Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vote For TV

Nope, Ila Arun is not coming up with a sequel of ‘vote for ghagara’ [Video]. “Vote for TV” - is what TDP’s manifesto has for just-around-the-corner election. As done in all the elections and as done by all parties, TDP promises goodies if it comes into power. TDP is promising color TV to lower and middle class families – aping what DMK did in Tamil Nadu. In addition to a color TV, it also promises to give Rs 2000, Rs 1500 and Rs 1000 per month to the poorest, poor and middle class families. The announcement of the manifesto enunciating the above freebies has around aroused a lot of ridicule among the intellectual section of the society. I, personally feel, that their apprehension is nothing but baseless. Let me address the concerns one by one:

First, Ethics – Proponent of ethics accuse TDP of buying votes.

In a nation where very few people actually go to vote, TDP’s offer would, at least, get a few more people to vote. TDP is just offering TV and cash. There are instances where underwear and soup were on offer! No power, no force, no freebies can get the masses to vote. The GenX is too busy in their virtual world to care about the real. TDP’s offer will only increase the number of people who actually vote.

Haven’t you ever promised your son a movie if he keeps his room clean for a week? Haven’t you promised your daughter an iPod if she gets 90% in her exams? Have never your parents promised you a bicycle if you passed in your exams? We don’t really think these as unethical. So then why do we consider TDPs asking for votes for freebies as unethical?

Second – Basic Necessity

A section of society believes that TV is not a ‘basic necessity’. Most people in India don’t even have roti, kapada aur makan (and also water, toilets, electricity, education – you don’t want me to continue, do you?). Now consider the following. An average Indian middle class family spends quite a lot of their time with TV. When Prince fell down in the well, we spend our whole day watching TV and praying that we never have such fate. When Ganesh idols ‘drank’ milk we, obviously, wanted to know which temple most people are rushing to which Ganesh idol is not drinking milk. We also wanted to know in real-time whereabouts of a commissioner’s lost-and-found dog. If you think these are on and off – then what about the one-day matches where the poor TV gets real hot at the end of the day after we have watched the highlights and the detailed analysis of the match we so religiously watched? If even this is not-so-frequent, then I’d have to say what I have been shying away from saying. Soaps Opera. Right from 7:30 pm one to the 11:00 o’clock one – we want to know what each of the super-women is doing in their lives. How about the 12:30 to 2:30 soaps in the afternoon? All these goes to prove that we spend quite a lot of our time with television – on an average about 30% of the time we are awaken. Doesn’t the ubiquitous TV, then, qualify as a basic necessity?

TDP’s freebies are a solution to a host of problems. Brief take on them below-

Recession – Ah, our favorite word! We must have read almost everything, which Google could crawl on, on it and also the forwarded jokes which reaches us before we could reach our mailbox in the morning. Yes. TDPs offer is actually a stimulus package in disguise. With thousands of lower/middle class people in AP, the demand for televisions would increase. So, the television manufacturers would need to hire more people to meet the surge in demand. The TV companies would also need to buy raw materials, etc. So, this would have avalanche impact or chain reaction and better the economy of AP and country as a whole. A lot of people who are laid off from the IT/finance companies would find jobs. This positive feedback mechanism would ultimately pull India out of recession. The problem with recession is the lack of demand and TDP is just addressing that.

The same principle applies to the Cash Transfer Scheme(CTS). One of the reasons (or effects?) of recession is lack of liquidity in market. CTS will inject cash into the market. The demands for cosmetics, clothes, cricket bats, coffee mugs, generators (as quite a few villages don’t have electricity to run TV), oil (to run the generators), fuses, plugs and wires would increase leading to the above positive feedback effect.

Quality of life – The quarrels in the family would decrease as the family would now watch TV rather than talk to each other. The lesser interaction among the family members would decrease the quarrels

Patriotism – Apart from the patriotic movies which are shown on 26th Jan and 15th Aug on TV, the CTS would also increase the patriotic quotient of India. With more cash in hand, the poor people can now buy “branded” liquor. This would increase the demand of liquor. And hence, liquor barons can buy the Father of Nation’s memorabilia!

Better prospects – As per Bittu (in Delhi-6) shows only like Indian Idol can offer opportunity to middle class girls to be successful. Do you know why Bittu didn’t include poor class? The reason is – they didn’t have a TV. Now the TDP provided TV would usher the doors of success to even the poor class

These benefits are just a tip of the iceberg. There are host of other benefits which TDP may have considered and which I, a stupid-common man, cannot understand.
considering TDP’s freebies as ridiculous is ridiculous.

- Think...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Live to die

If we all know that we are to die one day, then why do we live? This is a basic question which has its manifestations throughout the history of mankind where time and again we do things which comes back to us in the negative way. This reminds me of the negative-feedback systems I learnt in my undergraduate. I wondered, why on earth, do we have negative feedback system given the fact that it reduces the output. The answer mentioned in the standard text-books was that negative feedback gives stability to the system. It corrects the un-reined growth of the output. If positive feedback is given to the system, it starts oscillating with its output going out of bound. This same principle applies in a lot of contexts.

The concept of outsourcing is very old – though it was not known by that name. The East India Company for decades had not brought in English language with them. They had kept the language to themselves and hence kept all the higher-echelon-work with themselves. But, around 1828, with the Company’s finances looking bleak they resorted to, what is now a buzzword, cost cutting. They "outsourced" the government posts to Indians. To make the Indians capable of doing the job, they committed the biggest mistake – they brought in English education. The English language brought with it the access to English press. Indians became aware of European Nationalism, the protests the other colonies were doing and the scientific advancement. Apart from the tyranny, if there was any one thing which led the Indians to drive the British out of India, it was English. English, which the Company brought in for their own profit turned out to be their biggest enemy. BTW, are you thinking about English as a negative feedback?

The USA is said to have backed Al Queda as a means to counter Russia. In the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the USA provided support to the Afghan Mujahideens (Al Qaeda) through Pakistan’s Intelligence service to outdo Soviet in the Cold War. USA thus outsourced a part of its "Cold War Business" to the mujahideens. But little did the US knew that the same Al Qaeda, which it used against the Soviets, would carve one of the biggest “man-made” catastrophes in the USA.

The same principle goes for outsourcing. The western companies outsourced their work to India primarily because it was cheaper. However, the Indians (and other Asians) developed their skills to the extent they they started getting preferred. Their western counterparts fear loss of job to the same people they trained. A saying goes that westerner, in the mid 20th century used to tell their kids to eat their food else Indians would have it - Now they are telling their kids to do their homework else Indians would steal their jobs!

Nuclear weapons are another example. We are making nuclear weapons, basically, to defend ourselves from our "enemies". With these deadly weapons,we may be able to bargain our lives today but the same nuclear weapon are, sooner or later, going to kill. They are made to kill.

Doesn't the same go with Recession? As the companies compete to lay people off, more and more people's buying power decreases. So, the demand decreases which in-turn leads to further down size of companies. The vicious cycle,thus, continues. Companies lay people off to save cost today. This then becomes, as they say, a necessary evil.

Meri billi mujh se hi miyao miyao
Ulta Chor Kotwaal ko daante

These are a few proverbs which come to my mind right now. If your “billi” is going to mew against you then why have a billi? In some cases it’s necessary evil and in other cases it can be avoided. The Britishers could not but outsource their work to Indians if they had to maintain their hold on India. If they wouldn’t have taught Indians English, they would have had to quit a century too earlier. Similarly, if the Western companies wouldn’t have outsourced they wouldn’t have attained the kind of productivity they did. In these cases, “outsourcing” was a necessity. But was it also a necessity in other cases? I don’t think so – nor do I think, the proponents would have thought that it would take such a shape. However, there are certain things you know are going to come back to you – but still you do it. This is negative feedback - sometimes it becomes so large as to stall the system, sometimes it brings balance to it.

Do we, then, live to die? Did the British bring in English education to get driven out of India and be jobless a century later? Did the US fund the Al Qaeda to get hit where it hurts the most? I ask again, do we, then, live to die?

- Think ...

PS: I know there are tons of other ways to explain the above. I have chosen this one to draw parallels

  © Blogger template 'A Click Apart' by 2008

Back to TOP