my thoughts, cracks and arguments...

this blog is a collection of writings written by me at various forums and blogs, and some stuffs about me and my taste.

Monday, July 6, 2015


( Originally Written for Media Magazine ) and Airtel Zero -- 2 partially free internet connections -- from Facebook and Airtel, as well as a consultation paper which kind of facilitates more such free internet connection plans from Internet Service Providers was at the receiving end of heavy criticism in India. You might have noted them and might have even signed that petition to DOT against that consultation paper.

Net Neutrality; the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. and Airtel Zero is against Net Neutrality. Sounds Scary?

Before we dig deeper into Net Neutrality, Rewind!

Google is Free! Gmail is Free!
Facebook is Free! Whatsapp is Free!
Mozilla Firefox is Free!!
Most things in the internet seems free! Oh Really???

Most of the things we use via internet seems free to us users. However, they are not actually free! The cost of running these free services -- the servers, the support staff, the software cost, their office costs, etc. -- are actually born by somebody out there; usually advertising companies or venture capitalists.

In the case of services like gmail or facebook, they use our personal information to show relevant advertisements to us, and make money. Sometimes they use our data to improve our user experience too; so that we spend more time with them, so that they can charge online advertisers more. Some companies do not use our personal information to remain ON. Mozilla Firefox for example plants paid contents in their browser to generate revenue. [Did you know Mozilla's 2012 revenue was $311 Million?]

Services in the Internet has made a sustainable model of keeping itself alive; while keeping most of the things free. And we love it! Isn't it?

Now a days, some of these companies are so aggressive to get users that they even pay users to use their services. For example, the popular mobile app based transportation network company, Uber subsidise taxi rides just to make us use their service; and eventually make the convenience of Uber taxi rides a habit. Companies like Flipkart & Amazon subsidise the products they sell, just to make buying via them a habit. Now, as customers, we enjoy it. Isn't it?

Competition in the internet is huge. Innovation happening in the internet is even more. Entrepreneurs in internet are innovating aggressively to sustain. All the companies out there are exploring new ways to acquire new users and retain existing ones.

One such innovation is and Airtel Zero. Today, internet users pay money to use internet. However, if we subscribe to or Airtel Zero, then some websites will becomes free to use. We don’t have to pay even the Internet Service Providers to use internet to browse a selected set of websites. The data charges that we used to pay earlier will now be paid by companies like Facebook and Flipkart. End result? Internet will become even more cheaper to use for us users. People with lower disposable income too so may start using Internet. Now, would you like that? I do!

There are 3 major arguments that I noted against such a model of internet connection.
(1) It is a breach of privacy. Our data is being sniffed; to charge or not charge the data we consume.
(2) It will become harder for startups to grow, if we do not have net neutrality.
(3) Internet Service Providers could take money from a company to delay/slow/block connectivity to a competitor.

We are enjoying everything for free in the internet. We have already compromised our privacy in return. No big deal! Breach of privacy is a fact. It already is happening in the internet. If we prevent this breach of privacy, then we will kill almost all the things that we currently love in the internet.  

For Startups, yes. Things are already very tough, and if free internet model becomes the future, it could become even more tougher to succeed. But if a business has the potential to succeed, they will figure out a way to come out successful.

What if Internet Service Providers take money from a company to delay/slow/block connectivity to a competitor? Any kind of exclusion or censorship will once again be dealt with by the basic capitalist force. If one service provider doesn't provide a particular type of content then people have the choice of going to a provider who will feature that content.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Take on Jan Lokpal

Last Thursday morning, when I was coming back home after my part time CCNA training, Aleyamma Aunty stopped me and asked, “Vivek, should we not support Anna Hazare? We are meeting this evening.” I thought for a second, ‘Anna Hazare???’ (2 seconds actually) ‘Oh, the guy who is on a hunger strike to bring one powerful Hong Kong modelled anti-corruption bill.’ I immediately replied, YES!

As soon as I got back home, I googled - Anna Hazare & his Lokpal bill. I was curious how Jan Lokpal will fight corruption in India.

The intuition I got was, Lokpal fights corruption by completing investigation & prosecution within a timeframe. Lokpal can initiate investigations suo moto and can prosecute public servants without government permission. It can also demand recovery of lost money from guilt's assets. Unlike other ombudsmen, Lokpal has so many powers (power to investigate, prosecute and sentence), and is free from political pressures.

Hmm, I should take part in ‘India Against Corruption.’

That evening, I joined the candle light vigil in Trivandrum in solidarity to Anna Hazare's fast against corruption. (Though I never fasted)

Amazing photos no? Thanks to Robin. That Green Shirt with Arrow is me.

Now I did have some irritating moments during Day 1 of ‘India against Corruption’ – Trivandrum Chapter program. One was Peepli Live and the other was Mr Bhasurendra Babu. His ‘Manmohan Singh is corrupt’ speech was disquieting. This is not LDF's election convention!

“But can we be sure that we are fighting the right battles in the right cases? Or is there a risk that our outrage and anger are being exploited by those who know how to manipulate the media and influence social media?” – Vir Sanghvi

Because the issue was not that serious, and ‘Support me malayalees’ was just 3 days ago, I restricted my protest to a tweet.

That evening, all 9PM News programs said, only 2 more disagreements exist between government's interlocutor Kapil Sibal and Anna Hazare's negotiators. First was the chairperson issue that was resolved almost immediately, and the other was Anna's demand for a government notification of its promise.

Government the next day agreed to notify, but then Anna declared he will end his fast only after government notifies the creation of Lokpal [joint committee].

I didn't like this. It's like insulting the government [negotiators]. May be Anna has lost his faith in our government. That along with Ambedkar's words [via] made me wonder if Anna's pressure tactics is good for our country; though better than DYFI's.

“…we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.” -  B R Ambedkar
via @acorn

BTW, was RTI & NREGA not contributions claimed by social activists? I do not remember social activists doing similar performance to bring those revolutionary acts & schemes.

Anyway, I had to know in detail what I am supporting. So I went through Anna's Jan Lokpal bill. (I am aware that a new draft is on the making, but it is less likely that the points discussed her are not going to be there in the final draft.)

Well, the bill surely can make a difference. It will not prevent Rajas & Kodas from happening but unlike current watchdogs, Lokpal is less prone to political pressures. The Jan Lokpal bill has some nice clauses that makes it cleaner, faster & more desirable than present ombudsmen. However, there are some philosophical concerns too.

(1) Lokpal is a very powerful ombudsman that combines existing anti-corruption agencies. Most believe Lokpal is required because recent events have made it clear that corrupt or people without impeccable integrity can become CVCs, CJIs, CAGs, High Courts judges, etc.

How does Lokpal differ?

Excerpt from the draft :
6. Appointment of the Chairperson and members:
7. The following selection process shall be followed:
a. Recommendations shall be invited through open advertisements in prescribed format.
b. Each person recommending shall be expected to justify the selection of his candidate giving examples from the past achievements of the candidate.
c. The list of candidates along with their recommendations received in the format mentioned above shall be displayed on a website.
d. Each member of the selection committee, on the basis of the above material, shall recommend such number of names as there are vacancies.
e. A priority list shall be prepared with the candidate receiving recommendations from maximum number of members of selection committee at the top. The candidates recommended by same number of members shall be treated at par.
f. This priority list shall be displayed on the website.
g. Around three times the names as there are vacancies, shall be shortlisted from the top.
h. Public feedback shall be invited on the shortlisted names by putting these names on the website.
i. The selection committee may decide to use any means to collect more information about the background and past achievements of the shortlisted candidates.
j. Selection committee shall invite shortlisted candidates for discussions, video recordings of which shall be made public.
k. All the material obtained so far about the candidates shall be made available to each member of the selection committee in advance. The members shall make their own assessment of each candidate.
l. The selection committee shall meet and discuss the material so received about each candidate. The final selections for the Chairperson and members shall be made preferably through consensus.
Provided that if three or more members, for reasons to be recorded in writing, object to the selection of any member, he shall not be selected.
m. All meetings of selection committee shall be video recorded and shall be made public.

Public feedback through website & videotaping of selection committee meetings make the process of appointment more transparent. This process looks like good enough to keep this ombudsman out of people without impeccable integrity's hands.

Now, for reasons I'll justify bellow, I prefer the incorporation of this transparent, better selection process into the current system, than limiting it to a Lokpal. We should follow Jan Lokpal's selection process in all top appointments; from CVCs to Judicial Court Judges to University Vice Chancellors to PSU heads.

According to Jan Lokpal designers, CAG's advices are never accepted by ministers. See this video. Lokpal prevents happening this to itself by making its announcements equivalent to Supreme Court judgments. It has to be followed.

Hey, wait a minute! In 2G issue, I can't buy CAG's finding of Rs 1.76 lakh crore losses to the government. CAG calculated 2G spectrum price based on 3G spectrum prices. 3G is 4 times more efficient than 2G, but 2G spectrum is as costly as 3G? Also 2G didn't have any limit to the number of players per circle. Government earned so much money in 3G by limiting the number of players per circle to 3. CAG has assumed that 2G spectrum value is equal to 3G's; which is rubbish! 

My point is, the option for government to reject whole or part of recommendations by CAG should be kept open. That's because CAG considers only receipts and expenditure; not upliftment that happens to people of a nation when government distributes spectrum at low prices. Once CAG is clubbed with Lokpal, its recommendations have to be followed. 

In order to prevent corruption and favorisms like what was done by Raja, let's legally give the CAG some more respect. Let's amend our laws in such a way that if a ministry want to reject a recommendation of CAG, the reason for that should be explained & approved by a judicial court like Supreme Court. To keep decision making faster, let's have a dedicated court to deal with permissions of this nature.

Also, as per Anna's Lokpal bill, Lokpal is a deemed police officer. Lokpal is also a body with judicial powers. Now, is there any country in the world where investigation & judgment is done by the same body? Will such a system be fair?

This worries me more because unlike in Judicial Courts, the judgments by Lokpal are passed not necessarily by people who have the required qualification or experience to be a judge.

(2) A very attractive section in Lokpal is Time limits

Excerpt from the draft :
30. Time limits
(1) Preliminary enquiry under sub-section (1) of section 9 of this Act should be completed within a month of receipt of complaint.
Provided that the enquiry officer shall be liable for an explanation if the enquiry is not completed within this time limit.
(2) Investigation into any allegation shall be completed within six months, and in any case, not more than one year, from the date of receipt of complaint.
(3) Trial in any case filed by Lokpal should be completed within one year. Adjournments should be granted in rarest circumstances.

I believe this is something that should not be restricted to corruption cases alone. I would recommend this time limit section to be added in cases of all nature; as far as possible.

It's not easy but we have to solve India's court paucity. Currently our courts work from 11.00 am to 05.00 pm (6 hours). Why not make them run from 08.00 am to 08.00 pm? (12 hours).

(3) Can Lokpal bring down corruption?

Once Lokpal is in place, will we continue to drive bikes without helmets, and escape 500 rupee bills by a 50 rupee bribe? Will we continue making black money by doing undervalued land dealings? Will we continue building buildings without adequate permissions? Will we continue bribing government officers to process a file faster?

Think of the different forms of corruption that is taking place in our country. In most cases, you pay bribes because you have something to hide. You pay bribes because you may not have satisfied all the legal requirements that you are supposed to follow. You pay bribes to motivate officers.

In cases where officials/politicians demand bribes to get something done, you already have someone called vigilance. How many are making use of that body? The difference made when vigilance is brought under Lokpal is peripheral.

India Against Corruption website says if any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant. Currently, don't courts do that?

Financial penalty on guilty officers to be given as compensation to the complainant and recovery of stolen money [instead of a limited fine] are amendments that we will have to make in our constitution for Lokpal. Though I do not back Lokpal, these amendments (which will apply to Judicial courts too) SHOULD be brought in. I express my gratitude to Anna and his team for putting pressure on government to bring this much needed amendment. If Lokpal ever manages to become a hit, then it will be because of this amendment.

There are many more good suggestions in the Jan Lokpal bill that Anna has put forward; like random selection of benches using computers, removal of restrictions that demand preapproval from the government to prosecute public servants & ministers, mandatory property statements from Public Servants, etc. Let's incorporate those great suggestions into our current system -- a system which we are very proud of -- and thus make it better; than by appointing an autocrat to control democratically elected leaders. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Support me malayalees

This afternoon, in front of University of Kerala, Palayam, an accident took place. One JNNURM bus squeezed a bike that was on its right side at that roundabout. Though the bike got squeezed, the bike driver's timely jump onto the roundabout saved him. What followed? Crowd gathered. Traffic blocked. And I dialled 911 (Kerala Police Control room). To my surprise, Kerala Police arrived in less than a minute.

Meanwhile, the mob there was discussing the accident pretty emotionally, and their anger -- towards the bus driver -- was gaining strength. I heard one of them talking about scourging the bus driver at once; for his carelessness. All our fellow citizens backed that exciting idea. 

 Now, I couldn’t resist my feelings. I intervened and said, "Accidents can happen. Beating that driver is inappropriate." Suddenly everybody -- yes, EVERY BODY -- turned against me. A flush of questions starting from "who am I to say that" scorched. I responded to most of them but that was making our citizens angrier. Was it because of my size, or was it because I am a gym, only one pushed me, and I remember that guy who pushed me from behind ran off immediately, probably fearing my retaliation.

Anyway, by that time, our uncles at Kerala Police pulled me out. In fact, those Kerala Police uncles were the only ones who showed me some respect.

Similar was the crowd's attitude when Soumya happened. Similar was mob's reaction when Aluva murder happened. I have deep sympathy to the victims, but expressing it by violence cannot be justified. Nobody has the right to onslaught.

Well, this whole episode did piss me off. And still I am publishing this note. It’s because I want some support at least from the internet. What was my wrong doing? Why are people behaving like this? Hereafter, if any of you see somebody preventing others (even a mob) from taking laws into their hands, will you support him, oppose him, or will just enjoy the show?

I noted that all these happenings were being recorded by some chaps in their camera phones. I'll link those videos to this post if I ever find those clippings on YouTube.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My reply to UID bashers

As always, our [left wing] NGOs have come up with another campaign; A Campaign against India’s UID project. I noted this first on a google group called Fourth Estate Critique (FEC). To my surprise, most of those who discussed UID project there where against UID. Some of their reasons were (1) False claims by Nandan Nilekani & the government, (2) Violation of privacy and civil liberties, (3) “Functionality creep” and misuse of data, (4) Inappropriate and unproven technology, (5) Database security not assured, (6) Unjustifiable costs, (7) Bypassing of Parliament and democratic processes and (8) Lessons from other countries like UK. To know those arguments in detail, check out this pdf ( ) or listen to this CNNibn discussion ( ). 

FEC is a very active group where you get strong & powerful replies for a post in minutes. FEC claims, it is the most active online discussion forum in Kerala. It is really hard to fight those FEC members, but I believe I have won a battle. Its almost a day, but I am yet to get a reply from those UID bashers for the reply I posted. In FEC standards, a day is too long for a reply.

It took me 2 days of thought process & 4 hours of editing to make this reply. By far, my effort has been able to mum those NGOs. Read it bellow.

NP: It would not be worth reading if you are ignorant of the criticisms growing against the UID project.


1) There have been cases where according to the state government, someone is in BPL and according to the central government, he is in APL. There are cases where many sound families hold a BPL card when the actual ones are not in the BPL list. Currently there is no - effective - mechanism for the government to identify & correct such inconsistencies.

UID has the potential to identify such inconsistencies existing in databases held by different agencies; by cross comparison & cross verification of data. Correction - of identified inconsistencies - however has to be done by other bodies.

2) Privacy: I do not have issues if government checks my bank transactions, because I have nothing to hide. Transparency applies to us too. We have to be transparent towards our government. Why should I hide my financial transactions from the government? Also, why should we prevent the government from more effectively knowing the demographic details of our country?

Government already has access to our bank accounts; UID may just help that task of tracing suspicious transactions & accounts easier.

3) Privacy: UID will not empower the government to tap phones or monitor bedrooms & bathroom; where you need privacy. UID will help the government coordinate service points better; which are suppose to be transparent; & not private.

4) I am not against private players. Whets wrong if private players are allowed to work along with the government? In my experience, public sector sucks. I am quite sure that UID project will overspend, lag & eventually fail if it was implemented by public sector bodies alone.

5) For arguments like "UID has just techies on top of the project, who do not know the issues of the common man...." Give them a try. Let’s see if those techies can help the government in solving those issues of the poor, which the non-techies have not yet solved.

6) If Biometrics has vulnerabilities, suggest a better way to help the government uniquely identify citizens; rather than halting the entire project. In our country, we can easily manage to get fake PAN cards, fake passports, fake certificates, etc. Biometrics has the potential to identify such fake identity holders & verify valid ones; with much better accuracy than existing methods.

7) "UID will give more power to the government. That is dangerous" - isnt that another reason why some of you believe, UID should not be allowed?

A powerful government is a good thing. Take China or may be, any democratic country where the government is very powerful; were the government has good control over the state. All such countries have developed & prospered better than countries where the government is less powerful, or has little control over its land. If UID can give the government better control over the state, that's going to bring in more development & prosperity.

8) Misuse of data: This is an issue. Misuse of data should not happen. Data stealing too should be prevented. I hope, the framework designed by Nilekani is robust & secure. We have no other option than to trust him.

Personally, I can trust him because
            (a) His track record; He is an expert in his job.
            (b) The nature of the data stored in UID's database is not as  crucial as country's top security details or secrets. What could be stored there are biometric data, demographic data, and those details
which we gave to the census guy who came to our home.
            (c) He is no less an Indian than me. Mr. Nilekani & his team would have put in their best to make the database as secure as possible.

9) Nilekani has clarified that this project is a lot different from the project, UK abandoned.

In UK it was not financially feasible because of the nature of the goals that that government had to achieve. The issues faced by UK & India are a lot different. When bringing in transparency, reducing leakages, removing poverty, etc. are India's priorities, UK's priority is in getting rid of the financial crisis they currently are in. - I guess so! Correct me if I am wrong.

10) UID could be an expensive project, but it is worth. It is an investment for our nation betterment.
And UID is going to happen. Protests & campaigns against the project will only help reduce the chances of success of the project. 


Friday, November 27, 2009

my letter to jose thettayil

This is a letter i wrote to the Minister for Transport, Mr Jose Thettayil after my first ride on the new volvos running in the Trivandrum City...let me know if you can agree with my observations...



The volvo experience Trivandrum is enjoying presently is ‘nourishing’...I had my maiden travel today morning. Sat inside the bus, and when it opened its doors for passengers on the next stop -- east fort, -- you should have seen the faces of people entering the bus...they were all thrilled, excited and overjoyed to get into a volvo...watching those many excited faces was refreshing...

Now sir,let me come to the purpose of this email. From my observation, it would be nice if the following are given some attention...

1) An official website -- with apps to get the bus timings, routs, search, maps, etc. -- should be launched, as the AC buses are targeting techies at Technopark and Tourists...both BMTC ( and MTC(Chennai) ( have excellent applications in their websites.

2) You must study the practicalities of giving free Wi-Fi internet connections for Volvo travelers; because most at Technopark have Wi-Fi enabled Laptops and mobile phones. Being able to browse during a 30 minute travel will make the volvos more attractive.

3) The target travelers of the volvo (techies/tourists/higher income groups) can all read English, but for most, not Malayalam. There are many non malayalies working at Technopark. As we are not following the coding system as in other metros, display boards in 'English alone' would be of higher utility.

4) I found the LED display boards inside the buses underutilized. Displaying the Current and Next stops would add usefulness to the travelers, apart from the currently displayed messages -- “KSRTC WELCOMES YOU ” and “DEMAND YOUR TICKET”.

5) Finally, you must take extra effort to make sure that the buses remain well maintained, let me not explain this why.

With all regards,

vivek stanley | +91 9995376400 | @vivekstanley


Friday, September 25, 2009


"IF U R A TRUE INDIAN DO THIS FOR OUR COUNTRY.. Please go to the link below and report abuse ..... " The above link is towards a community in orkut called 'We Hate India'
Have you come across scraps like this. Will you report them abuse? I won't. Here is the reason why, I wont report such communities as abuse.
  • First and foremost, I respect those member's 'right to union'.
  • Secondly, will 'reporting abuse' of such communities make those members in (such communities) STOP hating India???
  • Let them discuss why they hate India, and such communities are an opportunity for us Indians to know why others hate India. Let us take those discussions positively and correct ourselves so that they dont have anymore reasons to hate India.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What should we do with Ajmal Amir Kasab???

If you are given a chance, what will you do with Mr. Ajmal Amir Kasab??? This was a subject I found in one of the forums of a community in orkut, We Are Anti Terorists[WAAT]. Most of the people in that forum were not willing to give Kasab anything other than a death sentence. Probably you too will be of that opinion. If so, I have a different opinion. This is a response I made in that forum.

Hanging Kasab won’t put an end to terrorism. I won’t say that forgiving Kasab will bring an end to terrorism, but could help in the process of putting an end.

"...We were told that our big brother India is so rich and we are dying of poverty and hunger. My father sells dahi wada on a stall in Lahore and we did not even get enough food to eat from his earnings. I was promised that once they knew that I was successful in my operation, they would give Rs 150,000, to my family)," said Qasab....

further reading in - - and the video series - Kasab confession - gives me an impression that Kasab did what he did, primarily for money, and not for his hatred towards India. It was the circumstances around him, in Pakistan, that was misused by Lashkar-e-Taiba, to make people like Ajmal Amir Kasab.

If he ever repents for what he did, India should keep the option of forgiveness open as there is nothing wrong in forgiving. After all, all of us had done wrong deeds in our life, and were we always punished? Hadn’t we had the mercy of forgiveness?

i am not a pro terrorist; my attitude on terrorism is that, human rights violations by terrorists should not be responded with human rights violations.... i believe, terrorists were born out of unfortunate circumstances..... effective elimination of terrorism can be done only through the elimination of those unfortunate circumstances, like poverty, lack of education, human rights violations, etc....