Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, May 12, 2006

'Auto' analysis of TN election results

It is out now. amma (j jayalalitha) is out and kalaignar (m karunanidhi) is back in. just as was predicted here.

Read here on why amma lost.

Since ’91, the 2 local heavyweights have taken alternate turns at the helm of the tn assembly.

Was on way back home this evening when I struck up this conversation with my auto driver (ad).

ad – did you vote?
csm – yes.
ad – for whom?
csm – lok paritran.
ad – duh?
csm – it is a new youth party...never mind, what about you?
ad – two leaves (aiadmk symbol)
csm – they lost…too bad!
ad – public is heartless and brainless?
csm – really...
ad – amma is such a great leader and has done so much good for the poor and public and see their response!
csm – hmm...kaliagnar has given lot of freebies. may be that worked
ad – let us see how he manages that, wont even give radio sets!
csm – he has the center to fund him, maybe, na
ad – the coalition will come apart in 2 months. they will not be able to last.
csm – you sure. maybe they have some plan.
ad – kalaignar is an old bandicoot, he wants to die in power!
csm – oh ok! (that’s a bit extreme)

such continues the conversation.

Just highlights the reach of politics among the local junta in tn. Through the day, I see small groups huddled in serious election analysis. Have been in mumbai during the elections and have never observed such debates. I think mumbai votes less that 50% in any election…poor by any standard.

So that’s how it all stacked up and this is my last blog on the election.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Open letter to Vijaykanth

Dear Mr Vijaykanth,

Congratulations on your personal victory from Virudhachalam and to your party’s special performance this the 2006 TN assembly elections. Getting 10% of the popular vote on your debut is something special and you should feel proud of this achievement. That it did not translate to seats should not deter you or your supporters. (Link to the party manifesto)

I write this letter with the specific objective of sharing my personal thoughts and unsolicited advice.

1. You did smart by going alone. Real smart.
2. If you want to stay clean and be refreshing, stay that way. Keep away from the other kazhagams (parties) and kootanis (coalitions).
3. You need to chart a unique course for your party to herald a new chapter in state politics. What we have seen time and again from the local parties is lot of junk and little progress.
4. Stay away from casteist and religious divisions of the population. It is a legacy of the british raj and someone needs to stay above partisan games.
5. Use next 5 years to build the cadre base, not just in numbers, but with depth with more focus on the latter. Even 10 strong youth leaders by your side is a good enough start.
6. Ensure that your supporters don’t get into this sycophantic trance and let them have their own self respect and dignity and a clear understanding of the party’s goals and objectives.
7. Be tuned to the grassroots. Make that the mantra of your party and your supporters.
8. Get to focus on basic food, shelter clothing issues in your area. If that is a non-issue, then understand what is the real need and then work towards them. Don’t foist your ideas and philosophies on the public.
9. Work closely with schools. By helping kids in school, you surely will be in the good books of the parents. Usually it is fail-safe strategy.

That’s as much I can pen down. Feel free to discard the above at your convenience!

Wishing you the best. Will keep watching out.

Best regards,

p.s.: - I did not vote for you this year.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rural and Urban kids

spent 3 hours at the thattampattu middle school in kanchipuram dist in TN today. it is around 3 hours or so from chennai.
really inner inner village school.

along with a local ngo partner, we have been supporting school improvement projects in coastal TN over the last 1.5 years.

the session was special science summer camp !! yes, no kidding, around 25 std 5-7 kids were in this hot steaming classroom talking and discussing science experiments...unreal mate...they were awesome. talking about air pressure and related topics with ease and understanding.

ok, lunch time break is approaching, a quiz is organised. 3 teams of 8 each. one from each team is called to conduct and explain an exepriement.

am intently watching the class. this girl is out in the middle and is explaining an expt.
entire class, around 24 pairs of eyes are fixed on her, not a single one out of focus. rapt attention even though the girl is somewhat making life difficult for herself. for more than 5 mins, almost the entire class stayed transfixed. i could hardly believe my eyes.

in my poke-nose style i did a KBC style -"lock kar doon" and a WWE linked joke. absolutely no takers !!

i recall an earlier experience over a year ago, when i had done a series of classes in another TN village and felt a similar feeling. kids really pay a helluva lot of attention.

coming to the titled matter, i share this with my local pal. i say, "in my mumbai classroom, in that same scenario, it would have become a riot-police situation" way the mumbai kids would be able to maintain that decorum and patience. he said exactly same about the chennai kids he teaches sometimes (i.e., riot police situation).
so what it is about rural kids that they have a google plus level of incremental discipline compared to urban kids:
1. rural parents are more civilised than those in urban slums
2. rural environments/spcieties are more civilised than in urban slums
3. alcoholism is less
4. less tv - no WWE/cable
5. more outdoor games and exposure
6. closer knit communities in villages than in urban slums.
7. more real teachers in village govt schools than in urban govt school.

now you know why i want to be a village headmaster (a la oliver goldsmith)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

TN Elections

Nice timing this time on my chennai visit. Smack during election time.

I have always waxed eloquent on the right and duty of every citizen to exercise their franchise and how by abstaining, they lose their privilege of fundamental rights !!

My home base being chennai and life around mumbai has made it a bit tough to keep my words over last 2 times TN went to polls (2001-02 assembly and 2004 lok sabha).

I voted for the first time in 1996 when the DMK swept to power after 5 years in the wilderness. I think I also voted for them that time under the oppression of an autocratic style of jayalalitha.

This time the elections have been an interesting playout across the country and especially in TN. Factors include
1. the ageing karunanidhi and the controversial successor battles
2. the mellowing of jayalalitha (she appears less megalomaniacal than before)
3. the tsunami of dec 2004
4. the coalition arrangements - complicated caste and other mathematics
5. captain vijayakanth's entry into the fray
6. the ugly approach to attract votes with mindless freebies (seriously the election commission should take note of this despicable trend)
7. the arrival of the new age party (Lok Paritran) of IIT/IIM/Harvards and what not

historically, since MGR's time, the power has swung back and forth bet the 2. So a safe bet at start without any of the fancy psephology would safely put the money on dmk coming back into power.

But curiously, that did not seem apparent at the early phases as jaya was above in the ratings. Explanations were karunanidhi's obsession with stalin as successor, jaya's impressive work during tsunami and flood relief and rehab, and general overall TN feel good.

As the campaign progressed, the swing was setting in favour of dmk. Attributed to karunanidhi's campaign, the freebies, and a little bit jaya fatigue (also I am told that dayanidhi maran was impressive in his campaign and gave DMK that edge in covering larger swathes of the state with quality orators).

Yesterday, I reached the voting booth at 703 AM. Was 12th in line to vote. Took less than 2 minutes to get it over and done with. Impressed with the management scale of the Election commission.

Am going with the new age politicos. Early stages in their evolution, but still they need the encouragement if they are there for the long haul.

Read the exit poll analysis here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

cooked in chennai

came last night to chennai for a week of intended r & r.

i have to admit that since the mid nineties, i have become increasingly alienated from my hometown. simply put, i missed the c-bomb (commercialisation/construction) that hit it and now i hardly recognise this place.
also in combination my sinking into the 'morass magnet' of mumbai.

my god, it is hot here (nothing compared to what north india is going thro). just sitting doing nothing is tiring enough. sweat is pouring down even in inaction.
running the 7 km in jan 2006 mumbai marathon was less exhausting !!

the state elections are on tomorrow and i will be voting after 10 years. if i had voting rights 10 years ago, am i giving away my age :-) who cares anyway...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

blogger goes nuts - bananas part 2

what in heavens name is going on.

read the last line in the earlier post (the banana one)..."wish it happened again..or not."
it did, in complete opposite fashion.

now rr1 (refer this link for expansion of acronyms) insides are on full frontal display to the world and rb is laughing guts (insides, guts...not pretty) out at the freakish change of power. even rr2 is now ogling at this turn of events, hiding under the safety of his insides being concealed still.

but seriously, why and what and all other interrogatives.
just when sanity seemed to have gotten restored, this hits us in the gut (and insides all over the place, blah blah).

my tech intelligence is veering towards out proxy server as the culprit. let me go investigate.

blogger goes bananas

dunno if this has happened to others, but went berserk today at work.

we operate out of a broadband internet access within our office network.
we have around 3 bloggers at office one who is religious at blogging and other 2 religious at reading other blogs.

after religious blogger blogged, through most part of the day all religious readers in the network were logged onto religious bloggers' site (signed in and not just reading). means religious readers (rr1 and rr2 henceforth) like myself had open access to religious bloggers' (rb henceforth) insides.
gosh, the feeling of power :-)

did temp files and cookies clearances, diddly squat it helped.
did all possible shut downs and restarts, but scope mate. rb's blog was split wide open.

wierd, utterly wierd...rr2 was commenting on the spiritual meaning behind this uncanny occurance...mate, thats wierder.

as it suddenly happened, it suddenly disappered. the dominatrix feeling evaporated...hence able to post this one here.

hope this happens again...or not.