Saturday, October 29, 2011

R2I

The debate in the comments section of previous post between IITG and Gaurav prompted this post. While it has become a dead-horse now, a few years ago Return To India (R2I) was a topic - I often liked to discuss with close friends and relatives. This post isn't about the broad topic. But just the portion that is relevant to the debate going on in that comments section.

My strong belief is that - R2I is not much different from preparing for an exam. For the most part if you don't perform well, it is *your* fault. You can come back and say that the question paper was tough or you made a silly mistake or you didnt have time. Its your fault. You screwed up. You failed. Outside rare events where something outside your control happened (someone died, car accident, etc) - the reason for poor performance can be boiled down to the fact that you didn't anticipate what the exam was all about and did not prepare very well. Or you failed to continue to fight everyday life challenges the way other people living in India do. My disappointment with the article was that the author was shifting the blame on an intangible 3rd party.

Returning To India is in general difficult because people don't see it as an exam and don't prepare well enough and fail most basic challenges thrown at them. They sort of have an attitude of 'Its my country. I can wing it'. The following are reasons why I think people say this or fail in the R2I efforts:

1. Returning with a pre-conceived notion of what their experience is going to be. One that is suitably colored due to nostalgia.

2. Returning and expecting special treatment as a result of being NRIs. Going to India on vacation is not the same as going there on a permanent job. Not knowing this makes a person's humility setting as very low. There was a time in 80s when someone who had been to Singapore for a week would put scene for 6 months and people would listen to him with mouth wide-open. The concept of 'foreign return' lost its sheen in the late 90s. And people who R2I have trouble being treated as normal people. They are unable to resist the urge to do running commentary on Indians as if the people living "there" were lab rats. So when you hear some one say 'I cant adjust 'there', cant live with 'them' etc'. The first instinct one feels upon hearing this is - what do you mean "them"? You are "them". What is all this drama about "me" vs "them". While there are logical reasons why one would like to think of non-NRIs as different - the first gut reaction in any person's mind is that it sounds supercilious when an Indian refers to other Indians as "them". I feel that way mostly because *I* mean to be supercilious when I use it that way. So the first suspicion I would have is that the person is trying to put scene and show that they are better people by virtue of staying abroad.

3. Most people I have talked to - fail in their return plans for reasons like "paying electricity bills is such a hassle, they ask for bribes, they are changing me to a corrupt person, traffic problems are too much, people are rude at work". Almost all these reasons are cliched and have been said several times before. The most cliched reason being 'I have changed as a person' and so wont fit there.

All the above only means that you didn't prepare well and so you failed the exam. Running a ball-by-ball commentary on every experience you have once your return is a sure-shot recipe for disaster. Not knowing about the way people pay electricity bills in India or whether you changed as a person - is your fault. Making a choice to come back, preparing poorly at that and putting blame on some vague intangible stuff is just bad. Putting on the garb of 'I want to change the world' as an excuse to criticize everything under the sun - smacks of arrogance and just hides the real problem even more.

There is also another angle to this. When people say they aborted their r2I effort and give above reasons - the 'real' reason lies somewhere among the below two points

1. Wife came back and couldnt get along well with her in-laws. She hates the concept of moving from an isolated environment to one where there s family all the time and everywhere. The complaint noise has increased.

2. Career progress isn't working out and dude is getting screwed at work.

If everything is going well - you never notice the environmental variables. they are just things you have to 'adjust' to. If family and career get screwed up - you are searching for things to blame. I have seen many articles by NRIs that refuses to admit *the person's own* failure and explains it away as some sort of a problem that India has. They blame the failure on some external thing that they had no control over. I usually dont react to them. The reason why I took exception to the specific article that I linked was because the bar was too low. The reason seemed ridiculously silly and trivial.

Now there are many kinds of exams. You can ask a grown-up person to appear for an IIT-JEE exam and if they fail, its understandable. Thats a tough exam. But if you ask them to appear for 2nd standard Math exam and they fail - one should be allowed to say without hiding behind subjectivity that failing addition subtraction type questions is a shame.

I cant imagine the Mungee dude and his wife having a conversation that goes "Honey.. I am treating my maid badly. This country has made me a bad person. boo hoo. I don't want to be this person. Let us go back to USA". At a practical level - I don't see a person changing his life for such a trivial, negligible reason. Losing a few bucks here and there due to someone duping you has been happening since my grandparent's days. I remember my grand mother's mom telling me stories on how her maid duped her of Rs 10. This is the most common form of duping ever. These things are like paying tax. Pay it and get on with life. If you choose to become rude as a result of life experiences - then that is the kind of person you are. Live with that. If you choose to ignore it, continue to be a nice guy and think that in 5% of the cases you will be duped but in 95% of cases you will be all right - then that is the kind of person you truly are. The key thing is - if you decide to enter a jungle then fight like an animal there. Don't compare every single experience to a hypothetical situation of "this wouldn't happen if I were in a zoo or in a different jungle". You are where you are. Deal with it. If you cant - accept it was your fault and go back. Don't shift the blame.

Writing that kind of maudlin and weakling type article that Mungee has written only happens if you received money to propagate someone's narrative.

Friday, October 28, 2011

LIC Narasimhan Passes Away

From acting as Rajini's brother in "from-6-to-60" to playing the Judge in almost every movie that needed a judge character to playing key characters in DD Tuesday 7:30 drama - he was one of those actors who added richness and charisma to a show without being noticed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Really dude! Everybody gets duped. Not just NRIs.

Sometimes, I think NY Times is paid to run a narrative that stops the reverse-brain drain. Otherwise it is impossible for a regular human being to write stuff like this.

Who leaves the country for such a trivial and idiotic reason? Sometimes I wish such sensitive 'supramanis' are flogged publicly. At least then - they will flee India for a good reason. Because it *is* important that such people are kept out of India for the country to really progress.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Note on Kanni Raasi

I was watching below video again. This is probably the greatest scene in history of cinema (one that inspired this post). And lo behold - look at the maligai kadai boy. It is our Mayilsami.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Anti-Corruption

A standard ethical axiom that is expected from every human being is that - personal bias is secondary when it comes to the 'correctness' of an issue. Meaning - you may disagree with a person on several issues (lets call it issue-A, issue-B, issue-c); however, if you believe he is stating something correct on a whole new issue (call it issue-E) you should be inclined to support his cause. The reason to expect such a behavior is because of an assumption that logical human beings agree and disagree based on the merits of the issue and not based on who is supporting the issue.

Subramaniam Swamy has probably done more towards anti-corruption and has brought more corrupt politicians behind bars in comparison to Anna Hazare. He has done all this by working within the limits of the legal system. If you compare the relative public support of Anna Hazare to that of Swamy - it is safe to say that there is negligible public support for Swamy and overwhelming support for Anna Hazare. However, if you see their respective balance sheets - Swamy has accomplished what no other Indian has accomplished before. He uncovered the biggest scam in the history of the country, put 2 MPs behind bars, preempted someone from becoming PM on legal grounds, and possibly on his way to put 3 more MPs in jail. Anna Hazare is simply not even in the same planet. All Anna has is an idea of a process to get rid of corruption that may or may not work.

Strangely, there is a wall street like behavior in the Indian mind-set where some organizations are rewarded on potential future accomplishments inspite of having average balance sheets and other organizations are penalized based on negative perceptions of their future sustainability even though they have significant accomplishments till date.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Vijaya Dasami

NamAzhwar wrote a set of 10 verses that is colloquially called வெற்றி பாசுரம் (victory paasuram). It is found in ThiruvaiMozhi 7.3 (3rd 10 verses in the 8th decad). ஆழி எழ சங்கும் வில்லும் எழ is not your run-of-the-mill verses. It wakes you from slumber and slaps you in the face. If NamAzhwar was the best of the Azhwars then this is a good contender for the best 10 of NamAzhwar's 1000 verses. He is in full flow and the words seem to jump out and merge with your senses. In olden days many people recited these 10 verses to seek victory in daily endeavors. It is a set of fiery 10 verses that is unlike anything else that NamAzhwar composes in Thiruvaimozhi. Reciting it fills the body with adrenalin purely because of the rhythm and force of the verses. Each of the 10 verses is dedicated to the moment of victory in the 10 avatharams of Vishnu.

Here is what NamAzhwar has to say on Rama victoriously slaying Ravana on this Vijaya Dasami day. If you thought Desikan brought out the warrior qualities of Rama in an epic composition called Mahaveera Vaibhavam (Raghuveera Gadyam). NamAazhwar produces a powerful warrior in Rama with just 4 sentences.

மாறு நிரைத்தி இரைக்கும் சரங்கள்,
இன நூறு பிணம் மலை போல் புரள,
கடல் ஆறு மடுத்து உதிராப் புனலா,
அப்பன் நீறு பட இலங்கை செற்ற நேரே

Here is how Mr. Madhavakannan describes the meaning of these 4

"Sri Raman- the way He destroyed lankaa with His Valour, His Dharma and His Greatness. There was no "mayyam" (no cheating or mischief). There were metallic twangs and sounds everwhere with the twangs of Emperumaan's bow chord (and also of IlayaperumaaL's) and the sound of arrows hitting against each other in all directions. There were hundreds and hundreds of bodies falling on the ground dying. The entire area was filled with blood and it was a blood river that was flowing towards the sea to make it look red. Thus the entire lankaa was made to dust by Sri Rama."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Online Ads

I have never clicked an Online Advertisement. While I have waited impatiently for any pop-ups or ads to disappear so that I can continue my browsing, I usually never read those advertisements.

When I ask other people if they've ever clicked online advertisements - I usually hear a resounding 'no'. Actually, I have never met a person who clicked an ad-word or some sort of an online advertisement. I wonder who clicks these ads and how it came to be a multi-billion dollar business.

To illustrate my point. What is the market cap of iPhone & how many people you know have an iPhone; What is the market cap of Kindle & how many people you know have a Kindle; Compare that to market cap of Online Ads and how many people you know have clicked an online advt.