Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What’s in a Burkini; No, Shakespeare didn’t say that!

Made of 100% polyester, which is the recommended swimwear fabric, burkinis shouldn't have stirred a controversy it did, because it perfectly fits the global recommended swimwear fabric specifications. I agree that every place has its own dress code, and there's also a dress code for swimmers...but a dress code which bans modest dressing is absolute b***s**t. Two pieces, one piece, or no piece bikinis look pretty cool and are comfortable too, but that doesn't give anyone or any government official the right to impose a blanket ban on modest full-piece swimwear. Sorry France, you may be the world’s most fashionable country, but that doesn’t mean you go around minding other people’s clothing line, because that’s none of your business. And even more, it doesn’t suit a democratic country that boasts about its freedom and equal rights to be going around telling people how much of skin-show is required to go to the beach…because that makes you no different from the nation that does not allow its women to drive.

Mayors in France, not surprisingly all male, banned burkinis reasoning that women who wore burkinis were forced to wear it out of compulsion and saw them as victims. Even French Presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, called for a nationwide ban on burkinis saying he is a defender of French values. So first, you have some male mayors who read minds of women, especially minority Muslim women, and think they exactly know what women want; and then you have a presidential candidate who makes swimwear the most pressing issue of running for office. And yeah, France, Bonjour and all that, but when did skin-show and swimwear become a marker of French values? Shouldn’t it be freedom of speech, equality, fraternity, liberty, and solidarity?

Photos of a burkini wearing woman surrounded by armed policemen on the beach telling her to remove her outer garment is what drew the world's attention to France's shameful and politically motivated burkini ban. Why is a woman in a burqa or hijab seen as a threat? As if she has some guns and ammunitions hidden under her outer garments that are waiting to explode. So far, women wearing a burqa or hijab have never exploded anything. In fact, folks wearing three-piece suits, airstrike and carpet bomb nations killing thousands of civilians, children, humanitarian workers; exploding hospitals and schools...like we see it happening in Syria as I write. 

Even France's Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, resurrected France's national symbol - the figure of Marianne - to support a claim that women who bare their breasts are the ones who are representative of the French ethos than those who wear a veil. But mind you, Marianne also wore modest clothing in her days, if mentioning that is going to change ignorant minds. I respect Marianne for her style, but every woman is not Marianne. We live in a global village...we live in a digital world, in which it is impossible to live in your own nation’s cocoon ignorant of the cultures and ethos in the rest of the world. Which world do you live in, Mr. Valls?

Looks like the only logical lawmaker in France is France's president Hollande who fought against the sexist and Islamophobic burkini ban. And also the highest courts in France which suspended the totalitarian ban on burkinis, thus doing a sensible thing. Saint Ambrose's 387 A.D. famous saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” doesn't have any meaning in our tightly integrated global world today; we are no longer separated by borders. The main cause of terrorism and disintegration of society is because we mind other people's business more than our own. We don't let people to do what they want to do and be who they want to be. Greed, politics, money, power is creating a rift among people. The powerful impose restrictions over the meek and less powerful because they just think they can.

Women are crucified for everything they do. They are taunted if they wear short revealing clothes, they are taunted for breast feeding in public, they are taunted for wearing nothing, and now, for God sake, they are taunted for wearing full-body clothing. WTF!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Just Let Me Pee and Poop!

The world is getting chaotic day after day. ISIL openly beheads people, and bombs civilian locations. Thirteen years after invasion, Iraq is still unstable. The 'Bring Back Our Girls' campaign is just not working. Kim Jong Un has stopped grooming his hair, rather begun testing hydrogen bombs. Syrian children are dying of malnourishment. Yemen is burning in silence. Despite all that chaos, the presidential campaigns in the Unites States emphasizes on penis and hand sizes, discusses building a great-great wall along the U.S.- Mexican border, talks about the need to carpet bomb nations to get hold of ISIS, calls each other names like, Lyin' Ted Cruz; Crooked Hillary Clinton; Lucifer in the flesh; Dangerous Trump; Goofy Elizabeth, and what not. And then comes the ‘Bathroom Bill’ which has already been enacted in North Carolina, a law that forces individuals to use public bathrooms based on the sex identified on their birth certificate. 

I still can't digest the fact that the world's freest country has something as dumb and undemocratic as the “Bathroom Bill” that polices a place visited to empty bowels and bladders. Who would think that a country which legalizes same-sex marriage – a law that screams equality – can also pass an utterly tasteless pee and poop bill. So, now, you don’t only carry photo identification with you wherever you go, but also a birth certificate. So personally, that bans me from visiting North Carolina and Mississippi, because I don’t have my birth certificate on me. Wow!

What's wrong with the system? Do they just wake up one fine morning and decide, like, let us pass a bill that screws up the dignity and privacy of the LGBT community. Let’s pass a law that forces people to excrete at a place that we decide. And if they don't obey the law, let’s imprison them for selecting the wrong bathroom. Harassing, bullying, discrimination against the LGBTs, even in 2016, is a shame. Worse is when these laws are passed by an authority that is supposed to protect the rights, dignity and privacy of the people. 

Authorities need to stop interfering in the lives of the people. Stop telling the people what to do, how to do it, and where to do it. The bathroom law may be discriminating against the LGBT community, but to a large extent it affects each one of us, even if we are not members of the LGBT community. Imagine being forced to prove your gender before using a bathroom. Coming to think of it, would a robot be stationed outside every loo to check our birth certificate before we are allowed in? Or, would a lie-detector be installed, that would ask every person visiting the bathroom to disclose the sex mentioned on their birth certificate. So, if a person is identified male on their birth certificate, but they identify themselves as female, the lie-detector will frantically beep screaming, “He’s a liar,” and automatically drop a prison like encasement around the bathroom, with pointed spikes from the top, thus disabling toilet-use. Absolutely hi-tech! We live in such a technology-enabled world, na! 

This is legalized discrimination and humiliation. This got to stop, especially in America, because the world is watching each and every move of the U.S., and a law like this one is just so shameful. Other nations are bound to emulate similar brash laws against minorities, and the world will eventually get even more chaotic. How long are we going to discriminate against minorities? It's the LGBTs today, tomorrow it will be against another minority community, and then another. 

Post script:
In the meantime, I have already asked my homies in Bombay to ship my birth certificate to me. That’s just a backup plan, in case, the “Bathroom Bill” comes into effect nationwide. 

Personally, I don't care who uses the bathroom, as long as everyone who uses it knows that the toilet seat is pretty flexible...it has the ability to go up and then go down. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

My name is Khan and I'm not a terrorist!

I stole the title of my blog from a popular 2010 Bollywood film which is so relevant in the current environment that we live in. It's controversial to be a Muslim today or even have a name that sounds like one. A Jamie is treated like a human being, but God save you if you are a Jamal. That name will raise high security alerts. The sirens will go off. Folks dressed in uniform will surround you, point their guns and ask you to raise up your hands. No, not to whip the nae-nae, but to do a comprehensive body cavity search that you didn’t ask for. 

So many things happened over the last few months. The clock boy Ahmed Mohamed was falsely crucified for allegedly carrying a clock bomb to school, when in fact all he did was created an innovative handmade clock. Creativity mistaken for terrorism! Why? Because his name was Ahmed! So many innocent doctors and civilians were killed when an aerial bomb was shot at a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan…sadly mistaken as terrorists.  So many normal folks just casually doing their normal chores got killed by insane shooters. Don’t ask me which gun shooting incident I'm talking about because there have been more than 350 mass shooting incidents in the United States this year. If you have guns on sale in the same stores that sell fruits and vegetables, what else is bound to happen?

The most horrifying story was when very recently the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump called for barring all Muslims from entering the United States. Also saying, if he becomes president, he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register with a government database. That’s Islamophobia at its worst. Sure the man is known for making crazy statements about people and especially the minority community. He almost built a virtual wall all across the Mexican border. He called his presidential opponents maniacs. And now he crosses all limits of bigotry by calling for a carpet ban on Muslims, which also includes Muslim-American citizens…which is just insane. But surprisingly the more outlandish Trump gets, the higher his popularity ratings go. Makes me wonder…who are these folks who religiously follow and support him? 

With all that bloody news that flooded our world, one good news came out from Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed thousands of refugees by personally visiting the airport to receive them. Looking at Trudeau’s gesture, I’ve already started taking lessons in Canadian politics. Yeah, I now know that Canada has a Parliamentary system like Britain, unlike America’s Congressional system. That’s my first lesson. 

Well, the story that took the universe by storm and that almost zeroed down on all the heartbreaking news was the man Steve Harvey’s awesome-possum hosting of the 2015 Miss Universe contest. Mistakenly crowning Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines with the Miss Universe title may be one of the craziest mistake ever done on live television. But it was one of my favorite things that happened. It looked like comedy to me. But the whole world panicked about it. The whole world criticized Harvey for a mistake that actually didn’t need that much attention that it got. No one died. No one was injured. But everyone, from a student, businessman, worker, employee, celebrity, millionaire, billionaire, politician, you and me, criticized Harvey for not doing that one job right. Only if the world panicked and went helter-skelter the same way when 42 people including Doctors Without Borders were mistakenly killed at a hospital in Afghanistan. And when so many civilians become victims of senseless wars across the world.

Post Script
It’s that time of the year when we make a snowman and wrap ourselves in multiple layers of clothes to beat the cold. But this Christmas, it’s colder in Bombay than it is in the Washington, D.C. area. It's 21 degrees C in DC right now, so we are making snowman out of mud and walking around semi-nude. Don’t know whether it’s climate change, global warming or the El Nino effect. All I know is I love the damn weather and wish it’s going to be like that the whole winter. Happy Holidays and have a great New Year y'all! And yeah, Merry Easter, Steve Harvey! 

It’s going to be 2016...How time flies! 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

God, forgive us for we don't know what we are doing

Years of wars, invasions, air strikes, drones, terrorism and thirst for oil has led to the chaos in the world today. Besides, all this greed has also given birth to the so-called Islamic State who aimlessly butcher people in those troubled regions. In the middle of these wars and brutal terrorism, the people who have nothing to do with anything that's happening, either get brutally killed, or worst, get killed by a blunder made by a joystick operator of an unmanned flying object equipped with bombs.  What do you call those...yeah drones! People living in those troubled regions don’t deserve that. They’ve not signed any freedom bond that gives us the right to aerially bomb their regions in the hope of killing terrorists. All they want is a normal peaceful life that most of us in the rest of the world have been blessed with. 

Our “aerial” war against the Islamic State has been going on for years now. But the aerial strategy just doesn't seem to be working. In the bargain, ISIS is getting bloodier and more brutal with more civilian lives lost. And no one has any accountability of these casualties? Logically, when a strategy doesn't work after giving it a shot for years, it’s time to change the strategy. Also, we need accountability of the number of civilians who have died because of those faulty air strikes. Even their lives are as precious as ours. We may be people with different nationalities, religion, race and color, but we’ll belong to the same planet. How about that?

Brilliant cartoon depiction by Simon Kneebone

Although we are losing our fight against ISIS, there are so many people from those terrorized states like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others that have kinda won over terrorism by escaping into safer havens. They sure are risking their lives by trekking those difficult routes in hope of living a normal life, but it’s better to take a risk than to live in hell. Our global coalition is still struggling fighting ISIS, but these civilians have won and we need to do everything that we can to help them and welcome them into safer havens. But instead, we raise up our hands refusing to absorb them into the state as refugees. Why? Where is our heart? Where is our conscience? Where is our soul? Where is the accountability?

The world was sensitized about the refugee crisis only after the photo of a three-year-old kid washed ashore came in public eye.  Everyone was silent about the crisis until the heart-wrenching photo was released. Although that photo is something that shouldn’t have been in public space because of its sensitivity, I’m happy it did, because it sensitized people and got them to force their governments to welcome refugees. And it’s not only Europe’s responsibility to make sure that refugees are given refuge…it’s a global responsibility. And I don’t know why the United States and others are still silent over the biggest humanity crisis in the world today. 

There are so many wars going on around the world. Will someone tell us what's happening in Yemen and Ukraine right now? If we continue to be silent over these other current wars happening around the world, it will soon reach boiling point leading to more civilian deaths and more civilians taking treacherous routes to safer havens. History shouldn’t repeat itself, especially at a time when we have made the biggest advancements in technology and science. We have reached the moon, we are exploring Mars and have passed by the last planet in the solar system, but, there’s still no place for people on the only planet that is inhabited by human beings and not aliens. 

Getting emotional and being compassionate is not a weakness. Those are just signs that we are creatures born with a conscience and a heart. And, as this 13-year old Syrian boy, Kinan Masalmeh, so beautifully sums up his countrymen's feelings saying, “The Syrians need help now. Just stop the war. We don’t want to go to Europe. Just stop the war.” See video, 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fourth of July came a few days early

This week was one awesome week for you America with two back-to-back decisions made by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). In one ruling, SCOTUS saved the ever controversial Affordable Care Act, making subsidized insurance accessible to every American, irrespective of gender, race, color, and status in society. And then, in the second ruling, SCOTUS went all out to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Both these decisions were passed in a week, but the years and years of protests, marches, activism and advocacy that have gone to make this happen is what needs to be appreciated. Nothing happens overnight. Both these decisions scream victory for the people. And America, you should be celebrating. If I were you, I would pour some wine in my glass and sip it eating some chicken kababs for sure.

Also, you know what America, looking at the power that you as citizens have showcased to change old- outdated-traditional laws and demand equality for all…this should be enough motivation for you to vote in the 2016 presidential elections.  You just have no excuse this time.  

Besides the 2016 presidential campaign also has the laugh factor in it. It already looks like half of America is running to become president. So many candidates already and still many more are expected to make that big presidential announcement in the days to come. We’ve all heard those speeches that promise change and all that hype and rhyme in them. That’s all cliché no? The only thing not cliché is Donald Trump's entry in the race. He's the spice in this race. He enters the race by literally coming down an escalator to the sound of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" anthem. Hope he sticks around till the end...because he is sheer entertainment.

It sure was a good week after the tragic mass shooting at Charleston which took lives of nine innocent men and women. Besides, the worst and the cruelest thing was the place at which the shootings happened. A church is a place where people drop their guard and surrender themselves to God and his teachings. Also, what was unbelievable is the heart of the people of Charleston who forgave the shooter for what he did. I'm still angry with what happened to those innocent people. Sure, it takes a big heart to forgive, but how long will America forgive? This is not one rare random incident that has happened. We have witnessed so many other incidents with the same motive of hatred toward a particular race. History seems to keep repeating itself and this needs to stop because it’s outrageous to have folks treated differently, made to feel different, and now even being killed for who they are. And then we say, enough of this talk on racism and that we are tired and just heard too much of it already. But no, its not enough. We don’t only need to talk more, but also do more to bring an end to something that just makes no sense.

After nine innocent people were killed, so much of time was spent speculating whether this was a “hate crime” or whether it was “terrorism.” When in reality any kind of hate that is violently expressed is terrorism. Hate and terrorism are just words in the English dictionary. They don’t change reality. We don’t need experts sitting on news desks, analyzing whether this was a “hate” or a “terrorist” crime. We don’t call it “hate” because the shooter’s name was Dylan. What if his name was Khan? Would we still call it hate?

Also, I still fail to understand how anyone can buy guns without any background checks in America. How can a store that sells fruits and vegetables also sell guns. So buyers not only visit their grocery stores to buy guns, but also have the luxury to sit in the comfort of their homes and buy it online. And then, even after so many mass shootings and one incident even involving the death of innocent children, how does anyone do nothing about it. Why is it so difficult for the most advanced country in the world to do anything to stop guns from reaching the hands of evil doers? 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Raising a glass of beer over Ireland’s same-sex marriage vote

Sister, I think that's a "yes" no?

I love firsts. But nothing like the kinda first that has (and can) impact the world. The recent popular vote in support of same-sex marriage in Ireland is one-of-a-kind. The "yes" vote certainly makes it legal for same-sex couples only in Ireland to marry under the Constitution, but that decision made by the citizens of Ireland, through a popular vote was felt across the globe. Most civilized nations watched this verdict very closely. More so wondering how can a so-so Catholic nation that decriminalized homosexuality decades ago change its course so drastically. How did that ever happen? And more so, when Ireland is still a nation that bans abortion. Times have changed…yeah…times have really-really changed. And why wouldn't it.

But then, again, equal rights are for everyone. Ideally everyone is born with their rights. No one needs no vote to be baptized with their rights. Well, may be, we'll reach there soon too. Many folks argued that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the basic purpose of marriage is reproduction. That's absurd! It’s weird to say that one man and one woman enter into marriage because they want to reproduce. What about companionship? What about couples that get married so late in life, when they cannot have children. Don’t we also call that marriage?

Ireland joins 19 other nations that legalizes same-sex marriage. But what makes Ireland's decision significant is its gumption to leave it to the people to decide what's right for them. Unlike other nations, it didn't wait for the legal courts to make this important decision. More than half of Ireland citizens came out to vote, out of which more than 60% said yes to same-sex marriage.

In the Unites States of America, it takes 50 states to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legalized or not. For now, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage through the legislative process. Hopefully the Supreme Court's decision which is expected next month will change that state-by-state approach, and legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. In India, although being openly gay or lesbian is no longer taboo, same-sex marriage is still illegal. But the good thing is people are openly talking about it. There are debates and LGBT parades that happen frequently all across the country. And then there's Russia, the Middle East and many African nations which are still intolerant to gays and lesbians. Folks out there are still “in the closet” about who they are. In these nations marriage is a far-off thing. Hopefully this decision in Ireland will warm up talks and discussions in intolerant nations, making it a first step toward allowing people to live the way they want to live without fear. And this cliché about “coming out of the closet” never really exist ever. No individual should be made to feel vulnerable because of her sexual orientation. 

Equality is so simple. It’s about living a free life irrespective of gender, religion, color, wealth. But we human beings simply gatecrash into lives of others with our so-called “life rules and expectations” and complicate things. And it’s of course not cliché to say Live and Let Live.

I don’t drink beer, so can someone just drink a pint of beer to celebrate this great Irish victory on my behalf. They say Murphy's Irish Stout taste real good. Cheers ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why Madonna Still Stands Out

Madonna surely knows how to keep her critics employed. She just needs to shake a leg, and boom, they get obnoxiously critical about different things right from her age, her dating habits, her dance moves, her marriages, her relationships, blah blah blah blah. The day her album “Rebel Heart” hit iTunes, critics ranted about the music lyrics which according to them was too immature for her age. But at that time, most of them were silenced for being too sexist. But when Madonna recently kissed Drake at the Coachella music and arts festival in California, haters sharpened their claws and went full on criticizing her for assaulting a man on stage. But hey man, isn’t that between Madonna and Drake. It’s none of our business, because the man she kissed is an adult, so how about leaving it to that. But then, any kinda publicity is good publicity, so hey you critics, you are Madonna’s publicist. Anyway, I would kill for that kiss from Madonna, lucky Drake. 

Damn it, nobody talks about her music which Madonna is “The Madonna” we know her for. Attacking the queen of pop citing her personal life is so cowardly and sexist for God sake. I listened to her sonically cohesive album “Rebel Heart” over ten times already and still my ears want more. She is a rockstar man. Right from those vulnerable song lyrics to the beats, Madonna only goes to show that you gotta keep driving that car as long as you can. Retirement, what crap is that.  She’s got the moves, she’s got the voice, she’s got the attitude, she can give all the 20s and 30s something a run for their money. The best part about “Rebel Heart” is she had already anticipated what her critics would say, and I believe she has responded to them through her music saying, “You know you never really knew how much your selfish bullshit cost me. Oh, f$ck you” (Song: Unapologetic Bitch). 

Each song has a message. "Ghosttown" conveys hope in the collapsing world we live in. "Living for Love" is a sad breakup song. “Unapologetic Bitch” (my favorite) is a cocky ‘don’t mess with me’ fun song, “Devil Pray” is a song that condemns doing drugs. And all those fabulous lyrics are intertwined with some thumping reggae, soul, rap, ballad influence.  

Who doesn't like controversial pop artists like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. I love their music but they are different from Madonna in many ways. Since she began over 30-years back, Madonna has been into some kinda controversy or the other. But she always seemed to connect all that shocking weirdness with a goal that was brilliantly expressed through her music. Right from gay rights and women equality, Madonna has addressed these issues through her music. She has opened up so many doors for artists today, that everything that she was once criticized for in the past is no longer considered taboo anymore. She's also politically and socially well informed which in a big way makes her different from today’s artists. She’s not only bold and does whatever she wants, but she does all that with awareness of the world, which is pretty impressive.

Madonna is fierce, fearless, and sure intimidating. She’s invincible and still a leader in the pop music circuit. Can’t wait for her next album already. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little bit of Jon Stewart in my life

A few months back, I thanked Jon Stewart for being a part of my life by writing a blog article which of course he didn't read, but I couldn't resist expressing my heartfelt respect for him. Coming from India with a journalism and communications background, I needed to understand American politics and everything about how this country does its thing. I didn't know who to turn to understand all that. Until, I found Jon Stewart who literally taught me everything about America, its people and its politics. Today after about three years, whatever I know about America is because of Jon Stewart. He is like my guru. Imagine connecting with a person I haven’t met or talked to. He has got that aura about him. 

The news about Stewart’s departure from The Daily Show was shattering. I don’t know why, but I just felt that I lost something. I began to crazily tweet, instagram about how devastated I was after getting this news. I began to mourn for someone who I was thankful for. I became crazy. Stewart is a guy I wanted to watch every single day and over the weekend when he didn't have his show, I watched those extended interviews which never aired on prime time. If I as a foreigner feel so much about Stewart’s exit from The Daily Show, I can’t imagine how Americans are coping with his exit. Hey America, if I were you, I would make a pledge for his return and get the whole of the United States to sign to bring him back. Can’t just let him go, can we? And even more at a time when 2016 elections is round the corner. Who’s going to make sense of the “God-alone-knows-who’s-running” 2016 elections? Stewart, can you like go after that? 

There are some who are comedians, and there are some who are late night talk show hosts, and then there are some who are news anchors. But Jon Stewart is all three in one. He has a wit of a comedian which is unmatchable, the charm and aura of a late night talk show host like never seen before, and knowledge and analytical ability of hard news like no anchor person in the media today. Besides, his presentation of all that hard core news to an average lay man is mind-blowing. In a true sense, he is magical.

Besides that, Stewart comes off like a genuine human being who cares for people. There are so many issues and concerns that an average American faces today. Stewart makes sure he carries those unheard voices through the show. Right from Eric Garner, Ferguson, school shootings, elections, religious intolerance, race in America, same-sex marriage, equal rights – he has a response and reaction to all these issues. He makes real sense of issues that an average American has to deal with every single day. Like most people on television today, Stewart is not sitting there to suck in the camera lights and fame of the job. In fact he is effectively using the medium to convey a message to the public. His humility and his genuine respect for his team is contagious. 

The Daily Show calls itself a phony satirical comedy show, when in reality Jon Stewart has taken it to a level where there’s nothing phony about it. Stewart is one-of-a-kind and to replace him, Comedy Central needs a news wizard with a charm of a late night talk show host, wit of a comedian, someone who is genuine and of course not someone waiting to be famous. That’s going to be a tough search for sure.

Jon Stewart, I’m going to miss you a lot. Thank you for being there and being my guru. I hope I get a chance to meet you in person someday. Oh God, what is this colorless liquid coming out from my eyes :-)

Related Link:

Read my earlier article on Jon Stewart: Link to the blog post

Friday, January 30, 2015

Modama Bromance

Yeah, President Obama was a chief guest at India’s 66th Republic Day, the day when India’s Constitution came into force.  That was a busy power packed three days date with President Obama being the first U.S. president in office to attend India’s grand Republic Day celebration. Many things happened during these three days. Even before the president visited India, U.S. media went lady gaga over the whole visit. While Indian media did a balle-balle about the whole president’s visit, so much so that it felt as if Jesus Christ was coming. C’mon you media fellas, like hashtag #hesonlyhuman , you didn’t have to do all that. 

Before the parades, the two bros sat down for a cup of tea. And c’mon…Mr. Modi prepared that cup of tea with his own hands for the president. The Republic Day parades were so good. Loved all that the participants did at the parades. The motorcycle and military parades were my favorite. Like, it was so acrobatic, so colorful, so talented. Many power packed speeches were delivered and grand dinners were hosted for the president. Many expansions of trade and investments between two countries were agreed upon. New defense and civil nuclear cooperation were some of the greatest highlights. 

Well, I believe the most striking highlight of the visit were the president’s farewell speech at Siri Fort in New Delhi and the hilarious pin striped suit that Mr. Modi wore on one of the days.  

At his farewell speech President Obama opened up about what he thinks about India and her people. He spoke about India’s diversity, rich cultures and the different languages that she speaks, but in the same breathe he also talked about the religious intolerance in the nation, which indeed is a reality. I wouldn’t care if it was someone else saying this. But we need to remember that the speech on inequality was coming from a man who himself has been discriminated and treated differently because of the color of his skin. Even after 50-years of the civil rights act, the United States of America is still fighting racism. Similarly, India cannot deny the very fact that it is still fighting religious intolerance. Additionally, the speech was an eye-opener of what the world really thinks and knows about India. India is no longer an emerging economy, it has emerged and that’s what keeps it in the spotlight. Besides, very soon India is going to surpass China as the most populated country in the world, keeping it even more in the spotlight…although nothing to be proud about.

Why should a man have lesser opportunities from others because of the faith he follows. The beauty is India is still a strong democracy despite of the different backgrounds, color, languages, and religion of its people. And the nation can get bigger and be a greater force if everyone irrespective of where they come from, the religion they follow, gender, has an equal opportunity to prove themselves. Religion or no religion, female, male, lesbian, gay, transgender, everyone should be treated equally and be given an equal opportunity. What’s the use of GDP, profits, firsts, if we don’t know how to treat our own people. 

Yeah, and who can forget Modi ji’s suit, hashtag #ModiSuit. Like really Mr. Modi, did you spend millions of dollars to stitch that suit with your name written on it a zillion times. Like really-really-really Mr. PM , did you really have your name on that suit? And even if you like your name so much, you can have it printed once, why do it over and over and over again? Didn’t expect this from you Modi saab. So listen world, if you ever forget the name of India’s Prime Minister, all you got to do is check out his pin-striped suit on which his name is written in bold.  

Having said all that, I know that I won’t be administered 1000 lashes and 10-years imprisonment for throwing in a little satire about the most powerful person in India, Mr. Modi. That’s the beauty of a democracy. And that’s the beauty of India. Happy Republic Day folks!

Namaste! Bohot bohot dhanyawaad! Senorita, bade, bade desho mein! Now you know what I’m talking about. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I can’t breathe!

A humble casually dressed African-American man, Eric Garner, is approached by four casually dressed white officers. Garner cries out telling the officers, "Every time you see me, you will harass me. I'm minding my business officer. Please leave me alone." And all that was said in a cry-out for help. He didn't sound confronting at all. Two police officers grab him on both sides. All he says in response to that is, "Please, don't touch me." Garner doesn't attack the officers. Four officers then pull Garner to the ground, one holding him into a "chokehold." In less than 30 seconds into a choke-hold, Garner cries out "I can't breathe," (several times), but the officer who put him into a choke-hold presses his head on the ground, without stopping the inhumane treatment imposed on him. And then, it was all over. Garner was no more in less than 3 minutes.

Mind you, that’s not a narration of another Hollywood blockbuster about racism in the United States of America. That’s something that happened for real on a sidewalk in New York. Like, I still can’t believe it. I need to pinch myself thousand times to be able to digest the way in which Eric Garner lost his life. And he didn’t die in the hands of some thugs which perhaps would be easy to grasp. And yeah, that piece of narration is not for folks like you and me who can decode visuals in the video, but for those critics who find it hard to understand why people across the length and breadth of America have come out on the streets protesting police violence and the legal decision to not indict the officers on any counts.  The visuals of that video is brutally so difficult to watch that I find it difficult even to embed it in my blog post. 

Reports indicate that Garner was approached by officers for selling "loose cigarettes," but then, does anyone need to lose his life for selling loose cigarettes. Besides, it doesn’t begin and end with Eric Garner. Similar incidents revisit us again and again. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice are a few names that come to my mind as far as I can remember. And this mind is a stupid thing. It just seems to heal over time. It just seems to forget things over time. And I won’t be shocked if it would soon be business as usual again till another black man dies in a similar freaking way.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was prompt to come out and openly address this tragic incident in the city. As a preventive measure, he was prompt to propose retraining and body cameras for police officers in the city. But then, when the video - that was shot by a person who happened to be there when Eric Garner was put into chokehold - didn’t do much, how would videos from those body cameras do anything to prevent violence. And retraining is sure good. But can anyone be trained to change a mindset? 

Just like I don’t understand royalty in the United Kingdom, where you have a Queen, a King to be, a princess and her charming prince for real, I will never understand racism in 2015 America. Isn’t America the most powerful country of the world? Yeah, I think that’s what the world says and that’s what I have been reading over the years. So how is this so-called power measured? Is it the GDP, technology (like the recent drone technology that will allow Amazon to drop packages at your doorstep), bullish stock market, supremacy of our defense capability…or is it about people’s welfare, liberty, and equal rights? Wait, now that is a tough question no? I think only God has an answer to that. Hey God, can you send your guardian angel on earth again to give us an answer to all our problems…plzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Post script

Am so awe-awe-struck with this photo that I thought I should share it with you on this holiday and festive season. Isn’t she beautiful. Isn’t she sweet. Isn’t that the best smile ever. Happy Holidays folks, have a good one.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fear-“Bola”, Fear-“State” grips the world

Runnnnnnn…its Ebola and runnnnnnn further ahead…it’s the Islamic State that is going to kill all of us. God what are you doing to us? Is the world coming to an end? Are we all going to die? Where do I go to save myself? Is there any place on earth that is safe? These are a few questions that people are still asking themselves. And to make it all worst, the institution that was established to give voice to the voiceless and keep people informed, went all out scaring people and already sending them to their death beds. Sections of the media went crazy over the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. They went crazy over the Islamic State threat in Iraq and Syria.  Calm down media fellows, breath-in and breath-out slowly, calm down! 

No doubt that the Ebola outbreak has wrecked havoc in West Africa taking the lives of more than 4000 people and infecting nearly 9000 people, but the breather to all of this is the virus is not air-borne and can only be transmitted through bodily fluids. Right now there is an urgency to contain the situation in Africa and help the people out there who already find it so difficult to live even under normal non-epidemic kinda conditions. More than the Ebola virus, poverty and hunger have wrecked havoc in Africa for decades. It’s time for countries all over the world to come together to lift Africans out of poverty and strengthen Africa's healthcare sector through affordable private investments, so that health scares like these are treated locally. West Africa’s weak healthcare infrastructure is the primary reason for treatment delay and confusion.

The Ebola fear has gotten so deep rooted that we can see the repercussions on our streets and subways. A foreigner who appears and speaks like an African is looked upon like a potential carrier of the Ebola virus. When people see an individual as a potential carrier, they cover their nose and walk miles away from him. Contrarily our media brethren surround him to churn out sensational stories for prime time news. It’s disgusting! It’s sickening! 

And then there’s that extreme-extremist group with three god-forbidden names – ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State –  that the world has gone hullabaloo about. More than ordinary people like you and me, sections of the media seem to have gotten obsessed with this group. Yeah, this satanic group has brutally killed so many civilians in Iraq and Syria and they need to be burning in hell. But the question to ask is who is funding this group? Who is supplying arms, ammunition and machinery to this group to fight this evil kinda war? Oh yeah, reportedly they seem to be using arms and ammunition that were left behind by nations who ended the many wars after invasions. May be next time when we end invasive wars, we should even bring back all our military equipment because they obviously will fall into wrong hands and obviously be misused. How strange it is that those so called ISIS-ISIL-Islamic State morons are fighting their kinda satanic war with our machinery. We certainly live in a crazy world, I tell you. 

Besides there are so many other ways ordinary people die every single day. Guns, drones, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, discrimination, inequality, mistreatment of the LGBT community, racism, and mental illness are some of those many ways people are dying today. But despite that, they still exist in our communities. No one seems to want to take a stern stand to eradicate them. They certainly don’t cause the bang-bang-bang quick death like ISIS and Ebola, but they surely kill slow-and-steady. And some of those vices have also become a part of our lifestyle. God save us. God save the world from this so-called fear-mania. Amen!

Post script
The United States of America recently named an "Ebola czar" to handle and contain the Ebola crisis. Like really wondering how would that so-called "czar" introduce himself to the world. Rather we need a virus immunization specialist, not a czar. And who or what is a czar? The word czar is so British naah :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One hell of a guy

On Twitter, “The Daily Show” bio’s itself as Jon Stewart and The Best F#@king News Team. I can’t agree more. The Daily Show is one blockbuster 30-minute show that has everything that an average person enjoys.  Personally as a news junkie and someone who enjoys comedy and late night talk shows, The Daily Show by Jon Stewart is everything I ever asked for, all three in one. All I need to do in tune in to the show and boom I get my dose of politics, comedy and talk show under one roof.

Of course newspapers, television, radio and digital media are great sources of news. But I need those 30 minutes of Jon Stewart in my life to help me clean up the news clutter in my head. It’s only possible to analyze a story once all of it is digested. Coming at a perfect time in the day, Stewart digests all that news absorbed during the day, throws out the impurities and gets the daily news in a more filtered, cut throat, too-the-point style. He makes all politicians carry their crosses right up to Calvary with his crude satirical style. And that’s what I really like about this hard core in-your-face satirist.

Critics mock Stewart as a liberal with one-sided tilt toward the Democratic political party. But if you really follow his show every single day and listen to it carefully critics can be proved wrong. Stewart is more of a moderate on his political and social views with a big conscience. Even the democrats are not spared by him for their stupidity. And that's what is insanely good about the show. You need to have a middle path in any kinda decision making and rarely does that happen in today's world. You can either be a blue or red supporter. There just doesn’t seem to be a middle path.

Stewart's brash style of delivering the show using those mind-blowing swear words makes the show more relatable. He doesn't drop English jargons, but rather drops F-bombs to convey his message. They say a comedian should be conversational. Well to be conversational with today’s youth you need to speak like them. So hell yeah it works. Stewart’s response to the Veteran Affairs mismanagement was the best answer to the mess –o-mania in the department. They say you need to vent out anger by yelling and shouting it out. But the swear-jar that Stewart has given birth to looks like a better option to vent out all that frustration and anger. I seriously plan to have my personal swear-jar very soon.


Stewart has been a role model for many upcoming talents for years. Even John Oliver who has recently become a big name with his own show on HBO “Last Week Tonight” owes a great deal to Stewart. If it wasn't for Stewart’s mentoring, Oliver himself admits that he wouldn't be where he is today.  And then, how can we forget the popular television Middle East satirist Basseem Youssef who is also popularly called the Jon Stewart of Egypt. Stewart must have earned a few enemies and haters because of his confrontational satire, but he never really got into any trouble because he poked fun at the government. But Youssef got into too much of trouble doing the same political satire in Egypt...yeah Egypt. Although the people of Egypt enjoy Youssef, the government labeled him as a traitor and forced him to take the show off-air.

And this is what happens when the two greatest comedians from two different parts of the world meet (Video).

You cannot draw a line in comedy and Stewart shows us just how that is done. He makes fun of anyone he feels like including himself. And that's what great comedy is all about.

Post script
It’s been two years since I've been watching Jon Stewart and over the years I've become one of his biggest fans. And seriously I would love to be a part of this Best F#@king News Team.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hashtag activism

Four words wrapped in a hashtag has brought the world’s attention to the abduction of more than 300 teenage girls in Nigeria. Although these innocent teenagers were abducted on April 14, it got traction recently after the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls showed up in tweets almost every single day. It’s outrageous that the whole episode was kept under wraps for more than two weeks, until some brave Nigerian activists launched an online campaign using the hashtags #BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls. These hashtag campaigns went viral in no time and pressurized Nigerian President Goodluck Joanathan to take action. 

After abducting the teenagers, those maniacs who call themselves Boko Haram had the cheek to come back into the city and abduct more girls right from their homes. And to add more to it, they sent videos of the girls they abducted. In those nerve-wrecking videos, some weird looking men dressed in military gear- supposed leaders of the group - vow to sell the girls as “wives” for $12 each. I mean what on mother earth is happening.

For those many mocking the hashtag campaign, I think you folks need a reality check. If critics just can't do anything, at least they should stop mocking people who want to save the girls. Because eventually it is the online campaign that has fired up the Nigerian government to act. Sure the hashtag won't bring back the girls literally, but it will stir up local pressure, increase international support and eventually something will be done to bring back our girls. 

The abducted girls remind me of Malala Yusofzai who in spite of knowing how dangerous it is to attend school advocated the power of education for girls.  The school in which these Nigerian girls went to had closed down because of threats from extremists who believed education is sin. But this school was only recently reopened so that the girls could take their final exams. Surely these are a few brave girls who had the gumption to get out of their homes to take their final exams. 

The group who call themselves Boko Haram, the name which nearly translates as “western education is sin” is terrified of education. So are other extremists groups, like the ones in Pakistan who shot Malala in the head for standing up for education. I don’t know where these young teenagers get that fighting spirit from. It also makes me wonder how we take our freedom for granted. Everything comes so easy to us. But not everyone has the same good fortune that we have.  

So it’s not guns or ammunition that can really kill evil. In fact looking at the way these satanic extremist groups heinously react to the very concept of education, highlights that education is the weapon that will ultimately thrash terrorism of any kind. So let’s keep the fight going. And hell yeah, hashtag activism works.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

India's Modi creates ripples globally

The largest democracy on earth concludes its five-week election cycle in which a whopping 537-million people came out to cast their votes. It was not only the voter turnout that was mind-boggling, but the results of India's 2014 elections swung in large numbers in the kitty of the political party called the BJP (Bharitya Janta Party). It already looks like the Indian voters have bid a firm goodbye to Gandhi-led political dynasties that have been governing the nation for decades now.With the 2014 election results, Narendra Modi from the BJP will be sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. 

So when the majority of the 66-percent of eligible voters voted for Modi and his party, why do we have so many people – nationally and internationally - jumping the bandwagon concluding the gloomy fate of the minorities of India which accounts for 20-percent of the population. Well I belong to the minority population in India, but have never ever experienced any kind of disparity from that of the majority. It has always been a level playing field. 

Besides the inequality in India has never been about the religion that someone follows, but more between the haves and have nots. Some folks in India are counted among the billionaires of the world and they seem to only be getting richer while the majority of Indians still live in absolute poverty and this is the inequality that we need to talk about. The inequality of religion is a perception and perceptions never really change, no matter how much you try to change it. But the large divide between the people who live in glass houses and those who still live on the sidewalks need to be bridged. And “development” which is the theme of Modi’s agenda will not only create jobs but will help bridge the gap between the have-it-all and the have-nots. And right now, this is what India really wants. 

Modi has not even been sworn in as the Prime Minister of India. So why not allow this man to take charge first. Give him six-months into office and then perhaps we can shoot out our opinions and prejudices about the way he handles the second largest population on earth. And well, India is more than 60-years into its democracy and people have gotten used to being independent, are used to speaking their mind, and are used to pinning down and thrashing indecisiveness at the top, that’s even if it’s the prime minister of the country. Taking crap, was never and will never be our middle name.

The world is talking about India elections and I’m enjoying the perspectives and analysis of the world. But there was this one column that likened Modi to Putin that raised an eyebrow. But then I stopped worrying because Modi does not have that chiseled body to ride shirtless on a horse. So lets forget about it.

On a signing note I want to thank Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for being such a great guy. He must have not been an awesome orator or have a super-awesome personality but he is the guy who opened up the Indian market to the rest of the world and helped transform India. Singh is the king of liberal economics and we owe it to him. I just wish Dr. Singh a good life ahead. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is the Internet our bread-and-butter?

Today the world is celebrating the Web that has become an integral part of almost everything that we do. It was 25-years ago when the young, dynamic British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for the "global hypertext system" which then came to become the World Wide Web. Imagine a life without the 3W’s...devastating!

There was a time when we just walked up to the library to read, gather material, or simply to get answers to a question that is bothering us for days. But the Internet has changed all that. Today lounging in our pajamas we can find answers to things that we need to know. Simply key in the question in Google and boom you’ll find pages of information to choose from. Google is Batman (without that dark side). You are no longer what you say you are, but you are what Google says you are. That’s the modern technology enabled world that we fortunately (and sometimes unfortunately) live in. 

We surely are a fortunate lot who have the advantage of using the Internet every single minute and every second of the day. But is the Internet the bread-and-butter for survival and one of the basic human needs? Does it really count in the first three things that an individual needs to survive? Food, clothing, and shelter have been basic human needs for generations now. The Internet revolution in the 1990's changed all that in the 21st century. Today Internet connectivity is positioned as a humanitarian need. So much so that tech magnates like Google and Facebook are rolling out billion-dollar projects to connect the world to the Internet. Microsoft mogul Bill Gates says that to improve lives we got to first deal with basic things like child survival, child nutrition. He says PC's and the Internet are not in the hierarchy of human needs. 

So then why are we so dependent on the Internet. I can’t forget days when my roommate and I said re-connection prayers together when the Internet connection snapped for a few minutes. Whether it is work, study, or our day-to-day transactions, everything is connected to the Internet, making it impossible to do without it. But what about those you do not have access to the Internet, how do they survive? 

The 2013 International Telecommunications Union report states that out of 7.1 billion world population only 61-percent of the population have internet connectivity. This still makes 39-percent of the world without connection. That’s a huge digital divide and this really makes a big difference. The Internet may not be bread-and-butter for survival but it does give people access to grab those exciting political, social, economic, educational and career opportunities. It simply changes the way we think. 

Google has already initiated a project to bridge this global digital divide. Google wants to make internet access a basic human right and plans to spend $1.5 million this year to support computer science education around the world. The project "Google Fiber" is focused on connecting homes across America. The project is aimed to make internet access available to the poor, the elderly, and all those without internet access. Google has also launched "Project Loon" technology for gapping digital divide between the world's 4.8 billion unwired people and their 2.2 billion plugged-on counterparts around the world. The project involves releasing helium-filled balloons in the stratosphere, 20km above the earth. These balloons will act as a hub for users to connect to Internet service providers. And recently Facebook made an announcement that it is looking into buying a drone making company that makes bear-orbital, solar-powered drones which can fly for five years without needing to land. Facebook wants to use these drones to blanket parts of the world without internet access. And Mark Zuckerberg plans to kick-off the project in Africa.

These projects will certainly make that big difference. Wish we could launch balloons and drones for bridging that huge gap between the rich and the poor, to find cures for life-threatening diseases, to end wars, to end discrimination, to end terrorism. 

Post script
Whenever I was asked what the meaning of my name is, I jokingly said it meant “Mother of Pearl.” But guess what after a lot of Internet research done by a colleague, I now know the real meaning of my name. It's a French name meaning black bird. Now I got to decide whether it’s a crow or a falcon :-). And yeah thanks to the Internet for giving me that information.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A new pope star in the house

It is difficult to find a person who hasn't heard about the brand new Pope of the Catholic Church. Less than a year old in his papacy, Pope Francis is a well-known pope not only among Catholics but everyone irrespective of faith, religion, race, seems to be talking about him. He is the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church, but the only one who joins the ranks of pop star icons like Janet Jackson, John Lennon, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, who featured on the Rolling Stone magazine cover. But does Pope Francis set the stage on fire like people who normally are featured on this magazine?

Rolling Stone is a magazine known for its musical coverage and for political reporting. So what made the magazine have Pope Francis on its cover page? Did Pope Francis’ millions of Twitter followers draw the magazine to have him on his cover or is it the five magic words - "Who am I to judge?" - that did the real magic. 

"Who am I to judge?" said Pope Francis when he was asked by a reporter about the status of gay priests in the church. These five words uttered by the pope undoubtedly surprised the catholic world, but in the bargain the respect for him increased a thousand fold.

The Catholic Church is known to impose a set-of-doctrines on Catholics around the world. These set-of-rules has made many Catholics turn-away from the church. But the septuagenarian Pope Francis seems to have changed this with his statement that the church has become "obsessed" with abortion, contraception and gay rights. It needs gumption to make that statement. This certainly makes the pope appear like a people’s pope and not someone who wears a halo over his head. 

The young and the old love him. Like Pope John Paul II, Catholics might not nominate Pope Francis to become a saint, but would certainly want to emulate his style and personality. 

Pope Francis is featured smiling and waving in the Rolling Stone magazine. And I won't be surprised if very soon a fashion magazine will feature him sitting on his Harley Davidson. A pope owning a Harley, I mean really? I don't mind going to mass everyday if the head of the church comes riding on his Harley. Isn't that cool!

It’s not the first time that the pope has featured on the cover of a magazine. A few months back Pope Francis was named 'Person of the Year' by the TIME magazine. The TIME magazine justified its cover story looking at the way Pope Francis captured the imaginations of millions of people in a matter of few months since he took office. The TIME magazine officials say Pope Francis was selected by editors of the magazine who considered suggestions and inputs from the magazine’s more than 2-million Twitter followers. The magazine believes that pope has given hope to millions of people who have moved away from the church, and that’s what drove them to have him on their magazine cover. 

The pope unlike his predecessors has also not shied away from politics. Because ultimately, it is the decision made by world leaders that has an impact on world peace. Recently he met up with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Cool who loves hunting, shooting and fishing shirtless Mr. Vladimir Putin. And then in March this year President Obama is scheduled to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. 

So what's next on the pope's agenda? If recent reports are to be believed, Pope Francis has been invited to watch the Oscar nominated supposed anti-Catholic movie Philomena in a private showing. Would he watch it? Well I think he will.

Friday, December 27, 2013


The recent spat over frisking of an Indian diplomat in the United States was uncalled for. What difference does it make if she is a diplomat. Stop-question-and-frisk is certainly a tough policy on New Yorkers but then what is law for one is law for everyone else. What makes India’s deputy consul general, Mrs. Devyani Khobragade different?

Stop and Frisk is not a regular thing in other cities in the United States but in New York City it is a policing strategy where an individual can be stopped, questioned and frisked without any warrant. The practice was enforced in New York way back in the 1990s to reduce crime rate and is still active. Many New Yorkers have expressed discontent with the law and there have been many complaints of harassment of the minority community. Besides New York’s stop-and-frisk practices has been criticized over racial profiling and privacy rights. So if Mrs. Khobragade is upset about the way she was treated, she should join these protestors and make her voice heard. It is absolutely ridiculous to be asking for immunity because of her status in society. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled stop-question-and-frisk procedures constitutional and so until it is reversed there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Above all underpaying her nanny less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is unpardonable. The Indian diplomat should remember that if the accusations are proved true, it’s questionable and punishable. She will join the chorus of many similar employers who exploit minorities to get their work done within a meager wage. 

Stop-question-and-frisk will always be remembered as a legacy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Right or wrong it is one of the most controversial practices that the Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy faces. Even one of the reason the new mayor elect Bill DeBlasio won in the recent New York City elections is his campaign promising that he will reform the stop-and-frisk practice. His election to the mayoral seat with a landslide victory further reinforces what New Yorkers want when it comes to the stop-and-frisk practice. Come January 1 2014, the city folks hope that their brand new Mayor De Blasio will either completely thrash the stop-and-frisk practice or at least reform it. 

Withdrawing diplomatic ID cards of US consular officials was an explosive over-reaction and not a sensible response by the Indian government. The tit-for-tat kinda reaction was naive. Worst, all hell broke out when the government got the Delhi Police to remove the barricading outside the US embassy in New Delhi. The question is was this reaction a political campaign toward the 2014 general election? 

Well there's some good news for those you say that stop-question-and-frisk is an invasion of privacy and that it leads to racial profiling. The New York City's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman published a report in November 2013 questioning the effectiveness of the policy. And the new mayor elect De Blasio is another hope for change of the policy. Until then, everyone in New York ought to abide by the practice, whether you like it or you not. Or else attend the "Know Your Rights" workshop conducted by a few New Yorkers in the city. This workshop teaches people how to defend their rights without making the situation worse.

Although I defend the stop-question-and-frisk practice, I also believe that it should be carried out only if there is real suspicion. I don’t support it if it is done based on the color of skin, religion, or nationality. If there is a practice that can safeguard my safety and the safety of the city as a whole, there is no reason to oppose the policing practice. And as long as it is done with respect and without intimidation, I see no point to resist or oppose the stop-and-frisk practice.  But then since I have never been stopped-questioned-and-frisked, it’s really difficult to say what it feels like to be at the receiving end.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Drone on

The Merriam dictionary defines a drone as a stingless male bee that has the role of mating with the queen and does not gather nectar or pollen. That one lucky guy who gets all the good things in life without slogging his butt. If you ask me to define a drone, I would rather describe it as that unmanned aerial vehicle loaded with arms. I would go on to say that these unmanned armed flying objects are made in particular to kill terrorists. Why me, ask anyone today what a drone is, and they would give you a completely different definition that has nothing to do with bees.

However controversial the use of drones will always be, these unmanned aerial vehicles only seem to find a wider and different usage. The CEO of the largest American international electronic commerce company Amazon.com recently spoke about his fantasy to deliver packages to customers using drones. Packages that ideally took a day-or-two to reach its destination will take only 30-minutes if the company’s vision becomes a reality. And you never know very soon our ordered packages will reach us even quicker than pizzas. And like pizzas if it doesn't reach within the promised time, it could be free, free, free!

Of course Amazon CEO's fantasy can come true only if the federal authorities facilitate a widespread use of drones. Today it is Amazon, tomorrow farmers may want to use drones to spray fertilizer over their crops, the search and rescue team may want to use drones to find people stuck in a catastrophe, film makers may want to use drones to document a film, and worst drones will be used as spy robots to keep a watch on the content of our calls and our whereabouts. Everyone would want to use it. Even individuals who have the money to buy a drone will have one in their backyard to help them walk their dogs, buy groceries, pay their bills, and do all the personal jobs they can think of.

So while the rich, famous and the powerful use these unmanned drones to fulfill their dreams, visions and fantasies, the people in the middle and lower class of society either become victims of these robotic flying machines or remain spectators of complicated and controversial foreign and internal policies.

So if authorities pass the use of drones for commercial purposes, we'll not only be cribbing about road traffic but air-traffic will also become a thing of concern. Traffic rules would change. We will have to stop at a red signal warning us of an approaching drone. And then, what about our beautiful birds? They will curse the human race for encroaching into their territory. We talk about saving endangered animals like the Bengal Tiger, the African Wild Dog, American alligator and many such species. But with drones getting a green light for commercial use, we will have to worry about our colorful birds too. Many of them will not only remain endangered but will become extinct.

Recently hundreds of world leaders got together in Johannesburg to be a part of Nelson Mandela's last journey. Many of these leaders delivered speeches about the greatness of Mandela. They called him a hero. They said how important it is to live by Sir Mandela's teachings of non-violence. But then, how do drones fit into his teachings?

There are many advocates who swear by the tactical advantages that drones bring. Some call it the best modified robotic machinery bringing in a revolution to mankind. What do you think, are they really the best thing that happened to us?

Well, I like the bees that make my sweet honey!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rouhani the rockstar at UNGA 2013

Holding an electric guitar, wearing a leather jacket and a denim trouser, a pair of leather boots to match his leather belt and hair that reaches his shoulder, this is how I visualize Iranian President Rouhani after his rock-star performance at the United Nations General Assembly 2013 (UNGA).

President Rouhani goes with an agenda to UNGA to break away from sanctions imposed on his country that has almost taken a toll on the economic progress of the country and its people. Social media may not be freely used in Iran, but President Rouhani tweets every day. How strange is that? I follow Rouhani on Twitter and at least on Twitter he appears to be a peace loving and kind-hearted gentleman who wants to give peace a chance. Good for him and good for bringing peace in the troubled region.

Although UNGA’s are about world leaders, it ended up becoming a stage on which President Rouhani played the lead actor. The spotlight was on him all through. President Rouhani also grabbed away the spotlight from Mr. Cool like a cucumber President Barack Obama at UNGA this year.

President Rouhani was smart enough to set the stage before his departure to New York for the UNGA. He used social media quite effectively to be heard world over. He writes saying "Constructive approach=Engagement on equal footing to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives." Sanctions has separated Iran from the rest of the world to which Rouhani tweets, "We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart."

Well, must say Twitter worked for Rouhani. World leaders read his tweets. The United Nations felt comfortable that it was dealing with a softer moderate leader from Iran unlike the previous guy who didn’t battle a wink. How I can’t forget what former Iranian President did just before his term ended. He sent a cute little monkey named "Pishgam" into space, marking Tehran's plan to send an astronaut into space very soon. All that said I was happy to know that Pishgam returned back on earth safely. He is so cute!

There were no diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States for over 30 years now. There isn’t any bad blood between people of both the countries. It is only the lack of diplomacy that has not brought the two countries even in talking terms with each other. But President Rouhani seems-to, I mean "seems-to" want to change that cold war of silence between his country and the United States. But really, nobody knows how this story will end. Whether it will have a happy ending, is something we’ll have to wait and watch.

Spectators had their eyes stuck on both President Obama and President Rouhani at the UNGA 2013. Will these presidents shake hands for the first time after over three decades was the question on everybody’s mind?  Eventually, they didn’t hug, they didn’t shake hands, they didn’t hi-fi, nor did they show each other the cool sign of horns or peace. Sigh!

Iran is an ally of many middle-eastern countries and a good relationship with it can help bring peace in the region. Besides gas prices will drop to a great extent if import embargoes are removed. It’s a win-win situation completely and the United Nations should make the most of this hand of friendship extended by President Rouhani. 

From a larger perspective, the world has become such an unsafe place to live in. Groups of extremists are promoting intolerance and terrorism across the world. Even more, these groups cash in the rivalries between nations. And the only way to defeat these groups is by staying united and sharing intelligence.