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2011 April 30 [Saturday]

Internet free speech meme-"Casteism can get you jailed but Sexism and Ageism are acceptable in Indian politics"

I avoid meme's but had to rethink my stance after the Information Technology Rules, 2011, (aka the Electronic Service Delivery) Act was quietly implemented last month. This Act states that any content that is "threatening to the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, including any content on the web that is blasphemous, scandalous, defames, or can be considered obscene", eligible for immediate removal by the hosting provider upon order from the Department of Information and Technology. Now, that was the long-winded legalese which is so darn vague but here is the short version: "you cannot criticize politicians publicly, ever."

Such draconian censorship rules have no place in a democracy that values free-speech and this calls for a  free speech meme -- I'm reproducing content (with author credits) from other websites which criticizes politicians on my blog, making it harder for DIT/gov.in to implement censorship successfully. For starters, Antara Sen criticizing the Communists for encouraging Sexism and Ageism in Indian politics.

By Antara Dev Sen , Created 30 Apr 2011 - 00:00

Which is worse — calling one of our finest politicians and a respected elder statesman a mummified corpse, a dead man who has no business opening his mouth? Or saying that the spirited woman leader and challenger to the Communist throne of Bengal ignores funds from Bengaluru to get money from the United States, much like bazaar women forget smaller clients when they get bigger patrons? Going by the collective shock and horror, the latter comment wins hands down.


What? He called her a prostitute? Do they stop at nothing? Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and member of Parliament Anil Basu was promptly pilloried by all concerned, including his own party members. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee apologised publicly, censured Mr Basu and pulled him out of campaigning. What he had said was uncivilised and unbecoming of a Communist, lamented the mortified chief minister. It was unpardonable.


True. Mr Basu had used shocking language and imagery, suggesting (thanks to the blinding hatred for the US that Communists have) that the US was Mamata Banerjee’s “bhaataar” (slang for a woman’s keeper) now, so she didn’t have to look at smaller homegrown patrons in Bengaluru, Chennai or Andhra Pradesh. Like the women of Sonagachhi (Kolkata’s red light district), she had dumped smaller babus for bigger ones.


Now, I hate to break this to our slanderous comrade and gentlefolk horrified by the insult, but moving from smaller to bigger clients is not the business strategy of prostitutes alone. It’s common sense. It happens in all professional and business dealings, in all societies and in all times. So Mr Basu’s sex-worker imagery was not about the logic of fund-raising — it was about using degrading stereotypes to insult a woman.


This jibe shows how regressively patriarchal even our Communist bastion is. Sex workers can be invoked as an insult in a state that came to power professing to fight for workers’ rights and dignity of labour and clung to power for more than three decades with the muscle provided by lowly workers of all kinds. Could the comrade have made similar derogatory allusions to low-caste tanners or to Doms who burn corpses? Perhaps not. But chastity is such a deep need of Indian patriarchy that even a seasoned Communist can snigger at sex workers. They aren’t really workers, just fallen women. More than Ms Banerjee, it is prostitutes who have been insulted here.


But the intent was to hit out at the deviant woman who dared to challenge the status quo. And this is not the first time that Ms Banerjee — herself adept at insult — has been attacked with sexist tools. During the Singur agitation, when she was busy taking our breath away with her astounding dramatics, this same Mr Basu had declared that if he had his way he would have dragged her by her hair and plonked her back home instead of allowing her to sit in dharnas. Clearly, for this little caveman in a dhoti, home is where the woman belongs. Not on the streets or in sit-ins. Not in politics.


In fact, the cunning Trinamul Congress chief has been called “brain dead” by the Communists — an accusation so far from the truth that it makes you wonder whether the Communists have completely lost their minds. And when Ms Banerjee first came up with her slogan “Ma, maati, maanush!” (mother, earth, people) some Left leaders had sniggered, “But she isn’t a mother — what does she know of motherhood?” In a patriarchal society, the good woman is domesticated and acceptable as a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law. But if you are an unmarried politician woman — gosh, you have a problem, sister! You don’t fit in, you are hugely inadequate.


And it is not always men who point out this inadequacy. Some time ago, the feisty Renuka Chowdhury, then minister for women and child development, had hit out at Mayawati on the Aarushi Talwar murder case. She herself was thinking as a mother, she announced righteously, but Ms Mayawati was not a mother, she could only think as a chief minister. And was therefore wrong, of course. Shortly thereafter, Maneka Gandhi was not allowed to flout rules to meet her son Varun in a Uttar Pradesh jail. Ms Mayawati is not a mother, Ms Gandhi hit back, how could she understand a mother’s concerns?


Ages ago, a young Indira Gandhi was called a “goongi gudiya” (a dumb doll) by her respectable opponents. When she grew to become the most powerful Prime Minister India ever had, she was lauded as “the only man in her Cabinet”. Patriarchal symbolism plays a vital role in our perception of political leaders.


The wife, widow or daughter-in-law is very readily acceptable, and most of our women leaders play that role beautifully. And those who don’t — like the unmarried Ms Mayawati or Ms Banerjee — have many extra battles to fight. One way of sidestepping this is to become the universal mother, like “Amma” Jayalalithaa. But the “Behenji” or the “Didi” can only be stereotyped as a dry, heartless, careerist old maid.


But plugging into derogatory stereotypes has been part of the game of politics. What I find alarming is our refusal to see such insults when they are not included in the high-profile, politicised identity groups. Casteism in poll campaigns can get you jailed. Sexism is appalling and can get you in trouble. But ageism, however mean and hurtful, is acceptable.


Which is why I am shocked at the jibe of Bratya Basu, theatreperson and Trinamul Congress candidate in West Bengal, at Somnath Chatterjee. The former Lok Sabha Speaker, though expelled from the CPI(M) for putting the Indian Constitution before the party during the confidence vote, had generously agreed to canvass for CPI(M) minister Gautam Deb. Quick as a flash, Mr Bratya Basu — the challenger in the minister’s constituency, the “intellectual” and first-time politician — attacked the elder statesman, calling him a mummified corpse out of a coffin. Why should anyone listen to him?

An Egyptian mummy, he grimaced for effect, why is he talking in Bengali? He should talk in hieroglyphics!

Maybe civil campaigning is indeed the language of the dead. Maybe lumpenised politics does not need informed debate — either on the campaign trail or in Parliament, the highest seat of rowdy ruckus. Our democracy can just ride on vulgar name-calling and derogatory stereotypes. The vulgarisation of politics has bred a new language for a new age of ungracious, uncivil, illiberal politicians. And unless they are checked, this crude lot will breathe their own mean spirit into our wounded democracy.

Antara Dev Sen is editor of The Little Magazine. She can be contacted at: sen@littlemag.com

2011 March 7 [Monday]

Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag

Tomorrow the the world will celebrate the 100th International Women's Day, but today the Supreme Court verdict rejected the mercy-killing petition of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag, filed by Pinky Virani the author of "Aruna's Story". In a country like India, "mercy killing" (whether passive or not) will definitely be misused by parties with vested interests and while I welcome the court's judgement on passive euthanasia, I can't help but wonder if India has done enough since then. As Usha writes, "In the 60s , Jayakantan wrote a story called “Agnipravesam” where a college girl is raped in a car on a dark rainy evening . On seeing her state when she reaches home, her poor widowed mother immediately senses what has happened. She takes her in and simply pours water on the girls head; then she tells her to treat the water as fire and feel pure again and forget the incident."


Thinking about Aruna, I am in two minds --one part of me wants her suffering to stop and it was really hard to not cry for her, for "what may have been" when I saw her hospital video being aired on every news channel, or while writing this entry, or while reading for the first time all those years ago -- Aruna's tragedy still evokes the same emotional reaction today as when I first heard heard her story all those years ago -- A pretty nurse, brutally raped by her subordinate, Sohanlal Bharatha Valmiki, as an act of revenge ; who has since 1980 been a free man -- free to marry and have a family of his own ; whose first act upon being released from jail in 1980 was to visit Aruna's room at KEM hospital and remove the bed guards, leading to her falling from the hospital bed. He probably thought Aruna would fall and die. She didnt. Presumably security was raised after this second incident and her co-nurses and doctors are her only visitors. Later the rapist moved out of the city and was last heard working in a NewDelhi hospital under an assumed name.

I met a big learned pujari who said I had a sau mein ek patrika [a rare horoscope], that I’d be a success, will live long and would go abroad..... but even if he was talking rubbish it does not matter because I know that I will become known in my field -- That was the ambitious and dynamic 25-year-old Aruna, talking to her cousin about her career plans to pursue her dreams of studying abroad. Eerily, the soothsayer's predictions to her father did come true but I doubt if this was the kind of fame they would have wished for, nor expected.  Aruna, born on 1948June01, was the youngest daughter of the Shanbhag family -- consisting of her parents and siblings, six brothers and two sisters, all of who were more interested in extracting an apartment in Mumbai and financial compensation out of her tragedy. When that didnt materialize, they abandoned her to her fate.

For a woman who went against her family and rejected the life of abject poverty in the village, she did well as a nurse in Mumbai, met and fell in love with Dr.Sundeep Sardesai, who upon realising that Aruna would never be normal again, deserted her to marry another woman on 1974May01 and settled down abroad. If you knew and loved someone so deeply would you not feel any guilt for deserting them? I cannot help but wonder if Dr.Sardesai, even once, over these 37 years, ever wondered how Aruna is doing. His rejection makes me wonder if he had ever cared or loved her at all!

Apparently everyone in Aruna's life has moved on and is living a normal human life. There is no doubt that Aruna's hellish experience has made her suffer for 37 long years but mercy-killing? Killing someone who cannot make that decision for themselves isnt mercy. However which way I argue, it seems terribly unfair that others get to decide when Aruna should die. How do we have the right to make decisions on behalf of a person who, unfortunately, cannot decide for herself!

Strange as it may sound, she seems like a fighter to me -- Didnt she overcome her comatose state after the rape, albeit declared "brain-dead"/'persistent vegetative state' thence. Her tremendous will to survive reflects in the fact that despite being brain-dead she has definitely shown a will to live, and most importantly, she can breathe on her own and isnt dependent on life-aids. The nurses at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital claim, Aruna responds to them when they attend to her, albeit as 'screams' or 'smiles' and they cheered at the Supreme Court's verdict that Aruna should live. For once, I am glad that the tax-payers money is being put to good use by a handful of KEM nurses and doctors.

All the people in favor of killing (err..mercy-killing) Aruna, should take a moment to wonder at her indomitable spirit her body still holds on to -- She responds to stimuli, is on a liquid diet and loves listening to music and the staff nurses and doctors of KEM care more for Aruna than her family or ex-fiance ever did. She continues to live among strangers who care enough to care for her life. Why should we deny her the right to live?

On 2011June01, Aruna Shanbhag will not know she turned 63, as she has remained oblivious to all her birthdays since 1973November27, but that is not reason enough to permit euthanasia. Let us not kill someone who, despite two murder attempts on her life, has shown such tremendous will to live. She has survived despite the odds stacked against her and she should be allowed to die when her body chooses it, naturally. That, for me, is mercy!

If reading about Aruna was heart-wrenching, writing this blog entry was equally difficult, especially because I wanted an appropriate title in Marathi, one that could reflect Aruna Shanbhag's strong never-say-die spirit, choosing to outlive her tragedy by 37 long years (and probably many more to come), only to remind Indians (and the world?) that as a society, and as a nation, we conveniently choose to forget the silent, the inconvenient, the speechless and actively deny justice to women who are rape victims. Its ironic to be forgotten by the next generation you supposedly bring forth!

In Sanskrit, "Mukta"has various meanings: "finally set free", "liberated, delivered, emancipated (esp. from sin or worldly existence)" ; as also meaning "abandoned, relinquished, given up , laid aside" ; "the quarter or cardinal point just quitted by the sun" [ironically, her first name 'Aruna'; means "the red colour of the morning sun"] ; unchaste woman; "the spirit released from corporeal existence" (a noun form). How ironic!

For me, Aruna is already mukta -- she, whose ruddy spirit wills her to live, despite the cruel betrayals by those she loved, the society and the Indian legal system! I cant even begin to imagine the pain Aruna may have gone through but instead of killing her in the name of mercy, we should be fighting to update the ancient rape laws in India -- bring them on par to those followed in developed nations like USA, Europe, et al. Lets petition to change Indian laws and make it impossible for an Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag redux, ever! That, for me, would be true mercy towards all Indian women and each day would be Indian Women's Day!

UPDATE: Tasting crystals of sugar fed by sister Sugandha Rokade in her mouth, nurse Aruna Shanbaug, 62, cried out, “Aaah!” when she was told about the Supreme Court judgment.

2010 October 5 [Tuesday]

The Sparsh BPO's Intelenet way to defraud BSNL

20131012-Update: I changed the title of this blog post as I just came to know via Valorie that the term "gyp" has racist connotations.

I've been having DNS issues since last weekend and since my ISP has been happily outsourcing its customer service obligations to Sparsh India, so whenever the DNS conks off (which is once a month at the very least), I get to have interesting conversations very often.

[after our initial conversation when I've tried explaining the DNS problem, in vain.]

ME: I've tried changing the DNS to point to 208.67.222.222, saved and rebooted the router, etc... , can ping "random" server, can use IRC, etc...BUT cannot connect to some websites like "www.zareason.com", which gets redirected to "http://searchportal.information.com/?a_id=92438&domainname=www.zareason.com". Please reboot your DNS server as it does not resolve some domains properly.
CSR: Click on 'start button', click on 'internet explorer', ...
ME: Excuse me ...Sir/M'am, I told you I dont have windows on this machine. I use a Linux-based operating system so if you tell me what information you require to troubleshoot, I can check for it locally.



At this point I'm put on hold, ...CSR returns after a few minutes to ask if I can connect to 'google.com'. I answer in the affirmative and he/she proceeds to say the problem is because I use Linux and there is nothing they can do about it. Simply stunning.

Asking to speak to another person who knows "linux+networking" or a team leader results in them disconnecting your call. That isnt surprising. A Business line article says "Sparsh BPO, which is the domestic arm of Intelenet Global Services, put in a bid at Rs 1.15 a call for providing contact centre services...." -- The higher the number of calls to the BSNL toll-free numbers will result in more income for Sparsh. I'm not aware of the finer points in their SLA but the pattern I have observed is very very common. Calls are always dropped, sometimes mid-way, etc...

Sparshindia is a subsidiary of Intelenetglobal, meant to handle the pan-India BPO business. I am curious to know if Intelenet provides similar poor service to their US clients. Would a CSR disconnect an overseas call mid-way without solving the customers problem? Will they get to bill clients simply on the basis of number of calls handled without actually solving the problem.

http://www.sparshindia.com/opration_quality.html, states they monitor calls and have a good QA process. I beg to differ. If I call back and go through the whole discussion for the N'th time and insist on speaking to a TL, I'll be put on hold, and the same person pretends to be another person. Oh well, it takes more than changing voices and giving a fake name -- the 'trying too hard to fake it' bit that gives them away. Nine out of ten times the conversation has gone downhill when the CSR insists that you are having a DNS issue because you are using Linux.

https://www.zareason.com/  was also unable to connect and dig @8.8.8.8 zareason.com returns the correct IP address. While I grok that every ISP out there uses a transparent proxy to save on bandwidth. Using an anonymous proxy gives me the zareason website but what if its a site you want to order something. How can the user know or trust the site if the ISP has borked DNS which just redirects you to a phishing site?

On multiple occasions I have requested to speak to any technical person who understands "linux + networking" as the DNS issue has a simple solution -- Probably the DNS server used by the proxy is broken and its is caching incorrect data. The backend technical team (whom i've spoken to just once in so many years) can reboot the server and clear the cache. This is all it takes, all of 5 minutes to reboot the appropriate server and solve the DNS issue. BUT its easier to do a shirsasana (head-stand) than get the sparshindia agents to reboot the darn dns server.

UPDATE: I called Sparsh India yet again. This time I refused all the request to give the mobile number so the outbound process would call me. Erm...I would hold on forever until the DNS problem was solved. As of writing this, its been 2 hours that i've been talking to a TL (he claimed so), who finally booked my complaint which I checked here: 'http://bangaloretelecom.com/' --it has no details of the problem. The excuse this guy gives me is 'BSNL must have blocked the site" ...hilarious, why would bsnl want to block one site peddling computers? If it were a p0rn site that argument might atleast make sense. We retraced the steps of changing the routers WAN settings and other tasks which didnt help.

Which part of the sentence "I can access websites and surf online, only some sites like zareason dont work, reboot your DNS server and solve the problem" does a person not grok?  He even pretended to not know how to spell "cache" and i could hear his co-worker giggle in the background. So I politely told him that while he was busy 'pretending to not understand basic tech terms', he was not harassing me, rather, he came across as a dumb person with zero technical knowledge. That got his attention real quick and he didnt seem to enjoy harassing me anymore. Oh, the joys of being a sexist troll !!

At the moment it seems that Sparsh India is only interested in increasing their revenue by billing BSNL INR1.15 for each call that customers make --Not solving the problem in one phone call definitely helps Sparsh and Intelenet gain more revenue. Rebooting the server means the problem gets solved, hence less revenue.

2010 June 13 [Sunday]

PyCon-India-2010 CFP

After much debate on the list, it was decided some months ago to hold Pycon-India 2010 in Bangalore....Yay !!

Its scheduled to be held at MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology on the weekend of 25th and 26th of September 2010. The call for proposals has been announced on the PyCon blog site at http://pycon.blogspot.com/2010/06/pycon-india-2010-call-for-proposals.html.

You can tweet, dent and blog to spread the word around and as the event draws near there will be calls for volunteers on the mailing list, so do pitch in. Usually I keep away from some of the Indian communities which are riddled with a handful of rude jerks (whose favorite pass-time is flaming another person), or arrogant control freaks and even cyber-stalkers !

I've never understood how a silent majority can allow a loud-mouthed minority to overshadow all the good work they do. Beats comprehension!!

Well, thusfar, pycon-IN is one space I find different -- The event is community driven and run by volunteers, mailing list discussions can get hot and yet its open and transparent. The part I liked the most-- almost everything, including finances are open and available to mailing list members -- now THAT is very much unlike _some_ Indian event(s) with sekrit cabals pulling the financial strings behind a "community" veneer. Its such a welcome change that I try to pitch in when I can.

2010 May 17 [Monday]

zen of computerisation

Only we can introduce computers at banks and at the same time increase the paperwork by making the customer fill out one form to open an account, a second form to get a debit ATM card, a third form to get a cheque book and so on..... Sans pushing paper around it would seem the government babu's dont do any work...No can do, one has to look busy atleast!

Only we can create an online reservation system to book rail tickets whose website after 11:30 pm will show the following notice when you try to book tickets:

Booking (I-ticket and E-ticket ) is allowed from 5.00 to 23.30 Hours (Indian Standard Time) on all days including Sundays.
Greenwich Mean Time 23.30 and 18.00 Hours
Cancellation of E-ticket is allowed from 5.00 to 23.30 Hours (Indian Standard Time) on all days including Sundays (before chart preparation of the train).
Greenwich Mean Time 23.30 and 18.00 Hours

24x7? eh, what? do IT the Indian way!

2010 May 8 [Saturday]

chaturanga

Sexual assaults involving ministers mixed with never-ending power-cuts make a heady summer mix. Its not surprising that the frequency of water cuts and power cuts has spiked the moment local Municipal elections voting got over. People have filed PIL's but KPTC/BESCOM cant seem to curb the power theft that occurs right under its nose, which is self-evident when you take a walk around any main street with shops and direct your gaze skyward to see the criss-crossing wires from each electricity pole situated on the roadside--all illegal but under the benign gaze of the officials. The shopkeeper will tell you why you could not get away with it without the connivance of the employees of inefficient BESCOM whose palms they regularly grease, lest its converted into "commercial rates" which is four times higher than the residential rates....and thus residential power theft continues. The powers that be are aware of the irregularities and yet dont care. What would it take to turn things around?

If that is the local state of affairs, the national level is no better. Nope, Sonia Gandhi, a woman at the helm has not changed things for the better. Its not uncommon for women to bear the brunt and pay the price when it comes to law-making policies. India has always had women politicians and yet the scams continue to tumble out of the closet catching the players on a sticky wicket, and we continue to live with corruption, lobbying for power while the money-making games continue, resulting in tacit compromises instead of clean governance. If anything politicians lack the will to root out corruption and a citizen has no choice when it comes to choosing a clean political party to represent them. Today, corruption and crimes are committed by politicians from just about every party and ideological frame of mind --Quid pro quo.

2009 November 21 [Saturday]

fossjobs.in

Narendra started and maintains fossjobs.in, an new India-centric job-board for all those Libre software jobs. Its a welcome change to see the clean interface sans any Advertisements with a  readable font size, an important part of usability which many sites seem to ignore.

Another "nice"feature is the non-requirement to create-yet-another-account-to-post...yay!! Click on "post a new job" and voila! The job-type has just 5 listings (Full-time,  Part-time, Freelance, Volunteer, Work from home,) but it would be nice to have "contract/job-work"or even "temporary work" for those short-term assignments that folks may be interested in working on. There is RSS and a twitter stream for all jobs posted. C00L work this :)

2009 October 18 [Sunday]

A silent Dipavali

High decibel levels have always resulted in a migrane and since childhood I've always cringed silently at noisy pubs/discos, honking while speeding, loud music and other public noise pollutants. So what is it about Indians being noisy in any celebration? --whether its a marriage or ganesh chaturthi or divali or holi or just about any event ; most Indians think its their public birthright to keep a loudspeaker facing your home because they are the truest custodians of your religion. Gee, isnt a festival supposed to spread cheer, kindness and generosity instead of noise ?!

The maximum pollution is reserved for dipavali -- the firecrackers noise and pollution from chemicals fumes that one is subjected to, whether its the horrid sutli-lakshmi bombs (that was what it was called when i was a kid and i detested the chemical fumes and noise) intended to awaken the neighborhood at 3:30 am or pre-pubescent boys thinking its oh-so-funny to burst fire crackers as women walk past or train a rocket at someone's home as a prank -- Ever heard of a fire hazard !?!

Its strange how people can become a public nuisance under the guise of celebration and indulge in public displays of wealth. In grade4 I had read a news report on small children in sivakasi being exploited to make crackers and seeing pictures of their hands with boils made me resolve that I'd never touch a phuljadi or buy firecrackers (I had also resolved to not wear silk or use leather objects but was forced to give these two up after I outgrew my teenage years) which didnt go down well with my family and especially with school friends who thought peer pressure and jeering would make me change my mind. Didnt happen, this one made it :)

Over the years I used to wonder if we will ever learn to celebrate in silence and despite not foisting my beliefs/thoughts about chemical pollution on others, when I read about school kids being more aware of their environment a few days ago, life came to a full circle -- Eight-year old Mitul Mehta is my favorite!

2009 March 5 [Thursday]

Sexual assaults in public spaces

I've changed the title of this post thrice because I refuse to dilute sexual harassment and assaults by calling it eve-teasing -- sounds frivolous and trivialises crimes against women.

India in the 21'st century is definitely unsafe for women, even if she is accompanied by a man and nobody seems to care enough about public sexual harassment to act on it. I've had to warn many female (and male) friends visiting India to NOT travel alone or even in groups of 4-5 women as they dont know the local language and without men in their group its inviting trouble. Saying that about your country sucks big time.

On Monday after a protest was held outside the police commissioner's office, Shankar Bidari, the police commissioner of Bangalore said :

"Bangalore people are so cultured people they will never tolerate any indignity, harassment or assault on women. Even without police and without government, the dignity of women in Bangalore city is perfectly safe and protected,"

I wish !!  One of the women who was attacked describes her ordeal and after reading this article, its deeply disturbing that the PC who is responsible for the safety of the city's citizens has trivialized the issue with insensitive press statements but didnt the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya and District In-Charge Minister J Krishna Palemar called the pub attack and MLA’s daughter’s abduction as ‘small and common’ incidents and scream at the media reporter to "not waste his time with silly incidents" ?! There was a photograph of the Police Commissioner (check out "After hrs" last page of Bangalore edition of DNA newspaper dated 2009mar05) calmly enjoying the Mysore Maharaja's birthday bash on Tuesday at Palace Grounds Palace because : None of the women noted the assailants bike numbers, hence NOTHING can be done.

WRONG, Mr. Bidari, Bengaluru is not safe...... INDIA is not safe for women. I can narrate my experiences too BUT do you even want to listen to women like Archana and others who were attacked ?!

Join us :

Women in Bangalore are facing serious violence and attacks - for wearing jeans, going out in the streets, fighting back the moral police etc and we need to stop these attacks. This is a letter to the police commissioner/home minister/press release regarding the recent attacks on women in bangalore,

Endorse the petition at : http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html


FRI, Mar06 :
Please come to ALF [Phone : 080-2286 5757] on Friday anytime between 2-6pm to make posters for the protest at the DGP'S office on saturday.. Charts and colours will be provided but feel free to bring your own and you can bring money you would like to contribute. Alternative Law Forum, 122/4 Infantry Road, (opposite Infantry Wedding House), Bangalore 560001, (nearest bus stop- Shivajinagar Depot)

SAT, March07:
1. Gather at Nrupathunga Road at 15:30.  (Parking available at YMCA, DG's office compound, etc.)  Stand on either side of the road, outside DG-IG's office, holding placards, silently.
2. Either the DG-IG comes out at 16:30 collects the memorandum and addresses the audience, or a small representative group goes in to his office when called and present the memorandum.
3. If the latter, then the representatives will address the gathering, when they come out.
4. Gathering shall disperse at 17:30.

SUN, March08:
0. On Sunday 2009March08, International Women's Day,members of the group and other citizens will walk down various prominent roads of the city. Its called "Take Back the Night Walk" and is being held by women to reclaim our lawful right to be safe at night across India. It starts at Indiranagar, Ulsoor and the other two places where the women were attacked
1. At 18:00, people will gather at the five locations as designated by the area coordinators.  They will interact with the audience (in as many languages as possible), and spread awareness about the various goals of the Fearless Karnataka campaign.   This will involve spreading of information flyers and testimonials, conducting bystander polls, and other such forms of interaction with the people on the streets.  This can go on till 20:00.  (Volunteers for poster-sticking will do so around this time.)
2. At 21:00, people gather at the designated spot in Majestic, bringing along with them necessities such as food, water, and community spirit.  There will be further performances, video projections (if possible), songs, and other such activities there.
3. This will go on till 23:00, when people will disperse in their vehicles (pooling as much as possible), in public transport, tempos (which are currently being investigated), etc.

[updated, from FKNK]

2009 February 26 [Thursday]

Three months later

... Its been three months since the first terror attacks on Mumbai on Nov26 last year which was a haute topic of debate for the media ; certainly not a day easily forgotten. It should'nt be forgotten until justice is done either. By the time our Republic day dawned two months later, the heat reduced to glowing embers and it seemed that we would have to live with a failed police and judicial system, yet again.

Even though the Indian prosecutors managed to get their act together yesterday, with the Mumbai police filing a 11,280-page charge-sheet in the 26/11 attacks case, naming 35 Pakistanis as wanted suspects out of the 47 chargesheeted for terrorism ; I wont be alone holding my breath (literally) on this one, despite the public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam's promise of justice in 3-6 months.

The 284 VOIP calls the terrorists made have been traced to a serving Pakistani colonel but there are also news reports of an Italian link while the Japanese were into nuclear business with Pakistan which is intent on being as uncooperative as possible by raising polemic questions  :

Pakistan has sought an explanation, for example, why the terrorists’ maritime movements did not come to the attention of the Gujarat and Maharashtra governments and how their ship escaped the attention of India’s costal radar defences.

Given that Pakistan’s investigators are well aware that the terrorists reached Mumbai in a hijacked Indian fishing boat — a fact India’s dossier of evidence makes clear — the question is mystifying.


Its no secret that the US army is training Pakistan with a number of US military advisors but the USA has virtually no control on how the Pakistanis use the training against them (like the 26/11 attacks) a fact acknowledged for many years now.  Even the FBI is going to find it hard to get Pakistan to unravel its terror networks, especially when terrorists are intent on razing their home.



2009 February 20 [Friday]

moral policing and hooliganism in Bangalore

There is more to Bengaluru than the "Indian silicon valley" tag and there is no dearth of self-styled criminals and goons masquerading as culture-vultures.

From, http://vishshanker.sulekha.com/blog/post/2009/02/this-happened-in-bangalore-bengaluru-shocking.htm

A few of my friends and I were just paying our bills and coming out of our regular Friday night watering hole and dinner place in Rest House Road, just off Brigade Road, and most of the women in the company were already standing outside. Some of us outside were smoking, people were happy, there was laughter and jokes, as there were many other people in the street, all coming out, satiated, in the closing hour of the various pubs and restaurants around.

Suddenly from up the street a massive SUV comes revving and speeding, hurtling down, and stops in a scream of brakes and swirling dust, millimeters away from this group of 4 women, barely missing one of their legs. A white Audi, imported, still under transfer, with the registration plate of KA-51 TR-2767. Some millionaire's toy thing, that in the wrong hands can kill.

Naturally the women are in shock. And quickly following the shock comes indignation. These are self made women running their own businesses, managing state responsibilities for global NGO firms, successful doctors. They are not used to being bullied. So they turn around, instead of shrinking back in fear. They protest.

And as soon as they turn around in protest, the car doors are flung open, and a stream of 4-5 rabid men run out towards these women, screaming obscenities in Hindi and Kannada against women in general, fists flailing. Some of us who came in running at the sound of the screaming brakes now stand in the middle in defense of our women, and then blows start raining down. One of the goons make a couple of calls over the cellphone, and in seconds a stream of other equally rabid goondas land up. They gun straight for the women, and everyone – a few well-meaning bystanders, acquaintances who know us from the
restaurant, basically everyone who tries to help the women – starts getting thoroughly beaten up.

Women are kicked in the groin, punched in the stomach, slapped across the face, grabbed everywhere, abused constantly. Men are smashed up professionally, blows aimed at livers, groins, kidneys and nose. A friend is hit repeatedly on the head by a stone until he passes out in a flood of blood.

A plain-clothes policeman (Vittal Kumar) who saunters in late stands by watching and urging people to stop, but doing absolutely nothing else. A 'cheetah' biker cop comes in, with our women pleading him to stop this madness, but he refuses action, saying a police van will come in soon and he cannot do anything. Everyone keeps getting hammered. Relentlessly.

The carnage continues for over 20 minutes.

Finally when the police van does come in it is this vandals who are raging and ranting, claiming to be true "sons of the Kannadiga soil", and we are positioned to be the villainous outsiders, bleeding, outraged. How do the cops believe them, especially seeing the bloody faces of our men and the violated rage of our women, while they carry nary a scratch on their bodies? Don't ask me! Yet, it is us who these goondas urge the newly arrived law-keepers to arrest, and the police promptly comply, and we are bundled into the van, some still being beaten as we are pushed in. Some blessed relief from pain inside the police van at least, even if we are inside and the real goons outside, driving alongside in their spanking white Audi. The guy who was hit by the stone is taken  separately by the women to Mallya hospital.

Inside the police station at Cubbon Park it becomes clear that these goons and the police know each other by their first names. The policeman in charge (Thimmappa) initially refuses to even register any complaint from me, on the purported grounds that I am not fluent in Kannada and I have taken a few drinks (3 Kingfisher pints, to be precise) over the evening. No, it doesn't matter that I didn't have my car and was not driving, and no, it doesn't mater that the complaint will be written in English. We watch them and the goons exchange smiles and nods with our our bloodied and swelling eyes and realize in our pain-clouded still-in-shock brains the extent of truth in the claim of one of the main goons when he claimed earlier in the evening in virulent aggression: we own this town, this car belongs to an MLA, we will see how you return to this street!!

This was the turning point of the saga, I guess. For we refused to lie down quietly and be victims.

One of our girls, a vintage and proud Bangalorean who is running one of the town's most successful organic farming initiatives, took upon herself to write the complaint, when I was not allowed to write the same. Another Bangalore girl, a state director of a global NGO firm, wrote the other molestation complaint separately on behalf of all the girls. Some of us called our friends in the media and corporate world. Everyone stepped up. And even when the odds were down and we were out, we did not give up, and as a singular body of violated citizens we spoke in one voice of courage and indomitable spirit. That voice had
no limitation of language, not Kannada, nor English, or Hindi. It was the voice of human spirit that cannot be broken.

And in the face of that spirit, for the first time, we saw the ugly visage of vandalism, hiding behind the thin and inadequate veil of political corrupt power, narrow-vision regionalism and self-serving morality, start to wilt.

We spent 6 hours next day in the police station. The sub-inspector of police who filed our FIR, Ajay R M, seemed a breath of fresh air inasmuch that he did not appear a-priori biased like others, even though the hand of corruption and politico-criminal power backing these goons was still manifest in many ways: a starched, white-linen power-broker walked in handing over his card to the sub-inspector in support of the goons; the goons got an audience with the Inspector because of this intervention, while we had to interact one level lower down in the hierarchy; the plains cloth policeman of last night, even though he had arrived far too late in the crime scene, gave a warped statement, passing it off as a "neutral" point of view, repeatedly stressing that we came out of a pub and hence were drinking, positioning this as a 'drunken brawl', while completely forgetting to mention the unprovoked attack against the women and the one-sided vandalism and violence that ensued. I guess one cannot blame the low ranked police officer – the criminal connections of these goons must be pervasive enough for him to be careful.

Thanks however to the impartial handling of the situation by Ajay, soon the goons were all identified. The lead actor was one Ravi Mallaya (38), a real estate honcho and owner of a small property off Brigade Road which he has converted into a "gaming" (you know what that means, don't you?) adda. The others identified are Mohan Basava (22) of Chamarajapet 12th Cross, R. Vijay Kumar Ramalingaraju (25) and Shivu Rajashekar (20). All are residents of 12th & 13th Cross in Vyalikaval. Their bravado and machismo were by that time evaporated. It was good to see their faces then.

Of course nothing much happened to them, nor did we expect it. They were supposed to be in lock up for at least the weekend till they were produced in court, but we understand that they were quickly released on (anticipatory?) bail. The car, purportedly belonging to an MLA, also does not figure in the FIR, apparently for reasons of "irrelevance to the case".The media also have given us fantastic coverage and support so far, strengthening the cause.

The goons meanwhile, as an after thought, also filed the customary reverse complaint on the morning after we filed our own complaint: the women have apparently scratched the car! (Why did they not file the complaint the same night, considering they came to the Police Station in the same car? Why was the car allowed to be taken off police custody? Why is the car still irrelevant to the case and not in the FIR? Questions.. questions..).

Is this the end of this saga? Probably not. Are these women, more precious to us as friends and wives than most things in our lives, safe to walk or drive down Brigade Road from now on or are the goonda elements, slighted by this arrest and disgrace, are lying in ambush, waiting, biding their time to cause some of us more grievous harm? We don't know. Is there reason for us to remain apprehensive of future attacks and victimization? Perhaps.

But here is the point.

We stood up.

We believed in the power of individual citizens even in the face of hooliganism, intolerance, corruption and power mongering. Even though many of us have the option of leveraging political or government connections, we deliberately chose to fight this battle as individuals. Sure, these connections have been activated and they have been kept informed, should the worst case scenario unfold tomorrow. But we have chosen to not leverage them. And in every small win we
register as a group of individual outraged citizens of Bangalore and India, however insignificant these milestones may be in the larger scheme of things, there is one small notch adding up in favor of what is right, one small notch against what is wrong. And we believe that every such small notch counts, each such mark is absolutely invaluable.

It is the people who make this city, this country, this world. It is you and I, as much as the terrorists inside and outside. And in our small insignificant little ways, it is my responsibility and yours to not shirk from investing effort – not just lip service or any token attempt, but real effort – in backing up what we ourselves believe in. It is so easy to logically argue that everything is corrupt, nothing is worth it, there are so many risks involved. We must not fall trap to this escapist trend. We must not fail to try.

Next time you feel outraged, violated, abused, don't let it go by and add up to your list of litanies and complaints. Stand up and take it to the limit - at least your own limit. Not in the same way as they wrong you, but in the way that every citizen, at least in theory, is entitled to complain and protest. Do not let the hooligans power rant scare you or prompt you into submission. Do not allow the corrupt cop make you give up trying. Carry the flame forward. Try harder.

If are up to it, start right now.

Forward this note to everyone you want to be made aware of this. Post it in your own blogs. Talk about it amongst your circles. And if anyone of you should like to step forward with a word of empathy or advise, talk to me. Comment.

It is not Bangalore that is going to the dogs. It is us. We have far too long become accustomed to let everything go. And the more we let things go without any protest or fight, the dormant criminal and dark elements of the society get that much more encouraged. Every time we turn the other way, the hooligan next street gets incentivized to push the boundary a little further, provoke a little more, try something a little more atrocious. It is time for us to refuse to let this go on. We are responsible for making ourselves proud. Lets believe in ourselves. We can do this.

My name is Saugata Chatterjee. And I am standing up.I refuse to let Bangalore go to the hooligan slumdogs, even if some of them are pets of corrupt power millionaires.

2009 February 9 [Monday]

Pink

I've always had an intense dislike for pink, "red" being a favourite but this post is not about my colour preferences. My last blog post on women being assaulted and the Sita Sene, elicted a response on irc from HBD that a women's gang already exists. Calling themselves the Gulabi Gang, these women form a co-operative of sorts to help suppressed women like themselves in UttarPradesh. Back home, our local chakkiwala is from UP so I must ask his wife about the GulabiGang. Gosh, the video with lathi-wielding lessons are cool but someone should teach these women better self-defence techniques, especially sans weapons. Women can but its inconvenient to walk around with a lathi always.... but I digress. If the lathi delivers results for them, it stays :)

Moving south, as if the assault on the MLA's daughter was not enough, now the RamaSene plans to send hooligans to spy on Bangaloreans on 14feb. These thugs will be armed with turmeric (yeah in their excitement the culture-vultures forgot the difference between kumkum and turmeric) and anyone found celebrating Valentine's day, would be forced to marry each other. Huh?....right there on the road? So what will the sene-thug do if they find : two men are holding hands, a brother and sister are holding hands, two women are holding hands or an already married couple are holding hands? ...Erm... Will they be forced to apply kumkum turmeric and marry each other? On a pedantic note, between two men holding hands, which man gets to be the man(?), since its usual practice for a man to apply the kumkum on the woman's forehead. Now the Taliban-Sene has to use this body part (instead of brawn) to realise that the religion they (mis)use does not discriminate .... Nature is cruel, but ..wait, isnt nature feminine...?... so its all the loose woman's fault. Yeah, right !!

Renuka Chowdhary's threat to send roses to Muthalik on a day which very few celebrate was too simple so Nisha thinks he needs pink chaddis and if you are reading this, spread this message, by blogging, tweeting, etc.. and do your bit.

<Update> Since the Alternate Law Forum office in Bangalore was flooded they have requested that contributions be sent directly to the Taliban-Sene addressed to : Pramod Muthalik, Sri Rama Sene Chief, #11, Behind New Bus Stand, Gokhul Road, Near Lakshmi Park, HUBLI - Karnataka. </Update>

I'd rather see the police and judiciary react with more spine and keep these criminals behind bars but heck that seems like a remote possibility in India. These goons have never been to temples or noticed the idols of Durga and Kali, each of who carries multiple weapons and are especially known for their war-like ferocious nature. Someone should enroll these jokers for literature and history lessons and parcel them a copy of the Kamasutra with tickets to Khajuraho in MadhyaPradesh so they can get better acquainted with the real Indian culture. On the other hand, the truth about Vatsyayana being an A(ryan)merican Westerner out to corrupt the pure bharatiya nari (indian woman) might be revealed now.

2009 February 8 [Sunday]

Sita in an ice cube

Indian women are indeed blessed !! We now have a convict of the 1993 Bombay blasts contesting elections for a parliament membership, who opines that every Indian woman should give up her identity and take her husbands name after marriage. Pearl's of wisdom indeed ... from a man who has had multiple adulterous relationships whilst being married (thrice if you must know), an ex-drug addict who never bothered to care for his young daughter Trishala or wife Richa Sharma, both of whom were conveniently abandoned although he knew for years that Richa suffered from cancer. Morally inspiring for all those women in his life who hanker for dutt (pun intended) lastname, provided they manage to stick around dutt long.

Dutt may have munnabhai'ed the media and even ruffled Renuka Chowdhary's feather's, but it was definitely not enough masala for the media spotlight to dwell on him for long. The confused-plastic-faced-ac(h)tor-wannabe-politician was quickly upstarted by the street-thugs "Shri Rama Sene" in Karnataka.  India now has its very own homegrown wannabe "Taliban-Sene" who orchestrated and videotaped the molestation and attack of women in Mangalore in the name of god. Apparently physical violence and a public molestation of women is the easiest way to be in the news. Tsk-Tsk ...dutt's what happens if you wash Pri(vate)ya Dutt(y) linen in public, Sanju baba. Politics is gonna be a steep learning curve for you. If the Muthalik-meets-Dutt scenario had occurred some years ago, how many times would Dutt have been married off on Valentine's day ?? :-D

All in a Go(o)d days work, given that Indian politicians have certainly run out of issues to solve in the run up to elections, where the mastermind of the Mangalore attacks is known but yet is allowed to abscond. Targeting 49% of your population is good enough to get eye-balls, never mind that politicians dont have the balls to address important issues like eradicating corruption, ensuring proper supply of electricity, proper public infrastructure, good primary education, water and so many other social issues which jostle for attention...but none of these silly issues are as important as women visiting a pub.

Any woman who visits a pub instead of making rotis at home, feeding her husband and pressing his tired legs at night, is fit to be called a prostitute according to the Rama Sene while enlightened souls (in the NCW too) went a bit further to justify the attacks in the name of stemming immoral activity in the Mangalore pub. Since the police and judiciary have outsourced their work to local thugs and hooligans its high time the government stopped wasting the tax-payee's money on maintaining a police force and judiciary, both of who cannot ensure law and order nor keep justice. Well if India can be the outsourcing manna for the world why cant we outsource the police's work to these self-appointed custodians of Indian culture ?!? Think of the Tax benefits!!

Fundamentalist Hindu bigots == fanatical Islamic radicals ?! If there is a logic to the methodical madness being unleashed across each state one has to give credit to their inspirational idol, the Taliban. Nothing less will do. If the ShivSena and MNS in Maharashtra can rail and rant against the South Indians and then drive away the North Indians, then why should the wannabe-power-grabbing-southern-politician be left behind. He can jump onto the "lets control the corrupt Indian woman" bandwagon which is a problem that has taken on global hues today, with gullible Indian woman being lured by the foreign hand... what sacrilege!!

  • Mytholog(icall)y

Not to be left behind, some women feel they should form a Sita Sene to counter the increasing attacks on women and the debate on "Indian culture" is ferociously raging on the idiot box and in the print media. Every person I have met thus far, has an opinion (or two or three) by which time my grey cells stop parsing the string "indian culture" correctly. The word "culture" tickles my phunny bone (and I've been told I have f3w of those) enough to delve into some mythology since religion is the thread that binds retrograde chauvinists across the world masking their selfish desire for control and power.

Kalpana Sharma summarized it more eloquently :

The Sri Rama Sene is a fringe element. But lurking under the skin of many men, irrespective of caste or community, is a similar view of what women should and should not do. Men fear women’s autonomy, for, it challenges their power. And they fear women’s sexuality even more. Hence, the desire of fundamentalists of all types to control women’s sexuality.

Is that why every river has a feminine name and Earth is called MotherEarth and the country is called motherland and not FatherEarth and Fatherland respectively !? Culture-vultures never miss an opportunity to letch on mytholog(ical)y to explain that women should be frozen into this ice cube of patriarchy, certainly fit to be seen and admired, but she can never stir or voice herself.

Were the women of yore beautiful icy figurines trapped in an ice cube?

Not Sita, Rama's wife, who left her husband when he asked her for an "agnipariksha" (trial by fire) to prove her chastity. She epitomises the courage (that many Indian women lack) of leaving her twin sons with her husband Rama and returning to her mother's (Earth) after around 20+ years of marriage. 

Draupadi practised polyandry, perhaps the only woman with 5 husbands at a time when it was more common for men to practise polygamy. She is the only woman in mythology over whom a war, the Mahabharata, was fought to avenge an insult to her. In that epic, she refused to tie her hair until her insult was avenged.

Mirabai had no compunctions about leaving her husband for Krishna and would the brainless religious fundamentalist idiot dare to brek the idols in the Radha-Krishna temples(?), since Radha was never married to Krishna and left her husband for Krishna. Its called  adultery in English, but for millions of Indians the name Radha-Krishna is synonymous with love, bhakti and devotion.

Wendy surmises the position of women in Vedic literature, especially the Chandayoga Upanishad where Jabala asks her son to take her name so he calls himself "Satyakama Jabala (the son of Jabala)". Interestingly, dutt (pun intended) may have been completely missed instances in Indian mythology where the children take on the mothers name and not that of the father (who was sometimes unknown, or got just a passing reference....).

Gowriputra (son of Gowri, an epithet for Parvati, Ganesha's mother who is supposed to have sprang from the scurf of her body) ;

Krishna was called "Devakiputra" (son of Devaki) ;

Skanda, one born of 6 mothers ;

Pandavas were called Kuntiputra's ; ... so on...

The Sene has surely not seen this aspect of Hinduism.  Moving on to the men who are commonly addressed with the prefix Sri/Shri which is the feminine subjunctive in Sanskrit. It is also an epithet for Lakshmi whose husband (Vishnu) is commonly referred to as "Lakshmipati/Shripati" (the husband of Lakshmi) as is Sitapati (Husband of Sita).

Shiva's epithet is "Umapati", the husband of Parvati or Shakti (the female energy) without whom he is considered to be a shava (corpse). Are there instances of Parvati/Shakti being addressed as "Shivapatni"? Not that I know of.

There may be more but I am not inclined to dig out lores of yore when I can blithely snore away the night, sans the pita-pati (pun wholly intended).

2008 October 9 [Thursday]

VijayaDashami

Vijaya Dashami (or Dashera), heralds the end of Navaratri (and nine nights of dancing :-)) and DurgaPuja. But most importantly for students dashami marks the anniversary of being one ... My respects to one of my past guru's!

Hmm,... well the correct version is : "vijaya dashami' is the first day (of learning, or vidyarambha) for any classical arts student. This is the day a new student visits the teachers home (with guru dakshina and tambula) and requests her/him to accept them as a student. A tip : on any other day the guru may reject to accept you if s/he finds you are not up to the mark, but this day is such that they will not turn any student away.

Although the ritual is small and should not take more than a few minutes, it can (and does) stretch for an hour(s) or more when hundreds of students throng the teacher's home, so one has to wait for one's turn. Students who learn dance + an instrument, or multiple forms of art have a mad rush between 3-4 teacher's homes and lotsa patient waiting :-)

The best part of it all is getting to eat 'sweet chundal' but by the time we went it was over :-(  but our guruji had made salty ones for us :-) and it tasted just like Ma makes it so I didnt care so long as i got to eat it :-) and she taught a new song [named Sarasvati, after the Raga] after we sang an old one.  Talking of music, some time ago, I had started a wiki page on NCVasanthakokilam and her song 'yen palli konder ayyaa' reminds me that i need to get out of my slumber and finish the Mohanam raga notes soon.

Sending out hundreds of dashera sms's was not such a good idea afterall ... weirdly half the messages got deferred and some group messages were just dropped ... I really dont feel like texting/thumbing again, so Shubh Dashera y'all !!


2008 October 6 [Monday]

Privately controlled FOSS.IN is not a community conference

My previous post, elicted a fairly long clarification from Tejas (thanks) and since a tiny comment box is insufficient for a reply, here goes...

TEJAS: I whole heartedly agree. FOSS.IN is one of many many many indian FOSS events. Many of these FOSS events have a completely different focus than FOSS.IN

ME: Right, different events should have different focus. As I wrote earlier "Maybe the intention is generate more blue-blooded kernel code from India. Good for them". Any private event organiser has carte blanch freedom to decide the focus for his event, even at the risk of alienating the same community which contributes to the distro he uses. I suppose the distro you use would indeed be very usable minus the artwork, translation and other assorted grunt work since they are NOT considered equivalent to "real code".

Freedom works both ways and the Libre community users, contributors, and other by-standers who do the grunt work will either decide to attend if they feel wanted, else boycott the event. It would be their choice, hence freedom (as in speech).

TEJAS: Team FOSS.IN, like the head of other major FOSS projects is a meritocracy. I joined the team after I volunteered in 2005, and was asked to lead the volunteers team in subsequent years. If someone wanted to be on Team FOSS.IN, they should have proven themselves in some way. And in fact, that is how every member of the team was picked up.

ME: Great to know that you have a wonderfully organised event, with due credit to all the organizers. BUT This is the kind of financial transparency one expects in any community event, especially if it is touted as the event of the Indian FLOSS community, because its not really a community event. Feel free to talk to folks across the world who are involved in organising and managing a LIBRE software community event, where openness and transparency is the norm. Be it Debconf, linux.conf.au, or any other Libre SW event, every part of organising the event is always discussed publicly (which usually includes the bidding, finance and sponsorship rates, etc...) within the community and public archived. From what I have heard of foss.in, this is not a practice that is followed -- no transparent financial or organisational election process exists. But being an organiser you would be in a better position to throw light on whether this was (or is) being done with foss.in. So please do provide links (and archive url's on the foss.in mailing list?) to those discussions and I shall update my blog entry to reflect your corrections.

[UPDATE : Being a community project the Gnome foundation openly discusses its budget on the mailing list whilst candidate elections to the board is yet another example of a transparent process. Fwiw, past foundation members include Indians too. Some upstream best practices are worth emulating locally too.]

TEJAS: It isn't elitist arrogance. We are focusing on FOSS development efforts. There are enough and more events all over india focusing on translation and bug fixing and so on and so forth.

ME: Please do define the terminology "FOSS development efforts" AND what they would entail? In your definition, where do people who manage servers, do bug testing, do packaging, backend work or maintain the online communication channels, help out with localization and translations and produce all those funky icons and beautiful artwork ; figure in the scheme of things?

For a lot of people the above is not a part of earning daily bread -- read, they are NOT paid but they do it nevertheless because _they want to_, not because foo-bar MNC is paying them as part of the day job to hack on the kernel or translate 500 strings per day. If people who really work for free (no salary or financial gain) are not welcome, it is propagating the elitist and arrogant stance that only a kernel hacker is a real contributor and the remaining efforts are worthless. While you/foss.in are free (as in speech, not beer) to focus on anything you like, dismissing and insulting contributors by twisting terminology is not very friendly. Feel free to choose to ignore the difference, whence, we are not even discussing things on the same page.

TEJAS: Every event, has a focus. That's what makes it a memorable event. The focus of FOSS.IN has been becoming narrower and narrower, as other events have been coming up.

ME: I've replied to this earlier so wont repeat it.

TEJAS: In 2007, FOSS.IN strictly had no talks that were not related to some FOSS project, and about getting involved (ie, there were no more "How to get FOSS in govt" and "How to get FOSS in education" talks). By this time, there were a stack of other community events, a few of which Team FOSS.IN offered to sponsor (as a silent sponsor)

ME: I know, I attended them.


TEJAS: In 2008, we have reached the stage where there are loads of community events out there, and FOSS.IN can focus on what it wants.

ME: TBH, I would have thought that is a decision for the community to make. Its obviously not  in your case.  Anyway the moot objection is about foss.in's arrogance with 'show me the code' attitude, giving credence to kernel commits (in which case it should be called a kernel-summit), etc.. The objection arises when you start judging others contributions by your yardstick and whether it fits your objective or idea of what a true contribution is. That is arrogant and unfriendly and helps alienate and push the community people away. You are a better judge of your event goals but its NOT acceptable to judge others by your yardstick.

Also, 'Freedom' is no excuse to diss on contributors who dont measure upto YOUR standards. That is negative community karma but if that is the route the event organiser wishes to take, so be it. There is not a single upstream project which discriminates against non-coders so blatantly and all this under the guise of increasing contributions. Either way the Indian floss community will vote with their freedom : to attend or not. Fair enough.

TEJAS: Does the indian public really need one more event on the same thing? It's quite simple.

ME: See above

TEJAS: I think you, like so many other people, are missing the definition of (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/...) "Low Hanging Fruit"

ME: ah, NOT at all !! Other than questioning the English skills of everyone who protested, questioning their sanity levels and falling short of irreverently dismissing them as 'dumb' or calling them 'stupid', Mr. Atul Chitnis was being his usual arrogant, egoistical and dismissive self. Old stuff, nothing unexpected and I say that from first-hand experience, as the recipient of archived abuse on the Indichix list, in the not too recent past.

TEJAS: I don't see how this is remotely true. Every single detail of this change has been explained in the various lists. Just because we made a decision you didn't like doesn't make us a closed and non-transparent conference.

ME: Feel free to make any decision you like but dont confuse that with openness and transparency in community functionings. For the rest of your charge, Ditto from above ..... BUT This is the kind of transparency one expects in an event, especially if it is touted as the biggest free software event in India, albeit a wonderfully organised event IMO, with due credit to all the volunteers hard work. Well, feel free to talk to anyone across the world who is involved in organising and managing a LIBRE software event, where openness and transparency is the norm. Be it Debconf, linux.conf.au, or any other Libre SW event, where every part of organising the event is always discussed publicly (which usually includes the bidding, finance and sponsorship rates,etc...) within the community and public archived. From what I have heard of foss.in, this is not a practice followed BUT being an organiser you would be in a better position to throw light on whether this was (or is) being done with foss.in. So please do provide links (or archive url's on the foss.in mailing list?) to those discussions and I shall update my blog entry to reflect your corrections.

TEJAS: I'm sorry that you feel this way. I'd encourage you to form another event, with another focus, if you feel that is appropriate.

ME: Thanks for the encouragement, but as you said there are many events and its much more productive to redirect the 600 bucks there instead. I'm sure I'll hear a 'thankyou' at the very least.

TEJAS: Let me just warn you, from personal experience, that leading a volunteer team (which is exactly what FOSS.IN is) is a LOT of hard work. Often working sleepless nights on the CfP when you have an exam next day, and start studying for it at four in the morning. Do you know why we do it? Because at the end of the day, we know that we ARE boosting the contributions from India. Last time we boosted the number of contributors. This time, we are boosting the volume.

ME: Would love to see the latter happen but like others have said people who are contributing will continue to do so, despite being unwelcome at foss.in. Anyway, whatever gave you the impression that another volunteer does not put in hardwork ..... just because its not kernel code?

2008 September 19 [Friday]

SFD week in Bangalore

At our last meeting we decided that SFD-2008 will stretch into Software Freedom Week in Bangalore.

From tomorrow ...

2008Sept20 : SFD with students at ChristUniversity from noon to 3pm.

2008Sept24 : Its time to say STOP SOFTWARE PATENTS on World day against Software patents.

2008Sept25: BMSE SFD Celebrations organised by BMSLUG and SUN Club.

2008Sept27 : Gnu turns 25 and you can sing Happy B'day Gnu at RV College which is organizing the 25th Anniversary.

Besides these FSUG-Bangalore in collaboration with the Centre for Internet and Society are conducting an essay competition all over Karnataka state for school students. Check the wiki page for regular updates on SFWeek.

2008 September 16 [Tuesday]

BCB7

At BCB7 someone saw the "i am blogging" sticker and asked why i had not blogged about bcb7. Heh, this lazy blogger needs reminders :-).  Attended the citizenmatters but the rest of the time was spent in the corridors, meeting and catching up with friends - old, new and the unknown (having a gender-neutral nick is sheer fun at times :)) was a better way to spend a weekend.

The best news was when AshwinMahesh of Mapunity told me they were working on my idea which I had pitched to him some months ago. wOw...it felt nice and warm to hear that. They are already into geo-mapping and my proposal was based on my pain point - my trysts with auto drivers in Bangalore.  Yeah, i know Chennai is worse.

Anyway, my technical solution to get out of sticky situations was, suppose I had a 'hotkey' on my cell phone which i could press when an auto-driver took me on deserted roads, it should send a distress signal to the nearest cell-phone tower which will convey my geo-coordinates, tie it to my cell# and pass the information to a central server which will send out my location message to atleast 5-10 friends (or family members) simultaneously providing them my exact geo-location co-ordinates. This is important as i am a moving target in a vehicle so they could not help me if they dont get a GPS location for me. He thought it was a good idea and their beta would be out soon :) yay !!

As barcamp was in progress, there were bomb blasts in Delhi with the terrorists mocking the police. Nothing new for Indians since the aam junta has to live with terror when elected representatives go soft on tech-savvy terrorists but move around with Z+ security themselves, and the crime-busters are clueless about the whodunnit, or maybe they just dont care - as someone said, "In a nation of One billion living, who cares for the few thousand dead". Chilling words!


2008 August 26 [Tuesday]

Save half-a-Million with just 500 Rupees

I was trawling the web when I accidentally came across this article on the girl child in India by Neena Malik which appeared in the Tribune some years ago, http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020310/herworld.htm -- which is unavailable now. So I pulled a cached version which I reproduce here :

Haryanavi way to deal with girls
Neena Malik

Don’t you think it is entirely foolish and hare-brained to spend on kerosene oil and match boxes for bride burning or using up muscle power of the poor dear husbands and mas’-in-law to strangulate their daughters-in-law when all we need to meet our "immediate national requirement" to get rid of all the females in the country in one stroke is to resort to our good old Father of the nation-Gandhiji’s-respect for the common salt and start storing a little extra in every household! ..

Yes, it is so simple and easy that you might be fascinated enough to try your hand at it again and again. .. Just take a small lump of common kitchen salt and put it in the throat of the new born baby girl. Lo and behold! Before you can say "Halleluja", the infant will have choked to death without a whimper. And yes, what is more important, without even leaving a scar on her body or on your conscience. After all you did not use pistols or knives or pesticides to kill her. She just fades away as easily as the salt. After that, imagine the innumerable advantages you gain. There will be no hassle for women’s reservation in schools, colleges and Parliament, no hassle of dowries, no further need for kerosene oil and match boxes. Already 26 per cent youth in Haryana cannot find brides for themselves as the female ratio is the lowest in the country. They are now resorting to buying brides from Bangladesh. Curiously, the Haryanavis are averse to baby girls but look forward to brides and bride burning! ! Though they are feeling the dearth of brides for their sons, the average Haryanavi families want to do away with the girl child at all stages. "Panch sau Lagao, Panch Lakh Bacchao" -such tempting ads displayed on big hoardings outside medical clinics all over Haryana certainly seem more within reach of the common man than the popular television lure of " Kaun Banega Crorepathi"!

All that the pregnant women has to do is to step in for an ultra sound test costing Rs. 500 to determine the sex of her unborn baby. And if it is a baby girl threatening to add to her woes she can quickly get the unwanted baby aborted. The arithmetic of it all is not only simple but realistic in the eyes of the parents. After all they will be saving at least Rs. Five lakh straight-in the far flung future— a minimum amount spent on the dowry of a girl in these hard times. As in many other areas-good and bad-Haryana has achieved the dubious distinction of topping the list of the fast declining female ratio of 861 per 1000 males. It is the worst in the country as compared to 933 females for 1000 males for the country. The sex ratio in Haryana was 865 in 1991. It is surprising that the sex ratio in all the districts is below the national average of 933. Another alarming fact is that the sex ratio in Haryana has declined continuously since 1981 and is at its lowest since independence. According to Sunil Gulati, Director Census Operations, the preference for a male child is always there and when it is coupled with technology assisted choice such as ultra-sound, the decision to get rid of the baby girl in the first stage becomes easier .Ironically, this happens in the urban area. where one expects the awareness levels to be high and less prejudice.

Not shocking, nor stats for just one state. I remember reading another news report that the salem district in TamilNadu matches these stats for the girl child but cant find it online. Most news reports which talk of the imbalance in sex ratios across India fail to touch the root cause and for the most part, these cases have been discovered by reporters who spoke about it publicly. What of those which dont get this public a platform??

It also takes on a whole new meaning when you look at the abortion laws in our country. While the case of a couple who approached the courts is a rare one indeed, it brought to the forefront issues we usually ignore. Abortion is a highly personal issue which we rarely comment upon since it might infringe individual liberty. Sadly she had a miscarriage.

Have we as a society have evolved ethically, socially and personally (will touch on this later). While an abortion _is_ a personal decision and way better than bringing an unwanted child into the world and making it suffer knowing it was not wanted by its parent(s) (a big burden and negative karma to carry for a lifetime), it would be unfair to use the "women can only decide to abort" since unlike the west, here it is not uncommon for the family to pressure women to undergo abortions, whether married or unmarried. That family/society pressure can be a very crushing for a lot of women.

Now, let us assume the judged had changed the abortion laws in India. Then, what stops people from misusing it to kill the girl child using the "defective" approach? Most times the girl child is killed long before the 20th week especially if the family (in India its not the woman who decided this alone) wants a male heir then mere laws are not going to stop them. Most times its another woman (read mother-in-law or aunt or female relative) who increases the pressure with comments like "oh, their family has just female kids, no male heirs". Challenging them that as a woman they should be the last person to make such disparaging comments usually shuts them up but how many daughters-in-law would dare to do that?

Nupur Basu has made an interesting documentary “No Country for Young Girls? ” for the BBC. Besides the foetal killing, the girl child could be killed after she was born (with salt like the above reproduced article). Women's rights is not that simple in India. Ironically, the country that venerates the Supreme Godess, who among her various forms and names is ironically called Shakti (power), has a high imbalance in sex-ratios spanning across the great Indian middle class.

Somewhere in all this the MOOT question remains : Are we trying to create a society that wants "designer" babies? Are we as a society misusing technology to create that "perfect, smart, healthy" baby and anything less than perfection does not deserve to exist !?? To me those questions have ethical, social and personal meaning. Having seen how the disabled are treated in India (forget the laws, as a society we dont even treat anyone who is not perfect, beautiful/handsome, rich-famous-successful, as worthy of a second glance). Now it seems that technology is slowly being used as a crutch to aid and abet the politically incorrect societal and personal reflections that get buried due to legal pressure. Any society that clamors for perfection in humans is going to be very difficult to live in and when materialism is added, expect hell.

Instead why cant we ask the government to enact laws which will give more power to the disabled instead of stopping them from being born? Many developed nations have strict laws (which are implemented) but its only here that we tolerate corruption and ignore our citizens rights. Shashi Tharoor has a nice comparison over differences in American political life and the Indian one. Sigh. no easy answers here :(

2008 August 15 [Friday]

LC Labs sponsors

At any given point my draft box tends to overflow with half-finished entries, some of which i discard if i aint in the blogging mood. To maintaiin the semblance of a regular blogger, i finally got around to using the weasel method of auto publishing while away enjoying the Independence day weekend. Happy 15Aug !

In the libre community the easiest way to ensure the growth of an idea or project is to allow people wanting to participate to take it further. So at Pune we have Swatee Karpe (PLUG) sponsoring the labs for weekdays and weekends and if you are in Mumbai you can get in touch with Jayashree Pare and Warren Noronha :
Email: warren.noronha AT gmail.com
Blog: http://www.hyperionreactor.net
Phone: +1-415-620-8700
Phone: +91-989-280-6204

While these spaces are open to the public, its not a random walk-in audience-oriented space. Rather, it is an opportunity for women (and men who support them) who usually collaborate online to work together, in person, on specific tasks. If interested, get in touch with the person(s) listed above to find out the timings. They will be managing the whole show locally.

If you have and idea, space or want to donate machines, here is a list of people whom you can contact for the following cities :

1] Delhi : Hassath [hassath gmail com] and AjayKumar [ajuonline gmail com]
Requirements: Space + infrastructure

2] Bangalore : me [vid at this domain]
Requirements: Space + infrastructure

For Chennai, Hyderabad and Mangalore we have people interested in being mentors and mentees but since this is the Free/Libre community feel free to take the initiative to find sponsors for space and infrastructure. Here is the standard format I use for writing to prospective sponsors.

--------- Letter --------

Dear Sir/Madam,

[Here, add your name and intro, unless you know the person, inwhich case, not required]

As per our discussion, this is a formal request to [add the company name] to provide us with a small room for conducting mentoring
sessions on Libre software in your organisation.  LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux, and for anyone who wants to support women in computing. We are an international group of Libre Software users and developers, founded in 1999 with the aim of "supporting women in Linux". We have several local chapters [0] across each continent.

[0] http://www.linuxchix.org/regional-chapters.html

Having LC labs is an experiment, mainly aimed at increasing women participation in Libre software communities. Since the number of women contributing to libre software is very low (~2% ) when compared to men. In contrast the proprietary ICT industry has 28% participation, further balanced at around 50% in India, but yet few Indian women volunteer with Free/Libre software. We are trying to bridge this skewed gender gap and experiment with possible solutions.

Due to low ICT adoption in India, especially Libre software, we would like to earmark a sponsored local space which will be open to women of any age, irrespective of their financial, social or educational background to use. Since Libre software is freely available anyone is free to learn to use and contribute to it.

Thus far, LinuxChix has largely been an online interaction experience via IRC and mailing lists. This effort is meant to provide women the opportunity for periodical meetings, arrange regular sessions and workshops to contribute to Libre software. Currently, for Mumbai planning and execution is underway with Pune being the second city to follow.  The focus is on contributing upstream (Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, etc... ) and our activities would mainly revolve around :

- learning to do packaging,
- learning the dependency cycle,
- creating patches,
- bug squashing,
- localisation/translation of libre s/w
- conducting hack sessions,
- etc....

The LinuxChix-India Chapter was also featured in the ET recently :

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Infotech/Software/LinuxChix-India_aims_at_free_software_access_for_women/articleshow/3217080.cms

We have no age restrictions or qualification limits and any woman with a desire to learn is welcome. We hope [add company name]  can support us in this endevour and help us turn this into a successful experiment to inspire others to contribute and create Libre software and not limit it to Indians being mere consumers of Libre software.

Awaiting a positive reply !

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

[add your name]
Team LinuxChix-India

2008 July 14 [Monday]

linuxchix-india in the news

Tweeting and denting helped this last month and now its back to blogging ?? .... dunno, but I have definitely been slow in blogging about LCIN being in the news. A few weeks ago Fred had written to the mailing list (along with a long questionnaire :-)) wanting to write an article on IndiChix (the Indian chapter of LC). His article on Indichix has now been syndicated in the Economic times and Siliconindia,and many other publications ...someone even dugg it. Nice, thanks Fred !!

Besides the other challenges that women face its no surprise that you will find access to infrastructure a real issue. This may be a common problem for a lot of women all across the world but in India its worse. Without getting into the reasons as I dont think they can be analysed, quantified and solved easily. Rather than dwell on the "why" I had suggested this idea on the list :

Ask IT MNC's in India as part of their CSR (corporate social activities) to sponsor small 'libre-learning-for-women-labs' in their office premises which should be open to any woman to use and learn about Gnu/Linux. These Libre computer labs should be equipped with machines and an Internet connection which would enable local FSF volunteers to introduce and teach them packaging, translation, bug-squashing, etc...

Is there any IT firm in India willing to host Free Software Labs just for women ??

2008 June 7 [Saturday]

MicroIndia

oh, uh..oh, trouble brewing in the Indian paradise!

2008 May 13 [Tuesday]

Composer::Annamacharya

When I started maintaining a series of notes (and I need to stop using paper) on the ragams learnt, i tried reading up on that particular composer and the composition in an effort to understand them better. Now i realise that this is not a small project and cross-checking books and online resources takes a helluva lotta time. Each composer deserves their own page instead of a scribbled one-liner amongst other notes, and there being just a handful of composers, this may not be a long series !

ANNAMACHARYA :: - He was the first to structure lyrics in the pallavi and charanam mode, of which 14,000 lyrics are available out of his staggering 32,000 compositions! He used the mudra (signature) "Venkateswara" with slight contextual variations but many were "Anonymous" with no signature. In 1922 the Tirupati Devasthanam authorities stumbled upon the copper plates on which the songs had been engraved by Annamacharya's grandson Chinna Tirumalacharya.

Annamacharya's lilting poetry also encompassed folk compositions but the most famous ones include “Muddu gaaru yashoda", "Ksheerabdi kanyakadu" and “Bhavayami Gopala Balam", which we performed earlier (twice to be precise), with its sonorous lines like “Ghati ghatita mekala Kachita mani ghantika...” and "Ksheerabdi" - which has a lilting melody and is best heard when you are lying on a swing .... guaranteed to send your brain into "relax" mode.

A king called Saluva Narasimha Raya, had demanded that Annamacharya compose similar erotic poetry glorifying him but the poet declined, saying his poetry and music were dedicated to the Almighty alone, for which he was imprisoned by the King. One cant blame the King as after listening to "Muddugaru" and "Ksheerabdi" you will never know that both belong to the same - kuranji raga composition. His compositions blend devotion with erotic love and include subtle Vedic, Tantric and scriptural references, whilst the initiated can decipher the mantras and astrology embedded in the compositions.

2008 May 3 [Saturday]

Raga::Todi

Why not kick off the raga series with todi as the first raga !

In the Karnatic system, 'Todi' ragam is commonly referred to as "HanumantaTodi" and is placed as the 8th in the melakarta system and being an ancient raga it was called Janatodi.

Todi is a sampoorna raga, i.e. a raga with all 7 notes and perfectly symmetrical tetra-chords as swaras. It has S-shudha, R1-Rishabham, G2-sadharana gandharam, M1-shudha madhyamam, P-Panchamam, D1-shudha dhaivatam, N2-kaishiki nishadham and S.

The poorvanga (S to P) and uttaranga (P to S) are very balanced. The jeeva swaras of Todi are GMDN. Their usage in prayogas during raga aalapana of Todi brings out the beauty of this raga. Nyasa swaras are GMPDN. One can weave different patterns of notes centred around these notes, but some prayogas without panchama (P) sound very beautiful.

Todi lends itself beautifully for slow medium-paced kritis, varnams, tillanas, viruttham etc. For example, tAyE yashOdA undan | Adi | UttukkADu venkatasubbaiyer, from the movie Morning Raga. The swara kalpana's and the ragam-taanam-pallavi coupled as fusion music was simply fantastic and Era napai | Adi | Patnam Subramanya Iyer, is another varnam aptly suitable for ragam-taanam-pallavi, where all swaras should be handled softly and each note is suitable for Gamaka prayoga or oscillation.

This page has a composite list of all the Karnatic todi ragam songs. Looking at the "peculiar compositions" by Ramaswami Dikshitar (svarastAna pada varNam) and "Ma manini" Dr.MB.Krishna (which i remember partly, egad :-S), you will find them constructed without words. The whole song consisting of pallavi, anupallavi and charanam is composed with only the 7 swaras... WOW!!

Practically speaking, each of these songs in Todi, sounds different at first. The difference is not because of the lyrics, which albeit different, but look at the swara sthanas (hint: arohanam and avarohanam) which differ. Shruti-bhedam i.e. while singing alap, using tharasthayi R as S, makes Todi sound like Kalyani, but since it interferes with bhava (emotional flow of the raga) which should not be done extensively.

The composers have the liberty of starting off anywhere but are still bound within the raga metrics and that is their playground for creativity. Ofcourse each composition can have a different talas (beats) and no two songs of the same raga will sound alike, else your credibility as a composer is zilch. Duh, imagine the precarious position of the hindi film music composers(?), who are renowned for -copying- err.. being inspired .. *cough*.... by other peoples tunes frequently.

Now you must be wondering how a listener will know who is the composer of a particular song in say raga: Todi.

Simple.... Every composer had a signature embedded in the song he/she wrote, akin to the "comments" that programmers include in their programs. Some composers used a pseudonym/pen name and some their real names but they always inserted their names in the charanam (last stanza) of the song, never earlier. Humility matters :).

Legend has it that some not-so-famous students of famous composers in order to give credibility to their compositions used to pen them in their "famous composer teachers" names and bask in their shadowed glory. I am not sure how true this is and dont particularly care. Its more fun to enjoy the music!!

In Hindustani music there are quite a few ragas with the suffix Todi but sounds very different from the Karnatic HanumantaTodi. Example : The Hindustani Gurjari Todi, Mian ki Todi, Multani Todi etc., do not resemble the Carnatic Todi. This is true for many ragas which only share a common raga name.

There are many compositions in HanumantaTodi. Every southern Vaggeyakara has composed in Todi. SriThyagaraja has composed around 30 kritis and the speciality is that each one highlights a different nuance of the ragam.

1] The kriti 'Dasarathe' starts in mantra sthayee "D" and emphasizes the prayoga of gamaka-laden "D".
2] The kriti 'Dasukovalena' centres round Madhya sthayee "D".
3] The kriti 'Koluvamaregada' starts at Taara sthayee "S" and comes down the avarohana slowly. Shyama Sastri has done a slow vilambit kala kriti with Swarajati Raave, thereby bringing out the slow beauty of this raga.

TO-DO in Todi, including the derivative janya ragas are :

1] Venugana ramana | Mishra Chapu.
2] Dasuko | Misra Jhampa | Thyagaraja.
3] Koluvamaregada | Adi | Thyagaraja.
4] Rajuvedala (Srirangam Pancharatna) | Rupakam | Thyagaraja |
5] Sri Krishnam Bhaja (on Guruvayurapan) | Adi | Dikshitar |
6] Ninne Nammi | Misra Chapu | Shyama Sastri |
7] Raave (Swarajati) | Adi | Shyama Sastri |
8] Sarasija nabhada | Misra Chapu | Swati Tirunal |
9] Thamatham en | Adi | Papanasam Sivan |
10] Tanigai Valar-Khanda Chapu- Papanasam Sivan |
11] Kartikeya- Aadi- Papanasam Sivan |
12] Anjananandam | Adi |
13] Annaiyargal vanam nadi vandar | Adi |
14] Dasharathe dayanidhe | Adi
15] En inge vandu | Adi
16] Jatadhara shankara devedeva | Adi
17] Rasa loka vaibhoga | Adi
18] Tale sharanam amma | Adi
19] Tannam taniyaha senrale | Mishra Chapu
20] Urugada manam enna manamo | Adi
21] Vandavarai varum enrazhaittu mani polum | Adi

Janya (derivative) raga :

1] Bhuvana moha saundara sukumara | Dhanyasi | Adi
2] Nada nada nada krishna | Dhanyasi | Adi
3] Padmini vallabha dehi pradehi | Dhanyasi | Adi
4] Natajana kalpavalli | Punnagavarali | Adi
5] Nila vanam tanil oli vishum niraimadiyo | Punnagavarali | Adi
6] Na dhru dhim tadana tomtana (tillana) | Sindhubhairavi | Adi
7] Shen shiva jatadhara shambho | Sindhubhairavi | Adi

2008 May 2 [Friday]

Raga

I had always wanted to record the kritis we had performed earlier on the basis of the ragam, rather than bifurcate it on the basis of the name of the song, composer or even language. That didnt seem very educative since the examinations are structured along those lines and its important to get the theory part correct. *sigh* now the word "theory" != "by rote".

Unless I understand the difference between a N2 and N3 and am able to distinguish that swara in the construction of the swara kalpana, i cant get the raga right, and therein lies the challenge. Classifying songs according to the raga is much more simpler and easier to understand since many songs can share the same raga and yet sound so different. Some brilliant composers literally play around with this aspect, including the language and speed. Teachers dont have the time to teach every song ever composed on a particular raaga, or they may not even know that many songs. So its upto the student to learn various styles, get a good grasp and try to extend their repetoire.

|| What is a RAGA? ||

A raga consists of 7 swarams and the sapta-swarams are :- SA - Shadjam
RI - Rishabham
GA - Gandharam
MA - Madhyamam
PA - Panchamam
DA - Daivatam
NI - Nishadham

Of these swarams, S and P are constant but R, G, D, and N have three variations.

R could be Shudha (R1), Chatusruthi (R2), or Shatsruthi (R3) Rishabham.
G could be Shudha (G1), Sadharna (G2) or Anthara (G3) Gandharam.
D could be Shudha (D1), Chatusruthi (D2)or Shatsruthi (D3) Daivatam.
N could be Shudha (N1), Kaishiki (N2), or Kakali (N3) Nishadham.
|| MELAKARTA RAGAM ||
Any ragam that contains all seven swarams is called a Melakartha Ragam. The 72 Melakarta ragams are all sampoorna ragas which means they have all the 7 swaras in the arohanam and avarohanam. Ragams with less than seven swarams are derived ragas from one of the parent melakarta ragams. Here is a nice chart for calculating the Melakarta ragam.

Janya meaning "derived from" is a set of Janya Ragams derived from the 72 melakarta (sampoorna basic) ragams.

2008 April 29 [Tuesday]

earth weekend update

The Earth-weekend continued till Monday evening, despite M giving umpteen complaints to the Assistant Engineer (AE) BESCOM/KEB, who would keep telling her his line-man would be there in 20 min and after 2 hours still no sign of him. When she got persistent, the AE brushed her off with "you gave wrong address, my lineman cant find it". The fact is the lineman never even tried in the morning but at around 4 pm there was a regular load-shedding and he suddenly materialized, climbed the pole and cut some wires on the pole, mumbled things would be fine and disappeared. Two hours later, NO power.

Fed-up of listening to the line-man's excuses, after 6:30 pm, got the licensed electrician to change the phase on the electric pole. After 3 days in no power mode, rotting food in the fridge, the whole experience of waiting et al was annoyingly frustrating. In retrospect, that haste (after 3 days!!) was a good idea it seems.

Because at 7pm the KEB / BESCOM lineman who came by earlier to cut some wires appeared again....maybe he had heard from the private licensed electrician that we were fine without his help. Well, I was about to go out but decided to wait and see why the Bescom employee was interested in working after his duty hours (which gets over by 4 pm). Most government employees grumble to do paid work during regular office hours so this (un)helpful pretense was indeed strange.

He fumbled around and said the meter was fine (although he knew the main phase was kaput). Annoyed with his charade, I told him to not waste my time and go check the main pole and leave the house meter alone. Down south, men dont like women speaking sternly to them and he gave me an incredulous look but sensing my growing irritation he complied and (on my insistence) checked the main wires. After much hemming and hawing he accepted that there was indeed a problem with the main line and one phase was dead, so yeah it was a KEB problem. Phew, getting him to accept that the problem was from their side was a challenge ! Then he proceeded to give me his AE's cell number and wanted me to lodge a formal complaint (pray tell me, what was the earlier calls all about?) the next morning (i.e today).

This morning, when I called the AE he admonished me for not telling him of the problem yesterday or he would have solved it pronto. He asked me to co-operate (by now i am beginning to love the double-faced attitudes here) with him and give a written complaint blaming the lineman for the work not done. I replied that it was a great idea... i would write a formal complaint about the other mysterious AE (i meant him actually) dwaddling and wasting time for 3 days, giving innumerable excuses about "address not found", harassing women, etc.., to his office and for good measure send it to his senior's too. Three hours later, the electrician appears and tells M the problem was never with the Bescom main phase and that the lineman had accidentally cut our house supply only. So could he change back the interchanged phase (if she paid him, yet again?).

This whole thing seems so fishy that I asked M to just let things be. I presume they must have finally repaired the faulty main and are just trying to cover their b^$$ before we lodge that written complaint.

UPDATE : I got a call about an hour ago saying 3 line men have descended and were __working__ on the main electric pole and restored the connections. Ah...something seems to have done the trick. In this whole episode the thing that bothers me is people's apathy towards everything. Strangely folks in the whole area dont mind living partly in darkness but dont want to be bothered to deal with any government officials (but want jobs there, ofcourse) because getting work done from them involves bribing which they are loathe to do so are unwilling to do anything about it. In case you are wondering i did not have to bribe the officer/lineman. During the whole episode i have heard numerous stories on how not to antagonise the govt' officials or complain against them as they can take revenge by purposely cross-circuting or shorting the connections and it can make life difficult for us women. Gee... i look forward to that challenge too !!

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