Posts filed under ‘BoP’

Street Food Taste Secret Ingredient = Street

Please ignore for uno momento why millions of dollars of taxpayers money worldwide is going into studies that show that the true taste of food comes from a combination of how it smells, looks, sounds and finally, environment – believe it. No wonder then idiotic cooking courses, useless cookery shows and silly cooking competitions place a lot of onus on the presentation/garnishing and restaurants focus on ambience and the “experience” rather than the food itself. For example, there are morons in Canada who eat in total darkness to enhance the smells and sounds and taste. Then there are these morons in USA who eat in complete silence. Yet another morons in Germany who cook meals chromatically i.e. based on colour. Here we are as a species struggling to put even basic food on the plates of all humans, struggling to scrape funding for space travel etc. and here are people who are spending their entire lives obsessed with food. If only all these researchers who made such bad life decisions and funding bodies who made such bad financial decisions could have heard a quip by one Sadhana Vishnu Vardhan on 23rd April of some year outside the canteen of NIT-Warangal – “… canteen food taste is because of the canteen …” How true and words to live or rather to keep up with food analogy, “eat” by –

In other words, the secret ingredient for the taste is the street – the pollution, the filth, the dirt, the particulates, the gutter, the parasites, the flies, the stagnation, the germs, the stench, the putridicity et al. – don’t let the ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ motto of no secret ingredient in secret noodle soups and blank dragon scrolls fool you with its epiphany.

[add – 20141029] The full sketch on CWorks –

3 July, 2014 at 15:32 1 comment

Consequences of Selling Votes – Rotten Rut

Now that the Lok-Sabha elections are underway, here is a message from a psuedo-sponsor, I-Am-Aam, that there are consquences to selling votes. So, please do us all a favour, and more importantly, do yourselves a big favour and do not sell your votes for it could not only lead to metaphorical death of integrity but also an undignified cruel physical death by bills, taxes, poverty, starvation, garbage, disease etc. –
You have been told nicely and have been warned. Full story here at CWorks.

8 April, 2014 at 15:43 Leave a comment

Call for Rise of Nation of Inner-AAMs

Whenever it passes muster that I doodle, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India mention the iconic so-called Common-Man character of R.K.Laxman to which Wikipedia has the following to say:

The Common-Man is the creation of author and cartoonist R. K. Laxman. For over a half century, the Common-Man has represented hopes, aspirations, troubles and perhaps even foibles of the average Indian, through a daily comic strip, “You Said It” in The Times of India. The comic was started in 1951.

When Laxman began to draw cartoons in The Times of India, he attempted to represent different states and cultures in India. In the rush to meet deadlines, he began to draw fewer and fewer background characters, until finally he found only one remaining – the now-familiar Common-Man who generally acts as a silent witness to all the action in the comic.

Being the contrarian that I am, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India is taken aback and fall from their smugness cloud when I reveal that I really do not like the so-called Common-Man character and that while I have no reason to disrespect Laxman as a person and even admire him for his art and drawings, I do not actually respect Laxman as an author and cartoonist for he has pissed on a great opportunity and platform. Rather than inspire people by making the recurring character an agent of change, he played his part, however miniscule, making the character hapless and clueless and in so doing, conditioned people to be suffering bovines happily quipping “arre bhai, India mein aisa hi hotha hai” with an annoying and lazy “chalta hai yaar” attitude. Before everybody in India or those with roots to India thinks that this is just my opinion, Laxman has on record parroted the same thing, “The Common-Man symbolises the mute millions of India, or perhaps the whole world, a silent spectator of marching time.”
Now one could say that maybe I am looking too much into some imagery. Could be but iconography is a powerful thing which is seldom acknowledged. Discussing imagery as iconography implies a critical “reading” of imagery that often attempts to explore social and cultural values. Allow me to make an observation. If we study imagery of icons – fictional or real – we can immediately see some patterns. For the sake of simplicity, if we just compare non-religious icons of USA and India, the noticeable icons and paragons of the Western world have been superheroes fighting evil and preserving the American way of life while the icon worthy of mention in India is arguably Common-Man who is a speechless village idiot whose inaction has created a rotting, stinking, corrupt, poor, sickening, diseased, infested, horrible, broken, polluted, communal, violent, uneducated… catch the wave, stench of an excuse of a country called India. Let this vomit throw up in your mouth and sink in.
A wise man once said to me that how we want to be treated by others is dependant on us and our actions and not the largesse and manners of others. I for one feel that the Common-Man has an Inner-AAM (Angry And Mad) that is just wanting to explode and do something about the cacophony around him. Since Laxman will continue to draw the Common-Man as a damsel in distress and sell books, give speeches, get honoured etc. by the bucketload while at it, I am taking the artistic liberty of bursting the bubble and bringing out the Inner-AAM of demure character and fight the evils, worms, leeches, maggots… get the drift, of politicians, businesses, terrorism, policegiri, supersitions, rowdyism et al. in the hope it will inspire others, yes, all of you and you, the 2 readers of this blog who could very well fall under the common-man definition or an attempt towards a definition by Udit Misra, to fight –

Now, by associating myself with I Am Aam (a seller of t-shirts with a twist), I have brought out my Inner-AAM and have joined the fight to do my bit in the way I can by immortalizing the travails and adventures of Inner-AAMs across the length and breadth of India inspired by true stories. I understand that the suspense might be killing you and you want to see what it will be like and when you can see it but the key question, and perhaps the only question that should matter is, are you in? Are you going to bring out your Inner-AAM and join the fight? We’re all waiting!

P.S: Please go here at CWorks for the full-comic

27 February, 2014 at 19:26 Leave a comment

Real Truth Behind Arab Spring – Dissected

Finally, someone did some true work and dissected the phenomenon of the so-called “Arab Spring”. Here is Hernando de Soto Polar (President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy at Lima in Peru, and author of ‘The Mystery of Capital’) op-ed piece in Deccan Chronicle today by arrangement with the Spectator – The real truth behind the Arab Spring | Deccan Chronicle

Effectively, it boils down to just one thing – the uprising is not for democracy nor liberty nor rights but the fundamental human need to make a decent living without interference of corruption – something that even the developed world with its free-slinging yeehaw free-market and capitalism guns in their holsters and tanks cannot deliver to people without old-money and influence.

I suppose sad sods collectively called humanity could not care less about the type of government or religion or police or any other entity that affects their daily life as long as they can simply go about making a living without getting too much hassled along the way. If a dictator or puppet-president can ensure this, people will welcomingly tolerate it but even when a democratically elected government with fair voting (if there is indeed such a thing) does not deliver on this basic amenity, people will revolt. As simple as clean water – scratch that, clean water apparently is hard to get for billions of people. As simple as clean air – scratch that, clean air apparently is hard to get for billions of people. As simple as clean earth – scratch that… you get the drift. Just about anything is complicated if it is not handed down.

Now it leaves the small question why people in other parts of developing world like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. where they have it much worse than Arabia do not revolt. Elementary my dear websons, these are not people but sheeple who have given up all hope and merely exist and survive. Sorry to digress.

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13 July, 2013 at 14:28 Leave a comment

India Immune to Inflation, Corruption, Exploitation

A Trak colleague/fan Viral Dholakia asked me to do something on the topic of inflation, particularly based on his, “Have Indians Become Immune to Inflation?” post to which my simple answer is a resounding YES. I however majorly disagree with the reasons cited in the article like supply-demand, economic growth, jobs and spending ability etc. because I think major reason is that of sheer helplessness. Munch on it or apply Occams Razor or whatever. You go to the market to buy some stuff and see some random price for it. What can you do other than curse for a little bit and buy it anyway? What other option is there? Ditto with other ills of corruption, brutality, exploitation et al. You are a psycho if you like them. So, we put up with it because there is absolutely nothing you can do. But we sure can enjoy the pain…

This is inspired from many a movie where the hero can endure any punishment meted out by villains while pouting testesterone charged dialogues for the masses and particularly, a skit/scene in the ‘Monty Python Flying Circus’ film, “Life of Brian” where Brian gets arrested and is put in a dark battered cell with a pain immunized hedonistic-for-torture prisoner singing praises of the Romans. Here is a transcript of the dialogue converted into a monologue for your reading pleasure –

You lucky, lucky bastard! Probably the little jailies’ pet, aren’t we? You must have slipt him a few shekels, eh? Oh, ohoh, what wouldn’t I give to be spat at in the face? I sometimes hang awake at night, dreaming of being spat at in the face. Manacles! Ohuuhoh… what idea of reaving; is to be allowed to put in manacles, just for a few hours. They must think a sun shines out your arse, sonny! You’ve had a hard time!? I’ve been here five years, they only hung me the right way up yesterday! So don’t you come ’round… They must think you’re lord God Almighty. Oh, you’ll probably get away with crucifixion. Yeah. First offense. Best thing the Romans ever did for us. Oh, yeah. If we didn’t have crucifixion, this country’d be in a right bloody mess. Nail ’em up I say! Nail some sense into ’em! Hah! Ptui! [Spit] Oh! Look at that! Bloody favouritism! Now take my case. They hang me up here five years ago. Every night they take me down for twenty minutes, then they hang me up again. Which I guard as very fair, in view of what I’ve done. And if nothing else, it has taught me to respect the Romans, and it has taught me that you’ll never get anywhere in this life, unless you are prepared to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s… Oh haha! Nice one, centurion! Like it. Terrific race, Romans! Terrific.

Yep! Terrific politicans, businessmen and police we have too. Truly blessed.

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    2 September, 2010 at 01:49 5 comments

    Joy of Giving – Ample Supply of Goodness – Banyan

    Vandana Gopikumar (founder of Banyan, an organization that helps those in need) in the Jade Magazine of Nov’09 has this to say about the joy of giving…

    Though there is a lot of suffering, there are also a large number of people and institutes and corporates doing their best to alleviate it. Goodness is not in short supply. Buddha said this in his sermon on charity, “Hard it is to understand: by giving away our food, we get more strength; by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty; by donating abodes of purity and truth, we gain greate treasures; give till it hurts.” Most other religions and prophets have preached the same. In a country such as India where more than half of the population lives on less than 20-rupees daily (or 50c, hey, it is far less than international yardstick of poverty at 2$/day, interesting), it is the responsibility of the privileged fellow citizens to change the skewed balance between the haves and have-nots. Basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, water, electricity that several of us take for granted are even today a struggle for several. Fortunately, the conscience of the common man is awake and alive. So are corporate hearts and dedication of NGOs.

    Sounds too much of an advertisment but well, thank goodness that there is some good still left although I opine that poor are poor because they are suggestable and keep electing criminals time after time after time who are responsible for this mess which is a serious problem than is acknowledged. Maybe they deserve to suffer.

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    5 December, 2009 at 14:46 1 comment

    Food Price Inflation – WPI at 15.58% – Subsidy PDS

    In response to “Food Prices Scale High at 15.58%” in DC on 27-November-2009 (full article after fold), I wanted to do something but yet again, Subhani beat me to it through this nice cartoon depicting the situation of a poor family sitting for a meal…

    Food prices kept their upward trend hitting the common man hard. Food inflation rose to 15.58% for the second week of November with potato prices rising by 111% As compared to last year the prices of pulses were up by 35.60%, wheat by 12.53%, cereals by 13.04% and rice by 11.89%. Also prices of vegetables moved up by 11.96%, onions by 27.33%, fruits by 10.97% and milk by 11.36%. On a weekly basis, products which saw a rise in their prices are urad and poultry chicken (15% each), eggs (8%), moong (6%), arhar (5%), fruits and vegetables (3%) and milk and wheat (1% each). However, the prices of barley (2%) declined. The increase in food prices is due to shortages caused partly by a weak monsoon and partly by floods in some parts of the country. Said Mr Trehan and Mrs Mathur respectively –

      In a country where even a simple vegetable like potato has become so expensive, how can one expect to have three meals a day. Survival has become really tough. How frugal can one become?

      One has to think twice even for grocery shopping. Everything has become out of reach. Be it milk, vegetables or pulses. And worst, public transport has also gone so expensive. How can we honestly manage?

      Inflation for all commodities more than doubled to 1.34% for the month of October from 0.50% in September due to costlier minerals and fuels, as per data released earlier. The finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said on Thursday that government is very deeply concerned about rising prices and will take all fiscal and monetary measures to contain it. Arjun Sengupta in his “Fair Food Deal for All” in DC on 30-November-2009 comments that it is high time that the government initiates a universal public distribution system (PDS) covering at least the essential commodities because the bulk of the population, about 70%, remains poor with their dire struggle for minimal livelihood –

      About 350-million people remain below poverty line (BPL). The prices of essential commodities have been rising at an unprecedented rate. Not only foodgrains but vegetables like onions and potatoes are becoming costlier day by day. These affect all Indians but for the poor they are devastating as all their meagre incomes get exhausted, not meeting even a portion of the necessities. Prices of these products are no doubt largely due to shortfall in production but there are clear signs of market cornering, hoarding and price fixing. It is, however, very difficult to control speculatory tendencies by physical measures because the players are too many in the country and not just big traders and producers, even the common rehriwalla is hoarding. Unless those expectations are dampened they cannot bring down the speculation. The only way to do that is to increase supplies, if not through temporary production increase measures, then through additional imports.

        To mitigate this problem, the universal PDS would be the first important step beginning with the BPL population by supplying them with the essential commodities at cheap and affordable prices. If PDS is targeted to a limited BPL population it may also be possible to increase their supplies through market purchase of these products and sell them at subsidised prices. This would push up the open market prices somewhat further. But targeted PDS can be sustained if the government is willing to subsidise the difference between market price and issue price of commodities. Hopefully increased prices, supported by planned increase in production incentives, will raise output in a short period reducing the supplies bottleneck. But in the immediate future, the government has to be ready to bear the cost of maintaining the PDS. However, the most important requirement is organisation of the system. That cannot be achieved by market incentives or subsidies. The government has to build up a huge and efficient structure of distribution throughout the country. It has to procure, purchase or import products and reach them to different destinations of the PDS. This can be done only with the help of state governments, first to identify the BPL beneficiaries and then to have fair-price shops supply the products efficiently. National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NACMFoI) or similar organisations can be created for vegetable and other such products. They should build up storages and have contract farming both at home and abroad. The time has now come for all kinds of out-of-the-box thinking to meet a serious problem of economic management in the country. Indian development, if it has to follow an inclusive path, must reinvent itself so that the poor develop an equal stake in our growth process.

        Well, I agree in moral principle to Dr Sengupta (a Member of Parliament and former Economic Adviser to assassinated-good-riddance Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) but does this universal PDS not sound too communist? Why should the poor be further subsidized when already farmer markets, ration shops and pink/white cards etc. exist? Are not the high prices a result of supply-demand and greed (read, free-market capitalism) and therefore, market-based solutions are needed? Let missionaries, NGOs, social enterprises and fortune-at-BoP marketing gurus deal with solving something tangible like hunger for a change other than human rights, empowerment or whatever cause. Oh wait, they tried. And failed. And chickened out.

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        30 November, 2009 at 12:00 3 comments

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