The Other Side of Life: A FreeRider's Perspective

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Super Commando Dhruv

Those were the times in late 80s and early 90s. On Television front we only had a Doordarshan with very few programs for childeren to speak of. Just a Spiderman here and a Indradhanush there. We did have libraries stuffed with Famous 5 and Hardy Boys but somehow I was not able to relate to them. The sophisticated once among us read Archies but I never understood those English comic strips. As a matter of fact I don't understand even now those comic strips in English language newspapers.

So the only source of entertainement left for us were the Hindi Comics. There were all those hilarious characters like Chacha Choudhary, Billu, Pinki, Raman, Anderam-Danderam (Copy of Laurel Hardy) etc. Then there were superheroes like Nagaraj, Mahabali Shaka, Bhokal, Doga and Super Commando Dhruv (SCD from now on). While all other superheroes had some or the other supernatural powers it was SCD only who relied solely on his bravery, willpower and a great presence of mind. Probably the only miraculous power he had was that he could talk to animals and birds and this I think was a mistake in an otherwise flawless characterization.

It all started with his first book "Pratishodh ki Jwaala". This was based on a circus which was burnt by a rival circus. Dhruv's parents were acrobats in the circus and were burnt alive in the fire. From the circus itself, Dhruv learnt a variety of skills like riding motorcycle (in "Maut ka kuan" or sphere of death), walking on ropes, talking to birds and animals etc. To avenge death of his parents he goes to the rival circus and kills its owner and the main villain Jubisco (As a matter of fact, Jubisco was not killed here and comes back in a later book Bahri Maut). Later he is adopted by a honest cop IG Rajan.

As the series slowly build up, SCD has his own set of allies: his cadet force with Peter, Karim and Renu; his sister Sweta (Chandika), Vanaputra who can control plants, Dhanajay having superior scientific and technical powers etc. These characters come and go in different books.

But the most superior aspect of SCD's books were the bad men or the villains. Just watch Chumba (using magnetic powers), Dhvaniraj (using ultraviolet sounds), Dr. Virus (the name is sufficient), Bauna Vaman (using toys to meet his goal and having the famous line "Bauna Vaman apni ek na ek trick hamesha bachake rakhta hai"), Grandmaster Robo (the most dreaded terrorist on earth having a laser eye), Chandkaal (having mastery over Black Magic),
Mahamanav (the future man). SCD fights all these baddies without any weapon so to speak of. In most of the cases he just uses the things available nearby. Now you have to read his comics to understand this aspect, it wont do any justice if I quote 1/2 instances of his feat. If you do wish to start reading SCD, then I would recommend my favourite piece "Chumba ka Chakravyuh" in which the villain Chumba build killer machines based on magnets and how SCD fights them using simple rules of Physics, like heating effect of magnets etc. Grab your copy now.

I don't know what happened to SCD. The later books were kind of repetitive and hence I guess the character died its natural death. Moreover those channels of entertainment has lost their value in the present world. But if you do wish to relive your past times, you can find most of the old SCD books on here. Go ensoi....

PS: As a matter of fact I believe that the SCD stories were original. If you know that any of his books were inspired (read copied) from other sources please let me know.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whom Else to Blame

Got a long mail on orkut some time back. some of the excerpts from it are:
YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke,
The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their
You say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute

YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the
garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.
Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo?
etc etc.

Also there was a comment by Mr. Kapil Sibal that it has become fashionable in India to blame politicians for all the ills. I was thinking of writing this mail for a long time but thought it would be better first to experience life in the most developed and powerful country (US) in the world. Now with spending 2 months here in a small city (Winston-Salem) and visited a big city (Atlanta)and many tourist centers, now I feel I am experienced enough to write the post.

Ok Indians have done very well abroad in many fields. Many of the best teachers and students in various American universities are Indians. Mittal Steel is the largest steel producer in world today. There is a very high proportion of Indians in most of the Tech companies, including Microsoft and Google.

Now lets look at Indians in India. IITs and IIMs are world class institutes recognized in the whole world. Indian businessman have been very successful both under the controlled regime as well as now with the opening of the economy. Instead of the MNCs gobbling Indian companies, the reverse seems to be happening, with Tata Steel slated to become 5th largest steel producer in the world.

Now lets look at the other side. Offices of many MNCs are located in Gurgaon and they are doing pretty well. But the roads in Gurgaon are pathetic to say the least. There are mnay software companies located in Noida region earning handsome revenues and foreign exchange. But there is acute shortage of power in Noida, with generators working more than 10 hours in a day. The infrastructural condition in Hyderabad and Bangalore are said to be similar, though I haven't visted them. And these are the main cities, not to speak of the rural areas.

Now I want to ask Mr. Sibal whom to blame for this except the political class. Who else would construct roads and supply power except the government. If doctors, engineers, businessman, managers can excel in India why cann't we have good politicians. Ok people spit on roads, we don't pay tax sometimes, but that is mainly because of our general frustration with the system and hence life in general. They are upset over the pathetic condition that they have to live in despite toiling for the whole day. If the money is well spent ppl won't mind paying taxes. But it is stupid to suggest that politicians would stop corruption if people start paying all the taxes.

And it is not that we always criticize the political class. Arun Shourie does have huge following in India. IIM Ahmedabad did honour Mr Lalu P Yadav on his turning of railways into a profitable undertaking (though personally I am skeptic of the figures quoted).

It is just that we inherited the political system from Britishers as such. We have started Engg and Management colleges and opened up the economy but precious little has been done for political reforms. People are fed up with politicians and they do change government after every 5 years. But with all parties being equally corrupt, alas they don't have much choice.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Indian Cinema at an All Time Low

Bad choices had been made before. But this time it is much worse. Yup Rang De Basanti has been nominated as an Indian entry to Oscars. Not that it carries much meaning. Previously such other eminently forgettable movies such as Paheli and Jeans have got such nominations. Ok Jeans was just a B-Grade entertainer. Maybe not even that. And Paheli was just incomprehensible for an unsophisticated person like me.
But nomination of RDB presents a bigger malaise. First of all, as was the argument against Black, RDB doesn’t represent Indian culture. As Greatbong has written in his post “I have never tottered drunk on the edge of wells” and behaved like those college kids. But even leaving that point aside does it in any way represent ethos of Indian people or particularly Indian college students? No I guess, otherwise Arjun Singh won’t have been alive.
Yes the youth today is desperately disappointed with the politicians. But they are fighting it in the right way. Medical students from AIIMS, Engg students from IITs have regularly been on road holding demonstrations against the policies of the HR minister. And despite being repeatedly provoked by Lathi-charges and tear gas, they are not taking law in their hands. Yes there are odd-miscreants on various political communities on orkut and other forums who between serious policy discussion write a small message “Lets do a Rang De Basanti on all politicians of the country”. But they are just that, the odd miscreants. They don’t represent the majority of the population. And I don’t want the world to get a Rang De Basanti impression of Indian society, with nothing better to do, drunken college hooligans out to murder a democratically elected minister. Precisely because he is democratically elected and can be removed in next elections, as Murli Manohar Joshi has been and Arjun Singh surely would be. And no matter what the majority of people in India still believe in the democracy.
Another important matter is the image of the freedom fighters portrayed in the movie. As Vivek has pointed out, there is much more to the personality of Bhagat Singh than him just being a murderer and revenge taker. These freedom-fighters were giant of an intellectual with a well-formed vision of modern India. These can’t at all be compared to the revenge-seeking hooligans of RDB as the movie seems to do. And again I don’t want the West to have such an image of freedom fighters of my country.
While being harsh on the demonstrating students on one side and sending RDB as India’s nomination on other side, I still fail to comprehend what the Indian government is trying to demonstrate. This choice is certainly an insult to youth of India and specifically to the medical students of AIIMS

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Anti-Terror Mechanism with the terrorists?

So finally the event that we all had been waiting for has arrived. Barely 3 months after the Bombay blasts killed more than 200 people, the Prime Minister of India has agreed to visit Pakistan. And if this was not enough, India and Pakistan have decided to set up an anti-terror mechanism.

Can we imagine a join terror mechanism between US and Taliban. Or between Israel and Lebanon. But as astute the Indian politicians are, only India can perform this supreme feat.

What this joint terror mechanism will do. Play counterstrike on Lappy. Or AOE? Because as now is a common knowledge the terrorist camps are located in differenet parts of Pakistan and Pakistan govt would never dismantle them. They would never arrest the terrorists, let alone handle them to India. So this terror mechanism is just a wasteful exercise undertaken by unimaginative and insensitive govt of India.

And moreover where is the need for it. If this step was taken to impress international community, then it is useless. The international community is unfazed. And if I were a citizeb in any other country I would laugh at a meek and spineless country setting up terror mechanism with the very country known to harbour terrorism.

After Vajpayee's Lahore visit Kargil happen. I shudder what is in store now?

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

The HR Initiative

Went to the State Bank of India today to extend my Student Loan for the STEP Program. They just did some formalities and processed my application. My total loan now is in the range of 6 lakhs.

That reminds me of the step taken some time back by the HR Minister to reduce the Fees at IIMs from Rs 3lakhs to Rs 30,000. The explanation given was that not every student is able to avail of the loan and hence such high fees discourage the poor students to apply for IIMs. Now I can see how blatant a lie it is.

In my loan processing nowhere did the bank had any dealing with my parents. Not that if they had, I would have been denied loan. I am from a relatively well to do, though not very rich family. But leaving myself aside nowhere in our bath or for that matter any other previous batch from any IIMs that I have heard of, has been denied education loan.

And it does sounds logical. With placements going so strong in all IIMs, a bank would be hitting itself if it denies education loan to an IIM student. And coming to the background of the people, there is a common perception that the students coming to IIMs are from the rich class. Most of us belong to middle class and there are some students of both high Socio-Economic and Low Socio-Economic classes. Though still it doesn't have as many poor students as the IITs but still IIMs cann't at all be called elite institutes.

There is another misconception regarding the facilities at IIMs, that I learned during my Internship. Some students from other MBA institutes(yup MBA institutes) believe IIMs to be some kinda 5-star hotel with AC in every room, FtF carpet etc. I simply fail to understand why do we need AC room for college students. Don't students shoould have frugal lifestyles. Specially in a relatively poor country like India. And it is not the IIM students who crib about all this but the outside intelligensia.

However in one respect I feel that IIMs are biased, against the students from non-English speaking background. The CAT paper has very high level of Verbal section and the Reading Comprehension is definitely not trivial. But lets face it, in todays world if you want to be a good manager, you have got to have good communication skills. And good communication skills do mean good English. But still I don't believe this barrier is unsurmountable and in all batches there are students from UP, Bihar, rajasthan etc who had Hindi speaking background.

So if any of the relatively low SEC student with not so good English, preparing for CAT is reading this, just pick up your Wren and Martin for grammar and few Ayn rand for RC. Dont worry about the finance. And please dont believe in the HR Minister, either the previous one or this one.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

India and Israel

[Since this post covers a number of aspects , to keep the post short I have written it in summary form. but appropriate links have been provide where reqd]

When I first introduced myself to the students of my Step University WakeForest I got a very good response. Alumni from our institute have done exceedingly well across the years on the Student Exchange Program. When they further learned that I was from IIT, the appreciation further increased. Who doesn't know IIT in USA.

But then some strange things happened. When the Mumbai blast happened, some of my friends from France and US expressed concern and send me "Hope India gets well" type of messages. But the thing is that I just don't need them. When I have done well in life, the place where I am studying is renowned all over the world, why should I be an object of sympathy because of the inability of our spineless politicians to take decisive action. When we have best tehnicians, managers and bureaucrats in the world why should we still remain a terror victimised country, looking towards foreign support for survival of our citizens. Now you mayn't agree about the best bureaucrats but believe me, they are one of the best, if not the best.

Just to put things in perspective, in 1965 war Indian forces have reached as far as Lahore and then suddenly Lal Bahadur Shastri, our PM agreed to ceasefire. We could easily have taken PoK at that time. Then again in 1971 war, we did succeed in separating bangladesh from Pakistan. We had captured 10,000 pakistani soldiers but decided to release them unconditionally. We let go off our advantage in both these situations. Though we shoudn't have taken any land from Pakistan but atleast we could have had our Kashmir back.

Now with the Mumbai blasts. Seven blasts rocked suburban trains in Mumbai on 11th July and led to killing of about 200 people and injury to many more.

The spirit of Mumbai was once again evident with people going out of the way to help each other. And as usual Day after blasts, Mumbai limped back to normal.

Incidentally or intentionally there was a blast on the same day in Srinagar(J&K). But anyways we have stopped worrying about the terrorism in that part of the country.

The reaction from Indian politicians was pathetic, to say the least. Prime Minister came out with some global statements like Mumbai blasts had cross-border support (Dont we anyways know it)and "Action, commitment needed from Pakistan"(Now we don't need action from Pakistan, we need it from you). With other parties it was worse. Even as the Students Islamic Movement of India appeared on the Mumbai police's list of suspects responsible for Tuesday's serial blasts, the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government gave the organisation a clean chit. BJP and Left played their own games.

On the other side, Mr.Kasuri, Foreign Minister of Pakistan said that said the 'best way' of dealing with extremism in South Asia is to tackle 'real issue' of Jammu and Kashmir. General Musharraf wants concrete information instead of unsubstantiated allegations. They went to the extent of claiming that India has made Pakistan a scapegoat. On the other hand India is still hopeful that Pakistan will join war on terror.

Now towards the other side of the story. On July 18th Israel attacked Lebanese army base near Beirut. Israel's prime minister said Monday that Israel will continue fighting in Lebanon until the release of two Israeli soldiers abducted last week.

Now, Israel massed tanks and troops on the border, called up reserves and warned civilians to flee Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon as it prepared Friday for a likely ground invasion to set up a deep buffer zone.

Somehow I feel that India and Israel have a lot in common. We both are terror struck countries with hostile neighbors on all sides. We both are democracies within the midst of vast desert of autocratic governments. But we are following different strategies towards similar problems.

Though personally i am not in favour of violence, having myself criticized rang de basanti quiet a few times. But the thing is that the issue has gone out of hand, with no hope of pakistan ever cooperating. And India will continue to bleed, it seems, if it doesn't take any aggressive step. The whole technological and economic progress cann't be sustainable unless there is safety and security for its citizens. And what is the use of spending 4% of our GDP in defence if anyways we are not going to use it. we can spend that money in education, health or even distributing free pizzas to Indian citizens. Atleast it has some utility value for them. Defence spending has none.

Just before World War II, when Jews were being thrown out of thir land, Jawahar Lal Nehru offered them to come to India. In return Israel is the only country in the world to have supported India in all the 3 wars. Today Israel is one of the largest defence supplier to India. And it can provide technology to India in diverse fields from dry farming to biochips. India on the other hand should support Israel on all international forums.

But it wont happen. India will be back with all the peace initiatives and confidence building measures with Pakistan. Till the next attack happens. And it does sadden me that inspite of myself doing so well in life I have to read all those sympathetic mails from the American and French students.


Wednesday, May 31, 2006


A blind girl is not talking to you. You say "Tum andhi ke saath-saath Goongi bhi lagti ho". And the girl laughs. Well anything can happen in an Aamir khan movie.

The guys f**ks the blind kashmiri girl and next day she reacts as if nothing has happened. Gosh where am I?

We didn't get the tickets for the evening show and I pestered my friends to wait till the night show and they agreed.But why do ppl always need to agree with me.
Now about the movie: There is no story line, no romance , no good dialogues nothing.
In the first half instead of speaking sentences, the hero who ultimately is a terrorist talks in "sher-o-shayari". And believe me some of them are from "Gabbar Sher", a daily program on one of the FM channels.

There is no attempt at all to build the plot. Neither is romance developed, nor terrorism shown well. Aamir never gets to explain reasons behind his mission, Kajol never gets to explain why terrorism is bad. Aamir just looks like a confused guy not knowing what to do next. This is definitely one of the worst role he had ever played.

The movie is extremely slow and we continuously wait for atleast something to happen. But nothing happens. A large section of the Audience leave theater in middle of the movie. Even in terms of songs, the title song is good. Rest are just pain in a$$.

But Kajol looks ravishing. And I am back to my 11th Class watching DDLJ dreaming about the girl. Romance in the air and all that. But alas Time never returns. Just waiting for a better performance and selection from Kajol.

So who are the winners. PPL of Gujarat since Fanaa is banned there.

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