Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Fake Language Debate

It may not make much of a difference to his game but it helps Roger Federer talk to audiences in some countries in their native language. He speaks French, Swiss German (his mother-tongue), regular German, English, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Surely, one can safely estimate that Federer wasn’t taught all the seven languages in school. But a unified continent, open travel and exchanges and then as a professional player could have helped that. How do children learn languages? A new born baby learns to speak her mother-tongue by the age of 2 or 3. There is no special teacher but she hears the sounds in that tongue from age 0. In addition, she also learns Hindi or another language by watching movies or TV with her parents or on her own. She even sings songs and jingles easily at a very tiny age.

Just to reiterate a fact: English is not a foreign language for India. It is merely a second language and also happens to be a global language. Therefore, for all Indians to learn English to a certain level of reasonable proficiency is highly desirable and maybe even essential. Even Narendra Modi has equipped himself with a working level of English.

At many schools in Gujarat (especially places like Rajkot) parents and teachers of English medium schools have told me “We prefer English medium but our kids cannot speak English”. I had to tell the parents that their kids go to English medium schools but what happens when they get home? At home parents watch “Saas-Bahu” soaps on TV and the kids join in. The movies they watch are mostly Hindi. Their newspapers are Gujarati. They do not watch any English programmes of any sort. Even Discovery and History channels have turned into Hindi or other Indian languages. English movies are dubbed in Hindi. By the way, even teachers in such schools talk to other teachers and students in Gujarati. So the child which doesn’t hear or listen to English except as a medium of teaching anywhere will obviously not learn to speak English well or confidently. Speaking requires listening and conversing. Writing requires reading. Many students fail to answer questions in exams just because they were not able to comprehend the question (and this affects their performance in Math and Science too). And we blabber about a foreign language as a third language? So when the HRD ministry recently replaced German with Sanskrit the usual suspects started screaming “Ideology”. That’s what you expect of foreign propagandist NDTV:

At the bottom of the pic above I have underlined a statement which may not be legible. NDTV asks “what sense does it make”? That is, what sense the change to Sanskrit makes. These same media crooks didn’t ask why German was introduced back in 2011. I am not in favour of any third language but if it had one to be then I would certainly support Sanskrit over German. The crooks offer a spurious argument about German being a global language. Since when? Fact is; Spanish is more of a global language than German is. Spanish is spoken in Europe, most of Latin America and even many govt forms in the US have Spanish. So where did this nonsense of German being a global language come from? And replacing German with Sanskrit is a matter of “ideology”? More nonsense! Does that then mean Germany mostly transacts in German because of their “ideology”? In which case what justification does it have to bring German ideology to our schools?

In 2011 an MOU was signed between the Kendriya Vidyalaya and the Goethe-Institute for Teaching of German with the approval of the then HRD minister of Congress. What were the motives of these people? Did KV students desperately want to learn German? From my interactions, where foreign languages are concerned, our high school students have a greater fascination for French rather than German. Even so, what was the outcome? Here’s a report:

Despite grand MOUs and bogus talk of being global citizens by learning foreign languages,  our schools and govts are not even capable of providing teachers for the subject. We don’t produce enough teachers for even regular subjects. Mind you, I am not even talking about good, skilled teachers. They can’t even provide basic teachers. And this nonsensical fancy of govts fails because students don’t have an environment where they can hone the extra-language skills which I already explained with the Gujarat schools of English medium. To be truly learning a language students need a reasonable environment which uses that language. Students who learn German or French in later years do so better when they are better surrounded by such an environment such as the Goethe institute or Alliance Francaise where a majority of transactions and conversations are in that language. They learn it easier in a crash-course of 3 or 6 months because it’s a focused course and they teach only one language there and not with Geometry as an optional subject. Alliance Francaise has established a wide network in India for French. It seems the Germans were too lazy and wanted exploit our schools for their language promotion.

I have studied Sanskrit for two years in high school. I remember only a couple of prominent poems and verses and nothing more. I cannot read any Sanskrit book or understand the language. Our media morons think a couple of years of German will make a difference? The same will be true for teaching or learning German. Hardly any student will remember it two years later. But if I have to make a choice then I would prefer it was Sanskrit rather than German. The simple reason is a vast history of India is all in Sanskrit. It is preferable that interested students continue their pursuit and maybe become skilled in reading the Vedas or many literary works in Sanskrit. Even the Gita is in Sanskrit. But a majority of Indians have grown up reading the Gita in a translated form in English or Hindi or some other language. If there are ignoramuses in the govt and in our stupid media who think two years of Sanskrit or German will deliver some language skills to students then they are dumb poodles who know nothing about education or how children learn.

Think about how you acquired language skills at whatever level. We start learning our mother-tongue from almost age zero. We start learning a language in school (Be it English, Hindi or whichever medium) from KG (lately even Nursery) and we learn that language throughout our school years or even higher education. That’s how we acquire skills in a language; it takes 8-9 years of learning and practice to acquire a decent level of proficiency in a language. There are many students who go through school in their local language but when they have to get into medical school or a higher course they have to switch to English. Imagine the problems they face. That’s the reason Madrassa students also face problems when they get into the outer world for employment. And we are worried about German in school? This sly implementation of a foreign language into our system is what foreign govts do and our corrupt, direction-less local govts gladly oblige. I have no doubt bribes or donations may be involved to push the foreign agenda.

The bigger pity is our education ministries in the Centre and States are mostly dominated by people who don’t really understand education or children. They are mere poodles following a political agenda that has nothing to do with any ideology or real learning. There is even one Puducherry Education minister who has a case against him for exam-fraud. I would cite Anandiben Patel (the current Gujarat CM) as a rare exception who was an educationist and also a former Education Minister in the state.   

Children are already burdened enough. Their subjects should be reduced and some subjects don’t even have to be tested. Their scho0l-hours need to be shortened too. Children’s brains are turned into mashed potatoes at schools leaving them no time to pursue their real talents and hobbies. In CBSE schools I have seen a written test for PE (Physical Education) but no test on the field. That’s how crazy we are. But this fake outrage by our media crooks and some other quarters over Sanskrit being imposed for “ideological” reasons is sheer empty nonsense. Those who want to learn German can do so in a 6-month crash course instead of two years at school. People study English for six months and pass TOEFL to get a certified skill level. I am against imposing more languages. But if at all there has to be an option given to students I would certainly prefer Sanskrit any day over some German or French language.

PS: A word for those who keep ranting “Sanskrit is a dead language”. It is not. The influence and elements of Sanskrit are in most Indian languages from Hindi to Tamil to Gujarati. Everyday Hindu prayers have Sanskrit (including in schools). Hindu marriages have elements of Sanskrit. It is just that Sanskrit is a rich language that is not commonly used in our daily conversations and it never was. Are Shakespeare’s plays dead? Do we speak English like in his plays? Why do they still teach that guy? If we were to speak Shakespearean English in  every day life we would be considered out of place idiots. It may not be the best comparison but Shakespeare’s plays have richness in human qualities as does Sanskrit in our culture and heritage. Would the English do away with Shakespeare?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Repeal 66A

A tale of two First Amendments:

The US First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Indian First Amendment of article 19 (Free speech) by Nehru & Co:  "(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence."

The US First Amendment bars Congress from passing any law restricting free speech. It contains a mere 45 words and has stood the test of time and protected free speech against all tyrants since it was made in 1791. Many US Congress members have tried to meddle with it or alter it but, fortunately, unsuccessfully. In contrast, the Indian First Amendment stands as proof of intolerance by Congress, Nehru & Co. The amendment was made by Nehru consequent to a very critical article by a Commie magazine that led to its ban which the SC had overturned. The restrictions laid down by it have led to even full censorship at various times, including the Emergency. This intolerance and trampling of free speech has taken a natural course to draconian laws like section 66A of the IT Act. The IT amendment that includes 66A was hurriedly passed in early 2009 without the slightest debate or opposition in our parliament. 66A is unacceptable in a democracy and there are quite a few PILs that have challenged it in the SC. Our courts, including SC, pass strictures on many issues from Ganga to Garbage but are slow on an issue like 66A which tramples upon free speech. Here’s a recent concerning Dr Harsh Vardhan of the BJP:

Dr HV’s case is a genuine one in which an imposter is peddling fake medicines under his name on a website. But why does the FIR have to be under 66A? Normal laws such as 420 or other similar laws are enough to act against the impersonator. This is the problem. Our politicians want “Sudden death” play instead of normal process of law for themselves. The reason for saying this is that I have no doubts whatsoever that 66A was brought in for no other reason than Congress Gandhis being ridiculed, caricatured and abused online. It is not to protect you or me but to protect the Gandhis, the political establishment and their Hammam.

One of the worst cases of the misuse of 66A was the Puducherry police acting on a complaint by “Little PC”, ie: Karti Chidambaram. Someone tweeted Little PC was corrupt or possessed excessive assets beyond means. All it took was one phone call from KC for the guy to be arrested in the middle of the night with no warrants, nothing:

After public outrage the man was released, probably on bail. That was in October 2012. Later that same year, two young women from Mumbai were assaulted and then arrested by the police for obnoxious comments about Bal Thackeray during the time of his funeral on Facebook. One of them was arrested for just “Liking” the post. All that the woman said was there should be no shutdown of Mumbai for BalT’s funeral. Now what exactly is so offensive about that? And even if it is offensive; so what? Are politicians and public figures such chickens that they cannot absorb some offensive comments? The woman just expressed her personal opinion and even if someone doesn’t like it or finds it offensive there is no cause for her arrest and harassment. Both women were sent to 14 days judicial custody but released quickly on bail. Such stupidity!

Following the frequent misuse of 66A there were petitions in the SC which ordered that no arrests should be made without prior approval by a senior police officer (of IG level?). That was in May 2013. Well, who gives a damn what the SC thinks or orders; certainly not the politicians or the police. This is what happened in October 2014:

The man in the above report spent 21 days in jail after being illegally arrested. As it is we have some of the most irresponsible and Goonda-type policemen in many states. And then our politicians arm them with draconian laws like 66A. Recently, a student was arrested after the HudHud cyclone for some comments in Guntur. He made a post stating he loved HudHud because it proved there was God and it happened and brought destruction to those who didn’t vote for YSR Congress. You arrest a student for this stupid comment? It may sound offensive or obnoxious but what exactly is wrong in making stupid comments? Our politicians make stupid comments every single hour. Sensible people would either laugh or ignore such silly comments but only the most stupid govts would have laws leading to the arrest of a person. This is how politicians misuse law and police waste their precious time on frivolous nonsense. 

What is the real test of defamation? Primarily, a defamatory act must be committed wilfully and with malice. In a case of mistaken identity TimesNow flashed the image of a wrong judge in a PF scam. There was a defamation case and the damage awarded was 100 crores. Maybe TimesNow did it repeatedly, even without malice, so a certain amount of damages would be reasonable but 100 Cr is certainly excessive. It is also possible that many who were not aware of the case would believe that the concerned judge would be seen as a “Criminal” by the public because of the Timesnow report. And that is the damage caused. The test is, whether actual damage has been caused. I often quote the famous case of Hustler Magazine’s Larry Flynt Vs Jerry Falwell:

Larry Flynt had an everyday target of offending of some public figure or the other. The ad his magazine carried lampoons a religious leader of his “first time” through incest. Falwell did go to court and the defamation case went right up to the US Supreme Court. The final court ruling was that people reading the horrible, offensive ad were well aware that it was a parody and no one would believe it to be true and that Flynt exercised his free speech rights to lampoon a public figure. The essence is that defamation must be “believable” with “malice” and must cause actual damage to a person in terms of reputation or other losses. If you look at Indian society, it’s the politicians and some other public figures that spew the most hatred, obnoxious and defamatory statements. In the real world it is Arvind Kejriwal who defamed Nitin Gadkari as the case showed. Not just AK, the entire media defamed Gadkari (as they did with Modi earlier and still continue to do). If the same conditions of 66A were applied to public utterances of politicians (including online by AK) and some media persons, most of them would have to cool their heels in jails almost every single week.

Much of the “reasonable restrictions” of free speech as legislated by our govts stems out of protecting religious beliefs and sentiments. The politicians have just made Gods of themselves. The MPs and MLAs enjoy complete free speech in parliament and are protected from prosecution for the most horrible statements and acts. Do they believe other Indians are idiots and do not deserve the same freedom? And if at all there are people who actually defame then there are laws to deal with it and, if need be, make the defamation laws stronger. No matter what law you pass you cannot stop people from lampooning public figures. They deserve the smallest latitude in terms of protection from being offended.

In August 2012 the GOI blocked about a dozen Twitter accounts. All the accounts were right-wing accounts that are opposed to the corrupt Congress. The Congress is the fountainhead of corruption that destroyed free speech with the first amendment, censored it further with Emergency, corrupted the media and has gone as far as silencing social media accounts. What should alarm us is that the list of Twitter accounts to be blocked were prepared by some media crooks. That’s how much free speech is valued by our media’s slaves too. And these same media crooks will whine about free speech when most of them have not raised their voice strongly against 66A.

One has to wonder how this law got passed without the slightest opposition. It’s hard to fathom but I have to estimate that the BJP “B” team of Congress which was then in charge at Delhi and in Parliament would have gladly sucked up to such an atrocious bill and its passage. Narendra Modi has been the most vilified and defamed politician for over a dozen years. If he had so chosen, hundreds of politicians and media criminals would have been facing defamation charges but Modi chose not to follow that path. 66A is a law meant for practice by the Taliban or the ISIS – Instant punishment. Now that Modi is in charge the GOI must seriously review this section and repeal 66A. We cannot brag about democracy and free speech with such stupid laws. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Baby Black May Not Come Back

(This is a MaxiPost)

“The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I've still got a lot to teach you” – Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street

In every government, in every country there are always some who protect white-collar criminals. It is these white-collar criminals that invariably fund political parties. It’s democracy!

Chairman and wife have two companies. One is a manufacturing company, the other a marketing company. Manufacturing company sells products to Marketing Company. Marketing company then sells it to traders at a 40% mark up.  There is a trick. In the state with the manufacturing units the factories directly sell to traders at factory price and collect the mark up in cash. Every month a branch employee takes the cash in a suitcase to the head office. Nobody counts that cash. It is handed over to the Chairman with no questions asked. Chairman’s wife wants to be a paperback writer. She has no particular talent or skills in writing. She writes books about big names and celebrities. She gives interviews to the press. All the cash in a suitcase is black money, unaccounted money. Wife uses that money to promote herself and buy expensive lingerie and jewellery. She hosts parties with the most expensive cut-glass kitchen items. Chairman buys more properties with cash. There, friends, meet big black-money and how black money is put to use.

The story above wasn’t a figment of my imagination. It’s a true story. Then the simplest of stories is how you buy a house. Builder demands some percentage of payment in unaccounted cash. You’re a poor sucker seeking a house. You draw on your savings, beg, steal or borrow and pay him the cash. Your housing loan bank or complany won’t lend you for black money. Builder too needs cash because he needs to pay political pigs and Babus to get a lot of clearances. As the DLF Chairman says “it is to facilitate speedy disposal” so not a bribe. That’s easy to understand, isn’t it? And mostly, the cash is paid upfront before you can even get a house allotted on paper. Cheque can wait, cash cannot. It’s a rule made by none other than our sick politicians. The scumbags who created this practice of black economy are none other than the people you vote for; regardless of which party or candidate you voted for. A good number of them are white-collar criminals. We usually set a thief to catch a thief but in politics the thief won’t help you catch other thieves. You can buy large consignments of any product from Delhi (and some other states) in cash without bills and these transactions happen every single day. Bogus documents are made for transport and then destroyed. It’s not rocket science.

Some good guys made a lot of noise about black money stashed abroad for quite a while. They were well-meaning and wanted to stop the loot of the nation and bring the loot back and punish the culprits. They forced the govt to act and ever since then our govt (earlier under Cong) signed a lot of deals to protect the criminals. Then the BJP made a lot of noise about it and promised to bring back the loot and punish the criminals. And now that they are in power the chickens make the same excuses that the previous govt made. At the heart of this whole nonsense now is one man: Mahatma Arun Jaitley:

People have a way of mocking idiotic ministers who blabber too much and that is what happened to AJ after Ram Jethmalani wrote him a 10-point letter on black money. RamJ’s letter ridicules the GOI appeal to SC to hide names of foreign accounts because of some treaty. Prior to this, Arun Jaitley out of the blue went on a TV Yatra to blabber about and indulge in some stupid political chest-thumping about black money. To his eternal mutual-fan Barkha Dutt he said “I won’t be embarrassed if the names are released” meaning the BJP won’t be affected. To Navika Kumar on TimesNow he said “I am not saying anything, I am just smiling” when asked if there were any Congress names. AJ is used to political games in the Lutyens club. He is described as a man who has friends across the political spectrum. He is one man the media never criticises. After his stupid blabbering on TV channels the SC demanded all the names in a sealed envelope and they too buried it for the future. This is exactly what all the political parties want: to bury the black money episode.

For over 2 years the previous Congress govt dodged the SC by avoiding an SIT as ordered and now the current BJP govt dodges the black money issue with clever skulduggery by a lawyer. Oh wait, here’s something that AJ said long back about lawyers advising the PM that he should be reminded of:

That apart, why would a Finance Minister frequently appear on a channel like NDTV which is accused of money laundering and tax evasion? Why shouldn’t I believe AJ might just as well be having tea or dinners with one of those black money hoarders? An IT letter to owners of NDTV indicates default to the tune of 539 crores. There are many allegations against NDTV which need a thorough investigation but AJ seems to somehow love this channel and their anchors despite their well-known anti-BJP propaganda and campaign. Strange magic! There are other issues like where an NDTV employee was given luxury trips abroad because his wife was the one assessing their accounts at the IT office. The stories of NDTV’s financial bungling are too many to narrate here. It doesn’t stop there. AJ’s adventures get even better by the day.

A day ago AJ was in the company of Rajdeep Sardesai and P. Chidambaram. First, AJ and PC launched Rajdeep’s book on Elections 2014. Like Barkha, this scumbag Rajdeep has carried out an anti-BJP campaign for long. But if that was political we could have dismissed it. It wasn’t merely political. Rajdeep ran a smear campaign against the current PM Narendra Modi calling him “Mass murderer, hero of hatred” in public forums as also in his articles. That Rajdeep has abused Modi for all these years, even physically assaulted Modi supporters in New York (and still holds him complicit for the 2002 riots) seems to matter little to AJ. There has to be some motivation for this. There was more after the book launch:

After the launch AJ then had a debate (rather friendly-fire) with his old friend PC on economics and stuff. Going by the crap the two discussed it would seem AJ was backing all the policies of UPA and PC. Don’t trust me trust this article by TheJaggi which perfectly records the transactions as “Tweedledee, Tweedledum in a pillow fight”. PC has been rightly called by RamJ as the “Friend, father and philosopher of black money”. Many rules and policies birthed by PC have indeed appeared to protect white-collar criminals rather than punish them. AJ and PC make a lovely couple. I call AJ “PC in Pyjamas” because most of his acts pretty much resemble those of PC. Both are darlings of NDTV and the rest of the media. Now let’s get to the black money nonsense.

An Indian entity to hold an account abroad needs RBI permission. If an Indian entity does hold an account it has to be reflected in their financial and IT returns. Therefore, it is easy to sort out such names from the list of 700-800 that is with the SIT. If such companies have committed any evasion it is not very hard to deal with and shouldn’t really be worthy of the great drama that surrounds the story. Next, some smart companies have floated companies abroad for transactions and they route their incomes through places like Lichtenstein or Mauritius or Cayman Islands with lower taxation and thus claim protection under DTAA. Are these accounts of any real interest? There may be thousands more of these. Considering a large number of businesses here in India, big and small, generate black money every single day that should be of greater interest to us and the govt. But the foreign-held black money story is more dramatic and more romantic it seems because it can be used as a political tool. And the politicians who may be involved in such foreign accounts aren’t in any regular type business as we know it. Dr Subramaniam Swamy thus describes correctly on what should be of interest to us:

"I am not surprised because I had warned the government that these names have to be made public. Don't quote the Direct Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Germany and India and France, because that is applicable to Indians who reside in those countries who either pay taxes in India or do not pay adequate taxes," Swamy told ANI… We are not talking about this type of black money and we are not talking about tax avoidance as a primary problem. We are talking about getting bribes in defence deals, the 2G spectrum scam, via drug trafficking and so on. Perhaps we should call this black money as 'red money

Red money! That is right. That is what the real loot is that the GOI should be looking for. Illegal commissions and bribes paid to politicians directly into foreign accounts in defence deals, spectrum deals, commercial aircraft deals (for AI) and agreements prejudicial to India’s interest. There could be many “hawala” accounts that fund investments into various companies including our crooked media houses. There could be many “hawala” accounts that could be funding terrorist operations and supply of illegal weapons to various anti-India forces within and without India. We have known Ottavio Quattrocchi of the Bofors scandal to have gotten access to his ill-gotten loot when the Congress govt de-froze his bank account abroad. For long this particular article from a Swiss magazine has been quoted by Swamy and others about Rajiv Gandhi’s millions stashed abroad:

The “Will bring back black money” chant story is as much a political slogan as “Garibi Hatao” was. If it had to happen it would have happened swiftly. Three years have already passed. And who knows, it has the potential to end up like the Bofors story which remains unresolved for almost three decades now.

Arun Jaitley is an intelligent, articulate man and a brilliant orator. He rarely says anything inaccurate in parliament or outside. Therefore, his motivation or compulsion to hobnob with his potential targets is all the more intriguing. Remember, our media crooks were thrilled to bits when a lower court and later SC ruled PC could not be made an accused in the 2G scam in the case filed by Swamy. After BJP won the LS elections the same media crooks were clamouring for AJ as Finance Minister. For me, that is one reason to suspect a man, if the criminal media clamours for him.

Prior to the LS elections almost every party (even many in the BJP of the Lutyens Club) were against Modi becoming PM. Some of these media crooks who are in deep love with PC and AJ were hoping for a coalition govt if BJP won and somehow AJ would become Prime Minister. AJ is an old friend of Modi from the Gujarat campaign days when AJ was in charge of the state campaigns. Having to play second fiddle has many adverse effects. PC too was touted as a potential PM (to replace MMS) by his media darlings. Would you now dare to imagine AJ as your PM? It would be like Alfred Hitchcock planning the perfect nightmare to wake you up. As for black money, I will just leave you with a very old song:

Black is black, I want my baby back/ It's gray, it's gray/ Since she went away, Ooh-Ooh/ What can I do/ 'Cause I'm feelin' blue
If I had my way, She'd be back today/ But she don't intend/ To see me again, Ooh-Ooh
What can I do 'Cause I'm feelin' blue