Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

If Steve Jobs were a woman…

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

…he’d be treated as a CEOILF.

…there’d be incessant carping about his sense of fashion (rather, the lack thereof).

…he could either be hard-working and unlikable, or incompetent and likable. Pick one.

…the over-pricing of his products would be evidence of his narcissism and be seen as a personal failing, not as evidence of his good/bad business sense.

…TV commentators would complain about his boring presentations, and wonder if he was *pimping* out his products a bit too vulgarly.

…late night comics would make jokes about raping his kids. Only the girls, of course.

…people would say ‘why doesn’t he just GO AWAY already?!’ while simultaneously clicking on every news link about him.

…people would make videos about punching him in the face, strangling him, and sexually assaulting him. In humor, of course.

…people would complain for years about how he was selfish in not having kids.

…people would be horrified that there were rumors of a kid he didn’t acknowledge.

…people would complain about how selfish he was in having kids and not staying home and taking care of them himself.

…people would complain about how selfish he was that he stayed home and took care of his kids for a few years, thereby *abandoning his company*.

…battle-lines would be drawn around his parenting choices – whether he chose to breastfeed or not would indicate how good a parent he was.

…his falling out with John Sculley, Gates and others would be seen as evidence of his b*tchiness, and he would NEVER get past it.

…sleazy pseudo-journalists would camp outside his house and write tell-all books about his family.

…sleazy journalists would say¬†*good lord, isn’t it horrifying* about the brown and black (wo)men he slept with in India and elsewhere.

…his ideas would always be ignored. Even when they were good.

…his ideas, if un-ignorably fabulous, would be appropriated sans acknowledgement.

…his product names would be treated as evidence of narcissism rather than personalization (iDevice)

…there would always be deep insinuations about how much influence, exactly, Laurene (who? his spouse!) had on his work and the firm.

..he would never, ever, EVER be seen as a visionary. No matter what he did or said.


The hands that count the votes rule the world?

August 6, 2009 Leave a comment

This may be just a silly joke, and a statement that plays into stereotypes about India and is condescending to her audience – but it sure does warm my cockles to hear a US politician acknowledge, for once, that they may not always be the Best at Everything:

Clinton Pitches India As Model For Africa

NAIROBI (AFP)–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton .[….]… was speaking to students in Kenya, where politics remain tense after a hotly disputed election triggered street violence until a power-sharing deal was reached in February 2008.

Clinton told the students that India’s billion plus people also had strong political differences.

“But they have figured out how to run an election where the results can be surprising and unpredicted but accepted,” she said at the University of Nairobi.

“I said only half-jokingly after our problems with our 2000 election, and then our 2004 elections in some of our constituencies, that we should outsource our elections to India,” she said

Categories: India vs US, politics, pride

The tiny *expletive* man

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Of course, this is round #N in their training manual of media-aided kabuki. Confuse the main issues (defend the horribly un-thought-through recovery plan and focus on the long-term regulatory requirements), reframe the debate (concerns about not having strong regulations expressed by the people who implement them are now suddenly due to ‘turf wars between regulatory authorities’) and make the whole thing public before the other party does.

Bravo, Geithner. Looks like you learnt from the best in the business: your boss!

Me, I’m just grateful we have people like Elizabeth Warren and Sheila Bair still willing to work around this half-brained nutjob.

Categories: economics, politics, stupidity

Maharani Gayatri Devi

July 29, 2009 Leave a comment

What is it with these iconic Indian women – that makes three of them about whose exciting lives and activities I last heard in college about 10 years ago in dusty books in the Miranda House library, about whom there were mysterious references thrown around in conversations between my mother and her parents, three women who were always for me, part of the hazy past, the paradoxical and confusing 60’s, all now gone.

She passed away yesterday, and was hardly in my mind a feminist icon, though definitely a strong female aspirational figure. The one thing I did always know about her was that she was once accepted by Vogue, that bastion of strict stereotypes of female anatomical acceptability, as being one of the ten most beautiful women in the world. Oh, and that she was the brand ambassador for a diamond jewelry brand, and that caused a big debate on whether celebrity endorsements have gone too far, too cheap.

But, like Princess Diana, or Grace Kelly, or Marilyn Monroe, or Aishwarya Rai, she has the irresistible appeal of someone who ‘s young, beautiful, intelligent, connected, royal and unattainable. These women all hew so close to What Constitutes GlamorTM, and do so well per the unfair standards imposed on them that they’re celebrated so much more than any ordinary achievers who didn’t have to confirm to such standards.

So I went and did some research, and discovered six kewl things about the late Maharani Gayatri Devi:

  1. She had a governess named Miss Oliphant (ha! beat that, Kipling, or Saki)
  2. She helped set up one of the oldest girls’ schools in Rajasthan. While I think that sex segregation in schools is actually not good for equality, sometimes that is the sweeter pill for orthodox cultures to swallow: the first step to getting girls an education. And I know from my experience in a girls-only institution that once you take the boys out of the picture, the excuses used to keep women away from physically intensive and stereotype-challenging activities (e.g. leadership of various student councils, sports, public speaking, mechanical/mathematical contests, even lifting heavy objects, like desks and tables) mysteriously melt away. So, thanks, Maharani.
  3. She drank (alcohol) and played sports, both openly and publicly, and was good at tennis and riding: “Apart from tennis, she was an expert rider herself and both husband and wife greatly encouraged young polo players”
  4. She and that other legendary post-Independence royalty, Gwalior Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, had a lot in common, – both of them were members of non-Congress parties (like most Indian royals, really) and they held elected office. Their power was not necessarily derived from the powerful men they married or gave birth to or were fathered by – their power was derived from exactly the same source that all political power in India has been derived from – class, wealth, income, education, caste, royalty, and an existing powerful family structure or genes (could be maternal or paternal).
  5. Gayatri Devi’s mother, Maharani Indira Devi of Baroda, was a regular Princess Kickbutt herself. She was supposed to marry the Maharaja Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior in 1910 (she was eighteen, he was forty). She didn’t want to marry him, but it was an arranaged marriage she couldn’t get out of. So she sent him a secret letter explaining her position – this by itself was really bold, but she stood her ground and Scindia graciously called the marriage off (why hasn’t this been made into a kickass Hindi movie again?). And then she had a roaring clandestine affair with the Prince from CoochBehar and married him a couple of years later. Now the sordid wedding-scandal could’ve affected relations between Baroda/CoochBehar and Gwalior, but the women held it together.
  6. She not just held elected office, she was a regular ultra-achiever there as well: she was “the woman with most staggering majority that anyone has ever earned in an election.” Contrast this with Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who received barely 5% of the vote in a two-way contest in Haryana.

This is exactly the paradoxical nature of things in desh, especially of social change movements, that P and I were talking about the other day. For instance, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar and our (my) obsessive interest in it: it could and does stand for the cheesy, cheerful oppressive triteness of reality shows everywhere – for gender stereotypes, for bad fashion choices, for drastic invasion of privacy, for utter Lowest Common Denominator dialogues – which it does, but it’s such a breath of feminism still! (Rakhi deserves a whole ‘nother post – she’s getting to be a fascinating, intriguing character after all). For another instance, see this: “In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, 40 former rulers decided to fight with modern methods: they formed what was, in effect, a trade union to battle for their rights”. I fear sometimes that I’m totally forgetting how to grasp complex ideas by staying out here in the Wild West.

Anyway, I’m revising my opinions of the Maharani as just a pretty & privileged lady – I’m so off to read this woman’s autobiography.

Hillary Clinton in India

July 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Badly spelled, with practically no analysis, but he may just be right.

6.Americans understand India better than they understand Pakistan and its jihadi hordes. Pakistanis understand the US better than Indians.

7.Hype and flattery will be the defining characteristics of her visit. Indian ego will remain tickled for some months.

But I’m glad she’s able to make the trip, even with feminist elbow and all (btw, check out her new ‘blinged sling’)

Privacy, pizza and politics

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

So I ran into this the other day on the ACLU website, an old joke about how, a few years down the line, you’ll want to do something tiny and supposedly inconspicuous like, order a pizza, and the person on the other end will have access to everything about you, including your favorite types of pizza, your love life, your credit history, your tax filing status, your health records, etc. etc. If you haven’t already seen/read this, go read.

But the fun part is, the last timeI’d seen this I’d seen it in a right-wing site (don’t remember which). Funny how one person’s poison is everyone’s poison, too.

ACLU likes this because it effectively paints a doomsday scenario for when ‘Government controls and records everything’.
The right wing loves this because it shows what could happen if the ‘Government controls and records everything’.
My problem here, and that, I imagine, of the average immigrant, legal or not, is that the ‘(US) Government controls and records everything.

Of course, if this were to be shown to the average Indian college kid, I’m sure (s)he would wonder how soon (s)he could get a job in that call center.
The smart Indian college kid would start writing the scripts to link the databases and make this a reality.
The smarter Indian college kid would wonder how to get the contract from pizza companies/the US government to implement this software.
And the smartest Indian college kid immediately would get into regional Indian politics, start a party and loudly decry ‘Evil Western Culture’ that limits such great technology to pizzas and doesnt open it up to roti-subzi in dhabhas, win the election and make sure hir own records were off-limits to the database.

The day the music died

June 4, 2009 Leave a comment

A year ago today, Hope was lost.

A year later, Hillary wins

A year ago today, the final set of primaries made official the foregone conclusion that Barack Obama had won the primary, and Hillary Clinton lost it.

……[Today], on the central health care policy debate of the Democratic Primary — which was, to be fair, conducted within a fairly narrow frame — Obama appears to have conceded today to a Senate plan likely to more closely resemble Clinton’s.

In a dense, careful letter to Ted Kennedy and Max Baucus, Obama offered his principles for a health care plan and conceded on a central point: He is now open to an individual mandate, which he campaigned against, and which is now being talked about by Senators of both parties with the buzzword “shared responsibility.”

As ambivalent as I am about Government-supported healthcare, this is probably the only logical way forward for the US.

Hillary’s won in many, many other ways too, of course: the first one being that most recent polls show Clinton with a whopping job approval rating of 71% as Secretary of State, while the new President topped out at 65%. (link)