Monday, November 22, 2010

For All Parents and Teachers

Let me begin with a thought I just had, "Aren't all parents, teachers too?!??" We may not have asked for that job but my experience as a parent has taught me that "being a teacher" comes with the turf!

I read a statistic on news site today and in my opinion, if there is one statistic worth worrying about, this may be it.

I am thankful to the almighty that I got to live in times when children were free. Free to live out their childhood to the hilt! Some of us were good in sports, some in academics; some were born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, some from rather humble families, some aspiring doctors, engineers and some like me....... with a new aspiration every week......

But despite such diversity, we had one thing in common; we all had a happy & carefree childhood.

Is it possible that in our quest for to ensure a brighter future for our children we may be unwittingly offloading our unrealized goals and aspirations on their shoulders?

Even if we are not, could we have allowed pressures of extreme competition to affect our children? Is it possible that we may not even know our kids any more? Do we talk to them? Or Do we “tell” them or may be “instruct” them?

Is it possible that the trials and tribulations of a free market economy may have made us overlook festering emotional sores in our young ones? Do our children talk to us or do seek the comfort of faceless digital networks?

Why does CBSE have a helpline for emotionally stressed students every year before and during the boards? Why did a student in class four tell me that she lacked confidence? Who told her that? Because when I asked her if she knew what the word “confidence” meant, she did not.

Why do kids in schools and colleges make a beeline to the “counselor’s” office at the drop of a hat? Why do schools and colleges need to hire “trained” psychologists to “take care of the children”? Weren’t we the parents and teachers supposed to that?

When did we outsource parenting?

Am I being paranoid, making a mountain out of a molehill? Or do we really need to look carefully at our parenting and teaching.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Letter to Indian News Channels!

Dear Indian News Channels

Let me begin by placing on record my gratitude for the proactive reporting you guys have been doing for some time now. Although at times I have felt that your coverage of issues is rather selective and sometimes seems a bit biased to my untrained mind. But today I am writing to share some concerns I have had for quite some time now.

My brief experience with you guys showed me that what news will be carried and what perspective will be presented was always decided by the political affiliations of our masters. It was a rude realization that the fourth estate was not free at all! The masters were an eclectic collection of socio-economic institutions controlling either political power or money. I have seen how you compromised standards of your profession to metamorphosise into the vengeful vigilantes you guys have come to be known as today. I must admit that your proactive activism did bring cases and issues into the limelight and hasten their conclusion. But I often wonder whether this activist approach to journalism is your true nature or whether you are selective about the wrongs you choose to highlight.

Take the Commonwealth Games as a case in point. Despite the fact that you have done a commendable job in revealing the underbelly of the Indian democracy, is it also not a fact that you have conveniently chosen to ignore many human aspects of the story. Why were the story of forced eviction of the urban poor not highlighted more than the mere passing references which you may given. You went to London to uncover the tracks of corruption but did you find out what happened to the people we drove out of Delhi? Why did you not cover the pseudo ghettos crated to cover the ugly sores of humanity that we otherwise see and disregard everyday in cities across India? Why was the issue of possible pool contamination not highlighted? Why was the mishap with the Ugandan team just given a cursory reference? Why did you wait for the Sports Minister to formally apologise to the team before you spoke a word about it? Why is a team accusing us of all things, racism? And why are we not overly concerned about the accusation? Is it possibly because of the wrong skin colour the said team sports? Had it been an Australia or an England rather than a Uganda, would your coverage have been more intense? I think yes it would have been so. Not even you it seems are free from the national obsession for Justify Fullthe fair skin! When you behave in this fashion, do we even need to wonder why the best business in India are the ones that can either make you fairer or can teach you English!

I do not condone terrorism in any form and I do not condone violence by Maoists but take a look at your coverage of the Maoist problem. Have we not successfully (and somewhat justifiably, I admit) demonized a large chunk of the citizens of our country? I do watch news daily and I do not remember a single program that presented their side of the story. I am sure even you will admit that the biggest mistake the Maoists are making if that have not hired a good PR agency out of Delhi! The result is that almost everyone I meet knows that there is a “Maoists problem” and that “Maoists are terrorists”. But when asked about what could have triggered such a movement, no one seems to have any idea of the injustices meted out by the land mafia and mining mafia. And for some reason no one seems too comfortable dwelling upon the fact that such widespread plunder can never occur without active support from the state governments and a criminal disregard by the center. Then why do we wonder why the youth in Kashmir or the North East or Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh feel wronged enough to pick up the gun?

I must say that I am getting tired of your pseudo nationalism too! I quit watching one you only because of the rather accusatory tone one gentleman uses while talking to guests on his talk shows! It is an embarrassment to see you be so judgmental and your propensity to pass verdicts! If you have the conviction to invite a Pakistani on air and then use your show to accuse him rather than ask or talk to him, then have enough courage to get your ministers on air and ask them about fake encounters in Kashmir.

I can go on but I guess, I will leave you with a question a wonderful friend of mine has posed on her Blog ( Where the hell were you guys when the authorities were sleeping over the games???........... Don’t you think you guys woke up a bit too late???............... Have you guys woken up at all?....... And if indeed you have woken up, could you be responsible enough to show us what "should" be shown rather than what the establishment allows you to? And for God's sake Arnab, watch BBC for a couple of days and observe how they interview people!!

With regards
Ashish K. Pillai

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Letter to Dr. Lalit Bhanot

Dr. Lalit K. Bhanot
Secretary General
Organising Committee
Commonwealth Games 2010

Sub: A humble request

Dear Dr. Bhanot,

It is after a long time that I am feeling like this. As the Commonwealth Games 2010 approach, I am getting the same feeling I used to have as the Parent Teacher meet at my school would draw near! Never have felt such tangible fear of facing insult! I wish I am wrong but I fear that the games are going to be the greatest insult I have seen my country suffer at least in my life till today! But that is not what I am writing to you for…..

I on behalf of at least ten odd fellow citizens of India would like to place on record our humble request to be spared of the insults you are heaping on us. I mentioned “ten odd” as I have not been able to meet more and I assure you that anyone who reads your comments regarding the hygiene issues at the games village will probably feel hurt.

The issue is not the shoddy state of venues for an international event of such import. The issue is not even the ridicule the whole country has earned due to the way the OC has been handling the games so far. In fact the issue is not even the unmasking of corruption and the rot within the OC.

The issue is that when we have already been disrobed in front of the international community, you still have the gall to make ridiculous and downright insulting statements. I honestly on behalf of my fellow citizens would like you to explain what you meant when you said that the issues being raised about the horrible hygiene standards at the games village are actually non issues. And that too because this India and that our hygiene standards are different from what “they” expect.

I admit it Dr. Bhanot that hygiene standards in India are pathetic but do you really have to be proud of that and use it to justify the extreme incompetence your team has displayed. How can you even suggest that that "hygiene" in an Australia or an England means exactly what it is; cleanliness and in India it means squalor and filth? And let us for a moment admit your patently insulting statement, don't you think that when we are inviting "them" we should prepare our home according to "them". Do we really have to highlight the filth we live in?

I am not sure what happens at your home, Dr. Bhanot but even we “unhygienic Indians” do not tolerate dog shit in our rooms and beds, paan spit on our walls and people urinating in our lawns.

Dr. Bhanot, I am sure you are a literate man! At least the prefix before your name suggests so! I request you to cross the divide between being literate and being educated. Let us not sweep the truth under the carpet. If you want to sweep any thing, I am sure there is plenty to sweep at the venues and the games village!

Bridges are falling, ceilings are collapsing, dog shit is stinking, the world is laughing and the Organising Committee is still singing “ALL IS WELL……”

Please stop insulting your country, pick up a mop and try to save what is left of this great nation’s pride.

Thank you.
Yours Sincerely,

Ashish K. Pillai

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is Patriotism?

Any discussion on patriotism is bound to evoke passionate responses and a debate on the very meaning of the word would inflame passions! And as always one can count on the likes of my dear friend Kawardeep Singh Bajwa to spoils a perfectly good Sunday on Facebook by initiating such debates! But as usual issues he raises forces us to look inwards and question, evaluate, consider some of our closely held but rarely understood beliefs. I will try to answer his question, “What is Patriotism?” very briefly.
But let me admit that my views are my opinion and not facts with empirical evidence to support them. My views are the progeny of my observation & interpretation of events and inputs from people I consider authority on the subject. I have also decided to let this be an open letter to my friend Kanwardeep Singh Bajwa!!

Dear Kanwar

I must begin by saying that I can only imagine the storms of internal conflict living in a foreign land and still being in love with one’s mother land can cause. But I do understand that now you will have a reference point to evaluate your feelings for your country. I also would like to place on record my sincere gratitude for being able to sustain your desire to positively contribute to social change in India. A successful arrival anywhere in the western hemisphere has been known to be fatal to any such intentions!

I also like the fact that you usually choose to question rather than comment on issues. Now you may say that I am digressing from the issue at hand and am busy praising your philanthropic nature! But I assure you, I never lavish praise so easily. Here too I am using them to frame the point I intend to make.

But before I go any further, let me state in no uncertain terms that you Kanwar are as patriotic as they come. I believe that patriotism is mistakenly characterized as ones love for a territory defined by political boundaries. I believe that patriotism is more a love for who you consider “your people”. I must appreciate your friend Gurinder Saini on his wonderful exposition! Come to think of it, he is right! I am sure we all have yearned for company even in middle of large crowds! The desire to be in social groups is indeed a very natural trait we as Homo sapiens seem to have inherited. Ever since I read your post, I have been struggling to articulate my feelings and I was not able to lay my hands on the exact argument I wanted to put forth justifying my perception of patriotism. I have to thank Gurinder’s exposition on evolution and our need to converge in social groups for giving me the break I needed!

Patriotism, Kanwar I believe is a love for individuals one recognizes as his countrymen. But that love may not necessarily be for a geographic unit defined by political boundaries. Had that been the case, one would not see preferential treatment by expatriate social groups and communities for people of their community. I am sure you may have seen that in Canada (like back home) most of the Indians may not be able to “help” another Indian beyond a certain point but if an Indian faces some kind of problem on account of being an Indian, a lot of people would be willing to be a bit uncomfortable but help another Indian. I have seen how people react to reports of violence from down under. We like Gurinder stated have inherited the “tribe” mentality. The members of the tribe bonded with one another rather than a territory. Similarly teams are about people, so is family, community, society and country. India is not a geographical unit but a group of people we know are “ours”. When we feel for our country, we are feeling for its people. Yes geography plays its role too but that role becomes too. After all you need to have a place you call home but we know too well that as when man was nomadic, even modern society has not been able to obviate migration. Some of us migrate from one locality to the other, some from a state to another and some migrate globally. When we do move, we adopt our new home and learn to love it the same way we used to love the one we left. Even if we discount such migration, we must still admit that as a nation we do not know India beyond what we have seen and feeling for that what we don’t know is only because we know we are supposed to! Even if we discount the fact that we cannot feel for what we don’t know, imagine, the political boundaries of India are still dynamic with at least three nations disagreeing with the political maps we used to use in school!

I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the defense services and most seemed to scoff at the classical media driven, symbolic yet hollow concept of patriotism harbored by most civilians! We to have had the privilege of having had an Ashok Chakra winner in our friends circle. Most of the people I have met and discussed with claim that they do what they do as it is their job to do so and if they were to rank the intensity of their feelings for social groups, their unit and regiment take precedence over their country any day!

We Indians like symbols! We love our heroes and we love drama! Is it then a surprise that our patriotism is driven by stereotypical images of heroes who have mysteriously ceased to appear after 1947. My boss who himself was in the Indian Air Force suggests that “One who does not jump red light to honor the constitution of India and to prevent any injury to any fellow Indian is patriotic” He further goes on to describe a motley bunch of yoga aficionados he bumps every morning on his walk in the park. They would go through the motions and in the end raise loud slogans; “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!” “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and unfailingly the leader of the group then spits on the sidewalk! So much so patriotism! According to my boss, you are a good enough patriot if you have civic sense, are considerate for your countrymen and do break laws. A drive around Chandigarh highlights the issue of most civilians lacing civic sense. We park anywhere we feel like, jump lights, speed, break all rules and we do all that as if it is the natural thing to do!

I agree with Prof. Sudhir Diwan and I believe that a patriot is the one who loves his fellow country men, is a good neighbor, has civic sense, does not harbor extreme feelings towards any community, is positive and goes about his job in an ethical and socially responsible manner! You don’t have to a war hero to be patriotic. You can be a patriot by refusing to employ a child as a domestic help……you can be a patriot by not braking laws……. You can be patriotic by standing up next time you hear your national anthem play…. You can be patriotic by paying your taxes……you can be patriotic by not electing corrupt politicians to the parliament… can be patriot even if you opt to live in some other country…… In fact there are so many ways we can be patriotic! Why do we ignore the mundane and the ordinary and look for patriotism in great acts. Why can’t we be patriotic everyday everywhere? Why be selective and be patriotic by convenience? Why do we need to romanticize patriotism to subscribe to it?

I am sure we will need to explore further, deeper but inwards. Patriotism then may emerge as a function of our own perceptions, attitudes and values.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kayani Extension – Implications for India

The US Secretary of State on visit to a “strategic ally” nation dropping in to meet the Chief of Army Staff of that strategic ally does not seem a significant enough departure from protocol to raise eyebrows. Yet the fact that Ms. Hillary Clinton did have an unscheduled meeting with the Chief of the Army Staff on her trip to Islamabad highlights the fact that if you are dealing with Pakistan, then Rawalpindi is as much the capital of Pakistan as Islamabad and arguably more so.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s three year extension as Chief of the Army Staff by a democratically elected civilian government is a significant event. Even though the democratically elected government has been at pains to “explain” that his extension was needed to ensure a “continuity” of policies and strategy for a nation going through “turbulent” and “critical” times. Not that Pakistan watchers could not have seen it coming. Articles and discussion in popular media suggesting how vital Kayani had become to ensure the victory in the war on terror had begun appearing in 2009 and by the beginning of 2010, the articles and discussions had graduated from describing his importance to clamouring for his extension. Kayani’s extension and Lt. General Shuja Pasha’s extension as the head of ISI has once again underscored the fact that despite obvious moves towards democratization, the Army-ISI nexus in Pakistan remains as strong as ever.

Why is this trouble for India?
Gen Kayani seems to be gentler version of the army chiefs Pakistan has seen. Gen Kayani was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 29 August, 1971 after passing out of the 45th Pakistan Military Academy Long Course into the 5th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment. During his career in the army, he has commanded an Infantry Battalion, an Infantry Brigade, the 12th Infantry Division based in Kashmir and the prestigious X Corps at Rawalpindi. Kayani became the Director General of the ISI in 2004 when the Pakistan was going through rather tough times with insurgencies in North-West Pakistan and Balochistan, Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear proliferation scandal, and waves of suicide attacks throughout Pakistan emanating from the northwestern tribal belt. In his final days at the ISI, he also led the talks with Benazir Bhutto for a possible power sharing deal with Musharraf.

A quiet guy who loves his golf and his smoke has not been caught making overt rants against India. But the fact still remains that Gen. Kayani belongs to that breed of Pakistani Army officers who have not been able to forget the slight of 1971 and still harbor perceptions of India as the enemy number one. Add to that the fact that at least 16 lieutenant-generals in the Pakistan Army including some are now corps commanders are due to retire after November 23, 2010 and before Gen. Kayani’s extended term expires in November 2013. Waiting to replace them is the next generation of army officers recruited during Gen. Zia-ul Haq’s days of excessive Islamisation. Of more concern will be the fact that this generation of officers slated to become the top Generals of the Pakistani Army in a few years time has significant Wahabi influence amidst them. This Wahabi influence was by design as Zia-ul Haq aligned himself with the local Mullahs and invited Saudi aid to build Saudi style madarssas and other religious infrastructure. The famous Binori Madarssa in Karachi, Pakistan has been built with Saudi oil money. It’s illustrious graduates include Osama bin Laden and Omar Saeed Sheikh who was arrested in India in 1994 and was one of the three militants exchanged for the passengers of Flight IC 814 in Kandahar. Sheikh’s role in the Daniel Pearl killing catapulted him, the Jaish and the obscure world of extremist institutions flourishing in Pakistan onto the international stage.

The coming of age of that crop of officers along with many still smarting from the 71 defeat will further strengthen the already strong obsession with India. It is only logical that unresolved issues will provide enough fodder for being used as leverage to provide a greater momentum to the anti India wave among the people of Pakistan and escalate the covert asymmetric war being fought in the Jammu and Kashmir by utilizing violent non state actors. Had the Pakistani civil society and the democratic institutions been powerful enough, any such overt or covert move would have met popular resistance and would have withered away. But Pakistan is a nation that was reared by successive generations of dictators and weak civilian rulers who have allowed extremist interpretation of religion and geo-politics to thrive. As a nation, Pakistan has given birth to and nurtured radical elements that were vital to the maintenance of dictatorships but the same elements now do not allow the civil society to express itself. The absence of any meaningful democracy has aided that.

The recent unbecoming public spat at the Krishna-Qureshi press meet and the near collapse of the recently resumed engagement between the two countries has shown to the world (not for the first time) that in Pakistan it is Rawalpindi where decisions are made and not in Islamabad.

Implications for India
The first implication is that India needs to find some way of engaging the Army-ISI complex. Even though most Indians would question the wisdom of Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi for his insistence on guarantees of a “result oriented” dialogue on issues that have been simmering for six decades between neighbours who have fought at least three major wars, the need for a meaningful dialogue is worth appreciating. But we need to take stock of the situation and ask ourselves if by engaging the Zardari-Gilani government, we are actually engaging the people who matter. Enough evidence has been presented at various for a by different agencies and is widely accepted that the Army-SIS nexus calls the shots and remote controls the policies in Pakistan. It is therefore obvious that if the Indian Government is actually serious about using talks as a method to resolve the outstanding bilateral issue, they will have to find some way of engaging with the Army-ISI complex. Not that it will be easy as any overt attempt to do so will further undermine the civilian government in Pakistan and will probably be frowned upon by the world (read USA) as a stable civilian government is in global interests. The reasons for that are not hard to understand too. The A Q Khan imbroglio and a fully structured trained armed forces with extremist ideologies is threat enough and any simulation of what could happen if the civil government were to fall does not have a good ending. No one would want to see the classical definition of a terrorist as relatively small groups of individuals with limited training and arms get transformed into a large well structured army with access to nuclear weapons.

The second implication is more sinister. India should start preparing for an escalation in violence along the LOC, the international border, the unprotected coast line, the valley, insurgents and sleeper cells elsewhere.

Kayani’s extension and the imminent change of guard in the Pakistan Army will mean an intensified low intensity conflict. The use of VSNAs (violent non state actors) for the “cause” of Kashmir and the policy to “bleed India by a thousand cuts” is not working as was planned. The terrorist operations of Pakistan sponsored terror groups and the use of state support to violent insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir as state policy has received widespread condemnation from the world community. Pakistan has realized that it has painted itself into a corner with the policy of rearing extremists as it has worked against them not only in India but all over the world. Pakistan realizes that it is now recognized as the single largest nursery of terror on the planet and it only a matter of time before that recognition fuels action. The post Times Square bombing attempt warning from United States that any future terror operation traced back to Pakistan will invite decisive action is not insignificant. This need for Pakistan to reassess its policies has manifested itself in the decreased number of terrorist attacks in Kashmir but an increased use of “sponsored stone throwing protests” probably inspired by the Intifada. Though more effective at painting the Indian administration as brutal occupiers, it may be too passive to appease the hardliners in the Pakistan Army. Today they may not be in positions to influence state policy but in a couple of year’s time they will be.

It is then prudence to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It is in the interests of people of both India and Pakistan that sense and moderate outlooks prevail and despite no end being in sight, multidimensional positive engagements with all sections of the Pakistani establishment continue.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Father, Son and the Country

I know what I am about to write can very easily be categorised as immature drivel. But I am sure most of you reading my blog (if anybody at all) will agree that in India, "growing up and becoming mature" means accepting your fate, accepting the injustices you see daily, accepting that your life has no meaning and that you do not deserve even the bare minimum civil liberties if you are not the son or daughter of either a politician, or a very rich man, or a gangster or a cop or a bureaucrat....
I am patriotic. Have no doubts on that. But now I am a father too and I love my son. He is three and a half and if you ask me, he is growing up too soon for my liking.

But do I really want him to grow up in India? Of course! Should have been the answer but it is not. Everyday I read of incidents that make me wonder if it is not my responsibility as father to provide a healthy social environment to grow up in and into.

I know I am easy to categorise as a cynic and a skeptic, but when I see five such stories on one web page, my cynicism and my skepticism grow stronger.
I know, I know! All these stories are repeated almost daily..... then why get bothered today??? Absolutely right!..... In fact such news is so common that the average Indian has become so insensitive and hopeless that this is considered the "reality". yes many will be brave enough to admit that it is a "sad reality" but the reality nevertheless!

The only way you can hope to live through your life without being victimized is by hoping to stay below the radar and by never ever confronting the “system”. And if you are unfortunate enough to bump into the system in any of its avatars, you can only hope to cope up with the pain and humiliation.

I grew up here but would not have done so had I ever had a choice. But I can choose for Rahul. My biggest failure would be if he at my age turns out just another bitter cynic that I am.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dancing the Issues Away!

Before going further I declare that I am not a bleeding heart Palestine supporter or some ranting Anti Semitic extremist. I believe that there is no solution to the middle east crisis except an Israel and an independent and prosperous Palestine.

So the issue today......Could there be anything to read into a video of an army unit on patrol breaking out into a jig.

Not at all if it is what the reports say, "breaking into a dance..... stopping a patrol...." and that too in the West Bank!!
Post Gaza and post "flotilla raid" Israeli army has been demonized throughout the world and it was obvious that the PR guys would have to think of something to highlight the human face of the Israeli Army officers soon. But I am surprised that such amateur gigs would be used to compensate for what they have been doing in Gaza. Of course..... Not that Hamas has done Gaza any favours but still, nothing could have justified most of the "offensives" by Israel.
But digressions apart I am fairly confident that this was a well orchestrated event and not at all the "spontaneous" eruption of joy as it is being peddled as. Those who have had even a remote association with army personnel of any country would tell you that the probablity of infantry units on patrol in conflict hotbeds breaking into such well orchestrated jigs is next to zero. Probably zero. And then the timing.... The report says that the video has gone "viral".... That is what it was supposed to do.

But why am I so worked up about it????
Even though the Israel-Palestine conflict is of no direct concern to me or any other average middle class Indian, we however (at least those who have an idea of the goings on over there) expect the state of Israel to take meaningful measures to at least try to set right the many wrongs that have been committed. No sovereign state can use the actions of any violent non state actor to justify state sponsored violations of human rights any where.

And Mr. Netanyahu if you would stick with this lame propaganda campaign, I offer my services. I assure you, I can do a better job than whoever came up with this!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Turn off Autoplay in XP

Virus, Trojans, backdoors et al used to be terms only nerds would use and data security was not a major concern for the “common man”. . . . . . . . . . Till now!! During the past couple of years I have seen so many “common people” lose valuable work due to perfectly avoidable system infections. But what surprises me is that even now most people (even system administrators!) are fixated on removable media like floppies (who uses them now?) and flash drives as the most significant threat!

Not only are they not, the threat posed by them is easy to contain. By the way the most significant source of infections is the net and unsafe surfing behavior!

Today I am going to tell you a trick that should prevent 99% of the removable media borne infections getting your system.

I am assuming that you are intelligent enough to be using a “working” antivirus and hope that you are wise enough to be using a comprehensive security suite (antivirus+firewall+antispam+ lot of other stuff…. Google it). I am also assuming that you and your antivirus software have a working relationship! Do you pay attention to it? Do you even use it? So let us assume you have an AV and you do use it and you have enough sense to “scan” every flash drive or floppy anyone ever brings to your system. There is however one small problem. Whenever you pop in a flash drive, it opens up automatically before you an scan it and then decide whether to open it or not. This is called “autoplay” a service smart guys at a small company called Microsoft conjured up to keep lazy bums like me happy! Now if you have a good antivirus, it will immediately scream out if there is any infected or suspicious file! Even the good free ones like Avira personal edition does that. But the problem is, if the drive has already popped open, the AV program may remove the virus, but our system has been exposed. It has been “compromised”! Not all viruses may have been cleaned! Maybe there was one that the program did not even detect! (even the best programs detect only about 95% of them!) So it is very important that you disable this “autoplay” function. Scan every flash drive, make sure they are clean, then open it yourself! I am sure you would not want Windows to take away your privilege whether to open a drive or not! So this is how you do it:

STEP 1: Click Start and click on “Run”

Step 2: In the Run command box, write, “gpedit.msc” and press OK.

Step 3: A divided window will open up……. On the left you will see “Local Computer Policy” and a whole lot of stuff listed below it. Look for something called “Administrative Templates” (usually 3rd under Computer Configuration) and click on the small “+” sign on the left of it. This will expand the menu.

Step 4: Under Administrative Templates, you will see four options one of which is “System”, open it’s menu up by clicking on the “+” on the left of it.

Now you will notice a whole lot of stuff on the other half of the window…… Look carefully and in the list towards the bottom end, you will se an option that says, “Turn off Autoplay Not Configured” Bingo!!!

Step 5: Double click the option “Turn off Autoplay” and a dialogue box will open up. You will notice that of the three options, it is “Not Configured” by default. Just choose “Disabled”, and click "APPLY" DON’T FORGET TO CLICK APPLY!!!! You are done!!

Now if you pop in a flash drive into one of your USB ports, it will not open up by itself. Windows may at best open up a dialogue box in which you are given several options, if that happens, select the “Do Nothing” one. That should solve the problem.

Now if you use a flash drive, windows will read it but will not open it by itself. So you retain the privilege of deciding when to open it if all.