The business of taking offence

by Yash 0 Comments

We Indians are imbecile, immature, thin-skinned and just plain stupid. We take offence to anything and everything. Getting butt hurt over tiniest of issues is India’s national pastime. In House of Cards the producers can use the names of Republican and Democratic parties and no one bats an eyelid. If a political drama was to be made in India I doubt if anyone will dare use names of BJP and Congress. Here Shahrukh Khan had to drop “barber” from his film’s title, Maharashtrian Brahmins are unhappy with Sairat, Teli ka tel was replaced with Dilli ka tel in the song because the telis had an issue with it! Some or the other group in India has an issue with a movie, a book, a play, a song or some other form of art. And the creators often have to bend to the whims and fancies of such loonies.

Indias are just waiting to get offended. People even take offence to things that didn’t even involve them – like a bunch of celebrities getting together and abusing each other in front of a paying audience! And courts too are too eager to muzzle any voice which hurts the wafer thin sentiments of jobless jerks. Free speech inherently comes with the right to offend. Every joke is offensive. Whenever we laugh, we are making fun of somebody’s illogical actions or somebody’s misfortune. And the remedy to getting offended is very simple! Don’t watch the movie that offends you! Don’t read that blasphemous book! Don’t listen to the hurtful song! Just don’t participate in the activity which rankles your sensitive ass, instead of being an asshole!

We have startup India, clean up India. It’s time we also get Grow up India.

Modi, RSS and secularism

by Yash
Modi, RSS and secularism

Narendra Modi on his tour of Ireland saw children reciting Sanskrit shlokas and he had this to say – “Irish children here sang Sanskrit Shlokas to welcome me… In India, this would have raised questions about secularism”.

This is not the first time. Earlier too he had berated secularism during his tour to Japan. I am sure this is not the last time either.

What Modi is implying here is that seculars of India hate Hindus and they are against anything related to Hinduism. He is not alone in having such a myopic view of secularism. It’s an idea of the RSS. Modi being sanghi to the core is just rattling off what he has been taught.

In the west secularism means separation of church and state. That the government be separate from the religion and government has to be neutral in the matters of religion. In India though secularism has a slightly different meaning – the state is not completely indifferent to religion. India has different personal laws that apply to citizens based on their religion (something that creates a problem for us atheists). Indian secularism means giving equal space to each religion. Indian constitution treats all religions equally vs giving special treatment to one specific religion. That is where RSS has an issue with secularism.

RSS wants a Hindu Rashtra. A nation of Hindus, for Hindus, by Hindus. In 1947 Muslim League got its Pakistan, but RSS could not get its Hindu Rashtra. Instead what it got was a secular government headed by an atheist Nehru. RSS hates Nehru to the core to this day. However Nehru wasn’t the only secular in India. Majority of Indians are seculars. Live and let live is the mantra of majority of the Indians. That is another thing that RSS is not able to digest.

Hindutva is the guiding principal of RSS and their raison d’être. But RSS knows fully well they cannot win elections in the name of Hindutva. So they have to pay token lip service to secularism and ask for votes in the name of development and achchhe din. But in reality they hate secularism. They cannot see other religions being treated equally. They perceive any steps taken for betterment of religious minorities as anti-Hindu and try to paint it as such.

It’s a strategy of the Sangh to declare anyone who does not subscribe to their narrow ideology as being anti-Hindu, anti-India – a traitor. It’s a concerted effort by RSS and BJP to propagate the idea of secularism being anti majority. The term they have coined – sickukars – shows their mindset. According to them secularism is a decease. Another favourite term used by them is pseudo-seculars, although that term applies more to Sanghis themselves.

The term pseudo is used to describe something which pretends to be something but it’s actually not. For instance pseudo-science. Something which claims to be science but is not – like astrology or homeopathy. So Sanghis who claim to be seculars but in reality are not should be called pseudo-seculars. Narendra Modi is one of them.

I tried to engage with some of BJP’s Twitter human-bots to see what they reply. The stock copy pasted replies are an indicator of what RSS intends to convey.

secu-tw
RSS’s ideology is a poison, and to sell that ideology they mix it with nationalism. Message is clear – you can be a true patriot only if you are a Hindu, a vegetarian, worship cow, hate Muslims and Christians, recite Sanskrit Shlokas, perform yoga and do whatever else RSS thinks makes an ideal Hindu. If you happen to disagree with them – straightaway you are a traitor, anti-Hindu and the only place for you to be is Pakistan.

The problem with the likes of RSS

by Yash 0 Comments

RSS – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – and all the other organisations of it’s kind – the various senas and dals and sanghs – whether affiliated to RSS or not represent bigotry and close mindedness. They take pride in traditions and despise the modern liberal values. I read an interesting article recently which concluded that people with low IQ tend to be more conservative.

The inference is that what we call conservatism is a symptom of limited intellectual ability, signified by fear of the new and of outsiders, a retreat into tradition and tribal loyalty, and an unsophisticated disgust at sexual mores that deviate even slightly from the norm. Put bluntly stupidity correlates with insecurity, hatred, pessimism and fear, intelligence with confidence, optimism and trust.

Fear of new, outsiders, anything that deviates from what is considered norm are trademark qualities of right wing organisations. That is exactly what RSS espouses – jingoism, religious chauvinism, adherence to tradition and moral policing. They draw lines of us versus them based on country, religion, language and culture. For them their country, their religion, their culture is automatically superior to other countries, other religions and other cultures. Why? Because they say so that’s why!

moral-police

I am not exactly sure why do these people tend to take pride in ancient mores and traditions of the land. Agreed the Indus valley civilisation is very old and rich and in ancient times it has contributed significantly to the enhancement of human knowledge. But they were not alone. There have been many ancient civilisations which also have a rich history. And if you want to take pride of ancient discoveries and inventions that happened to take place in the same geographical area that falls within the borders of today’s modern day nation state – you can do so – even though you had absolutely nothing to do with it. And I think that is what the right wingers do.

The RSS types probably have a pathological urge to feel superior about something, anything – to feel better about themselves. So what can they do? Their nation is not economic or military superpower, it is poor, not many scientific inventions are coming out from this land these days, standard of living is no match to “developed” countries – so what can we feel superior about? Vedas, of course! We might be poor and illiterate and unscientific and hungry these days, but in the ancient times our intelligence level was over 9000! I mean our ancestors made so many discoveries while the rest of the world was living under rocks! I mean we discovered nuclear weapons, and flying machines and we could calculate the distance to Sun precisely and write it in one line in a poem (and on the next line describe that a flying ape god from Earth swallowed the Sun like it was some fruit!) – in short we were cool before it was cool to be cool! But then something happened and the Muslims and British attacked us and ruled over us for like thousands of years and stole all our knowledge and left us poor!

So RSS is out there to reclaim the glory days of ancient India! And they plan to do so by teaching it in schools. Instead of teaching children the wonders of science they propose to teach them that yoga is the solution to global warming. They want to spread the non-evidence based placebo and other non-medicines at the expense of modern evidence based medicines – because Ayurveda is our tradition baby! Let’s do things the way they were done 2000 years ago!

Is this a tool to gain power? They did not get power at the center on the promise of upholding the culture – they did so on the promise of economic development. So what’s the need to propagate their ideology of fearing everything that is not traditional? They seem to have a problem with everything – what we wear, what we eat, what we watch, listen to or read. They are looking for partners to share in their fear but the younger generation is embracing the new ways of life with both arms. May be the oldies fear that they will be sidelined…. but may be they just have a low IQ.

Do not use CCAvenue for international payments. It does not work!

I wasn’t completely happy with PayPal and was always on the lookout for a real payment gateway.

I don’t remember how but on the fateful day of 23 May 2014 I ended up at CCAvenue and signed up under their Privilege Scheme. They have two schemes one where you do not pay any setup fees but pay higher in card processing charges, second is where you pay one time setup fee and pay less in charges. And the stupid fuck that I am I chose the other one. I paid the setup fees on 27 May. Rs. 37,415.88.

I wanted USD processing. I asked for it specifically before paying the setup fees. I confirmed it with one of their reps from marketing department.

And the fun began. I had to provide them a list of documents, 13 to be precise. Even the Indian government doesn’t ask these many docs to issue a Passport!

Any way I provided the documents and my account was activated, I came to know I can not process USD!

Then I was told USD has a higher charge than what was promised to me earlier. I agreed. USD was enabled.

But it did not have MasterCard only Visa and American Express!

I contacted compliance team and I was informed on that it would take 15-20 working days to activate MasterCard.

After a long wait, some tweets, few phone calls and emails later MasterCard was enabled.

During the integration I realised the USD wasn’t actually enabled, again after a few emails and phone calls that too was enabled eventually.

And finally I went live with CCAvenue.

And first transaction failed! Card bin stop listed was the error I got. I asked one of my US based friends to test a payment and again the transaction ailed with same message.

When I asked CCAvenue about that I was told they are blocking certain international banks for fraud prevention. Perfectly valid cards are being denied just like that! Blanket ban all in the name of fraud prevention!

Fortunately the customer whose transaction failed later made another transaction using PayPal and it went through.

I asked CCAvenue to disable the BIN check for my account at first they just told me to ask my customers to pay using some other card!

Anyway after some haggling over phones and emails and after I demanded a refund of my setup fees, they switched the acquirer for my account. Previous it was ICICI then they switched it to something else Electra or Citi may be. I asked my friend in the US to try paying again and this time the payment went through. I thought finally things have been sorted out so I put CCAvenue live again.

And in last 2 days 7 transactions have failed! Only 2 went through, one paid on the third attempt, the second one paid using AmEx after his first attempt to pay using Visa failed. Rest all paid successfully after I routed them to PayPal. So 2 months and 37000 in setup fees later I am still sending my customers to PayPal.

I really don’t know what to do at this stage. All I wanted was ability to accept payments from my genuine customers who happen to be based outside India. I was using PayPal and I thought India’s oldest and largest payment gateway will make things easier and cheaper for me. But all I have faced is troubles. And my money that I paid as setup fees is stuck.

I don’t know who is at fault here, is it RBI and it’s stupid rules? Is it the paranoid acquiring banks or is it CCAvenue?

Paulo Coelho said when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it, but it seems in India if you just wish to accept payments from international customers the Indian financial system conspires in stalling you!

In conversation with Arvind Kejriwal

You have seen Modi’s fixed Adalat, you have seen farcical interview of Rahul by Arnab. Now here’s an interview or rather interrogation by an openly hostile anchor and frequently asked questions asked directly by the people.

He’s not running away, he’s not blabbering unrelated things. He answers every allegation and clarifies every doubt. Do spend an hour and watch this. You may or may not vote for him but at least watch it.

A song dedicated to feku

by Yash 0 Comments

Sun lo sari duniya walo

Kitna bhi tum zor laga lo
Karenge fekugiri hum
Jhadu mein dum hai to band karva lo

Feku all night, fekna all right
Fekna our right, fekampatti all night

Aaj trishul khulne do
Chaku talvaar chalne do
Tharre ki bottle pa ke
Dange shange karne do

Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho

Danga all night, murder all night
Rapes all night, we do riots all night

Jisne bhi encounter karna
Aa jao mere state ke bheetar
Police lekar, sabki dhoko bindaas hokar

Jab media bajega loud, to sarkaar CBI bula legi
CBI se keh denge ye police walo ki chaal thi

Encounter all night, goli all right
Kadak image ke liye bhaiya everything is right

Bijli peena, road khana
Development ka gana gaanaa
Daddy ko tu kar de message
Vibrant Gujarat mein aana

Vikas ho raha bot bhayankar
Vikas ke gajab nazare
Dikkat hai bas ek baat ki
Debt mein doobe Gujarati bechare
Nikkar wale sangh ne yu lathiya utha rakhi hain
Aur kuchh to aata nahi hai narebazi laga rakhi hai
Nache dekh re kaise Modi Modi laga rakhi hai
Contribution to ghanta hai, aafat macha rakhi hai

Joothe daave all night, galat history all night
Radio, TV pe kehte we’ll set everything right

Feku all night, fekna all right
Fekna our right, fekampatti all night

ShopClues return policy is a sham!

by Yash 1 Comment

My friend wanted to buy a new mobile and I convinced him to buy it online. I have been buying electronics online for many years now. So we bought the phone through ShopClues and received the phone. A Nokia Lumia. In a couple of days my friend complained to me that the proximity sensor of the phone wasn’t working properly. The phone wouldn’t lock while talking and it would disconnect if it accidentally touched his face when the call was in progress. ShopClues promises 10 days return policy in case you have a problem with your purchase. So I wrote them and asked for the phone to be replaced.

ShopClues said since it’s a manufacturing defect we have to take it to the service center and get it repaired. No returns or replacements. If we want replacement we need to a get a letter from the service center saying the device was dead on arrival. Which it obviously wasn’t. So essentially we were told to fuck off. The replacement is provided only if a wrong item has been delivered or the item was broken. They have a dropdown box on their return form which asks reason for return and manufacturing defect is one of the reasons. If I can not return an item having manufacturing defect why are you asking for it in the form? Oh and the letter from manufacturer – that has to be procured within 7 days from the date of purchase. And I was informed of that exactly on the seventh day!

Some years back another of my friends had purchased a pen drive from Croma. After about a month the drive stopped working. We went to Croma. They checked it in their computer, checked the invoice and immediately gave him a new pen drive. No fuss. My mother in law purchased a TV from the same Croma store. When we tried to set it up, we found it was dead. Brand new TV, out of the box was dead. We called Croma, initially they asked us to contact the service center, but after we insisted, they gave us another TV.

Some recent bad experiences of other people with online shopping, especially while returning goods bought online has shaken my confidence in online shopping. It looks like the sunny days are over and we are going back to the Indian way of selling. Sell and forget. Customer service, what is that?

We need to give Arvind Kejriwal a chance

by Yash 0 Comments

Expect the unexpected from Arvind Kejriwal. When he was taunted by the politicians to enter the politics and contest the elections, nobody expected him to actually do it but he did. Nobody expected him to win, but he won. People didn’t expect and some like me didn’t want him to form the government with Congress’ support but he did. You don’t expect a Chief Minister to sit on a dharna, but trust Mr Kejriwal to defy the convention! And now he resigned unexpectedly because his Janlokpal wasn’t passed – it wasn’t even allowed to be tabled.

What Arvind Kejriwal is doing is he is defying the norms. He is challenging the conventional procedures. We are all so used to seeing the politics of a certain kind that we didn’t imagine that there could be another type of politics as well. We all used to think you can not win elections without money power or muscle power. No politician of any hue will dare to utter a word against arguably the most powerful businessman in India – Mukesh Ambani. And here is this guy fighting and wining elections without money, without goons and goes on to file an actual FIR against the mighty Ambani.

Whether what Kejriwal is doing right or wrong doesn’t not matter. At least not now. He needs to be given another chance at power with full majority just because the kind of change he has forced in established political parties. For the first time the established parties have been forced to sit up and take notice and even follow some of the methods of this new outfit with the topics and the mohalla sabhas and the need to cater to common man etc.

Now everyone is quick to jump the gun and deride Kejriwal for resigning and calling it showman martyrdom. But we need to understand what is Kejriwal’s goal. He did not enter into politics to provide good governance, or free water and electricity. He has a single point agenda of ridding India of corruption. He is a crusader against corruption. Janlokpal bill is one way to tackle the menace of corruption. And Kejriwal entered politics, won the elections and formed the government with that one goal in mind – to pass the Janlokpal bill, so if he can’t make the very law for which he became CM, it is really pointless for him to continue to be in power. What use is the power if you can’t exercise it.

We may argue that Janlokpal is not a magic pill that will end all corruption in India overnight. No it won’t. But it is a start. And Kejriwal wants India to make that start. He fought for many years – along with many others of course – for the Right To Information Act. Nobody thought RTI would be of any value. Certainly not the government so they passed it and see what a dangerous weapon it has come out to be. Corrupt are so terrified that they go all the way to murder the RTI activists. A lot of scams have been unearthed, and lot of powerful people have been tried because of the RTI. The corrupt are afraid. It does not stop corruption but it makes easier to find and punish the culprits. Same goes with lokpal. Today we don’t know what it might turn out to be. If with the help of Lokpal even if we manage to nab one powerful politician, it will be worth the effort.

Corruption is one of the biggest hurdles that this country faces. And here is one guy who says he has a possible solution. The least we can do is get our ass off the couch, go out and vote for him. For over 65 years we have voted all sorts of people into power. Let’s give this man one chance. If the Janlokpal bill fails to live up to its promise, we don’t have to vote for Kejriwal again. We can go back to our good old Congress and BJP and let them continue the way they have done.

Why don’t you say anything about anti-Sikh riots?

by Yash 0 Comments

Whenever I post anything against Modi, someone will invariably remind me about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Why don’t you say anything about that? OK so let me make this very clear. 1984 anti Sikh riots pogrom, like the 2002 anti-Muslim one was an equally heinous crime against humanity. It was Congress party’s leaders who were responsible for enticing the mobs to murder Sikhs. It was a shameful event in the history of India and will remain so forever. Congress party will never be able to wash away the blemish. And with each passing day that the affected people don’t get justice and people like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are not punished – we, the people of India will continue to be a party to the crime. And the delay in justice will give an easy excuse to anyone to carry out more 2002s.

Rajiv Gandhi, made a statement – “when a big tree falls, the ground shakes” – as if massacring thousands of innocent Sikhs is justified because his mother Indira Gandhi was killed by a few Sikh bodyguards. For making such an egregious statement, Rajiv Gandhi too should have been tried in the court. Alas, he has been dead for more than 20 years now, so not much can be done against him but that does not mean we should keep silent when we see others making equally callous statements!

I am not against a party, I am against individuals. I have voted more times for BJP and it’s allies than I have voted for Congress. The reason why we talk more about 2002 these days than we talk about 1984 is because none of the people accused for 84 are being projected as future Prime Ministers of India. The person accused for 2002 is! Yeah yeah Rajiv Gandhi was made PM, but let me remind you again, he is dead now! If Congress was projecting Sajjan Kumar as PM (or even Rajiv Gandhi had he been alive) you would have found me voicing my opinion against him and then Congress people would have asked me hey why don’t you speak about 2002!

You can not shut my mouth about 2002 by bringing up the issue of 1984. No you just can not! If you say the person accused for allowing mobs to murder innocent humans is the best candidate for leading this country, then sorry – I don’t agree, as a matter of principle – no matter what party is the person from.

TataSky+ HD DTH

by Yash 2 Comments

Choosing a DTH provider in India is tougher than choosing a spouse. I have had a Full HD 32″ LCD TV for a year but I was still running on the old cable connection. Finally I thought it’s time to move on. Main lure was the presence of HD channels. Lots of channels are now available in High Definition and I also wanted a DVR to be able to record shows and pause live TV. So I began hunting for a DTH service.

I had following options to choose from

TataSky
Dish TV
Airtel Digital TV
Reliance Big TV
Videocon D2H
Sun Direct DTH

First I asked my cable guy if they have a Set top box. They do have but it’s not HD and no DVR so it was out of contention. Hathway Cable has started HD services but they are not available in my locality. (Cable guys have divided areas amongst themselves to avoid competition)

Dish and TataSky are oldest in India. Airtel, Reliance, Videocon and Sun are new and boast of MPEG-4 compression which seemingly has better quality over MPEG-2 of the older players. So At first I decided to only look at the four new players.

Sun is strong in south but their HD offerings were least exciting. Their web site is also enough to put someone off instantly. So that was out immediately.

Reliance is boasting of providing 250 HD channels but all of them are upscaled. The real HD channels are only 6 whereas Airtel and Videocon have 10 and 11 respectively. So the choice was quickly narrowed down to Airtel and Videocon.

I was more interested in English movies and infotainment channels like Discovery and Nat Geo. Videocon had more HD channels that mattered to me. Airtel didn’t have ESPN, Star Cricket and Travel XP in HD instead they had UTV stars and History TV. Videocon didn’t have History TV in HD but had the other three. The main lure was Travel XP, because I had seen that one at a hotel and instantly liked it. Only Videocon and Dish TV carry Travel XP at the moment. Videocon had the best price. Their highest package (Platinum+HD) included all their channels and HD for Rs. 441 per month and even less if I prepaid for entire year. The same thing was costing Rs.486 at Airtel where HD had to be bought separately and all HD channels were not part of that bouquet. Videocon only had a 160 GB hard disk in the DVR against 320 GB of Airtel but I thought I could live with that.

Meanwhile I also checked out TataSky and Dish TV. Dish didn’t really have too much to offer in HD department and they didn’t have a HD DVR either (at least I couldn’t find one on their site) besides Dish’s highest plan was at 550 something so I put a cross mark against it. Then I looked at TataSky. They had 8 HD channels. The 3 missing ones were Colors, Movies Now and Travel XP. Missing Movies Now HD was a huge minus for me. TataSky was the first to introduce DVR in India and they have the largest capacity disk on DVR – 500 GB which can record 700 hours of SD programming. That was huge and they had a super annual package that included all of the channels including HD for one year and a fixed price for the entire year. Any new channels added in the next year will be part of this package as well. That was a huge advantage, but videocon was still cheaper and had two HD channels that I cared about – MoviesNow and TravelXP.

So I decided to go with Videocon. I went online to purchase and boom! The HD DVR was no longer available! I called the customer support to enquire for the same, the guy put me hold for 10 minutes and the call dropped. That kind of put me off. Next day I got a call from them and I was told the HD DVR is now available only in Mumbai so they have taken it off website and are selling it only in cash. I didn’t like it. I weighed different options again and once again came to the conclusion that Videocon was best. So I was ready to buy it. Then I decided to check out their Facebook account. And over there I read a comment from someone about History TV not being available! I knew History was not available in HD but not at all?? What the hell!!

History channel was recently relaunched and rebranded as History TV 18 and had some kick ass shows like Ice Road Truckers and was an absolute must! Even my cable guy provided it! Now this was too much. Videocon didn’t have a great website, DVR was not available online, customer support didn’t really look that good and the DVR had only 160 GB storage. Videocon was cancelled and I went back to drawing board. Now the choice was between Airtel and TataSky. I had called TataSky and confirmed, they too had switched to MPEG-4. Airtel had better HD package but was expensive, TataSky had a larger capacity disk and on the online forums I read they had been adding new HD channels regularly over last couple of months. Two months back they didn’t even have these many HD channels. They are slow in adding channels but they do add. And with the Mega Lite pack that I was considering I would get them all at no extra cost. TataSky also has a service called Video On Demand where I can connect the box to Internet and I can download videos, even movies and shows from the past 5 days and I would have ample space to store all the content. At this point I think its a unique feature provided only by TataSky.

So TataSky it was. TataSky+ HD to be specific. I paid Rs. 10,200 for which I got HD DVR with 500 GB hard disk, full year subscription for the Mega Lite pack which included all channels carried by TataSky including HD, 12 showcase movies and 1 year subscription to BusinessWorld magazine. And under a special offer I got 500 Rs. credit in my account. Paid it yesterday, and it was installed at my home today morning.

And I am loving it already! The HD clarity is awesome! Finally my HD TV is doing what it was supposed to do! The DVR is perfect, I have already set it up to record a couple of movies that will be telecast today. They have an app for Android phones where by I can give instructions to record any program from anywhere. In fact I set up one of the movies to be recorded from my mobile. Videocon and Airtel have such programs too but TataSky’s app is most polished and slick amongst all.

I am happy with my decision. Having a couple more HD channels would have been great but I am sure they will be added soon.

Isko laga dala to life jhingalala!