Why nothing is changing in India – we are a flawed democracy

A lot of noise is being made in India – again. It has become repetitive, like a sinusoidal wave. Something happens, gets into the media and people get outraged. They come out in numbers in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai or even smaller ones like Ranchi and Chandigarh – yet nothing happens at the institutional level. Over the top editorials are written in major newspapers, like this one in The Hindu, leading people to believe they are at the cusp of change and yet nothing happens. It leaves one feeling underwhelmed, like it was just there, within reach but somehow eluded us. In reality, nothing can be farther from reality, it never was and never will be real. All the outrage and disgust brings no change. Why, one asks? Well, for one all this outrage is being expressed by an electorally insignificant group. It’s mostly the young middle class that was outraged, one that doesn’t vote – a fact not lost on our government run by political cronies. Most of the outrage was expressed by students or young professionals who are a migrant population with a short attention span and so politically irrelevant (contrast with the Gujjar protests that brought the government to its knees). Additionally, the government has seen and survived a similar agitation of a larger scale and duration but by the same set of protesters, emerging unscathed, hence the disdain for such demonstrations. Secondly we are a biased and hypocritical society that differentiates discriminates based on education, background, region, etc. Hence a similarly heinous crime against a woman from a rural area gets little or no coverage and elicits no outrage among us, the educated class. Women from the north-east are habitually misbehaved with. There are numerous cases of rape and molestation each day in and no one bats an eyelid, but when it happens in Delhi to a girl from amongst us, we are outraged. Our last President, who incidentally was a woman, pardoned rapists, killers and child-molesters, no one cared. We have hundreds of peoples’ representatives with records of crime against women.

A callous and numb society

We are a society that differentiates between heinous, and non-heinous crimes against women. So a rape is just a heinous crime, rape and battery is at a higher level of heinousness and rape, battery and murder causes outrage. What does that say about us as a society and peoples and more importantly what does it say of our government when such a view is expressed by people in government? It shows how habituated we have become to witnessing such a dastardly crime and how much of a daily occurrence it has become that no one bothers when a woman is raped, it’s justĀ another crime, not yet another crime.

A crime against a woman is the most heinous crime that can be committed – to be treated on par with murder, punishable by the same standards. It shows one of the most depraved aspects of a man’s nature – an unforgivable crime that should warrant the harshest punishment possible. This without resorting to medieval forms of punishments like public flogging, flogging to death, etc as suggested by some citizens and politicians. Resorting to such methods of punishment does not reflect kindly on a modern, secular, civilized democracy. I’m sorry but imposition of Shariah/inhuman punishment will not solve the problem. Instead proper governance, rule of law and handing out of judgements within a reasonable time-frame will.

There is a school of thought that would have us believe that there is no fear of law among criminals, which is correct, but this has more to do with the abysmally low conviction rates and less with the maximum possible sentence for a crime. I still remember Hindi films of yesteryears when the honest police officer would warn the criminal – “Kanoon ke haath bahut lambe hote hain“. In how many recent films have you seen such a dialogue? I haven’t seen one at all. What does that show? I believe that in this age cinema mirrors society (much the same as literature did earlier) and what it shows is the lack of fear of law among criminal – such a dialogue would be intended to invoke the fear of law but would be scarcely believable to audiences and be laughed at by the criminals today – and lack of respect for and belief in law among the law enforcement agencies themselves, that if one committed a crime, the law would ultimately catch up with them.

Quietly airlifting the victim to a foreign country, reining in protests – much like colonial rulers

The poor victim was quietly airlifted out of the hospital in Delhi to a hospital in Singapore. One could say that it was the government trying to provide the best possible care to the victim. Yet the surprise move causes one to question the motive of the government, especially in light of the heavy handed and unconcerned attitude shown by the government towards the peaceful protests, the fake meeting of Ms. Sonia Gandhi, ruling coalition chairperson and de-facto ruler of the country, with so called representatives of the protesters who were rumoured to be members of the student wing of her party (the wing had been trying to incite violence during what was an essentially peaceful show of anger). Such skullduggery causes one to doubt the motives of the government, more so when the Indian Medical Association questions the need for such a move. Besides, the heavy handed manner in which the peaceful protests were broken up, women and elderly lathicharged, tear-gassed and jailed by police was reminiscent of our colonial rulers, as was the secrecy of the airlift which reminded me of how the British used to try to execute/move political prisoners in secrecy to avoid protests and demonstrations. Another surprising aspect is the amount of control the government has tried to exercise over anything associated with the victim, including her last rites.

PM stays silent, then says “theek hai”

The Prime Minister kept silent for an agonizingly long time, probably waiting for a green light from 10 Janpath, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s residence and when he did address the nation, he appeared less than earnest and more concerned with how it looked on TV, a fact that his “theek hai” at the end betrayed. What was more distressing was the all the while massive protests were going on, his office, and by implication he, was more concerned with flagging ASEAN rallies and welcoming international guests. This impression was reinforced by his twitter handle activity which had previously reacted and clarified very quickly, on political statements made during the Gujarat elections by Narendra Modi and yet seemed eerily mute on such a massive show of public outrage. The Home Minister, Mr. Shushil Kumar Shinde actually lauded the security agencies for doing their job well and later likened the protesters to Maoists when asked why he chose not to meet with the protester. The son of the current President commented on the right and credentials of the women protesting in Delhi. Such callousness on the part of the government betrays a sense of confidence that can only be attributed to their conviction of victory in the next national elections of 2014.

Public figures, from actors to politicians, were seen professing outrage and shame at such a crime. These same people never thought twice when sharing public fora with people accused of similar acts of horror. These figures were seen crying in public, giving statements of outrage and I somehow couldn’t believe them. They were guilty of consorting with criminals or themselves committing heinous crimes of murder – their holier-than-thou act seemed insidious.

Silly Home Minsters Patil, Shinde

Our Home Ministers do not seem to inspire any confidence, not that other ministers do but it is much more so in case of the Home Ministers. A case in point would be Mr. Shivraj Patil, Home Minister during the terrorist attacks on Mumbai and so is Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, the current Home Minister. Both are from the state of Maharashtra and have been removed from state politics to prevent them from causing mischief and brought to the Central government, not because they are able administrators. They had become a political nuisance in their state and so the . Both are ill quipped and toothless politicians more concerned with being in the good graces of the Family.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that until this government sees that if it doesn’t take action it will be voted out of power, it will continue to disregard public opinion, which is not the same as popular opinion because the vast majority of the people are not on Twitter or Facebook. Nor are they hooked to 24×7 news, having nothing to do. The vast majority is poor and desperate, that leads a hand-to-mouth existence and still regards the party in power as the party of the Mahatma, for whom Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi are synonymous with Mahatma Gandhi. They need an education, which the party in power is reluctant to provide, and for which it is more politically expedient to keep them poor and uneducated to maintain a political vote-bank and re-use the same old political slogans of more than 40 years vintage, “Congress ka haath, Aam aadmi ke saath” & “Gareebi hatao”.

Even at the risk of sounding cynical, these, in my opinion, are some of the reasons why nothing is going to change in India, at least until the outrage is shared by the entire nation, not just by the politically insignificant internet population of a few lakhs. This outrage should not be limited to this crime but to a host of issues like corruption, scams, mis/non-governance, non-performance and multiple failures to implement reforms and progressive measures.

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About JanLokpal, Anna and misinformation

A lot of shoddy articles are doing the rounds on Anna Hazare and his motives. A case in point is this article

1. That the Lokpal, as envisioned by the civil society team, will have para-judicial powers of all 3 arms of the govt. This is misleading as the Lokpal will have the same powers as the CBI does in bringing the case to court. If you have differences with the version produced by Mr. Hazare’s team then you have been given the opportunity and the means to read the proposed bill and give feedback and suggestions. I doubt you have used the means at your disposal and yet you questions and level allegations without having the decency to do you bit to stop corruption. Instead what you seem to suggest it do nothing and let the situation be. Inaction this time around would be akin to treason and in clear violation of our Fundamental Duties as citizens of India (yes, there is something called Fundamental duties).

2. Also that Hazare expressed support for Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. I take offence when you club Mr. Kumar with Mr. Modi. It is an insult to use their names in the same breath. I respect Mr. Modi as he is a Chief Minister of a state and has done admirable work in governance and development of his state. People continue to hark on Godhra and the Gujarat riots but they forget the good that has been happening after it. They prevent the Muslims of Gujarat from becoming part of the mainstream and keep them solid as a vote-bank for so-called secular parties. We are supposed to be a socialist, secular democratic republic. This implies that no party and govt organ should invoke caste and religion for votes. Yet governments and parties openly woo vote banks of caste and religion, either in the form of reservations or in the form of the fear of the hated enemy. In this case, the very enemy of the minority in Gujarat is their friend who is bringing about development and reducing corruption. It is time we let the minorities develop a free and open mindset devoid of fear and propaganda.

It is foolish to say that when Anna commended Mr. Kumar and Mr. Modi on their governance, he also supported Mr. Modi’s non-governmental deeds. I have seen the news clip in question and it is a sad commentary on your skills as an articulate citizen. Whoever does good governance should be applauded and feted in a time of mis- and non-governance in India. Granted that the way Mr. Modi came into power was controversial but what he has done since is nothing short of commendable. Whom would you prefer, someone with a murky background yet committed to development and clean governance or the current dispensation who do exactly the same things or even worse in the garb of secularism but never deliver anything substantial?

Mr.Nitish Kumar is the most respected and clean politician in India who has changed Bihar from the mess of Congress-RJD. We always blame Mr. Lalu Prasad for the mess that was Bihar but we always forget that Congress supported all his policies throughout his tenure. Mr. Kumar is a politician whom India would be lucky to have as our leader. He has initiated reforms at the grass-roots level, streamlined the police, reduced political interference, locked up criminals and created an enabling environment for Bihar to rise fast. He does not indulge in religious and casteist politics, uses development as the barometer for the voters to judge his government. His government has pioneered in the use of technology for efficient delivery of services to the poor and by connecting all district HQs to report to the CM directly each day. He has pioneered a bill to seize the property of corrupt officials so as to deny them the unfair lure of money that often influences investigations and courts judgments. This has broken an important link in the chain of corruption. There is lot to be learnt from his methods and ideas.

3. People all around say repeatedly that ‘an overhaul of the system‘ is required. This is just the sort of shoddy fence sitting that has led to our current corruption malaise. You only identify the symptom and say that the symptom must go but never bother to point out the how and wherefore. JP proposed a solution but no one followed it. Now Anna is doing something and instead of joining in a constructive debate, you are resorting to character assassination. I had hope to read a well researched article on the nexus between Anna and the ruling class but have ended up reading lame-ass shit that only points fingers. Please get your facts right assuming that you are an affected member of the general public and not an ass-licking stooge like Mr. Digvijay Singh, Mrs. Ambika Soni, Mr. Chidambaram and PM Singh.

4. I do not know about Anna’s exploits in Ralegaon-Siddhi, what I have read in various articles is what you have stated so I will not dispute this point, but I have sufficient faith in the people and myself to not support Mr. Hazare in case we see the ‘casteist, communal and patriarchal‘ policies emerging out in the open.

Schindler’s List and related thoughts

I watched Schindler’s List recently. To many this may come as a surprise considering that it is a film that has been generally acknowledged to be one of the best. This is the precise reason why I hadn’t seen it earlier. Such critical acclaim and multiple recommendations raise my expectations too high. To be honest, this level of expectation is unfair. The film was great, it now ranks as one of my favourites after Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and alongside Lakshya, DCH and Pyaasa. But that is digressing from the point. The film showed what human nature is all about, how compassionate and caring it can be and how selfless can man become. The events shown in the film are historically true. Such a camp, factory and man did exist. The town is also still there in Czech Republic though it is listed in Wikipedia as Svitavy even though the film shows it as Brinnlitz.

But this blog entry is not about the film, it is about something more important, more manifest; this one is about human nature. The film shows the main protagonist as one who is kind at heart, but as I was watching the film, this question was coming up in my mind repeatedly, are human beings really so compassionate as to risk their lives, career, reputation and more for the sake of others? I mean, it is difficult for me to believe that humans can be so selfless. I am not a skeptic, I like to believe in human beings, in the inherent good qualities of human nature, I believe in believing in others till my faith is proven misplaced. I was not always this skeptical but recent events have made me into one.

What are those recent events that have changed my view? Good question, but the answer to which isn’t forthcoming. I am just expressing my thoughts. One may argue that not all human beings are such. Well, when the time comes we will know the true nature of every person and not always is the reconstructed picture rosy. One thing is for certain, I will never be the same person again, I have undergone a profound change, may not be for the best but I am hoping that I never have to go through such a harrowing experience again.

Uncompressing files

Install unrar command

Under Debian Linux, you need to type apt-get as follows to install unrar program:
# apt-get install unrar

If you are using Fedora core Linux then use yum command as follows (see discussion below):
# yum install unrar

If you are using FreeBSD, use:
# pkg_add -v -r unrar

If any of above, methods is not working for you, download binary package from official rarlab site:
$ cd /tmp
$ wget http://www.rarlab.com/rar/rarlinux-3.6.0.tar.gz

Untar file
$ tar -zxvf rarlinux-3.6.0.tar.gz

Both unrar and rar commands are located in rar sub-directory. Just go to rar directory:
$ cd rar
$ ./unrar

Now copy rar and unrar to /bin directory:
# cp rar unrar /bin

How to use unrar

unrar command supports various options below are common options that you need to use everyday.

Task: To open rar (unpack) file in current directory type command:

$ unrar e file.rar

Installing Applications from Compressed Files

i v just copied and pasted from another site and is for reference

This question comes up frequently on the Linux_Newbies list. There are various commands that work, so if you’ve heard something different, and it works well for you, then use it. There are variations of commands that one person, such as myself, uses more out of habit than anything else.

RPMS are packages compressed using the RedHat Package Manager (ergo, R P M). Both KDE and Gnome have graphic interfaces for installing RPMS, however, some folks seem to have difficulty using them and of course, one feels more like a Linux ace if they install via command line.

I am only going to cover the RPM, tar.gz tar.bz2 and tar.Z formats here. Slack and Debian have their own formats–for example, with Slack, you can use installpkg, but any distro will work with tar.Z, tar.gz and tar.bz2 files. (NOTE: Sometimes tar.gz files have the extension .tgz and tar.bz2 files may have the extension .tbz. This comes from the days when there were more limitations on file name length and calling something .tar.gz already used up 5 characters.)

RPMS are the simplest. First get your RPM, either by downloading it, or perhaps, by using the distro’s CD. For example, the RedHat 7.1 CD includes a variety of packages in a directory on both CDs named RedHat/RPMS.

Many packages have to be installed as root. So, if you get permission problems in trying to install something, simply log in as root to do so.

We’ll use openssh as an example. I don’t know the current version number off the top of my head, but let’s say it’s 2.7-9. If installing from CD, it’s easiest to first change your working directory to the RPMS directory–otherwise, you’ll have to type the full path, which, in RH 7.1 would be /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS/openssh-2.7-9. In the following example, we change to the RPM directory on the CD and install. (I’m assuming you’ve already mounted the cdrom–if not, the command

mount /dev/cdrom

usually works.

cd /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS
ls openssh*

(this will give you the version number and let you know if you might need or want other related packages such as openssh-clients)

rpm -Uvh openssh-2.7-9

You will then get a message that it’s preparing, and see hash marks as the package installs. At the end, hopefully you see a message that it’s installed.

The above rpm command is my habit. U means upgrade–this way, if I already have an earlier version of the package, it will be upgraded. If I don’t have the package on my system, then it will simply be installed. v is for verbose, to give me any messages that might be helpful during installation and h stands for hash marks, giving me a visual indication of progress. I find this combination works best for me.

tar.gz and tar.bz2 files are installed slightly differently. First, I’ll assume that you’ve cd’d over to the directory where the tarball is. Again we’ll use openssh-2.7-9 and assume we have a package called openssh-2.7-9.tar.gz.

tar ztf

will list the contents of the tarball. Now, we’ll decompress and untar it. Note that tar commands usually don’t require the – in front of the options. (This might vary with your version of tar.) That is, you can do tar -zxvf or tar zxvf and either one will work.

tar zxvf openssh-2.7-9.tar.gz

You’ll see various things happening on your screen as the tarball is unpacked and unzipped. (A quick note on this–if there is nothing else in the current directory named openssh then you could simply use tar xzvf openssh* and lazily avoid typing out the version number).

If you now do

ls

you’ll see that you still have openssh-2.7-9.tar.gz and a new directory called openssh-2.7-9. (The flags we added did the following: The z decompressed, or unzipped, if you prefer, the file, the x then extracted its various parts. The v is for verbose, helpful if there are errors and f is for file.) If you now cd to the new directory and do ls, you’ll see a variety of files in there. One of them will be called README. It will give directions of how to install the package. (It may simply direct you to read another file called INSTALL that is often included.) So, to view README

less README

From there, each package is different. A typical sequence of commands might be (but DO NOT try this one without reading the README as other packages have totally different commands)

./configure
make
make install
make clean

If the file is a tar.bz2 rather than tar.gz the process is almost the same. However, instead of typing tar -zxvf filename.tar.gzyou would type

tar -jxvf filename.bz2

From there, the rest of the process is identical to installing a .tar.gz as mentioned above, beginning with the step of cd’ing to the newly created directory.

With some distributions of Linux, they’re using different versions of bunzip2 and this won’t work. You will get a message that j is an unknown option. If this happens, then try again with y.

tar yxvf filename.bz2.

One of these should work, but if neither does then

bunzip2 filename.bz2 && tar -xvf filename.tar

The bunzip2 command decompresses the file. The && means that if the command completed successfully, then perform the following command which in this case is the tar -xvf. (As mentioned above, extract the various parts of the file, with the verbose and file options).

So, once again using our openssh tarball, it’d be

bunzip2 openssh-2.7.9.tar.bz2 && tar -xvf openssh-2.7.9.tar

Lastly, though they’re becoming less common, is one with a .tar.Z extension. In this case use

uncompress filename.tar.Z && tar -xvf filename.tar

Once again, you’ll have a new directory of the filename without the .tar.Z extension. CD to the new directory and follow the instructions given above.

Note that there are also non-tarred files that are simply compressed. If you have a file called file.bz2 and do tar -jxvf on the file you’ll get an error message that it’s an inappropriate file type or the like. If the file is called file.bz2 rather than file.tar.bz2 then just decompress it with the appropriate program. If it’s a .bz2 file then

bunzip2 file.bz2

If it’s a file.gz then substitute gunzip for bunzip2 and if it’s just a .Z then the command is uncompress file.Z

From time to time, you might have to open a Microsoft .zip format file. There are zip and unzip utilities. In FreeBSD they’re in /usr/ports/archivers/zip and /usr/ports/archivers/unzip. I think that they both install the other as a dependency, but I wouldn’t swear to that. Most Linux distributions also have these two utilities available.

Lastly, you might need to know how to collect and compress the files. Lets say you have a bunch of great bash scripts that you want to send your friend as a tarball. They’re all in a directory called bashscripts. Again, there are various ways to do it (and some that might be simpler than this) but, like everyone else, I have my habits. So, we’re in the directory that houses the directory bashscripts. You’re going to tar it into a file called scripts.tar and then compress that file into a tar.bz2 file. (I haven’t compressed into a tar.Z in a long time–most distros have bzip2 and gzip, so the following should work)

tar -cf scripts.tar bashscripts && bzip2 scripts.tar

(If your browser broke that, it should be on one line)
If you’d wanted to make a tar.gz file instead you would substitute gzip for bzip2.

tar -cf scripts.tar—this gives the name of the new file, which consists of the files that you tarred together. bashscripts is obviously all the files in the directory bashscripts. && means that if the command completes successfully, go on to the following command. bzip2 compresses the file (as does gzip). When you’re done, you’ll find that you have a new file called scripts.tar.bz2 ( or scripts.tar.gz)

The other way to do it, at least with most versions of tar (check the man page to see if it’s supported) is to compress it as you’re tarring it. This can be done with the j y or z option. In FreeBSD, at least, one has to put the j before the cf or it doesn’t work, for example

tar -jcf scripts.tar bashscripts

If you do it the first way, tar -cf scripts.tar && bzip2 scripts.tar the .bz2 suffix is appended to the filename, so you would automatically have a file called scripts.tar.bz2. If you do it the second way, with -jcf then the file will be called whatever you chose to call it—in this case, scripts.tar. Doing a file scripts.tar will show that it is a bzipped file. You can manually add the bz2 suffix or call the file that in the original command, e.g.

tar -jcf scripts.tar.bz2 bashscripts

(This can also work with the -z option.)

That’s all there is to it. This should get you started.

Be-title

Kuch dino se [shayad kaafi dino se] I have not written much or anything of consequence but today is a new day [or night should I say] and by a happy coincidence I was presented with food for thought by a bunch of bloggers themselves .

I am not what you would call a regular “Geeky” blogger and even though the things I do in my daily life are classified by most as geeky I hate to write anything technical. I mean to say that my blog is a reflection of my personality . It is very easy to form a mental picture of what a person is like by looking at his writings . The purpose of writing a blog is to be able to put your thoughts down in writing.

Power from salt

Read an scientific article today which promised that we could one day generate power from salt . Now thats something new … I mean how easy and simple would it become if we were to generate power from such a source . Reading this article I could not help but notice a parallel in history.

I believe power was generated from salt way earlier , real , manifested , coercive power which brought an entire government to its knees . This power was produced from salt , one of the basic needs of life , which was used as a weapon to subdue an entire populace . I am talking of the SALT SATYAGRAH of 1930 .