Sunday, 31 January 2016

World Without Internet: World War Invisible

World Without Internet: World War Invisible
            When Maslow published the celebrated theory of 'hierarchy of needs' way back in 1943, he brought human motivation to the forefront of psychology. Being an important milestone, it is still an integral part of management curriculum even today (yes, that’s how I know about it). Interestingly, the first commercial computer ever built was launched in 1950; yes, a long 7 years after the theory came out and it was much later when they really picked up. At that time, internet was not even a remote concept and the first email could only be sent in the year 1971. The World Wide Web in its recognizable form made its debut only in the 90s (the 90s was truly the golden age) with the first search engines appearing in the mid 90s. On April 30, 1993 CERN's directors (the pioneers of internet) made a statement that was a true milestone in Internet history. On this day, they declared that WWW technology would be freely usable by anyone, with no fees being payable to CERN. Isn’t it great, I wonder if they imagined internet to become what it is today and if they did and gave it away, they were as cool & amazing as the internet itself (Much like Dr. Jonas Salk-The inventor of polio vaccine or may be even greater). The omnipresent Google started only as a PhD project and was incorporated as a privately held company less than 20 years ago in 1998. It is astonishing how the internet has permeated through our lives in such a short span of time. If Maslow had given his theory now, it would more look like this...

Source Here

              Even otherwise, in present times the higher needs on Maslow’s pyramid like Love & belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization are attained through virtual selves of our real lives on social networks. Its roots have grown so deep that it is practically impossible to conceive a world without the internet and its frills and most would not even dare to think of it as a possibility. You can peak into the chaos of a life without internet in the movie Die hard 4. Internet has become an inseparable part of our routines and without it millions would have missed many things and many would have missed millions (pun intended). The internet has catapulted many to the heights of fame and money, be it a loner who happened to upload a top YouTube video/ a trending tweet or a nerd who ended up founding a multi-million dollar app or company (with all due respect to both) like google, AmazonFacebookeBay, Oyo-roomsflip-kartsnap-deal, whatsappInstagram and many more whom I am not naming just to prevent this list from becoming too exhaustive but it was not always like that.

             There was a time when prodigious things happened on our very own soil without going online. We erected the world’s first university ‘The Nalanda University’ which remained a center of learning from the fifth century to 1200 AD and imparted education on subjects as diverse as the Vedas, Logic, Grammar, Philology, Medicine, Samkhya, law, astronomy, and city-planning etc. The university even had a foreign exchange program for scholars from other countries and internet was not even on the horizon. We have the richest legacy of literature which also includes some of the oldest of texts like the Arthshastra, the charak samhita, the shushrut samhita, the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and I bet they were not googled or copy-pasted. Even the technology flourished without internet and the rust-free Iron pillar in Delhi will tell you the tale. We have even won innumerable wars with sheer courage and tactics and drones came later. In short, life was splendid and awe-inspiring in India as evident from the ruins of Indus valley civilization, when others may have just been hunting deer or mammoth at max. We were much ahead of the times when modern technology took over the world and we were reduced to mere consumers. 

               We have been enslaved by the internet and the difficult part is that we don’t even want to break free. So, let’s just keep our eyes closed for the moment and enjoy the view.

Hush Little laptop, Don’t you cry;
May god bless you, With some more wifi...

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This week’s WOW prompt is – ‘A World Without Internet’

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Salute to Netaji: 23rd Jan

        It has been more than 68 years since our national flag breathed free air for the first time in 1947 and we owe it to our heroes who laid down their lives for it. We can never be sure about who played the most pivotal role in the 'struggle for independence' but one thing is certain that it was a joint effort and that it did not happen “ बिना खड़ग बिना ढाल” . There were people who, at a tender age of 23 years, wilfully took the path of martyrdom in the hope that it may help incite a revolution that might uproot the British Empire: he was Shaheed Bhagat singh. There were more fighters than we can name but only a few shone as the leader, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was one such prodigy. 

        You may think that I am exaggerating but Netaji's feats are way beyond the ordinary. Be it cracking Indian Civil Services, being the Congress President, consorting with Germany and Japan to raise the Indian National Army, taking the British Empire head-on, establishing Provisional Government of Free India with Japanese support and what not. The government of Azad Hind even had its own currency, court and civil code, and its existence gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Immediately after the formation, Azad Hind Fauj declared war against the Anglo-American allied forces on the Indo-Burma Front. Some may argue that it was a complete failure but many (including me) believe that it was much more than meets the eye. 

Let me ask you a simple question: Why did the British leave India?
     Amidst all the celebrations, we often forget to introspect and the simple facts like these gets ignored. The Quit India movement of 1942 had subsided and nothing major was happening in the mainstream politics, the world war was over and the British had finished on the winning side, Netaji was no more and INA also had to face defeat at the hands of the Royal Army. So, why did the  British actually leave?

          British PM Lord Clement Atlee – responsible for conceding India’s Independence, answered the all important question during a visit to Free India in 1956 when he mentioned this directly to Justice Chakraborty who was then the acting governor, he said - The final decision to “leave India in a hurry” was due to the “activities of Subhas Chandra Bose which weakened the very foundations of the attachment of the Indian land and naval forces to the British Government”. Also, that in his assessment, Mahatma Gandhi had “minimal” impact on British policies.

          Elaborating further on this subject: In August 1945, Netaji had allegedly died, yes I said ‘allegedly’ because the real story still lies behind hundreds of classified files and in my mind the conspiracy further deepened when I saw the promo of a new series “Hunting Hitler” to be aired on History channel which alleges to prove that Hitler may have actually died years after he staged his own suicide after the second world war. A similar story of Netaji may be lying somewhere waiting to be unearthed. I seriously doubt that his disappearance was just bad luck. Anyway coming back to the point, after the loss of INA, three of the top officers – General Shah Nawaz Khan, Colonel Prem Sehgal and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon were put on trial at the Red Fort in Delhi along with all the captured soldiers. Their crime was “waging war against the King Emperor”. It only proved to be their biggest mistake as the British realised with alarm, during the open trials, the transformation of the perception of Azad Hind fauj from traitors and collaborators to "the greatest among the patriots". Given the tide of militant nationalism that swept through India and the resentment and revolts it inspired, it is arguable that its overarching aim, to foster a revolution within the Indian forces of the British Indian Army and Navy to overthrow the British Empire, was ultimately successful. Netaji may have even foreseen that and may it was all that he always meant to achieve with INA. It may be just a speculation but if it was true, each one of the soldier of Indian National Army deserves a standing ovation. 

On Netaji’s birth anniversary, I wish that his soul rests in peace.
“Jai Hind”
Source Here

Friday, 15 January 2016

Giving up is not an option...

        In India we earn only to pay taxes and ending the gas subsidy is just another tax that we will have to pay. I am a doctor by profession but like any other salaried person I am also a tax expert or at least sort of. Here is a bird’s eye view of tax leeches : 


Income Tax: Tax on income of a person. Where the taxable income exceeds Rs. 10,00,000/-. Tax= Rs. 125,000/- + 30% of the amount by which the taxable income exceeds Rs. 10,00,000/- 

Customs duties:
Duties on import and export of goods.

Central excise: Taxes on Manufacturing of dutiable goods.

Service tax: Taxes on provision of services Service Tax @ 14%.


Value Added Tax (VAT):
This is tax on sale of goods.

Stamp duties and Land Revenue:
duties on transfer of immovable properties.

State Excise :on Liquor and certain agricultural goods.

Property Tax: India Property tax is levied on the real estate which consist of residential or commercial buildings or land attached to the buildings.

Professional Tax: taxes on professions, trades, callings and employments @ up to Rs.2,500 per person annually. Few municipal corporations are already collecting it and the SDMC will impose it soon on doctors, lawyers and accountants.

Entertainment tax: is a tax imposed by the government on feature films getting a wide release in India @ 45% and are reduced from gross collections.

Swachh Bharat cess: With the imposition of the cess, service tax rate will go up from 14 per cent to 14.5 per cent on all taxable services.

Fuel Surcharge: Extra charge @2.5% over and above the actual cost when we buy petrol by way of debit or credit card.

           So, we pay tax when we earn, we build home, we buy, we manufacture, we eat out, see movie, get car refueled and what not. Basically anything and everything we do is taxable. I wonder soon there will be a breathing tax. Even the odd-even rule supposedly meant to control pollution, which I agree is a good thing, is actually a rise in road tax by 100% because the car will now be usable for only half its life. You can't force people to be or do what you want.All you can do is share your desires clearly, and hope they keep an open mind and open heart.


        I am not being about patriotic or anti-national by paying or not paying these taxes. I pay each one of them but what I despise it that there is no accountability on part of the govt. I am concerned about how my hard earned money is being utilised. Yes I see the development but I also see thousand crore scams. I see 400% hike in salary of MPs and 15% for govt. employees. 

             In December 2012, India’s finance minister, P. Chidambaram, said that 2.89 percent of the population (about 36 million people) filed income taxes. In contrast, in the U.S., about 45 percent of the population pays taxes, which means that, despite India’s much-larger population, more Americans than Indians actually pay taxes. Even then the govt. recruitment is at its all time low despite shortcomings in each of the government department. Unemployment is rising by the minute which cannot be a good thing. Isn’t it shameful that 23 Lakh applicants appear for 368 posts of peon, as recently happened in UP. 

         So, given a choice I would not have given up my subsidy but now that there is no option, we can only hope that it will be used for the greater good.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

My List: #BooksIReadIn2015

          Although a lot of good things happened in 2015 but the list of books I missed is unfortunately as long as what I actually read. These are the books that made it to my shelf but fell short of being read. I really enjoyed reading the Shiva trilogy by Amish Tripathi. A different take on Indian mythology put forth in a spell binding and interesting tale of fantasy and action with gods in the lead role.
           Another such intriguing story was penned in Krishna Keys. It was more like Da Vinci Code with Indian characters and Lord Krishna in place of Jesus. It was a nice one-time read but not as good as the Shiva Trilogy.

         As much as I would have loved reading them but the following books could not make it out of the shelf.
  • India’s Struggle for Independence  by Bipan Chandra
  • My Gita by Devdutt Pattnaik
  • The city of djinns by William Dalrymple

Let’s hope these books can see some fresh air in 2016.

         For all the book lovers I would like to add that the World Book Fair is going on at the Pragati Maidan in Delhi from 9th to 17th January. Feel free to dive into the immense world of books and literature. Read On...

This post is written for Indispire Edition 99 : Books you read in 2015 #BooksIReadIn2015