Archive for the 'Awareness' Category
Tags: Anti-nationalist, Delhi Police, JNU, JNUSU, Kanhaiya, Media, Nationalism, Patiala House, Slogan, Umar Khalid, Zee TV
Tags: Autodriver, bangalore, Censorship, Charcater, Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen
I wrote about a part of my conversation with a Bangalore auto driver. Our conversation meandered from NaMo to Muslim-haters, Rushdie, censorship, in that order.
He brought up Rushdie and how ‘westernized Muslims’ do disservice to religion, leave alone others. I asked if he had read the book. He said he didn’t but he has heard what he wrote about – a parody of Prophet’s life. Unable to resist, I asked what he thought of the ‘satanic verses’.
‘Satanic verses?’ (Later I think if he was just checking what I knew?)
So, before founding of Islam, Meccans worshipped three pagan goddesses. One day Prophet came back from cave and announced that these goddesses were exalted. However, few days later, Prophet retracts these verses that angel Gabriel has informed him that Satan tempted him to utter these verses. Hence, the phrase ‘satanic verses’, right?’
At this point, auto driver is ‘impressed’ with my ‘knowledge’. Even while driving, instead of looking at road, he turns to look back, as if seeing me with new eyes.
‘Yes, those goddesses are Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt. Prophet had perhaps said it out of his desire to make peace with erstwhile Arabs who worshipped goddesses.’
Tags: BJP, Delhi government, Freedom, Individual rights, Internet, Internet Ban, Internet censorship, Narendra Modi, Ola, Open Letter, Pappu, Porn, Rape, Uber
Your party has used social media very well for your campaign in this election. Your side campaign project ‘pappu’ was also popular, perhaps even contributing to your victory for who wants to vote for a ‘pappu’. You did leverage the power of Internet and social media. People acknowledged your promise of ‘digital India’ and ‘progressive India’.
Earlier this year, I noticed TRAI took a very good decision in favour of net neutrality. The mobile service providers’ lobby had wanted all over-the-top (OTT) apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype etc to be charged. However, TRAI wisely rejected the proposal. Whatsapp may in future want to monetize and that is okay. At least government didn’t bow to business lobby.
Yet two issues related to Internet and freedom bother me. Two ongoing policy decisions by your government may threaten the very spirit of ‘digital and progressive’ India.
We hear our Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, is contemplating how to implement web filters for the country. As Medianama reports, he has been quoted saying: “larger issue of respecting cultural values of the country and sentiments of the Indian society need to be considered and all possible ways and means may have to be devised in this context.”
It leaves me speechless. First, I didn’t know our cultural values were under threat. Second, is the perceived need to ‘save cultural values’ more important than the respect for citizen rights? I can’t fathom why a government would want to regulate personal lives of adult citizens. So what if they watch porn? What is this to the government?
A state’s role is to prevent crime and maintain law and order. It is not to maintain ‘cultural values’ as they define it, especially in a diverse country like ours where definition of values are debatable. Does government have any case of porn leading to criminal/civil offenses? Until it is proven so, a blanket ban is infringement of individual rights, and your decision to use web filter to stop porn is arbitrary. (There are more productive/effective ways of preventing violence and rape, tho I notice you didn’t mention it since you were more preoccupied with protection of cultural values.) I won’t get into pros and cons of porn; but I expect any government to respect an individual’s choice to deal with their sex lives. Please don’t impinge on personal liberties of us individuals. Respect our rights and wisdom as adults and spare us the moralizing.
Tags: Books, Delhi, Delhi Walka, INTACH, Swapna Liddle
They say, you learn more about a city by walking around. You walk around Florence, Paris, Munich, Edinburgh and even New York! Delhi, a city I call home and one that is 100 years old this year, is another such city that can be appreciated on walks. ‘Delhi – 14 historic walks’ is a delightful guide book that helps you to accomplish that.
Frankly, this book does not need a book review to extol its virtues. Its back cover lists its merits in simple no-nonsense words in the back cover. However, to do the book and Blogadda’s book program justice, I will first air my views for the record.
I jumped to have this book since I have been on Delhi walks (and none by INTACH to which Swapna Liddle belongs to but that I will come to later). Delhi has a fantastic cultural heritage, but most of us even while living in the city sleep-walk through it. I did.
I think I re-visited even the popular monuments Red Fort, Qutab Minar when I was studying at a college in Delhi, at least a decade after when I first visited those in childhood. That too because I had to take an NRI friend of mine around the city. I haven’t forgotten my ignorance and the embarrassing fact that I was enormously proud that I have never cared enough for these ‘cliche’ places to visit myself. And even if we deign to visit these places, we hardly see/know things. We fail to appreciate the beauty and wonder of it.
Tags: BigBooks, Bombay, Online Library, Pune
My obsession with books is not unknown on this blog. I have at times posted yearly updates about the number of books I have read.
This year – my reading was happily boosted by a lovely online library called Bigbooks in Pune. Now that I have moved to Bangalore, I have further realized how sorely I miss it.
BigBooks has fantastic, affordable service is a fact that was further reinforced when I started comparing it with other online book services in different cities. Some other key differences were – 1. Most online rental libraries have plans that have a cap on number of books you can borrow. All the plans in BigBooks library are for unlimited books. 2. Most libraries will charge you a registration fee and a (refundable) security deposit. However, in BigBooks, none of these are required – you just pay for the plan directly – cheapest one starts at 150 bucks a month. (Try comparing plans and prices here, here and here.)
I learnt from BigBooks FB page and blog –the owner Rahul Maskara had also started this service in the first place because he realized for even a voracious reader as himself that buying so many books was expensive. What does a reader do to quench their appetite of books – thus, a service was borne out of a need. He quit his corporate job and plunged into getting this start-up (Rashmi Bansal, are you listening?) onboard keeping the affordability in mind.
For just 150 bucks a month, you can read unlimited borrowings of one book at a time (3-month plan is even cheaper). Believe me; I borrowed one book every day, benefitting from their free pick and drop service. Books would be delivered at my house, at my office as per my convenience. I can’t remember an instance when the transaction was dissatisfying. However, greedy to devour their vast collection, I soon graduated to other plans – two books at a time etc.
Most importantly, their collection of books is one of the best. I am a frequent buyer of books – yet I find it hard to spend money on expensive graphic novels. Most libraries’ understanding of graphic novels is restricted to Archie, Tintin and at best, Asterix. Now, BigBooks has graphic novels ranging from manga writer Osamu Tezuka, Neil Gaimon, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Alison Bechdel and so on. All these comic books are expensive and most of the online rental libraries do not have such books in their collection.
Not only that, they have a wonderful recommendation/request system – just add your request and it is taken care of as soon as possible. Almost all my recommendations even though I was a very new customer and had not even made the first payment – were heard– I got to read all the books I wanted, just as owner Rahul kept assuring that I will.
When new books arrive in the genre of your interest, Rahul even calls you to inform and ask – A new book has arrived, do you want to read it? One might be mistaken that I was a special customer, but truth is they were doing that for almost everyone. Most of friends subscribing the service reported that they were informed and provided choice to add that book to their reading list.
BigBooks library is available in two cities – Pune and Bombay. Go ahead and support this wonderful (and extremely useful) start-up. Try out their service and you won’t be disappointed. (They do have a cheap trial plan as well.)
It is very simple to register. Next steps are to create a queue of books you want to read and then select a plan. For any help, you can call Rahul’s number (also, on the BigBooks Website): +919665401232.
P.S – Rahul, you had told me while I was leaving Pune that you plan to take BigBooks to Bangalore. By a quirk of fate, I have landed up in Bangalore instead of Delhi. Please do bring your wonderful library to Bangalore, I promise to be your first customer in the city.
Tags: The Sapling Project
This post is an endeavor to make you aware about a Pune initiative called The Sapling Project, which involves planting trees in Pune.
The idea is to distribute the saplings and encourage participants to plant it at their locations such as at their house, society, institutions or any other place. Idea is to avoid planting it in some park or some common area because in such case participant won’t be able to go and take care of the saplings after they are planted. I know they are right, the white carnation tree I took to work dies on a weekend.)
If it is planted at your house/society, it would be possible to monitor the health and progress of planted saplings.
You can find more details about the Sapling Project in Pune on their site here. The Sapling Project is brainchild of two guys, Ranjeet (@ranjeet_walunj) and Satish (@bombaylives), whom I have had opportunity to meet at Bombay.
Please send it across to your friends and spread the word. If you are in Pune and interested to participate as a volunteer, please write directly to Libu. His contact details are:
Hope to see your participation. Thanks! 🙂
P.S: Venues and timings for The Sapling Project in Pune:
Kalyani Nagar (Jogger’s Park): 7.30-8.15 a.m.
University Camp (Near Jogging Park): 8.45-9.15 a.m.
F.C Road (Near Vaishali, Roopali, near FC Road): 9.30-10.15 a.m.
Law College Road (Lane next to Barista): 10.30 a.m.