Friday, 19 November 2010

My toilet seat-shaped heart beats for shit



Today is World Toilet Day. No, I am not kidding. It is and I didn't know about it either. But when I picked up The Times of india this morning I saw an ad on the front page from a leading multinational for its brand of toilet cleaner. In the same ad, the brand claims it is, 'Proud to sponsor World Toilet Day'.

Just under that claim is a vaguely heart-shaped toilet seat - the symbol of World Toilet Organization.

There is crappy advertising and then there is more.

I am sure there will be more ads celebrating the day. On news channels probably. Ads by toilet makers that claim, 'Nobody takes shit better'. Or more.

Who knows there might even be an ad for a news channel itself - 'Nobody does shit better'. Or more.

But seriously, I wondered about this World Toilet Organization and searched for it on the internet. Not only does it exist, it also holds an annual summit. I imagine a large convention hall with commodes instead of chairs. (Do representatives from India, Turkey, Japan and some parts of Italy squat instead of sit? Yeah, we are not the only nation.)

The Organization also runs (no pun intended), the World Toilet College. I didn't see it on the site but I presume as you enter the college there is a coat of arms bearing the motto, 'Education is Shit'. A sentiment that will resound with many of my fellow Indians.

I am sure the WTO does a lot of good work. But since the objective of this blog is to be narrow-minded, prejudiced and generally insulting it is not listed here - in short, if this blog had a college its motto would have been, 'Give them shit'.   Those interested in getting a complete download (no pun on load), on WTO and its activities (no, not the one you are thinking), can visit the site here.

Needless to say the WTO has its office in Singapore, a country whose coat of arms has a unicorn and a lion hugging a broom with the motto,
'We love clean. And we are not bullshitting'.

Anyway, whether you think the idea stinks or not, it is World Toilet Day. So let's not be spoilsports and celebrate shit.

Come on, join me to celebrate:

Raja and 2G

Adarsh and every Tom, Ashok and Harry responsible

New Delhi Airport's T3 terminal that consumes ten times more electricity than the older one and handles only twice the number of passengers. It also has parking for 42000 cars and no space provided for public buses to drop or pick up passengers.

Gurgaon - The city with stunning malls but no basic utilities - from drinking water to sewage or garbage disposal, public transport or even sidewalks.

(The last two are from a column by Sunita Narain in today's Times of India. Couldn't find the column in the online edition, so sorry, no link.)

Mumbai - Where 65% of sewage (polite word for shit), goes untreated into the sea.

Shows like 'Bigg Boss' and 'Rakhi ka Insaaf' that appeal to the part of our psyche that hasn't changed since the Romans cheered lions a couple of thousand years ago.

The Government that thinks censorship is the best way of regulation.

The cars and two-wheelers who I saw yesterday - parked on a flyover so the occupants could get out and take pictures and videos of a fire in an adjacent high-rise from a vantage point.

Oh, there is so much to celebrate. Maybe WTO should consider celebrating for a week instead of a day.

November 19. World Toilet Day. Is it a coincidence that it is also the birth anniversary of the only Indian politician who dissolved the Parliament and imposed emergency on us?

Whatever the reason, let's be good sports and celebrate! I'd say, go ahead, hug a toilet today. Or a politician. Whatever is handy.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Big O. Now in India.

At an undisclosed location in the United States of America

“The day after you landed in Mumbai ‘Times of India’ Mumbai dedicated its first eleven pages to you Mr. President. ‘The Economic Times’ had a special supplement – a pull-out.”
“I am the President of the United States of America. I hate that word – pull-out – don’t you know?”
“Sorry Mr. President, this India visit has me all excited about your future.”
“It is just media hype…”
“No, no Mr. President! It can’t be just hype – there was genuine excitement! Where else have you seen TV reporters go asthmatic and breathless while reporting your visit? And the students – they are the future – they were over the moon! From the humble man in the street to the Man in the Mohan – they were all gripped by the Big O Fever!”
“Is that what they are calling it? Are you sure there is no pun on the Big O?”
“The excitement is real Mr. President. And so is the danger back home – it is clear and present and it cannot be wished away – the Republicans are thrashing us, we are losing ground as if it was being swallowed by Mumbai builders… Why, your kids have already started picking up mementos from the White House!”
“That is bad.”
“That’s an understatement Mr. President. Things are so bad that they are talking of Bobby Jindal having a better chance than you in the next elections.”
“Huh? Just when I was beginning to figure out that being top man was about hope for my individual future and change in my lifestyle…”
“But all is not lost Mr. President.”
“What are my options?”
“Reverse outsourcing.”
“Huh again dude.”
“The warm reception you received in India, the media and public frenzy, your instant connect with future voters in the guise of children – everything points to a simple thing. India is ready for you – you have to contest the next election in India.”
“But where does outsourcing come in?”
“You will take away the biggest job from the Indians – what a coup?!”
“Hmm. But do you think it will work?”
“McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coke, Apple, Nike… they love America around here.”
“It’s an argument. But not strong enough.”
“Well, the voters here really like it when their top man is controlled by a woman.”
“You have a point here. And do not think that I have not noticed that you have stopped calling me Mr. President.”
“Sorry Mr. President. But I want to practise calling you Obamaji.”
“Makes sense. So let’s get on with it. Call my speech writers, my PR machinery, the works. Let’s go for it.”
“Sorry Obamaji, but you might need a different set of consultants here.”
“Like?”
“A numerologist, a guru, a forgery expert to give you a criminal record, a Swiss bank account and lastly a genealogist.”
“I got the rest, but a genealogist?”
“Well, we will have to chart your family tree so we have enough evidence to change your name to Obama Gandhi.”
“You mean Obamaji Gandhiji.”
“You got me there Obamaji.”

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

BPO aka Business Prison Outsourcing


India is about to start its first ‘Jail IT BPO’ in Hyderabad, says this report in Indian Express. Obviously, congratulations are in order. We are taking hardened criminals, training them for an occupation and giving them a respectable way to earn a living. The company who came up with and is implementing this idea is basking in its own glorious act and giving out sound bytes about its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and pointing out that while the standard daily wage for a prisoner is a measly Rs. 15, they will pay these poor guys a princely sum of Rs. 100 a day. The second prison the company has in its sights is the one that will soon house Raju, the man who built Satyam with his sweat and blood and then, sucked the blood of its shareholders to build his own fortune. Raju, according to a spokesperson of this wonderful company, is already a great inspiration to other inmates of this prison. And why not? After all, if you are in prison for stealing twenty four hundred rupees wouldn’t you find the guy who stole twenty four thousand crores an inspiration?

Looks like I am heading towards saying that I don’t think that this Jail BPO is a very good idea.  Yes, I am. And here’s why.

India, yes, the shining and incredible one, the heir apparent for the throne of Superpower, has almost forty per cent of its population living below the poverty line. That is, earning less than Rs. 15 a day in villages and Rs. 22 a day in cities. That is to say, one-third of the bloody country is trying to feed itself, pay rent and buy clothes (things that are free for a jailed convict) in Rs. 15/22 a day. The fact that some wise guy thinks that a person who has been sent to jail as punishment for an act that harmed either an individual or the society or the nation in some way deserves a better daily wage than one-third of the country does not make sense to me at all. 

Well, let me allow my imagination to run riot for a bit: 
Flashback to a brainstorming session at the said company’s headquarters:

“What do we pay a trainee these days?”
“Rs. 15,000/month”
“Haven’t you heard of the global recession? How are we going to be competitive with that kind of wage bill?”
“I have no idea.”
“I have one – idea.”
“Let’s train convicted criminals in IT. They currently get 15 bucks a day. We will pay them 100. Imagine the savings.”
“And we can claim CSR credits!!!”
“And they do it all the time in America.”
“That seals it! Can I kiss you?”
“Sir… I have a wife.”
“So do I; I was being figurative.”

Anyway, why am I complaining? The deed is done and the training is underway. Soon, Raju’s new colleagues will not only receive inspiration but also receive instruction from him. Who knows, after coming out of jail armed with this valuable education they might go on to outdo their master. Of course, the stock exchange might come down like a pack of cards. Which might not be such a bad idea – at least we will find out how the other one-third leads their lives.