Monday, April 28, 2008

"Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes"

As I watched 'Khuda Kay Liye', followed by many debates and dialogs with islamic scholars on the issues raised in the movie and the references of quran and hadith cited therein, all that left me as clear as I was. If, for a while, I set aside the 'Jihaad to make the world a Dar-ul-Islam' aspect of Islam and just concentrate on the issue of why there are so many issues and so much emphasis for 'living by the book', it melts down to a very different plane - it's in the human nature.

As a pop-theory, without any claims of originality, Islam suffers the same fate that christianity got through in middle ages and Hinduism in Vedic periods; i.e - absolute rule of a single class - clergy in this case. They interpreted and mutilated everything for their convenience, precisely as tricks of twisted minds but in disguise of speaking for God. I see a pattern in all three religions - first of all, the clergy created a language barrier through Sanskrit, Latin, and Arabic, which were not the lingua franca but became the language of God. The process and stages were different though, but the end-results were the same.

Thereafter, clergy had a free run to change or interpret the so-called God's words. After language, they began dictating what to study and how to live - curbing individual freedom because there are God Spoken rules for everything. If draw the parallels further, they began hideous targeting. Simply, oppressing the easiest target they could find or the one which could retaliate the least. All three commonly chose women. Apart from that, christianity burnt millions in the name of witch-craft and anti-christ, Islam attacked non-believers, and Hinduism fought with Buddhists and in the absence of any other obvious targets, segregated its own one-fourth.

In this sense, organized religion, or rather, institutionalized religion is no different from or better than fascism or communism. In essence, all are based on seeking absolute control. And that is why, religion is no matter of theology, mythology, or sociology. It has to be studied in the light of psychology, where human brain becomes its own worst enemy in a bid to seek absolute control over its own petty universe.

Friday, April 25, 2008


"How can we solve world problems when our best advisers are busy cutting hair, driving cabs, and mixing drinks?"

If you want to cheer yourself up with some spontaneous laughter, just read through some comments on rediff news or any similar site. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a bunch of opinions, guts to express it publicly, and ready to conquer the world with their intellectual 'insights'. Not only that, just try to refute one's expert opinion and they are ready with all the vengeance. And there need not to be any connection between the article and their commentary. If the article seeks underpinnings of inflation, the expert commentators can blame cheerleaders of IPL; China-Tibet and Kashmir cannot be solved because there is no potable water in Chennai; and if it's about food crisis in the world, it must be due to following Gregorian calendar. Best are the spammers, who never loose focus. They just keep advertising for their arbit sites amid all this experts' brainstorming.

As an afterthought, it is really depressing to realize that these are the masses who vote and choose the national leaders in every election. This also makes it clear why we have such crooks and idiots as our representatives and perpetually successful leaders.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The company you keep

For long, I've been thinking of writing about some companies - the ones one would like to keep in good lists and the ones in bad lists too. I so far believed, pretty much in sync with the general notion, that big brand names, lucrative ads, lush shops, and neatly uniformed work force is enough to raise confidence in products, services, and after sales support. Au-contraire, there is almost no correlation between these factors. And on the basis of those hard-learned experiences, I've chucked some corporations completely whereas, for some, I am willing to bear a bit of extra burden too. Instead of preparing a check-out or chuck-out list, however, I'd just share some of my experiences here.

When I wrote a mail to Nescafe about their coffee not tasting that good any longer, got a phone call, a very sweet voice, and offer for a free jar of coffee to write another feedback. That was really reassuring - at least, Nescafe cares. But another coffee company, Cafe Coffee Day, is damn unresponsive. None of my communications were answered or even acknowledged. And nopes, it's not the difference of a foreign vs. Indian company - my further experiences proved that.

Big Bazar, the supermart by Pantaloons, is though very responsive at the top level - I got a personal call from the local store manager and quick e-mail responses; yet they are not the ones whom I deal every time I visit Big Bazar. And the ones I've to deal with are too rude and even insulting. But the remedy was easy - I don't go to Big Bazar anymore.

Another similar case was of Sony - the Sony World gave a non-functional battery charger and was very reluctant to talk after making the sales. However, a single mail to Sony India got the charger checked, and finally replaced with a new one, despite there being no guarantee or warranty whatsoever.

Another different and unexpected experience was with Tata - no matter how much trust the name raises, they are really unpredictable. Tata Croma manager responded in two days with a very good natured reply and Tata Star Bazaar was not even willing to listen if there is a problem. Perhaps, it was the difference between two arms of a man.

However, most amazingly, my experience with Indian Railways (IR) has been pretty good. When we were stuck in Abu Road after a derailment accident, the station master tried his bit to help us out with whatever he could and that too without a frown, despite all the hullabaloo all around. However, besides that, the experience with IR has been mixed and in essence, IR is not bankable. Similarly, IRCTC, the online reservation site and service managers for IR, are highly unpredictable - after almost five months, I am yet to get a refund for that ticket, which unfortunately was booked online with IRCTC and which, even more unfortunately, has no validity across the counter.

Some more unexpected and very mixed experiences concern the two largest banks of India - SBI and ICICI. SBI, Chowk, Lucknow branch has been a real pain in the neck with their rude, unresponsive, and rather, hostile behavior. SBI, IIMA, Ahmedabad, on the other hand, has been too good at every level, including the manager who helped me recover my lost thousand rupees that I had written-off after 2 years of the ATM malfunction. Now about ICICI - opening an account in their main branch was such a painful experience that I felt like return of the baburaj. Comparing the two banks, though SBI is ubiquitous with its 10,000 ATMs and 6,000 branches, online services of ICICI beat SBI hands down.

After all my experiences with so many corporations and organizations, all I have learnt is not to believe in that rhetorical pomp and show; to take seriously the lessons of 'Organizational Behavior', and; most of all, to value individuals, for they are the ones who make or break an organization.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wrote a line of poetry after so many days, or may be months. Don't know will it ever be completed or be left like me - forever!

Friday, April 4, 2008

To Sir, With Love - 2

Though To Sir, With Love - 1 was long time ago, I still couldn't find enough words to express my gratitude and admiration for all my professors and teachers. Perhaps it is because of them only that I want to be a professor. I have been lucky to always have such wonderful teachers, both in terms of excellence of intellect as well as in terms of genuineness of person.

Although it'd be very unfair to recall only few names here, yet some of them are so deeply imprinted in my memory that I can't help mentioning them. But very emphatically, this is not an exhaustive set. Further, here I've talked about the teachers and professors in academic sense only and not in a philosophical sense, where I'd include life, experience, and testing times also as my teachers.

In school days, Rajendra Srivastav Sir, who gave me full leverage and freedom for learning and doing maths, was one of the main reasons of my interest in intuitive mathematics. At Colvin Taluqdar's, everyone was almost perfect - Mr. K.K. Verma, Mr. R.R. Gupta, Mr. R.P. Singh, Mr. R.N. Sharma.... I even sometimes miss Keerti Sir, Wesley Sir, Godha, Panther, and BPS also.

At Lucknow University, any of my friends can tell who was and is my favorite. Yupp, it's Dr. J.V. Vaishampayan - more than a good teacher, he had been a great person. From teaching economics in class to guiding outside class, I can't help admiring him all the while. And also Dr. Rachna Mujju, with those wonderful discussions and insights - all that is too much to put in words.

My luck got me again the best at ICC, where I initially prepared as a student and then joined as a faculty. I met Saxena Sir and Gurjeet Sir - can't forget their discussions-cum-fights on approaching the problems in different ways. Also, a big thanks to Ashley Burn Sir, who 'actually' 'taught' me English language. But the best of the lot was Anand Sir, who proved to be a teacher, guide, friend, philosopher, and much more.

And finally here, at IIM Ahmedabad, again my luck played good for me. Though it'd be fatal for me to take names as I'm yet to finish my Ph.D. and I cannot take all the names as well, for the list is too long; but there are truly great professors here. However, playing politically correct, I'll mention all the names only when I receive my degree :D

I have plans to go for Post-docs and I hope, my 'teacher luck' will remain as good as it has been so far... and may be with enough luck, someday I'll join the elite ranks of the lovable profs.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I deleted all of my Orkut album today. Not in the spirit of destruction but to start afresh. Had deleted my accounts twice in the same spirit - to have a memory less appearance. Had tore off many pages of my life - in the same spirit. Alas! Life cannot be started afresh - memory less.


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