Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My take on Rang de basanti…

Truly a generation-awakening film. Apart from ‘people liked it so much…’; ‘ it became a movement..’; ‘candle light vigils became an in thing..’, etc, what I liked most about this movie was its take on handling the enemy within— the last scene in which actor Siddharth is shown killing his own father Rajpath Singhania, the corrupt Defense middleman, played by ever-supreme, Aunpam Kher.
For the whole lot of Indian, the fight was simply about taking the enemy as close as inside the territory; but for Siddharth! Because for him, he was very much inside the house, may be inside his blood also. This aloof character is shown fighting the hardest battle. Mustn’t have been easy, I am sure. And I suspect it is here that the entire real life patrons are going to put the high ideals of this movie in the cold bag. For not all of us can fight this enemy, the self. We cannot choose to part ways with our luxuries; the bare facts of a provincial life begin to loom large before our eyes. The emotions will begin to pour in. The enemy holds the stronger position, masquerades in different family relations, not easy to identify. This time he is not a neighbour, not a bearded Muslim, not just the rich man, not the father of one’s beloved, not the uncaring ill-treating father; he is somebody in one’s own veins. He has begot him. He has given him life, education, luxury, freedom, love, everything that one needs. And yet he stands in the wrongs’ dominion. For all that he has given were never rightfully his and therefore not yours. It will never be an easy confession. And more acute is the fact that in real life, this is most commonplace. One can blame it on politicians; still harder, on the people who re-elect them to power. But how about our parents! Siddharth has to do that highest terrain of fight.
On a different note, I got thinking on what other de jure remedies could be there to save the agony of the Siddharth Act. If we really have to succeed in making the RDB movement a success, then, finding the softer constitutional ways would be a must. And at the same, it will have to be set out against the Doctrine of Karma, wherein the fruits of one’s actions are reaped in this very world. Balance may not be easy.
The Income Tax Act only deals with the monetary misappropriations aspect. The actual acts that facilitate amassment are dealt as per other applicable procedures. On occasions, the IT department also comes out with schemes for declaration of one’s black money avoiding the penalties. As a matter of fact flagrant government officials would not avail of it. Law definitely bestows mercy on those who confess. But then, people expect a true, sincere confessionary to be prepared to meet any fate. So why a wrongdoer would feel encouraged to confessing?!My recourse would be to forgive the lighter wrongdoers who confess, ensuring non- repetition of such acts. This is also because a big section of Indians would come in this category. For big-time dealers, mercy may be thought only in the end by alleviating the punishment accorded. The real forgivers are always the people against whom crime is committed. I don’t think, ‘Siddharth’ can be fully avoided if we desire a successful transformation.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Be right, not dead right.

Try not to prove yourself to be right; try to prove what u did was what you felt to be right.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Character sketch of Captain Vaz

Character sketch of Captain Vaz

Captain Derrick Fernandes Vaz. This is his full name. Supposedly the most awesome and formidable of all the nautical surveyors in MMD, Mumbai. He is also seen as one of the most knowledgeable persons around. Very much up-to-date and thorough with the procedures, legislations and ship knowledge. His name has often given scares and sweat to candidates. He is known for asking highly ultra-syllabus questions which are instantly perceived as never-answerable.
Though I myself never had any opportunity of facing him for my oral exams, I have always got intrigued by his charisma after hearing people’s reports of experiences with him. Hence my psycho profiling is based on the same along with just one write-up I have read, written by him, and a couple of encounters I had for other works.
Most of time he puts up those subject questions only for which the candidate appears to be least prepared. For those who emanate a feel of thorough preparations, there are always his ‘bouncers’. Quite a many times he throws his questions as open challenges to the candidate. The candidate is given his self-chosen time to discover the answer of it. The terrified examinee reads this as a display of the examiner’s ‘ego’ but I interpret it as his novae method of teaching the candidate to learn to refer and research.
His sphere of knowledge is seen to enclose almost all categories of vessels, his experiences as vast as his glory. The Ro-ro’s, Gear-less Bulkies, chemicals, Gas carriers, passengers, he is presumed to have worked on all. Thus, the candidates start to get nervous just on being told of seeing him for the orals. He can be expected to question a person regarding anything and everything. The duration of exam has been reported of spreading over several weeks. Candidates are given ‘recalls’ one after another till he delivers his verdict. And even after all his merciless examining, the candidate should not expect any leniency in his fate. Very often they are still failed. Thus they get a reason to call him ‘cruel’ or ‘harassing’ also. I guess Capt Vaz’s effort to generate quality in the candidate is completely overlooked.
However there are contradictions to the aforementioned. I have personal acquaintance with a candidate who was passed after he ‘fought up’ his fifth consecutive failures, all at Capt Vaz’s hand. In his final fight he was passed without any question. Possibly the Capt is not as cruel as he is thought of.
Sometimes he is known to have passed the candidate on showing an attitude. They say it’s because once you give him back, the Captain gives up. But I think this interpretation does not concur a dime with other facts about him, like his vast knowledge. I wonder if can’t be like— the attitude shows up the guy’s communication skills, ability to meet the odds, etc. My close friend Rahul, during his second mate orals, fought with him regarding the obvious and logically acceptable lack of knowledge regarding certain hi-technical matter. Actually it was about the meaning of the chromaticity graph discussed in the Colregs. Rahul, who till this time was decreed to be failing in all three functions, was suddenly awarded them all! In my view, it was clearly because Rahul was able to present his case in a strong manner.
Other person, Mani, was awarded two functions because he made an ‘ego boosting’ statement that ‘Capt Vaz’s questions are not to be answered; they are to be referred’. Capt Vaz’s is said to be flattered with the correctness of it. But where is the question of reading this as an acceptance of the Referral-lessons in a jovial mood? Mani, an IIT-JEE qualifier, in his previous attempts, was asked to derive mathematical proof of certain statement in the Colreg. He sat down to work over it for over an hour and then failed. He called this as his ‘failing question’. I wondered at the purposefulness of the question and thought if the correct answer could be like— put up a brave front that it was out of syllabus as also the professional need. The IITian seems to have taken the question as challenge to his knowledge and skills. In this attempt he was completely failed.
And had he succeeded in deriving the proof, he would have deserved to pass understanding the difficulty level of the question and Mani’s magic in solving it.
The only article that I have read mentioning Capt Vaz was about his preliminary investigation report on Delhi’s Capt Rajan Agarwal’s killing. In his investigations, Capt Vaz has not hesitated in mentioning the shortcomings of the deceased master which led to this act. The report mentions the accused cadets’ intelligence superiority over the deceased master. Master’s improper handling of small disputes with the cadets and invalid cunning measures to discipline the depraved apprentices haven’t escaped unnoticed by Capt Vaz. While Capt Vaz does not dismiss the charge of murder on the cadets, he strives to advise the rest to stay just and better informed with the newer generation of mariners coming up, through his report.
This whole incident throws some more light on the Captain’s fair and impartial observations. Among other things, he is also known to be one of the richest and senior most surveyors around in Mumbai district. Hence, in my opinion, we should least expect him to be bent or biased in his judgments.
New age management thoughts for future policy makers in India:-

1) Over ninety percent of Indians are congenitally dishonest and corrupt. Every policy must incorporate provisions to keep strict checks on people in its own circuit also.
2) There is no such thing as good-faith and altruism known to over ninety percent of us. Having born and brought up in a jungle-like living condition where we have to fight for everything from food to naukri to chokri, we always look at each other with suspicion. We are eternally cynical.
3) We are still very much an uncivilized society who do not know the concept of nation, society and governments. Our nationalism comes into play only when Pakistan is in opposition. Otherwise we like to have a jungle-like living.
4) Quite many of us do not believe in power of pen or the magic of good education for we have never seen it happening.
5) We span between to very extremes—super rich and super poor. Proportion of super rich in our population is very small. The New Economic Policy,1992 is however adding more in their club.
6) Similarly there are 2 kinds of thinker— highly intellectual and poverty-stricken, ill-educated. IIT’s and IIM’s make high class cream who normally ooze to the west whereas the poverty stricken stay behind. The latter blame an individual called ‘Government’ for everything that they feel is happening wrong.
7) Most Indians think that ‘secularism’ means you live by your religion and I by mine and let there be mutual respect. A thought of freeing themselves from the clutches of religion rarely strikes our mind.

Additional thoughts:
8) However self-depreciating it is, we must begin to appreciate the White Man’s supremacy in almost all jobs of higher intellect.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

30 October, 2006
I am losing my favourite game…
India loses out to Australia again. And what’s more, it was a predictable defeat. We knew, at least I did, that, we are born to be losers on most of the days. We win only on odd days. Defeat is ours, triumph theirs.
In 2004, while serving on ship ‘Pataliputra’, we would go to Australia quite regularly. The coastal passage along the Great Barrier Reef from Cape York in the Torres Strait to Cairns is a pilotage waters. Hence in this June’04 trip there was this pilot, Mike, on board. An oversized, pot-bellied, couch potato who perhaps did nothing but piloting and watching sports on TV. Pilotage is a 3 days affair during which pilot stays on board night and day. I was serving as second mate at that time.
On the second day of the inward passage, Mike and us, my two cadets and myself, got into some discussions on performance of Indian versus Australians in various fields. Funny man Mike counted to us how the Aussies have been excelling in task they have undertaken ranging from swimming, athletics, rugby, to scientific advancements and then to ‘piloting’ (in humour, he was patting his own back).
Angshuman and Charu, the cadets, were cool enough Indians to be able to hear some other nation’s praises. I myself kept concentrating on the task of navigation at hand. Normally I don’t see too many Indian seafarers such ‘tolerant’. Later, I counted back to Mike the hallmarks of Indians in Chess, Vishwanathan Anand; in Snooker, Geeth Sethi; and then a lesser known game to him, Kho-Kho. I also told him our cine-zeal where we produced over 500 movies in a year, the largest by any nation. Mike already had some vague ideas about “Bollywoo”(sic) as also about ‘Ash’warya and Amitabh.
I retained the Cricket’s mention for the last as I felt only thing worth counting to the world champs was the Border-Gavasker trophy which, till then, had not reached the Aussies’ bag.
Mike promptly struck back saying that the Aussies were sure to get it the same year. I felt I had no replies further, having a full understanding of my team’s performance against his.
Kiran Desai’s prize-winning novel’s name give a clue of my plight on such conversations; - ‘the Inheritance of Loss’.
During the Aug’04 trip, when the Olympic Games were played in Athens, the Aussie nation was again at the peak of their testosterones. And why should they not?! They have been in the top 5 slots of final medal tally for long time. When the Indian contingent was marching from the front of the audience during this Olympics, the TV commentator expressed his bafflement at such small- 60 persons- team from such an overpopulated nation. The Australians and the US had over 300 participants.
Coming back to the discussions with Mike, the cadets further argued on, to show the Indians’ dominance in software making. But I was wondering if the highly sophisticated systems like the GPS and ECDIS (used on ships) and the Gyro Compass ever had any Indian’s hand in its making. The big jigsaw puzzle of India’s achievement and failures again unwrapped itself before me and screamed out at all-wrong collation—of how we arranged facts to suit our convenience; to erect our false pride.
… It’s time to think again…