Category Archives: People & Places

India and Privacy

If you think the NSA’s record on personal privacy is bad, I think the Indian government should raise your hackles. Everywhere I turn, I see erosion of privacy.

In the papers today the Vaishno Devi board proudly touts the fact that they’ll be implementing a system to create a database all pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It will include their photographs and personal data.

Additionally, police blame WhatsApp as the technology that allowed circulation of a video that they claim incited violence. I guess it’ll be monitored soon.

In addition, the government has been rolling out a Unique ID program, known as Aadhar. So, now in addition to your address proof, your id proof, and lord knows what else, you’ll need an Aadhar ID too. And the scary part is that despite the Aadhar program being labeled "optional"(voluntary), the government is proceeding with making it mandatory for various services.

Gas subsidy is now linked to Aadhar, among other services, despite the fact that the government has been notified by the courts that doing so is unconstitutional. However, such details don’t seem to bother the current government, and frankly, with the choices of political parties in India, and the general apathy, who cares?

India and Privacy

If you think the NSA’s record on personal privacy is bad, I think the Indian government should raise your hackles. Everywhere I turn, I see erosion of privacy.

In the papers today the Vaishno Devi board proudly touts the fact that they’ll be implementing a system to create a database all pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It will include their photographs and personal data.

Additionally, police blame WhatsApp as the technology that allowed circulation of a video that they claim incited violence. I guess it’ll be monitored soon.

In addition, the government has been rolling out a Unique ID program, known as Aadhar. So, now in addition to your address proof, your id proof, and lord knows what else, you’ll need an Aadhar ID too. And the scary part is that despite the Aadhar program being labeled "optional"(voluntary), the government is proceeding with making it mandatory for various services.

Gas subsidy is now linked to Aadhar, among other services, despite the fact that the government has been notified by the courts that doing so is unconstitutional. However, such details don’t seem to bother the current government, and frankly, with the choices of political parties in India, and the general apathy, who cares?

More madness as reported by Usha Ramanathan.

Two views of Tibet

A while ago I came across the “Inspector Shan” series by Eliot Pattison, and I found them amazing reads – even the ones which seemed to have poor reviews, I enjoyed very much. Like very few authors, Pattison has the awesome ability to bring his stories and characters to life, especially their inner struggles. His writing inspired me to read some more on Tibet and Buddhism. I found myself reading Karen Armstrong’s biography of the Buddha, and soon after a Project Gutenberg version of A. Henry Savage Landor’s “An Explorer’s Adventures in Tibet” which was an fantastic read too. However, I was taken by surprise by Savage’s contrary view of the Buddhist priesthood and the various functionaries of Tibet. Maybe I had confused Pattison’s fiction with the reality of Tibet, but all in all I think it’s been great learning about Buddhism and Tibet. As a bonus I learnt a good bit about Hinduism and the Vedic religion from Armstrong’s book.

Reem’s reflections and memories from June 8, 2012

June 8, 2012, Cairo, Egypt
random posts • They were cowards and I shall remain.

We all take to the streets in protest demanding freedom, dignity, and equality knowing and accepting the risks, including sexual violence. Being blessed with a healthy and rather sheltered upbringing and environment, the knowledge of the risk and acceptance of it does not prepare you for this, nothing does; this assault is by far the worst violation I ever experienced and I know it will take me some time to heal.

It took a mob maybe a hundred-harasser strong or more to physically overcome me, to scare me, to make me scream, it was not a fair fight; my body was violated and defiled – but they only scratched my shell, they did not break my core, I will not be victimized, and I am not broken.

They were cowards, and I shall remain, stronger.

Delhi heat setting in…

I see it as a bad sign when my computer decides to give up and shutdown with no notice. And I’m not surprised. It’s hot in Delhi. And muggy. Trying to move around here without a luxurious AC car is like – taking a hot shower on a hot day and feeling worse after. Have I conjured up a bad enough image yet? Well, I hear it’ll only get worse when the rains set in. Surprisingly, the weather in Jaipur was a lot better. Surprising, because I figured it’d be a lot worse in Rajasthan – but it wasn’t. The evenings, while warm, were still pleasant enough to walk around in. And the humidity was a lot lower.

In an attempt to adapt, I’ve found that chilled watermelon is a good cure, but always leaves me hungry for salt. So, my cure for that is a deliciously salty Lassi followed by some watermelon. Keeps me feeling great. But I think because of the AC, my body can’t decide if it’s summer or winter and I end up getting food pangs at odd hours of the day. I guess this is what happens when you refuse to feel the heat.

11/22/63

11/22/63 – Stephen King – Google Books

Sometimes, it’s really not the plot, but how you build up the story. Nothing could’ve driven the point home stronger than this book I’m reading. I’m somewhere halfway through this amazing read and perhaps the word I’m looking for is “drifting”. I’m drifting through this book. And by drifting I mean that perfect moment when you oversteer your ride, causing loss of traction, but not control. The Wikipedia article describes it amazingly well. To me it’s a zone. I get there sometimes when I’m reading, at others when I’m just sitting and thinking and one idea collides with another – an aha moment.

In this case, the book is a sheer pleasure to read, once you plow through the first couple of chapters. I don’t like the transport premise and I don’t like how Al keeps saying “buddy”. But that’s just the device King used – and who knows, by the end of the book, I might even eat those very words. For the half that I’ve just finished, I’d recommend the book heartily.

Insurance Convenience

And so, I’m beset by the woes of vehicle registration. This time I’ve got to go to Janakpuri because the number starts with DL 9. And in preparation the only document that needed work was the two wheeler insurance – a mercy! To get that I called an agent I knew last week and he blew me off.  I think I gave him a hard time for no fault of his own so he must’ve felt justified – but hey he lost on an easy deal this time. Next I tried looking online. From my previous researches, I was happy with TATA-AIG and ICICILOMBARD. I called up TATA-AIG since my wife’s car is registered with them. Please visit our office to get moving. No thanks, I’m a lazy guy and the previous insurance is still valid.

After that I called ICICI and after a 30 min call where they worked through the policy details I got a reasonable quote and signed up for it. We hit a small hitch when I found that I had only a debit card, so the agent directed me to the website and soon I had the payment form before me. I entered the debit card and netbanking details and ta da, my policy was ready. Took them a short while to send me the pdf copy of the policy – but hey, what’s two minutes inconvenience for a policy that’s delivered to your doorstep.

Next step is the visit to Janakpuri, tomorrow. Perhaps, with pictures too! And here’s a great John Mayer song that’s been stuck in my ear for a few days now:

John Mayer’s No Such Thing