With Pranab Mukherjee, an acknowledged man of letters, moving into the Rashtrapati Bhavan as President, the library is being dusted and brought back into shape. And the oldest book in the collection, dating back to the year 1800, is on the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, or Tipu Sultaun as he is spelt on the cover.
The book, by Lt Col Alexander Beatson is a narrative of the operations of the army under the command of Lt Gen George Harris that resulted in the overthrow of Tipu and the discovery of his body at “Watergate”. The book was prepared for the attention of the chairman and directors of the East India Company.
The President’s library also boasts of an 1810 volume that contains “historical sketches of the South of India” in an attempt to trace the history of “Mysoor”, from “the origin of the Hindoo government of that state to the extinction of the Mohammedan dynasty in 1799″, with the downfall and death of Tipu Sultan.
“The mainstream media has always had a more uneven relationship with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s acolytes would like to suggest that the mainstream media has always been anti-Modi and has hounded the BJP’s rising star with a ferocity that no other politician in this country has had to confront.
“Modi as victim of an English language media ‘conspiracy’ is a narrative that has been played out for over a decade now by the chief minister and his supporters, a narrative that aims to position Modi as a one-man army standing up to the might of the media.
“The truth, as it often is, happens to be far more complex….
“Journalism cannot be public relations nor can it be character assassination. Now, as Modi is poised for his next big leap, it is time for the media to maybe reset its moral compass: is to possible to analyse the Modi phenomenon by moving beyond the extremes of glorification or vilification?
“Can the media find a middle ground where Modi can be assessed in a neutral, dispassionate manner without facing the charge of bias or being a cheerleader? Or is Modi such a polarising figure that even the media has been divided into camps?
“My own personal experience suggests that it won’t be easy to avoid being bracketed as pro- or anti-Modi. But yet, we must make the effort. Because journalism in its purest form must remain the pursuit of truth shorn of ideological agendas. Modi has become a test case for the media’s ability to rise above the surround sound, unmindful of the rabid fan clubs or the equally shrill activists.”
The commodification of women to sell everything from anything to nothing is bad enough, although Priyanka Trivedi (top) doesn’t seem to mind the least bit. But what to say of marketers who now do not think twice before using impressionable young girls and infants to satiate the growing and maddening thirst for the yellow metal?
For the record, Union finance minister P. Chidambaram says:
“I have one thing to say, don’t buy gold. Gold is not the safest investment. Every ounce of gold that we import, contributes to current account deficit.”
Hell hath no fury like an old man scorned. With Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s nomination as the chairman of the BJP election campaign committee in Goa on Sunday, 86-year-old Lalchand Kishinchand Advani‘s fate as a “two-time former future prime minister of India” was finally and firmly sealed.
But it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
So, a dramatic resignation from the all posts held by him (except the crucial one of NDA chairperson), followed by the leak of the resignation letter, followed by the leak that he did not speak to Modi for six minutes after the nomination but merely 90 seconds. If age equals experience equals wisdom, Advani was showing little of it.
Indeed, the contents of the resignation letter showed a petty and bitter man, unable to come to terms with the reality that the party he had so artfully built on the trail of blood left behind by his rath yatras no longer found him useful. So petty and so bitter that he even seemed willing to destroy its immediate prospects.
So far, the BJP has refused to play ball. It wants him to stay on in his posts but has shown no indication that it will revoke its decision to elevate Modi. More resignations of Advani’s camp-followers may follow, but by all available indications, it appears as if the BJP and RSS (not necessarily in that order) have taken a calculated risk.
Questions: Is BJP better off without Advani? Will Advani’s absence impact the NDA and its prospects in the coming general elections? Is BJP’s (and India’s) future safe with Modi or has Advani shown the opposite?
K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Very recently we read about an incident in our City where a software engineer who sought shelter from sudden rain under the balcony of a building was dealt with rudely by the house owner and driven away. This resulted in outraged people of the area pelting stones at the building in disgust and creating a minor law and order problem for a brief while.
While it certainly seems like a very unusual kind of reaction from the building owner I am not very surprised because there will always be some people who are unusually circumspect with the tendency to see everyone around them with a suspicious eye.
Such people simply refuse to accept the possibility that a person who has entered their premises under duress may just be another soul in distress and not someone with malicious intentions.
Soon after this report appeared, K.B. Ganapathy highlighted how in a show of unusual kindness a very ordinary person offered not only shelter but also a refreshing glass of buttermilk to an elderly stranger who happened to turn to his house for a glass of water after a long and exhausting walk.
It was only much later after this kind deed that the host discovered that his accidental guest was none other than the RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan who had got lost while on his morning walk during a visit to our city.
Most people, whether they are rich or poor, generally tend to be kind to strangers in distress they happen to meet. It is only a few very rare ones who tend to be otherwise and they should not influence our impressions of the goodness of our fellow human beings.
My late father while telling us about his school days used to always give the example of this inborn goodness that he had seen in an elderly gentleman of his era.
It appears he and his brothers used to walk to and from our estate to their school in the village located at a distance of about ten kilometers.
Somewhere in between there was the house of the village head who was known as Patel Basappa and many school children, especially during the summer months would stop and take rest on the masonry platform, popularly called ‘jagali’ which was in front of this house.
Whenever the children asked for a glass of water, Patel Basappa’s wife or mother would offer them freshly made buttermilk in large brass tumblers instead of plain water and this was not an occasional occurrence but a daily practice.
Although there was a small rivulet that they would wade through and cross every day on their way to school and back, the old man would warn them never to drink the river water as it would make them sick.
Every Saturday, which was the day of the village weekly shandy, the Patel would himself sit in his armchair with a cloth bag full of puffed rice and roasted gram (kadle-puri) and offer handfuls of it to the children on their way back from school.
This was an event all the children would gleefully look forward to and not one soul including the sick ones would miss school on Saturdays!
Many years ago when borewell digging rigs were not very common I happened to visit Chamarajanagar on my trusty Lambretta scooter to hire a rig to get a borewell dug in our estate.
It was a rather rainy day and on our way back it started raining rather heavily between Nanjangud and Mysore. I stopped and left my scooter at a house at Tandavapura telling the lady of the house that I would pick it up the next day and rode back to Mysore in the rig, sitting alongside the driver in his cabin.
When I went back by bus early the next morning to fetch my scooter I was pleasantly surprised to see it washed of all the mud and grime that it was plastered with from my wanderings of the previous day. Thanks to someone’s kindness it now stood sparkling clean.
When I approached the old lady who was now tending to her two goats and asked her who had washed my scooter she smiled and said that since it was looking very dirty she had fetched a pail of water from the well and done it herself. I did not know how to thank her for her concern and kind-heartedness.
On another occasion while I was doing my MD a friend who was newly-married and was visiting Mysore with his wife had borrowed my scooter for a few days to go round the city visiting friends and sight-seeing.
On the last day of their trip while they were returning from the Brindavan Gardens the scooter broke down and they had no other option late in the evening than to leave it at a house in Belagola village nearby. They returned to the city by bus and informed me the nature of the problem and also where they had left the scooter.
I went to Belagola early the next morning and as I used to always keep all the essential tools along with a spare spark plug, a headlamp bulb and a set of control cables in the tool compartment, I had it purring smoothly in just a few minutes time.
When I thanked Krishnappa, the owner of the house, and took leave of him, he and his wife Kamala would not let me go without having breakfast! They said that it was an honour for them to have three doctors visiting them in less than twenty four hours and pleaded with me to have just a couple of chapaties with some freshly ground coconut chutney.
Their simple fare was so good that I ended up having not two but four chapaties with dollops of butter melting on each one of them!
I told the couple that I was equally touched and honoured to be their guest and reassured them that they could approach me for any help with their health problems. Thankfully they seem to be bestowed with very good health as they never had an occasion to see me as my patients but still many people from Belagola and the nearby village of Hosa Anandur come to me, giving me their reference.
My good old Lambretta too; once my round-the-clock companion and my work horse that served me faithfully for more than thirty years without giving me any pain beyond a slightly broken front tooth from a fall, still remains with me, enjoying its retirement and my admiration!
The IPL spotfixing meets betting saga, starring Thiru Shantakumaran Sreesanthan Nair, Gurunath Meiyappan and Narayanaswamy Srinivasan, as seen through the eyes of Sri S.R. Ramakrishna and Sri Satish Acharya of Talk magazine.
SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: In the labyrinths of hell, inside its boiling cauldrons, through its unfathomable maze of blood-curdling monstrosities, of the macabre, the cadaverous and the ghoulish, in the sepulchral dankness of it all, there is perhaps a spot of idyll.
But at the moment, not in Indian cricket for sure.
The shock and shame of an international cricketer in police custody, an absolutely arrogant and defiant cricket board chief who thinks he personally owns Indian cricket, the strange term called spot-fixing, where anything on a cricket field can be orchestrated by men with shades of grey in their hearts and souls, for whom the smell of money and more and more money is more fragrant than all the legendary scents of Arabia.
Men of the same mental conditioning as maniacal terrorists, except that here they deal in cold cash, not cold blood!
Men who don’t think twice before plunging a dagger of deceit into the very hearts of the game’s fans, the millions glued to television sets inside homes and at street side cafes; fans who come to cheer lustily for their favourite teams; fans, most of whom have saved up to their last penny to get hold of a ticket to get into a stadium and revel in the joy of seeing their idols in flesh and blood on the field; to enjoy the headiness of it all and forget for a few euphoric hours the bleakness of their own lives.
Such a travesty of faith that these multitude of fans have been brushed aside, their feelings trampled with the finality of an angry elephant’s foot.
And amidst all this mayhem, the silence of the legends!
The legends of the game occupy a very high pedestal in the hearts of their fans, in the very pantheon of the game. Fantabulous creatures, their lives, as a result of their rare deeds on a cricket field, awash in folklorish superstardom.
But to stand up and speak from the interiors of their existences, to put the hand up and make it to be counted, to utter weighty words of meaning and responsibility, to show from their very being, the all-important sense of anguish and disappointment and outrage.
Seemingly, not on their busy agenda.
To react forcefully to the manner in which their own game, the game they love and live for, is being marauded by scums and scoundrels, all for a few rupees more than the millions already earned and credited to their accounts officially.Those traitors who seemingly have the same proclivity of a serpent that can bite the very hand that holds it.
But then, the serpent is a mere animal.
In the silence of the legends is the silence of conspiracy. Not one of complicity but the complicity of convenience, the collaboration of selective deafness to the painful moans of the game itself and blindness to the ghastly sights of monumental murder, the murder of probity and earnestness in Indian cricket.
That the game has been brought to serious disrepute is not on their minds, that the name and image of Indian cricket has been tarnished and lies in a sad heap of shabby shreds is not their botheration. That young boys who ought to have been taken under their wings and shown the path of morality now find themselves in police custody is not their concern.
But alas, what matters to them are their professional contracts with the cricket board and the resultant lucre that accrues.
Is that all there is to their lives?
To ignore the future of the very game that got them to the station they find themselves in, in life, is the very definition of self-preservation. Men with their ability for heroics and the capacity to handle pressure and adversity and perform scintillatingly in the presence of a million baying spectators almost all through their sporting careers.
Men who came to be known as legends of the game.
Such men to owe a sense of a fatherly responsibility to the game is fundamental to the very basis of their existence. Not for nothing are they deified as great players. Not every cricketer who bowled a cricket ball or wielded the cricket bat has come to be known as legendary after all!
Just to name some immediate names like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, notwithstanding the fact that the last two have made some semblance of a statement regarding the need to clean the rubbish in the bin of Indian cricket, for them to behave as if they all played hockey for India and not cricket is simply amusing.
Their silence makes it look like they don’t belong to the game at all.
Come on gentlemen, bowl that one unplayable ball once again or essay that one marvellous stroke one more time so that the score board of Indian cricket looks respectable.
If we may inform you, right now it reads, morality caught avarice bowled greed! As for the runs, like the money, you can add whatever is feasible to both sides!
What qualifications must an elected MLA possess to become a minister? Whose prerogative is it to nominate a minister? Who decides what portfolio a minister must be allotted? Should ministers of certain specific portfolios possess some certain attributes? And should external inputs be given consideration at all in the ministry-making process?
These are evergreen questions and they gain currency in the light of the decision of the new Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah to name S.R. Patil as the State’s information technology minister—and the quite extraordinary intervention of former Infosys man T.V. Mohandas Pai and Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
# “Surprised at choice of minister for IT/BT. Need a person who can work with global companies and a lot younger. Sad day for us,” tweeted Pai.
# “CM can’t afford to be seen to be viewing IT/BT lightly — these are priority sectors for Karnataka,” said Shaw on her micro-blog account.
“Pai and Mazumdar-Shaw were only echoing the widespread feeling in the industry — though no one else said it openly and even these two later backpedalled — that a suave, urban-educated, technology-savvy minister would have better suited.
“The industry was backing choices such as Krishna Byre Gowda and Dinesh Gundu Rao — both dynamic, articulate legislators in their forties. Patil, from backward Bagalkot district, is a lawyer by training with a background in the co-operative movement and is not exactly known for his tech-savvy.”
“I thought either Krishna Byre Gowda (son of former minister C. Byre Gowda) or Dinesh Gundu Rao (son of former chief minister R. Gundu Rao) would get the IT/BT portfolio,” said a Congress lawmaker.
“Rahul Karuna, crisis manager with a BPO, said the IT/BT ministry deserved a heavyweight. ‘We were expecting a big name or a young minister. It’s not about the age or looks of the man; it’s that this portfolio deserves a more powerful politician.’”
Obviously, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but implicit in these statements are stereotypes that boggle the mind and should shame the likes of “suave, urban-educated and tech-savvy” Pai and Shaw. That a 65-year-old man from Bagalkot (still very much a part of Karnataka) is not cut out for the likes of them in Bangalore. That his age, language and tech skills, and mofussil background are all against him in the slick world.
But above all, the arrogant assumption that the IT/BT industry shall decide the choice of IT minister, not the chief minister. If the children and women of Karnataka (whose number vastly outdoes the number of IT/BT professionals) cannot decide who the next women and child welfare minister will be, what right does the IT/BT industry have?
Yes, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna did wonders for the industry. But do M/s Pai & Shaw know if he knew how to switch on a computer via UPS, send an email or write a blog before he took over as chief minister? And didn’t he come from Somanahalli in Maddur taluk of Mandya district? And where specifically have the dynamism of Dinesh Gundu Rao and Krishna Byre Gowda been displayed for the industry to be batting for their case?
Question: is the pampered IT/BT industry batting out of its crease?
For non-Kannadigas who snigger when when they see the red-and-yellow Kannada “flag”, there’s another red rag on the way, a Kannada “anthem”.
Like Mile sur mera tumhara, Kannada Jeevaswara, an “anthem” dedicated to the state of Karnataka and its people, has just been released. Its aim: creating a sense of belonging to this enchanting land and appreciation of the cultural heritage of Karnataka.
Credits: Concept Maya Chandra, lyrics Jayanth Kaikini, music Abhijith Shylanath, editor Rahul Dev Rajan, cinematography V.K.Subash, director Ajay Kumar.
The multilingual actor Sumalatha (third from left, front row) sits in the visitors’ gallery at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Wednesday, as the first session of a new assembly begins, with her husband, the actor and former MP, Ambareesh, in the revenue benches as a debutant minister.
K.B. GANAPATHY writes: Reading daily newspapers could ignite many unlikely thoughts in the minds of people who are rather sensitive. I probably belong to this class of people and which is why, I was deeply disturbed reading a news item yesterday titled,
“Techie assaulted for parking bike in front of a house — irked residents pelt stones at house”
If it were not for the photograph accompanying the report, it would not have created any deep feeling in me about the pride and prejudice some people suffer from.
The incident, as reported, was about an IT professional Pradeep who parked his motorcycle seeking shelter from heavy rains that suddenly overtook him, in front of a house in Srirampura, at about 6 pm on Sunday.
Noticing this, the owner of the building, Srinivas, reportedly objected to the parking and a quarrel ensued, resulting in Pradeep being allegedly assaulted.
The residents in the neighbourhood, who were watching the incident, apparently shocked by the conduct of the owner of the building, began pelting stones at the house, further aggravating the situation. The police were informed and their arrival brought the situation under control.
I held the newspaper in my hand for a while and read out the news to my sons who were having breakfast, more as a lesson in harmonious living in a society than for its significance as an earth-shaking event which it was not anyway.
Then, I told them of the news that appeared in Star of Mysore almost a year ago, just to impress upon them the contrast between good and bad in human behaviour during a given situation.
The news was about the former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan who went missing in our City and was later found.
Sudarshan, 81 years old then, had come to Mysore on a short visit to his brother’s house in Nazarbad. He had left the house early morning for his regular stroll that day. However, he did not return home as expected as he had not only lost his way back home, but was also unable to use his cell phone, which he had left behind.
Sudarshan by then had walked about 6 kms and found himself in Naidunagar. Helpless, he approached a youth who was watering the garden in front of his house and asked for water to drink.
Now look at the civility and nobility of that youth Ashok, 25 years old, working as a courier delivery man, in contrast to Srinivas, who picked up a quarrel with the IT professional Pradeep, who too was in distress of a different kind and sought refuge under the roof of Srinivas’ house.
Ashok did not refuse to give water like Srinivas who refused to give refuge. He took the old man inside his humble abode, offered him a seat and gave him not a glass of water but a glass of butter milk to drink. He even offered Sudarshan breakfast, which the latter refused saying he would have breakfast only after bath.
More importantly, Ashok did all these, not knowing who that old man was. For him it was helping an old man. That is all.
It was only when Ashok switched on the fan and TV that he came to know that the old man sitting in front of him was a VVIP and a Police search was already launched to find his whereabouts. It was only then that Ashok went to the police commissioner and informed about Sudarshan being in his house safe and relaxing.
In my younger days in Pune, a city prone to frequent rains like in Bangalore, I was using Ideal Jawa motorcycle for my transport. As a result, there were many occasions when I had to face sudden pouring of rains, forcing me to nearby houses seeking shelter like the IT professional Pradeep.
No one ever drove me away or quarreled with me like it happened last Sunday at Srirampura. In fact, I still remember one house on Ganesh Khindi road, where I sought shelter. This house happened to belong to a Sindhi family.
I had parked the bike and I had taken shelter under the outer roof, waiting for the rain to abate. Suddenly I see one young boy approaching me with a glass of water which left me wondering then, and on occasions like this remember the gesture of that young boy as nothing less than divine. So was the gesture of Ashok.
Alas! Where has divinity disappeared from this mortal man!!
(K.B. Ganapathy is the editor-in-chief of Star of Mysore, where an expanded version of this piece appeared)
The Carnatic saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath (second from left) is all ears (and eyes) as photographer Shruthi A.N. explains the intricacies of 3D photography at the launch of a website of a 3D photo club, in Bangalore on Monday. The actor Shivaram is to his left.
“Pillorying the government of the day for pervasive corruption is the easy thing to do, whereas it might just be an escapist option. It helps those of us who are neither in politics nor in the government to pretend that we are not tainted, and therefore have the right to point fingers at politicians, who we assume are not. The truth, as recent events have brought home forcefully, is that corruption has permeated fields that have nothing to do with politics and government….
“If the canker is widespread, there have to be systemic solutions. An obvious step is to come down hard on anyone who is caught, as a lesson to everyone else. System legitimacy suffers only when businessmen find ways of avoiding being brought to justice. But perhaps the worst outcome would be to treat this as just one more kind of reality TV, for nightly entertainment. All troubling questions can be evaded if we just watch Arnab Goswami shout at, hector and pillory his “guests” for an hour every night, for thereby we’ve earned our absolution!”
“We don’t seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that’s not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis. You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I’ve been a lot.
“But I’m telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you’ve got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you’re going to get problems. It’s going to resurface again.”
“This is who we are, as Indians. While we need not be ashamed about it, let us not pretend that our own brand of neo-liberalism, which has produced a socio-cultural climate that makes it possible for the aspiring Indian middle classes — I use the plural advisedly — to unabashedly revel in the celebrity cesspool and pretend that we are squeaky clean is, at best, hypocritical, at worst, suicidal.
“For, cricket does not exist in a vacuum; it is not a cosy world safely tucked away from the dark, dirty, often cruel, and real, world in which we live, as Indians.
“A lot of us wishfully think that this might turn out to be India’s century or, in the least, an India-China century. But if you chose to do away with those rose-tinted glasses — a gift from opportunistic politicians and an acquiescent media — and mentally prepared yourself to stare truth in its face, then you will get an idea about where we really are.”
The ascension of K. Siddaramaiah, the agnostic-socialist who visits not temples and mutts upon becoming the chief minister of Karnataka but writers and intellectuals, as seen through the words and eyes of S.R. Ramakrishna and Satish Acharya of Bangalore’s Talk magazine.
There are hundreds of engineering colleges around us. There are hundreds of “experts” ventilating on some issue or the other. But every summer it is not uncommon for brand-new localities and brand-new buildings to run out of the most basic of human necessities: water.
Because they are so poorly designed.
The main Amba Vilas palace in Mysore in recent years has attracted more visitors than even the Taj Mahal. Yet it seems to have no such problem. At least not in a life-threatening way.The reason, it turns out, is because the engineers employed by the rajas and maharajas seemed to have a vision beyond their salary packet.
While Mysore, Bangalore and Mandya districts are facing severe water woes, the renowned Mysore Palace is free from water woes, as it is not affected.
Thanks to the Wodeyars for constructing 12 tanks with a capacity of 1.20 lakh litres on the roof of the Palace building.
Probably except for the members of the Royal family and Mysore Palace Board officials, none of the other would know about these large tanks which are now providing water to thousands of visitors who throng the Mysore Palace premises everyday.
These tanks are located on the third floor of the Palace building just below the ‘Gopuram’ (Dome) and each tank has the capacity of storing 10,000 litres of water. These tanks also act as natural air conditioners for the entire Palace building. Out of the 12 such tanks, 6 provide water to the Palace and the remaining 6 provide water to the Mysore Palace Board.
Palace Engineers Shivakumar and Murali said that the construction of tanks came as a big surprise to everyone as they are constructed inside the RCC of the Palace roof which will keep the building cool even during hot summer and have been designed in such a way that they provide water to everyone working in the precincts of the majestic structure.
These tanks are designed in such a way that Cauvery water is supplied directly to these tanks through rising pipes. Now, since the supply of Cauvery water has been stopped, an alternative arrangement has been made to supply water from the borewells located inside the Palace premises.
“There are 8 borewells inside the Mysore Palace premises and each of them have been fitted with 5HP motors; through them around 30,000 litres of water is to supplied to the tanks”, said Shivakumar.
In 2007, Vikram Sampath, the biographer of the Wodeyars recounted this story:
“The KRS dam, completed in 1931, created the biggest reservoir in Asia, second only to the Aswan dam across the Nile in Egypt. Since the outlay for the dam exceeded the state budget’s, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (then a mere teenager) and his sagacious mother Regent Queen Kempananjammanni sold costly diamonds, ornaments, gold and silver plates of the royal family in Bombay to provide seed capital for the project.”
To the surprise of all but those who have just arrived from Mars, the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been marred by the spotfixing scam involving players from the Rajasthan Royals. Three of them, including the former Test bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth, have been arrested, two more are to be questioned.
It was quite obvious from the very beginning that the anything-goes, anything-can-happen format of Twenty20 cricket was tailormade for bookies and other forces beyond the boundary. The confluence of cricket, commerce and cinema was a deadly combo, especially with the underworld having a vice-like grip on the gambling scene and Bollywood.
While the players are still to be proved guilty and the Delhi Police is known for monumental cockups, the mere revelation that there could have been more than met the eye in some matches so far, is a letdown of spectators at stadiums and audiences in homes. Plus, it is a disservice to the many honest cricketers showing their skills.
Questions: will you ever trust an IPL match henceforth? Will you watch the “maximums”, the no balls, the wides, without wondering if there is something more to it?
Or will this too pass in the circus that the BCCI?
K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: We recently saw the veteran thespian Pran getting the Dada Saheb Phalke award for his contribution to Indian cinema over nearly five decades.
As a child I used to think that he must be the meanest and vilest person on earth as I used to see him only as the traditional ‘bad man’ who could do no good. That was until I grew up a little to see him doing some good too in his later movies where someone perhaps thought of transforming his character!
But what all grownups now agree upon is how nice a gentleman he was in his real life whenever he was off the film sets.
While all his fans are very happy that he got his due when he was selected for what is considered the highest and most coveted award of the land in his field, I fail to understand why the honour was bestowed on him so late in his life when the ravages of time and old age have ensured that he can never relish the happiness of the honour in full measure or for long?
When he had stopped acting more than a decade ago and had retired and when we all knew what a magnificent innings he had played, where was the need to wait so long before recognising his contribution to the film industry?
It is not just with Pran that this has happened.
We routinely see many honours being awarded to many very accomplished and talented people long after they can feel fully rewarded for their roles. On many occasions we have seen the person passing away very soon after receiving the honours. And it is not just in our country that this happens.
Even in the case of the Nobel Prize we routinely see that many laureates are given the award years after their contribution to their fields is recognised when they can only totter to the stage in a confused daze supported by others or in wheelchairs.
Is it necessary for us to wait decades before we acknowledge their greatness in a much belated show of magnanimity that holds no meaning for them? I think if we love someone we should say so when it can make the person feel happy. Otherwise what purpose does it serve?
Do think about it.
(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a weekly column for Star of Mysore, where an enlarged version of this piece first appeared)
The food security bill is the next big social welfare item on the UPA menu as it hurtles towards elections. The idea is unexceptionable, to use India’s surplus and rotting foodgrains to feed the poor, hungry and malnourished. And the hope is that like NREGA, free food and direct cash transfer will win a third term for the Congress-led coalition.
Except that food is a state subject, except that the opposition isn’t playing ball, except that it can get all very messy. Also, in a large and diverse country with differing tastes every mile of the way, there is the question of what to give the needy. The economist Ashok V. Desai suggests chiki or chikki, what passes off as kadalekaayi mithai in Karnataka.
“We need an eatable that is durable, light and solid. The only such Indian eatable I know is chiki. It is common in Maharashtra; as trains run between Bombay and Poona, young men cling to the windows and sell packets of chiki to passengers. The chiki they sell is peanuts or sesame seeds embedded in gur (unrefined sugar).
“One gets variants of chiki all the way north; in Delhi, they are a seasonal ware sold in winter by rehriwallahs (hand-cart pushers) who sell murmura (parched rice), chana (parched gram) and bhel (a mixture of dry edibles mixed with chillies, chutney, sweetened tamarind water, etc).
“A round biscuit of chiki with water is an adequate, nutritious and balanced meal in the absence of normal food. It can be standardized into an industrial product.
“The government should subsidize — that is, give a negative excise duty to — this standardized chiki. To do so, it will have to license chiki factories; it should ensure that they employ the most efficient, mechanized technology. As long as they meet the standards of technology and quality, there should be no limit on the number of factories; the number of hungry poor will limit the production.
“If the government ensures the elimination of hunger by chiki, it will no longer have to buy millions of tons of foodgrains, give out billions in bribes, and bring prosperity to trillions of mice. And it will have a readymade solution for famine anywhere in the world; all it will have to do is to buy a few thousand tons of chiki and ship them to Bottomlessland.
“Maybe the rest of the world will develop a taste for some brands of chiki, and it will become a sizeable export. It will go towards bridging India’s yawning payments deficit. The finance minister should persuade his boss to take this idea seriously.”
“Back in November 2010 I had gone to Siddaramaiah‘s Mysore house with Mysooru Mithra editor M. Govinde Gowda to invite him personally for my second son’s wedding.
“As expected, the house was full of people spilling over to the road with many vehicles parked around. His aide took us to the dining hall where he was sitting at the head of the table alone, probably for our meeting.
“After the initial courtesies and platitudes I gave him the invitation and requested him to bless the groom in a customary way. As is his wont, he was expressionless and silent for a while and said that he would come.
“I did not believe him.
“I asked him about the political mess the BJP was in at that time and he mumbled something that I don’t remember now. However, I told him that it was good that he joined Congress and Congress never disappoints its loyal members in the matter of rewarding them suitably.
“He lifted his inclined head in slow-motion, looked at me and smiled. Who would not like to hear a positive prognosis of oneself?
“I continued. I said in Karnataka, in the past many years of Congress rule, I had seen that senior Congress members who were ministers and aspired to become chief ministers had realised their aspirations even if it was only for two or three years, and gave the recent examples of Bangarappa, Veerappa Moily and S.M. Krishna (who was deputy chief minister like Siddharamaiah).
“Therefore, you too will become the Chief Minister,” I told Siddaramaiah.
“Now I could see his lips turn elastic revealing his teeth from right molar to left molar with a twitch of his snubby nose. Eyes too twinkled for a fleeting second.
“I am happy to tell my readers, Siddaramaiah indeed kept his words and attended my son’s wedding held at Mysore Race Club premises.”
Photograph: Siddaramaiah gestures to the crowd after being elected as the leader of the Congress legislative party, at the KPCC Office in Bangalore on Friday (Karnataka Photo News)
Now that Congress has accomplished the easy part, it has to brace itself for the difficult part: choosing the next chief minister of the State.
Will the newly elected Congress MLAs really have a say, as they should, in choosing the leader of the legislature party? If so who will they opt for? Or will the high command impose its leader, who will be proposed and seconded, in true Congress style, by the other contenders? In either case, who is it likely to be?
Will Union labour minister Mallikarjuna Kharge get the green signal for his rock-like loyalty to the party? Or, will a younger aspirant like former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah get the OK? or will his late entry into the party and the party’s less-than-impressive showing in the Old Mysore region prove a deterrent?
Does the state Congress president G. Parameshwar stand a chance at all after failing to hold on to his seat in Koratagere, which he unbelievably first won by nearly 90,000 votes? Or will the high command fall back on dark horse, like former chief ministers S.M. Krishna and Veerappa Moily, to tide over potential dissent?
Will the next five years see just one CM or will the Congress change horses mid-stream?
PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Tomorrow, May 8, is results day for the Karnataka assembly elections. Since I am not going to be in front of a camera, here are five talking points I bet you won’t hear on your favourite news channel, but five points I sincerely wish TV anchors and analysts would use.
First, despite what everyone has said in the last month, there hasn’t been any discernible change in the fundamental poll dynamic since the elections were announced. What this means is that despite the month-long campaign and all that comes along with it (read money and other gifts to the voters), nothing much changed that actually altered the political climate.
What are the fundamentals that I refer to here?
The anti-incumbency of a largely ineffectual, scandal and dissension-ridden BJP government had created a small undercurrent of support for Congress. However, that advantage has been difficult to quantify and that’s because politics these days, especially at the state level, is local and very competitive. Further, political advantage doesn’t mean a wave in favor of a political party.
I am tempted to say the era of waves is over.
Congress stuck to its strategy, didn’t recruit too many outsiders (especially those who had ties with BJP), and focused mostly on consolidating its base.
True, its ticket distribution strategy seemed chaotic and the party took too much time to complete the process. There seemed to be much dissension, with ticket aspirants and activists demonstrating regularly in front of the party office. But much of this is media-driven to make the elections more interesting, and generate some stories.
BJP somehow managed to stop its bleeding just in time when its leaders managed to convince the four Lingayat ministers (Umesh Katti, Basavaraj Bommai, Murugesh Nirani and V. Somanna) not to leave the party.
This action enabled the state BJP leadership to save some credibility with its national leaders but more significantly increased its competitiveness in 12-15 constituencies and dealt a crushing blow to Yediyurappa’s dreams of consolidating his hold over Lingayats in north Karnataka.
Second, I want to submit that all the predictions, including the exit poll based ones, are bunkum.
I haven’t looked at the methodology and sample size closely. Yet, I suspect that extrapolating results from voting percentages is not accurate. The Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP are not strong in the same areas, which means that there are fewer triangular fights.
Hence, if Congress is competing strongly everywhere, even if its vote share goes up, it may not win a commensurate number of assembly segments.
This complementary nature of JD (S) and BJP’s support base introduces an element of uncertainty and I don’t know enough about our pollsters to believe they take into account all these variables.
My scepticism about predictions leads me to my third point: that the political culture in Karnataka (in fact, this is also a broader argument that could be made nationally too) has changed dramatically. Hence, history is not a good guide not only to make predictions but more importantly to assess political strategies.
What has changed in the last decade?
In a nutshell, Karnataka has seen a new breed of politician, who has had substantial business interests and is willing to plough back huge amounts of money back into electoral politics. This new politician is in politics to manipulate public policy, further his business interests and secure maximum profits.
He doesn’t have any ideological commitments or a substantial notion of public good.
His political strategy revolves around using his personal fortune (often ill-gotten from real estate, mining or some such natural resource owned by the state) to secure the loyalty of his constituents to himself and this has been the basis for a new form of populism in Karnataka.
There have been many consequences but let me list here only two.
First, the political space available for other kinds of politics, especially the ones inspired by ideology, socio-political movements and a substantial notion of public good, is entirely absent. Be surprised if any candidate who has spent less than five crores actually wins.
Second, even old-school politicians have reinvented themselves along the same lines. In order to understand the truth of this, you only have to look at Yediyurappa and the Deve Gowda family.
In this new political culture, we need a different theory of political strategies, especially in the electoral realm. But we haven’t even had a decent explanation until now about BJP’s own electoral success in 2008. So, I am not very hopeful that we will get a good theory in tomorrow’s shows when Ramachandra Guha and Yogendra Yadav hold forth on our TV screens.
There is much to say on this topic but in brief what we need to recognize is that BJP and JD(S) have recognized the changing tides very quickly and hence have been very nimble in making their strategies.
On the other hand, Congress is burdened by its past and seems like an elephant in its efforts to maneuver around the more nimble, more tiger like opponents. It still has to accommodate all the social classes and its base is largely made up of old time loyalists. The party continues to look to its high command for guidance.
Thus Congress continues to rely on its 20th century political culture/strategizing in what has been a dramatically different 21st century political reality. Most of the stories about Congress bungling (especially this OPED piece by James Manor in the Indian Express) its poll strategy do not recognize this simple fact: it couldn’t have avoided these pitfalls and the magical wand called leadership doesn’t exist.
So, if any analyst tells you that Congress lost because S.M. Krishna was ignored, consider that a load of bull crap. Active participation by Krishna wouldn’t have increased Congress’s total vote tally in the state by 100,000 votes. His counsel wouldn’t have made ticket distribution any more efficient.
If anyone says wrong ticket selection contributed to Congress losing, take that with some skepticism.
For example, at a constituency level there might have been mistakes but Congress had a larger goal. For example, giving tickets to C.K. Jaffer Sharief’s grandson in Hebbal and Shamanuru Shivashankarappa in Davanagere might have been problematic but if the goal is also to send a message to specific communities, then Congress will have succeeded.
This is where BJP, KJP and JD (S) are more nimble in picking candidates and they can afford to make tactical decisions in each constituency.
For example, former minister A.Krishnappa was fielded by JD (S) in Hiriyur after Congress refused to give him ticket in K.R. Puram. Krishnappa, a Golla (cowherd), is likely to win this constituency where his community is in large numbers and who along with Vokkaligas form a potent combintion. His opponent, D. Sudhakar, former minister who joined Congress just before the elections, was seen as a sure shot winner in this contest when elections began.
Here is the takeaway. Politics is extremely competitive and resourceful newcomers are ready to enter the electoral arena. They are trolling different parties in search of opportunities. Nobody can take elections easily these days.
If Siddaramaiah has sleepless nights caused by a political nobody, whose sole claim to fame is that he was Yediyurappa’s former aide and his sole strategy to secure political loyalty is to distribute large sums of money to all comers, then no leader is safe.
Fourth, I really, really wish our analysts would display a better understanding of the caste-politics equation. We really don’t have a good 21st century theory of caste loyalties inspire electoral politics. It is grating to see Yediyurappa described as the “sole leader” of Lingayats and Deve Gowda characterized as the Vokkaliga “strong man”.
Please internalize this: caste support to political parties and leaders is tactical and local; it is not strategic and translocal. I know this claim demands a research paper and not simply an assertion.
However here is the simple takeaway: Subcaste and matha-influence is more important than the kind of translocal caste loyalties that I referred to.
In Hiriyur, Kunchatiga vokkaligas are in large number but they are not strong supporters of the Gangadakara-dominated JD(S). If they vote for JD (S), it is not because of some caste loyalty to Deve Gowda. In fact, if you do a survey of Vokkaligas, most actually very strongly dislike the Gowda family, even if they vote for JD (S) most of the time.
In the same way, Lingayat solidarity across the state is a myth.
Surely, it is possible to secure broad based support from the community in favor of a party like BJP if someone like Yediyurappa is at the helm. But such a strategy would be predicated on finding the right sub caste candidate in each constituency.
Picking a Jangama candidate in a Sada or Panchamasali dominant area will result in huge electoral backlash.
Similarly, backward castes are also not a uniform entity. Siddaramaiah is a backward caste leader but unlike the 1970s and 80s when one could claim that mantle fairly easily these days all the backward castes have become highly politicized and do no want to be represented by someone from outside.
So, Siddharamaiah found himself challenged frequently by backward caste opponents, especially Nayakas, who are a large backward caste community spread across the state, just like the kuruba community to which Siddaramaiah belongs.
So, dear analyst, please do not speak use caste as an analytical category if you don’t understand the local dynamic. You will only sound like a fool.
Fifth, Karnataka saw the emergence of some new political outfits. B. PAC or the Bangalore Political Action Committee represented an alliance of new age entrepreneurs who wanted to influence electoral politics and public policy. This seemed to be inspired by American PACs, which play an enormous role in electoral politics.
Then there was Loksatta, which fielded several naïve, well meaning but political neophytes in urban areas.
All these efforts to build an alternative politics appeared half-assed, pretentious and frankly, quite insulting to the voter. It is not enough to claim that the political class is corrupt and inefficient. It is not enough to claim their own personal cleanliness, educational qualifications or industry experience.
What they lacked is a substantial movement or a public project that they could claim ownership over. Or if any of the candidates had even been a bureaucrat, something that would have brought them in contact with the public, where their conduct would have been monitored by people, such a person would have some claim to seek public trust.
A politician once told me: “What matters is not incorruptibility when you don’t have an opportunity to take a bribe. If you are incorruptible when you actually hold a public office and then work for public good, then you have a claim over public trust.”
The new, middle-class political aspirants seem to miss that simple truth.
PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: No longer are elections spectacles.
For the uninitiated, everyday life in Karnataka appears to be no different except for two things. First, Bangalore’s notorious traffic is manageable these days, as the political types have been camping in their constituencies.
Second, police chowkis along the highways, especially closer to towns and cities where all the private vehicles are checked for cash and gifts for the voters. According to the most recent estimate, the money confiscated across Karnataka is more than Rs 16 crore.
So, there is this reality constructed and maintained by the Election Commission.
Its rules have taken the pageantry out of elections. No longer nominees can take out a procession to file nominations or strut around with thousands of followers or hundreds of vehicles. In fact, any vehicle used for campaigning will have to be registered.
It’s simple these days: there are severe restrictions on visible campaigning.
Missing are the auto-rickshaw mounted loudspeakers. The norm today appears to be occasional rallies featuring star campaigners especially national leaders, and more frequently, road shows featuring state leaders and cinema stars in open vehicles.
More significantly, each candidate is restricted to spending only Rs 16 lakh.
Perhaps, there isn’t a single constituency wherein a candidate will have a reasonable chance of competing and retaining his deposit if he were to stay within this farcical limit.
However, that doesn’t stop any candidate from officially submitting accounts, which will be far less than sixteen lakhs. The average spending by each winning candidate across Karnataka will be at least one hundred times more.
So, that creates an alternative, parallel reality, the one political parties, candidates, and indeed, even the voting public inhabit. Here notionally the EC’s authority is recognized but the only way to earn the trust of the electorate is to blatantly violate most of EC regulations.
Professional politicians will not complain against each other for obvious reasons. They are all playing the same game.
The smaller players say the leftist groups or the anti-corruption warriors like the Loksatta don’t have the capacity or perhaps even the commitment to document violations and lodge complaints with the EC.
Consider this second reality for a moment.
For the past month, newspapers have been reporting on all the freebies distributed surreptitiously by every politician.
Money is the obvious good and we all know that large sums will have to be spent to pay for campaigners, voters and everybody in between.
Since 2008, politicians have had to be very creative in transporting cash. So, there are numerous stories about motorbike riders carrying money or professional donkey/ black sheep herd owners being couriers transporting cash from one place to the next.
Then there are services and goods that are offered and accepted.
# Tankers carrying water.
# JCBs and tractors to do any kind of earth work in your field, either freely or at heavily subsidized rates.
# Borewell rigs to dig borewells.
# Books for students.
# Access to government welfare programs and services – from old age pension to various subsidies that the state government offers; from subscription to Yashasvini medical insurance scheme to free ration from government ration shops.
# Pressure cookers.
# Set-top boxes for televisions.
# Pilgrimages and trips to constituents.
All kinds of groups and associations too are rewarded liberally.
# Temples are built and renovated during elections if only because all the candidates will make contributions.
# Travel across the state and you will find hoardings for sports tournaments sponsored by politicians. We estimated that the budget for some of these events could run into tens of lakhs since the top prize in a cricket tournament in Shimoga was Rs. 75,000.
Obviously our list isn’t complete and the reader can add more.
However, here is the important point to note. Election results are determined in this second reality. The Election Commission has little sway over this reality and one could even argue that an efficient money spending operation precedes everything else.
The presence of star campaigners – be it Rahul Gandhi or Advani or Narendra Modi – does very little to actually sway the electorate. At best, these stars rouse the party base and raise the enthusiasm of the party cadre.
Politics has changed in this regard in the last two decades. Without this efficient ground level operation that distributes gifts, makes compelling local arguments and mobilizes voters, no candidate shall win.
And that’s true for a political party winning elections as well.
In another significant respect, a politician shows his prowess during the elections. His ability to break rules and distribute as much during the elections is actually an indicator of his ability to manipulate rules and government machinery once he is in power.
While we don’t want to sound cynical, the voting public actually considers that quality an essential trait for a leader.
The Election Commission can’t do much about the second reality. It has never had much control on that reality anyway.
Ahalya Chari, the head of the Regional College of Education from 1967-70, passed away in Madras recently, at the age of 92. Here, Krishna Vattam, the longtime Mysore correspondent of Deccan Herald, pays tribute and recounts an incident involving “Miss Chari” and another former resident of Mysore, the late president of India, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
In my 40-year-long association with Deccan Herald as a reporter, I have had experiences of many incidents which have left a deep impress on my mind.
One such incident I am going to narrateis my visit to the Regional College of Education (RCE) and its affiliate Demonstration Multipurpose School (DMS) in the Manasagangothri campus in 1965—and the time I spent in the presence of two great teachers, one a Universal teacher, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and the other, an embodiment of Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s teachings, Miss Ahalya Chari.
It was at the invitation of Miss Chari that Dr Radhakrishnan, the philosopher-savant, had come to Mysore, to participate in a simple function to mark the planting of saplings on the campus.
It was 7 August 1965. It had rained all through the night before. But there was a bright sunshine in the morning. The rain drops that had collected on the tender leaves turned into various hues as the sunrays fell on them.
The entire surroundings seemed to be in communion with God.
It was least anticipated by the gathering that the occasion would pleasantly turn out as an event for presentation of a philosophical treatise and brilliant exposition of the profound truths of the Bhagavad Gita by Dr Radhakrishnan.
A group of girls—Vatsala, Ratnamala, Usha— accompanied by Miss Chari and teachers Anantharamaiah, S. Keshava Murthy and Mohanraj rendered in chorus an ancient prayer found on the inscriptions of the world-famous Belur temple.
The prayer, with its ennobling ideals, had an electrifying effect on the minds of those who had gathered.
Bauddhah Buddha iti Pramanapatavah karteti Naiyyayikah
The meaning is “Whom the Saivas worship as Siva, the Vedantins as Brahmam, the Buddhists as Buddha, the Naiyaayikas who specialise in knowledge as the chief agent, the followers of the Jaina code as the Ever Free, the ritualists as the principle of law, may that Hari, the Lord of the Three Worlds, grant our prayers.”
No sooner the group had completed the rendering, Dr. Radhakrishnan asked the group to recite the two lines he recited in continuation of the original three lines.
The entire gathering, having the thrill of their lives, recited the two additional lines:
The meaning is: “Whom the Christians devoted to work as Christ and the Mohammedans as Allah.”
Dr. Radhakrishnan explained that had Udayanacharya, who composed these three lines, been writing in this age he would have added those two lines which he (Dr. Radhakrishnan) had composed.
While interpreting the 11th verse in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the book he published in the early 1940s, Dr Radhakrishnan had an occasion to comment on the wide catholicity of the Gita. In this context, he quoted Udayanacharya and added his own two lines to encompass the whole universe.
The Radhakrishnan-effect is still felt by all those who were fortunate to attend that sublime function. Though those Acharyas — Dr. Radhakrishnan and Miss Chari — are no more amidst us. I cherish that incident.
(A longer version of this piece originally appeared in Star of Mysore)
Security personnel on election duty search a car at a check post on Hospet road in Bellary on Thursday, even as a new pre-poll survey suggests that the Congress, despite all its troubles, continues to maintain a healthy lead over the BJP in the assembly elections due in the “gateway to the south” next week.
Former chief minsiter H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) is the most preferred CM candidate, with 18 per cent people voting in favour of him. Ex-BJP strongman B.S. Yediyurappa is the second choice for CM (10%), followed by Congress leader Siddaramaiah (9%), S.M. Krishna (8%), and Jagadish Shettar (6%).
THE POLLS SO FAR
CSDS-CNN-IBN, The Week (April): Congress 117-129, BJP 39-49, JD(S) 33-44
Suvarna News-Cfore (April): Congress 105-122 out of 224; BJP 55-70; JD(S) 30-45