Babble Without a Pause

December 8, 2015

Perspectives On Being Fleeced (and other stories)


INDIA (2005)

  1. Passport office. 10am. Stand in line 4-5 hours to get your passport renewed. Wait for hours. Get told to come back the next day.
  2. You decide it’s not worth your time.
  3. You pay some Rupeeses to expedite your application processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets processed the next day and you have your passport.

    BRIBE, they call it.

    “Third world country. What did you expect?” I overhear.



U.S.A (2015)

  1. Submit application to have your work visa renewed. Wait 4 months for  a process that typically takes a month or two (AT MOST). Get informed by friendly neighborhood attorneys that it could take up to 6 months more, BUT nice guy that you are, you could technically continue working while waiting for approval, but you are virtually under house arrest and literally cannot leave the country for vacation, emergency, or even if Jesus returns (because History lesson, Jesus was from the Middle East, not Amurica).
  2. You decide to not have to be stuck for another 4 months due to government inefficiencies and red tape.
  3. You pay some Dollarses in fees to expedite your visa processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets approved in two weeks and you have your visa.

    PREMIUM PROCESSING, they call it.

    “First world country. Things get done quick.” I overhear.




August 19, 2008

My reservations about reservations

Reservations, quotas, SC, ST, backward classes, all English words, yet all are indicative of one country, India, and symbolic of a deeper malaise. Whats the deal with reservations anyway, and why do people in our country fall over each other clamouring for admissions to schools, colleges, universities and jobs alike. You know something is wrong when meritorious students line up for admission into prestigious engineering and medical institutions of higher learning, only to see a SC/ST/OBC student in front of them whip out his SC certificate, and walk away with an admission that he might not necessarily have deserved. Meanwhile the deserving student is left biting the dust. With such foolish and inept politicians in charge, such laws have come to be expected. Increasing disillusionment among the working class and students alike has already begun to have a telling effect, with more and more students leaving India to pursue their higher studies abroad. Who would blame them? I personally would be sick to my stomach to even consider continuing in such an educational system either, if i were to be rejected admission because of some undeserving backward caste person taking my place, when i clearly had more merit and stronger ranking than the other guy.

One of our presidents once famously quipped “India is probably the only country in the world, where people fight and protest to be called backward”. I couldnt have said it any better. In the midst of a generation and a global race for development and progress, it is indeed an oxymoron to hear people protest for reservations for “backward” classes. Lets stop for a minute. Who the heck are these BACKWARD classes anyway. Those who cannot stand up on their own feet ? Give me a break. If at all there are people who can’t stand on their feet, it is those who are poor. Those families, those citizens of our nation who deserve support and help. Yet, often it is these families, and children from such backgrounds that show they have the gumption, the desire to fight the odds and reach great positions in society. I firmly support and endorse (and I’m confident that most people of our nation would agree with) reservation/quotas for poorer sections of society in universities and other places in society. That makes some sense, and is probably what the original spirit of the reservation and quota system was intended to be.

Yet, somewhere down the line, quotas and reservations have been synonymous with robbing the deserving of their due, and thrusting it into the hands of a handful who call themselves BACKWARD to move FORWARD in life, thereby diluting the quality of graduates and the system in general. Latest in this series of incidents is the announcement by the Indian government, of a controversial affirmative action bill in Parliament, under which the number of seats set aside for lower-caste students in premier institutions like AIIMS, IITs and IIMs will increase to nearly 50% to “enable more underprivileged and disadvantaged groups access to higher education”. Yeah right Mr. Arjun Singh, if thats what you say. Our politicians, in their blatant greed for votes and power, and with one eye on the vote bank, are seeking to entice these “BACKWARD” communities by canvassing for increased reservation in education. The one sphere of life where quotas have no place is in education. It is here that a student’s dreams are shattered or allowed to soar. By promoting casteism, and segregation of communities based on draconian systems, India’s stock is only bound to fall in the coming years.

To counter this growing push for reservations, I’d like to throw in my 2 cents worth. How about this for a solution instead? Since BACKWARD castes are seeking permanent BACKWARD status, why not have 1 or 2 national level institutions on the same scale as IIT set up with the primary goal of assimilating the best and finest of talents among the quotas. While this would guarantee the regular crowd of students a fair shot at their ambitions, it would also ensure that the minorities or quota seeking crowd are given a fitting chance as well. By having a separate institution or entity created with the sole intention of accommodating these classes, it would also ensure fair and equal representation of this section of society. This would also push the SC/STs to fight for their position or admissions based on merit, rather than survive all their lives living on quotas. Consequently, it would help generate healthy competition, so that being a SC/ST does not automatically qualify a person for undeserving benefits.

In a country like India beset by growing pains, and struggling to bridge the gap from being a 3rd world country into a developed country, it is issues like these that keep us from becoming a global economic and knowledge superpower. While the perfect solution to this menace would be to do away with reservations and quotas altogether. However, knowing the Indian political situation, it appears unlikely that this is going to happen anytime soon. By isolating reserved quotas into their own institutions, their quality can be monitored by government and/or private organizations. This would enable deserving students attempting to get through on merit, from both categories, to achieve what they have set out for, while also weeding out the posers, those in it just for the quota, those who do not belong. In the long run, the Indian education system would be the richer for this change.

August 11, 2008

India's GOLDEN boy

Abhinav Bindra stunned the shooting fraternity by winning the Olympic Gold medal at the Beijing Olympics today, India’s FIRST GOLD in over 108 years of participation in the Olympics. The quadrennial extravaganza is the cynosure of all eyes in every country around the world every 4 years, all countries save India that is. I’ve only been alive since ’83, but the few Olympic games i’ve witnessed have been a humiliating performance from the Indian contingent. Every Olympiad, barring sterling performances from 1 or 2 gems, the rest fall way short of the world standard. It isnt for dearth of money in the country, or lack of talent. It is simply the governments repeated failure to learn from past mistakes.

Every so often, Indian athletes have demonstrated flashes of brilliance which seem to suggest that the talent is very much there, the ability isn’t a problem, and that they are very much willing to work hard. Yet, why is it that we are CELEBRATING our FIRST gold medal since the hockey team won their last gold way back in 1980 (Thanks Jinsi for tht correction 🙂 i thought it was 1960’s) ? Maybe it is our collective mindset, that as a country so rabid about cricket, other sports get applause if the athletes win a token medal or two, and in doing so, draw the attention away from cricket only for the briefest of whiles. Maybe its high time we give them their due.

Maybe its time for me to start my usual share of rants against the government and all those responsible for the neglected condition of sport in our country. But for the time being, lets bask in the joy and contentment and pride only we know the value of. After 108 years of disappointment, we can only hope this is the beginning of a golden age. Thank you Abhinav Bindra, for a surprisingly early Independence Day gift to the nation 🙂

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