About “Azaadi” and other furry animals

(This post is basically a collation of a series of tweets that I had sent in response to an article by Samar Harlankar. Maybe these cannot be considered a ‘response’ in the truest sense of the word, but are representative of my thought process on reading the article)

Samar Harlankar (Editor-at-Large, Hindustan Times) has a great article on the up and coming hardliners in the Kashmir Valley. These are the people who are largely responsible for what is called the biggest series of protests in the Kashmir Valley today. Do follow Samar’s writing, if you’re not doing so already and are interested in the human aspect of the Kashmir protests. The truth, as always, is pretty different from what the hardliners on both sides want us to believe through their PR pitches (TV appearances/Newspaper articles etc.).

The article in question –

My tweets:

  1. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 Excellent article, Samar. But did you ask this new breed what Azaadi means for them? Independence frm India & Pak both? Or just 1?
  2. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 First define what they mean by ‘Azaadi’. In exact, concrete terms. The pre-1947 history of the Congress is an excellent place (1/2)
  3. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 for the new revolutionaries to start from. Merely pelting stones & shouting “Azaadi” is pure nonsense and won’t get them anywhere.
  4. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 The fact that there is no common, concrete definition of ‘Azadi’ in Kashmir is proof that what there is no such thing possible yet

Samar was gracious enough to respond to the question in my first tweet above.

  1. Samar Halarnkar
    samar11 @Gagan yes I did ask. Independence from both. Pak isn’t in the pix
  2. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 I hope someday they realize that a demand of Azaadi arising out of a (misplaced?) sense of victimization doesn’t have a future.
  3. Gagan Jain
    Gagan @samar11 And the Indian State realizes that the way to remove this feeling is not thru creation of actual victims. (Thanks for the reply)

Even though, I responded to Samar again, I suspect I may not have been clear enough in what I wanted to convey in my first set of tweets.

What I really meant to say was that even though the concerns of ‘Mandela’  and others may be genuine, the method of protests reveals a great amount of immaturity and recklessness.If they believe that throwing stones is enough to get them any closer to their goal, they are greatly mistaken. The only thing that it can indicate is that Kashmir and Kashmiris need a genuine leader. Someone who is not just intelligent enough to just articulate their concerns in clear, precise and civilized terms, but also honest and strong enough to call these childish displays of anger to an end and not use it for his own benefit.

The situation in the valley is bad and the Indian State is responsible for indirectly fanning it by its various actions, but stone-pelting is something that is the preserve of mobs and not of genuinely ostracized people . And no self-respecting country should give into the demands of a mob.

As always, the issue is deeper and more intricate than what I make of it here.

(Related – Vir Sanghvi’s take on the same issue.)

2LFT, Computers and Internet, Technology

[2LFT] “The Web is Dead” and the BlackBerry

(A few quick thoughts on the latest Wired Cover Story and something that got me thinking a few days ago about my latest toy, the BlackBerry Curve 8900)

I bought a new phone a couple of months ago. A BlackBerry 8900. Not at all top-of-the-line, but a very capable phone which satisfied all my requirements (more on those later), plus I got a SUPER deal.

Like everything we buy or even think of buying, the first thing I did before getting the phone was to google the model in question. Among the other things, one thing that was mentioned again and again was how bad the default browser is. And after buying the phone I found it out myself – the browser sucks. Big time. But that didn’t stop me from getting the phone. Because the same reviews which take RIM apart over the browser, also offer a solution to the consumers reading them. The Opera Mini. Or the Bolt.

Now a few days later, just before the launch of the Torch 9800, the internet was abuzz about the new browser being used in the new phone. Apparently RIM went all out to create a decent browser, and going by the largely positive reviews, they succeeded too.

But why waste a large number of man-hours on something as trivial as a browser?

Okay. Not trivial. A browser is a very important component of the phone. What I mean here is why waste your budget on something that is being done very well by others. All RIM should’ve done is get Opera to make a browser specially for the new phone. In other words, they could’ve just outsourced the browser.

To be honest, a crappy browser is the least of RIM’s problems. In my opinion, they really need to get their app strategy in order. And their brand positioning. And other things.

But let me not digress. The BlackBerry app store is nothing compared to the iPhone and Android stores. The choice is limited and the few apps that are there are (usually) costlier and worse than their iPhone and Android siblings. I’m the kind of user who’s satisfied with having a core set of “productive” apps (no iFart for me, please). And even I think the range of apps is utterly limited.

And why am I concentrating so hard on apps? Because that’s how we increasingly traverse the Internet. Even Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff think so. Read.

If RIM has any wish to NOT go down the path Palm and other before it have walked on, getting their app strategy right is absolutely imperative.

(More thoughts on the BlackBerry later.)

Movies, Personal, Reviews

Must watch movies – The Good Shepherd

It’s been a long time since I created the #movies tag on this blog. Too long, in fact. I intended it to link my posts about the movies I watch. Specially those I go back to again and again. Those movies, like some books, that have the potential to insulate me from the outside world and relax. They’re like your favorite blanket or an old pair of jeans. You know exactly what to expect from them. There are no surprises that you need to be aware of, no ghosts in the doorway that you need to clear from your mind as you step into it. You can just put your feet up and let it all come to you. You don’t need to be attentive. After all, you have seen it before and will see it again. If you want, you can try and look at the finer details because they make the experience just the more rewarding. Though there is no compulsion.

One such movie is the 2006 spy drama, The Good Shepherd. The movie has a star cast that is guaranteed to get it a second look. Though if you just watch it for the big names, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. Robert DeNiro as the director brings a host of actors to the table who are as precise in their acting as he is in his direction.

It is loosely based on real events and looks into the birth of the CIA through the deeply personal story of one of it’s founding fathers. The role Damon plays is based on the man who goes on to create the Counterintelligence wing of the agency. And he is good, very good in fact, as the spook who almost doesn’t have any emotions. Except for his love for his son. Come to think of it, this is more of a family drama than a spy thriller. The wars, the espionage, the spying are merely props around the actual story that is the story of one man and his family.

The movie is long by conventional Hollywood standards. At 2 hours 45 minutes, it almost encroaches into Bollywood territory. And it is slow too. A spy thriller without fast cars and gun fights is something that you don’t see made too often. It is more of a John le Carre novel than an Ian Fleming creation. In fact, some of the interactions between Damon’s character and his Russian counterpart are reminiscent of le Carre’s spymaster George Smiley and his bete noir, Karla.

Each scene is crafted with a delicateness that makes it necessary for the viewer to watch the movie again if he intends to make out the brilliance in it. On first watch, the movie has the potential to overwhelm you a bit. Due to which repeat viewings are a must.

The camera angles, the lighting, the dialogues and the performances are all top class. But special mention has to be made of the editing. Going back and forth in time, it manages to hold your attention beautifully.

Do watch this gem of a movie if you haven’t. A personal recommendation.

Introspection, Movies, Sports

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– Invictus (William Ernest Henley)

That’s why I love watching movies. They have the potential to introduce you to words like these. Most of the time they don’t, but that’s a bet that we all should take.

(Same goes for Books/Music/TV Shows etc.)


Kneeling at the altar of Odyne

Pain. Everyone knows it. You, me everyone.

It comes in different flavours. Each one of which tastes and feels different to the one feeling it. It is like a big giant tub of Swirls. You are the one responsible for what goes in it and you will be the one who will have to bear it.

It can be purely physical. Like a mosquito bite. Or like the pain a 7 year old suffering from Meningitis feels when an entire team of medical personnel is trying to pin him down to reach a needle down to his bone marrow.

Or it can be purely mental. Like the one you feel on the death of a loved one. Or the pain which you cause – to a parent, a lover, a friend. That is the kind you feverishly hope will some how miss its target and turn around towards yourself. It does.

But it also hits its target.

After some time, with a little help, you start forgetting about the pain. Or you THINK you’ve forgotten.

But it never really goes away. It is always there. Always lurking in the shadows, ready to leap at you at the slightest mis-step from your side. It can make this leap at anytime it fancies, hours/days after you felt it for the first time. Or years, even decades, after you felt its presence. And everytime it does the same thing to you – leave you semi-conscious, bloodied and desperately trying to hold your guts from flowing out from the view of the external world.

Each one of us is walking around in a spotlight of sorts. With all the ‘pains’ you’ve felt or caused moving with you, hiding in the bushes of your path.

You never know when one of them will leap at you.