Prophetic I Am

January 9, 2008

Three days after I write about Star Dial Karein, the concept actually makes it into real life:

The Indian subsidiary of Endemol Group, the creator of programmes such as Big Brother and Fear Factor, is introducing Call TV.

Under this, viewers will end up paying for the entire cost of production and airing through paying for participating in quizzes, game shows and prize shows, through phone calls or SMS text messages. Such calls and messages cost significantly more than normal messages and calls, thus generating significant revenues for the producer and broadcaster.

“We plan to launch the Call TV format in India soon,” says Marco Bassetti, chief operating officer, Endemol Group. “Such shows will be of immense interest to broadcasters because they don’t have to pay for the content, yet they generate revenue out of it. Call TV is going to be big area for us in the coming years.”

 Endemol already has several Call TV shows outside India, including Participation TV in Holland, where viewers pay for interacting with the channel and funded nearly 15 hours of programming each day. Endemol claims Participation TV generates around 100,000 call minutes a day.


Rakhi Sawant, however, has not commented on this yet.

The Meaning of Socialism

January 9, 2008

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’


The Supreme Court has rejected Good Governance Foundation India’s petition to have the word ‘socialist’ struck out of the preamble of the Indian Constitution. This is because the word socialism does not actually have a fixed meaning, and can be interpreted any which way:

Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, who headed the three-judge bench, observed: “Why do you take socialism in a narrow sense defined by communists? In broader sense, it means welfare measures for the citizens. It is a facet of democracy.”


“It hasn’t got any definite meaning. It gets different meanings in different times,” PTI quoted the the Bench, as saying.


The vital question now is – does this whole different meaning in different times thing apply to the other words in the preamble – democratic, secular, and sovereign – as well?

If these words don’t have any definite meaning either, that’s good news for me. I can go ahead with my plan to create a one-Brahmin-five-votes imperial republic where Saivism is the official religion, and it’ll still be in accordance with the current Constitution. No need to expend effort writing a new one.

More Fuel on the Mommyblog Fire

January 8, 2008

Two points:

First, Falstaff is a cheap guy. He talks about Coase and childfree-airline tickets without referencing me.

Second, a more important point about mommyblogs in general.

I’ve been discussing this point with junta, and the consensus seems to be that kids will become irritating when they are given too much attention. The more attention a kid gets from its parents, the more it thinks of itself. It becomes spoilt, throws tantrums, and eventually the Kansa Society has to be called in.

This is also probably the reason why kids in Delhi and Chennai are the worst behaved. They’re brought up in environments full of doting female relatives. Jobless doting female relatives, who do nothing but stay at home. In the case of Chennai, because they actually are unemployed, and in the case of Delhi, because employment for Delhi women usually means fraud stay-at-home stuff like garment designing. With non-stop attention lavished upon it, the kid becomes a monster. While in Bombay, both the parents are off at work, the kid has to fend for itself, and grows up a clean and sober Goregaon type personality, with excellent social skills, and a bindaas attitude. In my months in Bombay, I saw Gujew aunties abusing Landmark for stocking books. I saw people expectorating with enthusiasm. I saw Jain monks in a fistfight. But I never saw kids throwing tantrums.

I have seen this with my own nephews and nieces also. The one who curls up with a Roald Dahl and generally doesn’t talk is the one whose parents are a doctor and a physiotherapist, and who therefore hardly see him. On the other hand, the Nephew Who Bites has lived his entire life with a stay-at-home mother, a stay-at-home grandmother, a drop-in-practically-ceaselessly grandmother, and a father who is an ameer-baap-ki-bigdi-aulaad, and so doesn’t need to work. Between these extremes, I have a soft-spoken and well-behaved niece whose parents run the nine-to-five gamut. And where I’m concerned, Ma and Papa used to just leave me alone and whack me every once in a while, and I am now a model of manners, rectitude, decency and sobriety. So much so, that people refuse to believe that I’m Punjabi.

Anyway, the point of all this is that a surplus of attention turns kids into monsters, fit only for slaughter by the Kansa Society.

And when it comes to giving kids too much attention, mommyblogging is the pinnacle. Think about it. You devote an entire blog to the kid, and nothing but the kid. And while in the normal course of things, the kid forgets the attention it gets as an infant, here the attention is public, archived, and up to be accessed at will. The Little Emperor generation created by the Chinese one-child policy will be as nothing compared to the generation created by mommyblogging. Legions of spoilt brats will stalk the nation, thinking too much of themselves.

Mommybloggers have a lot to answer for.

Meme too

January 7, 2008

Chandru tags me with a meme:

All you have to do is select and upload one photo that you have clicked this year that is special to you. Could be anything…aesthetic, technical or personal. Also, put in a short note why it is special.

Right. Photo(s) below the jump, then:

Read the rest of this entry »

2008 in Preview

January 6, 2008

Once again, I have decided to follow in Vindi‘s footsteps, and make my look ahead at the year to come an annual tradition. Here it is:

January:The Danish band Legödeâth inserts heavy-metal umlauts into its name. Band frontsman Nils explains with a Goth poem: ‘For too long/ sterile letters/ now we add/ pointless symbols/ like all religion/ bringing us closer/ to Sweet Mother Death.’ Rahul Raguram blogs excitedly about the implications for this on the hitherto neglected genre of Scandinavian circumflex death metal.
The Indian cricket team is humiliated in Australia. The BCCI sacks Gary Kirsten and announces it will search for a better coach.
Laloo Prasad Yadav announces the Railway Ministry’s intention of getting railways stations modernised by private players. P Sainath abuses him for talking about railway stations modernised when farmers are dying in Vidarbha.
George Lucas holds a press conference where he announces that Obi-Wan Kenobi is gay. When astonished reporters ask him why he is revealing this now, he shrugs and says ‘It worked for JK Rowling.’.
Star TV announces that it will launch a new channel called Star Dial Karein that will show nothing but SMS-voting reality shows. Rakhi Sawant alleges that the voting procedures on the new channel are rigged.
The Department of Telecom decides to award spectrum on a rotational basis, with spectrum going to CDMA operators for three months of the year, GSM operators for another three months, new entrants for another three, and to local cable operators for the remaining.
It now takes cars in Bangalore one hour to travel down M G Road from Trinity Circle to Anil Kumble Circle. Shashi Tharoor writes an article on how autorickshaws clogging Bangalore traffic represents a triumph of Indian democracy.


The BCCI invites Steve Bucknor to coach the Indian team. Bucknor shakes his head. The BCCI starts hunting again.
Three new books which are fictionalised accounts of corporate life by B-School alumni are published. All retail for Rs. 150 or less. Rakhi Sawant alleges that the prices of these books are rigged.
Anbumani Ramadoss claims that Lėgodeâth has inserted heavy metal umlauts into their name because they are opposed to the lower castes. He responds by sacking the AIIMS director.
The Wachowski brothers hold a press conference in which they announce that Morpheus is gay.
Wasim Khan of Bombay files a case against the RBI under section 295A as offering interest on CRR and SLR deposits hurts the religious sentiments of Muslims.
The Department of Telecom decides to award spectrum only to new telecom operators. All telecom companies rush to set up new brands.
Baba Ramdev submits a bid to modernise the Allahbad railway station, with yoga halls in the terminals. The Communist parties threaten to withdraw support to the UPA government.
Pankaj Mishra writes an article on how modernised railway terminals are not authentically Indian.


Jignesh Shah of Ahmedabad files a complaint against Italy for insulting the national flag as the Italian flag is the Indian flag shown without the Ashoka Chakra. In the ensuing violence, all restaurants in Gujewland which serve pizza are burnt down.
The technical bids for the modernisation for New Delhi Railway Station are submitted. The Communist parties warn the UPA government that they cannot take their support for granted and that the bids should not be opened. Rakhi Sawant announces that the bidding process for railway station modernisation is rigged.
Five new sub-Rs. 150 books by B-School alumni are published. Star Dial Karein starts a show devoted to voting for the best such book.
Vijay Mallya says that he will buy the Blackburn Rovers and rename it Team India.
Outlook Magazine runs a cover story on how Chennai is a conservative city and demeans young people. It is angrily criticised on Chennai Metblogs. Chennai Metblogs then attracts fifty commentors complaining that Chennai is not conservative enough.
Quentin Tarantino holds a press conference in which he announces that Pai Mei was gay.
The BCCI invites Javed Miandad to coach the Indian cricket team. Miandad refuses.
The CBSE board exams begin. Shashi Tharoor writes an article on how for every statement that can be marked wrong by the CBSE, the opposite statement can also be marked wrong.


The travel time from Trinity Circle to Anil Kumble Circle is now longer than the time taken to cross from Andheri East to Andheri West. Bombayites are angry that their claim to having the worst traffic jam in India is displaced.
The Department of Telecom announces that spectrum will be awarded to telecom companies in order of their market capitalisation. Telecom companies rush to file follow-on public offers.
Satyanath Prakash Tripathi files a case against the students of Tiny Tots preschool for insulting the national flag by not drawing it in proportion.
Simon Tolkien holds a press conference in which he announces that Gandalf was gay.
Prakash Karat says that the Communist parties will not withdraw support to the government, but that the UPA must listen to their concerns on railway station modernisation. He warns of unspeakable consequences if the government proceeds with financial bids.
Musharraf declares a state of emergency in Pakistan again. The US Presidential Candidates all criticise this. Later on it turns out that they think Musharraf is the President of Burma.
The Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli finally starts operations. The passengers who land here discover that there is no road to the city itself. They catch onwards flights to Mangalore and take a Volvo bus from there.
The BCCI invites Saurav Ganguly to coach the Indian team, which will also accomplish the prime objective of getting him out of the team. Ganguly refuses. The BCCI keeps looking.
The annual result season starts. Corporate profit growth has slowed. Pankaj Mishra writes on how this reflects the dangers of moving away from Nehruvian economics and a society led by intellectuals.


The DoT announces that it will allocate spectrum on the basis of telecom companies’ CEOs’ Class XII CBSE marks.
Jasbir Singh Bagga of Malout files a case under Section 295A against Navjot Singh Sidhu for hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs by acting like a stereotypical sardar.
After pressure from Bush, Musharraf lifts the state of Emergency. Nobody in India is aware of this because the 24 hour news channels are doing nothing but talking about Delhi University admissions.
Stan Lee holds a press conference in which he announces that Professor Charles Xavier is gay.
The Communist parties agree to let the UPA government invite financial bids for railway station modernisation, provided that these are rejected.
Baba Ramdev speaks out against mommyblogging, as it is against Indian culture. He advocates doing yoga instead of writing about your babies online.
Shivraj Patil insists that there is no way the Home Ministry can act on intelligence reports about possible terrorist threats. P Sainath abuses Patil for talking about terrorism when farmers are dying in Vidarbha.
The BCCI invites Subhash Chandra to coach the Indian cricket team, with the hope that this will lead to the Indian Cricket League being shut down. However Subhash Chandra refuses. The BCCI hunts on valiantly.
The Meteorological Office forecasts a normal monsoon. Rakhi Sawant alleges that the Met Office’s climate model is rigged.
ICICI Bank gets into trouble for sending hijras to collect money from defaulters. Shashi Tharoor writes an article bemoaning the fact that only hijras wear saris any more.


The monsoon does not match the Met Office forecasts. Al Gore blames this on global warming.
The BCCI asks Napoleon Einstein to coach the Indian team. Einstein refuses, citing the example of the other Einstein who refused to become President of Israel.
The price of crude oil hits $150 a barrel. It is discovered that this is because it takes two full tanks of petrol to get from Trinity Circle to Anil Kumble Circle.
Bombay is flooded yet again. The Times of India publishes a forty-eight page special edition explaining how the fact that it still runs the presses symbolises the spirit of Bombay. Simultaneously, Outlook magazine runs a cover story on how Bambaiyya Hindi is vulgar and not a real language. It is angrily criticised by Bombay bloggers for attacking Bombay when the city is down.
Sheila Dixit announces a plan to have a flyover over every traffic intersection in Delhi before the Commonwealth Games begin. Star Dial Karein launches a show in which people can vote for the flyover they think will be completed first.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar holds a press conference in which he tries to reassure everyone that religion is contemporary and relevant by announcing that Dronacharya was gay.
Manmohan Singh announces that poor Muslims should have the first share of national resources, and so the financial bids for railway station modernisation should be opened by a committee of Muslims. The Communist parties warn the government that they should not form the committee without the consent of parliament.
The Karnataka Legislative Assembly is elected and is hung again. Nandan Nilekani says that he hopes President’s Rule will lead to better infrastructure for Karnataka. U R Ananthamurthy files a complaint against Nilekani for disrespecting the national anthem by not singing it when talking about the President.
The Department of Telecom announces that it will allocate spectrum to cellphone operators based on the total volume of calls from the ICICI Bank Personal Loans telesales team received on their network. Pankaj Mishra writes an article in which he criticises equating modernity with personal loans.


Legødėath announces plans to record a concept album about cheese. Rahul Raguram goes orgasmic about the creation of the new genre of Scandinavian Operatic Gouda Goth.
Verghese Kurien accuses Legødėath of trying to sabotage the dairy co-operative movement by violating the GCMMF’s trademark rights. He gives interviews to anyone who will listen. These interviews are ignored by everyone except Rediff messageboard commentors, who complain about the Government of India refusing to acknowledge Kurien’s greatness.
Vijay Mallya announces that to commemorate the Bombay floods, Whyte and Mackay will distill a new whiskey called The Spirit of Bombay. Hiten Gandhi of Kandivili immediately files a case under Section 295A against Mallya for hurting the religious sentiments of teetotal Mumbaikars.
The Department of Telecom announces that it will allocate spectrum to cellphone operators in proportion to the number of landlines they run. Spice and Vodafone give up in life.
Not to be outdone by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Pope holds a press conference in which he announces that St. Peter was gay.
Sonia Gandhi gives a speech in which she calls people who oppose railway station modernisation the enemies of progress. Brinda Karat says that this speech violates the principles of modern democracy.
The road from Devanahalli Airport to Bangalore city is finally completed. It gets washed away after two days of heavy downpour.
After ‘I Bought the Monk’s Ferrari’, Ravi Subramanian goes for gold by writing ‘Nine point someone at God’s KPO unit’. Shashi Tharoor reviews it, and praises it, as bad writing about corporate life is a testament to both the democratisation of Indian literature as also  showcasing modern India’s achievements.


Vasu Seth of Chennai accuses Dr. Naveen Jayakumar of disrespecting the national anthem by not playing it during the Landmark Quiz.
The rupee collapses to 35 against the dollar. P Chidambaram reassures exporters that they will continue to get sops. P Sainath abuses Chidambaram for talking about the value of the rupee when farmers are dying in Vidarbha.
The railway ministry finally opens the financial bids for railway station modernisation. The Communist Parties warn the nation that going ahead with this plan will spell doom for the Railways’ independent business strategy.
A cyclone inundates Bangladesh. This is not as bad as it sounds, as all the Bangladeshis are in West Bengal anyway.
Tata’s one lakh rupee car finally goes on full-fledged sale after years of hype and concept displays.  It sells well everywhere except Bangalore, where the MG Road traffic jam has spilled over into the city to an extent where it is no longer possible to drive cars out of the showroom.
The BCCI invites Ratan Tata to become the Indian coach in a last bid effort. Ratan Tata refuses.
Star Dial Karein comes up with a recursive concept, and invites viewers to vote for which voting-based reality show they want to keep voting for. It flops, because none of the cellphone operators have enough spectrum to allow the smooth sending of SMSs.
Faced with the rising popularity of Star Dial Karein, religious TV channels also adopt the SMS route. Baba Ramdev allows viewers to vote for yoga demonstrations through SMS.
Pankaj Mishra writes an article on how only articles by intellectuals are authentically Indian, while SMS is unsuited to the Indian milieu.


Łegoděaŧh releases their cheese concept album, Moũld. Rahul Raguram praises them for coming up with a big hunk of cheesy goodness. The album screams up the charts. Rakhi Sawant alleges that the sales of the album are rigged.
Vijay Mallya announces his intention to come up with a Samvat calendar version of the Kingfisher swimsuit calendar. Sunil Mukhopadhyay of Burdwan files a case against him under section 295A for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Baba Ramdev speaks out against modern retail, as it is against Indian culture. He advocates doing yoga instead of shopping in air-conditioned buildings.
Outlook magazine runs a cover story on the levels of dowry for IIT engineers. Nobody protests, because nobody at IIT reads Outlook anyway.
The railway ministry announces the final shortlist of bidders. The Communist parties demand a combined sitting of the house to debate this.
The DoT decides to allocate spectrum on the basis of outgoing SMSs sent to Star Dial Karein. P Sainath abuses A Raja for talking about spectrum when farmers are dying in Vidarbha.
Shashi Tharoor writes an article lamenting that Teacher’s Day is the only opportunity girls across India will ever get to wear sarees.


The summer placement season at IIM campuses begins. Despite the subprime meltdown, internship stipends still hit new highs. However, Rakhi Sawant alleges that the placement process is rigged.
The railway ministry signs MoUs with the winning bidders. The Communist parties call for a nationwide bandh. This is opposed by Baba Ramdev, who says that bandhs are against Indian culture. He advocates doing yoga and opening up the body’s passages instead.
The BCCI invites Jose Mourinho to coach the Indian cricket team, on the grounds that any coach from any sport will be acceptable at this point. Tragically he refuses.
The DoT suggests awarding spectrum on the basis of the proportion of postpaid subscribers. Telecom company CEOs take up yoga under Baba Ramdev to cope.
Vasu Seth of Chennai now hauls IITM up for insulting the national flag by showing the tricolour as splashes instead of in proportion during the IITM Open Quiz.
Pankaj Mishra warns against accepting quizzing as a sign of modernity.


The summer placement process at IIM Bangalore finishes a month after all the other IIMs. This is because the recruiters were stuck in traffic.
Interact Club members from all of Delhi’s schools go around persuading people not to burst firecrackers at Diwali and getting pledges signed. The members then go home and burst ten thousand rupees’ worth of crackers each. Delhi Met Office figures show that pollution has risen threefold in one week. Baba Ramdev suggests doing yoga to cope.
Work on railway station modernisation begins. The communist parties hold demonstrations at all major train stations. They successfully disrupt railway traffic everywhere, except at  Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where the few communists in Bombay are trampled underfoot once commuters from the 9.47 fast get off the train. Noam Chomsky writes a letter to them, urging them not to lose heart, and reminding them that maintaining status quo in Indian railway terminals is vital in order to prevent the US invading Iran. The Hindu prints this letter on the front page.
Ramesh Sippy holds a press conference where he announces that Thakur in Sholay was gay.
The US Presidential elections are conducted and Obama wins a landslide victory. People all across the world are disappointed for two reasons: they were looking forward to recount-related entertainment again, and because they are now denied the opportunity to see Chuck Norris in the US cabinet. Leģŏdeǻtĥ sums up Rahul Raguram’s disappointment with the following Goth poem: ‘So much effort/ one small fact/ up to the top ten/ now never to see/ Chuck Norris/ as Secretary of Defense/ roundhouse kicking/ Iran in the face/ all is despair/ embrace me now/ Sweet Mother Death.’
The BCCI invites Vijay Mallya to coach the Indian cricket team. He declines, claiming pressing responsibilities, but suggests Deepika Padukone’s name. To everyone’s great disappointment, the BCCI does not agree to this.
The DoT proposes allotting spectrum to companies on the basis of the votes they receive on Star Dial Karein.
Shashi Tharoor writes that Deepika Padukone coaching the Indian team in a saree would have represented the coming together of tradition and modernity in a way that typified the triumph of Indian democracy.


The Department of Telecom finally agrees to auction spectrum. The Communist parties promptly protest and warn the UPA government that it should not continue on this track. Rakhi Sawant alleges that the auction process is rigged.
The BCCI asks Baba Ramdev to become the Indian coach. Baba Ramdev accepts, and puts the team on a regimen of yoga. Sharad Pawar subsequently holds a press conference where he announces that Baba Ramdev is gay.
The Government of Karnataka decides to solve the MG Road traffic crisis by asking the engineers of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to take over the Bangalore Metro construction.
Anthony da Costa of Silvassa files a case under Section 295A against the national flag, as a flag with saffron and green elevates the religious feeling of Hindus and Muslims, and so hurts the religious sentiments of Christians. Simultaneously, PGSVK Reddy of Vijaywada files a case against Anthony da Costa for disrespecting the flag.
P Sainath abuses Ŀēģőđěǽťĥ for releasing chart-topping metal albums when farmers are dying in Vidarbha.
Pankaj Mishra writes an article on how Shashi Tharoor is a true intellectual. Shashi Tharoor writes an article on how Pankaj Mishra represents the triumph of Indian democracy, and requests him to start wearing sarees.
Ŀēģőđěǽťĥ wishes everyone a happy new year.