Agencies able to monitor conversations without judicial oversight.

It seems that the BJP has finally lost what little moral compass it held. Today, in a stunning order we lost all the ground that all our civil activist friends had hard-fought in the last few years making Right to Privacy a fundamental right . At least a decade worth of effort has been put down the drain. While the reasons are not hard to fathom, they just lost 5 state elections and instead of introspecting the reasons of why they lost, they have chosen to act in this brazen manner.

The most worrying and interesting part at the same time is that the powers that have been given to the Central Agencies is without any judicial oversight so it’s pretty much given that they will use it more for their personal gains and enmity rather than any real or perceived threat to Indian sovereignty. They might be perceiving that losing in elections is tantamount to threat to Indian sovereignty. They forget that BJP!=India which means BJP is not equal to India, no political party is. In putting this order they are also putting precedents of fascist and dictatorial orders in a democratic, peace-loving country like India. The picture that emerges is a simple one, if they are going to lose, they might attempt these sort of orders in the hopes they can eavesdrop on the opposition, business leaders, threaten them etc. and by hook or crook win National elections which is supposed to be held in middle of next year nobody would be the wiser. They have made many changes in the highest court expecting that the judges that have been appointed would rule in their favor. And anyways, any filing of suit today would have a first hearing at least 3-4 months down the line or even later depending on dates of judges, court-room access etc. If nothing, the General Attorney from Government of India can always ask for more time.

The most worrying aspect of this is they have given even the Police Commissoner the said powers. While we hope that the higher bodies like ED and Intelligence Bureau would use the powers responsibly, the police sadly has been known to overreach its authority against civilians even without the additional powers given to them. Also this is setting precedents that State Police of different States could also ask for the same powers citing law and order. It is a bit ironic if you ask me that if you a law enforcement official serving say in the United States, you would have to get judicial consent before tapping a suspect’s phone even though they have right to bear arms (it is one of the fundamental rights), while here, i.e. in India posessing arms is more or less illegal but still police will get such powers citing law and order.

MHA Order

I wanted to share that the diversity and values that Indian people have and this seems to be the most opportune time to share it as had bunch of experiences in Kerala. There were couple of interesting experiences and observations that I made on my short visit to Kerala, Kochi. After being for the whole of Debutsav I decided to take a mini-holiday of 2-3 days to just look around Kochi. While I had been to Kerala before but each time it had been either a beach, a temple and not really seeing Kerala. This time around, I was able to see how due to Kochi being a sea port had lot of influences on Christian and Muslim minorities and how they are able to have a sort of jovial relationship. I did see Christian schools on roads named after Muslim saints and vice-versa although due to Dutch East India Company, most of the places and even roads had english names. Being alone, I was able to talk to some of the fishermen and they shared both their helplessness with the State’s response to the floods and the uncertainty of the catch. Because Fort Kochi is still a functioning port, I did see couple of huge cargo or freight ships as well as was able to use the ferry which the local people used for point to point travel. I would probably upload pictures of both in couple of days here itself. While I was fascinated by these huge container ships, the fishermen shared with me how it has polluted the inland and how fishing is not good as it once was. The only way is to go to open sea and with the recent floods it is not inspiring.

One of the more interesting experiences was meeting a Mr. Singh. I will not share the gentleman’s details as all the sharing were done off the record. I am sharing here just as an example of a reality which is not exposed often. Mr. Singh is the eldest of the three brothers. While he was born in Punjab but due to reasons unknown (I didn’t ask him) his father settled in Kerala. Just like rest of Keralities of his time there wasn’t much for young men like him to do. So instead of sitting idle like his 2 brothers he decided to risk and go to Middle East. This was in the 70’s. He worked in UAE, Dubai, Qatar and other places. He found many Indians, Punjabis included and none gave a fag about what religion they were. They made many watering holes where Indians used to meet every Friday, socialize and share news of whatever currently was happening there or whatever news they could get of home, India.

When he came back in the 90’s many people including him started either some small shops or restaurant business to cater to people. Unlike Pune though, Kochi doesn’t have seem to have many restaurants but anyways that’s a different story.

Around 1991/92 unrelated to the Bombay riots 1992 there were communal riots even there where his shop was burned down. But due to relationships he had built up in Middle East, many Muslims and even some Parsis came to help him and get back on his feet. So while his children are well-placed, he did feel that the community relationships which have helped and guided him hoped didn’t get trampled by BJP which is trying to upset the easy relationships most communities have built over decades. I did hear some similar stories from other people as well. There are even lot of Assamese people who have emigrated to Kerala and they speak Malayalam better than the natives. In fact, Balasankar confided that the domestic helper who comes to their place to help out his mother and family, her son got 100/100 in Malayalam . This says something about the spirit of the place and the people therein.

Economic Migration, Unemployment, Retirement benefits in advanced countries etc.

After my South African Debconf experience and especially the Doha, Qatar layover experience soon after my return back, a friend from Kerala had sent me a link of a movie called Pathemari . For various reasons I could not see the movie till I had come from the Hospital few months back. I would recommend everybody to see that movie if they want to see issues from a blue-collar migrant worker’s views.

Before I venture further, I think a lot of people confuse between economic migration and immigration. As can be seen in the movie, the idea of economic migrants is to do work and come back to his/her own country while immigration is more about political asylum, freedom of expression those kind of ideas. The difference between the two can be starkly seen in one of my favorite movies of all times ‘Moscow on Hudson’.

I have had quite a few discussions with some friends from Kerala last year and years before seeing this movie and had been sort of flabbergasted with the answers shared by them with me at the time. Most of them were on the lines of ‘we don’t want/need any development. I/We would go to X (Any Oil producing country) or west to make money and then come back home. Then why should we have industry ? While this is from personal anecdotal experiences while I was in the hospital, I also saw similar observations online as well. For e.g. Northwestern did an article which explains some of the complexity years ago . More recently has been an IIM, Bangalore Working Paper which corroborates the importance of Nursing to Kerala, the state as well as to the Indian economy as a whole. It’s a pretty interesting paper specifically for those wishing to understand aspects of Indian migration outward (nursing) and some info. about expectations from such migrants who want to join in the labor markets in Netherlands and Denmark (local language, culture, adaptions etc. all of which is good.).

In hindsight, I now agree with parts of the reasons shared by my colleagues and peers from Kerala in context to what has occurred in Goa in recent past and how that affected tourism of the state. While it has been few years since I last stayed in Goa for 2 weeks or more, I have always found it to be a little piece of Paradise tucked in the corner.

Also similarly in the context of median age of Americans rising which was shared in the previous article, I don’t see them replenishing their own ranks with young blood. The baby boom years for America seem to be over (for now and bit into the future). On the medicine side, since we have been talking about nursing. another observation is it seems that the American Government will cut off whole lot of Americans from medical care which Mr. Trump did few days back. The statements shared therein seems much a spin story as no numbers were shared or anything. There was this report I read last year which tells how an urban middle-class American family might suffer depending on how much medicare is cut.

I have seen something very similar happening in Pune, India, with quite a few insurance companies, medical practitioners, staff etc. giving needless medicines or tests where they aren’t needed, more so if you have insurance. Of course after you have availed it, your individual premium will rise as the ‘risk’ has increased but this is veering off the main story. There were quite a few patients who shared their horror stories and lessons with me during my stay in the hospital.

On the labor front I don’t see a way out for Americans to work. For e.g. Patels (a caste and a community) went to States and found that most Americans do not or did not like maintaining motels and they provided/took over the that service, partly as it’s a risky business and partly most motels are run-down etc. Apart from the spin being put in the context of both legal and illegal immigration in States, it seems, at least to me there would be more undocumented illegal Americans living then those coming legally and America would suffer economically due to that.

You can see Qatar doing it already as well as Saudi Arabia trying to be more open, while States seems to be dancing on another beat altogether.

Coming to the India perspective –

Note – Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, Ministry of External Affairs, India has been particularly active and robust in seeking welfare for Indian brethren trying to find work abroad.

One of the few good things that the present Government has done is have a pro-active foreign policy minister and being given a free hand to operate, she also seems to trust herself and others to do the right thing. Although she hasn’t done much apart from taking the lowest apples which were ripe for taking for years, it also tells/reminds that what apathy most Governments had towards foreign policy partly due to the socialist structure and culture in education, culture and even affairs of the State.

While I was reading on the subject I came across I,Daniel Blake . I saw the movie and shared with my mother. We were both shocked as we saw the trials that the gentleman had to go through and eventually his passing away. We thought that only bureaucracy in India was bad, now we come to know its the same at least as UK is concerned.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/19/esther-mcvey-makes-disability-benefits-u-turn-over-payments

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/17/benefit-claimants-underpaid-employment-support-allowance

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/29/employment-and-support-allowance-the-disability-benefit-cuts-you-have-not-heard-about

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/16/government-policy-poor-people-debt-benefits-universal-credit

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3138853/Britain-s-mid-life-crisis-UK-average-age-hits-40-time-population-jumps-500-000-64-6-million.html

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/28/freedom-great-deal-of-that-inside-the-eu-brexit

After seeing the movie saw the. The above does give some of the understanding why UK opted for Brexit and the expected fallout that probably will be.

Before I end I want to give a shout out, kudos to Daniel Echeverry for putting guake ported to gtk3 with dark theme. I really like the theme and do hope more themes follow in upcoming days, weeks and months.

Guake, dark theme and gtk3

Also another shoutout to Timo Aaltonen for getting a newer snapshot of xserver-xorg-video-intel for testing .

I do hope to explore a bit more of the new system, see what the new CPU, GPU can do in the coming days and weeks. I did some explorations about libsdl1.2 recently http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-sdl-maintainers/2018-January/002711.html and do hope to at least get some know-how where the newer integrated graphics and power options would become more useful in short and medium-term.

I also was thinking about the impending python3 transition and it seems that 90% of the big libraries are ready to make the transition. The biggest laggards seem to be mozilla, which I guess is still trying to deal with the fallout from firefox 57.0, the whole web-extensions bit etc.

Atm it seems a huge setback for mozilla, whether they will be able to survive is entirely on the third-party add-on developers. If that ecosystem doesn’t get enriched to the status they were before the transition, we could see firefox losing lot of users, at least in the short and medium-term.

Lastly, I did try to add a new usb device in the usb-database at https://usb-ids.gowdy.us/read/UD/1ecb/02e2 but there doesn’t seem to be a way to know whether that entry got accepted or not 😦