Thursday, October 13, 2011

The UID Experience

Unique Identification Number or the UID is something that is expected to change the face of the nation.
In the future, it is not going to be not just a card or a 12 digit number but a reflection of your complete identity linking your bank accounts, driving license, PAN card etc. It may well be your permanent phone number of the future.

The drive for registering the citizens of India is on and I was excited to get the 12 digit number for myself and flaunt it on Facebook. But it was not to be.

One such camp has been put up at a Gurudwara near my home and I went there to get myself UID-ed.

It is not a cumbersome process and if you are alone at the center, it would take you around 15 minutes to register for it. Less if the person registering you is faster at typing. Lesser if the whole family is together as you need not type the address again and again.

But the problem with India is the numbers. The major waiting time is to wait in the line.

The basic process is that you fill out a form with details like name, father's name, address, date of birth. Email, phone number are optional. I wrote them but still the guy putting the data on the computer did not enter them. Attach one or more identification documents as DOB and residence proof.

You submit this document at the desk and then wait. I had a home nearby so I submitted and went home, had lunch, rested and came back an hour later.

My form along with two others were allocated to a computer guy. I sat there seeing the computer software work as this guy entered the details of the person before me.

The software was impressive but the hardware was not. The peripherals were but there was the same problem with the laptop as is the case with most laptops I see today (even with mine).  While typing the cursor with its own mind goes to any place it wants without any guidance from the trackpad. It goes to the previous line or at some place else in the same line and if you are not looking at the screen while typing you will not come to know and will keep typing rubbish.
Clearly our guy was not very adept at typing and was typing slowly looking at the keyboard and this hardware problem was screwing the software efficacy.

The screen had a form with different tabs. Firstly you scan your finger prints in 3 installments using a special scanner. As the computer records them it beeps. Next you sit down in front of a screen and put a scanner in front of your eyes as the computer records your retina details.

Then the guy starts filling out the details from the form you had earlier filled out. A duplicate screen is in front of you so that you can also see what is being typed and correct him at any point.

As he types in the left column in English, the translated version automatically appears in Hindi in the right column. So after around 10 - 15 minutes of data entry of all kinds, your form is ready to be saved.
The data entry person has to put his finger prints as a record of who has done the entry.

I had thought that at the end of it, a brand new identity for me - the UID would be generated. But it was only a temporary number. Of course some background checks will be carried out before handing me the identity - it will take around 2 months.

The 'early adopters' for getting the UID made were mostly people from the strata of the society who are not economically well-off - mostly from the small villages around Chandigarh. Of course they need it more.
For people like me  - we just need it show it off on FB!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Anna and Cricket

The Anna Hazare movement - a revolution which has caught the imagination of the whole country. A revolution which is going to change the bloody face of the nation. Obviously I was excited to be part of the historical revolution and I duly went to the India Gate to register my protest.

It was a deja vu experience. It was exactly the same at a India-Australia cricket match at PCA Stadium which I went to see a few years ago.

1. In the match people wished that Sachin "Aage Bade" and chakka maare. Here, they goaded Anna with the same: "Aage Badho.. hum tumhare Saath hain" (of course they can not say 'hum tumhare saath hain' to Sachin. One always follows God!)

2. In both cases, people shouted at the top of their voices or displayed interesting banners with the sole purpose that the camera pans on them and they get their few seconds of fame on national television.

3. In the match, the cameras were busy finding beautiful faces in the crowd. Here, cameras focused on kids (preferably with Gandhi Topi).

4. At the stadium, people were shouting "Pakistan Haii haii" (Did not matter than Pakistan was not playing). Here Pakistan was replaced by Kapil Sibal/Sonia Gandhi/Rahul Gandhi etc.

5. In both the cases, there were people who had come drunk, which gave an extra zing to their voices.

6. In the match, there were some female Aussie supporters in the stand. One could see young boys going up to them to have a photo clicked with the 'gori mem'. It was the same case here too. Some foreigners had come to 'experience the changing India' and the Gandhi topis of some young boys were temporarily thrown away for a presentable picture with the gori who perhaps later updated on her facebook with "Participated in India's second freedom struggle".

7. The voices heard around during the match were same as at the protest - Ignorant. Some of them had for the first time noticed that bowlers change ends after each over and were thoroughly confused about why it was happening. One of them then said, "tu match dekh na..technicality mein kyu fasta hai"

Then I overheard the following at the protest march.
First guy: "Yaar vaise ye PM ko Lokpal mein laane, na laane se farak kya padega?"
Second Guy: "Tu Naare laga na... Technicality mein kyu fassta hai"

The only thing missing (thankfully) in the protest march was a customary fight (at least at PCA, Mohali) between two groups - most probably over a girl.

If you feel I am ridiculing a movement of national importance, consider an example.
If tomorrow you are returning from a party and have had a peg or two more than permitted by law for driving a vehicle. A police-wallah stops you and there is a good chance that you could be jailed for the offense.(Take any other example where you know its your fault and the punishment would be harsh).
Now would you prefer spending the night in jail or greasing some palms which can prevent it?
If your answer is the latter, kindly don't bull shit yourself by supporting this movement.
Of course you are welcome to go to the protest to have some fun and to vent out some frustration.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Follow Rules or Common sense?

It was an interesting trip early morning from Gurgaon on Meru cab. The expressway is meant to be fast and driving below 60 - 70 kmph specially in the morning when there is no vehicle rush is quite foolish. In this case, the cab's driver too, promptly accelerated. Soon, a computer aunty started telling us loudly that the vehicle was over the speed limit and the driver should slow down. Common sense said that we should not slow down - the road was wide and open, the traffic was sparse with some trucks to give us company at that time. So the driver, with his left hand covered the speaker and continued driving with the muted but still loud voice of the computer telling us to go slow.
So now the driver was driving at quite a high speed with only one hand on the steering.
A system designed to increase safety of the passengers not only failed but in turn increased the risk.
What would you do if you were Meru? Give a switch so that the driver, on his discretion can turn the warning off or avoid driving at high speed on roads where it is an insult to the excellent infrastructure by driving slow?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Auto wallahs and the Bias

Amit and I were looking for an auto. I saw one standing empty on a corner.
"Vo raha", I announced.
"Nahi yaar. Sardar hai. Lootega", Amit replied.

Unfortunately I couldn't agree with him more. A north Indian going to Chennai or Bangalore is always warned about the scrupulous auto wallahs there who always over charge you. I had never imagined it would happen but the same notoriety is now applicable to the Sikh Auto wallahs of Delhi.

I have had many encounters with them and not a single one has been on the positive end of the expectation spectrum. Take for example one instance where early in the morning while coming to office, I went to one who was standing on the side of the road. He agreed, I sat and he put the meter on. For the next few minutes he kept on sitting there and I wondering what the hell he was up to. After some time he called a passerby, asked him where he was going and asked him to sit in the auto as well. It was the final nail in the proverbial coffin I guess.

Now, it has come to a point that the bias has taken deep roots and it is better not to ask than a rise in the frustration level when he quotes an absurd price or does something to the same effect.
So people coming to Delhi and hiring a taxi/auto. Beware!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Idea

I must admit that I find the recent Idea ads unwatchable. Some like the one where the girl in the parking lot is wondering why her billing is so high is simply illogical and I feel giving a tight one to her. Add to it a hollow attitude/arrogance that Abhishek Bachchan shows. He seems to have come straight out of the Shahrukh Khan School of Overacting.

But the paradox is that the tagline is catchy. In normal life there are actually times when you say 'no idea' or something to that effect. And that 'something' is now being increasingly
replaced by 'No Idea' which prompts a reply 'Get idea' by the other person.

There is no doubt that the advertisements have created a strong connect and recall value by the use of a simple, everyday phrase. Just that I still have No Idea why the 'Sir ji' is such full of himself.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Playing with the mind

I have been a regular visitor to KFC for sometime. Recently, I discovered that if you order a Chicken Zinger Meal (which I do 99% of the time), they ask you, "Sir, would have Medium or Large Cold Drink".(Zinger meal is a combo of a burger, 1 chicken piece and a cold drink).
A health conscious person that I am, I always used to say 'medium' - choosing the lesser of the two evils.

Actually, the normal size of the cold drink which comes along with the zinger meal is 'small'. When you are posed with the choice of medium or large, you simply chose one of them. One thinks that it is covered in the price of the meal so 'what the hell'. But the actual thing i.e. small never occurs in the choice list. So is it unfair or a good sales maneuver?
After all, ideally they have displayed the details of the meal and the customer ought to know that they will be paying more if they chose medium or large option of the cold drink.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Every morning a Pandit ji comes to our office and does a little Pooja. And it is very interesting to listen to it. Some day there are yawns while he is reciting his mantras. Another day, his mobile phone rang. And the days when he is disinterested he rushes through the mantras eating some words, mincing others and of course yawning through the remaining. In all probability he is not even thinking about any of the God that he is naming.
Hence, I fail to understand the purpose of it all.
I don't think any Gods, if at all they exist, are getting appeased by this half hearted, emotionless, soulless rant every morning. It is said that prayer often has a calming effect on those saying it and also on ones listening. In this case, seeing the hurry the Pandit is in, it definitely does not calm him and for the listeners, everyone wants it to be done before the office starts! In the end it is nothing more than a superstitious ritual and a mere job for the Pandit.