-ups at its Integrated National Command Post, which provides real-time links to all military units across the country — and to every naval vessel out at sea.

Just the facts
Knowing such facts may help put relief and disaster management issues into perspective in the future, both in Asia and elsewhere, long after the media has gone home.

One salutary case would be the widely reported gush of Western sympathy for victims of the earthquake at Bam, Iran, in December 2003.

Following up on Bam
Until the tsunami, few journalists — or NGOs — cared to follow-up this story, and report that just $17 million of the $1 billion pledged by the international community had been received by Iran.

Four months after the Bam quake, a paragraph buried within a report by the British Guardian newspaper referred to what was clearly one of most significant contributions to that relief operation.

An “elaborate Indian military hospital that treated 48,000 patients and performed 2,500 operations since the earthquake”, said the Guardian, “packed up this week, leaving a serious gap in medical services.”

Indeed, questioning the relief and disaster management capacities of a country like India reveals an outdated mindset.

Respect where it is due
India has 25 million tons of food stocks, produces one-sixth of the world’s generic medicines, exports doctors and nurses to fill shortfalls in the West — and, in April 2003, vaccinated 100 million children in just one day.

Clinging to the idea that India is entirely backward is clearly a waste of time — and only serves to keep stereotypes alive well beyond their expiration date.

Adjusting institutions
As hysterical outbursts about the threat of epidemics finally wane, India’s own relief efforts however seem to have also disappeared off the world media‘s radar.

In a rare exception on January 19, 2005, a social worker told Charles Haviland of BBC News that newly-orphaned children in India were, relief-wise, “very satisfied with what they are getting.”

True, much more remains to be done. But an analysis of India’s response to the Asian tsunami only underlines the point that the world urgently needs to adjust its thinking — as well as its institutions — to such new realities.

India on the Security Council
This also concerns the G-7, whose exclusion of countries like India and China risks making it an anachronism.

And last but not least, the United Nations could only benefit from the presence of a mature and capable India as a permanent member of the Security Council.

For more details on what India is doing, check out :
India shifts the regional geopolitical cards

India takes care of its own

even Business Week carried out a coverage accepting the changing status of India
India pulls together amid disaster
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