19 Nov 2013

Khaki needs a change of color

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Khaki is the official color that adorns the Indian Police Force. A color that should reinforce security, help and support to citizens. However in most cases its the other way round. The color has for most citizens come to symbolize corruption and helplessness.

An incident around 2 weeks back shook me at the brazen corruption and lawlessness that exists within the system. One of my relatives was picked up by the police and lodged in the lockup for almost 48 hours without even attempting to inform his family of this incident. His mobile phone was snatched and he was given no reprieve to even seek legal counsel. His mistake - having taken a beaten up fellow to the local hospital where the fellow eventually succumbed to his injuries.

It was extremely lucky that his family learned of his arrest through some local contacts who had been to the station & spotted him in the lockup. Else he would have become a victim of the standard Indian Police modus operandi - catch up the first fellow who is even remotely connected to the crime, beat him up third-degree and then make him accept everything. In this case, we later learn't that there were bigwigs who were involved in the crime and wanted a scapegoat. Rumour mills abound now that they had bribed most of the station force for substituting a scapegoat. The timely intervention of his family helped save this innocent.  In this context I had also visited the station and was aghast at the way Khaki folks reinforced their authority. The inspector in question looked us in the eye and said - "Don't interrupt our investigation. Please get out".

This chalta-hai attitude of the police, their brazen right to arrest anyone and lock them up without giving them a chance to seek legal counsel is a gross violation of basic human rights. Its suprising that the same force that is supposed to enforce and protect human rights is involved in violation and misappropriation of the same.

The whole incident raises some very plausible questions
  • The next time i encounter a person in an gravely injured state (case of accident or vandalism), should i help at all - knowing the hell that i would endure from the law authorities. 
  • Even after the revised pay commission scales, how to prevent the Khaki force from falling for the lure of easy money and forget its basic commitment to society at large.
  • When will we have a just and honest khaki force that reads us our Miranda Rights and functions in a fair an transparent manner rather than resorting to torture tactics to force the crime on someone.

While am writing this, due to collective efforts, my relative has got out and the case seems to be now proceeding in the right direction (party due to outcry on part of the deceased's family).

Another very important footnote to mention here is the role of the press and media at large. The large media houses (touting maximum readership) suppressed this incident (murder of the deceased) and its true story - going in for namesake reporting excluding all details of the real culprits. Definitely they have had their share of he spoils. However some of the online media newspapers (Marunadanmalayali, Deepika) stand out strongly for their righteous reporting & accurate portrayal of events.  May their tribe increase. In such a corrupt system, a voice that represents the truth is solely needed.

1 Jan 2013

Easing flight regulations

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Flight Signs
So you settle down into your short-haul flight. Make yourself comfortable by the aisle seat. Do the necessary formalities - strapping the seat-belt, adjusting the seat inclination to straighten up and follow the air-hostesses ballet regarding safety instructions on the flight (not failing to admire how cute they look when they do that).

Then it plays on. The engines start their hum. The pilot starts his "am thankful for you choosing my flight speech". The familiar monologues. Your co-passenger is a grumpy businessman. And you start getting bored already. So you take out your smartphone. As a conscientious passenger, you put it in "Flight Mode" and swipe your fingers till Angry Birds boots up. And lucky you .. you are winning.. are just about to cross that very difficult game level when someone rushes panic-stricken besides you.

You look up to see the airhostess glancing down at you as if she had discovered a hijacker onboard. Her looks are no longer cutish but serious & alarming. Carefully trained in the art of persuading passengers she plays it out with perfection - "Sir ! I must request you. Please switch off your mobile phone".
"But its in Flight Mode" - you babble out, hurt and surprised. "Sir ! its against regulations" - she reaffirms firmly ignoring your explanation that in "Flight Mode" the base-band radio is off. By now co-passengers on the flight are craning their necks around their seats to have a glimpse of the culprit who has put the sweet lady to talk tough. Not standing a chance, you just switch off the device.

Ah now I must admit - if you felt this mobile taunting passenger was me .. you are mistaken. Am a pretty "follow the rules" passenger. This is an observation that has been made umpteen number of times on flights and often has set me wondering - is it really an issue ? Does mobile phone / device functioning have any issues with safety of flights. And the more I have read into it - the answer is no - its just a precaution by FAA, FCC and such regulatory bodies.

The technical insights here - Plane phone interference - Myth or Reality

The joke is that while FCC still advocates non-usage of electronic devices by passengers (citing interference problems), they recently allowed pilots to use iPads in the cockpits ;-)

Thankfully due to public outcry, currently the governing bodies are looking at ways to allow consumer interest to predate archaic disciplinary rules. Of course with necessary caution. There is always the scenario of a rouge passenger carrying a modified device to sabotage communications / flight operations. But that is not the case with just electronics but with everything. Its needs to be treated in the security context.

In the early days of mobile phone usage, there was a hue an cry and mass-mailers about mobile phone interference causing malignancy in the brain cells and heart failure and what not. But nothing of that sort has been proven as yet. And we happily use our mobile phones daily. Many passengers carry ebooks and laptops on flight & if its not scientifically proven to have any problem - it should be allowed. So one day - the passenger I referred to will be able to finish off the Angry Birds level without feeling guilty or being subjected to stares from co-passengers.

24 Dec 2012

Weekend @ Hyderabad

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On my return from a visit to Pune, made an "on the spur of the moment" detour and decided to visit a friend in Hyderabad. That's how I came about spending a weekend in Hyderabad and enjoying some of the visual and culinary treats the Nizam's city offered.

I had visited Hyderabad about 6 years back on a work related official matter. The city has indeed changed a lot since then. Madhapur and other areas have developed at a very nice pace and overall - pretty impressed with the city infrastructure.

With a weekend at hand, visited some of the places I had not visited before, including Ameerpet.

Training Institutes @ Ameerpet
Was amazed at the mushrooming business of "you name it - we deliver it" sort of training centres and equally thriving businesses of book piracy. Want the latest released book on MySQL high-availability clustering? Well you get it xeroxed and nicely bound in spirals at a rate of around 40 ps per page.

Want training on the latest buzz in the IT space. Be it BigData, Cloud Analytics, Agile .. you can get trained here at a fraction of OEM training costs.

Menu @ Paradise Hotel, HyderabadMoving on, who can resist the urge to sample the famous Hyderabadi Biriyani. And we did more than just sample. Had our tummies full with the delicacies that Paradise is famous for.

No visit to Hyderabad can be complete without a mention of its most famous monument. Which else but the grand Charminar. Located in the midst of a bustling street (reminded me of Shaniwar wada in Pune) the Charminar is a structure that has surprisingly still retains its old world charm. 

Charminar, HyderabadAn ASI maintained monument, thankfully it was less crowded on this particular day, and were able to climb up the structure and experience the feeling within the structure. Climbing the structure from the winding staircase is a bit claustrophobic but on reaching the top one gets a nice view of the city through the pillared passages.

Subsequently visited the nearby  Mecca Masjid as well.

Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad

On a whole, it was a nice weekend spent in Hyderabad. Plan to visit a lot more places in the coming year.