Monday, January 09, 2017

Meryl Streep's Message at Golden Globe Awards

Meryl Streep's message struck a chord. She mentioned disability and the press. She said a future president mocked a disabled journalist and the audience laughed. No. It's not funny. It gives us the licence to laugh at the disabled, which is not funny.

She mentioned the press, a principled press. The press is given freedoms in our constitution to report the truth, not to hide it, or, subvert it. I know these freedoms because I worked in the press: (1) cheap newsprint, subsidised by the government (2) priority while travelling (3) access to inaccessible areas (4) freedom to be critical of government, and society. (5) concessions in postage and freightage, so on....
Enjoying all these benefits and making huge profits based on the premise that newspapers are products is the latest trend that big private corporations (owners) have been following. The recent sacking at Hindustan Times is an example of how despite making profits the process of newsgathering and reporting have been threatened. So as Streep said "restraining power (of government)" and reporting truth remains a vast grey area, especially with fake and planted news stories. Editors have a duty label a fake/planted story as "Advt." as mandated by the Advertising Standards Council (ASCI), which I headed some while ago.

They say it's not an actor's job to tell what the press should do. It's not mine, too. But, when the press gets a bad name, it's as if a pillar of our democracy is rotting. After all, Tilak, Gandhi, and Nehru have all been journalists and it's through their writing that we gained freedom.

Thursday, January 05, 2017


Just now I went through the process of making an EMI payment through HDFC bank. I am feeling frustrated and violated, my patience wearing thin. Grr! I am computer savvy, I wrote help manuals for some of the computer programs that are still running as a technical writer, I write blogs, I can use the adwords and adsense advertising programs on Google and Facebook, and, yet, I still I find myself frustrated by a simple banking transaction. The problem with online transaction is that most banks’ websites are keen to sell their products than to make it easy for existing customers to log in. So, the idiotic, dumb site points to several ads for car loans and gold loans, and vacation loans before you discover the tiny “Login” in a corner somewhere. After you log in, you are asked an array of confusing questions. Security. These may vary from the authenticity of your password to the expiry of your password and codes which are hardly readable. Then there is the cute little message saying check your mobile for the One Time Password (OTP). Damn. When you finally hunt for your phone and get the OTP the transaction has timed out.

It’s easy for a person who has never done cashless transactions to say “go cashless, it’s easy,” “you just have to log in” and such drivel. It’s once you sit down on a computer that you realise it’s not that easy. I, for instance, am educated in computer language because I put some of those lines of instructions there as a content writer. The instructions on a computer are written in a computerised environment and are an agreement between the programmer and a content writer. So there’s a lot of intuitive understand between these two tribes as to what should happen next after clicking a button. For a lay user to understand this functionality requires some intuitive knowledge of how computers work, in general, if not in particular. Those who don’t have this knowledge are the people who prefer to stand in queue and withdraw cash and update their passbooks. Because it’s their money they are dealing with. The pensioner, the retired, the housewife, all fall into this category. To ask them to do online transactions would be madness because they don’t physically see their money and they are not comfortable with their money disappearing into some machine. Understand this, you people who want to foist cashless on an unsuspecting population. If you don’t, you are being naive, unempathetic and cruel.