Archive for November, 2010

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

11 November 2010

 

As D-day approaches for the launch of metro rail services in Bangalore, a worker takes a breather as the track awaits finishing touches at Anil Kumble circle on M.G. Road on Tuesday, while at the other end of the pitch, bogies are organised at Byappanahalli metro base on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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The Namma Metro photo portfolio

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

CHURUMURI POLL: “Most corrupt government?”

10 November 2010

After pretending for weeks that nothing was amiss, the Congress has shown the door to Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and the chairman of the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, who was the secretary of the party’s parliamentary wing.

The spin doctors say by acting the two, the party has raised the probity bar, but clearly, the immediate provocation was the winter session of Parliament and the fear of getting cornered. Plus, the fear of losing the support of the urban middle-class that has been numbed by the scale, frequency and size of the scams.

But the CWG and Adarsh housing society swindles are not the only scams that the Congress-led UPA has had to face. There is the overhang of 2G spectrum allocation involving the DMK’s A. Raja, a ripoff said to be in the tune of Rs 170,000 crore. Plus, there is the rice scam and the DD scam and fill-your-scam-here.

The BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who has himself been embroiled in the Adarsh allotment scandal, has said this is the most corrupt government in the history of India, an irony considering that it is headed by Manmohan Singh, whose personal integrity is repeatedly hammered home by all and sundry.

Questions: Is this India’s most corrupt government? Is the Congress attempting a clean-up, or is this a cover-up to prevent the muck from touching the high and mighty? Is corruption any longer an election issue, or is it just a middle-class fixation? Does anybody believe that all these scams take place without the awareness of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi? Or is Manmohan willingly allowing his name to be misused?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

CHURUMURI POLL: How corrupt are you?

Everyone has his own Gandhi to thank for

9 November 2010

Barack Obama‘s three-day visit sent the Indian media into a paroxysm of irrational exuberance. Pity the President of the United States was already in the air when some acid pens got working.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Graphic: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta

‘Indian TV in grip of a small, incestuous clique’

8 November 2010

The Booker Prize winning author-turned-activist Arundhati Roy in an interview with The Times of India Crest edition:

Q: Does the Indian media offer sufficient space for dissenting voices?

A: Much of the mainstream media has been captured by a small clique of columnists, editors and TV anchors, an incestuous little coterie with shows on each others’ channels and interviews in each others’ newspapers. Even the guests on the TV shows are the same old people.

Day in and day out, they chatter away, saying things that comfort each other even when they appear to be shouting at one another. It’s amusing and grim at the same time. Sometimes, it’s like watching an interminable cocktail party. But all is not lost. There are good editors, good journalists, people who are very comfortable with what’s going on.”

Also read: What Kerala journos do at Arundhati Roy presser

What Obama missed by not coming to Bangalore

7 November 2010

PRASHANT KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: Looking at the wide-eyed, over-the-top coverage of US president Barack Obama‘s 100% sanitised weekend break to Bombay and Delhi,  you can only wonder what he and Michelle are missing by not coming to namma Bengalooru.

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1) By not coming to Bangalore and meeting B.S. Yediyurappa, Barackappa, whose Democratic party has suffered a drubbing, has missed picking up a lesson (or 11) in political management.

2) By not coming to Bangalore and meeting the Reddy brothersulu, brother Barack has lost a manch powerful chance to know that all trade barriers can be easily surmounted by simply shifting the borders.

3) By not coming to Bangalore and meeting the geniushris behind ‘Operation Lotus‘, Barackshri will go back without the wisdom that that what he really needs to shore himself up is ‘Operation POTUS ‘.

4) By not coming to Bangalore, Barackgaaru won’t know that the Rs 900 crore per day bill he is running up during his visit, would have easily fetched the loyalty of a couple of dozen MLAs for three months.

5) By not coming to Bangalore and filling up at Deve Gowda petrol bunk, Barackgowdru won’t that there others like his pal, Rahm Emmanuel, who break into expletives at the break of dawn.

6) By not coming to Bangalore, Barackopal will understand that the government of Karnataka gives away Rajyotsava awards even more whimsically than the Alfred Nobel foundation did two years ago.

7) By not coming to Bangalore and being interviewed by Ranganath Bharadwaj, Barackwaj won’t know that the biggest existential question on 24×7 Kannada news television is, “yaake antha” (why).

8) By not coming to Bangalore, Rockline Barack won’t know that Jackie, Tsunami, Y2K, Excuse Me, Psycho et al are actually titles of films in the language of the locals.

9) By not coming to Bangalore, change agent Barackaiah won’t know that BMTC conductors have always insisted on “change you believe in” before you board the bus.

10) By not coming to Bangalore, Barackanna has lost a golden chance to know that our darshinis serve better bisi bele bath than Bukhara. And that there is a resort near Yelahanka called The White House.

11) By not coming to Bangalore while worrying about jobs in Buffalo being “Bangalored”, namma Baracku won’t know that the jobs are actually being “Bengalurued”, thanks to U.R. Anantha Murthy.

12) And by not coming to Bangalore, Michelamma won’t know that for all our outsourcing prowess, pakkada mane Parvathamma still cannot find a maid when she wants one.

What other local specialities do you think Mr and Mrs O are missing by not coming?

What a tangled web I weave if only you can see

7 November 2010

On a misty Saturday morning in Dharwad, a spider allows a lensman to capture all its intricate designs for posterity.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

What O-ji can learn from K-ji, C-ji and Rahul G

6 November 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Come Deepavali, most youngsters wait for the usual goodies: a new set of clothes, a box full of pataakis, and sweets, not necessarily in that order. But the essence is the same; everybody eagerly waits for presents in some form or the other.

This is also true to some extent when you have a relative coming from some other town to stay with you. As the aunt unpacks her suitcase after a hot cup of coffee, eager and expectant eyes hover around each and every move of hers as to when she will take out a packet of Bombay halwa or Dharwad peda.

So is the case with countries too.

When you have a visitor, who is also the most powerful person in the world, coming to visit your place, naturally there is some expectation about what he is going to unpack after he lands. So, when Barack Obama slips into Punjabi kurta and Michelle tucks into a saree, let’s see what goodies will pop on his teleprompter.

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WHAT INDIA EXPECTS FROM OBAMA

1. To stay clearly away from making any references to the ‘K’ word, not ‘Kama Sutra’ but Kashmir.

2. To make repeated references to terrorism, not in smooth general terms such as Al Qaeda etc, but in specific terms such as 26 /11, LeT , Jaish e Mohammed, etc, and handing over perpetrators of Mumbai massacre.

3. To get permanent membership to India on the United Nations security council.

4. Not to make it difficult to Indian companies to get visa for their employees.

5. To recognize and praise Rahul Gandhi as the future leader of India and not keep on praising Manmohan Singh as an extraordinary leader of our times.

6. To specifically reduce giving aid and arms to Pakistan which, all three contries know very well, will be used against India.

WHAT PAKISTAN EXPECTS FROM OBAMA

Although our honoured guest is not visiting Pakistan, as a rich guest he can still give gifts to our neighbour in so many ways and they both know that.

1. Raise Kashmir issue and nudge India to solve the same quickly. Or else the Af-Pak policy is doomed.

2. Quoting interlocutor Dileep Padgaonkar and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, they will want to be involved in dialogue with India.

3. Tell India to reduce their army presence in Kashmir valley and stop killing innocent civilians.

4. Tell India to solve the pending river water issues.

5. Tell India not to harass Pakistan cricketers implicated in match-fixing scandals through Sharad Pawar’s ICC.

6. Tell India and in particular home minister P. Chidambaram not to send so many dossiers every second day on 26 /11 as it has become difficult to find storage space for the same.

WHAT OBAMA WILL FINALLY DO

1. Praise India as one of the most important emerging nations in the world and since the time was not ‘ripe’ right now, he will ask India to continue its present great role and wait till time becomes ‘ripe’ .This is  for India’s permanent seat o the UN security council.

2. Will make a hair-rising, goose pimple-generating speech in Parliament quoting Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. The 500+ MPs and their aunts will shake his right arm for an hour and almost yank it off. Hairs that dramatically rose during his speech will come back to the original position after sometime.

3. Will ask India to take over the leadership of Asia along with China; will praise India’s role in fighting terrorism. Same evening, the State department will praise Pakistan as ‘its strongest ally’ in its fight against global terrorism and announce another $3 billion in aid to a “valued partner”.

4. Will dance with school children of Mehouli and urge children from Mehouli and Minnesota to carry the torch of freedom to all corners of globe. Yes, they can.

5. Will call upon Bangalore software companies to share their knowledge with their counterparts in US by keeping their staff in Bangalore itself and not send them to US.

6. Will sing songs with adivasis in Connaught circus who have been rounded up outside Delhi and invite them to Alabama, US.

7. Will invite Suresh Kalmadi and Ashok Chavan, the emerging stars of the ruling party, for a White House luncheon and share their experiences for which they achieved their greatness.

In his eagerness to please the host, horror of horrors, he will forget to praise the emerging future leader which will create some kind of ‘cold war’ climate with the hosts.

Having realized this, he will send a message to the young leader before touchdown at Jakarta airport asking him to visit US as his personal guest and share his experiences of traveling in unreserved trains in India with full security around him.

Cartoon: courtesy Baloo‘s cartoon blog

Lights, action, camera & a very happy Deepavali

4 November 2010

From all of us, to all of you, a very happy Deepavali. May the year ahead bring plenty of peace, happiness, health, light, laughter, and just a little bit more prosperity than the year gone by.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

One question I’m dying to ask Sonia Gandhi—III

3 November 2010

Hundreds of crores of rupees siphoned off in the Commonwealth Games…. Hundreds of crores gobbled up in the allocation of 2G spectrum space…. Hundreds of crores played around at will in the allotment of flats in a building meant for the martyrs of the Kargil war.

And all that the gigantic scams evoke from the president of the Congress is thundering, deafening, ear-splitting silence, with not a single member of the all India Congress committee (AICC) referring to the allegations of financial irregularities that have occurred under the watch of the Congress-led UPA government.

Congress leaders are taking cover under the fact that probes have been launched and are ongoing in the scams that have grabbed public attention. But surely, a call for probity can’t be that difficult to muster especially when you can be sure that keeping silent is not going to produce the opposite result?

Qual è l’unica domanda che vorrei porre Sonia Gandhi per il suo silenzio che circonda le truffe?

Tenete le vostre domande a breve, civile e pieno di crore.

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Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Sonia Gandhi—I

One question I’m dying to ask Sonia Gandhi—II

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—I

The only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

One question I’m dying to ask Suresh Kalmadi

Why you didn’t see this picture in today’s papers

2 November 2010

 

Massaging the media by tickling the underbelly of its movers and meisters is the cheapest trick in a politician’s handbook. And never does it get more obvious (and more obscene) than when Karnataka Rajyotsava is round the corner, and it’s time to honour the good and the great of journalism for their “contribution” to the State.

The year of the lord 2010 was no exception, with representatives from every news channel and newspaper finding—if not cajoling, pressuring, even threatening—their way into the list of 182, including one worthy who has spent less than three years on the Kannada nela, and would be hard put to name one restaurant in Bangalore besides quote-unquote ^^Koshy‘s^^.

Could this, therefore, be one reason why these telling pictures of a tired chief minister, who had to greet, garland and honour the giants of the nadu at the rate of one person every 45 seconds at the Rajyotsava fete, did not make it to any newspaper this morning?

Or, could it just be plain courtesy, if not patriotism; a desire to not show a beleaguered and battered CM in negative light on a day as luminous as November 1?

Or, is only poor H.D. Deve Gowda destined to be shown yawning or sleeping?

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Below is a letter shot off by the editor of Kannada Prabha, Shivasubramanya K., in late October, to colleagues and friends expressing his disinclination to receive the Rajyotsava honour, while firmly asserting, apropos of nothing, that he did not “apply” for it.

After the B.S. Yediyurappa government acceded to his “request” by not including his name in the final list, Shivasubramanya put the matter on record with a front-page box announcement, stating that the only reason he had made such a request was because the task of building the newspaper was still “incomplete”.

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Composite photographs: Karnataka Photo News

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The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

1) Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

2) One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

3) Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

4) Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

5) Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

6) Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

7) Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

8) Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

9) Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

10) How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

11) Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

12) Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

13) Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

14) Behind every successful cyclist, there are a few men

15) Life’s a cycle. What goes up must come down.

16) A leg up for the one is a leg up for the other

17) The emperor’s new clothes has a loose button

18) Why does this poor, selfless soldier cry so much?

19) The great Indian rope trick adds inches to a giant

20) Even Alan Donald would quiver at such a glare

21) One sanna step for man, one giant leap for anna

22) A party of loafers, thieves, liars and land-grabbers 

23) Three years in power = three rings, or is it four?

24) Say hello to the sarsanghchalak of the ‘ling parivar’

India’s most secular religion has to be Corruption

1 November 2010

In a nation where some “scam” or “gate” tickles the sensibilities of its citizens for a few hours every few days, the kerfuffle over the Adarsh housing society in south Bombay is remarkable for many reasons.

To start with, there is the utter brazenness of it all: a project in the name of the “martyrs” of the Kargil war falling into the hands of the inglourious basterds. 

A 6-storey building magically becoming 31 storeys tall in the shadow of the city and state governments. Confusion over who owns the land after the skyscraper comes up in a cantonment area. And then, the beautiful names of the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena and their near and dear ones, and their benamis.

What is also remarkable is the sight of an utterly shameless chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, “offering” his resignation not to the governor of the State, at whose pleasure he enjoys office constitutionally, but to the president of his party, Sonia Gandhi. And the employment of the standard operating procedure of the Congress to delay, delay, delay so that the people forget.

Above all, what is remarkable is the number of “scams” and “gates” that occur under the benign gaze of prime minister Manmohan Singh, who, it seems, is completely ignorant or unconcerned about his own personal integrity being used by his party and allies like a smokescreen, as long as an EGoM can be constituted. 

And then, there are the illuminated assholes of the armed forces, from the army, navy and air force, who are not beyond selling the blood of their own colleagues and compatriots, using the tricolour of pumped-up patriotism as a figleaf.

***

M.J. Akbar writes in Deccan Herald:

“It is entirely appropriate that a nation whose motto is Satyameva Jayate should discover a metaphor for ravenous loot in a Mumbai building society called Adarsh. 

“Greed is the new religion and all are welcome to feed at the trough. Nothing else is sacrosanct; not the highest offices in public service: chief minister, army chief, navy admiral, or top bureaucrat through whom the file must pass.

“If there is a flat to be stolen in a housing society sanctioned for the welfare of war widows, then every single one of these crooks are ready to cheat the blood of Kargil martyrs.

Thomas Friedman did not know how many puns danced on the head of a simile when he called the world as flat and began his journey in India.

“There is no shame left. It is tempting to ask whether there is an India left when most of its ruling class has abandoned every principle in its composite, vulgar commitment to theft, but hopefully India is larger than its ruling class.”


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