Monday, December 28, 2015

All Life Matters

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The Christmas week has once again become a police verses community headline for Chicagoans.  2015 has really been an active police and politics and community challenge for the residents.  It’s not just Chicago, Ferguson, Baltimore and many other places in the USA, you will hear the slogan “Black Lives Matter”.  This year and this slogan have been synonymous with each other.

To start with the slogan should be “ALL Life Matters”.

With either the police using their power to protect or power to execute, perhaps using their guns with a bit more aggression than needed.  There is also constant aid of social media encouraging the public to record everything they see, and 24/7/365 media coverage providing launch pad for the eager attention needed and the drama of personal and political nuances that follows every tragedy.

It is to the public’s dismay that the law enforcement doesn’t have the equipment (cameras and voice recordings on the car or and on person) to clearly record and document these incidents.  While the public somehow has a way to record just about everything, police and law enforcement somehow can’t document what they do.  While the consistently spend excessive to their available resources (including the ability to borrow) and spending limits, along with underfunding education and basic infrastructure.  The elected governments appetite for waste, misuse and mismanagement never allows for spending public’s money as it should be.  Ill equipped police force is not a single city phenomenon, rather it is a national issue.  Also police vs the community is not an isolated issue to one city, rather a nationwide problem.

First, we need to give credit to the law enforcement for doing a good job or maintaining law and order in general.  USA is by and large a peaceful and law abiding society, and with very little big brother handling, we are a country of peace and quiet.  The value of the police to the society is enormous by simply being a part of the community and making the people realize the rule of law.  Do policing sometimes profile people based on who they are and how they look?  The answer to that is, Yes!  There is no question that the law enforcement profiling citizens based their experience with each member of the community.  It is in fact human nature to use experience of life to profile and form opinions.  There should be no prejudice in profiling, simply a matter of fact based on experience and how to react to each instance if that happens in real life.

Before we point to the police and their actions, the community issues and its participation in the overall impact to the city should be more in focus.  If you take a large city like Chicago and its suburbs, where do the police get the most 911 or emergency calls?  What are these instances of distress, medical emergencies, civil issues, accidents and or any other law enforcement related issues?  Where are the police most vulnerable to the risk of confrontation and violence?  What are the areas where the city experiences crime the most?  There are so many variables to respond to and what the police has to deal with in each call they have to respond to.  The perspective of the danger to life and the relevance of history of the neighborhoods, is very real for law enforcement.  Race or religion has nothing to do with danger to life and to the law enforcement.

If a city has a diverse population and it also has diverse law enforcement team.  The responsibility is to have equal protection under the rule of law.  It is a fact that statistics and history of each neighborhood is available to law enforcement, and how they plan their actions to support every neighborhood.  The police are no different from any other human being, and they will do what they can to save and protect life and also their own life in doing their duty.  For sure they will fear for their life as any other human being would be.

Communities can police themselves against unruliness.  The huge metropolis has hundreds of neighborhoods and majority of them live without incident.  Most of the population live in peace and follow the law, and thereby not putting themselves and also their neighbors in harm’s way.

All we need is very little investment into each person in law enforcement while they respond to crisis.  Record the events and make them public immediately.  Let the police be constantly trained on crisis management and how to deal with each instance when they really are walking into danger.  The duty is to protect everyone and every life, including their own life.  What will be an impossible law enforcement issue is public and community guessing the actions.  Perhaps police should have body cameras that work and public should follow the law, rather than continuously be disruptive and confrontational.  If everyone follows the rule of law we should have no accidents and violence and killings, simply peace and quiet.  It is impossible to serve and protect, if society doesn’t want to follow the rule of law, and communities don’t embrace the law enforcement.  At the same time the police show restraint in handling everyone.  Finally, the community should support and invest in the safety, security and equipment needed for the police to do their job.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Netas as Netizens

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Active involvement and easy accessibility to internet has made us global netizens.  Distance, Language, race or color, country and wherever we are (including the space station) or whatever we are doing, all we need is an internet connection to instantly share with the rest of world.  The very good (or bad) thing is anything we put out there is easy shared with anyone else on the net, making an instant statement on just about everything.

India has the second most mobile population (second only to China).  There are approximately 997 plus million mobiles in use in India compared to 1,276 million in China.  Added to that India has (a little user less density) approximately 375 million internet users compared to 668 million internet users in China.

The per capita income for China is $13,224 a year which is 86 rank in the world verses Indian’s $5,808 a year which is ranked as 125 in the world.  Neither countries are in the top 25 countries in the world in per capita, as they are with population, mobile users and internet users.

In the last decade communications have under gone a new paradigm across the globe.  Television. Satellite, telephone, mobiles, internet and every way we communicate has become cheap and available to almost everyone.  Communications have also made people quite accessible to each other, irrespective of where they live (barring a few countries with restrictions).  Internet has been especially instrumental in instant communications to millions, and the medium is being constantly used for blabber whatever comes to one’s mind in every available language.  Context, logic, research, reality, truth, and any human beliefs have become a matter of history when someone gets a chance to type into the internet.  No one seems to care as the old five minutes of fame has now become 5 seconds of fame, and the abuses keep coming as quickly as one can type.

Focusing on the Indian Netas (politicians and bureaucrats), mostly focusing on the folks in Delhi and the northern Indian states, the internet has become a place for mockery and stupidity on a regular basis.  We have cases of politicians simply typing tweets that are borderline lunacy.

After the last nationwide election in 2014, and the time after with a lot of new faces in Indian politics, Indians have been inundated with a lot of netizen netas.  Indian public is subjected to their relentless stupidity, simply because they have access to the internet.

Starting the observation with Modi and PMO, which provides updates on a regular basis, we get to see the daily dose of Modi’s whereabouts and his schedule.  This in today’s time and date is a good way to see what the highest elected office is doing on a daily basis.  It is in tune with any other democratically elected government and heads of state in the world.  The mostly generic information and pictures of PM, his schedule and meetings keep us informed of his office and activities.  The Indian PMO since Modi took office has been doing a good job of sharing his schedule and activities.  Where the PMO lacks is updating the public of the announced government programs and their status.  It would be a phenomenal change to the Indian politics if the PMO were to place every program announced by the government and where each program stands with implementation.  Modi will instantly become a leader par excellence if he is able to be transparent.

Many of the Indian parliamentarians, state and local level politicians are also active on the internet.  With the ability to write and post in local languages, these folks are ready to type away (with instant translation available to the rest of us) in whatever language and whatever they feel like (mostly crap) and at every opportunity they get, to attack their opposition.  It is unbelievable that these folks get elected, and many times several times to public office.  The language they use, the animosity, the illogical accusations and mostly venting on someone else in political office, typically with someone they have either worked together or will have to work together.

If we thought that these outbursts are limited to illiterate politicians (India has an abundance of them), it is not.  Lately we have had new politicians who are well educated and severed in high level civil services of the country before becoming politicians who make statements on the internet, which will be edited out on TV and the movies.  The simple access and no editor makes them go wild and type obnoxious statements.  India has forgotten its decorum and respect for public at large.

The choice of language and words spoken or typed have become so personal in attacks, children and women might not want to see any TV or get on the internet to follow these folks.  This is just because of the availability of the internet and the unedited ability to say or type.

It is perhaps the time to demand accountability and respectability from politicians.  We elect them and we also should be able to force decorum into the political process.  The offensive and antagonistic attitudes don’t add any value to the democracy or governance.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Wish List – Five Things On My List for Santa

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

There is no particular order on my list of five wishes for Santa.  I really think they can be delivered.  Santa is in every one of us, so these can be delivered, particularly as if we all behave nice, there is no stopping the Santa in us.

Here is my list:
  1. World Peace
  2. Seasonal Weather
  3. Opportunities
  4. Clean Environment
  5. Happiness 
  1. World Peace – It is probably the most difficult wish to ask for.  We may have never had world peace ever since our existence.  But, I still want to wish for it.  As I get older, the more I worry about what is happening to the world. It’s just not people killing each other, but constantly finding reasons to go against each other.  People have really forgotten brotherhood.  “World Peace might be a lofty wish, but what do have to wish for more than world peace”.
It is really not wishing for much; just to travel without violence or fear, go to a restaurant without getting shot, drive without looking sideways, go and pick-up the kids, go to the bus stop, enjoy a movie or an evening out, go to an office party; most normal day to day stuff which we have gotten used to, and now all of a sudden worry about mass murder.  The stuff we thought as routine in life, for some reason or the other have become violent instances, where innocent life is taken for no reason or rhyme of the victims.  Refugees in millions, destruction of resources and property (in cases entire countries), targeting civilization and killing in the name of something.

World peace in on the top of my list to Santa.

2. Seasonal Weather – It is the middle of December 2015, and in Chicago we are have 60F weather and raining.  It’s crazy weather as we should have snow and freezing weather at this time.  Christmas is coming and there is no snow on the ground.  We are reporting record high temperatures in Chicago, the high in temperatures we have not had in more than a 100 years.  The only saving grace might be the rains that are keeping the moisture in place.  The same in Chennai in India.  They have had rains in December that they have not experienced in more than a 100 years.  There is a 10K mile distance from Chicago to Chennai, but the weather that had not been seen in a 100 years is happening in both places.  I really want to go back to a normal winter in Chicago; snow, very cold and very windy, and no the 60F temperature in December.  I am also wishing for a more seasonal rains in Chennai.

Hey Santa! You really can’t ride your sleigh in rain, can you?

3. Opportunities -  When people work they are busy.  Even small jobs lay focus on one’s mind to do things, be it routine or challenging and everything in between.  When at work or at school, or just having something to do, keeps a person occupied and away from idleness. Simply having the opportunity to work, study, volunteer and participate in life helps to be away from negativity, thereby helping the entire human race to be productive and positive.

Santa – Definitely you need to work on opportunities for everyone to do positive things in life.

4. Clean Environment – Cleanliness is next to godliness; the old saying.  We all like a clean home, clean clothes, clean surrounding (clean mind), why not we work on a clean earth.  Why not we develop a sense of belonging on earth and it is the only known place to foster human life.  We will have no place to live if we destroy the good earth.

Santa – Clean and green earth should make people nice, thereby deserving of your generosity.

5. Happiness – Oh Yes! Happiness.  It is really a state of mind.  Perhaps Santa can’t gift happiness to people.  We must make an effort to do this on our own.  We can certainly start with being happy with what we have and by simply being comfortable with who we are and what we do.  May be it is asking too much to do this, but we certainly can do it. 

We really don’t need Santa to do this for us.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sustaining The Cities

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Although we constantly hear about rising global temperatures and shifting weather patterns, India seem to catch the worst of the rains and floods just about every year.  Somewhere in the nation the rains destroy the infrastructure and disrupt the life of citizens, in millions at a time.  This year has not been any different, in fact south India, especially Tamil Nadu has been seeing rains that it has not seen in a hundred years or more.

The floods in Mumbai and Chennai are really more manmade calamities rather than just once in a 100 year rains.  We have nothing new to add to people and infrastructure management that has been developed to match the exponential growth in population.  Oh Yes! these urban centers have created millions of jobs and billions of revenues, but the government never bothers to map the needs of the population and how to manage their requirements.  There is never a disaster management plan for any major event in India.

I really needed to think of anger management this last week.  The flood situation is so severe that there is no plan to do anything to help the people.  The whole country goes down when there are rains, and we call them heavy rains.  The last time I was really angry writing a column was when BBC aired a documentary calling it “India’s Daughter”.  The idiots who spoke of women in terms that were not worthy of any documentary let alone a BBC special on India.  The documentary although hyped did not get much support or acceptance to what it portrayed.  This time I am not angry but really sad, when I look at the rain havoc in Chennai and surroundings.

Today when we see anywhere in India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, politicians including the PM taking helicopter survey of the disasters, specially of the rain havoc, followed by severe floods and loss of life and property and infrastructure, makes you wonder what are they doing? sightseeing the disasters.

Right after the ridiculous Ariel survey, immediately comes a statement of anguish and then an announcement of relief from the center.  For some miraculous reason the guys in politics seems to be unaffected by any kind of natural calamities that get all the normal folks.  The politicians can travel at will, and dressed as if they just came out of the shower, have no issues with power or communications, all while the public suffers.  Politicians in power travel to disaster areas as if they are vacationing and make nonsensical announcements that really never address the concerns of people suffering the calamities.

If they really did address the concerns that plague the people, we will never have the same floods in the same place every time it rains, would we?

Also, with each disaster the announcement of 1000’s of crores of relief which no one knows how they will come to help the people, and when the money is released how will it help the affected?  We really don’t even know if all the announcements on 1000’s of crores of pledges by the politicians really are being allocated as promised and if there is a record of the reality of promises and spending towards people’s relief efforts.

In India the remnants of manmade and natural disasters stay put long after their time and continue to remind people of the misery that is bestowed upon them.

Is Modi and his management skills ready to be used in his plans to build 100 smart cities in India, to meet the country’s needs?  Most of the cities that are being severely affected y rains are in the list of 100 smart cities.  Can someone get off from their seats and start implementation of infrastructure that is required for a smart city? Communications, transportation, water management, electricity, sewage and waste management, banking and food, things that can be better planned and managed as a part of making a city smart; all these can be put in place to make the city smart.  If we have a plan for building and making 100 cities smart, why not start now.  What good is the wasted helicopter rides and unfunded 1000’s of crores being pledged.  Why not learn from what is happening with the nature and start building the infrastructure that will sustain, handle and eliminate future problems in dealing with the nature?

It can be smart for citizens to demand the politicians to invest in the cities, and invest in such a way that every aspect of natural and man-made calamities can be forecasted and remedies put in place.  Citizens, please get smart, and make your politicians place you, your living place, and your infrastructure given the smart planning, otherwise boot them out.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Spin

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

India’s test cricket team’s success (most of it) is owed to its spin bowling.  For people who remember Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Venkataraghavan; the four spinners who were contemporaries, their on-field exploits are still a matter of legend for cricket lovers.  In-fact they may have started the trend of opening the bowling with spin.  From the beginning of cricketing time in India, spin has been the mainstay of bowling attack.  Although India has not been on a winning track until the recent years, spin has always been the choice and effective bowling weapon for Indian teams.  Long after the spin quartet retired, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh continued the spinning magic, and now we have Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja, spinning their magic on the opposition teams, especially when they play under Indian conditions.  The on-going series with South Africa is a testament to Indian spinners dominance, at home.  They keep the spinning tradition alive and well, and they are nowadays winning test matches.

Slow, steady, flight, leg, off, and googlies all with many variations of quick and effective bowling constantly get the batsmen to make mistakes and gets them out.  The latest test series with South Africa continues to display the mastery of Indian spinners in conditions that best suits them, and their craft of bowling.  The Indian conditions favor spinners, be it the home team or the visitors.  The difference with the last few Indian teams has been that they have been performing better than the visitors, and winning in home conditions.

The major difference between the five-day test matches from the 70’s and 80’s and today the shortened duration of matches in spin friendly conditions.  This year the matches are ending in 3 days.  The olden days when test matches mostly ended un in a draw after 5 days, these have become 3 day matches with results almost guaranteed.  As incredible as it sounds the test matches that used to end up in a draw these days are almost guaranteed with a result.

There is not a lot of change with the Indian line-up in test matches.  It is represented by a couple of great batsmen (who score well in most conditions during their careers).  Great batsmen like Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Tendulkar, Dravid represented India in different eras.  The new lot of batsmen in the test team might have someone emerge as the newest batting great (or two).  The mainstay of Indian test side has always been the spinners (special reference to Indian conditions) and the current team is absolutely bestowed with its share of spin masters, and sometimes supported by the pace attack.  The spinners supported by superstar batsman, was the make of Indian team over the years, and the team never really pieced together an effort on a prolonged basis to make it to the top team in the world, until recently when the Indians started to put together both their batting and spinning to the best use, and perform together to get to the top of the world test rankings.  When you put together Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman with Dhoni behind the wickets and Anil Kumble and Harbhajan spinning their way away, the Indian team did put together one of the best test sides that ever played test cricket.

For several years they displayed the mastery as a team and they were the team to beat.  The current test team is without these great cricketers who made Indian side the number 1 team in the world.  The current team continues to have a potent spin attack, and a good fielding unit and potentially a great batting lineup, that can bring back the memories of the past team success.  The spinners have been showing that the visiting test team look like league teams in Indian conditions.  While playing in India all that the Indian batsmen need to do is stay in the crease and be patient, while the spinners make hay of the opposition.  Although the current series is in India’s favor (courtesy the spin attack), the batsmen have not shown that they are able to stay long enough to work with their home conditions.  There have not made an attempt to make it a five-day event, rather have been behaving like the visiting team.  They can apply a bit more technique to stay put at the crease a little (lot) longer, and make the team look like world beaters once again, rather than just let the spin come to rescue.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pathway to Heaven?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The form of human genus is only about 2.1 million to 1.8 million years old.  It took us a couple of million years from formation to where we are today.  In reality the history of human genus is relatively very short compared to the origin of our living quarters; the good earth.  The best estimate of how old the earth is about 4.543 billion years.  So compared to the origin of our mother earth, us human genus have been around for a very short and young existence.


Much of what we live and practice today probably started with electricity (about a 150 years old), internal combustion engine (1768), steam engine (1807), first car powered by internal combustion engine (1886), then came the first petrol/gas powered engine and decades later into 1930’s we came-up with the jet engine.  It took us c a couple of millions of years to really become mobile.  Oh yes – then in the last 30-60 years of television/telecommunications/internet literally brings us together; irrespective of the distances between where we live.

Calculating the evolution of our being, it took roughly 2 million years to develop travel and communications (to today’s standards) and also find solutions for what we call comforts (at least to a few).  Then we started with world war I, 1914-1918 through 2015 (just about 100 years), we humans have found every which way to destroy our own living environment, kill as many living species on earth as possible, destroy as much forest as possible, pollute as much water (both fresh and sea) as possible, use up most of the over and under the ground mineral and other resources as possible, create as much pollution and trash as possible, all destruction while multiplying ourselves many fold in the same time.  The time is also being spent on finding ways to kill each other at every opportunity we get.  Wow!  So much for the most intelligent species (as we claim ourselves).

Supposedly we are the most intelligent (a term we invented) living species.  We do find ways (constantly invent) to make life comfortable, but we also in turn destroy everything around us with a vengeance.  Along with the inventions, we have been abusing the earth and all of its natural resources with a vengeance (in the same of development), and also with a vengeance we have been hating and killing each other, and also every living being that lives around us.  We have been so good we made many a living species extinct in a very short time.  Such is the power of what we call intelligent beings.

So much for human intelligence and intellect.  We probably started early in our existence with fighting for resources (Darwin) or women or domains.  It probably was the twisted thinking rather than resources sharing.  There was always enough of everything on earth for all living beings, so fighting and killing was probably for control of others rather than any other human emotion.  Much of the last 2000 years has been spent by humans in killing each other (while making other living beings extinct) in the name of religion or race.  We have also done a great job of annihilating everything else available to us as natural resources, as we practice human killing and then torching and burning as so kind of trophy gathering after the killing.  In the last 100 years we have been accelerating the killing and destruction all in the name of what?

From gaining and displaying more intelligence, we also keep expanding our horizons on intolerance.  Our intellectual growth (as we define it) is phenomenal as has become our hatred for our fellow humans.  It simply doesn’t make intelligent sense as the smarter we get, the more intolerant we become.  It simply doesn’t make sense to define intelligent beings in the we have been behaving.

In case of our religious origins, they are also quite young compared to the origins of our mother earth.  In broad sense we started banding together about a 100,000 years ago, forming tribes (may be the Mahabharata) about 5,000 years ago, forming states about 3,000 years ago, and empires about 2,000 years ago.  All of this is quite a new phenomenon.  If we count the origin of religion (has to be from the time we banded together) and that dictating human behavior, the level of intolerance has been constantly growing as the practices become more and more defined in most cases to suit the time and place where we live.

As a person from a religious and god believing family, there is certainly acceptance of spirituality and having divine interference engrained into my life.  The spirituality brings the belief that a supernatural power that has created the universe and all our surroundings, and controls the very existence and the constant change that goes around.  We certainly experience the power of nature and the existence of the great and unexplored universe.  My religion also embraces every element in the universe as something that is to be cherished and has an important part in our life.  So, whether or not we believe it we simply acknowledge the super natural power of being which in engrained in the fact of our life and our very being.

But now a days religion is constantly used as a dividing force between us humans.  Politics and beliefs constantly drive the anger and intolerance amongst us.  We forget that we have been here for a couple of million years, we have yet to find god and heaven.  Yes, for sure we know that the power that drives the universe is out there, but despite all the so called intellect and science we have yet to reach out to our origins.  For whatever reason we believe in the supernatural power, god in any form and his messengers, we embrace a belief, we believe in heaven and life after death, with all that in our life and belief it certainly makes little sense to take a path of killing one another in the name of religion.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Democracies and Predictability

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Time and again we see the same thing happening.  When given a freedom of choice people will behave just they want to behave.  No matter how much media badgering or constant publicity aimed at creating general public opinion, the human behavior is predictable.  There is no way to guess how people will decide to do things.  Especially when it comes to democratic elections, it is always amazing that people will vote for their expectations of the future.  It never fails to amaze the pundits, but people always hold the cards and public is always playing their cards right.  It doesn’t matter which country or what region of the world, if there is a truly democratic election with choices, the people will always vote for the future, and from what they believe can be delivered by the choices in representation they have.

The greatest elections are the ones that people really vote with their heads working, and no matter what the electorate hears, the voting booth always remains a mystery.  These we even have the election results coverage from the beginning of the election day.  No one wants to finish the voting process and then wait for the counting to be completed.  Even the constant coverage on the day of elections, seem to keep the voter fixed on who they are going to vote for, and nothing they are hearing or seeing matters.

If we tune into the recent elections in India, the countrywide elections that yielded a massive majority to form Modi government at the center, seem to quickly have different results in state and local elections.  There is no difference in Modi’s pitch to the nation (voters) which remains unchanged in more than a year he has been the PM.  He has by and large stayed to the agenda of development and cleanliness, and personally works hard in governance and towards his agenda.  He has not been personally involved in any scams or money mismanagement.  But the results of local body elections in Delhi and Bihar reflect a total turnaround in people’s perception of his abilities at the state level, and the political defeats to Modi’s party is now matter of legend; huge losses which only are reserved for total incompetence or gross mismanagement, which with Modi is not the case. What clearly reflects the mindset of the electorate is localized issues.  People clearly differentiate matters of the nation and matters of the town, and more over they are quite smart in choosing their representatives based on what they can feel rather than what they hear.  The voter is smart enough even to distinguish the nation, state and local body representation while in the confines of the voter booth.

The political wave that the reporters constantly blabber about is quite short lived.  Elections only see political waves when there is gross negligence in managing a political office.  The public outcry to replace a party is a reaction to obvious incompetence, but an ongoing political wave is not a constant practice in democracies.  People allow time for the elected representatives to perform to their promises and their party’s overall platform.  People are not looking for a constant wave of new policies and promises, rather a stable and sustainable government up on which they can constantly made demands and also expect people in power not to steal public resources.

The politics of governance is quite predictable.  People are constantly watching and weighing in on their future vote.  Politicians typically get a long tenure to come through with meeting the needs of their electorate, and how they perform at all levels of governance (local, state and center) determines the fate of their party in the next election.  India has a huge issue with pandering to vote banks, but even that is clearly not enough to have people really vote someone into power.

It is quite simple to get reelected.  If politicians just do what they said they will do while getting elected the first time, people will simply place their confidence back into voting for the same person again and again.  While the constant media coverage gets tiring, the media also covers what is really being done by the politicians in power.  So there is no escaping the prying eyes of journalists, who are constantly looking into what is being done by the politicians.

Performance and predictability have become synonymous with democratic elections.  No amount of money, coverage and promotions help in the voting booth.  Only thing that matters is what the voter deems important for the future.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Power of Development

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Many nations including India constantly stress on development.  Building homes (India has famously pledged to build toilets, every home with a toilet) for all the citizens.  Making housing affordable to provide a decent life is perhaps the most politically correct statement that any politician can make.  Along with housing and sanitation, utilities, gas, water and electricity become essential and also play political ploy with each election.  While housing and sanitation are constant sound bites, no one discusses the power needed to light them.  From the USA to India and all the way around, housing is the most common political pitch every politician makes, and also probably the most investment governments make outside of military spending.

It is a fact that world over housing is an initiative that is most needed by the underprivileged, and it is a chance for a decent existence, and also an opportunity to raise a family with dignity.  It has always been and continues to be an excellent initiative to help families that really need help.  Outside of housing, medicine, education and sanitation also are of equal importance and also always in a political pitch.  For some reason the politicians forget to include how to power the needs of the nations, and it perhaps should be the first of the focal points of any nation.

Many nations continue to build affordable housing, and most of these nations are in regions where there is abundance of sunshine.  For some reason the world doesn’t plan affordable housing and building power generation along with homes?  The very fact that the homes are being referred to as affordable should equate to frugal maintenance.  But for some reason building homes powered by solar energy even in nations there is an abundance of sunshine, is something we don’t hear much about.

It would be fantastic to combine affordable housing with solar energy.  It will not just help the new home owners with a roof for their families, but also cut down the cost of utilities, and will also reduce the burden on energy generation of the nations.  It certainly will reduce the pollution.  Affordable housing can certainly be on the regular power grid with solar power being their primary source of power, while the regular power grid help when needed as a backup.

If we can imagine the impact of building every new and affordable house with solar capabilities, the future demand for fossil power generation will be exponentially reduced, and also incentivize the solar industry to produce the equipment at better cost, and also help the new house owners to avoid the cost of electricity (as much as possible), and also helps the governments in reducing the subsidies.  It can be a similar business model as hybrid cars, better yet electric cars.  If we are really building affordable housing, then energy saving, energy conservation, along with saving the new home owner of monthly utility bills, all while reducing the burden on the environment.

With nations around the world plowing large amounts of investments into affordable housing, implementing solar power along with them should not be a prohibitive expense, especially considering the long term impact on the environment and cost of utilities on an ongoing basis to the home owners.  This also should help with scaling the solar power industry to bring the equipment costs down, and immediately help reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.

It is something to think of.  If we can help the needy with housing, we certainly can start helping the planet to revive and survive for the future.  Keeping it planet clean and green, imagine the beauty and blue of earth forever.  It is in the hands of politicians and the money they have in the budgets.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Intolerance

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Secular state is a concept of secularism where the state or nation is officially neutral in the matters of religion.  Being a secular state is a claim to treat all religions equally.  India today is the largest democracy that is also a secular state (there are a number of countries that are listed as secular states including USA and China).  It sounds politically correct for India’s diversity, and in fact most of India and Indians are secular in their living.  From very small villages to mega metropolis, Indians of different faith, color and language live well together.

As with most societies Indians also have a preference of being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian.  Indians also associate the meat eating habit with their caste, the society has religion and then also caste added into their living.  The Indian society with its own religion, caste, sub-caste and whatever societal nuances, have seldom had communal issues based on food habits.  For a fact my own home where my mother is a vegetarian, and my father and grandparents were not.  Following their example my sister is a vegetarian as my brothers are not.  There was never a problem for anyone in the family with food habits and everyone respected the personal preference.

My home was not an anomaly in my town.  There were many families around us, where people lived together and had different food habits.  Our friends, families, relatives, and the town folks; no one looked at each other with issues related to food habits.

There was respect for everyone, and what they practiced; religion, prayer, food, language, clothes, caste, creed and whatsoever people wanted to live within their own preference was never a factor in living together was never a factor of belonging to one town; and secular it was.

Politics and social media, television and internet, and access to communications over the past couple of decades have had a great influence on people and their thought process.  The more we are able to communicate and connect with each other, we have somehow been focused on intolerance as people.  Perhaps because of the constant coverage of communal disharmony and religious intolerance; all for stake at two minutes of fame?

The politicians certainly keep fanning the religious and caste wedge among their constituents.  With more than a billion Indians in audience, even a small fraction of the population becomes a big vote bank, and keeping them angry and outraged has become a standard political practice, and with television cameras all around, and available focus from social media 24/7/365 days, politicians constantly fan the intolerance into communities.  Every simple action gets a huge hype of communalism and is constantly fed with hatred between people.  Once an absolute model of secular community can become a model for communal disharmony; only with a few choice words that foster hatred.

Politics have become a crazy business of absolute power at any cost, and politicians are constantly looking to target the anger of people, and constantly make issues out of things that never mattered to communities, now turned into communal discord.  Much of the news coverage consistently elevates the political rhetoric into some sort of personal attack on a community.  A seemingly simple and innocent issue is all of a sudden turned into a community outrage, and with the political dialogues that target to enticing the hatred simply turns people who lived together in harmony for generations, into violent verbal and physical attacks against each other.

As secular as people are and have been all their life, they also have a human instinct that can be easily turned negative when constantly fed with intolerance.  Politicians and media work overtime feeding on the human insecurities and what brings out is the animal behavior.  People are constantly being exploited and the coverage of communal intolerance is only feeding into the insecurities of people, and further entice into hatred.

Communal clashes and sexual intolerance have become so pervasive that the nation is constantly viewing the episodes of human indignity.  Could it really challenge the basic frame work of the nation?  Are we really secular?  We have been behaving like a bunch of angry constituents of a highly intolerant nation, and now we are not even tolerant of our own friends and families.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Orphan State

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Modi’s election slogan of “Development for Everyone”, for some reason seems to be not applicable for the residual (“my”) state of Andhra Pradesh. After the bifurcation of AP (now Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) in Modi’s watch, any kind of commitment for funding for development is missing from Modi’s vocabulary, especially considering his election rhetoric, and the state government aligned with his ruling government in the center.  The bifurcation of the state, the current government support for the bifurcation, the previous government’s assurance and passing the decree on special status, Modi and his election promises and the tie-up with TDP to form a government in the newly formed Andhra Pradesh, all that lead people’s belief that the new state will be treated with a special status thru India’s constitution to help establish itself after bifurcation, and govern itself at par with other states.

Watching and following Modi before and after his elevation as PM of India, he certainly is a great campaigner, good manager, good communicator, good traveler, and also a very good showman.  He is constantly talks in election rallies on allocating billions and billions he and his government will help fund the state (he is canvassing for votes), except when he in the state of Andhra Pradesh.  For a fact Modi is quite dramatic in making pronouncements on what he will do to every state he is looking for votes or visits, except in Andhra Pradesh.

In last week’s foundation laying ceremony for the new capital of AP, Modi’s name was inscribed in the largest letters on the stone.  He talks a good game of they will follow-up on all commitments made to the state, but never speaks of any specifics on what he will do (as he does everywhere else) to help the state.  He has nothing to offer the people of AP in reference to the special status (which was approved at the center), nor any material help to build the capital nor the infrastructure of the state.

Modi is really puzzling with his actions and attitude towards the people of Andhra Pradesh.  These are the people of a state in India without a capital (only his name is on a big slab of stone with huge letters), no infrastructure for running a government, deficit in revenues, and above all a loss of status as a full-fledged state without all the necessary infrastructure.  With the second year running of the current government neither Modi nor the state government have any commitments that make the people believe that the government really cares and they will make good on the promises to the new state.

Does Modi really care about what people really need?  Is his rhetoric simply that? Is the current central government in a great economic space that Modi’s government looks only good on paper? What makes Modi promise the moon everywhere he goes except to AP?  Actually the only question of relevance to the people of AP is the last one.  For sure there is not even talk of the current government at the center making good on any of the election promises made to the state.

One has to wonder why the AP government is silent on the resource allocation from the center.  The show and tell between Modi and the state government so far has been just show, and nothing to tell.

The south Indian states in India (now all five of them) greatly contribute monetarily and intellectually to India and its success story.  For some reason they constantly get the short end of any commitments from the center.

The current look and feel for AP is certain.  It is an orphan and no one in center is willing to tend to it.  All the commitments made to the state are simply election humbug.  Modi and his men are quite efficient in talking a great game of promise.  In case of Andhra Pradesh, Modi is not even willing to talk a good game, forget a grand scheme.  Time and again just one more politician making good on who he is, just another politician with a motor mouth.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Viewer’s Challenge

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

I had written (had is the key here as I no longer write about them) about movies for many years.  I have always enjoyed watching movies and as I learnt more languages, I have enjoyed watching them with more choices.  As I got older I enjoyed the movies more and also the multiple languages, sometimes even when I did not know the language just the celluloid was entertaining.  Despite my being away from home most of my life, I still like Telugu movies the most.  Every chance I get I watch the newer movies, and for the past few years I seem to be watching the same Telugu movie with different title and different actors.  The heroes glorified, the women in skimpy clothes and a bunch of guys get beat up and killed in the unimaginable way, and much of the movie shot in most outrageous locations that people really don’t care much about, with the ending of every movie gruesome to unimaginable violence.  The movies are no longer representing the age old good versus evil. They have become glorified tributes to really short guys who somehow have become super heroes, mainly because of their father or relatives or families belong to the film business.  Not just Telugu movies but all the south Indian film industry has been turned into some sort of a family business.  Father, son, grandson, uncle, brother, nephew and any other relative in the family is pushed up on the movie going public just because of the filmy background.  While there is nothing wrong with traditionally following the footsteps of a father in business, the south Indian movie industry has really become a cesspool of families forcing themselves on the movie going public.

Yes.  The father might have been a glorious actor for many decades.  That doesn’t automatically mean that his son or someone related from the family will be an automatic hero or a cinematic choice.  But we keep having one family after the other forcing themselves on us, the poor moviegoers.  The obvious monotony and monopoly of these families on movie making, distribution, exhibition and control on the movies is impenetrable for the new comers.  The public has little choice but to watch these folks forcing themselves on the moviegoers.

I just saw a movie and was really sad that I keep watching them.  Every frame I already knew what was going to happen next and what the words would be and actions would be, and when they would land up in foreign locations.  The movie is 100% predictable and ends with the dialogues on the selection of a girl simply based on the looks.  The entire movie was nothing but a glorified tribute to nothing, that ends up with an ending we knew before the titles.

There are millions of me, just like me.  We don’t have to live in India for these movies to be shown, they are everywhere.  There are everywhere to depress the hell out of people.

It’s the moviegoer that needs to be held accountable for such crap being thrown at us on screen.  We keep giving family titles to these guys and make a big deal out of them simply showing up on screen.  The movie functions have become such big fiascos with typically some woman who anchors the function glorifies these guys and praise them to the moon.  The glory of prayer we typically reserve for god is put to shame in these functions when these guys are praised in front of crowds and they have absolutely no shame in sitting and listening to the crappy accolades.

Sadly we are left with very little choice but to throng to the theaters to see these guys every week, while they do the same thing.  They stifle anyone from doing what they do, and allow little room for anyone else to entertain.

The age of entertaining cinema is long gone and it really doesn’t look promising for anything that can be called good cinema, where we wanted to go back to theater again and again.  May be I should just stop watching anything new in my language/s and stick to you tube watching old movies.  That certainly will save me the aggravation of glorified guys who really are not hero material and also save money.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Quota Systems

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

World over the democracies foster quota systems.  It simply is that the politics drive establishing quota from a portion of available opportunities and funding from colleges, schools, jobs, money, housing, land, and any other resources of the nation/s.  Politicians continuously believe and use the quota system while in power, or posturing for power.  Politicians and the power of quota systems constantly play to the polls and politics.  Quota systems pander to vote banks, and continues to be popular with all countries, especially when it is time for reaching out for votes, and as an election promise and also reaching out to interest group, quotas still touch a nerve with people.

For some reason we believe that somehow or someone has at some point of time taken advantage of our people, and we want the so called old wrong to be done right today.  It’s a long statement, but everyone has a grouse about something, and we want today’s society so something about the past.  No one is interested in the context, just some new benefit, and if the overall human race is to believe that the history of mankind has some issues with their particular sect of people at some point of time, then we all need to be in a quota system, not just a few people at a time.

What drives the quota systems and politics which primarily drive quotas is the communities constantly vying for such classification to stake claims to allocations.  With a single stroke of a pen, politicians have been penning legislation that forces quotas on the societies (without an expiration date) and so far in some cases more than 50% of the available resources, jobs, seats, opportunities are reserved.  There is little room for any more classifications into the quota system.  We have actually over extended the quotas, and never remove the groups from quotas.  We constantly have groups vying for quotas, and we constantly identify people as downtrodden or deprived to demand quotas.  The over used and overburdened quota system is still very popular for agitations and attracting popular voice.

The quota system is perpetuated and doesn’t have an end time line.  There is only a start to the quota and never an end.  The political system keeps pandering to the groups of people (who are all down trodden), and both the politicians and quota holders have perfected the act of paying the poor house, and they will constantly refer to a person, at one time who belonged to the community to keep milking the words of the old time, which might not even be relevant to today, and will drive in the comments as thing to remember and uphold today.  What is forgotten here is that the world has always had inequalities and also self corrects itself.  The evolution applies to people and communities.  We are very smart to find solutions, if we want to find solutions.

The global democracies always had the rich and poor, and the have’s and have not’s.  Transfer of opportunity and wealth is basic evolution.  Wealth and opportunity does get circulated just like the wheels.  The global markets constantly self-correct and reinvent.  Change is constant.  Only thing that gets perpetuated is the quota system, and despite the changes to societies and markets, the politicians keep the quotas in play simply to keep playing to the vote banks. 

The constant waste of money and resources, the incompetence of seat selection in professional and educational institutions, the allocation of jobs without competence and qualifications, the wasted money and resources that bring no positive change to the communities, above all unaccounted and unplanned development that is forced on any community or its people because of quota systems, have shown no impact to uplift the groups as a whole.  Despite all this, we continue to have demands for more and more quotas.  No one really cares that a brilliant student can’t get into school because of quota system, someone very well qualified can’t get a job, someone can’t further in career because of a last name; the atrocious politics of quota systems continue, and keep pushing people to desperate measures.

From the United States to India and just about every nation in between, the quota systems keep the politicians busy, and keep their speeches in high voltage.  Instead of fostering positive change they constantly fuel distrust and despair.  There are definitely pockets of success, but by and large they continue to drive despair and don’t push communities to the main stream.  The quota systems constantly raise communal tensions, and public dissent, political opportunism, and above all abuse of the system.

There is no end to the quota system, once it is implemented.  It is for infinite amount of time, and by trying to change or modify or remove the quotas cause only more upheaval and unrest.  We best implement quota for everyone so there is global coverage for every type of people, and it is for sure the best way to eliminate the grouses and inequalities that are contributing to the society today.

A Child of India

Vasu Reddy from Chicago vasureddy@aol.com Howsoever I look at myself I am a child of India.   My mother and my mother country remain wha...