Posted in Political

What India can learn from Middle East – Part 1: Economy, Banking & Telecom

When we Indians fueled by our mainstream and social media are gloating over Twitter chief coming from India, among other global CEOs born and schooled in India, it may also be time to point out some brutal facts to which we close our eyes and mind: that these top men are probably picked for the markets they may represent or market share they may help cultivate/retain. This can be simply a matter of management. Clever management. However, our Indian government has a lesson or two to learn from the Arab countries in Middle East who have viable economies outperforming ours. A quick peek here into the Arabian Gulf:

  • Google pay is banned in the richest arab nations. Only proper banking channels can be used for transaction purposes including for funds transfer. The phones assembled in the middle east do not even have access in Google playstore/Apple to download the app. Whereas in poor India, our banks are losing heavily to apps such as Phonepe and Googlepay and now even to Whatsapp pay. There is simply no Wallet concept in middle east. All financial profits belong with the banks that do not share a cent with the Google or any other nonbanking entity. Now you know why Google CEO is Indian.
  • No Whatsapp calls are allowed to go through in the oil rich arab countries. In some gulf countries, whatsapp calls are possible with vpn downloads. But in most arab nations, whatsapp calls don’t work even with vpn. Only whatsapp texting is permitted. Rule applies for Skype/Viber/Google Duo/Facebook Messenger calls or whatever with the telephone departments still staying alive and ploughing back profits. Ban on social media calls also is enforced strictly for security reasons. The encrypted calls are simply a big no-no. Transparency of highest order is followed in telecom sector.
  • No Amazon office is open in Middle east. Only old fashioned courier services like DHL and local ones cater to delivery line. Local businesses flourish not fattening up Jeff Bozos with many more million dollars as India is doing. In case you order something from a Facebook seller, then the delivery happens not via Amazon, that is the point. There is no local Amazon website that I find to be strange, but Amazon India or Amazon US is accessible (although you cannot place order for delivery within middle east).
  • No startup apps in the lines of Dunzo for local delivery or shopping. Orders have to be placed straight in the website addresses or over phone or via whatsapp and the business houses may take to deliver door to door the orders placed/received. Rare exception is the restaurant food delivery app (of Swiggy kind in India) that caters to the tastebuds of the arabs within minutes from multicuisine restaurants!
  • No subsidized broadband connection is possible in middle east. The charges may not be steep but not cheap either as in India. You cannot afford watching pictures in mobile or gamble as big percentage of ignorant Indian population is doing with their smart phones. Quality of internet usage is therefore efficient. Luckily the arab countries do not have an Ambani like from Reliance who their governments have to patrionize.
  • Phone call clarity is too good in middle east. Recently when I flew back to India, I noticed a strange phenomenon. The local calls made from my mobile phone were not clearly audible whereas my whatsapp calls were crystal clear. I inquired on this with my friends who confessed to a similar experience. When the phone calls even from our latest upgraded phones were not as clear as whatsapp calls, we were forced to switch to whatsapp to make our calls. Or was this the idea at all? Our calls are now commercial statistics for businesses. I wonder whether the purpose of muted or inaudible call owing to poor connection is deliberate. Are we Indian citizens discouraged from making regular phone calls from our mobiles? Are we subtly coerced to make whatsapp calls? Are we led to buy data packs from mobile operators? What about our privacy. For a fact I am aware, our local calls are more secure than the calls made through whatsapp.

So in short, all our Modi govt has to do is to boot out Gpay from India alongwith Amazon. Broadband rates need to be revised. Telecom industry is in dire need of a revival for which, the data packs must not be subsidized. Neither should broadband connections through private operators be.

Whether we really do ‘make in India’ or not, we can at least do something not to UNDO India. We can follow the Arab example to protect our local economy and save the domestic business community. Our small and retail traders and cottage industries need our government’s backing. We cannot allow ourselves to succumb to multinationals. We cannot sell the interests of our nation for a pittance. China has lived without You Tube and Google for years. Social media and IT companies and multinationals have to work in tandem with out national economy. They must not be allowed to mint money at the cost of our banks profits. They should not be driving out of business our delivery services and small scale industries. Arab leaders are not talking much and giving sermons from the podium like our desi leaders do, but they are doing a wonderful job nevertheless. Here, the multinationals heed to the local laws or get kicked out. Now, that is patriotism to me.

Posted in Women & Family

Miss India Universe 2021

Harnaaz Sandhu of India crowned Miss Universe hardly makes me jubilant. India is a big, big, colossal market and they just know what buttons to push to tap into the resources here, to my reckoning. A series of women have won the Miss World and Miss Universe title from India who have all subsequently become Bollywood heroines chugging the beaten track. So that kind of makes me sick that a fellow Indian must win the title now that can later become her passport to stardom. In fact I was told of this news by a pretty filipino girl in a medical clinic last morning. She congratulated me as if it was I who had won the beauty pageant! She said, Indian girls are beautiful. I was kind of embarrassed. I said, Indian women were beautiful and brainy and she smiled nodding her head. She got her third shot and I had to reschedule my appointment.

After Aishwarya Rai and Sushmitha Sen won the Miss world and Miss universe titles the same year in the early ’90s, it became even more easy for the multinationals to gain access into Indian consumer markets. Up until then, we Indian ladies hardly used to groom so readily. Overnight, every little girl seemed to want to become the next Ash which was kind of insane. I was pretty worried like, what was happening to my country.

Girls in my country today are spending too much on chemical skin and hair care and garish make-up that looks cheap and vulgar on them. The painted faces are like a cruel joke. How can we even try to impersonate the models on catwalk or the Hollywood belles. We just cannot and do not become them. We don’t have to. My friend who was visiting the US told me how she spotted the top models in Miami. Nobody gave a damn! It is the young women in India who are shamelessly mimicking the celluloid stars. The Miss India universe crown is only going to precipitate the matter. A good chunk of our women’s earned income these days is spent on personal grooming. Self care is undeniably important, one has to feel good and even best about oneself. Of course we have to live it up, but never like this! But the obsession of our young ladies with the beauty business is going out of hands. It is totally fake.

Indian govt has to keep a vigil over the cosmetics imported into the country. Most beauty salons in India also use products that are prohibited in many foreign countries. For instance, formaldehyde used in hair straightening in India is proved toxic and directly linked to cancer. Beauty products in India also are sold/used in parlours after the expiry date.

In my experience I have seen that the girls who are engrossed with their academic or career accomplishments hardly pay attention to these trivialities. This kind of beauty business is extremely distracting. I was shocked to see a five year old girl don the lipstick recently. She was already choosy about her clothes, colours and boots. I found that to be extremely unhealthy. Boys of the same age play more and hardly give attention to physical grooming. May be the boys may ask for shoes or denim, but more than that, I have not come across Indian boys of similar age express interest in grooming the way our girls do. Where is the flaw? Does it lie in parenting or with the way our society is evolving. Are we promoting wrong values in our children unconsciously. When as women we seek equality in everything, why do we want to raise our daughters preoccupied with grooming?

To me, self confidence stems from self assurance that we are enough. We need not have to rely on a tube of concocted paste and lip filler and bleach to present to the world a version of us that we are not. A decent cleanup or maintenance keeping with times must do. Anything more than that points to a psychological disorder sorry!

Feeling beautiful inside out comes from maturity and life experiences, something that cannot be bought over for a price.

A friend of mine was recently saying that to distract her teen daughter from grooming, she was advising her to take MPC (math physics chemistry) stream in higher secondary school because, art or commerce could leave the girl with a lot of time in her hands that she may use for banal purposes. Someone with a very balanced outlook on life making this observation is like an eyeopener to the scene we have presently in India.

It is nice to wear good clothes, change your hairstyle once a while, overhaul to look different or take care to be presentable, but all this can be done with a little dignity, without us having to look like B or C grade film artiste. Why should we have to draw our strengths from creams and lotions. There has to be an element of reality in whatever we do. We cannot stay in denial forever of who we are originally. It is time to wash and cleanse off our faces to unearth the raw and natural beauty beneath our skin.

Meanwhile I am waiting for the list of multinationals waiting for their chance to enter India anytime now, if they haven’t already. They just needed this stroke to be played out. With our new Femina Miss India Universe, their prospects look brightest.