Kind words

Help from unexcpected places Kind words from a stranger often touch and comfort you more than those from a friend. If you are on twitter or similar online forum, you’ve probably told your followers about your sorrows and joys. And if you are like me, you’ve been surprised at how deeply total strangers seem  happy for you when something great happens and mourn with you when something goes wrong.

I have wondered why this is so. What makes a stranger empathise with you more than your best friend?

Maybe it is because what you want and often get, from strangers, is momentary and strong emotions, when your best friend is trying to give you what you need, which might be a kick on your backside.

Maybe it is because you hold  people close to you to a higher standard, and don’t expect much from strangers.

Maybe you are blind to all that people who love you are doing.

Maybe it is because it is easier to say “hugs” than hug.

I’ll be back when I have answers, but what do you think?

The wonderful Image is by By Jose Téllez

Unity Reddit AMA

The programmers  behind Unity are doing an AMA on Reddit.

We are the Ubuntu Unity Development Team.

We will be here answering questions about Unity. If you ever wanted to know who does what, why we made certain technical decisions, or just what we had for breakfast, now is your chance! Ask away! We’ll be around for the next 5 to 6 hours but will try to answer what we can. Thanks for participating!
Note: We are the programmers for Unity, and make very little in the way of design decisions. We will try to answer whatever questions we can about Unity and its design, but there will be some questions we just won’t have answers for.

The conversation can be summarised as:

Unity Programming Team AMA Reddit Rage Comic

There seems to be no love lost between the programming team and the design team.  From the AMA, a clear picture of the Unity design team has emerged


While some would argue that taking such risks is essential for progress to happen, it is disconcerting to see that  the most detailed explanation about the inflexibility of Unity given  by team Ubuntu has been:

“Because we can”

As Mir Taqi Mir said, Aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya

The Eight Pillars of Innovation

Google’s pillars of innovation are, as expected, great, but do they apply to the little man?

  • A Mission that matters – Check
  • Thinking big, starting small – Check
  • Continual innovation, not instant perfection -check
  • Look for ideas everywhere – check
  • Share everything umm, everything?
  • Spark with imagination, fuel with_data – Both important, depending on type of innovation
  • Be a platform – Check, you are never too small to be a platform.
  • Never fail to fail – check, as long as failure is not an option.

Ignorance, Drunkenness or Racism?


At the pub yesterday: I am nursing my glass of  Belgian beer,  Latin rap (yes, it exists) is playing in the background.

Caucasian male sitting next to me, to the bar tender: “Whats this music? its kind of offensive, don’t you have The Rolling Stones or something?”

Bartender: “I’m sorry but the theme for today  is Latin, so I can’t change it”

Caucasian Male: “Hey, I’m Latino, in fact, (points at me) I am more Latino than this guy”.

Me: “I’m from India”.

Caucasian Male: “What’s that?”

P Sainath delivers The Inaugural Maharaj Kaul Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley

Pay-to-print”: How Media Corruption Undermines Indian Democracy


Was the title of P Sainath’s illuminating speech about the dangerous undermining of the 4th estate of india by corrupt practices.

Maharaj Kaul (1940 – 2009), a UC Berkeley alum, was a tireless campaigner against injustice and for peace, founder of groups such as India Relief and Education Fund, and Coalition Against Communalism, and long-time supporter of Center for South Asia Studies (CSAS) at the University of California, Berkeley, mission and activities. CSAS, together with the family of Maharaj Kaul, has established the annual Maharaj Kaul Lecture series at UC, Berkeley.


The popular take on the issue of “paid news” in India is that politicians manipulate the media by buying them out, and therefore politicians are the primary villains. Sainath traces the origins and circumstances of this phenomenon, and comes to a different conclusion, one that i am convinced is the more informed view.

He opened and closed the lecture with

Indian media is politically free but is imprisoned by profit

According to Sainath, the “beginning” was when media companies started being acquired by or being funded by big corporates. Some of the top news agencies in India, and in Maharashtra in particular, where the paid news phenomenon first came to light, are owned by business houses or have significant investments in various markets.

Outfits like the Times of India have “private treaties” with dozens of companies. These are agreements that they will promote the company for a fees, and often in exchage of shares in the company. TOI returns the favor by increasing “news coverage” and passing off puff pieces as news. Not only is this done in public, it is done in the face of several laws and regulations passed by the SEBI that make such treaties illegal.

Media houses in india not only have such agreements, but are also invested deeply in many industries, from sugar to real estate. In fact there is so much marketization, it is “it is difficult to differentiate between the fourth estate and real estate”

This infiltration of media houses in the Indian market was doing well, but, “its always the wall street that buggers everything”.the wall street crashed and media houses were facing severe financial strains. At this juncture, they did two things, one fell into their lap and the other was contrived. Media agencies across India instructed its reporters that the world “recession” was not to be used with respect to the indian market. “Recession happens in the US, we have a slowdown”. This deceptive tactic allowed them to boost the confidence of the readers in the market, without which, they would be on the streets.

As luck would have it, the elections in Maharashtra came upon at this time. For the media this was an excellent way of making unaccounted for money that could be used to buffer the market losses.

The gory details of how much money was made is easily available in Sainath’s stories that ran in The Hindu, however it is interesting to note one incident in which some students of his who were helping him go through hundreds of news papers, pointed out that on one occasion, a news item about Mr. Ashok chavan was published as an “exclusive” in 6 different papers, simultaneously, and under the by lines of the heavy weights of that paper. 3 of them were the same word to word.

In summary, the media in india is heavily invested in all sorts of markets, and this has led to their dependence on the markets at the cost of perverting the truth to ensure that their investments stay viable. In many cases the media can be considered to be nothing more than the PR wing of the multi billion dollar corporates that own them. It is now the ideological arm of the corporate establishment.

Sainath did not offer any prescriptions on how this malaise, which continues, can be cured.

The full video of the lecture can be found at

Here are some quotes from the lecture.

On why there were so many commissions on the same issue

The GOI can put up as many as 12 commissions and enquiries on the same issue till someone comes up with a report that they want.

On the sate of journalism in the US

the only thing that has not reduced about american journalism is its arrogance, otherwise, they are shrinking rapidly.

The company that times of India is owed by is Bennet Coleman and Co.

“Bandits conmen and co- as some of old journalists call them”

“The media is too heavily invested in the market to tell us the truth about it”

“There is a structural compulsion to lie”

On rural reporting- In spite of the fact that the majority of india is still rural, and poverty in India is a serious issue, there is not a single news agency in india that has a full time reporter on poverty or agriculture.

“gross and growing disconnect between mass media and mass reality

a structural shut out of the poor

the media in india today is the most exclusionary institution of the indian democracy – regarding caste/gender etc

On how he came across all the facts and figures

one of the most wonderful things about the indian governmental establishment is its anarchy
what is labeled as top-secret as one department will be published by the neighbouring department in its annual report, so sooner or later, everything comes out, we leak like a factory of sieves

On the Lokpal bill

Lokpal – don’t set yourself up for a fall
is it a good idea? yes,
do we need a jan lokpal, yes
should the bill be passed in its present shape? forget about it.

The sheer arrogance of the bill is amazing.

The bill is saying you are not smart because you got bad people elected, now let us do the right thing.

It is good to note that Sainath is a magasasay award winner and would qualify for being on the lokpal comittee.

According to Sainath the three main reasons for corruption in india

1. structured inequality of the society, demonstrated by the caste system, gender violence etc
2. economic policies that generate and sustain this inequality
3. culture of arbitrariness

The bill is basically a manifestation of this arbitrariness

Msl. Comments

Russia sends its billionaire’s to prison, we send ours to the parliament.

TOI is the first newspaper i read every morning, it makes my day everyday

Day of Awareness: Dec 17, Int’l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The day was created by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA ( to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers. This day has empowered workers around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence. The assault, battery, rape, and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by prohibitionist laws has allowed and fostered this violence and harassment. Please join with sex workers around the world and stand against criminalization and violence committed against them.

Here’s a list of actions you can take (and not just during the week of December 17, but any time of the year) Please try to do at least one!

1. Attend an action or vigil to raise awareness about violence against sex workers. See the SWOP website ( for a list of events around the world.

2. Organize your own event. It could be political, educational, or something to memorialize missing and murdered sex workers.

3. Educate yourself about sex workers and their rights. Check the FIRST website ( and the websites of our Allies & Resources (

4. Volunteer for, or make a donation to, a service organization that supports street-based sex workers (such as WISH:, or PACE:

5. Make a donation to a sex worker rights group that advocates for sex workers (such as Maggies: or Stella:

6. Join a group that supports or advocates for sex workers.

7. Write a letter to the editor, post a website comment, and/or talk to a friend or colleague to:
– Raise public awareness about the rights of sex workers.
– Combat the violence, stigma, and discrimination they face.
– Refute myths and misinformation about sex workers.

8. Write to your government representatives and ask them to stand up for the rights of sex workers.

9. Advocate to unions and labour organizations for the legitimization of sex work as work.

10. Talk to a sex worker with the assumption you will learn something from them.

11. Ask a sex worker how you can support them.

12. Send love to sex workers you know (or don’t know). Write an email, post on their Facebook wall, mail a card, send flowers or candy.

13. Offer support or condolences to the families and friends of sex workers who have been murdered or disappeared.

14. Do something at home that has personal meaning, such as a memorial bath or lighting a candle.

15. Tell others what you’re doing to honour sex workers on Dec 17, and encourage them to do something too.

16. Spread the word about International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, and send this event link to all your networks.

Thank you for supporting sex workers!

(This message is from the FIRST founders and advocates.)

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