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Category: social

December 30, 2015

Let us not ignore GoogleWebLight, another walled garden in the name of faster web content

by viggy — Categories: internet, social — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Free Basics is evil but let us not ignore GoogleWebLight. It is a new firewall to the internet, one which centralizes the entry to the internet, tries to capture all the data with user privacy completely sacrificed. All this with a sugar coating of fast access to web content.
On the evil side of the digital world, now there are two gaints competing against each other on who can raise to the supreme position of ‘read-everything, know-all’ gaint. The end goal is very simple, understanding the user very personally for successful targeted advertisement. The battle that netizens/hacktivists are fighting against Free Basics from Facebook to protect NetNeutrality has received lot of attention and clearly we will find its results in due course. The battle is intense with Facebook having put gone full force to the extent that it even started attacking the NetNeutrality supporters directly in its full page print media ads about Free Basics.

However, the other gaint has been playing the more silent battle and winning quiet remarkably. Seriously, in terms of capturing the market and looking at the long term goals, Facebook can easily learn some major lessons from Google. Let us look at how an average internet user browses internet in India. There are lot of studies which show that smartphones are the basic device with which majority of internet users in India browse internet. This market is completely captured by the Android Operating System controlled by Google. In this, Chrome and the default Android Browser seem to the major browser that the user uses to browse, again both of which are controlled by Google.

Now since this was not enough, Google has added the feature in Chrome which redirects user to its own site, GoogleWebLight if it detects that the user has a slow internet and then loads the webpage within GoogleWebLight. This it suggests is to improve the speed with which the site is loaded. It naturally tries to remove the Javascript and CSS, may be some heavy images. Whether the site loads faster, maybe debatable, the fact that now Google is now redirecting all the users to its own site, instead of sending the user directly to the site which the user clicked seems completely against privacy of the user, breaks the internet as all the hyperlinks are now modified to redirect user to GoogleWebLight and also kind of acts like a firewall to the internet.

There is no doubt that large section of internet users in India are using internet through a slow connection. Hence there is need for a solution which helps to load the content faster and also such that their data usage is limited. But is redirecting the user to some other site such that the site which user intended to visit is embedded in the new site is definitely not the best design, infact it seems to be a very bad design. One simpler suggestion could just have been using a Chrome browser addons which disables loading of certain type of web elements when loading a site on the browser. Another way could have been developing a standard which encourages website developers to also have a site for slow internet users.

From the perspective of a website developer, GoogleWebLight is evil because now I have no idea how my website will be shown to the user. It seems you can add a meta tag to disable loading of the site through GoogleWebLight but then Chrome shows a warning to the user that ‘This page is slow to load’ or something to that effect. Definitely not something which I want my user to see while waiting for my page to load.

Overall, it is important for us to be careful on how GoogleWebLight evolves and as hacktivists, we need to come up with better ways to ensure that people with slow internet connection get better experience browsing internet.

December 21, 2015

Gandhi, law and emotions

by viggy — Categories: social — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Two strand of thoughts have been in my mind for last one week. One is the popular news about the juvenile who raped Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) who is being released after completing three years in jail as what is prescribed by the law. The second thought was about more than half a century ago, the hanging of Nathuram Godse.
In the first case, as always, I had opinion opposite to most people who were thirsty for blood, who wanted him to be jailed for more time, probably forever. Their simple case was that it was dangerous to release him. Why? What exactly did he do on that day of incident? How exactly had he been for last 3 years? All this did not matter. They wanted blood and this was an easy case. For me personally it was never about the boy. I dont know his name or anything much about him. What mattered to me more was the kind of society that we were developing where 17 year old boys were becoming rapists. What led him to that path? In some news channel, I heard that the boy was on roads for 7 years away from his home, that means right at age of 10, he had been working, doing odd jobs.

I am not sure what exactly made me think of the Nathuram Godse’s hanging. But I kept thinking of how we had let down Gandhi by hanging his assassin. Wouldnt he himself suggested not to harm him had Gandhi been alive? This seemed to be first incident where we could make use of Gandhi’s teaching without his presence and we as a nation, just chose to ignore it. Now, more than 65 years of his death, no doubt that we have been making a mockery of all his teachings. This line of thought stayed with me for sometime.

But when I was thinking of the case of juvenile’s release along with Godse’s hanging, there seemed to two contradictory line of thoughts. In case of the juvenile’s release, I was looking at it from rule of law perspective and how since he had spent the stipulated time as per law, he had all rights to be released. However, in case of Godse’s hanging, I was looking at it from Gandhi’s perspective. However, when we look at rule of law, then in case of Godse, he did have to present his case in front of a court which then gave the judgement that he should be hanged till death.

So even if Gandhi would have been alive, there would have been no reason to not hang Godse, as that was the law at that time. Ofcourse, would Gandhi have intervened to make amendments to law such that death sentence would be abolished? I dont know. One of the popular reason, lot of left leaning intellectuals do not like Gandhi as much is because of the role he played in case of Bhagat Singh, hanging. Many believe that had Gandhi taken the issue up with the British government as a priority and asserted pressure, they could have been forced to release him or atleast not hang him and maybe give him life imprisonment.

October 20, 2015

Trek to beautiful grasslands of Kudremukh

Beautiful Grasslands of Kudremukh

Beautiful Grasslands of Kudremukh

After looking at the beautiful images of hills with stretches of grasslands, I always wanted to trek to Kudremukh. Me, Farrah and her colleague, Janaki booked our seats through TripHippie which had a fixed departure available for Oct 17th-18th weekend for Rs. 3500/- per person. The organizer of the trek was Nature Admire, which is run by Dev Balaji. I had met him couple of days before to talk about collaboration between TripHippie and Nature Admire. He has a vast experience and network in this domain and there is lot to learn for us from him. After booking through TripHippie, we received the detailed itinerary from Dev. We left for Kudremukh from Bangalore on Friday night around 10:00 pm in a tempo traveller. We reached Balegal by morning 7:00 am on Saturday. From here, we went to Mullodi in Jeep ride of 8 kms that I will never forget. It was only in videos that I had seen driving in such roads but this route will ensure that all the bones in your body is shook. The drivers here are skilful and had full control over the vehicle during the drive. After reaching the base camp at around 8:00 am, we quickly freshened ourselves and had breakfast. We then packed food items that we had brought from Bangalore along with lunch that was provided to us to carry along with other necessary items like torch, sprays and water bottles. Though as per the itinerary, we were supposed to be back to base camp by 6:00 pm and hence torch would not have been necessary, it later proved to be very helpful. With this, by 9:00 am, we were all set to start the trek.

One of the many streams during the trek with crystal clear water

One of the many streams during the trek with crystal clear water

We were quickly briefed by Balaji about the trek and do’s and don’ts during the trek. We had a local guide with us, who would lead the way for our group. There were more than 100 other trekkers who had come along with various other groups, so the trek route was crowded. The trek is 8 kms to the peak, with close to 4 kms of trek where you have steep climbing which is very tiring. However there are lot of places where you cross the streams with water so pure that you can just drink it directly. Again this was a first experience for me to just drink water directly from the stream.

View of the Kudremukh Peak

View of the Kudremukh Peak

It was very sunny and we were soon tired even just after 1 km of trekking. Balaji kept inspiring us that we will soon get comfortable once we get acclimatized to the new environment. Till now, we hadnt seen the actual peak that we had to reach. After around 1.5 kms of trek, Balaji showed us the Kudremukh Peak.

Image from Wikipedia explaining the name of the peak, kudremukh

Image from Wikipedia explaining the name of the peak, kudremukh

Kudremukh in Kannada means horse-face. Though a little difficult for me to imagine, others seem to get it easily imagine the peak as a horse face. The sight of the peak kept inspiring us apart from the sight of lush green grasslands. We were expecting rain and hence wanted to complete the trek before evening after which it would be really difficult to trek back if it rains. The local guide kept trekking easily and waiting for us to catch up with him. Our trekking team had people with varied experience with us being the complete newbies and a couple who had even visited Annapurna Base camp in Nepal. So they kept guiding us and helping us. Balaji kept reminding us to take some short breaks and have bananas, nuts and chocolates that we had brought along with us.

Our Trekking group, fully charged while climbing a steep path

Our Trekking group, fully charged while climbing a steep path

By around 1:00 pm, we were completely exhausted with close to 2 kms still to go. We had maintained a constant pace of 25-30 mins per km. Balaji stayed at the end encouraging us to keep moving forward. Looking back at the distance we had covered also kept pushing to achieve the final 2 kms to reach the peak. Also, the cloud had started becoming more dense and we expecting rain, we kept moving forward. By this time, a part of our group had already gone quite ahead.

Almost at the peak, we were able to see the clouds below us

Almost at the peak, we were able to see the clouds below us

The last 500m is almost plain and we were thrilled for having reached the peak. We were amidst the clouds and it was a great feeling of achievement and satisfaction.

Clouds at the peak

Clouds at the peak

A beautiful feeling to be amidst the clouds

A beautiful feeling to be amidst the clouds

We finally reached the peak at 2:00 pm after 5 and half hours of trek where others from our group were already waiting for us and taking rest.

TripHippie and NatureAdmire team at the peak of Kudremukh

TripHippie and NatureAdmire team at the peak of Kudremukh

From the peak where clouds were below us

From the peak where clouds were below us

We had the puliogre that we had got from base camp as lunch along with some oranges that we had carried from Bangalore. We also took a small nap of 10 mins to rest our legs. We then started our downhill trek at around 3:00 pm. Though we had expected it to be difficult due to some steep paths, we soon understood it was much easier to have climbed than to go down. Our joints and toes soon started to feel the pressure. We had thought that though difficult, we would still be faster in climbing downhill and hence would reach the base camp by around 7:00 pm with 4 hours to trek downhill. However one of our group mates sprained her leg very soon, just about 2 kms from the peak and it slowed us down. By around 6, were still at least 5 kms far from the base camp and it was already getting dark. This was where the torches that we had carried along helped us and we continued trekking downhill with the help of torch light. We had Balaji who had waited for us before the start of the dense forest. We would have definitely got lost had he not waited for us there. He kept assuring us that we keep moving slowly and carefully. We did not want anyone else to get hurt by twisting or falling. The steam which had been very welcoming while climbing up were now numbing cold. We still had to cross them and since we did not want to risk slipping on stones, we decided to walk through the numbing cold stream. It was our first experience trekking in evening through a dark forest and we were all scared except for Balaji who knew the route very well.

By around 9:00 pm, completely exhausted, we reached the basecamp and joined other members from our group. The dinner was ready along with the tents and sleeping bags for our night stay. Completely refreshed with the experience of the trek, we enjoyed the dinner and went to sleep in the cosy.

The next day, Sunday, we got up at around 9(we were supposed to get up by 6 :)) and visited the Somavathi falls. Since we were already late, we just enjoyed in the falls for an hour or so and rushed back to basecamp to pack our bags. Since most of us were exhausted from the trek, we had decided to go back to Balegal in a Jeep rather than trek back to Balegal which was the plan as per the itinerary. We also decided to skip visiting the Horanadu Temple and just stop at the Tea Estate for a while.

Beautiful Tea Estate

Beautiful Tea Estate

Valley between the tea estate

Valley between the tea estate

After this, we reached Kottigehara where we stopped for lunch. We enjoyed the Neer dosa being served there in a local hotel. Though we were expecting our body to ache due to the heavy trekking that we had done the previous day, surprisingly we did not have any such issues. Relieved we enjoyed the movies that was being played in the cab. We reached back to Bangalore at around 8:30 and as always were welcome with a huge traffic at Malleshwaram Maramma Circle. From the crystal clear water from streams and grasslands surrounding us, we were now back amidst the concrete structures of Bangalore.

Overall the trek to Kudremukh was a great experience and my first through TripHippie. I notice close to 150 more packages that are currently hosted in TripHippie which I need to experience.

October 12, 2015

Spectrum of oppression

by viggy — Categories: social, Uncategorized — Tags: , 1 Comment

I recently came across this article where Arundathi Roy mentions how she sees Gender as a spectrum. It made me wonder about oppression in general and how oppression also happens over a spectrum. All the “isms” look at oppression in a very closed boundary and all the “ists” conveniently choose to ignore the oppression when it does not suit them. Communists for long have been criticized for ignoring the caste oppression and choosing to talk only about class oppressions. They themselves again blame feminists for being too narrow minded and not fighting to uplift the poor. Atheists again blame others to not look at how religion is being used to create unrest and divide amongst people and why feminists/communists are not fighting it directly.

Amongst all these is an act of oppression and it comes in various shades. Oppressor does not choose his style of oppression, he chooses whom to oppress and for what benefit/profit. Then why is it that all the “ists” choose their oppression to fight against. How is it that we choose to ignore one form of oppression on one human to other while we choose to fight another form of oppression.

Ofcourse choosing to fight atleast one form of oppression is better than becoming an oppressor ourselves. Because on the other side, you have people who justify one form of oppression by giving example of another form of oppression. Nature is definitely very harsh, cruel and merciless. It treats living beings as equal as dust but that no way justifies what we do to each other. Human society has evolved fighting the harshness of nature, right from warm clothes we wear to food we cultivate and store.

June 6, 2015

Priviliged – Not by hard work but by chance

by viggy — Categories: experience, social — Tags: , , , , Leave a comment

I feel I am a very priviliged person. Born to Hindu parents in a country where majority is Hindu. Born to brahmin parents where the society is castiest and brahmins are considered the upper-caste. Born to educated parents in a country where being literate itself is an achievement and formal education still unreachable to many. Born as a son of government employee at a time when government still had some socialistic views and hence took good care of their employees and my education was taken care of.
With all that, I have one of the major priviliges something that close to 50% of our country’s population doesnt have. I was born as a boy. As you might have observed, all these priviliges were bestowed upon me even before I could stand on my own feet or before even earning a bead of sweat on my forehead. I was born into these priviliges just by chance. I could easily have been born in war-torn Libya or Iraq. As easily I could have been in one of the dalits family having to run from their homes thanks to the outrage by upper-caste men. Or could have been born to a Muslim family suffering the riots of Gujarat in 2002.
Today I mention this privilige of being a boy to share my experience of the evening. In a rare moment, me along with my professor and couple of his other research students decided to go out for the evening snacks. As we were walking towards the junction which was around 500m away, we saw a large crowd at a distance. This crowd had gathered for the results of a local gram panchayat election as just behind our college was the counting booth and people supporting various parties had gathered to get the results. As we walked, my prof noticed couple of girls who were his students returning back hesitant to pass through the crowd. Realizing why they were returning, my prof asked them to join us as we would also anyways be passing the crowd.
This was something that kind of struck me as it has never been in my life that I felt scared to pass through the crowd. Esecially this is an area just beside our college, something which we regularly pass through. And yet these students feared just passing the crowd which had peacefully gathered on both the sides of the street. I just snickered at them telling them that why they should fear passing through as someone who are about to become an engineer. They just kept quiet.
After reaching the junction and crossing the signal, my prof asked these students who were laughing amongst themselves casually what made them laugh. The girls innocently mentioned that at the other end of the signal, there was a boy who had been following them since afternoon. They did not know him at all but he was following them for close to 3 hours since afternoon when they had caught a bus to college from Majestic(the main bus terminus). My prof was shocked that the girls had not mentioned this to him earlier and he asked me to come along with him and we confronted the boy. It was evident that this boy was following the girls. My prof threatened the boy of consequences if dares to follow them again and he asked me to take a photo of the boy from my mobile. Just as I was about to do it, the boy got scared and ran away.
The girls were relived. But it was a strange experience to me. Something thanks to my priviliges will never have to go through myself. I am sure this experience will leave a mark on those girls too. May be add to their fear or hopefully remove some fear and encourage them itself to confront.
Born in a patriachal society has given me lots of privilege, but today’s incident reminded me that my priviliges which have been bestowed on my just by chance are also part of oppression on the someone else. The only way forward for the society is to remove this oppression and for that a major role would be of those priviliged to give up their priviliges, not as charity but because they never earned these priviliges.

May 5, 2015

When government is the oppressor, corruption is the way of living

by viggy — Categories: social, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , Leave a comment

As usual, I took a KSRTC bus to college today. As usual, I bought the ticket from the conductor and as usual he wrote the change that he owed me on the back of the ticket. After one stop from where I had boarded, the Ticket Checkers boarded the bus. These are people who do kind of surprise visit to the bus and check if the conductor has given tickets to all passengers and if there are passengers who are travelling without buying a ticket.
Generally, passengers and bus conductors have aversion towards each other. I used to think that this may be because the conductor doesnt give change properly, or may be rude in the way he/she talks to passengers. Conductor also doesnt sometime stop the buses on the stop. I had always thought that it was due to these daily friction that passengers dont like the conductor.
Today as usual, the Ticket Checkers checked all the tickets of the passengers. The conductor was very prompt and had given tickets to all the passengers. Hence the Ticket Checkers did not have any complain against him and hence he did not have to bear any penalty. Usually if any person is found travelling without tickets, the conductor has to pay the penalty of Rs. 300 from what I know.
After the Ticket Checkers left, conductor like a student who had just passed his exam, sighed. Some of the passengers started talking amongst themselves and with him, saying that Ticket Checkers were very disappointed, they did not get any reasons for penalty and during the discussion, I could see amazing solidarity of the passengers with the Conductor. He also was talking to them nicely and passengers were abusing the Ticket Checkers as people who always want to loot, etc.
This is when I realized that the reason why there is aversion between passengers and conductor is not because of bad behaviour or something. It is because for the passengers, he is the face of the oppressor called government. Everytime there is a hike in ticket prices, everytime they have to travel in fully packed buses, they blame the government and they see the conductor as the person representing government.
In that moment when Ticket Checkers came to check ticket, Conductor also became a part of the oppressed and hence they were easily able to show solidarity with him. This solidarity takes the form of corruption, when the government employee, to a large extent oppressed himself joins hands with the general public.
People blame the traffic police who catch them for violations as they see them as the face of the government. However the same police may becomes a friend when he gets the job done going against the rules as there is also on the side against the government.
Say politicians who earned crores of ruppee in Coal Scam may be corrupt but because they get the work done through the government for the local people, their corrupt acts are completely ignored because for people these are people just cheating the oppressor.

January 13, 2015

Visit to Visvesvaraya Technological Museum

by viggy — Categories: experience, FSMK, social — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

On 11th Jan 2015,  FSMK organized a trip to Visvesvaraya Technological Museum for its community center students and also students from an orphange. Prakash, a volunteer from FSFTN who has recently moved to Bangalore has been visiting the orphange to teach computers to the students there. It was his initiative to take them to the museum. Our community center students also liked the idea of going to the museum and together a group of 40 visited the museum. IMG_20150113_140924 IMG_20150113_140856 IMG_20150113_140849 IMG_20150113_140838 IMG_20150111_112041 IMG_20150111_110147

January 1, 2015

देखो आज फ़िर नया साल आया!!

by viggy — Categories: experience, social — Tags: , , , , , Leave a comment

देखो आज फ़िर नया साल आया!!
लाठि ले खडे
पुलिस के होते हुए
होर्न भजाते
बाईक पर गुंडा चिल्ला पाया!!
देखो आज फ़िर नया साल आया!!
कडाके कि ठंड में
पटाखों कि गुंज में
कबिर ने मां से पूछा
क्या कोई मंत्री कंबल ले के आया!!
देखो आज फ़िर नया साल आया!!
शोर के भडने पर
शबरि ने मां से पूछा
राम रहिम के नाम पर
क्या कोई राश्न कार्ड देने आया!!
देखो आज फ़िर नया साल आया!!
विकास के फ़्लॆओवर के नीचे
बच्चों को सुलाते हुए
मां ने कहा, ना बच्चों
अमिरों का नया साल आया!!


December 29, 2014

Dead person and a used tissue paper

by viggy — Categories: experience, God, social — Tags: , , , , , , Leave a comment

A dead person is as useless as a used tissue paper. Its existence has no consequence, and for the lack of proper word that I can think of, no respect. If you look at the way people treat a dead body in the name of the final rites, its shameful. A person who would have been a big bully would now be moved around like a sack of bag. Not only physically, even ideologically his/her ideas would be modified, distorted etc as wished and the dead person cant defend it.

How often have you heard this statement, “Aaj agar _____ Hote?”, “If he was alive, he would have …..?” Anyone would say this and there is no way the dead person can defend himself/herself.

We have two great examples for this. Gandhi and Che Guevara. With 100s of schemes tied to his name, lakhs of roads, auditoriums, etc Gandhi is used in this country by anyone and everyone. I am sure ‘If he was alive, he would have sat on Anshan in retaliation’. See I just did that. With Modi’s Cleanliness campaign to Congress’s MNREGA everybody has made use of him. On the ground, we have nationalists who hate him, call him names for supposedly being responsible for Partition. I do not have much idea about him but this seems to be an interesting debate about ‘Relevance of Gandhi in today’s world

Che’s picture is a very common picture to everyone, most seen in T Shirt prints. In a recent debate about Copyright, Copyleft and incentive to publishers, one of the speakers mentioned that ‘If copyright helped the original creators, Che would have been the richest person for his own image.’ It is appalling how his image is used/morphed/remixed into any design and again the poor revolutionary who went ahead and challenged some of the most powerful countries in his time is helpless and cannot defend himself now.

The Iron Man, Vallabhbhai Patel with the Statue of Unity also faces the same fate. Whether he himself would have agree to spend Rs. 2000 Crores on his statue in the name of Nation’s unity is an interesting question.

The more popular the person is, the more is the dilution and corruption of his/her ideology.

What is interesting is that Almighty GOD also faces the similar humiliation. Things that have been done and is being done in name of GOD is truly shameful? But the almighty not able to defend himself/herself, infact needing people to defend himself/herself makes one doubt his/her capabilities.

September 23, 2014

Event Report: Public Screening of Internet’s Own Boy

by viggy — Categories: FSMK, social — Tags: , , , , , , , Leave a comment

As the first activity of We The Goondas Campaign, we organized a public screening of Internet’s Own Boy, a biography of Aaron Swartz, a hacktivist in US who worked actively to promote internet freedom and in a true sense, the first martyr of Freedom of Internet/knowledge movement. We The Goondas campaign motive is to raise awareness amongst public about the recent amendment to Goonda’s Act which was passed by Karnataka Legislative Assembly and then when there are sufficient number of people mobilized, we will decide on how to take the campaign forward. The screening was organized in Institute of Agricultural Technologists, Queens Rd, Bangalore on 21st Sept 2014 at 2:00 pm. Over all close to 60 people attended the screening. The screening was followed by a discussion led by Lawrence Liang from Alternative Law Forum on the whole knowledge based movement that Aaron was a major part of and also his role that should be a major inspiration for all of us from the developing countries. Lawrence emphasized on the absurdity of various laws which are being passed across the world to regulate internet. Aaron was a martyr of such an absurd law. With respect to Goonda Act, he talked about how it is completely absurd because it tries to weigh in completely diverse range of people in the same pan, right from people involved in boot-legging, land-grabbers, drug offenders to copyright violators. He emphasized on the point that where else can you find such comparisons if not in absurd laws. Like a statement by Aaron in the movie, Lawrence also emphasized on the fact that books and other content is not just about a certain idea being represented, it is also a representation of the culture and tradition of the society which shouldnt be locked up. He mentioned a question that Suraj, a delhi based, working class boy had asked him, “माना ये किताब आपकि हॆ, इस किताब कि परछाई किसकी हॆ?”(“Even though I agree that the books is yours, who owns the shadow of the book?)”. He mentioned how he was pretty sure that Aaron would have put up all the content of JSTOR into torrent and that was the sole motivation for him to download it and how laws actually stopped him from doing such a generous thing. He mentioned that any law which doesnt allow us to be generous to each other, is not an law to follow. The discussion also led to interesting questions on how the campaign should be taken forward, what we can expect etc. As of now, we currently do not have a clear idea on how to take the campaign forward and hopefully with more and more groups and people joining us, we will be able to come up with the clarity on what realistically can be expected out of the campaign.

Over all, a very good start to the campaign. ALF was very generous to have contributed towards the cost of the hall which was close to Rs. 18,000/- We definitely were not able to mobilize as many people compared to the money put in and hopefully we will be able to do a much better participated event next time.

Photos of the event: