Different decade, same story

No one wanted to think about the gangs of no-hope teenagers who already took over the nearby park all day, drinking lager and waiting for something to happen to them, trapped in a forgotten village in no-man’s land between a ten-shop town and an amorphous industrial sprawl.

Meena, in Anita & Me, by Meera Syal

Race is hard

I see an Eastern European women while walking Chewie, and try to give her a wide pass. 

Because they’re expected to be ‘not very friendly’ towards men of colour. Specially, when encountering a brown man in the middle of nowhere.

She turned out to be the friendliest person I met all week. We chatted and walked together for 20 mins, while our dogs played with each other to exhaustion.

Almost midnight, outside the 24/7 Tesco superstore. A young, white British (looking) lady is about to drive off with her boot (full with shopping) fully open. 

I wave at her to stop. She looks at me, makes a face, and turns her car the other way to go the long way round. 

I honk to get her attention, and point at the boot.

She gets out, says ‘Thanks. Bye.’, and closes the boot. I drive off.

After thought: What was I thinking, expecting a young white woman to respond to a wave from a brown man in the middle of the night?

Anil Dash is disturbed by the latest round of shooting deaths of black Americans at the hands of that country’s clearly racist police force.

He tweets a storm, including bits about Asians/Indians needing to show solidarity towards fellow Black Americans.

I respond, pathetically:

And follow it up with this:

Both those statements are true. Neither is useful.

Race, is hard.

Fail. Get failed. Try again.

Royalty & Politicians

In Netherlands, crowned-for-life monarchs step down when they feel new blood is required.

In UK, monarchs serve for life but politicians retire when it’s time for new blood.

In India, politicians rule their fiefs (states, parties, constituencies) like monarchs. They rule for life, long after they’ve become prehistoric relics and a drag on their own legacies. And when they finally go, they pass on their fiefs to their frequently inept heirs, biological or ideological.


Been finding it interesting (more so intriguing) to note that after encountering efficient, non corrupt processes in countries like UK, the solutions for India from Indians here are still mostly on lines of:

  • ‘Shoot all the leaders’,
  • ‘Congress is corrupt, BJP will bring ram rajya’,
  • ‘Anna Hazare is the saviour’,
  • ‘we need a dictatorship’ (which, both the above options might easily deliver), my etc.

No one, not even the most intelligent, insightful IIT/IIM educated folk I’ve met or read, suggest what I find to be the obvious: ‘strong, independent government institutions’.

The strength of western democracies isn’t derived from non-corrupt leaders (they are corrupt here too, just not in such an open manner), or from being led by a god anointed party or leader (highly religious states in EU seem to have higher corruption), or from a great leader(!) who has lead them into a shining future.

The strength of western democracy, IMO, is derived from its strong institutions which deliver what they are responsible for, irrespective of – government of the day, mood of the populace and mood of the boss. More importantly, institutions which, while consistently delivering their responsibilities, rarely over reach.

About time that we stopped thinking in terms of individuals and personalities, and started thinking in terms of institutions, organisations, structures and processes. Yes, it’s boring, it doesn’t let you (or anyone) be a hero. But, it delivers. Time, after time.

Continue reading Institutions