Dissonance, Rakhigiri, one-party system

I heard the term dissonance or Cognitive dissonance about a year, year and a half back. This is the strategy that BJP used to win in 2014 and in 2019. How much part did EVM’s play and how much part did the cognitive dissonance work is hard to tell and define but both have made irreperable damage to not just the economy, social fabric, institutions, the constitution but the idea of India itself. India, the country which has thousands of different cultures, castes, are for one reason or the other put into hate which seems to have no end. But before going into the politics, let me share one beautiful video which got played on social media and also quickly forgotten.

Dhol Tasha in Ganesh Chaturthi

The gentleman playing that drum is Mr. Greg Ellis. While we had Ganesh Chaturthi just a while back, the most laid-back I have seen in my whole 40+ years. While there were other dhol tasha plays which played for e.g. these two videos


I do like the first one though which represents what is and used to be call jugalbandi. This is where two artists talk to each other having conversation while playing their instruments. For e.g. Zakir Hussain Sahab and Shivamani and many others. but that perhaps is a story for another day.

The Science and Politics of the 4500 year old Rakhigarhi woman.

This story was broken couple of weeks back. The best way or person to perhaps explain it in plain english would perhaps be Shekhar Gupta . From the discussions you see it is much heated and contested topic.

The study that was done can be found at https://reich.hms.harvard.edu/sites/reich.hms.harvard.edu/files/inline-files/2019_Cell_ShindeNarasimhan_Rakhigarhi.pdf and https://reich.hms.harvard.edu/sites/reich.hms.harvard.edu/files/inline-files/2019_Science_NarasimhanPatterson_CentralSouthAsia.pdf . In fact you can see whole series of papers on the same topic https://reich.hms.harvard.edu/publications . Now the Indian nationalist narrative movement is that Aryan migration does not take place while others say it’s the opposite. One can look at a bit more background on the story in the Indian Express article which came a few months before, before the whole controversy erupted.

One of the best things that has happened is the ability to get the DNA from a 4500 year old specimen. This is Priya Moorani’s github repo. which helped them get the genome data. I am sure some of the Debian folks may be interested in such kind of forensic anthropology. I know I had shared bits of its previously as well but it didn’t fit well with me as I had hadn’t shared the whole narrative behind it and the positions that people have taken.

The Economy

The Economy is in a bad shape in India is in a bad shape is not a hidden thing anymore but India Inc. had been keeping quiet. Apart from Ratan Tata and Mahindra who quipped about the R-word (Recession) only two ladies seems to be able a spade, a spade and both of them called on it on NDTV . Both these ladies are wealth-creators and have made India proud, one of them even benefiting from the rupee crash but even then their heart in the right place.

The Madame above is Ms. Kiran Majumdar Shaw who is a billionaire who makes her money selling generic active pharmaceutical ingredients and other bio products to advanced countries. Businessworld had done stories on pharmaceutical development, engineering about 6-7 years back when it was an emerging industry and lot of startups had come into the field. While it is a pretty competitive field with about 60 odd companies and biocon itself shedding quite a bit of its price on the stock exchange and still she has the guts to criticize the Modi Govt.

The other is Shobhana Kamineni of Apollo Hospitals, which is in superspeciality hospitals. Both the ladies are into medicine field and both are in the high-risk and high-reward game and still they are able to speak their mind. What is and was shocking for many of us is the kind of numbers she had shared of people emigrating to elsewhere in the last 5 odd years which perhaps wasn’t the case before. In fact, couple of days back both Indian Express and the Wire ran stories showing how millionaires and billionaires are moving out of the country. This hasn’t happened in a day but over a 5 year period. While people are saying that the money is being spent on trael and education, in fact it is due to tax harrassment and structural issues in the broader economy that wealth-creators are leaving. Of course for the rest of us it is the Hindu-Muslim topics but that is another story altogether.

The Hindu-Muslim polarization

When I talk to most of the Bhakts or people who have a militant belief of the way BJP is going, one of the questions I ask is, who are these muslims, are they the ones who came from Arab or are these converted Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs etc. Most of them were and our own people who choose to convert to a religion because they saw upward mobility in that religion. So in a way the whole debate collapses. The saddest part is whether it is Hindu-Muslim polarization or Hindu-Sikh polarization it is always one brother beating the other. Also, studies showed that in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the ones who took part in the riots were from the lowest strata of the society because by killing the Muslims, they got prestige and money in the society. While I’m sure I have shared the studies before on the site, but if not shared, please let me know and will update the same accordingly. It is somewhere in my bookmarks somewhere 🙂

Chandrayaan 2 (Update)

The Update for Chandrayaan 2 has been that it was shared by ISRO team that the last 2 kms. the thrust landers which should have been pushing against gravity and moon so that the lander would land softly did the opposite or the reverse i.e. instead of pushing against the moon/regolith gave speed which may have resulted in the crash. In few days NASA may share some photographs of the lander.

The Single-party State

One of the newest discussions that has been thrown is having a single party for the country. Now I dunno whether it is just for us to get us into another discussions or controversies as they have been doing for last so many years, just like Trump does every other day or does he mean it. If this becomes a reality, then there will be nothing left. Even the judiciary has been keeping quiet on the habeaus corpus on the Kashmir issue . In fact Shah Faesal, who if memory serves me right, came on a BJP ticket has withdrawn his habeaus corpus writ as thousands of kashmiris has no access to put up such a writ. Also the Supreme Court casual approach has baffled many of the legal luminaries in the field. At the end, I don’t really know what to look out for The economy doesn’t seem will recover in the short-to-medium term and with the Saudi fields hit, oil, petrol will climb more than ever before. Not a happy note to end on though but it is, what it is.

Update 18/09/2019 – Newslaundry shared that ANI (A Govt. mouthpiece) has been told to alter the stories on single-party state so it appears a bit differently, some papers have still carried it in the same. Youtube also has his statement on record so he can’t escape.

Freedom, Chandrayaan 2 and Corporations in Space.

Today will be a longish blogpost so please excuse if you do not want to read a long article.

While today is my birthday, I don’t feel at all like celebrating. When 8 million Kashmiris are locked down in Kashmir and 19 million to be sent in detention camp, the number may increase, how one one feel happy? Sadly, many people disregard that illegal immigration is everywhere. Whether it is UK or US, Indians too have illegally immigrated. If you look at the comments either in US or UK papers is just as toxic as you would find in twitter in India. Most of the people are uninformed of the various reasons that people choose to take a dangerous path to make home a new country. Alliances are also divided because the children grow up in another culture and then they will be ‘corrupted’ especially if women are sent back to India. The situation in India have never been as similar as they are today, see this from Najam Sethi, an internationally known left-leaning journalist
and similarly you can see how Indian and US Investigative journalism is having a slow death in both India and U.S.

You can also see how similar the societies are going into with this conversations

There are good moments too as can be seen here –

People going to Ganesh Visarjan and Muharram, Hyderabad.

We always say we are better than Pakistan but we seem to be going down to the same road and that can’t be good. Forget politics, even human right issues are not being tackled sensitively by our Supreme Court. Just today there came an incident involving one of the victims of the Muzaffarpur Shelter Home being allegedlly raped in a moving car. The case has been pending in the Supreme Court for quite sometime but no action being taken so far. Journalists either in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana are being booked for showing the truth. I have been trying to engage with people from across the political divide, i.e. the ones who support BJP. Majority of them are don’t have jobs and this is the only way they can get their frustration out. Also the dissonance in political message is such they feel that their jobs are being taken by outsiders. Ironically the Ministers get away with saying things like ‘North Indians lack qualifications’ . It shows lack of empathy on the Minister’s part. If they are citizens of the state, then it is the state’s responsibility of making sure they are skilled. If they are not skilled, then it is the Central Government and State Governments responsibility. Most of the States in the North are governed by BJP. I could share more but then it will all be about BJP only and nothing about the Chandrayaan 2 mission.

Chandrayaan 2 and Corporate Interests

Before we get to Chandrayaan 2, there are few interesting series I want to talk about, share about. The first one is AltBalaji’s Mission Over Mars which in some ways is similar to Mars 6-part series Docu-drama made by National Geographic and lot of movies, books etc. read over years. In both these and other books, movies etc. it has been shown how Corporate Interests win over science and exploration which the motives of such initiatives were and are. The rich become richer and richer while the poor become more poorer.

There has been also lot of media speculation that ISRO should be privatized similar to how NASA is and people saying that NASA’s importance has not lessened even though they couldn’t have been more wrong. Take the Space Launch System . It was first though of in the 2010 after the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 came into being. When it was shared or told it was told that it would be ready somewhere in 2016. Now it seems it won’t be ready until 2025. And who is responsible for this, the same company which has been responsible for lot of bad news in the international aviation business Boeing. The auditor’s report for NASA while blaming NASA for oversight also blames Boeing for not doing things right. And from what we have come to know that in the american system of self-regulation leaves much to be desired. More so, when an ex-employee of Boeing is exercising his fifth Amendment rights which raises the suspicion that there is more than just simply an oversight issue. Boeing also is a weapons manufacturer but that’s another story altogether. For people interested in the arms stuff, a wired article published 2 years back gives enough info. as to how America is good bad or Arms sale.

I know the whole thing gives a rather complex picture but that is the nature of things. The only thing I would say is we should be very careful in privatizing ISRO as the same issues are bound to happen sooner or later, the more private and non-transparent things become. We, the common citizens would never come to know if any sort of national or industrial espionage is happening and of course all profits would be of corporates while losses will be public as seen can be nowadays. Doesn’t leave a good taste in the mouth.

Vikram Lander

Now while the jury is still out as to what happened or might have happened and we hope that Vikram does connect within the 14 days there are lots of theories as to what could have gone wrong. While I’m no expert, I do find it hard to take the statement that probably ISRO saw an image of Chandrayaan 2 lander, at least not a single image has been released in the public. What ISRO has shared in its updates is that it located a lander which doesn’t tell much. While the Chandrayaan 2 orbitor started at 100 km. lunar orbit it probably would have some deviations to make sure that the orbiter itself doesn’t get into Moon’s gravity and crash-lands on the moon itself. The lens which probably would have been used would be to take panaromic shots and not telescopic in nature. As to what happened, we just don’t know as of yet. There are probably a dozen or two probabilities. One of the most simplest explanation to my mind could be some space rock could have crashed into the lander when it was landing. The dark side of the moon has more impacts than the one which we face so it’s entirely possible that the lander got hit by a space rock or lava. From what little I have been able to learn, the lander doesn’t seem to have any A.I. to manoeuver if such a scenario happens. Also any functioning A.I. would probably need more energy and for space missions energy, weight, electrical interference, contamination are all issues that Space Agencies have to deal with it. The other is of course, sensor failure, wrong calculation or a rough spot where it landed and broke the antennae. Till ISRO doesn’t share more details with us, we have only conjecture to help us.

Chandrayaan 2 Imaging

While we await news about the lander, would be curious to know about the images that Chandrayaan 2 is getting. Sadly, none of the images have made it to the public domain as of yet. Whether the images are in FITS or RAW format and whatever spectrum, (Chandrayaan 2 is going to image in a wide range of spectrum.) . Like Spirit and Opportunity did for NASA, I hope ISRO does show renderings of Moon as captured by the Orbitor, even though its lifeless so people, especially children get enthused about getting into Space Sciences .

Depression, Harrapa, Space program

I was and had been depressed mostly when the election results were out. I was expecting like many others that Congress will come into power, but it didn’t . With that, came one bad after other, whether it was on politics (Jammu and Kashmir, Assam) both of which from my POV are inhumane not just on citizenship but even simply on humane levels. How people can behave like this with each other is beyond me. On the Economic Front, the less said the better. We are in midst of a prolonged recession and don’t see things turning out for the better any time soon. But as we have to come to terms with it and somehow live day-to-day, we are living. Because of the web, came to know there are so many countries where it is happening right now, whether it is Britian (Brexit), South Africa, Brazil. In fact, the West Papu thing is similar in many ways to what happened in Kashmir. Of course each region has its own complexities but this can be safely said that such events are happening all over. In every incident, one way ‘The Other’ is demonized. This has happened in all of the above incidents.

One question I have often asked and have had no clear answers. If Germany knew that Israel would be big and strong as it is now, would they have done what they did ? Had they known that Einstein, A Jew would go on to change the face of Science. Would America have been great without Einstein to such a degree ? I was flabbergasted when I saw ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort‘ which is based on real life done by Mossad as shared in the pictures after the movie.

Even among such blackness, I do see some hope. One thing which has good has been the rise of independant media. While the mainstream media has become completely ridiculous and instead of questioning the Government is toeing its line, independant media is trying to do what mainstream media should have been doing all along. I wouldn’t say much about this otherwise the whole blog post would be about independant India only. Maybe some other day 🙂

Harrapan Civilization

One of the more interesting things, videos has been the gamification of Evolution. There is a game called ‘Ancestors, the Humankind Odyssey‘ . While sadly the game is only on Epic Games Store, I have been following the gameplay as shared by GameRiotArmy . While almost all the people who are playing the game have divorced it from their personal beliefs because of the whole evolution, natural selection vs creationism debate, the game itself feeds on the evolution and natural selection bits. The game is open-world in nature. The only quibble I have is it should have started with the big bang but then it probably would have been too long a game perhaps. I am sure for many people, even this gameplay when the game would be complete would be at least 20-30 episodes .

The Harrappan bit comes in when the following bits came onto twitter . While looking into it, saw this also. I think most of the libraries for it are already in Debian. The papers they are presenting can be found at this link for those interested. What is/was interesting is that the ancient DNA they found is supposed to be Dravidian. As can be seen from the atlantic piece it is pretty political in nature hence the researchers are trying to just do their job. It does make for some interesting reading though.

Space, Chandrayaan 2 and Mars-sim

As far as space is concerned, it has been an eventful week. India crash-landed Chandrayaan 2. While it is too early to say what has gone wrong and we are waiting for the scientists to confirm exactly what went wrong, it came to the fore for the wrong reasons. The images with Mr. Modi and how he reacted before and after became the story rather than what Chandrayaan 2 will be doing. Also it came to the fore that ISRO’s scientists salaries have been cut which is a saddening affair. I had already spoken before how I had spoken to some ISRO scientists for merch. and how they had shared, that merchandising only happens in Gujarat. It really seems sad.

The only thing we know as of date is that we lost communications when it was two and half kilometers before touching the surface of the moon. I do hope there are lots of sensors which have captured but do also understand they can’t put many due to problems like cross-talk as well as power issues probably. I do hope that the lander is able to communicate with the orbiter and soon the lander starts on its wheels. Even if it does not, there is lots the orbiter will be able to do as shared by this twitter thread. I shared the unroll from threadreaderapp. Although I do hope it does start talking and takes baby steps.

As far as mars-sim is concerned, a game I am helping in my spare-time, it is going to take lot of time. We are hoping kotlin comes soon. I am thankful to the Java-team and hopefully the packages which are in NEW come to Debian archive soonish and we have kotlin in Debian. I know this will help with update to gradle as well, which is the reason that kotlin is coming in.

Debutsav Mumbai and itsfoss.com changes

Before starting of today’s blog post I will be sharing a video of food which will definitely make you hungry. So make sure you are either eating something or have eaten fully before seeing the video below.

The video is from a place called Aaoji Khaaoji Restaurant which is on J.M. Road . It is a proper foodie place. They have two offers there, if you can eat their whole Thali by yourself they will either feed you your whole life or you can take double the money you paid. Don’t think anybody has been even able to finish half of that thali.

Debutsav Mumbai

While I and a few members of Debian India has been trying to get a debutsav Mumbai happening, now we have the dates for the event as it was announced today on the mailing list. While there are definitely lot of things that would need to be done in order for a successful Debtusav to happen, at least we have got the dates so other things can get start moving.


Another thing that I am sharing is that itsfoss.com, where I write debian-related articles would be going through some interesting changes. While I’m not at liberty to share the changes, the changes are and would be interesting to say the least. The only hint or giveaway I can give is that the changes may be seen in the new few weeks or at the most a month. All the rest, till later 🙂

A tale of broken promises

Before I venture out I would like to share with all one of my old classic favorite songs –

It’s a beautiful soft song and there are many such songs that were composed in the 1960’s. This specific song is from the movie ‘Woh Kaun Thi’ . The original song was sung by Indian Nigtingale Mrs. Lata Mangeshkar. The newer sound that you hear though is of Shreya Ghosal.

At this time the election scenario has been where all promises have been broken. While in the last blog post I had promised I will share some of the issues lot of events have taken in-between and there also had been lot of memories of broken promises by the ruling party which has lead not just me but probably lot of Puneties unhappy and disappointed. I will try and share some of them.

2014 Water pipeline promises

Pune has been facing water shortages since the last decade or so. In fact the situation has turned from bad to worse. The previous government promises they will make lot of pipelines and were voted to power. There was water pipeline scam and the Government changed in 2014. From 2014 to 2019 the water crisis has worsened. In my own home, we get water for only 2-3 hours daily. We have not been able to entertain any families for more than a day because of water issues. The only fortunate part is that I have to walk at the most 20 meters to take water while in some places people have to go miles or do dangerous things such as one I’m sharing below.

As can be seen they are going 60 feet down a well without any support structure or even a rope which means they can fall, injure or even die at any moment, a false step. And this they do everyday in order to get water for their families. This place is around 100 – 120 kms. from Pune. More than 1/3rd of the state has been declared as drought hit

Now we have the present ruling Government in Central, State as well as Municipalities but still the water projects are at the same place since 2014. In fact last year they raised 200 crore rupees saying we are short of funds for the project. Luckily I didn’t participate and I will share why I say luckily. Instead of INR 200 crore, people gave between INR 400-500 crores and this was raised in 2-3 days when the municipal bonds were going to be there for 2 weeks. It was made to imply that the investments would be under sovereign guarantee of Government of India . After the money was collected, it was told that neither the Center nor the State takes any responsibility for the money that was collected. The last I heard on the issue is that apparently the money has been kept in a Fixed Deposit Account (no reason given) .

Apart from the monetary issue, why did it take them 4 years to know that Pune has a water problem when that was their political plank which they had sold to Puneties. Of the several projects that are supposed to happen, the Bhama Akshad Dam project has been hanging fire since 2010. In fact it has its own page on wikipedia so it’s one of the notable water projects. The less I say of the other projects, the better.

Pune Municipal Transport or PMT

One of the other electoral promises that the current Government had made was that there will be a huge improvement in lot number of areas of PMT’s functioning. Accountability, number of buses, number of routes, less breakdowns and less corruption. Neither of these promises have been implemented. PMPML which also a webpage on wikipedia clearly shows that number of breakdowns, while unoffically the number is probably one and half times than what has been reported. As can be seen the last stats. are of 2016-2017, there are no stats. either of 2017-18 or 2018-19. This shows at the very least negligence and lack of transparency on the present Government. This is the same Government which has put spent close to 5,200 crores on advertisements (probably even more) as shared by Rajvardhan Rathore in a Lok Sabha reply in July 2018. And the amount that was spent within July 2018 – May 2019 would probably be about around 2000 crores or something as they spent a lot in ads this year, so the final tax payer and black money must be around 7,200 crores. It is possible that some estimates could be made by PRS and Election Commission, although the less I say about the EC, the better.

Pune Metro Project

This is and was one of the projects I am and was looking forwards to. The Pune Metro was going to make it easier just like Delhi Metro makes it easier to travel from point A to point B without waiting for a bus which when it will come is not known. To keep updated on the project I followed the Pune Metro project twitter handle. The twitter handle is and was useful as it used to keep me updated about how the Pune project is doing. I am one of those who used to check the twitter page daily just to know if they had posted something new just because I have fascination about transit systems, rails, planes, buses you name it. From 18th March 2019, the twitter handle stopped sharing any new news. The first week or two went by and I thought it is possible that due to Election Comission rules they might not be sharing. But even after Pune voted i.e 26th March, 2019 there were still no updates. Somehow I felt something is fishy and on a hunch I tried to see if the Nagpur Metro Rail handle was also showing similar.

To my surprise, the Nagpur Metro Rail were sharing, giving updates even though there is and was a huge section of Nagpur who didn’t feel the need of a metro. Pune does. So I dug a little deeper and found out that HCC has been terminated out of Pune Metro . Just to share a bit of history, this route is the most crucial part of the project as it is the first phase. Just to put a bit of context here HCC used to be a Navratna status public-private company which used to be at the bourses around INR 40-44/- which has now come to INR 13/- and will probably slide to something like INR 10/- . While I do not really want to get into how they have destructed public limited companies and it would probably need a blog post or two to share all the public limited companies they have systematically destroyed let’s leave that for another day.

As far as Pune Metro is concerned, I don’t see anything now till whatever the New Government comes into power anything will happen. This may happen in a month or two from today. Let’s say whatever Government does comes to power, there is also no guarantee that the team that is/was driving the Pune Metro will be managing then. If there is a new team it will again take its own sweet time. Even if the old team is given responsibility it will take close to 6 months to a year for replacements to come by as they would have to re-issue a global tender all over again giving an updated picture of the work done, the work yet to be completed and so on and so forth. We know the delay is going to be so severe that an ardent Pune metro video blogger whom I know, Yogi Logic shared just how things are without saying much as there is nothing left to say 😦

While I could go on sharing lot more deficiencies on the local, Municipal and State level, forget the center but that will have to be for another day.

Update 06/05/2019 – Few friends asked me to aslso share the work that Paani foundation has been doing and the transparent way they have been doing it.

Paani Foundation

Paani Foundation is headed by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. You can see the Paani Foundation’s website as well as the places where they are working. Now my question is, if a non-profit can show where they are doing things, show videos and stuff, also be available to answer queries and one can go and investigate then why not the Government. One thing I need to point out is that they are doing these things very cheaply. While Aamir and his team provide the expertise, the villagers spend their own money, get the materials, do shramdhan i.e, donate an hour or two from your life to make the watershed dam. While they wanted to do this since 2014 but due to bureacratic hurdles and what not, they could only start in 2017. There was an interview in which he shared the above. He also shared he learnt it in WOTR, a pune-based organization.

There is another thing as well. I think I had shared adventures travelingr with a friend when he wanted to look up houses, while he is still on the hunt, lot of projects that we together have now got some sort of RWH (Rain Water Harvesting projects) but that also seems interesting although whether this is too little, too late, only time will tell. I did see this also a few days and was wondering if the situation has turned so desperate. Because it’s the onion dunno if one should believe it or it’s a hoax. Even in the true/fake news the white man should live while Africans should die 😦

India – No country for women ?

While I had been thinking and also done quite a bit of work on some of the issues we are already facing and the new Government will face, for e.g. in the areas of –

1. Employment
2. Agriculture
3. Petrol prices
4. Woman Safety
5. Women empowerment
5. Cow vigilantism
6. Telecommunications
7. Indian Railways
8. IT industry
9. Make in India
10. Startup India
11. Toilets
12. Aadhar privacy
13. Crop loan
14. State of Economy
The list is not exhaustive by any means but is the only way to make some sense of things.

Instead of using the list I had prepared in the order I had wanted to share, had to go to 4. and 5. because of a viral video which has been doing the rounds lately –

A few friends had shared this video yesterday, I saw some partial clip but without audio so couldn’t get any context about what was being shown. Then some other friends shared couple of articles, one from wire and the other from newslaundry which shared slightly different aspects, takes on the same story. Then I saw the video and was truly shocked. Just to make sure I didn’t mishear anything I saw the video a few times. It is and was possible that I misheard or misunderstood something. Just to recap what happened in case the video is not seen, taken off the web or whatever ( the video is of a middle-aged women who is being jostled and questioned by young women for a statement she makes.) While the video is of 14:40 minutes, I will start at the beginning so it’s easier to figure out what happened.

Apparently the middle aged lady, a Mrs. Soma Chakravarthy, a teacher from Mumbai went to Delhi and in a restaurant saw two young women wearing short dresses and claimed that it is because of women like you that women get raped. Apparently, she not only stops there but goes to some men who are in the restaurant and tells/asks them to rape the women. Some other women who were in the restaurant overhear the conversation, take the two young women with them along with the elderly lady to some mall nearby and ask her to repeat what she said few minutes ago. After trying to dodge for a few minutes, she again says that the girls who wear short dresses or those who are rebels should be raped. When a woman asks the elderly lady to apologize to the two young women she doesn’t relent. In fact, when a young woman asks the elderly lady as to why 2 year old babies are raped (which was in national news, happened in Unnao some months ago) , and 80 year old women, the elderly woman reply that probably because they wear nighties instead of sarees. As if sarees some hidden quality. If such were the case, then none of the women who have been raped should be the ones who wear sarees, but this is not the case.

I do have to point out that after the video went viral, the elderly lady, nicknamed ‘Aunty’ has also been harrassed online which also shows how complex the issue is at some level.

The episode however also throws quite a few uncomfortable questions in the air –

a. The women is a teacher in some educational institution in Bombay/Mumbai. So doesn’t it raises questions as to what kind of values she may be imparting to impressionable minds in Bombay/Mumbai ?

b. While I’m perhaps one of the most fashion illertrate persons on the globe, even then I know that Bombay/Mumbai is the fashion capital of India. All the Indian top-most fashion designers have their boutiques there. Even Parsian fashionistas have their designer boutiques in Mumbai. If you see any of the collections on a ramp walk in Paris, you are sure to get same or a similar thing in one of the top boutiques soon. If you are on a lower budget and a design or two become popular, you may have to stay for some more time but you will get on some on the roadside stalls within a few weeks at probably 1/10th to 1/100th of the price at the boutique. In such a scenario does not she not see what people are wearing in Bombay/Mumbai ?

c. The third thing – Then I guess all women from outside India, women tourists should not be allowed or should be told, sorry we cannot protect you. Also ban all the beaches, ban swimming also because women will come in one peice or two-piece swimsuit which could also be alluring.

Apart from breach of a person’s fundamental rights it also contravenes another idea which was being germinated in light of Sri Lanka’s attacks.

Ban the Burqa

And this contravens another set of ideas that an Indian right-wing party called for ‘Ban the Burqa’ or head covering worn by Muslim women. While later they backpeddaled a bit calling it ‘Personal Opinion’ . This episode was particularly illustrated by a twitter user who goes by the name SardarPatelbannedRSS

Message to Women of India by men in politics:
1. Cover yourself up if you don’t want to be raped (‘coz we suck at stopping the men from raping). 2. But expose yourself to prevent terrorism (‘coz we really suck at stopping terrorism).

In fact there are and were many threads in twitter which tried to say how Hinduism is great and trying to whitewash how the Hindu Code Bill came. While I didn’t go to all the threads, at least in one I shared that it wasn’t as easy as being shared or told. It took Dr. Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took 15 years and the issue came to such a head that Dr. Ambedkar resigned from his post . In fact there is an Oxford scholarship book which examines the whole thing in much detail. I don’t have much info. on it apart from the URL .

The CJI Sexual Harrassment Case

In the last few days this has also been shaking the judiciary. From what I could understand of the case/suit filed, apparently a junior to the CJI filed a sexual harrasment case. The judiciary instead of using the Vishaka guidelines which were formed after the Bhawari Devi Gang rape case became a media sensation. While the guidelines has been superseded by POSH the highest judiciary in the land chose to not even use Vishaka guidelines. Due to this the complainant was forced to take back her complaint . She was supported in her decision to take back the complaint by around 300 women who are part of the legal fraternity .

At the end, one is pressed to ask the question, is India not a country for women 😦 ?

Women in Data Science, Pune (Wids, Pune) 2019

The E-Mail

I have no clue how but somehow an event called Widspune or Women in Data Science, Pune got landed in my box. The date of the event was 23rd March 2019 (a Saturday) and happening at Persistent Systems (a somewhat nearby place) hence I evinced interest and replied to the mail and was accepted. While I thought it might take some time to reach and I wanted to be a bit early, I found out I was a bit too early. Registrations hadn’t even started yet. I bided my time (about 20-30 mins.) after which I was able to tick and go to the presentation hall. What I didn’t know at that time was that this was a pretty well-funded, well organized event. They had at least 30+ sponsors to sponsor different parts of the conference. We had 30 women who spoke about Data Science and from the event perspective, it was the largest technical event done by women for women. While I can’t say whether it’s true or not it still was a pretty good effort.

The Hearing problem

I dunno what happened on the event. For some reason, my hearing that day became much worse. You know how sometimes when you sometimes get up on one side of the bed and have either some sprain or something which you cannot explain. While it could have been for any number of reasons, it happened that, it was alright the day before and the day after but that day was able to hear only in patches hence just have no idea as to what happened.

The Mixer, the kid and the Cameras

Apart from the conference, what I was amazed at was with a probably 14-15 year old who had a mixing board, 4 tapes and 3 cameras which were looking at the presentation. I hope the below is helpful for the Debian Video team which does similar work for Debconf . The three cameras were used in slightly different ways and were manned by three people, one for each camera. The first camera and camera person’s job was to follow the presenter as they either stood or walked/used the stage to be as effective as they could be. The second camera was trained on the presentation itself all the time while the third one was trying to capture both the presenter and the presentation in the same frame as the presenter moved across the stage. While I dunno if the stream was live-streamed on the web either via youtube or any other video hosting platform, I do know that it was being live-streamed/thrown to another room as more people came to the event than antipated. I think they had something like 20-30 walk-ins at the last moment. From whatever little interaction I had with the kid, he didn’t seem to know much english (all the presentations were mostly in English with some smattering in Marathi, the local language) but he had a great instinct. He knew the three-four buttons to push and whenever the presenter would focus on the screen telling about some specific topic he would choose to focus on that, and then back to the presenter and sometimes having both the presenter and the presentation in the same shot. This way the presenations never got boring. I am sure that even though the mix could have been good enough, there might be somebody else who might look at the kids work and then make some additional adjustments hence the 4 cassettes where the feed ended up being . One would porbably be the mix that the kid was doing, while the other three were probably direct feed from the camersas, just so in case there is an issue with the mix or somewhere else, having multitude of raw data, they could edit and have a nice presentation. They were supposed to upload the whole presentation onto youtube but for some unknown reason hasn’t been done till date.

The National Anthem

This is a peculiar thing I have seen in few corporate-type presentations where the National anthem is being played. This has happened in last few years and I don’t really know why they do it. Do they suspect the nationalism of the people who they curated. Mrs. Sucheta Dhere proudly shared that they had carefully curated the audience as well as the speakers so there is diversity of views, age etc. Also if they wanted to be nationalistic, then why not ‘Vande Mataram‘ rather than Jan Gana Mana . I always Vande Mataram to be somehow much more beautiful and inclusive rather than ‘Jan Gan Mana’ . It also fits right into the feminist track as that was what it was trying to promote. The sad part was most people were lip-synching rather than actual singing the anthem.

National Anthem, Copyright WIDS, Pune

While I will not be sharing all the presentations as it will make a blog post quite long, I will however share couple of notable presentations or at least my take on the presentations.

Democratizing AI, Dr. Rohini Srivastava, Microsoft (India)

Dr. Rohini Srivastava, CTO, Microsoft India, Copyright – Wids Pune...

The first talk of the day was given by Dr. Rohini Srivastava . In the beginning of the presentation. In the beginning of the presentation Dr. Srivastava. She claimed that the company was at the forefront of people privacy and such issues. Just that single statement was enough for me to tune out. While I don’t use MS-Windows extensively (almost 99% of my time is used using Debian Linux) the 1% gives me enough to tell how bad it is. In fact, both EU and Brazil have expressed concerns and in fact EU made a proper presentation as to how bad privacy is in Windows 10, esp. with the whole telemetry thing. In fact I had seen MS behavior from sidelines from way before, the whole Halloween documents stuff in 1998, the whole Wintel era and the various EU issues resulting out of that, the browser-bundling issue and last but not the least the whole browser issue for which they fined in 2013. So till date MS-Windows has less than a stellar record for privacy. To state the opposite means she would be lying more. While I did try to hear her, it didn’t help in any way.

Ujjayani Mitra Zee 5

Ujjayani Mitra, Zee 5 Copyright: Wids Pune

When do you Love an Advertisement

Before I start about what she shared, I would suggest to check out Zee 5’s entry both on wikipedia and the site itself to see the kind of content it makes. While Zee had a certain brand and reputation for family content over a decade, decade and a half, this one is a bit of voyuerism in it, most of the movies and most of the shows. While Ujjayani’s presentation was different as it showed three, four different advertisements, the third one being cute and the fourth one being slightly sexual (condom or perfume ad if memory serves right). The cute ad was of a boy who gets up at night, dresses himself up, goes to the police station, says he is lost, the Policeman knows this is a ploy of the kid to enjoy Mercedes Benz and still he takes him for a joyride and hopefully drops him home. While logically, it doesn’t make sense it is cute. Vodafone did lots of cute zoo zoo and dog ads which also got them lot of attention, whether it resulted into sales or not might be a different question. Her main drive or idea was how Zee 5 was using analytics to find about specific individuals. While this might have given some pause to some of the audience, some audience might not have known, those of us who been using the web since close to inception, know exactly what she was talking about. It is the same tactics as FB has been doing, nothing different.

The T-shirt

Data has no gender, T-shirt

One of the saving graces of the meetup was the T-shirt which was nice, although they didn’t have one in my size. No worries though, it was a nice t-shirt.

Privacy, Surveillance Capitalism, Jobs death and no answers

While people did ask of questions about Privacy and the cutailment of jobs, they did fish but had no real answers. And while a part of me cries betrayal, a part of me also understands their plight. While one of the last sessions did share about biased AI data in one of the last sessions, there is still lot to be done in that regard. The fight in fact has just started. And if Google AI ethics board can fire or have hostile workspace for some of their best developers because they wanted to do the right thing on AI, then all the women as well as the men who do not enjoy the kind of civil and labor rights that a U.S. citizen enjoys can’t do much. Before ending, I have to share that I haven’t shared much creepiness that is going on AI right now. Just to give one more example, would be an article on scroll which gives lot of food for thought. The sad part in all this is that most users and consumers are unaware about what is going on 😦