August 30, 2013

Ahead of the curve

"My favorite hero made more money than your favorite hero" seems to be the latest trend in Bollywood. This validates my theory that Gult people are ahead of everyone and are leading the nation in things that matter the most.

For instance, we sang “Aa ante Amalapuram” way back in 2004. Bollywood copied it when, 2012? We inappropriately ogled at Genelia D'Souza in 2003. They only started doing it only a couple of years before her marriage. We are way ahead!

Between 2001 and 2008, our movies blew up more SUVs into the air than America did in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period. Bollywood discovered the magic of flying Tata Sumos only after Rohit Shetty happened to it.

By 2009, district-wise collection numbers of recently released mainstream movies was Breaking News on TV9. NDTV reached that state only recently. Based on these trends, I am predicting frenzy caste based violence between Akshay Kumar’s fans and Salman Khan’s fans in London by 2016.

It’s not just in patronizing useless movies (where we clearly kick ass) that we lead the nation. Among separate state movements for instance, movements for Bodoland, Vidarbha, Kodagu, and Gorkhaland etc. are just waking up now, after we crossed the finish line and Telangana is waiting for the presentation ceremony.

Our students have consistently dominated (dowry fuelled) migration to the US for at least two decades now. We are also the first ones to detect America’s decline and started migrating to Germany and Scandinavian countries because a foreign degree is cheaper in those semi-socialist countries. Again, ahead of the curve!

Narendra Modi’s paintings of a glorious “developed” Bharat may look new to you but Gults are not really impressed to be honest. You know why? Because our ex-CEO Babu Chandrababu already showed us the same neo-liberal dream in 2001 through his vision document called Vision 2020 which had visions of Hyderabad looking like a cheap 3D animated knock-off of Dubai. It was probably the first PowerPoint presentation to be shown in all movie theatres.

Multinational Corporations dictating laws in the country may be catching up now at a national level but we hired McKinsey & Co. back in 1999 to give us a road map of how to implement neo-liberal policies dictated by the World Bank and IMF. So all this talk of development and growth… its déjà vu. We’ve been there, done that. It ended in a lot of farmer suicides and 10 years of Congress rule (from which we may never recover).

The only regret about our Swarnandhra Pradesh phase, if any, is losing to Maharashtra in farmer suicides. We finished at a close second position just behind Maharashtra which continues to be the undisputed champion of Agrarian Crisis. All credit for this must go to Sharad Pawar. I give credit where it is due. 

All this talk of politics is useless banter. We don’t really care because we know God is on our side. Which other state can boast of a temple that patents its prasadam and commercially sells it in select outlets across three states? Some of our Churches gift eight cement bags to anyone who attends the Sunday prayer for six months without fail and our mosques make news only during real estate disputes and communal disharmony. Tax-free enterprises all of them!

We are also pioneers in preferring English education to our mother tongue. Parents take immense pride of the fact that their kids cannot read or write anything but English. In fact, we started this trend way back in the 1890s. It is beautifully captured in the literature of those times but we abandoned much of the progressive literature, theatre, and music of the last century, so we wouldn't know much about it.

What we do know is that our news media is the best. Did you know that there are over sixteen Telugu 24x7 news channels that look the same, feel the same, and make the same hysterical cacophony about the same non-issues at any given point of time? No other regional language or state has that many news channels. We are spoiled with choice.

The cross ownership of national media is something that is being debated in recent times but in Andhra, conflict of interest has been the norm for over 30 years now. Tamil news media however continues to define the term Conflict of Interest.

Our news channels have been leading the nation with their radically disruptive journalistic practices too. For instance they routinely barge into pubs, restaurants, hotels, bedrooms, bathrooms, and hospitals to shoot videos of people minding their own business and edit them to look inappropriate so that they can blackmail them. This ‘Either black money or TRPs’ business model is what seasoned entrepreneurs call a win-win situation.

Same trend in the paid news department too. What Telugu media was doing during the 2004 elections was quite ahead of its time. It took five more years for the national media to internalize this election rigging business model and stoop our level.

Forget politics, religion, the media and other things. India's greatest asset is its human capital and when it comes to raising the next generation, we are the all-time undisputed heavy weight champions in school education and parenting best practices.

As trailblazers in the education sector, our corporate schools and colleges have done some ground breaking research on how children spent their time and how each activity affected their performance in standardized tests. Studies have shown that children with healthy childhoods scored slightly less marks than children with no childhood. And “slightly less” is not acceptable for a competitive Andhra parent and thus the Apartment Complex High School was born.

The Apartment Complex High School is a really simple idea. I wonder why no one has ever thought of it before. It is basically a high school packed into a four storeyed apartment building. The first two floors consist of 2BHK apartments converted to class rooms. The third and fourth floors are hostels. The parking lot is converted to a kitchen and the balconies are fitted with iron grills to prevent depressed students from jumping to certain death.

The school ground is a token half basketball court with a rusted hoop and no net used for parking white SUVs belonging to the administration. But that’s okay because the kids are not allowed to play. Yeah, we abolished the games period in school sometime between 2004 and 2005. Playing games doesn't help kids score better in math, so what’s the point?

Literature, languages, social sciences, arts, games, craft and library periods also had to go to make way for “study hours” where students mug up printed notes and All-in-One guides because that is what is required for success in exams and success in exams is the ultimate goal of education in this country. Let’s not pretend any other way.

This paradigm shifting bottom-line education with focus on math, physics and chemistry marks alone has reaped us rich dividends as we can see from the number of Gults flooding the IITs each year who ultimately serve the country by doing an MBA and/or get married, hopefully with a huge dowry.

Vijayawada got its first apartment complex school more than 10 years back. Bangalore is getting them now, and we are the ones building them! Parents in other states are slowly appreciating the convenience of locking up kids in an apartment complex school from 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM. Besides, it mentally prepares them for the dead end corporate jobs they will have to do when they reach adulthood. Now that is preparing the next generation for the economy of the future.

If you are wondering what India will look like in the future, look no further than the soon-to-be erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh. Gultisthan Zindabad!

August 8, 2013

Oh my Dog!

Over the last couple of months, I have been doing some independent research on dogs (you know collecting statistics, normalizing the raw data, drawing probability density curves, adjusting for bias in fill conditional distributions and shit like that) and I think I have reached a level where I can look at a dog and its surroundings and predict with a fair degree of accuracy whether it will chase me or not. I am here to share some wisdom. Read the full post here