Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gap between Thinking and Action

When the Anna Hazare thing happened, i liked it.

I have to admit I am a regular middle class guy. I do not wield any political clout (neither any social, financial, media or online one for that matter). Well-to-do in personal life but utterly powerless and insignificant when it comes to macro issues like politics and governance. Typically the middle class is aloof and distant from these things. They read and watch everything but never participate. But this time it was different, the educated urban middle class, along with a hyper excited media (Arnab for Lokpal :P) made this campaign work.

But my regular internet guys (Amit Verma, Nitin Pai, Atanu DeyMohit Satyanand, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Salil Tripathi) were ALL against it, venomously. And I was utterly confused.

I mean I love to read their blogs and am almost always in agreement with their world view. But this time something was missing. They brought up the usual suspects, Bill will add more bureaucracy when we want less of it, it does not address root cause, fasting is blackmail, etc. There can be an endless logical back-and-forth on these, but we don't need to do that (The deed is done for now, time will publish the result.).

What surprised me was no one talked about the process itself. The middle class (+ media) has fought for emotionally appealing personal cases like Jessica Lal, Arushi, etc. before. But for a significant change in governance? I think this was our generations first attempt at this. It was not perfect (and neither is the JanLokpal Bill) but atleast it got a million educated straight thinking young minds interested in the workings of our Government. Isn't that something worth having? How can this be ignored?

And then I realized. These people are just writers. They collect news, add a filter of their beliefs, garnish it with their wit, and serve it up. If they too picture themselves as writers then all is well (I mistook them as leaders, perhaps because of the utter lack of sensible socio-political leadership these days. My bad). But if they imagine themselves to be leaders some day, then only sound theory (which they most certainly possess) is not enough. Their has to be action. And action almost always implies leaving the beautifully mathematical and almost perfect world of theory and getting down to the imperfect yet _real_ world of practice. Are you up for it?

Speaking of action, Anna Hazare plans to campaign for 'Right to Reject' all candidates during voting next. Wonder what the flaws in that one might be.. :P

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fasting today

in support of 'Jan Lokpal' Bill but also because its kinda fun :)

I don't believe Lokpal bill will solve our corruption problem. Heck, it might even make it worst. The truth of the matter is that in such complex social problems there are no fool-proof actions. We in the computer world are so used to having close to accurate predictions that we are scared to do anything without them. Sorry mate, doesn't work like that in real world.

So i read the Jan Lokpal Bill (section 8 is nice). Then i read the Lokpal Bill (proposed by the government). I recommend you set aside 15 mins and go through both. And i though to myself, if one of them is going to be the law, i damn well want it to be the first one. Because it is written with intent and purpose and with enough clarity for a layman like me to understand. I liked the emphasis on what the Lokpal _can_ do (instead of what he/she _cannot_ do in the government's version), the requirement that appointments to Lokpal to be put up on website and public feedback considered, and that all sessions be video recorded and all documents made available to public. or maybe i am just biased. :)

So how do i decide?
Have i analyzed it enough to make sure that i am being reasonable? Check.
Is the thing non-violent? Check.
Is not infringing upon anyone's freedom of speech or any other legitimate right/freedom? Check.
Is it fun? Check.

Now that i have taken sides (damn, thats rare), what do i do about it? Nothing really. Yes i am fasting, but that is mostly to check if i can survive without food for 24 hours. And perhaps in taking sides i have done my part for now. I have realized its importance and given it my time. Action will follow. Hopefully :P

I hope a lot more people join this movement. Because as someone said, democracy won't work just by voting once in five years. We need to develop a culture of active participation by common people, responsible people like you and me in governance. For that i wish Anna Hazare and his followers well (personally, i like following ideas better than following people. but whatever..).

more stuff here:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Prime Mover

I have been having a lot of free time lately. Its a few minutes a week really, but in those few minutes i have nothing, and i mean absolutely nothing that i have to do. No financial matters to deal with, no relations to maintain, no health issues to worry about. It's a funny floating feeling.

I guess we all have such moments, and dismiss those few minutes of nothingness as aberrations. Details of everyday life are too overwhelming to dwell in such matters. But sometimes that feeling is so strong that it casts a shadow on all your life's doing. Why do we do what we do?

The prime mover has always been attention, recognition from someone else. Why did i write this blog? I could have taken my realization and kept it to myself. But no, i wanted you to read it, and if i am lucky, comment on it (and when you do, perhaps, you seek the same attention :P). I don't have an internal drive, very few do. If there is no one around to see, appreciate even ridicule my actions i wouldn't have done anything but survive. No music, no beauty, no pride, no emotions.

Right from when we are an adorable toddler till we are a cute grandparent, we seek attention. And sometimes i get so tired of it.

Isn't there anything else?