Monday, July 27, 2015

Human Nature Part 3 of 3 - Weather

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Every ten minutes you get a weather bulletin in Chicago.  This is where I live so this is the best reference point I have.  I am pretty sure everywhere you go or live in the USA, the weather bulletins are a part of the radio and TV, and the mobile and internet channels.  In about 10 minutes you get the latest and greatest on the weather updates.  We have very fancy names for people who deliver the weather reports, such as chief meteorologist.  Listening to the weather is actually a part of the normal routine for everyone, and I really think no one really pays attention, unless they see something serious happening around them, it is really background noise?

Weather is unpredictable everywhere.  It changes constantly.  It can be anything; harsh, normal, beautiful, hot, clod, sun, wind, snow, rain and any combination.  Weather can be anything we can imagine, but we know it is changing constantly.  We can use any adjective we can think of for weather, and it will happen.  If you live in Chicago, for sure you don’t have to wait very long to experience the changes and that too very quickly and very fast in patterns.  We are fortunate to really see the four seasons in their full bloom in this part of the world.  Each of the seasons in their full splendor and full bloom with a constant what if it was, is the normal routine for people who live in the region.

Too hot, too cold, too much snow, too much rain; and then you will also hear along with a beautiful spring day, perfect beach weather, great winter weather, snow day, rainy day, for Chicagoans a windy day, and colorful fall day; all these are things we are used to from our meteorologists.  It makes us happy to hear about good weather.

Simply thinking of good weather lifts our spirit.  For some reason picking on our nature and equating to the human spirit is really what we are.  Simple things make us happy.  A rain drop, a snow flake, cool breeze, warm weather and any variation of enjoyable combination of living makes us reflect and also happy.

When politics, money and global events make us wonder what is going on the world with unpredictable instances that happen constantly, weather is something that is also that is happening constantly.  But the weather at most times is a relatively predictable change, compared to the human behavior.  For sure we have extremes with cyclones, earth quakes, swelling rivers and severe weather, but just about all of the weather patterns are easily predictable and avoidable.  We can at most times get away from simply following the weather bulletins that are updated about every 10 minutes, and following the directions will certainly avoid any bad weather or find a place to let the weather pass through.  And for sure the weather will pass though and we simply reflect and move on with life.  We enjoy the good, we try and stay away or avoid the bad, and try to go far away from the severe.  It’s simple to deal with the weather and its unpredictability.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Human Nature - Part 2 of 3 - Politics

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Greeks termed politics as the theory of influencing other people.  The term politics itself is more than 4,000 years old, and since that time has evolved into politics, judicial and bureaucratic systems that govern the democratic nations in the present time.  The late 1700’s and the formation of the United States, and since than the push for freedom of expression, speech and simply the right to do what we like to do has been in the forefront of many a wars and movements; simply people wanting democracy.  Politics continues to evolve with each of the instances where people raise to make freedom a focal point of governance.

When it started out politics certainly was meant to be a noble profession.  It was by definition working for the good of people.  One can’t influence other people without doing something useful to the society.  In reality only through the 1900’s majority of the nations have become really political democracies.  We still have communist governed and dictatorial nations, while we have kingdoms and nations governed by families.  All the while in 2015, the form of democracy continues to be challenged in various parts of the world, while it flourishes in some parts of the world.

At the end of the day the power vested in an individual (or a small group of individuals as ministers) who are elected by the majority of public voting them into power for a fixed duration of time becomes a democratically elected government.  They get either reelected or get replaced with a new set of individuals once the elected term is over, is the most recent form of democracies functioning.  In reality the current electoral process is quite a new phenomenon for the world.  We were used to living under kings and emperors, who ruled over their people with impunity.

At least for a couple of thousand years we have the history of living under kings and queens as subjects.  In essence the rulers simply passed on the governance of their subjects to family.  The growth in human population which has been exponential, and the kingdoms transforming into elected governments is in historic terms quite a small chapter in our existence.

The history of the world as we know is quite fascinating.  We continue to find and dig through our past, and everything we find is intriguing and educational on every aspect of life before the advent of communications in today’s form.  The tremendous influence of radio, television, internet, wireless and wireline communications, and the latest social media and instant access to what is happening certainly is a driving force in the way we live and conduct ourselves.

The fantastic benefits of information and communications at finger tips have a great advantage, and also huge drawbacks.  The politicians use the social media for direct communication with folks around the world.  Millions of people get instant feed of tidbits of information from someone in the position of power.  It could be anything that the individual wants to share; can be a simple greeting, a picture, an opinion, a thought, travel or trivia, anything that they feel is in their mind to share with millions of followers, or people on the www.

Politics has also become quite personal in the recent decades.  For some reason the negative comments get more eyeballs than positive commentary.  People in power and people not in power both focus on what is wrong with each other than displaying the positives of what can be done and what needs to be done.

Politics has in the past 20 or 30 years have become personal.  The money required for getting into elected office has become humungous.  The constant barrage of advertisements and media interactions, almost always point to what the other guy has done wrong.  Also, the democracies and abuse of elected office from around the world has become a common practice.  Scams, abuse of power, nepotism, influence peddling and simply ignoring the law has become a common practice for elected officials.

From a noble thought of influencing people with positive actions and leading them, politics have really become abusive, and for personal benefit.  There is no doubt that the aspiring leaders have high level of insight into the people’s current state of mind.  They probably enter into politics with the intent of great good of the people.  Whatever happens in quick succession is the power of money and power of the office take precedence over the common good.  Either democracies nor dictatorships, and in some cases self-appointed leaders though brute force, all of them somehow fall into the trap of power rather than politics, and forget the common good of the population.

The people themselves are not in any better cognizance in relationship to leaders.  We certainly don’t believe anymore that elected governments are really doing anything for the common good.  We simply cling on to hope.  Hope of a better tomorrow with better governance.  While politics have simply gone from common good to complete focus on individual benefit.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ignorance or Bias?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Keeping up with India’s news online on a regular basis is simply part of the daily routine for myself and millions of other Indians.  It’s a part of my daily routine and fodder for my weekly blog and also chitchat with friends and family.  We still have the love for cricket, movies and politics.  We troll the internet to check on what our fellow countrymen are doing.  Along with breaking news and sports (mostly Cricket) and movies, the online updates from various web links provide a close connection to homeland on the other side of earth.  I am no different from any other NRI, I love my mother, motherland, cricket and movies, all long side of politics.  My likes have remained what they were since my first step to today.  Nothing changes, except where we live and what we have done, but roots remain.

Until this weekend, I would not notice bias in internet coverage of South Indian states.  I lived in North India for a few years before my journey to the USA. And being referred to as a Madrasi was of little offense to me in general.  I was young and did not know Hindi beyond a few words, but by the time I left I was proficient in one more language, gotten a degree and made lots of wonderful friends, and took the train back to Madras a happy man with great memories, and not the term Madrasi.  Things have changed, including the name of the City of Madras.  I am sure that my friends have not, and I have not.  I am sure of this.  We remain besties after a life time away from each other, still find brotherhood whenever we can find each other, and whenever we continue to find one more of our friends in the old gang.  I don’t believe that there was bias or bigotry in the term Madrasi from people of North India.  It was actually endearing to have them use the term, and also teach them the different languages of South India and also the people of South India.

Online news and coverage of India mainly focus on Delhi and politics with coverage for Mumbai and big industrial houses.  Movies focus on Bollywood, with a sprinkling of tidbits on other industries.  Although death, destruction and scams get great coverage irrespective of where they happen India.  One thing you notice if you start to dissect the coverage is the minimal effort that the writer’s out into the coverage of events that are outside of their comfort zone, especially when they cover south Indian news. One of the blatant references the idiots who write about movies always refer to the actors as south actor, south siren, or something with a south attached to it.  You will never hear a north something when they use 99% of the space in covering Bollywood.  The most idiotic stories are written about children of stars, clothes, homes, vacations and whatever so called life style of the movie actors. Force fed through the internet.  Till date it really did not strike a chord, when the south tag was used for just about every reference to the work of the movie industry.  I thought the age old ignorance was the reason rather than bias, when the coverage was about movie industry outside of Bollywood.

This week’s release of the Telugu movie “Bahubali” was a celluloid event that is worthy of the whole nation taking an interest.  The local Telugu media has been covering the making of the movie for almost 3 years.  The national media just started to cover the movie, days before its release.  What was surprising is some of the news starting to write about movie was somehow “Karan Johar’s” along with giving a second preference to the director of the movie S.S. Rajamouli.  It was only after part 1 of the movie was readied for release, Karan Johar got himself involved in distributing the movie is North India, and nothing else.  He had no involvement in making, producing or any other aspect of this movie.  Just because he became associated with the distribution of the movie, it all of a sudden becomes Karan Johar’s movie?

This is where you certainly notice the Bias.  Karan Johar is definitely one of the names to be reckoned with the Hindi movie industry.  There is no questioning his credentials on his continued contributions to movie making.  But the news of making him somehow a part of being the architect of a movie that has been in the making for 3 years was quite a stretch, that Karan himself would find amusing.

The movie has released and at the end of two days, has shattered every record of all Indian movie box office.  We really don’t know what it will do in its full run but for a Telugu movie it will certainly establish a bench mark that will be hard to beat for years to come, perhaps may be its part 2 that should come out in a year.  It is the most expensive Indian movie to be ever made.  All the lead actors and actresses are accomplished and successful.  Nothing has been written about them.  S.S. Rajamouli, the director has made hugely successful movies his entire career, and has been in the movie industry for more than a decade.  No mention of his accomplishments except for a tidbit about of his movies.  There is absolutely nothing written about the producers of the movie.

Definitely there was hype about the scale of the movie, and its graphics and grandeur, and the scope for the movie to be a global product.  The movie got released and lived-up to every expectation of the viewers.  The two day box office performance is phenomenal and certainly promising for the long run in brining smiles to the producers, distributors, actors as it has so far to the audience.  The national media is silent on the movie after its release, outside of releasing a few numbers here and there.  The same web channels have information on crap movies and gets them tracked on a daily basis.  Even the mention of the plot release related reactions are far and few in between, while referencing to movies that might come next week and may dent into the collections of the movie that puts Indian films on the world map.  My impressions on the national media went to zero.  Such blatant bias?

What is wrong with these guys? Is it that the regional movie makers are not wining and dining the national media?  For a movie that was made on the scale of Bahubali, and with pre-release expectation sky high, and the movie reaching the expectations should have been legendary in coverage.  Why there is no hype and pomp for such extraordinary cinematic achievement?

There is no number tracking, no actor interviews, no follow-up to movie goer reactions, no fan reactions, nothing in national media.  Just a blimp and gone.  This movie has not only lived-up to expectations, but shattered box office records on day one and day two, and will continue to do so in coming days.  For sure the movie has the song and dance sequences that cater to the Indian audiences.  The movie is also a grand adventure filled with excellent performances, great technical values and more than anything audience acceptance.  It has delivered rare cinematic excellence, and still the national media ignores it.

It’s a clear case of regional bias.  The hero, the villain along with the rest of the supporting cast deliver first rate performances, they get very little ink.  What else can be more biased than not covering the director’s vision, the technician’s brilliance and the producer’s belief in a quality cinema, on a global scale?  I am sure we will start hearing about one more superstar this and one more super kid that, and some other unbelievably stupid and personal cinematic news from the national media by Monday AM.   What else can we expect? We are still from Madras (that’s all of South India).

Monday, July 06, 2015

Human Nature - Part 1 of 3 - Money Matters

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Since India’s Independence from the British in 1947, the prime minister’s office has escaped the taint of money.  From Jawaharlal Nehru to the current PM Narendra Modi (who is just over a year in the office) all the heads of state for India have not been accused of pocketing money.  They have all have had some issues on policy and matters and major portion of the office holders from Nehru/Gandhi family along with the short lived tenure of Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away in the office, and several other short lived tenures in the PM office remained taint free while in the office.  Modi certainly is a candidate that will continue the tradition of Indian PM’s not getting embroiled in the taint of money for favors.  In fact his main electoral message to the nation was “I will not eat and I will not let anyone else eat.”  He was referring to money for favors.  This phrase was probably one of the most endearing thing to hear for the Indian electorate, which believed him and voted his party into the office with a huge majority.

The last two INC governments had a massive share of scams by elected officials.  In just about every area of governance, money was scammed in huge amounts.  Even after the party was voted out of office, the old scams continue to come to light and the ministers facing the investigators and courts.

2014 electoral victory by the BJP and nationwide rejection of INC was primarily associated with the wide spread abuse of the office by the INC leadership in looting the public coffers.

To date with the administration. Modi keeps his immediate group of ministers and bureaucrats on a very short leash.  His reputation for micro management and no money needed approach seems to hold well at the center.

What is beginning to surface is the peripheral issues of his ministers involved in individual decisions that are deviating the government from its focus on issues on hand.  What also is coming as head line news is of the state level leaders being accused of scams and also the past deeds of association with people who are no longer in the good books with government, law and also the public.

The 24/7/365 press and internet play a great part in exposing even the minute issues and there is no escaping the watchful eyes of hundreds of millions of mobile cameras waiting to capture everything.  Nothing and no one is any longer away from the glaring eyes of the prying masses.

The top leadership of the nation barring an instance or two of impropriety, have not gotten in any money related issues in the first year in office.  Modi himself continues to be beyond reproach just like his predecessors.  His public persona is also intact with the money matters.  By and large there is no visible signs of any scams in the center after a year of governance despite the massive drive in investments in both public and private sectors.

There are several instances of the state level BJP leadership where issues have begun to crop up as they did when INC was in power.  Some of the state level ministers have shown their indulgences as the leaders of INC did.  Modi can certainly contain the state level governments as he does the central leadership.  He can crack the whip quickly to enforce the same level of scrutiny as he does at the center with all levels of government.  Exposing the politicians who dig into public coffers and more so to bring them to swift justice will stop future abuse of power.  All Modi has to do is to keep the pressure at all levels of government, and continued scrutiny and continued vigilance will keep the politicians in tow and start to discourage them from digging into public coffers.

The value of communications and constant vigil by the public and the government will slowly eliminate the rampant abuse of power and scams, as it has been shown in the past year.  People getting caught quickly and are taken to task, and the central leadership is dissuading the politicians and bureaucrats form scamming, should at least start to limit the abuses.  Money will continue to matter to politicians as the scale of the economy is only getting bigger and bigger, and the scope for creating loop holes also gets bigger, but the fear of exposure and public censure will definitely limit the blatancy in looting the public wealth.

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...