Archive for September, 2008

All that glitters is, yes, gold for the next ten days

30 September 2008

On the first day of the Dasara festivities in Mysore, the scion of the erstwhile royal family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, ascends the throne at the khas durbar in the main Amba Vilas palace.

***

Wodeyar and wife Pramoda Devi Wodeyar arrive for the private durbar.

The late Hayavadana Rao wrote in the Mysore Gazette:

“On the morning of the first day, His Highness, after observing the religious ceremonies, partly at the shrine of Sri Chamundeshwari on the palace premises and partly in the Durbar Hall, takes his seat on the historical throne under a salute of 21 guns and showers of flowers. There is also a presentation of arms by the palace and the State troops assembled in the arena square below. Honours from the principal temples and maths are presented followed by offerings and presentations of coconuts (phala) and coloured rice (mantrakshate) by the Vaidika Brahmins invited to the Durbar Hall.”

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Once upon a time, such a star lit up the screen

30 September 2008

Shankar Nag died on this day in 1990. Vadiraj Hombal forwards a YouTube video of the star’s “first six minutes” on screen, in Ondanondu Kaaladalli.

CHURUMURI POLL: Guilty until proven innocent?

29 September 2008

Jamia Millia Islamia University’s decision to provide “legal assistance” to two of its students, Mohammad Shakil and Zia-ur-Rehman, picked up in connection with the serial blasts in Delhi has, as can be expected, stirred up the usual tsunami in the tea cup. On the one hand, the pseudo-nationalists are frothing at the mouth at the sight of a State-funded institution rushing to ensure the “well being” of “terror suspects”. And, on the other hand, the pseudo-secularists insist that they are taking the only course available before civilised human beings: of treating all suspects as innocent until proven guilty.

Questions: Certainly, the University is a centre of education and the students who come there to study have no business associating themselves with terror groups. But are the two students necessarily guilty because they have been arrested? Given the horrific record of the police and the Central Bureau of Investigation in a case like the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder, can sanctity be automatically attached to the claims of the Delhi police about the extent of involvement of the Jamia students?

Does UGC-funded Jamia Millia provide such “legal assistance” on tax-payers’ funds to students regularly, or is this a special case? If so, why? Is a University in the best traditions of humanism wrong in providing assistance to poor students who may be unfairly stigmatised? Do financially handicapped students have no right to justice just because a lynch mob sees them as guilty? And, above all, does our thirst for “tough laws” on terror imply we throw out the most fundamental rights of citizens?

Or, have we learnt no lessons at all from the extraordinary case of Dr Mohammed Haneef?

Also read: Where has our tolerance and compassion gone?

Innocence is bliss when atmosphere is surcharged

29 September 2008

Young Muslim girls and boys break their roza at an iftaar party attended by chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at Samad Bhavan in Shivajinagar in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

It used to be that way, now it is this way. Sorry.

28 September 2008

The old HAL airport falls off the map near the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore as a new one opens shop on the other side of town.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Do the mighty judges have the layman’s wisdom?

28 September 2008

As Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss‘s diktat for a nationwide ban on smoking in public spaces, including private offices, from October 2 awaits judicial scrutiny, an opinion poll shows the Supreme Court just how to stub out tobacco major ITC’s case.

Infographic: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will the smoking ban work?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Book launch in Bangalore

27 September 2008

PRESS RELEASE: HarperCollins and Crossword bookstores invite you to the launch of Destination Moon, India’s quest for the Moon, Mars and Beyond by Pallava Bagla and Subhadra Menon at 5 pm on Sunday, 28 September, at the Crossword bookstore on Residency road in Bangalore. P. Balaram, director of the Indian Institute of Science, will be in conversation with Pallava Bagla, who is currently NDTV’s science editor.

The seeds of hatred are being forced to bear fruit

25 September 2008

D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: What is now happening in Karnataka is quite disturbing; almost  unthinkable. People like me who went to school and college in the 1980s and ’90s never imagined that one day our peaceful and harmonious State would be sliced and scythed so systematically on communal lines.

The seeds of communal politics sowed on our salubrious soil during L.K. Advani‘s rath yatra is now bearing fruit. Or is being genetically modified to bear fruit.

As the renowned writer and thinker Prof. U R Anantha Murthy writes:

“The Christians in the past had made contribution to the development of modern Kannada. Rev Kittel who composed the first Kannada dictionary was one of our revered ancestors. The Christians continue to run hospital and schools. Most of the gentle and caring nurses in hospitals are Christians.”

Not just that.

Many people from my father’s and grandfather’s generation always practised communal harmony and held Catholic missionaries in high esteem.

Thyanandur Puttannaiah, a religious Hindu and a remarkable man from my home district Shimoga, had dedicated his book “Naa kanda Malenaadu” (a definitive account on the hilly region of Malnad) to Christian missionaries!

It was not a surprising gesture during those days. He had great respect for them because of their social service. He truly believed that caring and loving Catholic nuns and priests had introduced modern civilisation to remote, inaccessible Malnad, which was known as a den of cholera and malaria during the British raj.

My grandfather believed that the entire generation of Kannadigas in the Malnad and Coastal Karnataka survived the dreaded diseases of cholera and malaria only because of the selfless service of Catholics in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The first Kannada newspaper Mangalooru Samachara was started by a missionary from Germany, Father Herman Mogling, in 1843. The Basel Mission Church published first books in Kannada.

The reverend Uttangi Channappa was a renowned Kannada folklorist, historian and reseracher of the 20th century.

The great English teachers like J.C. Roelho and Armando Menezes shaped Mysore and Karnatak Universities during their formative years. A Hindu majority coast wholeheartedly sent Joaquim and Margaret Alva, and the Lobo Prabhu, to Parliament; Oscar Fernandes five consecutive terms.

And let us not forget that George Fernandes is a Mangalorean and still a Mangalorean at heart. Roger Michael Humphrey Binny proudly wore the Karnataka cap as its captain in dozens of Ranji Trophy matches and made us happy.

These are just a few examples of thousands of other good and great Christians, who have immensely contributed to the Kannada culture and public life, in ways big and small.

The Bajrang Dal and other radical Hindu organisations either don’t know anything about our history or they don’t want the majority of Hindus to acknowledge the importance of Christianity in Karnataka.

The sangh parivar feels empowered after the BJP captured power in Karnataka in the elections last May. With or without the knowledge or consent of the government, radical organisations like the Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sena have unleashed a reign of terror in some parts of the State.

There are enough reasons to believe that a section in the ruling BJP is stoking the fires of inter-religious animosity in Karnataka for political reasons. Anti-Christian sentiment is travelling from the coast to the capital under a benign and benevolent government which seems to think it was sworn into office to protect and promote only one community.

It is difficult to belive that Oscar Fernandes represented the present epicentre of saffron politics Udupi in the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms between 1980-1998.

It is a fact, of course, that the neo-radical protestant evangelists like ‘New Life Church’ are coercing innocent, poor Hindus from the lower strata of the society and converting them in some parts of the State. There are serious allegations of money and other blandishments playing a big role in the conversions.

But Roman Catholics?

The single largest and oldest Christian community in the State is being attacked by right wing zealots. Perhaps, the semi-literate zealots do not know the difference between Catholics and other neo-radical evangelists.

Catholics are the most visible Christians because of their magnificent Churches, convents, colleges, seminaries, Cathedrals, Basilicas and hospitals. They are being made to pay the price for the alleged anti-Hindu activities of other Christian sects.

Even if the new sects are involved in large-scale conversion activities, Bajrang Dal or any other radical organisation has no right to take law unto its own hands and punish the guilty.

B.S. Yediyurappa should realise that he is chief minister of Karnataka and it is his Constitutional obligation to protect all religions and castes irrespective of the their political affiliations and leanings.

Another sad development is the complete politicisation of the entire issue.

When Karnataka is looking for a statesman to douse the raging communal flames, the Congress-led central government, the BJP government, and the idle and frustrated, JDS are all busy making political calculations. The selective invoking of the Article 355 by the UPA only against NDA-ruled Karnataka and Orissa has not gone down well even with non-BJP people from the State.

They feel that the Centre has no moral right to warn Karnataka and turn a blind eye to States like West Bengal or Tamil Nadu or even Maharashtra. The BJP is cleverly using it to consolidate votes and communalise the entire State. The wily old fox H.D. Deve Gowda also shouldn’t forget that nearly a dozen people were killed in communal clashes when his son H.D. Kumaraswamy was the chief minister.

“Secularists “, Congress, JDS etc can easily fool the benevolent media, but not the people.

Actually, they are aiding the BJP and other communal forces in their eagerness to prove their ‘secular’ credentials. Falling over each other for votes and 15 minutes of fame will finally end in their fall and the raise of communal elements. Gujarat is a shining example of that.

What the media thinks is negative publicity is actually positive news for communal elements. It helps them grow stronger.

Let’s also admit that Karnataka has not always been a tolerant state. But the core philosophy of Kannada and Karnataka have always been to live and let live. It was never divided on communal lines and the animosity was not everywhere.

Let us admit, as a distinguished Kannada author, Prof V. Sitaramiah, has pointed out:

“…that we have had our pettiness and feuds; our limitations of outlook and failures in achievement; our bloodbaths given and taken. Our chieftains have carried off brides from marriage pavilions; our warriors have destroyed men and lands when fiendish fits were on. In their turn, they have been invaded and their capital cities have been razed or burnt.”

“The history of all peoples has been much the same and littered with episodes good and not so good. But the long range value preference, the pride and grateful memory of Kannada poets has been, by and large, for tolerance and the arts of peace; for conservation.

“This is true not of poets alone but the Kannada people as a whole….

“Allied with this distrust of fanaticism and flamboyance is a certain unsparing insistence of self-discipline and style. It is expressed in the numerous stories about Visvesvaraya, in the fastidiousness of Generals Cariappa and Thimaya, in the philosophical volumes of Professor Hiriyanna and in the dance of Shanta Rao. In its gentler form it can be detected in the lines and brush strokes of K.K. Hebbar, in the glances and drives of G.R. Vishwanath, in the meditative aalaap of Mallikarjun Mansoor and in the prose of R.K. Narayan.”

As an obsessed Kannadiga, I feel hurt and sad.

Because, the carefully built image of my State has severely been dented.

As one journalist wrote, “Oh God forgive them for they know what they are doing.”

Also read: Does the identity of Anglo-Indians not count?

Not so long ago in a common room in Hyderabad

24 September 2008

ALOK PRASANNA writes from Bangalore: Few cricket experiences can come close to the delight of watching a good solid cricket match with one’s college-mates in the common room.

This time last year, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, a group of law students gathered around in a hostel common room to watch a cricket match on an ancient TV which needed more than gentle persuasion to be convinced that it needed to display the live feed regularly.

Seats were at a premium since the common room was not exactly built to accommodate ALL the denizens of the men’s hostel at the same time.

Yet, this was no ordinary cricket match. This was the finals of the Twenty20 World Cup finals between India and Pakistan.

Assignments were forgotten, Moot Court teammates made to understand the gravity of the situation, and girlfriend-time given up with torn consciences as we crammed into the common room as early as possible to catch vantage points close to the TV.

Among us there were the true fans; the ones who set the alarm and woke up at five in the morning to catch matches played in Australia, stayed up to catch England beating Australia in the 2005 Ashes, and cheer every run as South Africa chased down 434 against Australia.

Then there were the India fans who turned up only for matches India played and went away complaining loudly when it looked like India would lose.

And then there were the casual cricketers who would turn up to watch for lack of anything better to do or simply because they didn’t want to be left out of one of two things that involved the whole hostel (the other of course being the Farewell Hostel daru party thrown by the batch passing out that year).

They all turned up for the finals.

The room was full, and all of us clustered around the TV an hour before the match started. Even the pre-match show was watched eagerly, and debate raged about team composition and the batting order.

Over the two weeks we had all become experts on T20 Cricket as we followed the gripping tournament from its blistering start (Chris Gayle smearing South African bowlers all over the park), to the nail biting finish in the India-Australia semi-final (Joginder Sharma going from hopeless pretender to God of the Final Over in the span of six balls).

No one was going to miss the final.

And what a final it was!

A brilliant director with the finest script and the greatest actors would have been hard-pressed to create the kind of emotional rollercoaster this match took us on. From trepidation at the diffident start to growing despair over Umar Gul’s accurate bowling, and some cheer in the form of Gautam Gambhir’s and Rohit Sharma’s clean hitting, the India’s innings alone had it all.

Yet, the widely held opinion was that 157 runs were not enough; not against a team that had brushed aside all comers chasing bigger totals on its way to the finals.

The “despairers” were of course challenged by the die-hards among us who were convinced it was a winning total. A short break to take a quick gulp of air, gather one’s wits and head back to watch the nail biting chase.

The smart ones with the good seats obviously didn’t move an inch.

As the chase began, our sodden hopes soared within the first few overs as R.P. Singh tore into the Pakistani batting, and once Irfan Pathan got into the act, we were sure of victory. Seven wickets down, 50 runs away from the target, Shahid “boom-boom” Afridi gone, just Misbah-ul Haq with the tail, we couldn’t lose could we?

The ranks of the despairers and had thinned and the anticipation of victory made us complacent to that old cliché: “the glorious uncertainties of the game”.

Except of course, there was nothing uncertain about Misbah’s assault. It was calculated, fierce and silenced us by threatening the seemingly impossible. With every six that flew into the stands, the ranks of the despairers swelled once again, and the ancient legend of Javed Miandad, handed down by our traumatized fathers, came into memory.

It is now the last over, 13 runs are needed, and Joginder Sharma is handed the ball. This leads to cries of outrage among some as Harbhajan Singh still has an over to go, but there are others who remind them of the sixes just gone by.

The argument continues into the first ball that has gone way outside off stump and is called a wide. Cries of anguish go up, followed by abuses. The next ball is played and missed by Misbah, and met with wild cheers and fulsome praise.

Now comes the horror ball!

Full toss, an effortless swing of the bat, and a stunned room watches as the ball sails over the boundary for a six. Six off four needed, and the hands go up to the heads, or reach out in prayer to the Gods, and tension is writ large on every face.

50 pairs of eyes watch in silence as Joginder Sharma runs in again. It’s wide, Misbah chases it, unbelievably, tries to scoop it over fine leg, the ball floats up, a hyper-ventilating Ravi Shastri almost calls it a four, and then the ball comes down, the camera finds Sreesanth under it,  he holds on to it, and the common room explodes with joy!

Otherwise inclined to show extreme machismo, we were openly crying, laughing and hugging each other as the unbelievable had just happened. Sure defeat, turned into unlikely victory, turned into last gasp defeat, has just become a snatch-from-death’s-jaws-victory that no one could have predicted.

At that moment, like Indians everywhere, we forgot everything else, our backgrounds, language, ethnicity, region, religion and celebrated like only delirious cricket fans can. We cheered every Indian player who came up to collect a medal, cheering loudest as Dhoni came up to collect the trophy.

We got an idea, perhaps, of what an earlier generation had felt, in the summer of ’83.

In retrospect it was also a stinging reply to a cocky question that I had once asked in a political science class, “What unites us as “Indians”?”

Cricket, obviously.

Long after I forget the classes, the exams or the grade sheets, I will always remember that day in college.

Photograph: courtesy Reuters

Also read: Where were you on night this took place in 1983?

CHURUMURI POLL: Bigger than World Cup 1983?

Be it known that this picture is not upside down

23 September 2008

When somebody is, well, advising you, it is best to lie back and enjoy it. Karnataka’s severely stressed-out legislators perform “yoga” at a consultation camp organised by Suttur Mutt in Mysore district on Tuesday.  In the foreground, “Mukhya MantriChandru.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What is the role our swamijis, religious gurus must play?

Interesting if true: Lies, lies & damned statistics

23 September 2008

POTA has become everybody’s favourite four-letter word in the wake of the continuing terror attacks. The BJP would have us believe that tough terror laws are all we need to end the madness. The Congress seems to think that the minorities are all pathologically, if not congenitally, opposed to law and order.

But did POTA work when it was in force?

Union science and technology minister Kapil Sibal mounts a stout defence of the Congress-led UPA government’s relunctance to bring back POTA, arguing that the law by itself was no defence against terror when the BJP-led NDA was in charge:

1. Between 1999 – 2004, while the NDA was in power, total civilian casualties from terrorist acts were 4,405 whereas between 2004 – 2008 (till September 11, 2008), these were 1,623.

2. Security force personnel killed on account of terrorist acts during the same period of the NDA dispensation were 2,590; during the UPA dispensation (till September 11, 2008), the number is 1,235.

3. With reference to Jammu & Kashmir, the number of incidents of violence peaked with 4,500 incidents in 2001 and reduced to 1,000 in 2008. The number of civilians killed peaked at 1,000 in 2002 – 2003 and is less than 100 today.

Read the full article: State of insecurity

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Should POTA be brought back?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should POTA be reintroduced?

It’s not enough if you are just what you eat

23 September 2008

On Aaj Tak, a moment of stunning simplicity in an era of conspicuous consumption. The crown prince’s dietary habits broken over live TV.

Link via Chetan Krishnaswamy

Also read: Cold is gold for the unwashed unmillions

After Big B’s cold, small screen catches a…

‘A government cannot use ‘us v/s them’ rhetoric’

23 September 2008

Editorial in The Indian Express, New Delhi:

“The B.S. Yediyurappa government in Karnataka is not doing itself any good by persisting in its state of denial…. The Karnataka government’s singular failure (and a mark of its double standards) is its inability to treat the problem as one of law and order. All right, so the government has made a few arrests, but it continues to give the impression that it had better be doing something else.

“A democratically elected government cannot use the “us and them” rhetoric even without intending to. If the law of the land is violated, and innocent people suffer as a result, the government’s first priority should be the re-assertion of the rule of law….

“The government must be perceived to stand for all people in Karnataka. But it seems more bent on looking for a conspiracy against itself and criticising the Centre’s advisories as hasty and deflecting attention from the issue of terrorism.

Read the full editorial here: Beyond advice

‘Our society can’t be safe with IM & Bajrang Dal’

22 September 2008

Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw:

“As they say, religion is the teachings of God entrusted to learned men to spread love, goodwill and harmony. Unfortunately when men, especially ignorant men, descecrate God’s teachings for personal and political gain it causes hatred, bad faith and mayhem. Only the collective might of people can stop this senseless religious turmoil.

“It is upto to every God loving Hindu Muslim and Christian to play their part in bringing harmony to their communities and stopping misguided social elements from this global catastrophe. Politicians have a key role to play in leading by example.

“Just as the Indian Mujahideen has to be stopped in its tracks so also others like the Bajrang Dal as unless their message of hatred is obliterated, we will not be able to build a safe society.

“Political manifestos must be banned from containing any religious objectives.”

One question I’m dying to ask Dr V.S. Acharya

21 September 2008

The sort of disrepute Shivaraj Patil has brought the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre in four years, V.S. Acharya has brought the BJP government in Karnataka in four months flat. The mumbling, fumbling, blogging home minister has been caught with his pants down so many times in the fledgling days of the B.S. Yediyurappa government, it beggars belief.

When farmers were protesting fertiliser shortages, the god-fearing physician from Udupi was blissfully doing a whirlwind tour of temples and mutts. When BJP MLA Raghupati Bhat‘s wife Padmapriya Bhat was “half-kidnapped”, Acharya was dropping red herrings that she was suffering from”temporary depression” and that “she would be re-united with her family in matter of hours” only to report the young woman’s murky death a few hours later.

The curfew on live music and the disenchantment over the transfers of police officers even among BJP legislators have all shown up Acharya to be a comical Sancho Panza tilting at the windmills of competence while his chief minister promises “good governance” with a scowl.

However, none of those fleeting brushes with infamy come close to Dr Acharya’s mind-numbing performance in the week gone by, when Karnataka’s well-earned reputation as a peaceful, civilised State has been dealt a killer-blow by the Hindutva Hitsquads.

When the State was looking for a statesman when churches and prayer halls were attacked on the West Coast by the Bajrang Dal, Dr Acharya was happy to play partisan politics, linking it to the conversion debate, as if it is not the State’s business (and his job description) to protect the lives, property and freedoms of all citizens, irrespective of their community, even if they are converts from Hinduism. And now, his inability to quell further attacks on churches in Bangalore today, a day after the Centre invoked Article 355.

What is the one question you are dying to ask Dr V.S. Acharya? “Doctor, heal thyself?”

Please keep your queries short, civil and prescriptive. All comments will be moderated; only questions from valid, working and verifiable email IDs will be published.

Also read: ‘Sangh Parivar is destroying Hindu civilisation’

‘Bajrang Dal doesn’t belong in Mangalore’

‘Is saving souls a good way of saving democracy?’

Also read: How media went overboard in Padmapriya case

20 unanswered questions in Padmapriya case

‘Home’ is where the chief minister’s heart is

Forgive them Lord for they know what they do

21 September 2008

As inter-religious animosity in Karnataka travels from the coast to the capital under a benign and benevolent government which seems to think it was sworn into office to protect and promote only one community, an old woman sends up a prayer at the St Yagappa Church at Mariyannapalya which was attacked on Sunday morning.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘Discrimination of Muslims in India is a plain lie’

21 September 2008

Sudheendra Kulkarni in The Indian Express:

“Indian Muslims need to introspect on whether the shrill and persistent propaganda that they are a persecuted and oppressed community in India is helping or hurting them.

“This propaganda has no factual basis whatsoever. True, the Indian Muslim community is suffering from certain inequities and disabilities, but this is substantially true about other communities too.

“There is nothing in India’s Constitutional order, in our democratic political system or in the secular ethos of our society that inherently discriminates against Muslims.

“Nevertheless, the propaganda that “Muslims do not get justice in India”, echoing similar poisonous propaganda that the Muslim League had mounted before 1947 as a rationale for its demand for India’s partition, is being systematically conducted both within the country and globally. This has naturally influenced a section of educated Muslims, radicalising them in the direction of Islamism”

Read the full column: Time to introspect for Muslims

Only a third generation can double this rail line

21 September 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Praveen Kumar III of South Western Railway was gazing at the track between Srirangapatna and Naguvanahalli.

As he was staring at the track, his mind went back to circa 2008-2010.

His great-grandfather Praveen Kumar, who was entrusted with the task of expediting the task of doubling the Bangalore-Mysore track project had one day, had literally stumbled into a monument from the period of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatna.

Since monuments are sensitive matters, it was referred to the archaeological department to seek its concurrence before shifting it elsewhere.

Files in the archaeology department are never in a hurry and appear to wobble once in a decade in Karnataka. The approval for shifting the monument came on the same day when Praveen Kumar was due to retire from service. But the various agencies involved in shifting the monument—the public works department, the wakf board, railways, muzrai department, temple authorities—could not arrive at a mutually convenient date for their meeting.

Finally when they met, the Muslim board objected to shifting the monument during Ramzan; the temple authorities would not lift a finger during Shravanamasa. The archaeology department was yet to decide whether to classify the monument as a heritage piece or just a luggage. The PWD was busy building flyovers from Bangalore to Madras and Hyderabad on which cars could zoom in 2 hours and 3 hours to those cities respectively, to even bother.

So the project became comatose again.

When Kumaraswamy II became the chief minister of Karnataka, he too started doing village stays like his father. Once while eating ragi mudde marinated in Sula wine, his eyes fell on a paper beneath the mudde. The mudde would not go in as he found his affectionate father’s beautiful signature authorising the work between Bangalore and Ramanagaram.

HDK II left the dinner unfinished and began enquiring about the status of the project without even losing time to wash his hands.

He dashed off messages to railway minister and chairman of the railway board. Quick came their response. They appointed a young railway officer, Praveen Kumar II to handle this prestigious project. Praveen Kumar II flew in directly to Sriranagapatna from Delhi in his helicopter.

The Bangalore- Mysore project thus came out of ICU of railway hospital and started galloping like a “Flying Ranee”. Everybody hoped it would be completed by 2030.

But good things, as they say, do not last long, at least not in Karnataka.

No sooner had PK II solved the monument problem, they came across a foundation stone bang in the middle of the proposed track. Former and farmer prime minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, had come all the way to to lay it. A foundation stone with a pickaxe attached to it was found by the gang of workers.

After prostrating before the new sacred heritage structure, Kumaraswamy II decided not to shift the same and asked the engineers to find a solution.

The engineers after working for 5 years found they could encircle the heritage assembly with a poly carbon glass and take the track 20 ft. below the glass without touching it.

By the time the zilla panchayat and gram panchayats and the PWD, after quarterly interdepartmental notes, agreed to do the job, Yediyurappa III had taken over from Kumaraswamy II, who quickly reversed the earlier decision. He now wanted the tracks to go 20 feet above the foundation stone and refused to treat it as a heritage piece. He got it reclassified it as just a luggage.

Yediyurappa III like his grandfather was also a man in a furious hurry. He called Delhi to send an official to complete the project. Delhi beamed an officer who landed at the site in fifteen minutes through a jet propulsion robot much like ‘Scotty’.  As luck or ill luck would have it, it was Praveen Kumar III who landed at Naguvanahalli!

Thus, Praveen Kumar III found himself wondering whether the project would ever reach Mysore at all…

Finally, after several eras, if not eons, the double track project was completed and inaugurated by Rahul Nehru Gandhi III in 2080.

All the tahasildars, zilla panchayat and gram panchayat employees flew in their own helicopters powered by Indo-US nuclear fuel to attend the inauguration.

Since railways had stopped running trains from 2060, as a mark of respect, it was decided to run a special train once to mark the centenary of the fast track project. The nearly 200-year-old coal-based steam engine, was brought out of its shed to pull the Mysore-Bangalore Priyanka Express for the first and last time on the newly built track.

D is for Dasara, E is for Elephant, M is for Mahouts

20 September 2008

Children of mahouts ferrying elephants for the Dasara festivities in Mysore, and a couple of large gatecrashers, sit down for special classes conducted by department of public instruction at the main Amba Vilas palace in Mysore on Friday. The programme is conducted every year during Dasara.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘The rising political attraction of street activism’

20 September 2008

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in The Telegraph, Calcutta, on the Singur controversy:

“That politics might change over time once the terrible consequences of industrial and economic stagnation are more widely appreciated and understood. But for the moment the political attraction of street activism seems dominant, supplemented intellectually by the old physiocratic illusion of prosperity grounded only on agriculture. The latter piece of romantic thought cannot but fade over time with the influence of realism (no country has ever achieved much prosperity on the basis of agriculture alone). But at this moment realism looks like a distant dream.”

Read the full article: Huge price of street politics

A clayman’s unvarnished view before Navaratri

18 September 2008

With Durga pooja round the corner, an artist gives the finishing touches to idols at the Bengali Association in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘Sangh Parivar is destroying Hindu civilisation’

17 September 2008

By U.R. ANANTHA MURTHY

What has happened in Dakshina Kannada is a shame.

The Christians in the past had made contribution to the development of modern Kannada. Rev Kittel who composed the first Kannada dictionary was one of our revered ancestors. The Christians continue to run hospital and schools. Most of the gentle and caring nurses in hospitals are Christians.

What is happening now is a cynical move on the part of the government in power. Our Chief Minister had said that he would make Karnataka another Gujarat. His ideal seems to be Narendra Modi, for B.S. Yediyurappa, once a leader of poor peasants in my home district Shimoga, now speaks of Modi-style development.

The BJP knows that they can’t get the Christian minority votes in Mangalore and Udupi, as they are traditional supporters of the Congress. By attacking Christians now they can make a solid Hindu vote bank. This is most cynical.

Raising the question of ‘forced conversions’ for justifying the attacks on Christians is irresponsible on the part of a government which should protect law and order.

Who converts to Christianity?

Mostly those who come from low castes and feel ashamed to reveal who they are and what caste they belong to. Christianity gives them a respectable identity and they may be tempted also with jobs and money.

If we had a great saint like Narayana Guru of Kerala born into a low caste who took to reforming the decadent Hindu society, there would have been no room for Christians to convert low-born Hindus. Narayana Guru was an advaitin, perhaps the greatest advaitin after Adi Shankaracharya.

Attacking people who are praying to whatever God is the most irreligious act on the part of Hindus.

The Sangh Parivar is destroying Hindu civilization.

The way out now is for civilian society to raise its voice. The police are under the BJP government which seems to have turned a blind eye. It may not be openly supporting the attacks of the Sangh Parivar but there seems to be a tacit understanding between the two.

The Gujarat drama of violence is being reenacted here.

As a Kannada writer I feel ashamed and angry and feel helpless too.

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: ‘Bajrang Dal doesn’t belong in Mangalore’

‘Is saving souls a good way of saving democracy?’

No stars, no gangsters, no molls, no sex scenes

17 September 2008

PRESS RELEASE: This Friday, 19th of September, will see a small Hindi film being released called Hulla.

Written and directed by Jaideep Varma, it took seven years for the film to come to the screen after the first draft of its script in 2001.

The film has no stars, dance floors, guns, gangsters, molls, sex scenes… not even a romantic angle. It is an everyday film about middle-class everyday people. But it has a wit and humour that hopes to compensate for everything.

If you plan on seeing it, the filmmakers specifically request you to see it by the first weekend (20th, 21st September). Otherwise, it could just be that word-of-mouth does not get a chance to build up and the film is off theatres by the next weekend.

Online review: A new-age middle-of-the-road delight

Story behind the film: Silence on the floor

‘Media’s double standards to measure terrorism’

17 September 2008

The “Eye for an Eye” email sent out by the “Indian Mujahideen” before the Delhi blasts on Saturday, while using the “injustice and oppression inflicted upon Muslims all over the country” as a justification for the attack, also targets the Indian English print media in particular:

“The coverage of news by both the electronic as well as print media clearly depicts the level to which their immorality has reached while obeying their loyal masters of IB [Intelligence Bureau]. But let us clarify here that you forgot your own principle: that sometimes the stories untold serve the purpose more than the stories told. Look at the way you handled the blasts in which Sangh activists have been involved.

“With the Will of Allah, the Most Sublime, both the Bajrang Dal activisits were killed and sentenced to Hell fire while they were engaged in bomb making—an art which needs extraordinary intelligence—at Kanpur, and this was rightly reported by the Indian Express mentioning that the police was astonished to see the quantity of bombs found. The ‘apes’ of Bajrang Dal were too foolish to plot a revenge blast in Kanpur on 24th Aug. 2008 against the Muslims.

“The blast which occrred on 24th August hardly found even a single column space in The Times of India the next day. Hindustan Times carried the news, but without mentioning the identity of the wretchd ones who were killed. The only information it delivered was tht the father of Piyush Mishra, one among the dead, was running a private hostel in the locality! On 26th August, the Indian Express and Mail Today mentioned the news in some detail (heading: “The Bajrang Bomb?”—Indian Express). There were hardly any follow-up stories in Times of India. Stories of Omprakash alias Bunty, a gang leader who was gunned down by the police was the topic Times of India gave to its readers the next day. Times spent more than a page for Bunty the gang leader. On the following days, there was an extensive coverage of police cracking down the Jaipur blast mystery, ‘investigative’ stories on Shahbaz Hussain, the ‘computer savy’ master mind (yet another forged lie) alleged to be behind the serial blasts. But a dreadful silence was kept about the origin of bombs dug out from the camp of Sangh Parivar all along. A great number of human rights activists and organisations demanded an immediate probe to investigate the explosive agenda hidden by Sangh Parivar. The statements issued and press conferences conducted in this regard were limited to single columns in the national newspapers….

“The coverage of the Sangh Parivar violence in Orissa, by the mainstream media reveals the bad character of the Indian press. After the very first day of violence… Times of India didn’t find it worthy enough to mention it in the front page! After 26th of August, the Times reader can hardly find news from Orissa, unless he dives into the inner pages. Times of India has written an editorial demanding to put an end to violence against Christians in Orissa. From the day enxt, the newspaper runs as if it had complete its duty and has better things to do!

“Look at the effort the Times News Network takes to endorse the VHP argument that Lakshminanda Saraswati was kileld not by the Maoists but by the Christian missionaries (heading: Maoists didn’t kill VHP leader—The Times of India, 31st August). On the other hand, the Orissa violence made a clear appearance in other newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, and Hindustan Times. They have given extensive coverage to the pight of hundreds of Christians, who were forced to run. Why is it that the Sangh parivar violence is never dealt with in the same intensity as ‘Islamic Terror’ is treated?

“The media always uses double standards to measure terrorism. The word ‘terrorism’ is never used when a story on Sangh violence is told, no matter how large scale the violence is. The violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar in Gujarat was defined only as “expression of communalism” and the same is the case with what happens in Orissa at present. At this moment we ask you as to why the ‘Sangh terror’ on all the minorities including the Muslims, Dalits and Christians is a rarely noticed idea?”

Also read: My conspiracy theory is better than yours

Handle with care when the cat is out of the bag

16 September 2008

Forest and police personnel give a standout demonstration on how to hold down a leopard on the loose in Mysore.

The full-grown cat, which appeared on the Chamundi Hill road on Tuesday morning, attacking and injuring five persons including international equesterian Arun Mariba Shetty, later died at the Mysore zoo, allegedly due to the mishandling of the animal after it was “rescued”.

Star of Mysore reports that the leopard terrorised and entertained hundreds of onlookers for over four-and-a-half hours. But is this all the equipment, expertise and technology that “trained” personnel have at their disposal when faced with an emergency?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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