Who are they kidding?

"Pack your bags to go explore the pearl of the gulf, daily flights from Sharjah to Kozhikode and Thiruvanathapuram"?

I might be drawing a hasty conclusion here, but I figure this flight is for one reason and one reason only and that’s to ship labour from India to the Gulf (and back).

Considering that, isn’t it curious that Indigo feels the need to promote it with a mail suggesting it would be a great tourist draw?

Card Confused

The letters to our office with regards to the "National Population Registry" (NPR) camps got me interested and confused. 

The NPR is run by census office under the home ministry and is a registry of all usual residents, ie. everybody who has "resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.".

It captures all sorts of data about the person including biometric data (finger prints, iris scans, photograph) and issues a smart card containing such data. At that point I had to stop and think – hey, how does this relate to the vaunted (by government, criticised by others..) UID set up by Nilekani?

From the letter we received at our office it wasn't quite clear. It did state that even if a UID/Aadhaar  had been received you should still attend the NPR camp and get your details updated. 

After some Googling it turns out that:

a) Original remit of UID didn't include issuing any cards or such, simply to collect the data and maintain the database
b) NPR was supposed to use this database to issue smart cards
c) In some areas smart cards could be issued by the local registrar
d) UID did float a tender in 2011 for the issuance of some 150 million cards 
e) Said tender was later cancelled in the end of 2011
f) After registering some 200 million people NPR was supposed to take over all registration of biometric data from UIDAI – that point has now in Jan been crossed

Conclusion is that supposedly UID number will be printed on a persons NPR smart card and if no UID exists the NPR biometric data collected should result in a UID number being created.

All this means that the NPR smart card  happily adds to the bewildering array of identification that an proper Indian resident needs to/can carry:
  1. UID registration (paper slip with Aadhaar number from UIDAI)
  2. NPR registration/smart card
  3. PAN card for income taxes
  4. Voters ID
  5. Ration card
  6. Passport
  7. ….
Not to mention extras such as: ESI smart card, drivers license, etc.

Additionally to make matters easier the UID and NPR databases are registering all residents – ie. not only citizens – where as the PAN database is for any tax resident (defined differently from UID/NPR usual residence status) and naturally voters id/passports are based on only on citizens… 

We all create the conditions in which rapes can flourish

No amount of severe (capital) punishment, “improved” policing or Bollywood moral outrage will ever solve the problem as long as the systematic treatment of women as long as “the elaborate everyday control of women’s lives by families and institutions” is in place. 

While “marital rape, date rapes and the sexual violence that takes place within the family are systematically ignored” there are no safe places for women, or frankly speaking anybody else – especially not anybody in a vulnerable or subaltern position whether of an alternative sexuality, sex worker, muslim, working class or adivasi.

Especially if you’re in any position of power – whether that be upper middle class, educated, man or white (all four which I check) – you do certainly do have a share in the responsibility for the culture that creates the context in which these rapes are happening. 

Being supposedly outraged, calling for beheadings or speedy justice is nothing but trying to shirk that responsibility making this an isolated event perpetrated by people who have nothing to do with you. 

Read more:


As seen in a small town in Kerala


And no, as far as I know Falcon is not sold in India. This brings to mind the time an ICA bag bicycled by me in a small town in China. Sadly that time I didn’t manage to snap a shot.

Hurrah ! Prickly heat powder to the people

According to Nielsen, in Middle India, 43 of the 53 categories it tracks saw a growth (by value) in excess of 10% in the last quarter of 2011 (October-December) compared with the first. In smaller towns, the number of categories that saw this growth was an even higher 53. The fastest growing categories? Shampoos and conditioners, air fresheners, prickly heat powders, and cheese—not exactly the kind of products that would have been associated with small towns even five years ago.

Broadband Installation 2.0


I did get it connected to a plug inside my house. Very fancy, I thought. However, there was a catch… Maybe I’ll just pass by the store and get some electrical tape later.

All cash transfers above Rs1,000 to be transferred via Aadhaar accounts

Increasingly, the ability to prove your identity and citizenship through the universal ID scheme of the Indian government will become the main way to access benefits from the government. I can’t come to terms with this. The Swede within me says that “Of course, being able to uniquely identify people is the clearest way to ensure appropriate deliver services and ensure they reach their intended recipient”, where as the person-who-has-lived-in-India-for-a-while within me says that “This is a misjudged attempt to bring unnecessarily complex technology to a task where behavioral change is the key item needed and the system by setting rigid boundaries will only lead to further exclusion of the already most marginalized groups in Indian society”…

Where the Mehrauli flower market ain’t no more


I was told that this market had been there for 100s of years – in fact
maybe one of the oldest in India. Thankfully, on my last visit to
Mehrauli I was relieved to see that such a blotch on the face of the
world class city of Delhi had been conveniently relocated.

My Very Own Futuristic Townships

The Times of India Property, January 7, 2012:

"Real estate firm Ireo also claims to be developing some townships which are futuristic in nature. 'As one of India's largest private equity FDI investors in real estate development, we have always had a very clear vision of resetting the bar in terms of quality of life provided to homebuyers in India, bringing it on a par with the best in the world. In pursuit of this vision, we recognize that individual gated community property developments in India often face challenges due to inadequacy of ambient township infrastructure like service road networks, sewage treatment, traffic planning, data-telecom cabling, etc. This often means that it becomes difficult to provide a holistic living experience to residents, since there is a limited ability to control the environment immediately outside the boundaries of the gated community,' says a spokesperson of Ireo"

Italics not added for emphasis.