Tag Archives: News

Why Social Networking activism sucks: Another top ten list

Booo. Ok, this is sure to raise the hackles of the social-network activists, but then, who is afraid of them anymore?

 

Facebook and Twitter warriors have just lost it. Posting, liking and sharing their way into the glorious midnight, they have totally missed the fact that they have managed to make themselves obsolete in a record time. Trust me, they have. Ok, don’t trust me, but they still have. [This is the type of logic that is currently in currency, so what the heck, I can use it too.]

[A much better and impactful article has been written on the subject, long back in 2010, by Malcom Gladwell in The New Yorker and can be seen here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell The article has following arguments, not used here: the social networking relationships are based on weak ties, the activism is remote and not really connected with the people, activists and others ‘signing up’ do not have to invest their money or future in it, movements are leaderless, incoherent and lack strategy etc.]

 

This fall of the social-network activism however gives me a perfect opportunity to launch another awesome top ten list. Here goes, whoopiee…

[Disclaimer: This is an ‘extra-lite’ version writing style. This article is also beta-version, which means, I am not responsible for any errors.]

 

  1. From un-informed, unverified to deliberate falsehood. Facts are not sacred on the social circuit, and opinion is freer than ever before. The status updates are worse than gossips – more malicious and untrue. Once people lose faith, they rarely find it again in the same place. This has reduced the power of social media to influence.
  2. Intellectually non-rigorous. Simplistic.  H L Mencken famously said – “For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.” Social activists really love these types of solutions. The world is actually not made up of simple problems and simple solutions. “In fact the social media activists are creating problems and obstacles for those trying to solve problems” [Note this last sentence –106 characters with spaces. This is the type of smartass opinion you can expect on fb/twitter.]
  3. Too easy. It has become just too easy to launch an opinion. Stronger the opinion, more likely it is to elicit responses. Just try to explain a complicated problem with a complex argument and see how many of your friends go through it. In fact I would be linking this article on my fb, and I know hardly anyone would take the trouble to read it. Not because they don’t love me (they do, often), but because that is the nature of social media – it has led people to expect simple, eye catching things, like ads, not like art movies and documentaries.
  4. Emotional and irrational. However much you dislike rationality, whatever a society or an individual gains in life, it does through solid rational processes. I write poetry, and the writing part of it is always rational and methodical, though the inspiration and arguments in it are often romantic and irrational. Heavy duty reliance on the emotional leads to silly ultra-nationalism, terrorism, social disruption, phony posturing and no classes and no studies on the campuses.
  5. Absence of expertise and domain knowledge. The activists dabble in anything that catches their fancy (like I am doing here). Such efforts are generally useless and benign, but can be dangerous for society if done in excess. Mediocrity rules supreme, and trust in experts is undermined. I would not like to have a social media activist flying the plane I am on, nor would I trust him with guarding our borders, or running our country.
  6. Too easily manipulated. It is just too easy to create a fake pic of a God-face on a rock, or a graphic proving anything, or launch a campaign with half-truths and strong opinions. Only the manipulators are empowered, though thankfully, with the decline in the influence of these platforms, the manipulators are only looking silly school-kids now, not awe-inspiring conspirators.
  7. Panders to lowest common denominators. This is a big problem. Huge. Imagine a situation when there are tensions between two countries – social media activists would ensure that a war does take place. Then they would shed croc tears over the innocents killed, and blame all and sundry for the mess.
  8. Limited reach. Reach is touted to be the biggest strength of social media. But that is a myth. These platforms are populated exclusively by a section of the aspirational, often frustrated, middle-class. These are not the people who generally vote or participate in street demonstrations. Language and digital divide is no doubt the biggest handicap, but attitudes are no less responsible for turning many people away.
  9. Cowardice and snobbery. It is the medium of the coward. People who are afraid of confronting their tormentors directly find this medium convenient to vent their ire. But soon their ire turns against all and sundry, and they start to revel in becoming ‘rebels with multiple causes’. Unfortunately, such rebels have started to make an appearance in society outside of the social media networks, sowing confusion and muddying the already confused state of our affairs.
  10. Assists in faking of information, emotions. It is hardly a surprise that one of the more popular pages on the fb is Faking News. At least they are honest. People are faking emotions, personality, facts, photos… anything, with glee. Attacking icons, respectable leaders, companies, cooking up conspiracy theories, proposing dubious solutions – they are hardly the material on which we can build our future.

These are strong charges, seriously made. My appeal is:

(a) be wary of what you read on social network, do not believe anything without verifying;

(b) be careful what you share, repost or like; and

(c) if you feel strongly about something, step out and revolt, defy, revolt. Don’t hide behind fake identities and the anonymity of the net.

And yes, do press the ‘like’ button, just below the three stars that you see here. 🙂

***


What makes the Amir Khan show click. Or, lessons in effective communication.

In the five episodes of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ aired so far (3rd June, 2012), Amir Khan has been consistent – consistently effective. What makes the show click, what makes it so riveting? I have identified seven reasons (No, it is not another top ten list!) as follows:

1. Deliberate underplay: The subjects taken up by Amir, and the material available with him were such that he could easily have gone ballistic. We would have forgiven him for it. But he did not. He underplayed. He let the viewers fill-in the deliberately created gaps in the narrative from their own knowledge of the subject. Underplay, so rare in Indian cinema, is the first surprise of the package.

(Conversely, some reviews panned the first few episodes for being too melodramatic. Come on! The subjects were such that there was no need to put any additional ‘melo’ in the ‘drama’.)

2. Keep it simple: The argumentative Indian, the thinking elite, the English newspaper reading public, the 0.1 percent of population is zapped at the simplicity of the show (Some called it simplistic.) For the rest of the people, the show was honest and pretty straight-forward. Amir peels off layers of theory to reach the basic facts, the most stunning stories, and leaves it at that. Strong editing and chopping of the material at hand is clearly visible, and it counts.

3. One thing at a time: There is a conscious movement, in each episode, towards a conclusion. Each episode is like a well written essay, though of a vintage variety. Linear and uni-directional. It adds, and not detracts from the impact, as there is no scope of misunderstanding. For a star of his stature, the pressure to perform is immense, but like Amitabh Bachchan in KBC, he does not let the pressure get to him.

4. Empathy: Here Amir’s acting skills stand him in good stead. We will never know whether his tears and his hugs were for real, but they do look real, and draw tears and smiles from the viewers. The choice of the stories and the choice of questions also reveal a degree of sensitivity that is generally missing in Indian television. Amir, in short, does not come out ‘phoney’. Remember, there must be millions who will feel uncomfortable with one story or the other, and would like to have a handle to twist him with, but he seems, so far, to be beyond their range.

5. Alert to possibilities of distortions: At times one feels that Amir is a little too cautious, a little too tolerant. But within a week, he is invariably proved right in being cautious. His episode on medical malpractices repeatedly praised the ‘good’ doctors, and even compared them with ‘God’, but within this week itself, Indian Medical Association is baying for his blood. He realizes, more than we do, that he will upset many apple-carts, and there will be attempts to distort the message. Therefore he takes care to keep the contexts pretty much in sight.

6. Papa doesn’t preach: Some critics have sought to charge the programme with being preachy and condescending. I do not think so. On the contrary, the programme invariably ends with a beautiful song on the subject, that touches the soul. The song delivers the knock-out punch more effectively than any preaching could have done.

7. Solutions: There has been a deliberate attempt to find simple and effective solutions to issues raised in the programme. His research team has made astounding efforts to highlight grass-root level solutions to social problems. The ending is therefore something like a Hindi film, satisfying and positive. The critics however have cried murder – they charge him of trivializing the issues and being simplistic. Again, I do not agree with the critics.

Amir Khan has the sensibility of an ad maker. He is concise, and an effective communicator. We all knew him to be a great story-teller (Tare Zamin Par, Peepli Live, Three Idiots, Lagaan), but the role of an activist is different. We wondered how much of past success would have ruined him. For it is inevitable – success will take its toll. But Amir retains much of the freshness that has been the hallmark of his films.

Like the rest of the million viewers, I await the next episode, gaily sneering at the critics and the ‘wrong-doers’.

***


Ten ideas that are going to change the world, again

The world is changing fast, but you haven’t seen nothing yet. The good news is, the world that we know is likely to morph into something quite different within our lifetime.

The mobile and internet revolution happened in our lifetime – it started in the mid eighties and has had a tremendous impact in the lives of almost everyone on the globe. Now the next wave shall be dominated by revolution in energy sector, biological sciences and of course electronics. But I will also nominate a social-science phenomena that I think shall be significant.

Futurologists are studying trends scientifically. But books by visionaries like Orwell (1984), H.G.Wells (The first man in the moon, The world set free), Jules Verne (From earth to the moon, Thousand leagues under the sea) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) were science fiction-y, bleak and quite accurate.

The ideas selected are just on the verge of practical application. For cross-verifying the truth, just research the internet – you would be amazed at the amount of information already available on these topics.

 1.           Cars will run on water

Ratan Tata dreams of cars running on water: Scientist
PTI, Jan 1, 2011
Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata’s dream is to see cars run on water and he has invested USD 15 million in a start-up firm supporting research in the field, an eminent scientist said today. Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Prof C N R Rao said one of his close friends and a professor in the famed Massechusetts Institute of Technology in the US has found a way to split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen….

The dream and hoaxes related to cars running on water have been with us for the last half century. The logic is simple – split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use them as fuels. It shall be the ultimate cheap and environment-friendly fuel. The problem has been, it was easier said than done. But now, I believe, with hydrocarbons reserves nearing their end, there shall be renewed effort to make the dream possible.

2.           Driverless Cars

The U.S. state of Nevada passed a law in June 2011 concerning the operation of driverless cars in Nevada. Google had been lobbying for driverless car laws. The Nevada law went into effect on March 1, 2012, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first license for a self-driven car in May 2012. The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driver-less technology.

While on cars, here is another revolution in the pipeline – automatically driven cars. Google is investing in the technology and hopes for early commercialization.

The concept is not as weird as it sounds now – in fact, once driverless cars become a vogue, we would find the idea of ‘driving’ strange, barbaric  and cumbersome. Imagine, properly programmed cars, running efficiently as per traffic rules. DO NOT imagine bad programming, programme crashes or that the car computers ‘hangs’ in the middle of the road.

3.           Mind reading machines

Mind-reading breakthrough hailed by US scientists
February 02, 2012
A machine capable of deciphering people’s thoughts could become a reality thanks to a breakthrough by US neuro-scientists. Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley developed a technique to record and decode patients’ brainwaves and translate the electrical activity into words.

  

Radiotelepathy
Freeman Dyson, physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
The futurist expects a burgeoning field of neurology to result in radiotelepathy, “the direct communication of feelings and thoughts from brain to brain. The ancient myth of telepathy, induced by occult and spooky action-at-a-distance, would be replaced by a prosaic kind of telepathy induced by physical tools.”

I expect the mobile phone industry to be the first to implement the thought reading technology. This is mainly because of the intense competition and money involved in the industry and also because of the strides made in neuro-sciences.

The implications are mind-boggling, but not all of them are pleasant. How, for instance, would you password-lock your brain waves. If, and I think there will be, there would be mind-reading machines, control over humans could be greater and intrusive.

 4.       Artificial heart

 
New lease of life: Plastic heart helps escape death
August 3, 2011 | PTI
LONDON: Surgeons claim to have carried out a ground-breaking artificial heart transplant operation on a 40-year-old man, suffering from end-stage failure of both chambers of his heart. During a six-hour successful operation, surgeons at Papworth Hospital in the UK replaced Matthew Green’s damaged heart with a device that they say will serve the role of both ventricles and heart valves.

 

Heart is actually a mechanical devise, and more readily created in the lab than other parts. The problem has been the human body, which rejects all external things. The scientists are fast overcoming this resistance, and like artificial valves and pace-makers, full artificial hearts are around the corner.

5.           Human Cloning, stem cell research and Cancer research

Scientists replicate natural cloning in world first
Breakthrough by team from Prague has human implications
May 2, 2012 Eva Peňázová
Scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences have discovered the secret to natural cloning, a revelation that could have future implications for replicating human organs.
 

Medical science is on the verge of two important breakthroughs – victory over cancer and AIDS. Further ahead is the brave world of stem cell research and human cloning.

Cloning has been a morally contentious issue, and there are laws banning research in the field. But, going by the news items on the net, research in the field continues unabated. I believe, this technology is easy to master, and its implications are positive in the field of medical aid. These researches are likely to help us by the time we reach old age.

6.           Genetic engineering to stop aging

Scientists Find Genetic Engineering Technique Reverses Effects Of Aging In Mice
November 3, 2011
Darren J. Baker and Jan M. van Deursen working at the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic said they had succeeded in disrupting the natural aging of cells through a breakthrough in genetic engineering. In their work, the scientists affirmed they had manipulated senescent cells, which are believed to spur the aging of tissues. By cleansing the body of such cells, researchers are hoping they can stave off the deleterious effects of aging, The New York Times reports. 

It is hardly likely that the scientists are worried about the aging mice. You get the point – the break-though has a human implication. And given the desperate desire to stop aging, the commercialization of the techniques are likely to be faster than you think. I do not, however, expect popping pills or getting procedures done to stop the spread of my greying hairs. Or will I?

7.           Moon tourism

 A Desert Town on the way up
Kenneth Chang/The New York Times/ May 5, 2012
MOJAVE, Calif. The sign into town, slightly weathered, says “Gateway to Space!”
The mélange of small aerospace companies at Mojave shows that the ambitions of the New Space movement go far beyond serving as a delivery service for NASA.
Two of the companies are fronted by famous billionaires: Virgin Galactic is part of Richard Branson’s empire, while Stratolaunch is the brainchild of Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft. Stratolaunch is building two cavernous structures, a factory to build an airplane with the widest wingspan and a hangar to store it in. The airplane will be an airborne launching pad for a rocket.
 

A decade from now, the dream destination for the romantically inclined rich, is not likely to be beaches of Miami or the French Riviera – it will be Moon. Budget travel to Moon is the next logical step – be advised to take your own food as they will charge you a bomb on the rocket.

8.   Solar energy

 Better, Cheaper Solar Cells
The cost of photovoltaic cells (that turn sunlight into electricity) are coming down. In less than ten years the cost of solar energy could be at parity with the cost of electricity from the grid, and solar cells could be standard features in new residential construction. Your house could power itself about a third of the time.

 

Saudi Arabia Plans $109 Billion Solar Future
By 3p May 14th, 2012 
Saudi Arabia will seek investors interested in a $109 billion plan to generate power from solar energy. The ambitious plan calls for a long term goal of generating an entire third of the nation’s electricity from solar power by the year 2032.

 

The key point in both the news stories is that ‘one-third’ of all energy requirements shall be met by solar energy in the near future. Solar energy is the cleanest and shall have a positive impact on the planet. Also notice Saudis taking interest in the project – the hydrocarbon reserves are limited and shall end sometime in this century itself. The Saudis, with their deserts, are rightly positioned to keep dabbling in energy market.

9.           One world – decline of nationalism

Now for the social science break-through I promised. I shall not point towards any news story, but consider the following facts- increased global trade, increased global tourism, decrease in wars and success (yes, I stand by that) of European economic integration. Apart from the flashpoint of Middle East and Afghanistan, there are no significant ideological-political fault-lines to divide the world.

Internet and other communication technologies are bringing the people together. Rabindranath Tagore was pretty uncomfortable with the idea of nationalism – he found it divisive and limiting. Sri Aurobindo also predicted a global village, devoid of boundaries. But in reality, a global village shall not remain the dream of poets and mystics only.

I believe that even before we realize the change, we shall be living in a boundary-less village, with no global bureaucracy – and weak national governments.

10.               Digitalization of knowledge

With work going on to convert huge amounts of books and research papers into digital form, and because huge amounts of this digital data shall be freely available on the net, the pace of research in all fields of human endeavour shall increase exponentially. It will be like the invention of the printing press that changed the world surreptitiously.

However, to end, some words of caution.

  • There are some basic human factors like greed, hate, jealousy and love that will never change – ‘the more things change, the more they will remain the same’.
  • Not all changes will be good – many things will happen that will make us nostalgic for the good old days.
  • There would be disruptions because of climate change and increasing human population. There will be scarcity of drinking water in many parts of the world. Dissatisfaction over disparities will lead to greater localized violence.
  • Consider this from New York Times – “Albert Brooks, the actor and director, brought out “2030,” in which the nation’s economy is sent into a spin by seemingly good news: cancer is cured. The bad-news twist: the resulting drain on national resources by an aging population that no longer conforms to the actuarial tables and continues to consume resources at baby-boomer rates, and a rather literal twist on the notion of intergenerational warfare.”

Having said that, the balance sheet does not look too bad. The future is something to look forward to, if not downright rosy.

Do add to this list, or dispute the claims – it shall be fun hearing of more idea that will change our world, in our own lifetime!

***


‘Cartoon’ Jokes

Instances of Cartoons (no joke intended here) being taken too seriously are growing in the world. It seems cartoons have ‘arrived’. I made a few cartoon jokes today, inspired somewhat by what is happening in India (and around the world).
 
1
Why do cartoons don’t like other cartoons?
Because they feel they are perfect.
 
2
Why did one cartoon say to another, “You are under arrest?”
Because he was so dumb that he thought that the line was funny.
 
3
Why did cartoon say, “You are under arrest?”
Because he wanted to be taken seriously.
 
4
How do you know the difference between a cartoon and a real person?
Real person is funnier.
 
5
Why did the cartoon shoot the cartoonist?
Because he did not like being ‘made’ fun of.
 
6
Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
A cartoon.
That’s not funny.
I know.
 
7
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Another cartoon.
I hope you are honest – the last time it turned out to be a Chief Minister.
 
8
Why was a cartoon sitting with a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim in a plane that was about to fall?
To make the joke look more contemporary.
 
9
How many cartoons does it take to change a bulb?
None, because they arrest each other.
 
10
How many cartoons does it take to change a light bulb?
Last time it took whole of West Bengal.
 
11
Santa said to Banta, “Let us make a cartoon.”
“Ok,” said Banta, and rushed to get his camera.
 
12
If you have one bullet, and you are faced with a terrorist, a Mafioso, a lawyer and a cartoonist, who would you shoot?
The cartoonist – at least the world will not know what happened to you afterwards.
 
13
Why do cartoonists have such poor drawings?
So that no one can recognize who they are drawing.
 
14
Why did the cartoonist make a caricature of a Chief Minister?
Because Osama bin Laden is dead.
 
15
Why did Jawahar Lal Nehru love cartoonists?
Because he wanted to be different from the coming generations of politicians.
 
16
Why do you find so many cartoons on your facebook wall?
Because facebook is free, easily accessible and popular.
 
17
Why did a cartoon decide to play in the IPL?
Because it is better paying than a politicians’ job.
 
18
“Mirror, mirror, who is the greatest cartoon of them all?”
“Please, I shall not answer that. I will get arrested.”
 
19
Boy: I want to become a cartoon when I grow up.
Mother: Do not get influenced by your father. One cartoon in the house is enough.
 
20
What is the religion of a cartoon?
Hindu: Because even he does not know anything about his religion
Muslim: Because he is found everywhere in the world
Christian: Because he is persecuted and crucified
Sikh: Because he can laugh at himself
 
****

Where are the folks going next: The present and future of social networking

The next big idea in social networking is the application that finds friends of friends near you, giving you an opportunity to meet them in real time. The idea is a disaster ab initio. The whole idea of social networking is to prevent people from meeting each other, to create a screen persona so awesome that all friends just shrivel and wither away, to light the fire of jealousy and to keep it stoking with every post and tweet. Making people meet will wean them away from the screen, causing loss to the business and will only lead to the bursting of the bubble.

Before diving further into the world of social media, let us first cover our flanks – are there any challengers who can pip the social media networks in the enar future?

The game is to keep them hooked. But there are people who are not yet in the trap (believe me, it is true). Most of these ‘others’ are still stuck to the idiot box – to the never ending soaps. The approach of the soap writers is simple – create a circular story around adultery, and put it in a loop. There is no way the viewer will be able to get out of it. It is something like what the geeks dread in computer programming, or like the mazes of the old times. But these soap junkies are from the older generation, and not growing in numbers.

Where do books, movies and theatre fit in?

Books have a great future – as status symbols for the rich, as decorations for the spare drawing room that classy people call study, as snob accessory for the intellectuals to bang each other with (physically or with quotes – the effect is the same) and for being kept in the umpteen libraries that were created in the last generation. But, and this is important, people are actually not reading books – as in spending their time with it. So, they do not pose any challenge what so ever. In any case until they find a way to limit a book to 140 characters before they can even begin to think of challenging the social networks. (Here ‘characters’ means alphabets, including blank spaces, and not the heroes, the knights, the villains, the Chinamen, the inspector, the…)

Movies are part-time – side business – they do not need complete, full time involvement. They will survive, along with the reading of gossip columns and page three of newspapers and the occasional dining out.

Theatre is dead – I introduced theatre in the discussion just to sound classy. (To sound classier, I could have talked about classical music, ballet or opera – but that would have exposed me as a sham, it was not worth the risk.)

There are only two serious challenges to social networking – sex and gaming. In both the cases the social networks are trying to ‘sleep with the enemy’. The idea is to promote ‘sex-appeal’ and gossip as an alternative to real sex (and here I am not referring to pornography, which does not exist, so we will not discuss it). This suits the modern male and female very much, thank you. Real relationships are so cumbersome to maintain, so time consuming, so draining, so messy, that flirting on the social network is, in fact, a good option.

As for gaming, light, addictive gaming is on the Facebook-type platforms already – it is the ‘heavy-metal’ gaming of the addicts that poses a threat. But with careful and constant vilification campaigns against it, promoted through the agency of parents and schools, that the threat can be nixed in the bud. Something like the anti-smoking campaign. There are signs that it is succeeding – I see less and less of gaming fanatics around me these days.

Social networking includes videos (you tube), pictures (facebook, flicker) and text (micro-blogging of Facebook and Twitter). In that sense it is a mutli-media attack on the senses (or whatever remains of it). It seduces the ego – making it seem that it is you who is in control, who is creating the content, who is making people sit up and think, who is the one at the centre of the universe. Moreover, the tools that it gives – cut-and-paste quotes, edit your pictures, edit out bad comments, fit yourself into ‘frames’ created by applications…the whole industry is like the cosmetics industry, working hard to make you look awesome.

There seems to be no getting away from the fact that we live in the age of social networking. The few, mutually exclusive, platforms that rule the roost at the moment are having it good. The wanna-bes’ are burning the midnight oil to find the next big idea, and upstage them. For them, here is a ‘take-away’ from the above – pander to the ego of the individual, and he will be hooked. The advertisers will follow, and thou shalt be rolling in the…er…in whatever the rich roll in.

***

(All cartoons in this post are taken from social network sites/blogs on the net.)


Top news of the day in India – Have the humorists taken over?

It is no fun being a humor writer if the mainstream media takes over your job, aided and abetted by the newsmakers. If today (28.3.2012) be taken as a sample, the top news items give little scope for creating a bigger laugh. Still, let’s try to get behind the lines, and see if there is any further scope for improvement.

 

Army General drops letter bomb: Says Army tanks are running out of ammunition, air defence is going obsolete, the infantry is operating without critical weapons and the nation’s security is threatened. (Hindustan Times)

 

  1. World must be a safer place than we thought – an army of one of the largest military power in the world operates without ammunition.
  2. India’s relations with Pakistan and China must be better than what we thought – we have an amazing amount of confidence in our neighbors not knowing all this and not attacking us.
  3. Commissions in the purchase of ammunitions must be increased forthwith – or no one is interested in buying them.
  4. Top levels of government still depend on the postal system for communication – bodes well for the postal department, but does not reflect well on the performance of telephone exchange.

 

Free medical treatment to all, says Akhilesh Yadav: Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today promised that his government would provide free medical treatment  to the poor. (Economic Times) This comes after the promises of free laptops and computers to those passing class tenth, unemployment grants….

  1. UP, one of the poorest regions of the world (not only the country) has suddenly found a treasure trove. Or maybe Sultan of Brunei has adopted Akhilesh…
  2. UP has found a new revenue model – but will not tell. It is a political/commercial secret.
  3. Read carefully – UP expects that no one will pass tenth, so no laptops; poverty line will be defined in such a manner that no one will be poor – so no free treatment; no one will be left employable, so no question of unemployment grant.
  4. Akhilesh has greater faith in the Central government to fund him than anyone else.

 

India to become world’s largest economy by 2050: Wealth Report 2012 by Knight Frank & Citi Private Bank. China will overtake US by 2020 and India will overtake China by 2050. (Daily Bhaskar)

 

  1. In this age of blind faith, we can believe in one more Guru – Knight Frank & Citi Private Bank. How much harm can one more religion cause?
  2. “In the long term, we are all dead,” thought Frank, and wrote his report. “Meanwhile, it will spread cheer among billions of people who constitute this overpopulated region,” he told Citi Private Bank and smiled kindly.
  3. “It was part of an internal competition for best fiction writers in the bank, but it was accidently released as report. We apologize for any happiness that it may have caused,” clarified Spokesman for Citi Private Bank.
  4. Indian government invites Knight Frank to become its chief economic advisor. “Frankly, we want more such opinion before the polls,” government spokesman told the media in New Delhi today.

***


State of the World – 2012. (Mid-year review: A spoof)

As we wait for the promised doomsday (this year it is 21st December), we are not sure how much to invest in the event. My gut feeling is, the Mayans just ran out of paper to print their eternal calendar, or got bored at this very point, and left the task unfinished. In fact I saw my boy start with the noble mission of writing down ‘all the numbers’ only to leave the task at 3,100 – significantly short of infinity I would say. So I can understand how the Mayans would have felt at 21.12.2012.

But more than that, 2012 is so supremely boring that some of the mystical effect of 2012 may also have rubbed off them, making them a little less driven and goal oriented.

I do not wish to discourage the optimists, but I would advise that it would be a waste of effort to invest in bunkers and Mars rocket schemes, just on the word of the Mayans. In fact I had higher hopes from Iran earlier this year, but then, it is that kind of an year…

US and Iran tried to build up something entertaining, but then again, their heart was not in the job. They cannot match the Israelis for dedication towards goals, and both the sole surviving superpower, and the sole surviving ‘potential-evil-incarnate’ somehow went off to an unearned Spring holiday, and the world was once again left to bide time with the mug shots of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Between these two, humanity has yet to decide who is worse – it is touch and go as far as I see it.

Meanwhile, oil prices continue to rise, and the pundits continue to forecast that they are likely to rise further. The number of oil sector pundits has shot up to 60 million now (incidentally, the average sperm-count is also 60 million per milliliter, but I don’t know whether the two facts are connected in any way).

The business of oil-sector-pundits is doing well, as is that of the futurologists, but in other sectors there is gloom – the top MBA types in the West (including the bankers) are trying to survive at dollar 5 grand a year, with an assured ten percent annual increment. They predict that such a gloomy scenario is not good for the world – it is hurting the luxury yacht and casino business no end. Last heard, US President was very worried about these two sectors – he is thinking of calling a G-20 meeting on the issue.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the London Olympics, one wonders what it would mean for the city – financial ruin or revival in fortunes? (Make no mistake, Sports only mean business and entertainment now – they have lost their independent sectoral identity.) I believe that in the lethargic 2012, sportsmen would be struggling to match their own selection records, let alone beat the milestones. However one does have high hopes when it comes to WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends), Salman Rushdie and Dow Chemicals to provide some entertainment.

Some hope remains from the Femen protestors, who are working hard to make the world a better place – for males. I hope they will not be afflicted by the lethargy of 2012, and would find sufficient drive to peel off their tops and hound the eager and hard working cops of Eastern Europe. They could, I would suggest, give an annual calendar of protest to their governments, who could then use it to promote tourism in their (economically) depressed countries.

The Russian elections lived up to its promise of pure entertainment – at the cutting edge of fact and fiction – and Putin’s Russia continues to love and hate the man simultaneously. It is however the US, which is such a letdown – I promise you nobody outside of US understands a word what the 1300 Presidential candidates are saying. The fact that they all look frauds of the highest order, specially chosen by Obama to run against him, and speak on issues that may be relevant to small towns in the middle America, makes it a dull year for America watchers (approximately 50 % of the world –  the other 50%, living in poorest of conditions, does not know what America is).

Will America finally leave Afghanistan? I don’t believe that this year the soldiers would have the energy to pack the bags. Their ammunition, their porn mags, their tiffin boxes etc are scattered all over Afghanistan, and it would not be possible to pack all that in a year. Therefore there has been a call to let the wives join the GIs for a while (but with Taliban and other lechers around, it seems hardly likely that the Christian fathers would allow Obama to take that decision in an election year.)

Meanwhile, the Apple Corporation has got its priorities clear – name everything with a small ‘i’ and go for the kill while the aura of Steve Job lasts. Facebook now has more individual on it than the global population, and denies rumors of a ‘bubble’. I have heard even Mark Zuckerberg is tiring of counting his money, and had asked Bill Gates for advice. Gates, I believe told him to just ‘grin and bear it’, and that he is yet to figure out how to stop the flow. Gates was investing in real estate, I am told, hoping for a 2008 redux.

Maldives awaits a slow death, with steadily rising water levels, even as the world sympathetically reassures the Maldivians that with doomsday around the corner, the island would not face a slow oblivion. But the Maldivians are a pessimistic lot – they are not impressed, and keep on harping on cutting carbon emission levels. Theirs is a new version of ‘quit smoking’ campaign at a global level, and to the developed world, just as quirky and fetishistic.

There is little hope that the year would take off – even the Wikileaks is not leaking any more. In my present despondent state, it seems to me that we are doomed to keep on counting meaninglessly till eternity – I mean till 31st December 2012.

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