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BT Brinjal February 16, 2010
I’ve been following the story of the BT Brinjal for a while now and the government’s decision is great news. Most agriculture in the US is controlled by a handful of companies who decide how many varieties of seeds are planted, how much is grown, and what foods finally find their way to the supermarket and to the dinner table.
Monsanto owns around 90% of IP on seeds in the US. Farmers not using Monsanto seeds could be found guilty of stealing protected property even if their crops happen to be cross pollinated by Monsanto crops! Given our record of dealing with MNC’s – Union Carbide anyone? – I don’t think small farmers need to be jointly owned by crushing debt and MNC’s. We have driven enough farmers to suicide without having to add a Monsanto to their list of worries. You can find a few more examples here..
I am not against bioengineering itself. G.M. foods (unlike GM cars, ha ha terrible joke) are most likely the way of the future. We do need stronger IP laws protecting our music, movies, software, and novels (after the way Aamir Khan and his friends ripped off 5 Point Someone). I’m not sure having a company own the IP on all our food is the right way to go. The solution I’m imagining involves heavier government intervention, indigenously developed seeds and more education and freedom for our farmers to grow what they choose and for consumers to know more about what they’re eating.
At the end of it all, it’s consumers who must fight for their own interests. And it’s people like us who need to be aware of what’s happening and fight not just for ourselves but also for those who can’t read a newspaper let alone understand the issues that impact them. We seem to think that all protests and rallies are evil indicators of a government not doing it’s job right. We seem to forget that we can’t outsource thinking about important issues that affect us to a bunch of people in parliament (or the assembly) and spend our time in the pursuit of money and multiplex movies.
The more I see what capitalism in America, the more I feel pure capitalism is not what India truly needs. Wal-mart, Big Banks, Monsanto, the fast food industry, a fee for everything and reality television may be right for America. But our roadside chaat stands, the State Bank of India and Ekta Kapoor serials might just be good enough for us.
Five Apps Later February 12, 2010
I’m wearing pretty nail paint just to prevent myself from biting my nails.
The Brahmin Thing January 28, 2010
So, for the longest time, I never knew what to answer when someone, anyone, asked me, “Are you Brahmin?”
I started out being stunned. I was naive enough to think that because caste didn’t matter to me, it didn’t matter to anyone.
After a while, I moved on to being judgmental. I always looked down on people who asked about “caste” as people unworthy of my attention. But then, I realized there were people right in my (extended) family who I liked to whom caste mattered a great deal. This didn’t seem right. How could ordinary sane, rational, “good” people care about something as silly as caste?
When I turned seventeen, I identified myself as “OC” for the first time. Suddenly, it started to seem unfair that there were people who attended the same school as mine who were in no way “backward” who would be chosen over me. The system didn’t seem right. But more importantly, it didn’t seem right that there were people who didn’t mind lying about being “backward” just because it meant they received additional benefits.
I went through college with a kind of resentment for those who managed to get to where “they didn’t deserve to be” just because of their caste. Looking back, it seems very hypocritical to me. After all, I benefited from the “women’s quota” reservation myself!
With time, judgment gave way to curiosity. I dabbled with the shadier sides of Orkut and joined quite a few of the “brahmins unite” groups just to see what the fuss was about. The larger groups were more of a symbol on someone’s profile. The smaller, regional groups played the same role as telugumatrimony.com. Overall, the experiment was a failure. I learned nothing new.
When I moved to the US I thought caste wouldn’t matter given it doesn’t matter to anyone around. But I’ve heard the question on occasion, “Are you vegetarian? Is it by choice or…” Granted, not everyone who asks the question is interested in knowing your caste. But you can tell when the person is interested in learning about more than your dietary choices.
Last semester, I talked about India in my International Business class. The biggest question everyone had was about caste. “How does it feel”, a woman asked, “when you look at each other and know the difference in caste, but we can’t tell the difference?” Something cleared up in my mind after that. I replied, “All societies find ways to classify people. Caste just happens to be the Indian way. ‘Upward mobility’ and ‘financial success’ are not a function of your caste. Caste is just something you’re born with and you choose what you want to do with it.”
What made me think of this today? I just finished checking the “I am not Hispanic” box on all my grad school applications.
Phir Mile January 27, 2010
Ok, so every Indian who grew up with DD has already ripped apart the new “Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” video. So I don’t have anything wittier or new to say.
But what I can do for my wonderful readers is put together some of the best comments I’ve heard so far…
The makers, Zoom say, “More than 60 of India’s icons have lent their support to this initiative which has taken almost a year to create. It took more than 60 days of on-location shoot, across 15 cities of India, 30 days of post production, 22 of India’s biggest superstars, 18 of India’s best musicians, 13 of India’s best artists and singers, 15 of India’s most renowned icons to create this magnum opus. Each artist speaks of a cause and the video is shot at places which have historical value and significance.”
Evidently, it takes a year to travel by boat from Kashmir (where Rohit Bal is buying spinach) to the Qutub Minar (where the star kid is playing the santoor)
Amitabh Bachchan said,
“People from film industry along with so many other individuals have given their voices to make this wonderful song of India. I am the only person in the song who has a repeat value,”
Does that mean he’s the only one who gets to sing his lines and then say them?
Some latest tweets:
Is there any difference between Om Shanthi Om’s Title track and Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara? Could have used that video as well!
I feel so cheated: Zakir Hussain doesn’t shout, ‘Wah, Taj!” at the end of his bit in Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara.
Q: Why wasn’t Rajnikanth in Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara video? A: Because Rajni ‘Kant’ be seen with ordinary actors!
— could have used more role models and less models
has gotto b d WORST National Integration Project ever! D music itself is SO un-integrated!
What was SRK thinking? He looked as if he was singing to his estranged lover.
Krish Ashok has methodically dissected the video (frame by frame) on his blog here. In his words:
” This 16 minute Bollygasm will put blade like a Kiwi farmer on a sheep during shearing season. It’s a showy, shallow, cringe-worthy, slow-tempo, un-coordinated and unwatchable piece of crystalline Crappium Craptide wrapped in crapé paper.”
Do read the entire post. It’s hilarious.
What do I think? You mean aside from the fact that I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who thought there was too much Bollywood? Well, I’m relieved I’m not the only one who feels some of the actors could lip sync to a national integration type song in a mildly (or very) obscene fashion. It’s nice to know other people feel the video could have been shorter. Everyone I know (including me, of course) feels the video was a joke.
Oh, if you know any kids who’re too young to have seen the original, do them a favour and have them watch it.
But really, I agree most with Greatbong who says:
“Now I wait eagerly for “Phir Baje Sargam Har Taraf Se” with Pritam, Himesh and Rakhi Sawant.”
Goodbye TV! January 20, 2010
Yesterday, we finally cut cable. Now we only get to watch reruns of Friends, Seinfeld, That 70′s Show and Scrubs in the evening and “Judge Judy” kind of shows in the afternoons. Granted, we still have Youtube, Netflix and a hundred or so dvd’s at home but we still feel liberated.
TV in America is so specialized. There are channels dedicated to Home and Garden (HGTV), cooking (Food Network), real and imaginary catastrophies (The History channel), mating habits of animals (you know which one that is) and reality shows (all of the others). It’s so different from Indian TV where on any channel, at any time of the day, you can only find gaudily dressed women wearing atrocious makeup plotting against each other.
So now we’ve slipped into this little cocoon where we’re cut off from mainstream America. I feel more desi than I ever did in India.
I think the self imposed holiday is finally over. If I don’t find a job soon, I’ll turn into one of those wonderful NRI aunties who do “all housework without help” and also find time to knit and sew.I’m going to go job hunting! Wish me luck!