India, Miscellanous

Why Uber cannot be exonerated?

Lot has been written about the Uber incident that happened two weeks back in Delhi. Most of them were *understandably* outbursts calling for banning Uber. I condemn the incident strongly and my empathy lies with the victim and her family for what happened. Banning Uber is not the solution for this, for that as a society we need to look deeper.

In this background, I happened to read this  article “In defense of Uber in India”  by my friend Sriram Krishnan (who works in Silicon Valley) which has looked into this from a different perspective. In response to that article is my below response.

Sriram, yours was a refreshing piece to tell the Uber side of story. But I feel it misses the forest for the trees. I sympathise with Uber that they have been made a scapegoat for a systematic failure in India for Women safety especially in New Delhi. But that doesn’t exonerate Uber from their failure.

Uber is not doing this as a “free” service. They are charging me (the user) $$$ to deliver me a ride and that ride has to be safe. That’s part of the social and legal contract when I start using their app and get into their cabs. Period.

If verification systems in India are not functional (which I agree are far from perfect) then Uber had to invent its own. Many international firms are doing that across industries for various functions.  If we give benefit of doubt in this to Uber, then McDonald’s (or Saravana Bhavan) can serve a poisoned meat and say India’s food control are patchy, so we are helpless. Similarly Facebook can do nothing for child pornography and say India’s law on that are weak or non-existent.

The advantage of globalisation is the cross polination of good ideas and best practices. As an Indian user when I use an American (or Global) service/product I expect I am getting the best from the world. Not the same stuff I can get in my street corner. I don’t need an Uber to give me a ride in an old dirty autorickshaw ride with Uber sticker on the side.

In this incident, Indian society and my elected Government(s) have failed to ensure safety for that poor woman. It is no secret that women safety in India is poor. A 10 minute analysis on social media would have told Uber that. This is what India is today. Before launching the service, Uber should have taken notice of this, planned their checks in place and then rolled out their service. I have not read in media, that they did anything beyond routine “eye-wash” actions and that’s why I feel they are guilty.


Names of subways in TNagar

If you travel  in Usman Road, T.Nagar (Chennai) from South to North you will encounter three under-bridges to cross the suburban (electric) railway line. The under-bridges run East to West (perpendicular) to Usman Road, are called in local parlance as Subway(s). They are Aranganathan Subway (near Saidapet), Madeley Subway (near T.Nagar bus terminus), Duraisamy Subway (near Panagal Park). Being a resident of the area I was curious about the origin of their names. Today that’s what I did with the help of Chennai’s own heritage writer Sriram V and Karthik Bhatt.

  1. Aranganathan Subway  was named the DMK volunteer Thiru.Aranganathan, who lost his life by self-immolation for Hindi agitation cause.
  2. Madeley Subway was named the British Engineer Mr.JW Madeley who was Special Engineer for Waterworks and Drainage under whose supervision most of the drains in Madras were laid
  3. Duraisamy Subway was named a famous eye specialist Dr. Duraisamy

Incidentally Usman Road got its name after Governor Sir Mohammed Usman.


Lingaa (2014)

Rajinikanth starring Lingaa (லிங்கா) got released yesterday on superstar’s birthday. Rajni’s fans had been waiting for the superstar’s next movie for last 4 years, with Endhiran (2010) being his previous movie. Rajni appears in two characters, one as a British era collector (and Raja Lingeswaran) with Sonakshi Sinha as his pair, second as a present day common thief Lingaa with Anusha Shetty as his love. Santhanam provides the comedy relief. The movie is about how Raja Lingeswaran builts on his own funds a dam for the welfare of Solaiyur, he succeeds in his mission even with stiff opposition from a British collector but ends up losing all his Royal wealth. After 70 years, in the present time the dam is in danger of being demolished by a local MP for his greed to get commission if a new one is built.

I went to the movie today in Mayajaal multiplex. Almost all screens was showing Lingaa and all of them were running full, I had booked my ticket 4 days back. Driving on a Saturday to ECR and returning to city is a pain due to the traffic. Added to that trouble, the multiplex was in bad condition with poor maintenance. This will be my last visit to Mayajaal.

Coming back to the movie. The movie fails to leave you with any impression unlike typical Rajni movies. There is not even any Punch dialogue!!!. The first thing you feel when you come out of the theatre is how long the movie has been running at 3 hours, easily 30-40 minutes could have been cut without any loss.

Sonakshi and Anushka appear beautiful, with Anushka slightly on the plumpy side compared to say Singam 2. Both of them appear young to be romancing with Rajni, Anushka character had a bit of chemistry with Rajni to go with, but Sonakshi character’s settings felt  as Father & Daughter like relationship. The songs have been pictured very well, the sets and costumes were enchanting. I saw in the title card A.R.Rahman’s name as Music Director, the background score was good but I didn’t hear Rahman in any of the songs.

Generally in Rajni movie, actors playing his friends circle are remembered for long. Think of Y.G.Mahendran and gang in Veera (1994), Senthil in Arunachalam (1997), Goundamani in Baba (2002) or Vivek in Sivaji (2007).  Unfortunately in this movie, Santhanam and gang fail to make any impression.

Regarding the Raja Lingeswaran character, it seems to be an attempt by Director K.S.Ravikumar to tick every possible superlative – British Collector, tick; Maharaja with boundless riches,tick; Civil Engineer,tick; Patriotic Indian,tick; Socialist, tick. As a result we are unable to identify with the character, he becomes an imagination, a mythical figure. So when the Raja loses all his wealth to treachery of British collector, we are unable to feel for his loss. Contrast this to Muthu (1995), when  Rajni character walks out singing Vidu Kathaiya, a whole generation watching the film cried with the song.

Regarding the present day Lingaa character of a common thief, for me, a con man Rajni can be  Johnny (1980) or a master criminal like Billa (1979) or even the comical stealer in Ninaithale Inikkum (1979). With that impression in mind, to see Rajni playing a young common thief and stealing a jewel from a five star hotel, looks so amateurish and tasteless.

Finally, I felt this film is a wasted storyline and opportunity by the Director. Had he taken only the story of the Raja Lingeswaran (with inspiration from rumoured Mullaperiyar dam by John Pennycuick) as a period film, the film could have been smaller, focussed and provided enough to feed Rajni fan’s hunger for action!




India, Yoga

International Yoga Day falls on my son’s birthday

When I picked up the morning newspaper today with my cup of coffee, I was delighted to see a full page advt. from Ministry of External Affairs (Govt. of India). It was the announcement of United Nations announcing June 21st as International Day of Yoga. My joy was not because of my love for Yoga (which I have been practicing for last 14 years) but because June 21st is my only son’s birthday!!!. My 11 year old son has been doing Yoga for last many years as well.

Having said this, I am aware that this may amount to nothing on ground to spread the art of Yoga. But then in life we don’t need to be left-brained always, symbolic occasions like this should be enjoyed!!!

Picture of Yoga statues in New Delhi Airport (Terminal 3), Courtesy: MEA

Picture of Yoga statues in New Delhi Airport (Terminal 3), Courtesy: MEA