Blackberry..To be or not to be.

Privacy or lack of it is an option that must firmly remain with the individual. Increasingly I find my own privacy, one that belongs to the nameless, faceless invaded for no rhyme or reason out of my own doing. I have only myself to blame largely for this and cannot indulge in finger-pointing. I sit in my car and discuss bank details, travel plans and a myriad other personal information with concerned parties on the phone. All the while the faithful driver is privy to confidential information. I have an option not to continue my banter, but in order to make use of all the time that we continue to spend on the roads than anywhere else, I do just that. Your own car space in not the only space where eavesdropping is most common. Look around you when you go make a purchase at a store and paying at the bill counter. A minimum of five pairs of eyes would be peering inside your hand bag when you open it and a few more trying to pry into your credit card details. At home, the domestic help have more access to your personal information than any other too. Even children listen to every thing that you say and share it with friends in school. All the while you think they are not old enough to understand. Collecting information is an art by itself. Bored housewives are the Masters of this subject. Prudence pays if one wishes to protect his / her privacy to the bare minimum. Of course, all these things are well under our control. But, what does one do who is not as nameless or faceless and his privacy invaded by the Government?

I use the blackberry often. Not as often as I use the I phone though. An encrypted text messaging service enables Blackberry users to communicate to one another in a clandestine manner is now being perceived as a security threat for India. RIM has offered meta data information to the Indian Government and the Government is not happy with its adequacy. I do not think the Government is interested in monitoring the movements of terrorists alone, but more interested in probably tracking who is trying to pull down the Italian rule. Blackberry does not remain the only way to communicate secretly. Terrorists are more techno savvy than most and are themselves hi tech geeks. They fly planes too for God’s sake. The Government’s innuendo goes on and on with this new blackberry saga.

Pritish Nandy discusses it in greater detail.

I don’t use a Blackberry. My son and daughters do. I use the world’s most boring phone, the one which has been left miles behind in the smartphone race. Once a much admired brand, Nokia now looks like a left behind. The Blackberry and the iPhone have won the popularity stakes. So why don’t I use them instead?

My reasons are ridiculous. One: I find touch phones a bit sick. I love touching food and eating it with my fingers. I love touching beautiful women. But to caress a phone to make it respond to me is a bit unnerving at my age. I guess I’m plain old fashioned. I can’t snog a robot, pet a tamagotchi or shag an iPad. My romances begin and end only with real people of the opposite sex. As for the Blackberry, I find it as exciting as Queen Latifah on steroids. It’s simply much too much for me to handle. Plus, I like phones with great designs and the Blackberry doesn’t quite fit that bill. It’s dowdy, boring, unimaginative.

But why am I discussing phones here? No, it’s not about phones stupid. It’s about technology. The Blackberry uses a technology that allows you and me to talk to each other, share our little secrets, crack silly jokes, strike the odd deal, and say all those wonderfully inconsequential things to our friends and lovers that we don’t want others to hear or know about. Our Constitution entitles us to this privacy. This is your and my right as Indian citizens. For years now, the Government has been trying every trick in the trade to eavesdrop on our conversations and often does so without us ever knowing. Even Cabinet Ministers and senior Opposition leaders have their phone chats listened in on. Why would they spare us? This means any petty Government official who has a bone to pick with you, whether it’s for parking your car in front of his house or because his wife once smiled at you at a party and said hello, can instantly target you as a security risk or an anti-national.

The amount of raw data one must wade through to catch criminals through phone conversations or messaging is impossible to handle in a country as vast and talkative as ours where millions of people are constantly chatting away on their handsets in many languages, many dialects by voice, sms, emails, chat service and social networking sites. So if the intent is to catch criminals at random—terrorists, tax evaders, bribe takers—this is no way to do it. One can spend an entire lifetime listening to sick jokes, porn chats, astrological predictions, sales talk and couples squabbling without getting one piece of authentic, credible, actionable information that can nail a wrongdoer. In any case, intercepted phone chats are not exactly evidence that courts like to hear.

So what’s the purpose of such snooping? What’s this paranoia that drives us to pursue the dubious examples of Saudi Arabia and UAE (Bahrain too, one hears) to lean on RIM, the company that makes the Blackberry, to open up their security codes to Government scrutiny so that snooping becomes possible? Is it the argument of the State that the privacy of millions of Indian citizens should be made subservient to what it sees as national interest, which in this case is the right to snoop on everyone so that security concerns of the State are addressed? To my knowledge, no terrorist has ever been caught with a Blackberry. They use sat phones. And even if the Blackberry is banned or its encryption codes forced open by the Government by arm twisting RIM, there will be Skype and many more internet phone systems still open to criminals. By the time the Government gets down to banning those, new technologies will emerge. Terrorists and criminals are clever people. They are always one step ahead of the law.

So why ban the Blackberry? It will only hurt people like you and I who will now be sharing our private conversations with eager, State-hired eavesdroppers. What they will make out of such conversations we don’t know. But what we do know are two things. One: The word privacy will vanish from our lexicon with every State agency listening on to everything we say and do. Two: More and more innocent people will be harassed by these agencies in their constant attempt to justify their snooping. Witch hunts will increase. Journalists, RTI activists, whistle blowers will be pre-empted, blackmailed, possibly even set up for a kill if they know too much. Is this is the kind of nation we want India to be, in the name of national security?

If RIM refuses to cave in, even I will switch over to the Blackberry to show my support for the cause of free speech, aesthetics be damned. Right now, the Blackberry has come to represent my right to privacy and I am not going to give it up so easily. Nor should you

Advertisements

51 Responses to “Blackberry..To be or not to be.”

  1. Anand Khare Says:

    Hi Sharmila,

    There is nothing like absolute privacy in this world. Remember Abhimanyu..

    The Indian government wants bugging facility from RIM in India. It is one of the mandatory license condition.If RIM is given relaxation all other telecom operators and ISPs would automatically qualify for it. It is a matter of discipline and of course the national security. hehe.. These days all security and court cases are at the mercy of call records and bugged conversations.

    Mr. Pritish Nandy can not expect privacy, if RIM is allowed the way they want it.All communications on Blackberry and Satphones are regularly bugged by American,Canadian and other western super powers. That’s the way they accumulate more intelligence for expected events in the rest of the world.

    So be alert , if privacy matters. Deewaron ke bhee kaan hote hain..

    Anand

    • Anand – Fair enough. But, may I ask how many terrorists have been caught using BB to date? How many more in the future is a debatable point. I feel this is increasingly done to keep tab on those who do not align with the high command than anything else.

    • Anand – There may be no absolute privacy but it seems increasingly that there is no such thing as breathing space either.

  2. Sharmila,

    I have been a BlackBerry user. I threw it away within 2 weeks. It is more invasive than any government controlled ISP.

    Snooping has been around since the days of the landline. Speaking for myself, I would rather have the Indian government in control than the CIA, MI5, KGB or Mossad. Would BlackBerry defy the US government in the name of the first amendment? Why were they facilitating sneakers in Asia and the ME?

    I feel, the real reason why it has come into public light now is that BlackBerry has invited the ban on it’s operations. It cannot stop it’s services without such a ban. If it closes it’s operations on account of a business failure they are likely to be sued by their share-holders. It’s technology is outdated. It’s models are out-classed by competitors like iPhone, Samsung and N98. With it’s network of private e-mail servers across the globe it is on the verge of bankruptcy.

    On a different note, more than snooping on messages and voice mails, I’d say internet stalking is the latest nuisance.

    On Mr. Nandy’s opinions I’d only say, indiscriminate consumer sentiments create an illusion of opulence. But they are far from the truth.

    • Reader – You have introduced an interesting angle to the BB story. A commercial angle. And BB has to wag itself to the US, not in this part of the world. Internet stalking is a serious threat to privacy. More so social networking where many wait to announce to the world many aspects of their private lives.

      • Sharmila,

        Social Networking deserves a stand-alone debate – perhaps a separate post that is open to comments…

        Internet Stalking may be just the tip of the ice-berg…

        Cyber space is an engineering marvel but sometimes it seems like Titanic cruising on a make-believe world of complacency…

  3. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Hello Sharmila

    Interesting article on invasion of privacy…..I can never forget the sight of the twin towers falling or the chilling conversation of the terrorists of the Mumbai attacks. If every citizens is like Mahatma Gandhi, there is no need for Governments or secret agencies. A price to pay for every step we take in the name of progress…..whose progress is the question?

    Lakshmi

    • Lakshmi – Yep, if every body here was a Gandhi, there would be no mobile phones either. We would be still writing letters or making that long distance trunk call.! Absolutely right, this is the price we pay for the sake of progress. But, I am inclined to believe that this BB saga is more to spy on the anti Sonia elements. She believes in absolute and supreme control.

  4. Nice Article. 🙂

    There are two sides to the coin. One a bunch of good people who get affected when the govt snoops into their innocent talks. On the other side this freedom is being misused by some shady people due to which the govt has to take these steps. In the same fashion Lakshmi Jag has pointed out.

    I am not in favour of the govt snooping in. Rather they should make the process of gaining a sim card error free. Proper identification procedure is the need of the hour. Govt should stop people from acquiring sim cards or blackberry etc via fake ids and stuff.

    • Ameen – Yes, there should be better controls in place for picking up a sim card. Hopefully, when every Indian has a Govt issued ID card ( the one Nandan Nilekhani is working on ), things may be a bit better. We may have to wait until then. There is no point in subjecting every individual to this espionage plan.

  5. India is doing nothing but to follow the other countries like Saudi,Indonesia,Germany,china etc…(Don’t dream it to be the first…) 🙂
    RIM bowed against Saudi threat to Ban…
    China always get what it wants from anybody in the world…
    So why India shouldn’t try to twist the arms…!?
    Besides That works best in a way for the Gov. too….
    Its Security Agencies can officially intercept the calls and messages of whosoever they want serves purpose to avoid the Scams like ” Phone Taping” & all…..! 🙂

  6. From TOI
    You’re a Delhi-based wannabe terrorist needing to communicate with your handlers. What do you do? Invisible-ink notes are passe, as are carrier pigeons. You will, of course, use electronic options.

    Like e-mail. Walk into a cyber cafe, log into a G-mail or Yahoo account. Don’t use an account in your own name. And don’t send e-mail. Simply read instructions left for you in an unsent mail, saved as a draft in your account. Then, to reply, just edit the unsent e-mail, and save it back as a draft. If e-mail isn’t travelling, it can’t be intercepted.

    Or, like SMS. Get a prepaid SIM card with fake identity, use it for a month, then dump it. Or make good-old phone calls using the SIM card, and dump it.

    There are other options. And they have a common thread: Anonymity. You do not use your own identity, and you use a mode that is virtually untraceable.

    Which is why a terrorist’s choice is not a BlackBerry — a device developed by Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM) that has now become a matter of concern for Indian security establishment — that is linked to his identity. Nor is a post-paid BlackBerry connection as disposable as a prepaid SIM card. Sure, you can get post-paid mobile connections too on fake identities, but because there is billing involved, valid addresses are required.

    That’s not the only reason the terrorist would be wary of using a BlackBerry. First, he’s not really sure how secure the mail is, once an agency is onto him. The mail is routed through servers in North America, and the US National Security Agency reportedly has the technology to crack encrypted mail in a few hours – with or without help from RIM.

    More worrying for the terrorist, not all of the mail is encrypted. The headers, including the “to” and “from” e-mail addresses, are plain text — else the internet would not be able to accept the e-mail for delivery.

    And finally, the mail doesn’t stay encrypted all the way. When it gets delivered to an external e-mail system such as G-mail or corporate mail, it gets decrypted — else the recipient wouldn’t be able to read it.

    The exception is when you’re not using a G-mail or a company mail ID, but are sending pure BlackBerry mail. That’s not merely one sent between two RIM devices, but where both “from” and “to” are BlackBerry IDs. That’s rare, but here’s how it works.

    Your RIM device would usually be associated with your official address, say ram.rao@maruti.com. But you’d also have a BlackBerry e-mail address, like ramrao@airtel.blackberry.com, which you’d use to originate a BlackBerry-only mail. Even then, RIM would record to whom the mail was sent by and when.

    Read more: India is wasting its time chasing BlackBerry – Telecom – News – Tech – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/telecom/India-is-wasting-its-time-chasing-BlackBerry/articleshow/6282167.cms#ixzz0wJu3VMfe

    • Sharmila,

      The Times Group, in general, has begun to operate like BBC. It has become a mouth-piece for English interests. All it’s media networks and conglomerate are busy engaging overseas governments to serve the diabolic and spurious ventures of Englishmen (including those in Canada).

      England is a Kingdom. And will remain so for a long time.

      Look back into the history, in WW II, Churchill’s diplomacy engaged both the Communists and Capitalists to save England like only an Englishman can.

      Today, they have found a new word for the diplomatic under-cutting and sedition. They call it ‘Facilitation’ .

      Everywhere in the world, Englishmen set-up these ‘Facilitation’ shops.

      This extends to every business in social life. From trading houses, banking, education, local administration, governance et al.

      It looks like the ancient East India Company spread world-wide under the protection of the UN.

      BlackBerry is one such product from their back-yards in Canada – like the cloth from Manchester that was exported to the world in the 19th century.

      In the ME the Arabs have a good laugh at the English ‘Facilitation’ .The Englishman facilitates corruption, anti-establishment movements, missionary politics, anti-cultural activities et al.

      And the Arabs know what to do about that. They apply the Shariah.

      History has taught the world how to deal with imperial scavengers. Unfortunately, the Englishmen could never teach their children how to be useful to the world without being colonial.

      Products like BlackBerry may or may not survive. A few students in Harvard may even do a doctoral research on the collapse of the RIM experiment.

      But the Queen of England will continue to fight for democracy for the people of the world. Except her own ofcourse, she will continue to rule the United Kingdom.

      In short, there will be no lessons learnt. The battle royale for an empire continues…

  7. though I do agree that snooping has a limit ,I also am with the Government having a hold on RIM Blackberry’s management ,Terrorists do use technology and our security is the most important issue ,
    If RIM can stoop to other governments they can show the same courtesy to India ,Iam for booting the berry if they dont cooperate .

  8. Where is Sharmila?

    • Here I am. Just landed back in base camp. Thank you for the shout out with echo! 🙂

      • Oh Boy…Sharmila…! 🙂
        The way Reader missed you and shouted out for you…Reminds me of a song…
        here it is….. 🙂

      • Sharmila, MonaLisa,

        That’s the way I am.

        And MonaLisa, I am not too good with English songs but I shall reply to yours with an all time great Hindi one!

        🙂

      • MonaLisa,

        Sharmila is always moving. And I never know where she is coming from and going to!

  9. Aishwarya Says:

    Sharmila,

    I use a Nokia. Outdated. My daughter looks at me like I am a Neanderthal. My friend says my voice sounds like an old gramophone player. I dont access the net or play games or have a stylus or a touchscreen. My contact list has numbers of my hubby, kid’s school, clinic, mom, sis, niece, and my best friend – people whom I can call at any time of the day.

    I dont understand what all the BB hoopla is about. Why does our government always bark at the wrong tree? Its as though, had they had access to these encrypted messages alone, none of the terrorist attacks would ever have happened or will happen ever. Duh.

    Mr. Crowe seemed to be beaming at the media after his meeting with the Home Sec yesterday. I hope the one million users will be able to do the same on 31st. Our 63rd independence day…and I am not sure what freedom is…

    Aish.

  10. Sharmila, MonaLisa, Aishwarya and all Indians,

    Happy Independence Day…

    As I type this, I am watching Dr. Manmohan Singh on DD National addressing the nation from the Red Fort.

    A sea of school children are sitting in front of him dressed in the national colors. All the cabinet ministers,other MPs and opposition leaders are seated under the flag. A few foreign nationals and dignitories sit next fanning themselves with the invitation cards.

    The camera shot a close up of Dr. Singh’s dias as he turned the pages of his written speech. I didn’t know he reads and writes in the Urdu script!

    Thoughts race in my mind as I hear his rhetoric…

    There are millions of people like me in India. There is no reason why these politicians want to govern or protect people like me. They do not sound like leaders. Dr. Singh speaks like someone who is doing a 9 to 5 job in a multi-national company’s branch office in India.

    Perhaps I am not living up to the change. 64 years is good time for independence to sink into a nation’s psyche. I should not expect inspiring speeches anymore. Or perhaps those are reserved for the launch of Rahul Gandhi in the next season.

    Political leadership in India is not a passion, it is a vocation like any other.

    Politicians do not rise out of love for service to the nation (silly me, that is for nurses in a war zone!);

    In short, very disappointing effort Dr.Manmohan Singh!

    If Sonia Gandhi imagines that all this is preparing the grounds for her son Rahul to become the PM, she is probably out of touch. (I expect her children will be on Twitter sometime before the next elections and try an Obama type ‘We Can’.)

    Not a single Minister has anything inspiring to say! All are passive, defensive and sorry for being a leader.

    “Hey, I am not a leader. I am here for the salary!”

    A disillusioned apologetic leadership!

    The pro-west intellectuals and the sponsored media should be proud of what they have achieved so far! Keep going, brothers… where-ever you are going…

    I wish my dad had told me what to do with this independence. He was so busy fighting for the freedom that he had no time to think of what his children are going to do with it…

    • Reader,
      I wonder if the generation faught for Freedom ever knew exactly what to do with it later…
      there must be very few who had some ideas in their minds vaguely what and how to do with it…….but not all…..not entire generation…..
      then how could they teach that to the next generation…!?

    • In my case, I never knew whether my dad had any idea.

      The English empire was so strong, the freedom fighters hardly had any time at home to teach their children.

      Most of them went home once in a fortnight for dinner and left in the dark of the night. And none of them went alone. They usually went in groups to one member’s house each night.

      They were all declared terrorists by His Majesty the appointed Servant of the Church of England under the rights given to him by the Magna Carta.

      Most of the freedom fighters were shot at sight by the policeman or the army.

      So, I guess, independence from the English was so important that no one stopped to dwell on what next…

      • Reader,
        There must be many survivors among those Freedom Fighters…Its not that all died and remaining next generation was totally clueless…..
        Its exaxtly my point that they did what they had to do…or told to do..and had no time to dwell on what next…that made them quite clueless when they got Freedom.
        Most of them were obedient soldierd/fighters..not the thinkers or leaders. Even today…hardly anyone or may be few understand its Real Value….yet quite clueless how to maintain it successfully….

  11. MonaLisa,

    Sharmila is always moving. I never know where she is coming from or going to!

    This is for her…

  12. Sharmila,

    Please delete my two YouTube links. The screen shifts sideways and hides part of the page.

    Sorry.

  13. Aishwarya Says:

    Reader,

    Insipid dialogues and bored expressions greet our Independence day… like a wedding anniversary many years down the lane when the partner feels like an old shoe. We follow the humdrum of yearly celebrations to keep up with tradition. Perhaps its time to liven up and truly celebrate – working within our limitations considering our PM’s permanent ‘smiling in his sleep’ expression!:)

    How should the PM’s speech on our Independence Day have been as he addresses the sea of school children seated before him?

    Aish.

    P.S. Thanks for the mention and a Happy Independence Day to you and all here. Permit me to leave the ‘happy’ out for myself. Today is my father’s 16th death anniversary. Freedom in death…I await mine…

  14. Happy Independence day to all my friends in India!

    Much seems to be lamentable, but don’t give up on your country!

  15. Aishwarya,

    Independence day speech is not a bureaucratic progress report that is read on the floor of the parliament, which is what I heard from Dr. Singh in the morning.

    An independence day address is a unifying call to the entire nation to rise and live up to a vision.

    Unfortunately, the vision that Sonia Gandhi and Co are pursuing cannot be declared publicly. Selling the nation piece-meal to their handlers in Italy, Europe, US and UK is not exactly a vision that can be proudly announced to a nation on its independence day!

    I could have probably written a more honest speech than what Dr. Singh read out today!

    PS:

    Condolences on your father’s anniversary.

    Death is an event. Death is neither freedom nor bondage. Death is ‘Nothing’. If you feel you are waiting for Death, you are simply waiting for ‘Nothing’.

    There is only one thing we can do when we are alive – ‘Live’…

    I remember my parents with a sense of pride and joy. My homage to them is in the way I live, not in the way I may die. My parents always wanted me to be happy and learning! That’s how I shall remain…

  16. Aishwarya Says:

    Reader,

    Thank you…

    Would you like to share the honest speech with us? You would have made a great leader…and my vote would have always been for you.

    Aish.

  17. Aishwarya,

    There are four different social orders in the Hindu Scriptures. These are called Dharmasutras – which basically decree The Constitution of the social order, the Codes of Practice and the Judicial Laws and Regulations.

    These are: The Apastamba, Gautama, Baudhayana and Vasistha.

    (Gautama is my first ancestor as per records. So my gotra is Gautama.)

    The Constitution of those days does not exist anymore as it is completely outdated. The Code of Practice have mostly turned into rituals. However, the Laws still exist in the same form and manner.

    The Apastmaba and Vasishta Laws exists in most of ME and Europe albeit embedded into local customs and religion.

    The Gautama and Baudhayana laws are seen in parts of Northern India and China.

    Vasistha’s laws are omnipresent in Dravidian states.

    Although all of them originate from the Rig, Sama and Yajur Vedas the interpretations and acceptance are varied. Yajur Veda has two versions – The Shukla (White) and Krishna (Black). These belief systems have strayed so far that today they seem antagonistic to each other.

    More about that some other time, if Sharmila posts something that calls for their reference.

    The reason for bringing it to your attention is that it is your father’s anniversary.

    Missing a parent is a common thread. How we deal with it is not. A belief system is critical.

    There is no reason why one should or why one should not discover them or express them in words. But I find them useful in many ways.

    I have a lot of fun when I test the impact of these systems on evolution – not biological – but organisational, ethical or metaphysical.

  18. Aishwarya Says:

    Reader,

    Would this mean that our nation abides by Hindu laws – the eighteen titles of Hindu Law as followed by our kings and his advisors? Are we secular then?

    If our religious teachings form a belief system, what is moksha after death?

    • Aishwarya,

      These four streams are the basis of culture that families and communities follow.

      The Constitution of India has nothing to do with the Indian history. It was drafted in 1950 by a team led by Dr. Ambedkar who copied stuff from France, US and USSR.

      ‘Moksha’ is defined differently in different books. The Upanishads & Brahmanas call it liberation from re-birth.

      The Veda simply uses it to mean ‘release’ which is used to describe opening a lock or releasing a prisoner or burning a candle – in other words, ‘Moksha’ is not necessarily used as a philosophical term.

      In amcient philosophical books the word ‘Moksha’ is used to describe a state after death and often interpreted as liberation from re-birth. Birth and re-birth are a part of many belief systems that also believe in environmental re-cycling. Some of them even went to the extent of preserving the corpses, just in case the departed one came back for it.

      I guess that is okay. Every one has the freedom to believe what they want to.

      Speaking for myself, I would like to be cremated in a dense forest. And I have made arrangements accordingly. I cannot dispose what I propose, but I can plan properly.

      • Aishwarya,

        Forgot to mention.

        All the four Dharmasutras are inspired by one single original template called Manu Smriti. I am very lucky I have got all the five with their original scripts and able to compare notes.

        Many rules are completely improved. Many are still practised today without any alterations.

        Atharvan (Zoroaster) established an altogether new spiritual model that changed the theosophical basis of religion.

        Idol worship was abolished. Feminine deities were removed from context. Devas were replaced by Asura. And so on…

        But incidently the basic social order that was written in Manu Smriti is the same.

        Here is a cruel example:

        आत्मत्राणे वर्णसंवर्गे वा ब्राह्मणवैश्यो शस्त्रमाददीयाताम |
        क्षत्रियस्य तु तन्नित्यमेव रक्षण अधिकारात ||

        … … … A learned man or a merchant may take up arms in self-defense or to prevent mixing of classes.

        … … … A ruler/warrior shall do so all the time to protect the rights of the people.

        This one occurs in many cultures in many different languages. It is read in conjunction with other rules and applied for honor killings, invasions and conflicts of interests.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        That is indeed cruel. Justifying violence.
        Trying to read…

        Atmathrane varnsanvagre va brahmanvaishyo shasthramaddhiyatham
        Kshathriyasya tu tannityamev rakshan adhikaraat.

        Is Ahura Mazda Asura? Interesting that female dieties were removed from context since every human value is personified by a Goddess in our religion, as you recently discussed. Is it also true that in Zoroastrianism the dead can neither be buried nor cremated as the earth and fire are both considered sacred?

      • Aishwarya,

        It is not important who believes what. I don’t learn to know what things mean to whom.

        I simply dig into belief systems till I know where they comes from.

        At the end of it I return to what it means to me today in the present conditions.

        Most of the times it means nothing. So, I don’t carry that baggage.

        My rights today are written and governed by my country of residence. When I am in India I refer to the Constitution and the State and Center Lists in India.

        When I am overseas I refer to the Constitution of the country I am in and the guidelines of the diplomatic missions there.

        Life is simple.

        PS: Ahura Mazda is the name of the ‘One Creator’ in Zoroastrianism.

        On the other hand, asuras were anti-deva people. For example, Raavan’s people were called asuras although Raavan himself was a Brahmin according to the caste system prevalent in those days.

        I guess each era has different stereotypes and different sensitivities. I am cautious about expressing opinions in public because that’s not fun.

      • Correction: Line 2: I simply dig into belief systems till I know where they comes from.

        Should read: I simply dig into belief systems till I know where they come from.

        That’s correction after a long time!

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        Fair enough. And thank you for explaining.

        P.S. I like the italics.:)

      • Okay. Okay. I get your point.

        It should be ‘a’ correction after a long time!

        There is a slight defect in my DNA that handle English grammer and spellings…

  19. Aishwarya Says:

    Reader,

    Would like to know more about these streams and how they are followed. Hopefully sometime you would write more about it for us.

    Why a dense forest? Mine might be at the local electric crematorium…no forests here…just de-forestation…:(

  20. This is the kind of journey where no one can take companions.. no matter who the person is… reminds me of a song…

  21. Sharmila,

    the video embed doesn’t show up… or is it just my PC?

    😦

  22. A Blackberry addict discovers grassroots enterprise in India: by Shekhar Kapoor

    A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu Market in Mumbai.

    On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure (foolishness) made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.

    ‘Can you fix a blackberry ?”

    ‘ Of course , show me”

    ” How old are you”

    ‘Sixteen’

    Bullshit. He was no more than 10. Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn T shirt and pyjama’s ! At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.

    ‘What’s wrong with it ?”

    ‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I cannot operate it”

    He grabs it from my hand and looks at it

    “You should wash your hands. Many customers have same problem. Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’

    Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10 days, I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back.

    ” you come back in one hour and I fix it’

    I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an hour. No way.

    “who will fix it ?”

    ‘Big brother’

    ‘ How big is ‘big brother?’

    ‘big …. umm ..thirty’

    Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.

    ‘What problem ?’ He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.

    ‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash your hand before you use this’

    What is this about me washing my hands suddenly ?? 19 year old big brother rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper. Original part ? I doubt it.

    But by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screwdrivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.

    “How long will this take ?”

    ” Six minutes ”

    This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his grubby cramped work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish into virtual space. People crowd around to see what’s happening. I am not breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an adventure and literally have to stop myself grabbing my precious blackberry back and making a quick escape.

    But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the the whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such hostility that he stepped back..

    ‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?”

    ‘yes’.

    ‘backed up ?’

    ‘no’

    ‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up’

    ‘You tell me that now ?’

    But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show.

    I asked him how much.

    ‘ 500 rupees’ He ventured uncertainly . People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation. Thats $ 10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was a about to spend on a new blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his ‘high price ‘ but calmly paid him. Much to the disapointment of the expectant crowd.

    ‘do you have an Iphone ? Even the new ‘4′ one ?

    ‘no, why”

    ‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or film you want. I give you 10 film on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee’

    I went home having discovered the true entreprenuership that lies at what we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what can you say about a two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 10 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall’ shop and can fix any technology that the greatest technologists in the world can throw at them.

    I smiled at the future of our country. If only we could learn to harness this potential.

    ‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am feeling seriously unclean.

  23. Bravo……to those kids…! Its quite impressive…. what they do….!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: