Archive for August, 2012

Getting into the workaholic mode, courtesy BYOD

A section of techies, business leaders and tech media may not agree with me. But I really think the huge buzz that is called BYOD (bring your own device) today is actually turning workers into productive workaholics. Employees are encouraged to bring their own devices – from tablets to smartphones and all those à la mode communication gadgets – and apparently all these sound so perfect. In the process, companies are happily squeezing out a pound of flesh from the very same employees.

byod-worker

Never switch off!

Let me substantiate this with data. A recent Mobile Workforce Report found out that employees are working up to 20 additional hours per week unpaid as a result of BYOD policies adopted by their firms. So if a company worked a 40 hour week before, their employees are giving them an extra 20 for FREE! Now you know what I am talking about…

Go a little deeper into this and you would understand the whole movement of BYOD is an offshoot of recession and other global crisis that in turn prompted businesses to go for cost-cutting. Even though the business leaders have put it as giving more flexibility to employees, BYOD in many ways can only save some of the company expenses. So when the company is on a cost saving spree, the best way it found was to ask employees to get all their stuff – from PCs to smartphone and datacards.

So, what’s the employees take in the whole cost cutting saga? They anyways do not have much of a say as they look to be in a stable job – they need to go with the flow. And in some cases as we know employees love to show off their latest gadgets. But after a while? When it becomes a need, it indeed becomes a pain, especially if you don’t make the big bucks.

Set aside finance. But are you ready to mix work with pleasure on the same device? Say you write to your fiancé from your phone and then your boss wants to dig into your text messages and e-mails. Where are you then? It’s your phone or tablet – your personal communication device, but it holds a lot of the company’s data. Whose rights will prevail in such situations? You do not have solid answers to these questions yet…

BYOD is only going to make things messier in future especially with very few organisations actually understanding the concept or having a tight security system in place to sustain. As a CTO of a company puts it: “With BYOD, employees often say wow it’s neat that I can use my cool gadget and I have enough flexibility. But in the way, they are not only shouldering their own mobile data bills and the hardware cost but is also running without privacy.”

And I believe even when workers are on a holiday; they are never completely switched off. BYOD is going to transform from being a buzz to being a pain and it’s a warning you see!

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Greatest Action Divas: A Tribute

Last week I was down with flu and spent some time in bed watching films. While watching some action sequence from the movie Real Steel where Hugh Jackman was fighting till the last gasp, it occurred to me that most action films in Hollywood glorify action heroes. You just name them – Jackie Chan, Hugh Jackman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Wills, Tom Cruise, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and the list goes on and on. Just like the countless action heroes whose films we cherish and talk about, how many of us actually discuss their female counterparts? And this thought inspired me to create a list of female action heroines in Hollywood.

Ellen Ripley - a revolutionary character

Ellen Ripley – a revolutionary character

As I was doing my research, I found there are quite a few of them. Not that I have watched them all on screen. But of those I’ve watched, some have truly touched my heart.

American actress Sigourney Weave who played Ellen Ripley in the Alien series remains my all time favourite. The character is often considered as one of the best female protagonists of all times. Up until this point most women were of the helpless sorts. Unlike her predecessors, Sigourney’s Ripley was a gun-wielding, alien killer who forever changed the role of women in the male-dominated science fiction genre.

Those of you who loved Trinity’s style in the Matrix trilogy would know Carrie-Anne Moss portrayed the character with paramount perfection. With her awesome one-liners “Dodge this” and her incredible mastery of driving in high speedy freeways, martial arts, helicopter piloting, she’s the ultimate weapon in the fight against the machines.

Lucy Lawless needs no special mention. Our own sword-wielding “Xena: The Warrior Princess” has proved that big action stars can fit on the small screen. The tall dark blue-eyed princess had millions of fan following and I remembered how we used to crave to watch the TV series that had a successful run from 1996 to 2001.

Uma Thurman movies are unique. In the Kill Bill series, she played assassin Beatrix Kiddo, who set out for revenge against her former boss and lover – a marvel where most others would have faltered. She had proven her action prowess years earlier as the villainous Poison Ivy in ‘Batman and Robin’ and then as Emma Peel in ‘The Avengers’. But it is her sword-wielding turn in Kill Bill that makes her an action queen forever.

Though not particularly my favourite, but it would be unfair to be missing out on Angelina Jolie – one of the best female action stars of our times. She can be both elegant and lethal and we know about it as she perfectly fits into the mould of Super Gal Lara Croft. Her heroic stunts in Salt will also be remembered by her fans.

Lena Headey as Sarah Connor was also equally impressive in Terminator and Terminator 2. Raising the future leader of the resistance was difficult, especially when you are locked off in an insane asylum or fleeing a killing machine bent on murdering her and her son, but Headey made it look easy.

Kristen Swanson who is best known for playing Buffy Summers in the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer needs a special mention. It was amazing how she managed to save the world from apocalypse each time.

The list of action heroines is much longer but I have to stop here. Sure, there are also many damsels in distress and princesses too, alongside action divas, as there’s room for everyone, but I’m happy that there have been so many amazing women in movies making such a big impact on the screen – big enough to draw much inspiration even in real life. You can help me add to the list of action divas in Hollywood. Bollywood, I’ll get back… later.

You Walked Into My Life

I woke up every day with a smile
And greeted it with a laugh;
The world was a treasure to me
That’s because you walked into my life.

I forgot all my sorrows for a while,
You changed the way I see the world;
I started believing life is beautiful
That’s because you walked into my life.

As I bathe in the promise of your love,
Little did I realise it was an illusion;
I live with the thirst that can’t be quenched
That’s because you walked into my life.

How Independent is Independence?

That’s certainly a weird question to ask especially on the eve of Independence Day. But think about it and you would know what I’m trying to articulate. Sure, India got its political freedom 65 years ago from foreign rule, but how free we are as individuals or even to win other freedoms including the freedom from poverty, corruption, inequality, injustice and exploitation – remains a big question!

Colour of freedom???

Colour of freedom???

That’s because we live in a society that will never allow us to be free. Even after our basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing are met, we can never be completely free in our quest for “self-realisation.”

That’s because our actions are governed by societal laws, cultural norms and values which impose obligations, duties and responsibilities.

We are tied in shackles of terrorism, false ideologies, corruption, communal violence, and class – caste distinctions among other things. We tend to forget that independence is not only living freely but also allowing others to live freely.

Our freedom is always a paradox, bound by the freedom of others. In an interdependent society, Total freedom or Purna Swaraj will always remain an illusion.  But this illusion turns out to be a reality in itself. We are born free and, through our bonding or desire, we create this reality which imprisons us in every way. That reminds me of Rousseau‘s dramatic remarks: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”

But even while living in an interdependent society, we can attain some amount of concord by being change agents. And this should be practiced even in our simple day to day living. We take pride in western culture ignoring our own. We admire the tourist places of foreign countries ignoring our own national heritage. Often times I hear my contemporaries even regret being born in India and how ‘other’ countries provide ample opportunities of work and life.

This kind of attitude will lead our country nowhere. The need of the hour is a unified India – where everyone should contribute towards the development of the nation in his /her own little way. I mean the youth in particular who personifies diligence, novelty and innovation should come forward and be the change agents. Utopia? Not really, Can make it happen if we have the will!

So, this Independence day let us by all means salute the freedom that India attained after an enormous struggle and bloodshed.  And while doing so, let us also salute the infinitely greater freedom that lies within us so that we can act upon it and make the country a much better place to live in.

The TWILIGHT Days of Youth Fiction???

Until a year ago, I did not pay much attention to the hype Stephenie Meyer created with her ‘Twilight’ series of books or the film saga. I’ve always heard a section of my friends and acquaintances going gaga over this series. This prompted me to read up the entire series very recently. I’d also ended up watching two of the Twilight saga movies.

Twilight  -The damsel in distress

Twilight -The damsel in distress

I thought Twilight could be a compelling read, but after going through the series, I was left disillusioned in more ways than one. I was shocked to find out that the fantasy series that has become a worldwide rage is not only anti-feminist (as pointed out by many critics), but completely anti-humanistic in nature. It seemed as if we are regressing to an era where women are mere commodities who have no other interest but abandon their individualities and give up their entire lives for the attention of one man.

For those who are still unaware, the series explores the bizarre relationship between Bella Swan, a teenager and Edward Cullen, her vampire boyfriend who is 104-year-old. Along the way, Bella encounters nothing but danger and distress, befriended a werewolf, gets married to Cullen and gives birth to a human-vampire offspring. On the face of it, all of this is simple. But the Twilight series I felt is a dangerous signal for readers of English fiction and more so, youth fiction. There are a couple of things that needs to be addressed the primary fact being, Meyer herself is a woman writer, two, the book takes into consideration the woman protagonist’s perspective and finally, what is even more harmful is the series mainly targets adolescent girls.

Bella – the female protagonist is portrayed as docile, confused and dumb. She’s the typical damsel in distress who gave up her life and her friends to enter into a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. And yes, in only that aspect, she makes her “choice” by being battered and bruised and yet accepting all these with no qualms.

Instead of encouraging young girls and women to be independent and strong, Meyer successfully indoctrinates young readers into a life of abstinence and rationalised abuse, describing a traumatised teenager who should compromise her identity and devote attention to that one man no matter how abusive he is, or else she will be doomed to a life of despair.

And what disturbed me more was the comparison of Meyer’s books to that of J.K. Rowling’s work. I was one of the late readers of Harry Potter series, but I enjoyed reading the books on a literary standpoint. The message behind her books is also admirable. Stephen King puts it best when he writes, “Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity.”

After watching the Twilight film saga, I hated the director and Meyer even more. They tried to portray a chauvinistic, imperious and domineering man out of Edward Cullen who- all through the series – entirely kept making the rules of Bella’s and his relationship and a docile Bella had to obey. What kind of a message is this to be treated terribly by a boy, as long as he promises to “love” you forever though he turns out to be verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive?

Those who grew up reading and thoroughly enjoying the works of Enid Blyton, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and very recently Rowling in youth fiction, know that these writers had the art of adding depth and complexity to a story – in their unique ways though.  As for the Twilight series, it pains me that people would even consider this one in the same league.

The entire Twilight series was unrealistic, disappointing and comes with awful message, leave aside Meyer’s poor literary style! Really not worth the hype it garnered. Don’t know how many of you would agree with me…