Friday, December 29, 2017

Leadership might not be as bad as I'd assumed; leaderless not as good #AAP

This is an update on my evolving views on leaderless vs leader'ed movements.

I think [the] desire to see a leaderless movement is one of our follies and speaks about our ideological biases. I don't think there's been any such thing at a "let's change the government" scale and frankly I'd be skeptical if there were, as we wouldn't know exactly who is lurking in the shadows pulling the strings and where it might be led to. Rather, it's the harmful movements like the rise of fiat currency, factory education, rapacious industrialization, crony capitalism, caste system, patriarchy and such that seem to be following the "no one leader" pattern more. In a genuine movement somebody's gotta do the work and individual accountability has value; a movement without clear individual leaders is a movement that won't take any responsibility when it does something wrong.

This came as my comment on a thread here:
Hi this is Vinay & Khushboo, the directors of "An Insignificant Man". Ask us anything!

Do check it out, its a treat for budding documentary film makers as some very intricate details of their experiences have been openly shared here.

I'll add to this : In a real movement, one that arises organically, there will be people who really get in the thick of things and there will be people who don't get so involved, for all sorts of completely plausible reasons ranging from skills matching to having cancer patients at home to care for. There is asymmetry in involvement and that is natural. And there are practical, real life requirements like naming the contact person, defining whose account is to be used, who'll be the spokesperson that the media can invite, etc. And if we follow through with the power=responsibility equation then the reverse also needs to be true. Those who take more responsibility must be accorded more power. Else you leave the movement / initiative open to hijacking by disadvantage-takers. And note: there will ALWAYS be disadvantage-takers, even subconscious ones. 

And I say all this along with a self admission : I have been involved in organizing some small events etc where we said it's leaderless, we're all volunteers, etc.. I now see that I wasn't being genuine. Of course there were leaders, and that reality came up whenever a problem or a significant question came up. The people who KNEW how to tackle it, were the leaders. Leadership roles can be fluid, with different people stepping in and out over time, but there definitely was leadership. And my insistence that it was leaderless etc, apart from trying to make a noble impression, only ended up causing confusion through lack of accountability. If there were "just volunteers" then hell yeah there was a "core organising team" directing the volunteers. There was NO problem in having a leader'ed structure and I now feel that I wasted time and efficiency by stating that it was leaderless. And the biggest consequence of the leaderless-ness claim? No one to take things forward, everyone waiting for someone else to take the lead! If I had a penny for each time I've seen that happen, well, I'd have a nice penny collection.

So all this makes me pose the question : Is there anything natural about a leaderless people's movement that we so idealize and idolize? Or does it fall in the same pantheon as the perfect husband / wife, the perfect boss, the perfect job, the perfect kids.. you get my drift?

Ok, this just came out and I think it's significant :

My updated take on the AK Vs YY-PB split in AAP :

I believe the AAP breakup, the expulsion of YY and PB and many AAP supporters leaving with them was regarding what I've written above. From various testimonies I saw during that whole messy divorce proceeding, it seems this fracture had some history: there had previously been multiple instances by YY or PB or both threatening to leave if so and so decision wasn't taken. In fact, the decision to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is widely credited to have been done on their behest while AK was squarely against it.

Observe then that the blame (real or imagined) for the 2014 debacle was laid squarely at AK's feet : the one guy who hadn't been for it in the first place. The power=responsibility equation was thus violated. His own strength area of Delhi's CM-ship was laid open to elimination because of it. Even the incident of AK being thrown into jail happened on PB's insistence. Honestly, they could have just coughed up that illegitimate bond amount or whatever and moved along for the larger battle: there was no need to get nit-picking given the larger situation at the time. AK has thus repeatedly gone along with YY and PB and done their bidding, and every time he has had to bear the brunt when things failed. 

And then from ground experiences of people who had been there, it was also evident that YY simply wasn't as invested in the second Delhi state campaign as AK was. Post the victory, the complaining about there being no democracy in AAP started at a time when AK was out of Delhi for a few days, receiving naturopathy treatment for his chronic cough. It came up without even giving the newly formed Delhi State government its first 100 days of formative period. This is a most crucial period for any new government, and YY of all people would have surely known this. For me this was a major sign of disrespect for all the hard work done by a LOT of dedicated people and Kejriwal himself for the dramatic and still unbelievable turnaround in AAP's fortunes, and also a sheer absence of apology or shame on YY or PB's part for the earlier losses which they shared a big chunk of responsibility for and which had nearly sunk AAP.

I'd like to re-iterate this point because I think it is very important and has been largely ignored : The TIMING at which YY and PB's complaints erupted displayed an extremely high level of disrespect and disregard for nearly every other active Delhi AAP member's herculean efforts. For me this is equivalent to urinating inside a temple just to piss everyone off.

There's a few more nuanced points about the timing:

1. It co-incided with Modi govt's first union budget release that had several problematic issues which were of national importance. There were other issues too which were simply more important than internal arguments in India's smallest political party if you consider cash-in-bank levels. Even for Delhi, the LG had just started intruding on the state government's turf and some very controversial things like forced occupation of Delhi's ACB by central paramilitary forces that effectively castrated the new Delhi CM's executive powers happened around this same time period. The only thing that could have allowed the central govt to get away with it all was a major distraction that keeps all the news channels and newspapers diverted for a long time and not talking about these more important issues. The AAP split came like a gift from heaven for Modi, and I simply do NOT buy the theory that it was mere co-incidence.

2. The issues that YY and PB brought up, for all their fire and fury, were nothing new. Those complaints were being spoken by several dissenters withing AAP since before the 2014 general elections even. YY himself had then been rubbishing the very things he was suddenly making an issue about now. Because these issues were nothing new, he, of all people, could have easily let the new AAP government's first 100 days and first clashes with LG pass without having to stab people in the back while they were fending off attacks on the front. With more important issues like Budget being present and "hot", if I was in YY's place and live TV cameras were pointed at me during prime time and I was given the mic like he was, I would have used that crucial opportunity to address the nation about things that truly matter. Instead, I saw YY practically following a script and sticking ONLY to the AAP split topic.

So whatever the content of what they were saying, the timing of the AAP breakup is something that has sent up several red flags (excuse the pun) for me. From the BJP's perspective, it was just too perfect to chalk up to blind co-incidence.

And don't tell me you haven't seen this situation happen in family, social or office circles : someone does most of the work and someone else who you know isn't really doing as much, is the first to complain about not being included and there being no democracy. Or, someone else who wasn't actually doing the core work, goes riding high and screws the whole thing. This is "indulging in petty politics" 101 my dear, we have all seen it! Also note that there's usually a big difference in the eloquent-ness : some people simply have a better way with words than others; doesn't always mean they're right. Ring any bells? In a corporate setup the behaviours YY and PB exhibited along with their objective track record (2014 general elections) would have been reason enough to demand a formal resignation. 

From all this, I can only say that if I had been in AK's place I'd have tossed these two out the very first time they had threatened to leave if things didn't go as they said. That's blackmail and it has no place in a movement or a democracy. It also goes into ideological roots, and may well be the core reason why the folks in the NGO sector seem to me to favour YY more than AK : AK is more free market oriented and YY is more socialism oriented. Perhaps there too lie the leadership differences : one takes ownership for being the man in the arena, while the other prefers to keep it a group thing, calling it leaderless, while at the same time not being able to resist wanting to drive the agenda. And as for PB.. well, nit-pickers are great for some things and bad for others. He's amazing in court and in all those PILs, I hope he continues where his core strengths lie. 

The 2014 elections, all those wonderful human beings across the nation emerging as actual electoral options, the very exposure to the possibility that you can have a political party that doesn't harbour criminals and isn't in nexus with the elites, the putting forward of the most radical governance transformation proposal that this planet has seen (decentralisation of powers to mohalla sabhas operating on direct democracy models): DID do a lot of good as well, and I see the value in YY and PB's push for it (while still maintaining that they should have lived up to their leaderless principles and not propped AK up as the reluctant frontman, should have gotten out of group think, taken personal responsibility and stepped down in mid-2014 and THEN gone ahead to form the Swaraj party as a national-level version of AAP.. heck for all I know perhaps they actually considered this and were prevented by others doing group-think): whatever happened, it's for the best, and let's see now how to move forward.

PS: I'm a nerd sitting in Pune and don't really have much ground exposure. This is just my take and there's probably a million other fact-pieces I hve no clue of that I'd be grateful to have put in the comments section here so I can learn more and evolve my understanding further.

An Insignicant Man's directors doing QnA on reddit

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Citizens meetings in Pune on plastic bags ban, reusing cloth bags etc

Can plastic bags be recycled sustainably? Notes from the third citizens meeting on Plastic Bag Ban

>> these meetings are being hosted by EcoExist. Great stuff going on, do connect. The linked page has FB pages and other things to follow up on. Press subscribe on top left to get in the loop.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

White Zimbabwean farmer returns to seized land
Ululations, tears as white Zimbabwean farmer returns to seized land

I love this article and the video in it, because it totally goes against the "all white people are evil" and "colonialism is to blame for everything" narrative that plagues the NGO, intellectual (read: social sciences or journalism or policial science majors) and "liberal" circles these days (quotes because that's what they call themselves; I don't think that's what they truly are). 

Why in the world are those black people loving that white guy so much? Oh no, is it because they value things other than race? Might it be because they're not racist and would rather, in Martin Luther King's words, judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? But heck, your liberal friend will just tell you it's Stockholm Syndrome and move on with yelling "death to all white people" while carrying their "no more hate" placard.

Zimbabwe's brutal dictator Robert Mugabe after causing hyperinflation, prosecuting journalists and doing all sorts of crappy things, did for political score-points what practically every liberal arts professor has been advocating since decades : forced land reform, taking away ownership rights of white farmers whose predecessors had taken control of vast lands during colonial times and started farming, with the intention of "giving it back to the people". 

And the result? Corrupt elements who had influence in the corrupt government and in no way represented the best interests "of the people" living there moved in and took control, and started actually treating their own fellow black people there as slaves, plus they didn't KNOW anything about how to manage the farms. Zimbabwe's farming sector crashed. This article shows a start of a reversal of that policy (which I'm sure most academics are going to decry as a step backwards) after Zimbabwe have removed their brutal dictator Mugabe.

I find the "returning it to the people" part has played out, in Zimbabwe's case, exactly as Jon Rappoport predicted in this piece:
Rising up against the Oligarchs does not equal socialism - by Jon Rappoport

It also reminds me of Venezuela's experiences.

So it gives much food for thought, especially for someone who's been intellectually raised on "capitalism is evil, socialism is wonderful" narratives. By no means is the binary opposite valid either, and hey, I've never been a fan of binary defaults, FYI.

And for those who are saying "but how else can we do land reform? It's so unequal right now!", kindly allow me to point you to the BHOODAN MOVEMENT. Go look it up. There's a reason why capitalists and socialists both have tried sure to delete its exploration from our history books.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A commentary on the censorship regimes brought in to "combat hate"

Trying to lay this out straight.

1. We know of the tactic of a government diverting all attention to a foreign country, continuously blaming some foreign hostile power for being responsible for our problems.

2. But what if your country's mainstream media which is owned by a handful of corporate owners enmeshed with the military-industrial complex is the one doing this, doing it incessantly, and saying that even your elected government is merely an agent of that evil foreign power?

3. So if your head-of-state was saying "it's the Russians!" the entire time, you wouldn't buy it. You'd say "McCarthyism!". But if it's the TV journos on CNN, MSNBC etc and the folks of NYTimes, Washington Post or the wonderful folks of Huffington Post etc saying "it's the Russians!" the entire time, why would you buy that? Because it fits the narrative that your current President is "literally Hitler" ?

4. We then go on to paint anyone who is even vaguely supporting the side we hate, as a Russian Agent.

5. Meanwhile the mainstream media loudly protests and "publicly pressures" the dominant social media platforms : Twitter, Youtube, Facebook : to clamp down on this "Russian Propaganda" and loosely defined "hate speech" and "fake news" (aka, everything that CNN's Cooper or Lemon says is fake is henceforth Fake News, as dictated by your TV Gods who were telling you to go bomb everyone just a few Moons ago). So busy we are with the fear of the "hate" that we fail to notice that the multi-billion-dollar mainstream media companies are basically demanding for institutional censorship of their competition : The several low-budget, audience-contribution-run or T-shirt-sales-run or herbal-products-funded independent media outlets that for some uncanny reason are all objecting to the status quo. (Hmm, I wonder why...)

6. On cue, as if they've been waiting for someone to make it publicly acceptable this entire time, the tech companies install a slew of mechanisms into their entire content management infrastructure that will let them arbitrarily and without any public transparency whatsoever censor, delete, restrict, ban anything they deem unworthy. At the senate hearings, they boast about how they manually went in and erased out several most-shared news items over lunch. They re-assure the mainstream media and the liberals: "Don't worry, we've got your backs! We are your loyal allies in this Holy fight against Literally Hitler!"

7. And then we go a step further. We bucket in even the voices that have been Anti-Trump this entire time, as Russian Agents. And here we get a peek at the cards : The agenda was not really to go after the rabid supporters of "literally Hitler" : that was the ruse. It was to destroy anyone who says anything against the Mainstream Media's narrative.

8. This is where the hit pieces and censorship tactics on comedian and journalist Lee Camp, of the show Redacted Tonight, stand out as abnormal highlighters. Lee Camp has ALWAYS been anti-Trump. But he made the mistake of not being pro-Hillary either. Oh and he also called out the mainstream media's Russia hysteria. Oh dear, a non-binary gendered, sorry, opinioned, journalist? Blasphemy!
Lee Camp: How To Create NPR's Propaganda – As Seen In a Hit Piece Against Me
Lee Camp: How to Write Propaganda for the NY Times—As Demonstrated in an Article About Me

9. The Americans' belief that they live on another planet than the rest of the world comes to life with the social media giants' censorship mechanisms. Brought in to the roar of applause by the Liberals, the Leftists, the Progressives, the SJWs (please decide on one name already, ppl.. ok, the anti-Trumpers), these companies are then going on to use those same mechanisms to help other countries' rulers clamp down on dissent. 

10. Case in point : When Google banned its ads and thus took away the operating revenues of the independent Indian media site JantaKaReporter, which was pretty much the only platform with any kind of popularity that asked the most difficult questions and brought out info on serious potential scams about the present ruling party and allies. The timing was perfect, and the reasons given were as pathetic as the reasons given back in the US for censoring all the independent (sorry, "Hate Speech" ) voices there, with ZERO pathways for appealing or disproving the complaints against them. And with Google being a foreign company here in India, JantaKaReporter doesn't even have any legal recourse through elected representatives or Indian courts. We're just getting started here : expect more internet censorship coming soon! And do note that Google has assisted a right-wing side in India to clamp down on left-wing voices. (does the story of Frankenstein ring any bells?)

11. Oh, and don't tell me you didn't notice how social media giants successfully intervened in the French and German national elections, thickly censoring and in some cases even helping the incumbent authorities imprison voices that were campaigning against the incumbent ruling elites. Sure sure, it was all done under the garb of "preventing hate speech". When has a noble excuse not been used to carry out anti-democratic acts? So much for folks reprimanding foreign entities for interfering in a sovereign nation's election : when it happens for real, you applaud it just because they pretend to be on your side! And I also noticed how the police forces in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere have now declared they'll arrest people for things they tweet. UK also has passed laws mandating ISPs to share everybody's internet histories with the government. Way to go, GestapEU! We didn't know you knocked down the Berlin wall only to extend it to cover all of Europe!

12. The corporates owning the mainstream media can laugh their way to the bank, knowing that the only competition that threatened their dominance and profits : independent media voices that were spreading via social media, now have the playing field institutionally tilted against them, and what's more, they got the "pro-democracy" and "no more hate" and "resist fascism" folks to do the dirty job for them.

13. To summarize, the people self-declaring to be standing up for freedom and liberty and all have, via the fear of Literally Hitler trumped up (excuse the pun) by the mainstream media, been hoodwinked into demanding and bringing about the biggest and most arbitrary global censorship regime in recorded human history. The so-called anti-fascists have made it incredibly easy for real fascists everywhere to take over. If humanity ever manages to break through these shackles, it'll be despite these well-meaning folks, not because of them.

14. Moral of the story? Noble intentions with a sprinkling of fear make excellent paving blocks for the road to hell.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Who is Jordan Peterson and why do people hate him so much?

youtube link:

Whether Jordan Peterson is a hate figure or not, the people hating him definitely are showing themselves as haters.

So let's see.. all of this hatred and vitriol because he said "I'm going to stick to using he or she when using a pronoun for an individual, thank you very much".

Man, this is retarded. So let me offend these offended people a little bit more.

Dear SJWs, not that I had any dog in this fight earlier, but just to piss you off,

I hereby declare that even I will stick to using he or she when using a pronoun for an individual.

That too, I will even sometimes make mistakes and say "he" instead of  "she" or "she" instead of "he". And it will be all right, because, in case you didn't notice..


Anyways, looking at the protest side of this video...
It highlights the problem I have always had with protests / rallies about things that aren't immediately about some life or death thing, why I cringe about the very limited experience I've had of them. We shout. We chant. We repeat. It's a one way thing. We're not in conversation with anyone. There's little to no usage of brain happening. The loud noise drowns out any conversation.

In contrast, I remember attending this silent protest where we all put tapes over our mouths. I just felt like so much more was conveyed that day.

I'm sure there are good protests too. But I'm wondering if all protests are good protests.

I look at the talks, speeches by Milo from college to college. I found those much better than just doing marches.

Edit: I found another video that brings Jordan Peterson's best bits together... wow, now I really know why Bernie Sanders fans, sociology types liberal arts types folks hate him so much.. he questions the basic premises behind the SJWs, the drive towards socialist utopia etc.

Youtube link:

Fwd: How much do doctors in India make?

Forwarded as Received.. from a whatsapp friend. I found this very informative, and from the information, comes deeper understanding and empathy.

How much a doctor earn in India? ....
This is a very complex question. So a detailed answer.

There are few high flying doctors in India who are superstars like Amir, Shahrukh and Akshay, who earn loads of money, but majority of the doctors working in corporate hospitals are like the background dancers dancing along with the superstars doing 'thatha thiyaa' and earning a fixed salary usually between 75000 to 1.5 lakhs post tax.

In some hospitals the income is shared in the department. The big Boss takes 60 to 80 percent, the next senior takes 20 to 40 percent and the remaining doctors have to be satisfied with the bread crumbs. But remember that the superstars or big boss would have worked their ass off for decades to reach that level.

Sometimes the big doctors won't allow junior talent to enter the hospital or rise up because of fear of competition.

Corporate hospitals are run by businessmen and MBAs. They are listed on the stock markets and are there to make money for their share holders. It is rare to see a CEO of a corporate hospital staying there for more than a couple of years as they are under constant pressure to generate profits.

Just like engineering colleges are mushrooming there has been an increase in post graduate doctors passing out. This benefits corporate hospitals as they are able to get labour at cheaper price, instead of employing 1 surgeon for 3 lakhs they can employ 3 for 1 lakh, the supply is exceeding the demand. Majority of corporate hospitals in cities are saturated.

Government hospital

Central government pay scales for doctors are similar to what a class 1 officer or teacher in IIT or NIT will earn. You can be a top class neurosurgeon or a mediocre physician or a pharmacologist your salary will be same. No private practice is allowed. Usually doctors interested in academics and research take up these jobs.

State government. Some allow private practice others don't. Salaries are low in states were private practise is allowed. In Tamilnadu an assistant surgeon is paid about Rs 40000 a month. If you have a busy private practice you would generally resign your state government job and focus on private practice.

Trust hospitals

These are charitable hospitals and the pay scales of doctors here are usually very less. Doctors work here because they love what they are doing, most leave after few years when the realities of life strikes them and they find it difficult to provide for their families.

Private practice

This is a different ball game. You can open a small one room clinic and see few patients a day and earn about 50000 Rs a month or you can have your own hospital with beds and provide employment to others. This needs lot of investment and is beyond the means of most doctors. The khandhani doctors or doctors whose previous generations have been doctors usually have a preset clinic or if your parents are already wealthy (usually business) then it is easy to setup a hospital. But the profit margins I guess would be in the order of 10 to 15 percent like any other business.

Then there are the free lancers who work in multiple hospitals. Traveling lots of Km daily from morning to late night in the heavy traffic to see patients and earn money. I doubt it if they have a life. I don't know how much they earn.

To sum it up. My assessment is that the doctors earn the following

Up to age of 23: pocket money from parents

Internship: Rs 3500 to 20000 pm (depends on where you do your internship)

25- early 30s: Rs 15000-80000 pm (depends on where you do your PG). Does not include tuition fees which even in government hospitals can go up to Rs 3-5 lakhs a year.

1-3 years of unemployment in between preparing for PG seat. You are dependent on your parents or spouse for money.

35 and above: Rs 75000 to 2 lakhs pm, that is what most doctors earn post tax. Few earn about 3 to 5 lakhs or above but they are in the tail end of the standard curve.

As you see that doctors start earning a decent salary only in their 30s, a good decade after other professionals.

The brightest, smartest and most hardworking student in the class takes up medicine in India. The same person in an another profession would have earned much more for the time and effort he puts in Medical profession. When he/she sees his/her classmates who idolized him/her earn more than him/her and having a better standard of life it pricks him in the corner of the heart, he/she is human after all and not a saint.

Don't look at the outliers who earn outrageously, they don't represent the life of an average doctor. Just like all lawyers are not Jethalmani, Sibal or Salve, all doctors are not crorepatis.

Remember as a doctor you are on call 24x7, there is no overtime pay, there is no risk allowance, there is no off for working on holidays. You don't get free food in the hospitals or sodexo coupons. Many times you can't afford the treatment you are giving to your patients. The corporate hospital you work in will not give you free treatment if you or your family members fall sick. You get only 2 weeks paid leave in a corporate hospitals and work week is from Monday to Saturday and not Friday.

DON'T JOIN MEDICINE, IF YOU WANT TO EARN MONEY. There are easier and less stressful ways to do it. Doctors in India deserve to be paid better. Those who earn well, rarely get to enjoy the money they earn. It is usually the kids and spouse who benefit from what you earn.

Most doctors have zero knowledge of finance, investment, stocks and mutual funds because they have no money for the first 10 to 15 years of life to invest. After that they use the money which comes to buy the necessary luxuries of life like car and house (on EMI) and then you feel it is too late to invest.

My dear colleagues please correct me if my figures are wrong. I have never worked in a corporate hospital, I have based it on my interactions with friends working in corporate hospitals.

To my non medical friends this post is not about corruption in medicine or the unethical practise being done by few doctors, that is a matter of discussion in a different answer. This post is about how a ethical, law abiding, tax paying doctor earns money.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Twitter begins implementing China-style guilty-by-association censorship rules

tomoro twitter implements new rules, which some are calling "the purge". notably, they're banning users affiliated w/ orgs that promote violence—both on and offline. 

>> Why this should concern you if you don't identify as anything near to alt-right or hate-speecher : The subjective, zero-evidence-needed censorship regimes brought on by social media platforms at the behest of the western liberals who want to stop Trump supporters and "alt-right" from gaining ground, are being used by these companies to scuttle dissent in countries around the world. FB censored Malta's anti-corruption journalist associated with Panama Papers, and helped Pakistan to execute atheists. Google suspended their ads on JantaKaReporter. Twitter will use this policy change to suspend all accounts that Govt of India deems as promoting anti-national thoughts. And that includes anyone who dares to speak out against Aadhar, EVMs, to question our PM, etc. Once you start down the road of equating speech with violence, totalitarians get all the excuses they needed.

Thanks a lot, #SJWs .

My take on the disruption at NVC Convention Pune Sep 2017

Hi readers, you're in for a treat : finally you get to read about something that I experienced in-the-flesh rather than another birds-eye-commentary on things far far away. This is a branch-off from another post:

Commentary on going overboard with Big Sister protectionism: Laurier case I realized this merits its own post. Still, I will recommend to readers (especially those who were present at the mentioned incident) to fully read the post linked above and watch the videos, as it has so many parallels which led me to write about it there, and it has my conceptual inferences : a birds-eye take that connects the dots. on this.

And, while it's infantile towards most readers to say this is only my personal take and there may be many more takes amongst the other 100-odd people who were there, it being so obvious since your're reading this on a bloody personal blog, I guess it still needs to be stated for the benefit of some readers who may well be infantile enough not to know that from the beginning. Ok, enough with the pre-work. Jumping in:

Disclosure: I've been avoiding putting this out there but heck that's
only causing me to try sneaking it in elsewhere, so might as well
state it. I'm relating with the above stuff because of my looking back
on and analyzing what I saw happening in the closing days of a
convention on Non-Violent Communication that happened near Pune, India
in September 2017. While I commend the organisers in their handling of
the situation, I feel one crucial factor everyone missed is the
self-responsibility part. By not expecting that of a few very upset
people, a lot of bad things happened, and a small handful of
symbolism-internalizing fully-triggered complainers were given free
license to disrupt over 100 really nice people's learning process for
which they had put in serious money and time and effort. Those who
objected to this disruption or even who got disconnected and quietly
walked out to get away from where they didn't consent to be, were
publicly judged as evil by the complainers (that should have been
identified by the organisers as the red flag that these people don't
really know their shit and shouldn't be egged on more!). I guess I
will be judged as evil too once I share this post with that community. Oh well, better to be an asshole in the view of assholes.

One more guideline about NVC shared by the trainers that got completely flouted: When giving empathy, acknowledge the feelings but do NOT acknowledge or in any way give legitimacy to the judgements of the hurt person. Because it may very well be flawed internal judgements that may be the culprit and not completely external forces. While the matter started with one person going into a total injustice perception, it spiralled out of control because the friend supposed to be giving her empathy, ended up pouring fuel over the fire and got triggered herself. And it was this "empathizer" who then went on to make it a humungous issue and got the proceedings interrupted for everyone, who actually did that thing I have mentioned below of judging everyone who didn't want to attend the damnation fest. If one of the 70-odd other women at the convention had been in that "empathizer"s place then this whole thing would have been resolved in a much better way. This led me to another inference : BFFs make poor empathy buddies. You need some kind of separation so you don't go in already biased.

Anyways the outcome of that incident was the same that we see across
all SJW incidents : Extreme demands for censorship and increased Big
Sister monitoring which obviously requires erasure of all autonomy and
freedom to be implemented and which I foresee will simply not be
sustainable for the NVC Community because it's going to cost way more
(interventionism is expensive!) than anyone is willing to pay. And at
the end of it, after the whole convention having people from multiple
nations had given them two full days to hear them out and given them
more acceptance than any rational person could have, they were STILL
complaining that they weren't given enough time, that they were still
feeling oppressed and that this was an example of oppression of women

I didn't see any gratitude on their part, and I also witnessed them
being non-genuine at various stages. Like being on board with a
translation decision in the morning and then complaining about it in
the evening and making it look like an act of injustice done by the
organizers. Like when they first insisted that this was about a
specific incident when offered (and they refused) a session on general gender issues and
later when the organizers brought in the full apology from the prime
accused and resolved many things about the specific incident, they
insisted that this wasn't about the specific incident but an issue
affecting all women (and they claimed to represent all women when we
must have had well over a dozen women right there who were simply not
on board with what they were alleging). There were several signs that
we were addressing irrational expectations (which have no limit)
disguised as unmet needs, and I felt that the trainers and the
organizers failed at noticing this little difference. And for all their talk about
gender equality, the complainers ended up basically demanding to make
it structurally impossible for men to be NVC trainers. I believe their recommendations have now been forwarded to the international body and there is a perception that "it has come from the NVC community in India, with many nationalities present" whereas in true socialism style it's just a shrill few doing it in the name of a silent and criminal-if-they-object-so-better-keep-quiet majority.

Clarification : I have no desire whatsoever to become one of these NVC trainers, so am not bitching about that, if that's the way some folks will want to spin this. I got no dog in this fight; I only attended the event on some friends' recco and only wanted to see what they got. While I find their work useful for applying at many places, I'll simply prefer letting others do the teaching the same way some people prefer letting someone else do the plumbing. I think they're on the right track but have some way to go still, esp in relation to what happened : They presently don't have an effective way of dealing with people who hijack their own language while ignoring the self-responsibility part. Basically they presently can't handle SJWs, IMHO. 

But the guy who got screwed over in this particular incident.. a popular NVC trainer in the community and whose sessions were a hit: is a great guy, is G.O.O.D at teaching NVC, was especially great at making men and the participants with very little NVC experience understand it (my buddy group had a Nepali and a Bangladeshi woman and they both loved him to bits), and was treated totally unfairly by overly triggered femi-nazis, and other people, people who have extensively worked with him and know him better, should have had his back but caved in and let it happen out of fear of being mis-labeled along with him. That too it happened in his absence in a way that he was powerless to do anything about, and I can bet that things would have gone in a completely different way had he been present and had a chance to fight the allegations contrived against him. "Hanged in the court of public opinion" is what I'll call it.

One more observation : There was a clear difference of opinions on the matter between older women and younger women, with a notable exception of one of the organisers who I'll say has won my respect for being able to see through the matter and not been ambivalent on it. She didn't have many friends among the other younger women though. Perhaps these different age groups of women ought to sit down sometime and talk to each other.

While there may be an air of seriousness about this in the mind of the reader, to me a whole lot of this was actually very funny. Especially the flip-flops there. I've found some excellent vids on the net that bring out the comedy in these matters, I'll encourage you to watch them. Like they say, the one thing every tyrant fears is the sound of people laughing.
Remy: Trigger (Thriller Parody) -ReasonTV, 2017-10-31
"Ain't No Rest for the Triggered" - Social Justice: The Musical -Chris Ray Gun, 2016-05-11

PS: SJWs : Social Justice Warriors. Look it up on that other post that this one branched from.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Urgent: Bank accounts of many people being emptied via ghost withdrawals

Concerned Authorities,
Chairman and MD (HDFC Bank)

Dear Sir/Madam,

Subject: Bank accounts of many people being emptied via ghost withdrawals

I am an account holder at HDFC Bank, hence writing to you.

One friend of mine having a YES Bank account in Dehradun saw her account got emptied one morning 2 months ago via ATM transactions when the card was with her the whole time. And just today I saw a friend in Pune reporting her friend's two bank accounts in two different banks getting emptied in the same way. And she is finding there are many more people being robbed this way. Copying the messages from both my friends:

[A] Dehradun case:
On Oct 9th, an X amount was stolen from my YES BANK salary account, the details of which are here:

I was very upset and hence the partial rant. Anyway, after over 2 months, I received the amount on 11th of December, 2017, and this was after constant follow ups; it was quite stressful but it did pay off in the end. So, instead of sharing steps to follow nI would suggest you read the entire experience to understand the Dos and don'ts.

The turn of events, after filing a complaint:
1. After constant follow up, they realized that some forms had not been filled out so that was done.
2. I filed an FIR since earlier I had only made a complaint.
3. In order to initiate the refund process from New India Insurance, I was made to sign a document which said that the claim settlement has been made. Even though I was very skeptical of it, I did sign because there was no other option. I did on my receiving copy ensured that they write that it hasn't been settled yet.
4. I I followed up constantly (once a week, please don't pick a fight with your POC because that won't help).

Some things to remember:
1. File an First Information Report and not a complaint since you will need a copy of it for the insurance claim.
2. Carry a copy of your debit card, bank statement and ID proof along for filing an FIR.
3. Do not throw away your debit card. It will be destroyed in front of a bank official.
4. Do make sure to get in touch with the bank in order to get another debit card issued. You will have to do all of this by yourself.
5. Your formalities aren't completed unless you have signed some claim forms.
5. Do have patience and not pick a fight because people are more likely to help you then.


[B] Pune case(s)

Bank Fraud High Alert!

Some really disturbing news folks: A friend of mine just found that 50K from one of her accounts from one bank and another 20K from another bank account was withdrawn. She went to Bank and found another gentleman with same complaint. She then went to Police Station and she heard that some 700 or more people have complained of similar withdrawals. The Police are unwilling to file FIRs and Banks refusing to do anything without FIR. This happened today in Pune.

Unfortunately, the withdrawals happened in the night while she was sleeping and she got mobile alerts of five 10K withdrawals..She blocked her account in the morning. Soon she gets a notification from her other Bank account of withdrawal of 20K..She has blocked that account too..

I am naming the banks incase people want to check if they have accounts in these banks..Bank of Baroda and Axis Bank...


In all the cases, it is sickening to see that the first reaction of the police is to REFUSE to acknowledge that there has been a theft, to allege without any proof, to the citizen that they only must have withdrawn the money or been "careless" with their debit cards. Who gave the policemen at the police station the right to be judge, jury and prosecutioner? They should write the complaint as per their job, if it is frivolous it will be dismissed by due process. I have just been contacted by the lady written about above who got robbed of Rs.70k from her two bank accounts. Here is her whatsapp message:

"And the police ..banks..all seem to be enemies of humanity. 2 days one police station to other  to the banks... I would appreciate your support on this if possible".

So to my bank HDFC bank, please let it be clear that from now onwards I am monitoring my and my loved ones' accounts very closely, and should something like this happen with me or anyone I know, I will NOT quietly let this pass.

I got this message from my relative who is a senior bank manager:

"This is the card database that has been hacked. I have just guessed right now, as such cases have happen earlier also, that too with axis bank, many card data was compromised."

It seems that banks have committed severe neglect by not hotlisting and re-issuing ATM/Debit cards that they knew had been hacked.

With this, I earnestly appeal to HDFC bank to PROACTIVELY DISCLOSE if there has been ANY hacking of any of the customers' data, including any of MY data, and if so, to take precautionary measures immediately.

In the case of debit cards, it is a simple process to hot-list all the cards that have possibly been hacked and re-issue fresh debit cards. In any case, once this news gets out, you can expect customers to start doing this themselves. Might as well take advantage of the situation, score a customer-friendliness point over your competition by doing it first. People will move their money to HDFC. Any cost incurred is minuscule compared with one's bank accounts being emptied overnight!

PS: Friends looped in, kindly help take this matter at the right offices.


Nikhil Sheth
HDFC Bank account holder

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rethinking Aadhar (it's a website!)

Here is a great website that has chronicled exactly what is the problem with the UID system quite well:

From the live cases we can get a deeper understanding of the matter.

If I look into this lady's eyes:

...then I simply cannot get myself to say, "Madam, we will give you your aadhar number and you should keep it a secret from everybody, or else you [effectively] die! Oh, and your (chuckle) fingerprints : the one thing you cannot rely on aside from your memory, will be the key to your survival!"

Instead I hear myself asking, "What have we done?" It's my generation, my friends and colleagues who did engineering, MBA, IAS and all who have brought this about while worshipping the technology God. The me of 5 years back was also fervently wanting this technocratic Utopia, I also fervently believed that ever more advanced technology will solve everything "one day".

A functioning and empowered Mohalla Sabha would never have let this sort of situation come to pass.

Mohalla Sabhas are the real solution. UID/Aadhar is the fake.

Plus: Check out : : Submit a petition to your Member of Parliament or service provider. It has all the details and the correct emails all laid out for you. Just select your MP / bank / mobile company and click ahead.

News from Swaraj University - November 2017



Dear friends and family,

Warm winter greetings from chilly Udaipur!! As we venture towards the winter, this 2017 Newsletter brings you warm news from us at Swaraj University! These past few months have been a time of several transitions and lots of new experiments. We are excited to share some of these with you. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to you for your tremendous support for all of the khojis. Without your continuous love, care and feedback, the dream of Swaraj University would not be possible. Thank you!


Upcoming Events

  • Learning Societies unConference 2017, co-hosted by Shikshantar, Bhoomi College, Swaraj University and many others in Bangalore, December 26-30, 2017

  • National Vikalp Sangam Meeting - co-hosted by Kalpavrish, Swaraj University, Shikshantar, Vidya Bhawan, November 27-December 1, 2017

  • Unschoolers Winter Camp - a two-month camp co-hosted by Shikshantar and national unschooler kids (ages 10-17), December 15-17, 2017

  • Geo Dome Construction - a 2 day interactive Earth Architecture building project will be hosted in collaboration with Mango People on December 6-7, 2017

  • Interplay - come awaken your body intelligence and self-expression skills,  January 16-18, 2018!
Shikshantar, Bhoomi College and Swaraj University invites you to the Learning Societies unConference in Bangalore - a time to meet, exchange, unlearn and have fun!! Here is a small interview about the LSUC and cool film.

Recent Events and Workshops
We hosted some really inspiring workshops and gatherings in the recent months:

  • Indian Multiversities Alliance: We hosted the first meeting of the Multiversities Alliance which is a network of people creating alternative models of higher education across the Indian sub-continent.

  • Swaraj Wisdom Talks with Satish KumarWe had a beautiful 2 days with Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk and long-term peace and environment activist, founder of Schumacher College UK and editor of Resurgence magazine who shared his life stories with the larger community.

  • The Emperor Has No Clothes-Hacking the Education System Fellowship We hosted this two-month summer fellowship run by Shikshantar. This is a platform to design and implement projects that will disrupt the existing education/factory schooling system and promote alternative pathways of self-designed learning.

Program - Experiments and Experiences 
We welcomed the Eighth Cohort of Khojis (K8) in August. The cohort of 15 enthusiastic youth have spent a fruitful and enriching time in their first meet followed by a dynamic Learning Journey to Pune. Some of the highlights included:

- The cohort broadened their perspective on food and the food industry through a 5 day workshop hosted by a food activist, Purvi Vyas. Intense discussions, movie screenings and a visit to the Saras Dairy (factory) farm left the khojis with some powerful food for thought. The cohort also carried out various food experiments like cooking with millets and many varieties of salads.

- The energy of a playful child came alive when the khojis engaged in a Gamethon - playing cooperative games in public spaces to build a container of trust. After learning to play amongst themselves, the khojis shared the spirit of friendship with the children in the nearby village and with the city folks.

- Ravi Gulati, the founder of Manzil in Delhi, engaged both the cohorts for an entire day through an interesting game that brought out group dynamics and a different perspective of power and hierarchy,
Re-birth of ZOMSA
The khojis of the 7th and 8th cohort worked together on rebuilding the ruins of Zomsa - a khoji hangout area at Tapovan. They worked hard not just to renovate but totally re-create and re-design the space. Bringing their spirit of innovation, they embedded lighting systems under the ground and designed a cool smoking system that makes a gentle flow of smoke (created by burning citronella and neem) beneath the seating of Zomsa to keep the mosquitoes away! Since they re-inaugurated Zomsa Cafe, they have served yummy snacks and herbal teas on several occasions in the evenings. We next look forward to repairing the seating area - do come and join us!
The Seventh Cohort of Khojis (who are in Year 2 now) is laden with enthusiastic and powerful hosts and facilitators. Seeing their strength, we invited the khojis to bring in more deeply the practice of a co-created and a peer supported program. The khojis hosted processes to understand varied needs of each member of the cohort and how they can take more leadership in designing their time together in the khoji meet, including agreements on how to better live and work together as a community.

- In this meet, one of the main effort was connecting khojis with their deeper visions through various processes such as Nature Quest – which included being in nature (solo) and fasting for 16+ hours with an intention which was close to their heart. The output of these processes became a basis for planning their self-designed learning time and planning their future projects.

- Khojis visited organisations and individuals to hear about their passions and interests and how they find balance in their work and life. Each of us also shared with one another at least two of our favourite projects from around the world that have deeply inspired us. This brought out an interesting collage of different projects running through several causes such as food, inequality, generosity, human rights, education, alternative currency, etc. 

Some of the inspiring startup projects that the seventh cohort have started working on include:

"The Road Less Traveled" is an inspiring hitch-hiking learning journey for young change makers who have a drive to contribute to the society. Akarsh and Sumit began their first learning journey on the 21st of October from Udaipur to Himachal Pradesh.

Driven by his passion to bring acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community in India, Harsh Khanabadosh started "Shades of the Sea".  Shades of the Sea aims to create a platform for all of us to discuss and share words on LGBTQIA+ individuals, understanding them as humans and supporting them to come out with their gifts and talents. It also aims to serve as a platform to interact with the untouched/marginalized part of our society.
#KALAKUMBH was a bright beginning to the second year for Khojis from the seventh cohort. An art festival and art residency for a week, this event was fully organized and led by khojis. The idea behind Kalakumbh was for khojis to co-create and co-learn with other artists in the serenity of Tapovan Ashram. For 6 days, the khojis hosted, learned and co-created with artists involved in singing, filmmaking, storytelling and theatre. It was also a time to connect with the life stories of the artists and have conversation about art and life. To conclude a beautiful week of art, nature, music and friendship, they held a KALA MELA@Fatehsagar inviting local people of Udaipur to channel their inner muse and join in singing Meera bhajans, sharing stories, playing games and engaging in live group painting. 

Naya Aagaz - A new beginning!!
We celebrated the initiation of two years for the sixth cohort. We had a beautiful Milan with the presentations and walk-through of the cohort along with celebration and fun.  We are excited to share some of the projects that the khojis began in their second year and are continuing to engage with.

Sangitha, a 17 yr old girl from Patna, started an alternative after-school learning center for children from her Manjhi/Musahar community called Mastishala.  Through alternative education, she wants to build the children's relationship with their parents, improve expression skills, remove fear and social isolation, and empower the children.
Bringing together his love for adventure and his skill of cooking, Yash Sapre joined Seescap, an organisation that conducts adventure camps. Yash Sapre is exploring his love for cooking, travel, working with people/children and nature through his job as head chef in the camps.
Stanzin and Samyuktha, are currently doing earth building in Samyuktha's village. Keeping in mind their values and interest in eco-architecture, they are building a house using the earth bag technique.
Abhiram, from Andhra Pradesh, began his exploration in organic farming since he joined Swaraj. Taking his passion ahead, he is now working at Aranya Alternatives, a Permaculture farm in Hyderabad. He is also helping to organize the International Permaculture Conference.
Taaka is an initiative by Nidhi Naik from Goa. It is a creative pathway for her to explore her love for playing with colours, fabric and patterns. She is weaving together her joyful memories of colours with the craft and skill of the local tailors of Bhulana, Udaipur, to bring forth a collection of bags, pouches and organizers.
This is a Connection Map of the various places the sixth cohort has explored on mentorships and learning journeys over the past two years.
Aagazi Reunion
Swaraj had its first ever alumni reunion in September. The 3-day gathering brought together khojis from different parts of the country to: reminisce their days as in Swaraj University, to share the current journeys they are on and the challenges they are facing, and to contribute ideas on the future of the Swaraj University living experiment. Some of the challenges that the former khojis raised were: the lack of host communities with deep processes outside of Swaraj University, their fears of loosing core values around sustainability, community and healthy living, and difficulties in finding a life partner who understands them. The gathering ended with an amazing collaborative session where current khojis and former ones shared the projects they are working on and the support they are seeking. This brought out an array of offers of support, contacts and ideas. Through this process, lots of current khojis particularly received strong support for their mentorships and startup projects. 
What are former Khojis are up to???

Arti Bhandari was in the 5th cohort and is currently living in Nagpur. She is an expressive arts facilitator exploring and exposing young people to the profound healing power of the arts. Theater, dance movement, visual arts and rhythm are some of the tools being used by Arti for creating varied unlearning and healing spaces. Arti has been conducting open and collaborative workshops with colleges and schools in Nagpur where she offers children the opportunity to engage in themes like reflection, body-mind integration, life possibilities, social perspectives, etc.

Madhur Anand, from the 3rd cohort, co-founded Sehatvan in Bhopal where he manages the forest space and hosts healing workshops. Sehatvan is a place to explore means of slowing down ageing, reversing lifestyle diseases and practicing eco-living. His recent project, Sahaj Sehat, is an open source knowledge base. It shares all the latest scientific health researches in Hindi through easy to understand educational videos. He is also working to spread the idea of eco-living among youth through different events.

Dhaval Shukla, from the 2nd cohort and living in Ahmedabad, believes that map-making is a powerful tool to bring communities together to solve problems, to change perspectives from a micro level to a macro level, and to understand how cultures and people have evolved. Studying and working at SU helped him realise that he has a knack for understanding and presenting information to people. Being fascinated with maps since he was 6 years old, he decided to bring together his childhood passion with his values that have been deepened over the years. Working on maps has also helped him find a creative side of himself. He is currently developing several maps for the city of Ahmedabad.

Swaraj also welcomes some new team members on board !!!

Shruti Tharayil has joined us as a Year 1 facilitator. She is a co-facilitator/co-organiser of various Yes! World Jams, India and a co-founder of Rela - Rhythms of Change, Andhra Pradesh, engaging with tribal rural communities.

Asawari Mathur, from the 6th cohort, has joined us as an intern. Asawari has been an intricate part of Aarohi Life Education, an alternative learning center in Bangalore.

Mohit Trivedi and Bhavna Trivedi with their three adorable unschooled daughters have shifted to the Tapovan campus. The lively couple successfully ran a pay-it-forward entreprise called Cafe Satori in Udaipur. Mohit, Bhavna and the kids play an active role as mitras on campus!

These new faces have brought in a lot of new and colorful energies to the program.

Experimenting with Leadership and Deepening Swaraj
Many of you know Swaraj as a space of radical learning, a place that is redefining what learning and living means for young seekers and explorers (khojis). However, little is known of its conscious practices and experiments to make decisions about running the university.
This year, the Swaraj experiment is being taken to the next level to deepen the Swaraj spirit of self-rule. Inspired by multiple examples around the world and in Indian villages, we have brought in a system of co-holding within which we aspire to experience a space which is co-owned, governed, and run by all who work-live in Swaraj University. In this model, there is no one person that makes systems, defines roles, etc. for the organization, but a rather a collective who is making decisions by consensus.
We are only six months into this experiment and still learning to figure how we work in this way. We have observed some challenges in: establishing a common understanding of what is asked for and needed in each role, who has what decision-making powers, how often and how long to meet, how to share decisions across the larger community, etc. We are also discovering and learning about many gifts that we as individuals and as a team bring together in the process of co-holding.

We envision that over the next couple of years Swaraj University will be fully run by the former khojis. We currently step into this experiment with a talented mixed team of old and new faces. 
We are deeply grateful to many of our well-wishers and supporters who have humbled us with their offerings and valuable resources.

Warm Regards and Gratitude,
Team Swaraj!
To know more, check out our Fb page
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