Four Stray Thoughts : October 27, 2009

Here are my Four Stray Thoughts for the day:

1. The ‘Stale’ Times of India : The Times of India is by far the largest English newspaper in India. Several folks consider reading the Times of India in the morning as a ritual. There is a certain thing about Times of India that I am surprised about and it has come about by my moving to different parts of the country. As you know that TOI produces editions from different cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur,etc. So whichever part of the country you are in, it is likely that your daily TOI comes from that center. Fair and good and this should not be a problem. However, try the following. On Monday, take the TOI edition of Mumbai. Then on Tuesday, take the TOI edition from Ahmedabad, and so on. You will find that half the newspaper simply repeats the same story that appeared in the Mumbai edition, etc. Why do they do this? Is there any dearth of news in our country and the world that they need to rehash the news in such a fashion? As you go remote, it is likely that an article that appeared in the Mumbai edition on a Monday is present in a Tuesday edition in Jaipur and then present in the Wednesday edition of Ahmedabad. Maybe this is a known thing but certainly not expected from a publishing house like TOI. But then why am I complaining. The newspapers themselves are making sure that the printed medium of news dies a slow death. It is not surprising that everything now is a paid for item in the newspaper with blatant full page ads appearing on the first page. A newspaper front page is so critical to capture the reader’s interest. Instead we find a brand like TOI literally selling themselves to some real estate builder, internet portal and allowing them to hijack the first page of the newspaper. When the front page itself is up for grabs, what is the harm in repeating the junk inside across all Metros. Readers are anyways fools and will keep buying, think the newspaper publishers. Time will tell ….

2. Rahul Gandhi’s remark on Pakistan: A couple of weeks back, Rahul Gandhi remarked that Pakistan is too small a country for India to waste their time upon, etc. This statement found resonance with me since it is exactly the kind of stuff that I had been debating within myself and with friends/family as to why we even waste our time on them. Ofcourse we know that the common man does not care a damn and it is the political class that has brought up Pakistan whenever they wish to divert our attention from more important domestic issues. Anyways, I agree with Rahul Gandhi and also sort of disagree a little bit with him. I am hoping that we do not completely ignore Pakistan. We should practice a clear tit-for-tat when there is clear evidence of their mischief. This world only understands a tit-for-tat response and Gandhigiri is not the answer when dealing with a neighbor that is a clearly in turmoil due to years of Frankenstein-like policies. That the Frankenstein now is devouring up Pakistan itself is an poetic or should I say literary justice being meted out to them.

3. Charging the Tourists more: If you travel across India or even within your city, you will notice that for monuments, museums, national parks, etc  — Foreign tourists are charged almost 5 – 10 times the entry fee that is charged to locals. Is this the norm in even other countries? I do not know for sure but in my travels in other countries I have not been charged extra when visiting any of their properties! I am not sure what the thinking is behind charging them more? Is it to collect more money? Is it because we are so embarrassed with the state of some of our national parks, monuments that the best thing to do is to prevent these tourists from discovering their abysmal state? I think none of these points will succeed since India is a global destination and tourists will keep coming. However, this brings me to another point. How does one identify a Foreign Tourist? Going by the current methods, you have to have the facial features that is typically associated with Caucasian looks. If you happen to be a dark complexioned Spanish for example, it is very likely that you will be treated on par like any other Indian and hence no extra fees from you. But that brings me back to a final point, is an Indian American for example, considered a foreign tourist? Technically they should be but since we are using racial profiling here, most likely not. What an irony?

4. Tricolor Cards for Pakistanis: Confused by what I am trying to say? Let me explain. I have often thought to myself what is the only one thing that I would do if I had the power to do something vis-a-vis Pakistan. Pakistan needs no introduction to Indians and what I am proposing is a process that I would like to see implemented some day. We all know about the Green Card in the United States. It is a coveted item for most individuals in this world and people are willing to give an arm and a leg to get the Green Card. Nothing wrong in it, if they desire it. But let us look at the process. Through the Green Card process, millions of Indians have adopted the United States as their place of permanent residence and have contributed significantly to the growth of the United States from all respects. Technology, Medicine, University Research/Teaching and many areas. They are now making the presence felt even in the political sphere. This is all good. Why did these individuals leave their country (in our case India) and go to the US. There are so many reasons and some of the chief ones include better opportunities, a better life, a better future, etc. Now, let me get back to Pakistan. Pakistan has been a source of trouble for India for a long time and I am not going to discuss why. The one thing I would like to do is to embarass their rulers by creating a Green Card system for Pakistanis to reside permanently in India and contribute to our growth. We should create a process where we create a environment right here in India that is so attractive for the Pakistanis that they simply want to leave their country and settle down in India. Technical people, Professors, Scientists, undergraduates, etc – let us give them an opportunity to come and reside here. What is a better rebuttal to their leaders that their own countrymen flocking to our shores and settling down here because they have a better life and a better future. Ofcourse the right checks can be put in the process to make sure that we filter out the folks but that can be worked over time. If this ever takes shape, millions of bright Pakistanis can directly contribute to our growth and send back money to uplift their own conditions back home. That is exactly what has happened with India vis-a-vis the US and we can replay it here with Pakistan. Just one final thing: We should be a little bit original and not call it the Green Card. Let us call it the Tricolor Card.

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