Advertising meets Politics = WTF

WTF of the day comes from our dear ol’ Congress Party (the haath people, not to be confused with haathi people).

After claiming credit for Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar success (did they also claim credit for the never before success of the Indian contingent in the Beijing Olympics?) and a jingle claiming credit for every technological advancement that ever happened in the world and came to India, in whichever way, there is another TVC, where a couple is talking between themselves, and are happy that inflation is reduced, and prices of things from commodities to properties have come down. Never mind that millions are losing their jobs and are getting their paychecks cut, so they won’t be that thrilled about this reduced inflation.

The whole world has been looking for who is behind the recession. Is the Congress willing to take credit for it now? (albeit while trying to package it in a positive way)?

Why do I need to lie about myself in my own country?

In my own country, I had to lie about myself. No I am not a fugitive. I am simply a person with Bihari roots.

Yesterday I went to see a flat (we’ve got to shift), and the landlady kept asking us, among other directives like “don’t bring girls here…”, “Is any of you Bihari? Because we don’t want to have Biharis in our house.”. Even though we kept telling her that one of us is a Marathi (to which she looked visible pleased) and I am a Bengali (owing to the “truth” that I come from Calcutta), it felt wrong, and I decided not to ever return to that place.

I never came across anyone in my 20 year long stay in Calcutta, or year long stay in various places in Jharkhand, who would tell me that they would not want a Marathi, Tamilian or Gujarati as a tenant.

Having said that, she has not done anything illegal. She owns the place and she has the right to have her reservations. But the underlying assumptions and intent behind that decision disturbs me.

Why do I need to lie about myself in my own country?

I am the change. What else?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

It is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. What did the great man mean when he said this?

That if you want the world to be a more honest place, be honest yourself?

Or that if you want the politicians in the world to be better, become a politician yourself?

Turns out there are people who think it’s the latter.

So if I want doctors to give me better treatment, do I need to become a doctor myself? If I want to see better buildings in my city, do I need to become an architect myself? For better traffic, do I become a traffic constable?

Why is politics and administration “above” other professions?

If a person is honest and does his job with integrity, does he not have a right to complain when his state’s CM is caught taking bribes, just because he himself has not taken up politics as a career?

Next time there is a defence scandal in the news, I guess only the defence people would have a right to talk about it. How would the news channels cover it then?

सदी क्या हुई है भाईसाहब?

किस युग में रहते हैं आप? मुझे लगता था इक्कीसवीं सदी चल रही है. आजकल थोड़ा शक होने लगा है. टीवी पर समाचार चैनल वाले यूं ही परेशान करे बैठे हैं – स्वर्ग का द्वार, रावण की मम्मी, फिल्मी गाने से आकर्षित होने वाले भूत तो हम देख चुके हैं. पर टीवी पर शापिंग वाले प्रोग्राम भी पीछे नहीं रहे. बेजन दारूवाला के राशिफल, और नक्षत्र वाले पत्थर तो हम देख ही रहे हैं, पर अगर कोई ये सब देखता है तो वक्त की बर्बादी के अलावा मुझे नहीं लगता कोई और नुकसान हो रहे हैं.

लेकिन आजकल एक नई ऑफरिंग आई है टेलि-मार्केट में – नज़र से बचाव! फिल्मों ने हमें इसी एक संभावना के बारे में अवगत कराया था कि नज़र से प्यार होता है और शायरी की भाषा में नज़र से लोग घायल होते हैं और मेटाफॉर में मर जाते हैं. लेकिन “बुरी नज़र”, उसके पीछे की बुरी नीयत और उससे होने वाले नुकसानों के बारे में मां, चाची-ताई वगैरह के अलावा किसी और से नहीं सुना था. बेशक घर में कोई नवजात बहुत रोता था, तो नज़र की बात ज़रूर उठती थी, और ये भी चर्चा होती थी कि किस नासपीटे की नज़र लगी होगी. पर सिर्फ ज़िक्र भर होता था. हम उसे विलेन बनाकर झगड़ने नहीं लगते थे – आखिरकार दो पीढ़ियों से शहर में रहने का असर तो होगा, भले ही हम आज भी “नज़र” जैसी चीज़ों पर विश्वास कर रहे हैं. और एक लेवल पर नज़र की बात होती रहती है – यूंही कहना कि नज़र लगी है किसीकी, कहने का मतलब कि वो इंसान तारीफ़ तो कर गया, पर मन ही मन जल भुन रहा होगा. उसकी इस नज़र से हमें असल में नुकसान होगा, ये तो हम शायद सोचते भी नहीं आजकल.

पर टीवी के टेली-व्यापारी चाहते हैं कि हम सोचें. आजकल नज़र को इतनी गंभीर समस्या के तौर पर पेश कर रहे हैं, मानो अगर हर इंसान के पास ये नज़र-शोधक तावीज़ नहीं हों तो बाकी दुनिया सिर्फ अपनी आंखों से देख-देखकर सभी को बीमार, कंगाल और अपाहिज बना देगी. ये दिखाने के लिए जो तस्वीरें आती हैं टीवी पर, उनमें आंखों से निकलती किरणें देखकर सुपरमैन और नागराज कामिक्स की याद आ जाती है.

इतना बुरा नहीं लगता, अगर इतनी बेशर्मी से इस दकियानूसी और पैरानॉइड विचार को बढ़ा चढ़ा कर दर्शक के मन में स्थापित करने की कोशिश नहीं होती कि सारी दुनिया के सारे लोग, खासकर वो जो आपके करीब हैं, आपका बुरा ही चाहते हैं. कि आपके सब दुख-तकलीफों की जड़ दूसरे लोग हैं, और उनमें ये दैवी शक्ति है कि सिर्फ देखकर और बुरा चाहकर आपका बुरा कर सकते हैं. और इतना बुरा कर सकते हैं कि जब तक आप यह चमत्कारी तावीज़ नहीं खरीदते, तब तक आपकी तकलीफें दूर नहीं होने की. वही तावीज़ जो दस साल पहले टूरिस्ट तीर्थस्थानों की दुकानों में बच्चे पांच-पांच रुपये में खरीदते थे, बस खेलने और देखने के लिए. आजकल इन खिलौनों में दैवी शक्तियां आ गई हैं, आपको दुनिया के सबसे बड़े खतरे से बचाने के लिए!

टीवी भी क्या करे? एक मीडियम ही तो है. इसी टीवी पर नैशनल जियोग्राफिक के कार्यक्रम देखता हूं, और इसी टीवी पर दुनिया के एक हिस्से को पंद्रहवीं सदी की ओर जाते देखता हूं. शायद यही है वह भारतीय संस्कृति जिसके लिए इतनी मारपीट चालू है.

No Love Please, We are Indians

Hoardings warn dating couples in Srinagar, and the local police are against this stand, but elsewhere according to this news item, the police itself is the moral guardian which caught the couple in question and raised charges against them.

Is India being Talibanised, or is it now being governed by frustrated men? How a couple kissing anywhere at all constitutes public harassment is beyond me. It is definitely a matter of victimless crimes. And as usual, the Indian administration believes in meting out instant harsh, harsher, harshest punishments to the ‘criminals’ indulging in these ‘crimes’, while criminals who actually harm others intentionally are tried in courts for years while they live on taxpayers’ money. That the taxpayers themselves are being harassed like this for public displays of affection is not important.

In high school, when we were given an idea of the Indian administrative system, and the Constitution (note the capital C, denoting infallibility and perfection), we were given an idea that India is a free land, where every Indian is free as long as they don’t hurt others. We believed it to be true. And were mighty proud of it.

Now we realise, through witnessing such incidents, that it’s not as free as one would think it is.

We’d rather bow down to anyone and everyone’s fragile sensibilities, including (and especially) the religious type, than stand for freedom and peace.

Another reason why governance should not be concerned with social propriety and should be concerned more with security of the tax-paying citizens.

More Questions: Got Any Answers?

How can a specialized mall and multiplex activation agency be a one stop solution for all my marketing needs?

How can we see a ‘Best of…’ CD for a band whose entire discography consists of only one album?

What is the meaning of “Indo-Foreign”?

Why do you have English subtitles when characters speak in Chinese in a Hindi movie? I mean we are still okay with credits in the Roman script/English, but dialogues? Do we have French subtitles in Hollywood movies when the character speaks Italian?

Stop spamming me!

What is the problem with Just Dial?

I have never visited their site before today. Nor have I ever called on their number and left my email address.

Yet, everyday I get three to four emails from them which would be titled “Response to your call for X-Y-Z”. And for around 80% of the time, I would never have even heard of X-Y-Z. The mail starts with a section on what the media is writing about Just Dial, and then “the information I requested”, which would be the name of the company – X-Y-Z, and then their address.

This company is being covered by newspapers and such is the problem with them.

I checked their site, and there is no “don’t send me these emails” link.

From one of their articles: “Just Dial connects the seeker to the sought”. Why is it trying to connect me, when I am neither the seeker nor the sought?

I think I should send them an email with the “information” they didn’t request but require direly.

Upgradability

I have a branded laptop from a renowned company.

It has 1 GB of RAM.

Now I need to upgrade, and want 2 GB of RAM.

I should be able to buy one more stick of 1 GB and have 2 GB of RAM, right?

Wrong.

The 1 GB of RAM in my laptop is not in one stick of 1 gigabyte. It is in two sticks of half a gigabyte each. If I now buy a 1 GB stick, I’ll have to take out one half-gig stick and replace it with the new 1-gig stick. Which leaves me with 1.5 gigs.

I could buy two sticks of 1 gig each and replace both the half-gig sticks. But then I have bought the entire RAM anew, and I have two half-gig sticks which are of no use to me. I cannot sell those easily, because if I need 2 gigs on my machine today, there would hardly be anyone in the market who would want a stick with capacity below 1 gig. With passing time, these half-gig sticks would become more obsolete and less in demand.

And this is not just my story. All laptops come with just two slots for RAM, and both sticks are occupied with contemporary capacity sticks. Which means that upgradability goes out of the window when laptops are designed/made.

I remember when I had a replacement VC820 motherboard shipped from Intel, because the CC820 I had bought was defective, they gave me one stick of 128MB RAM and an empty CRIMM (because the memory technology being used, RDRAM, did not work with empty slots). In short, if I wanted to double my memory I had to buy another 128MB stick and replace the CRIMM with the new stick.

How difficult is it to leave one slot empty, or ship laptops with three memory slots, so that users do not have to face such situations when they want to upgrade? Or is it a tactic to force users to either spend more by either wasting money on memory that’d be useless to them, or buy a new laptop?

Why is it?

Why is it that when I buy stocks using an online trading service, money is instantly deducted from my account, but when I sell stocks using the same service, I will get money after two working days?

Why is it that when there is a false transaction in my telephone/credit card/travel bill and I raise a dispute, I have to pay first and then prove that the transaction is false and then if proven, expect the refund in some weeks?

Why is it that when I purchase something using my credit card, the dues on my card go up immediately, but when I make an online payment, it would take 2-3 days for the “transaction to reflect” in the balance?

Why is it that when I use a prepaid service (shopping card, mobile phone) and the company has deducted an elephantine sum from my balance, I have no way of talking to a human in the company about this?

And after all this, why am I being given the sugar-pill that I, being the customer, am a King, and am most important to these large corporations running these businesses?

Is the individual so downtrodden and helpless in this corporation-led economy?

I pay here, there, everywhere…

All motorised vehicles in India are supposed to have paid a road tax, which among other things, is supposed to pay for construction and maintenance of roads on which these vehicles would ply.

So what exactly is the rationale behind charging toll for the fancy new highways, toll bridges, expressways?

Apparently these new facilities are of superior quality and put extra load on the funds in their creation and maintenance.

So if I need to pay extra when I travel on such a road, shouldn’t I get a refund when I travel on a road that has not been constructed properly or has not been properly maintained, which would mean almost any Indian road apart from these fancy ‘tollable’ roads?

What say?