Reflections and rumination, Society & Culture

The holy cow of dissent

There is serious misconception about what dissent is, what is the idea of a nation, and what is democracy. Democracy enables one to participate in the idea of the nation. You are the nation in many ways. It takes time to build this idea of the nation, and each election, each generation adds a little into it. If at any point, any individual feels that the current state of affairs are a sharp departure from this collective idea of the nation, they are entitled to notify their dissent. However, their dissent cannot be against the shared idea of nation itself, it can only be against those who execute the will of the nation.In short, dissent needs to identify where the government ends, and a nation begins. The moment they dissent from the idea of the nation, they move from the dissent to treason.
Why is dissent against the idea of nation treason 

Nationhood is a contract that we agree to. When we identify as citizens of any particular country, we agree to recognize it’s collective idea. In return we enrich it with our participation through the elective process, and abide by it’s laws. This contract is the basis for our stay, and protection by the state. The moment we dissent against the shared idea of a nation, we no longer have the moral right to enjoy pleasures of the nationhood.

Then what should a disgruntled dissenter do?

To start with, they can continue to participate in the elective process by choosing the right representatives. If they can’t find anyone to represent themselves, they can contest elections themselves. If they feel they are completely at odds with the shared idea, and would not get much support in elections, they can choose to find another nation that is more in tune with their idea of the nation. Or, they could make themselves indispensable, enrich the nation with their contribution, thus gaining more influence, and then attempt to seed their ideas again. Sadly, none of the prominent ‘dissenters’ of India are enriching her with contributions beyond their dissent. The hollow, impotent dissent has no takers. However, they are not the only one who do not understand dissent. The government of the day, doesn’t either.

How the state should approach dissent 

The idea of the state has moved from being a ‘parent’ to a ‘facilitator’. The responsibility thus on those that run the nation, is not to crush any voice of dissent, but to simply facilitate means of intellectual purification. A dissenter must be asked to validate their dissent with actions, as the state provides the means. For example, in the context of J&K, it could be asking the dissenters to build model of governance, and provide a model village for implementation of the model. If the dissenter rises to the occasion, then confidence on state is built up, if they don’t then they lose face.

Unfortunately, we are at a strange Mexican standoff as far as the idea of dissent is concerned. Those who employ it, are not judicious in it’s use, and those who are to tackle it, are caught up with indecision. In Yuval Noah Harari’s thought – provoking book – ‘Homo Sapiens’. He remarks how all the nations are but figment of our imaginations, and depend on our willingness to accept the idea as a reality. Coming days will tell us exactly how willing we as a nation are to accept a uniform idea.

Humanity, Society & Culture

What could be done to abolish caste


BJP has been appropriating all national heroes India has. Since the agenda has moved from being simply pro-hindu to being pro-hindu + progressive, this kind of symbolic appropriation is nothing unexpected. Hindu upper castes feel in control, they love the spin BJP gives to traditional vitriolic. Right wing think-tank is continuously at work to create progressive sounding rhetoric that changes little on ground, except polarizing the masses further. There is one key problem that BJP would love to address, but haven’t dared so far. Reservations.

Taking away reservations will not bridge the gap between lower castes and upper castes. It will only fuel the anger against ‘savarnas’ or upper castes for taking away priviledge that the community had got accustomed to. Also, it would be unfair for really underpriviledged communities, many of whom are even now marginalized. In many ways, this is a catch 22 situation with seemingly no answer. If you don’t give reservations, underdeveloped communities suffer, if you do, then the bias against lower castes strenghthens. Handing out reservations to economically underdeveloped is often pitched as a way out, but in a corrupt country like ours, how difficult it is to falsify economic state? Many of our politicians do not even have a crore in their bank accounts after all!

The only way out I see is offering reservations to progeny of inter-caste, and inter-religion couples. This could make a marriage in lower caste desirable for many upper castes if it means consolidation of wealth. Sure many fourth or fifth generation ‘lower-castes’, who are under-privileged would benefit, as they would be closest to what upper caste hindus find attractive. Yet, a state sanctioned benefit for breaking down caste barriers could have long term positive repercussions in annihilation of caste from India.

The question is, who will bell the cat?

Economics and Politics, Relationships & Families, Society & Culture

Why Comparing Ashoka and Taimur is ridiculous

I see a lot of people indulging in whataboutery over Saif and Kareena’s son being named as Taimur. Their point is, if a lot of Hindus can be named Ashoka, why can’t muslims be named as ‘Taimur’? Here are my reasons why the two are not quite the same.
1) Name Ashoka existed way before the emperor, and its roots can be traced to the tree by the same name. A lot of Indians have named their kids Ashok not because of the emperor, but because of the tradition of this name in Hindu culture.
2) Ashoka has been ‘sanitized’ as a figure of great humility by historians, while his real history is forgotten. Taimur’s history is very much that of a barbaric plunderer, with not even made up stories of his kindness. Thus any attempt to recreate his legacy is provocative.
3) Because people are named Ashoka, it doesn’t mean there should be people named Taimur. If we go by that logic, why don’t we name our kids Stalin, Hitler, or Genghis Khan?
While the parents retain this right of namjng their kids whatever they fancy, its a little strange statement to make in this day and age.
Economics and Politics, Life changes, Relationships & Families, Society & Culture

What Rahul Gandhi really wants


Have you ever seen another man so desperate to ruin his own reputation than Rahul Gandhi? Perhaps Arvind Kejariwal can be tough competition, but his reasons to become a national joke are quite different. I suspect he is trying to play India’s love for dramatics to his advantage. Since patriotism, development, and authoritarian leadership have already been claimed by Modi, and liberal socialism has too many faces, he has perhaps gone for downright ridiculousness. However, despite his ridiculous statements, you can see a pattern emerging from statements made by Kejariwal. He has rightly identified that there isn’t any other leader worth gunning for, and simply attacking Modi would be enough for him to stay in news. This pattern is starkly missing with Rahul Gandhi. Over the years, he has made some astoundingly ridiculous statements. With the resources, available to him, and the life experiences that he has gone through, he shouldn’t be this naive and politically clueless. Consider this.

This man grew up in the shadow of his grandmother’s assassination, his uncle’s supposed accident, and finally his father’s assassination. Yet, his worldview appears too optimistic, like a teenager with will to change the world. That just cannot be true. I could consider his initial hiccups as a learning curve, but after spending more than a decade in public life, even the worst performers pick up a thing or two. Look at Priyanka Chopra, she started out as an awful actress, and now she has landed herself in an overly sexualized Hollywood role. That’s progress for you right there. Anyway, there is no reason for Rahul to not improve as a politician, unless… unless he didn’t want to.   Imagine for a minute that he was actively trying to sabotage his career. Wouldn’t making himself to be a fool suit perfectly? However, you would be thinking why he might want to do that. He is practically a political royalty. Why wouldn’t he want to be in power? If you assume that he isn’t as naïve, and has an average intelligence, a study of children with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) can help.

Alcohol and children

Children who have witnessed ritualistic alcohol abuse of their parents often stay away from alcohol. They have no intention of undergoing same catastrophes. They are also likely to avoid other behavioral similarities with their parents, just to be sure. Seems very logical, doesn’t it? Similarly, Rahul Gandhi with the horrendous history of deaths in his family should not want to be a politician at all. So why is he one? Because he is compelled to by the congress, and his mother. But why would a grown man listen to his mother?

The single parent trap

Young adults who have lost their parents tragically, tend to gravitate more towards the surviving parent. This can be intense if the parent and kid have opposite sex. Men usually grow out of their mother’s influence, breaking the Oedipus complex after puberty. Since India is a largely family oriented country, this age gets pushed a little further. Rahul would have been a young adult, or a pre-pubescent teen when he lost his father, leaving his family in disarray. And believe me, no amount of connections, and money would be able to replace this loss. This could have left him completely incapable of standing up against his mother, no matter what his personal wishes are. So he has done what any average man who doesn’t want to get into a fight will resort to. Tanking the fight.

A long failure

Now, the tragedy of Rahul Gandhi really starts taking shape in front of you. Imagine someone desperately trying to throw the fight. Maybe it’s an average Joe up against Muhammed Ali. While Ali is taking the fight casually, Mr. Joe would still get hurt. But what if he falls at the first punch and doesn’t get up. Surely it would end the fight. Not in case of Rahul Gandhi. Despite his numerous attempts to get up, the referees have held him by the shoulder, lifted him in front of killing punch machine that is politics in India. Each time he falls more spectacularly than the previous time, only for congress sycophants to lift him up on their shoulder, and to eulogize him.

The latest threat to bring in the earthquake could also be another attempt by him to throw the fight, and I believe he should be allowed to. He has a right to enjoy his life, and his privilege even if it means advising political euthanasia. We live in a democracy after all.


Humanity, Reflections and rumination, Society & Culture

How demonetization made me healthier


Frankly I am tired. Of all the cribbing around the long lines, about elaborate hyperbole on how  it hasn’t done anything at all. I think one must look at every policy change positively. I think demonetization is helping the common man get healthier.

Here is why: 

  • I walk more in search of working ATMs.
  • I stand more than usual due to queues.
  • I avoid junk on street as well as copious chai I used to consume.
  • I sleep on time, because I need to get up early to hit the bank.
  • I am making a lot of friends at the bank, so social life is booming, and that is good for my mental health.
  • Finally, I have completely stopped drinking, because I would rather spend what money I have on food, and other basic necessities.

Honestly, the inner fakir is loving it. 🙂 🙂

Internet & Technology, Society & Culture

Aadhar, and the future of digital authentication



The Aadhar program by Government of India has come under much criticism. However as technology develops, the real value of this program will emerge. As a matter of fact, the government has already taken initiative to talk to some of the leading technology companies. Until last year, smartphones with finger print scanner were not in fashion, and now courtesy companies like Xiomi, you can get one under 10k INR. It won’t be a stretch of imagination to think that soon this technology may become as ubiquitous as a smartphone. Here is what I think it would mean for future of digital authentication.

No need for physical verification documents 

We may no longer need to submit identity proof. Indians are very much aware how tedious it is today to do any government related activity. You need to submit five different proofs of who you are. Linking Adhar to a smartphone may finally make India completely digital.

Apps can be authenticated and access can be controlled

Once the Aadhar card is synced with the smartphone ecosystem, all the apps would know exactly who is using the app. This will improve the security of the app and allow the users another way to sign-in using their finger prints.

Payment verification 

The current issue with two step verification is the fact that it doesn’t take into account the possibility of theft of identity. With additional sync of Aadhar and fingerprint scanning technology, we can finally have a more secure method to conduct bank transactions.

Surely these benefits are going to make things easy for the consumer. However, at the same time it opens up a new avenue for hackers to completely steal identity, and security of the Aadhar database would need to be impregnable. Recent attack and theft of secret naval documents of the Indian Government, does not boost confidence enough and is something the Aadhar team will need to work at. Apart from these concerns, Aadhar verification seems like the way to go!

advertising, Branding and Communications, Marketing

Difference between brand awareness and brand salience

brandGoing just by definition, I would differentiate the two as follows.

Brand Awareness: How much do customers know about your brand. Have they heard about it, do they think about it, do they talk about it?

Brand Salience: Do customers think your brand is the ‘gold standard’ in the category. Is it the first brand that comes to their mind when you talk about the category?

A brand can have a higher level of awareness from time to time owing to the promotional campaigns they do or news about the product, however Salience is achieved through consistent delivery of value. For example, Samsung Galaxy 7 is right now pretty high on brand awareness scale due to reports about spontaneous combustion of the phone. However it doesn’t mean people will go and buy it. They will still go and buy iPhones. 🙂