13 Jul 2016

Reviews are mostly done immediately after the product's use/consumption; however, in the case of books (fiction), I usually do after three months of the read, only if it keeps popping up somewhere in a corner of my mind. Written by Julian Barnes, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011, The Sense of an Ending is one such, a bit boring, but worth to your attention.

To keep its complexity as simple as possible, Julian has made Tony Webster, a common man in his sixties who has never done anything wrong to anyone (this is what he thinks), a protagonist; Adrian his friend, a hero in the background story and Tony's ex-girlfriend Veronica who later turns to be the wife of Adrian, an equally strong character in the book. They have common friends – Alex and Colin   

The book is not about its characters, but its prose, written masochistically. With a punchline in the starting paragraph, “[Thinking about some incident] This is not something that you actually saw, but what you end up remembering, and that isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.” The style, logic and message seem to be the whole and soul of the book, not the messengers. So, my advice; don’t go for the characters and their connectivity with the story. After all, who will be obsessed about a letter addressed to Webster even after 40 years? I found it bizarre. The plot was so weak that I too had a feeling, “Am I just wasting my time?”   

On page no. 32, Tony: “If you want to make people pay attention to what you’re saying, you don’t want to raise your voice but lower it: this is what really commands attention.” Alas! The approach has almost killed the messenger in order to pay attention to the logic. Tony, the protagonist himself is so dull and vague that as a reader I could nowhere found myself eager to delve into his philosophies of life and beyond. 

However, the However, the question that keeps you engrossed is, “what is the sense of ending?” Forget euthanasia, the entire human society/media has always perceived a person fragile and weak who commits suicide, what if it’s not, what if s/he does because of the “sense of an ending” where s/he has nothing left to explore?  

In a conversation with noted Indian author Ashwin Sanghi, he questions the authenticity of history, “The very first book on Chanakya was actually written 900 yrs after his death.” Julian clarifies, “We need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us.” And, defines, “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

And, then redefines,

History is not about the lies of victors, but the memories of survivors.

Adrian, the most logical and profound character commits suicide while Tony survives to tell the tale which he didn’t know. Later, he came to know that Adrian had written a letter to him unfolding, “The sense of ending.” Tony who was feeling nostalgic owing to the powerful recollection of strong emotions – and regret that such feelings were no longer present in his life – then pleads himself guilty, ever read that letter?    

What was written in the letter? Does it make you read the entire book?  

The Sense of an Ending

2 Jun 2016

Mused with #whataboutery fact-sheets, I wonder -- why do media hype only few cases viz. Aylan Kurdi, Nirbhya, Akhlaq and some others, particularly when the world witnesses such cases almost everyday. Hypocrisy?

Remember the case of Thangjam Manorama? How many prime time slots were attributed to the poor lady's case? How many arrests and award returns (except one Padma Shree by Binodini Devi) were made in that case? Take Kerala's recent one. You won't see any prime time debate. However, almost all the prime time slots covered Nirbhaya case weeks after weeks. These weren't political.

 Disparities in the news coverage on the basis of regions and religions aren't new, but now so obvious that we choose it to ignore. Thousands in Syria and neighbouring countries have lost their lives due to ISIS attacks. However, it was Alan Kurdi's case that helped end Kobanî attacks in August 2015. 

Disparities are undeniably because of 1) the TRP estimates that further result into ROI 2) the absence of good reporters in the less happening cities/states and some other concurrent issues. Having said that in a world where everything, be it emotional sentiment or else is to be measured in 140 characters only, people go for adjectives. And, when it comes to the scale of injustice, words seldom suffice the emotional requirements.

This is where, come the Nirbhaya, Aylan Kurdi and Akhlaq, new standards to measure one's pain, suffering or calamity... similar to the other systems of measurement -- MKS, FPS, CGS and SI. 

Eventually, you get to know -- how to express the pain and anguish in 140 or fewer characters -- @k^^n: Kerala suffers a Nirbhaya

Scales of Injustice

20 May 2016

'Don't confuse peace with quiet!' There is a big difference. Quiet has strings and so has the killings! The strings that have been haunting the countrymen since independence... 

There have been some BJP/RSS supporters killings in Bihar and Kerala. In some other states, it's the other way around. The scenario is getting more local, ruled by the local mob. 'Kamlesh Tiwari' and 'Akhlaq' cases simply suggest that caste and religion are just part of the strings. The recent 20 deaths in Haryana too, were part of the mob injustice.

The PAT-RIOT takes it to another level. This also questions SC's monitoring capabilities.     

 Let's not deny, there is a growing dogmatism.  
Unverified Pamphlets and letters that should have been brought in the notice to Dean and VCs are now being read in Parliament. 

Biased coverage from both the sections of media helped real hooligans hide behind Nationalism. 


As far as Afzal Guru is concerned, people must realise that Afzal Guru's conviction is just one of the lakhs of jurisdictions. The strong judgement was strictly in line with the nationalism and in spite of all the differences, we must stand by the last judgement. 
We must avoid any situation that could fuel any community to do something done to Neelkanth Ganjoo. This will weaken and damage our Judicial system.


5 Dec 2015

Eight Threats to Freedom of Expression

5 Nov 2015

There are similarities among the Dabangg, Salman Khan, the Arnab and the one & only the PM. With the big fan following, all bhakt types, the trio literally endorse, "Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, to fir main apne aap ki bhi nhi sunta." 

While it was Dabangg khan who brought this sane idea into the public domain, the holy & supreme judge Arnab has been practising the same for quite a long time now. Once he takes a stand at +The Newshour Debate, no matter how strong the other argument is, one can't help change the stand.

And...so is the curious case of Benjamin, the Government of India, elected by us, the Countrymen. Be it, selecting a bunch of jokers like Rajyavardhan Rathore, Smriti, Arun, Mahesh etc, or tackling issues like  #FTII row, Kalaam's home 2 Mahesh and so on, once it takes a decision, it doesn't listen to any countrymen.  

Suffering from the musings of political-constipation, while writing  typing the sermons & easing out in the washroom,  Linkin Park had to appear to my ipod...

I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away

It's so unreal
Didn't look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on, but you didn't even know
I wasted it all just to watch you go
I kept everything inside
And even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me
Will eventually be a memory of a time when

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter


3 Idiots

1 Oct 2015

Twitter has changed India like never before! While full-time supporters are hired nowadays to sway the elite Indian minds who may otherwise argue about the ground realities, twitter on an average consumes 15-20% of the operational time of the active people who are or can be decisive in the country’s development. 

Twitter-Gandhis: Being slapped roz, yet alive!  
  • Rajdeep Sardesai, among the ‘senior-twitter’ journalists tweets on ‘unfair’ Modi; gets fair trolls from bhakts led by non-other than the ‘no-bhakt’ Mediacrooks and ends up saying ‘fair enough’.
  • Dharna Guru Kejriwal doesn’t do dharnas anymore but does make sure to have fair trends on twitter; makes an impact among the followers and non-followers. Bhakts never let it go; do make sure their tags ranks higher…..However, Kejriwal was never interested in being a twitter-gandhi, but a twitter-ambedkar who didn't sign any PACT.    

The Alexander, Modi
He has a far bigger army on twitter than the Alexander could even think of. His hashtags trend at the top, worldwide. The true Alexander of todays' twitter world, Modi might surpass Obama soon.

The Rajya, Raja & Praja
  • While twitter takes care of the rules & regulations letting Raja say what he says without much resistance, the elite praja too feels their freedom of expression with every tweet. Whenever a farmer suicides, a tweet/more depending on the fan following is dedicated in the memory of the poor farmer.   
  • Beloved Modiji says, “Twitter has turned everyone a reporter.” He is right, however I will make it more accurate – Twitter is the ‘only’ happening place – all the targets are now shown achieved only on twitter so that the educated Indians could retweet without knowing is it a fact or simply photoshopped.
  • Recently, an IIT Chairman says, “we also teach engineering”, bhakts tweet – IITs will now be specialised in Tablavadan, Indian Classical Music …and Sanskara -- Surya Namaskaram. Education Minister Smritiji, yes she handles that as she has a hell of good communication skills, tweets, “We have achieved 100% target in Clean India.” Another minister: “Make In India has made it easy to invest in India like never before.” PM Narendra Modi thanks Sania Mirza on twitter for winning the Wimbledon; Congrats her for getting the Khel Ratna…blah blah.    
  • FTII students having protested for over 100 days get their judgement on twitter. The minister tweets, “students are not allowed to interfere with the government’s job. They should pay attention to their own work.”

I am not sure if twitter has any correlation with East India company!


30 Sep 2015

Yr 2017

The world is not over yet! And, so the prime time news!

Politicians, Comedians and Pakistani Generals…Arnab tried everyone on the 'Fusehour'; left no stone unturned to make the primetime more piercing political live drama.

It's been years, he wasn't getting the 'Kick' anymore! partially, because he got no body dare to speak at 'Fusehour'.  

Competing with own last week-TRP is not an easy task and the nation knows only Arnub can compete with Arnub. This time at the prime time, he  shows two chairs against his own one. While one chair was empty showing the concerned person dared to skip the nation’s most watched TV news, there was a dog sitting on the other…

Arnub: The people of India has a right to know… why Mr X; why??

The dog barks.

“One second…no..no one second. How dare you interrupt in the middle? You can’t do that,” outshouts Arnub.

The dog falls silent.

Arnub starts…  The dog barks again, giving tough competition to Arnub.

The TRP was unprecedented. Soon LED displays at Times Square started showing the worldwide twitter trend #Arnubbitesback. The Ghostwami does not shy away to take credit of that. “See, this is the hard hitting journalism. We have made history, becoming the number one news channel in the world…I acknowledge, since 2G, 3G…..till today, we have shown each and every other nonsense news with sense, with responsibility. This is a revolution. You may give that credit to me. I won’t mind."

In the meantime, having got no space, the dog interrupts; barks…and so does Arnub!

The Godfather sitting on the sofa reads the TRP.... makes Arnub, the editorial president of print media too!

#Newsfiction #Fiction 

Arnub does it again!

2 Aug 2015

'Good Job'

Following the Apple Way?

Undoing the damage done by Ballmer, Satya Nadella has shifted the MS focus back to the development that was once the core strength of the company. While Ballmer -- more interested in marketing strategies -- earlier overlooked the undervalued products, Satya, along with Gates undid the mistakes, be it Nokia's  acquisition or display advertising features. 

Moved towards a more coherent brand; when comes to introducing Windows 10 to its end consumers, Microsoft does an Apple.

Windows 10: The best windows ever :)
Iphone 5: The best iPhone ever

Learning from the success saga of Google Play and iTunes, the MS Store has been paid more attention than ever. Independent software installations are being discouraged but prompted through the MS store. However, the same attentions must be sought from developers too.

It will be interesting to see how does it stand out against its rivals -- Apple app store/iTunes or Google Play. Will it land up to be another 'Surface effort' by Microsoft? What do you think?

Back with Windows 7 features

The evolution of windows has been quite like a sinusoidal wave. 

Let's take a look (Ref:Windowsitpro):

(Windows 1.0 released in 1985 was a success because it was the first iteration, used by many early computer enthusiasts.
Windows 2.0 released in 1987 was a success. The public was excited to see such a quick update and a multi-windowed environment.
Windows 3.0 released in 1990 was a flop, even though it was the first version to introduce backward compatibility and protected/enhanced mode, it took a 3.00a released in 1991 to make it stable.
Windows 3.1 released in 1992 was a flop due to severe bugs.
Windows 3.11 released in 1993 was a success, and introduced the first major OS to integrate networking features.
Windows NT released in 1993 and was a success due to being widely used as a server operating system, though many IT Pros used it as a workstation OS.
Windows 95 released in 1995 and was a success on many, many levels. Better multi-tasking, multi-media, the introduction of the Start menu, the Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" campaign – I could go on…
Windows 98 released in 1998 (second edition released in 1999) and could be the only product in the line that breaks the chain. Microsoft was set to end support in 2004 but had to extend that to 2006.
Windows 2000 was a success. Though labeled 2000, actually hit RTM in December of 1999.
Windows ME released in 2000 and was a flop. Windows ME seemed like an update just for update's sake.
Windows XP released in 2001 and was a success. Even today, after the end of support in April 2014, some users defiantly keep using it.
Windows Vista released in 2006 and was a flop, primarily due to bugs obtrusive new security features, and software and hardware compatibility problems.
Windows 7 released in 2009 and was a success, primarily because it was a better Windows XP (which was also a success) and, today, because it's NOT Windows 8.
Windows 8 released in 2012 and is a flop. There are many that would argue this, but the adoption numbers don't lie. Windows 8 has been ill received and Windows 7 continues to usurp its market authority.

Windows 10 is aimed to bring the '7' charm back. The OS being more user-friendly is getting fair critical acclaim in the short span.


Rejecting most of the Windows 8 interface settings, Terry brings new touch-friendly interfaces, be it the new media player, settings, the all new notification, the Cortana incorporation into the PC OS or separate settings for Tab. 

Must say,Terry Myerson, along with his team has done a great job!

Dynamic Task View

Pinned to the taskbar, the dynamic task view (windows+tab) gets better with the every edition.

This actually makes you watch multiple videos simultaneously...

Microsoft Edge, new browser incorporated

With the browser, Microsoft has actually enabled the users to enjoy mobile-benefits while browsing. It is faster, better and gives a number of new tools that chrome doesn't.

What looks relatively bad?

'Built-in Keylogger'

Windows 10 collects your online data; monitors your computing behaviour.

Though I haven't gone through the 'Terms & Conditions' and Privacy Policy, by the time I wrote the headline I got the below image as pop-up.

According to Windows Insiders, the data collection program is aimed to make it more user-friendly and optimise the OS for better performance. Choice is yours!

Slow Booting & Restarting

If anything was good about Windows 8 that was its fast booting. So far, it appears very slow, takes almost a minute or longer to start.


Windows 10: The Good & The Bad

17 Dec 2014

India's China Policies Origins, Premises, Lessons

When Arun Shourie writes a book, there are three kinds of reactions. The Congress doesn’t speak, the communists denigrate the book and the nationalist becomes sad on reading the book. All three reactions are wholly justified as they are true. The fact of the matter is that the book, true to Shourie’s style, contains detailed analysis, in-depth and incisive evidences to back the analysis and then in the end, the way forward from the current situation.

And, as usual, the way forward is coolly forgotten by the country that continues to live in utopian dreams.

The subject of this book is also on similar lines – Indian nationalism, India’s foreign policy, how the leaders let the country down and what needs to be done to take it forward from the then current abyss. In this book, the leader that has let the country down is, hold your breath, Pandit Nehru. Yes, of all people, how Panditji screwed India’s foreign policy and the aftereffects of that carefully cultivated folly called ‘NAM – Non Aligned Movement’ and the case of mis-placed self-promotion that cost the country dear.

No, this is not an anti-Congress book from a BJP writer. For practical purposes, after Vajpayee started to recede from politics due to health reasons, Shourie has never played any role in the BJP. However, his forthrightness and fortitude are all the same.

It begins with Panditji’s lofty ‘ideals’ at the time of independence in 1947, goes on to explain the lies that he imagined to be true and the imaginary position that he commanded in world affairs and therefore chose to ignore the obvious evil, China and its communist upsurge.

Panditji is warned, with great foresight, by Rajendra Prasad, the then President of the Nation, Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister on China’s evil designs. He is repeatedly sent long lists of evidences from different officers of the Indian Government from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tibet, Beijing ( then Peking ). Panditji chooses to ignore each and every one of these evidences and letters. In fact, he admonishes the writers of these letters.

It becomes a habit for Panditji to putdown the very officers of the government who choose to do their duties. Officer after officer presents Panditji with the situation on the ground in Tibet, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin and Lhasa. And every time each of these officers are admonished by Panditji. He puts them down either for their usage of the term ‘communist’ or for the term ‘McMahon Line’. Or otherwise he chides them for some language usage. With these he wishes his hand away from the main problem of China.

The officers repeatedly talk about the issue of China issuing maps that show large parts of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet as their territory. First he rubbishes them that those were old maps. Later he says the Chinese government doesn’t have time to issue new maps and hence ignore that. And these are exactly the lines spoken by Chou-en-lai, the then Premier of China. And what ever Chou-en-lai says, Panditji repeats.

When opportunity presents itself for Panditji to discuss these issues with Cho-en-lai, he prevaricates. Instead he speaks about Cuba, Algeris, Korean war, the US-Britain imperialism etc.

These, Shourie presents from Panditji’s own letters o his Ambssadors to China, Letters to the Chief Ministers and hid various press conferences. And what we see is that first Pandithi refutes and puts down the questioner, then after some years seems to slightly agree but hide under the garb of ‘socialist thought’ and later only when China attacks in 1962, does he acknowledge the Chinese threat.

And the issue of the Chinese communist threat to India has been there from 1950 onwards.

We also get to know the great debates and questions that happen in Lok Sabha when Panditji is questioned by Prof.N.G.Ranga, Acharya Kripalani and Atal Bijari Vajpayee. Yes, Vajpayee is relentless in his questioning of Panditji on China.

Towards the later part of the book, we get a glimpse of China’s growing hegemony in the world – oil diplomacy, funding diplomacy and later military diplomacy, the way countries in Latin America that are not eligible for IMF loans are provided loans in return for oil favours, the way deep water ports are constructed in Gwadar Pakistan, Sri Lanka almost free of cost with the only condition that China would have first rights for oil transport through these ports, the way oil pipelines have been laid from Burma deep into China, the way Tibetan rivers are diverted to provide water to Central China – all these are explained in great detail with evidence.

And the Chinese way of usurping territory – ignore complaints, silently encroach and set up base and later claim that they had never had any contention in the area under question. The other tactic is ‘murder with borrowed knife’ – arm the enemy’s enemy. And China excels in that.

And what is also explained is the complete policy paralysis in India right from the days of Panditji to the current regime when inaction is eulogized as policy and strategy, ignorance is camouflaged as wisdom and policy paralysis has become the norm.

And towards the end of the book, we get the complete but abysmal picture of the current state of affairs especially with respect to foreign policy ( better that we don’t discuss about the other fronts like Finance, Education etc ).

The book leaves you with a deep sense of shattered national pride.

Courtesy: Amaruvi Devanathan

Arun Shourie on Geopolitics


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