Archive for January, 2011

The Class Monitor and the High Ranking Bully

31 January 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Once upon a time there was a Class Monitor. He had been appointed Class Monitor as the school teachers thought he was honest, sincere and hard-working.

His duties were to see that the chalk pieces and dusters were readily available in the class.  He was also supposed to wipe the black board clean and keep the classroom tidy. He was to be a role model for the other students in the class.

To help the Class Monitor in his work, the school had assigned some students to work with him. From time to time he would go to the office clerk to replenish the stocks.

In the beginning the Class Monitor was honest, sincere and hardworking. But after some time, he started taking his job lightly. He procured more chalk pieces than required from the school store and started distributing the extra pieces to his friends and family.

Since he was paying less and less attention in class and studying less and less at home, the Class Monitor donated some red-colored chalk pieces to temples hoping God would make him pass the exams and complete the term.

He was also not keeping the class tidy any more, and began distributing dusters of 2″x3″ and 2″x4″ size, mostly to his family members, brothers and sister. He also started distributing mops of 9″x9″  and 12″x12″ which were basically given to swab the classroom.

Soon, other boys in the school as well as the office clerk noticed that dusters and mops were missing, but since he was the Class Monitor, nobody dared complain against him.

Into this class, in the middle of the term, came a High Ranking Bully. The High Ranking Bully was related to the school governess. Since he had the support of the governess, the High Ranking Bully, started troubling the CM.

He started picking up fights with the Class Monitor on each and every issue. Some students whom he befriended informed the High Ranking Bully about the pilferage of chalk pieces, dusters and mops.

He started openly challenging the authority of the CM in the class. The Class Monitor took on the High Ranking Bully and they had several skirmishes rolling over each other in the classroom itself just before the teachers came to the classroom.

Even the teachers were afraid of the High Ranking Bully as the governess was very powerful. They were all afraid of her.

The High Ranking Bully complained to the office clerk about the missing dusters as well as chalks periodically given to the Class Monitor’s custody. When confronted, the Class Monitor justified his action saying all previous Class Monitors had done the same and he had not done anything different.

Amidst all this fight, the class started stinking as it was ages since the classroom was swept and washed. Cobwebs appeared in the corners. Teachers had to endure the stench that emanated from the classroom.

The Class Monitor’s only objective now was to somehow complete the term. The High Ranking Bully however was determined to have him dismissed bringing all his influence for the fight which looked like going to the finish.

There was, thus a stalemate.

Finally, the class mustered enough strength of its own. They had had enough of the Class Monitor and The High Ranking Bully. They decided their class was more important than both of them.

One day, they came with brooms, washing powder and water. They cleaned the class room thoroughly, removed the cobwebs and it was sparkling clean again. Finally, with their new broom they swept both the Class Monitor and the High Ranking Bully out of the classroom.

In a clean well-swept classroom, without the trouble- makers, the lessons now could start again.

The sweat of the brow in the art of the possible

30 January 2011

Precariously seated, an artist gives the finishing touches to a giant portrait at the Chitra Santhe at  the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat on Kumara Krupa Road, in Bangalore on Sunday.

Or is he?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

How did Dharwad become ground zero of music?

30 January 2011

Kumar Gandharva, Basavaraj Rajguru, Puttaraj Gawai, Mallikarjuna Mansur, Gangubai Hanagal, Bhimsen Joshi, Venkatesh Kumar….

The roster of titans from within a hundred-mile radius of Dharwad is long and illustrious. But how and why did the north Karnataka town become the ground zero of shastriya sangeet, the confluence of classical Hindustani and Carnatic music? Is it the mannina guna? Is it the guru-shishya tradition?

The Bangalore-based historian Ramachandra Guha offers a view in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“It was part of the Bombay presidency, and thus subject to influences from those two great musical centres, Pune and Mumbai. Even closer were the towns of Kolhapur and Miraj, where some famous (Muslim) teachers of music had settled, at the invitation of princes who were patrons of culture. Since Dharwad falls broadly in the region known as ‘South’ India, perhaps these vocalists also drew to some extent on the Carnatic style of music. We do know for certain that they were deeply influenced by folk traditions and by medieval saints. Both Bhimsen and Mallikarjun liked to sing songs composed by Purandaradasa, whereas Kumar Gandharva reinterpreted Kabir with great feeling and sensitivity for a 20th-century audience.”

Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express

Read the article in Kannada at Praja Vani: Jagathige serida sangeetha lokada dheemantaru

Also read: Where the soil, air and peda help the vocal chords

From Dharwad, India’s best shehnai player today, S. Balesh

Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets a Padma for what?

29 January 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Unlike the Padma awards last year which had the media doing cartwheels over the inclusion of the controversial New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal for the Padma Bhushan, the 2011 roll of honour has barely created any bubbles in the champagne glasses.

The silence of even a committed partypooper like P. Sainath might make it seem as if the scam and scandal-tainted Manmohan Singh government has finally got something right. But has it?

Au contraire, we present item No.7 on the list of the 13 awardees chosen for the nation’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.

No. 7: Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Discipline: public affairs.

Stranger things have happened in India id est Bharat, of course, but it’s strange that the inclusion of a serving bureaucrat who is the serving deputy chairman of the planning commission should go uncommented upon in the business press that is currently lying in the lap of neo-liberal luxury in Davos.

Question #1: Is it a good idea for a serving babu to be elevated to the exalted status of a Padma Vibhushan?

A diligent user of Wikipedia will be able to see if pen-pushers have been similarly provided a “service lift” before sadda Montek, but that is not our beef with the career-bureaucrat”s selection. It is more primal. It’s like WTF is his contribution to humankind to deserve the Padma Vibhushan?

WTF, as in What’s The Funda, yaar.

Generally but not always, the preferred method of picking up a Padma Vibhushan is to carefully pick up a Padma Sri first and then even more carefully pick up a Padma Bhushan.

Take Azim Premji. The Wipro boss, who has provided employment to a few thousand people, got a Padma Bhushan in 2005 and had to wait till 2011 for get his Padma Vibhushan. Or take the actor Akkineni Nageshwara Rao (ANR), who has provided pleasure to a few million people, who went through the long route.

But our brilliant babu gets fast-tracked to Padma Vibhushan just like that—sans a Padma Sri, sans a Padma Bhushan—in fact his name preceding Premji’s, who’s ninth on the list? WTF.

WTF, as in Who’s The Fu Manchu, yaar.

Question #2: Are Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s qualifications so immense, his achievements so mammoth, and his contributions to his countrymen and women so extraordinary that he deserves nothing but the second best award the nation can give straightaway?

Even a cursory glance at Montek’s Wikipedia page tells you that there is nothing particularly out-of-this-world in the man.

Words and letters like DPS, Bishop Cotton’s, St. Stephen’s, Oxford, BA, MA, MPhil are littered all over. He apparently picked up one half of his strange accent as the youngest “division chief” in the much-abhorred World Bank; and the other half as a director in the even more abhorred international monetary fund (IMF).

But that’s typically the trajectory of most high-achieving climbers—creepers as some call them—and for that we decorate him with a Padma Vibhushan?

WTF, as in Wisconsin Tourism Federation, yaar.

Question #3: Is Montek Singh Ahluwalia the only officer among the 5,159 IAS officers in the country doing yeoman service in the year of the lord 2011?

However, it is the timing of Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s choice, given his record past and present, that is most baffling.

Montek’s role in the Enron scandal in fixing sky-high anti-consumer electricity charges that ultimately turned the Dabhol Power Company belly-up is much documented to be retold again.

As the advocate Prashant Bhushan wrote in 2004:

Jyoti Basu called him a “World Bank man”…. As revenue secretary and then finance secretary through most of the 1990s, Ahluwalia spearheaded the neo-liberal economic policies in India, exactly according to the prescriptions of the WB/IMF. But his enthusiasm for privatisation went beyond the most basic financial prudence that even the World Bank observed.”

In suddenly awarding the Padma Vibhushan at this juncture it is as if Manmohan Singh—the father of LPG: liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation—is fobbing off his blue-eyed boy with a piece of chikki having failed in accommodating him in the reshuffled ministry a couple of weeks ago.

(Montek recently figured in the Niira Radia tapes, courtesy his kinsman N.K. Singh, as eyeing a ministerial portfolio.)

And then there is the ultimate irony of it all.

When food inflation and fuel inflation are screwing the aam admi, when Maoist violence is shining a light on planning in the tribal areas, when farmer suicides are going on unabated, when bureaucratic redtape has made India the worst business destination in Asia, the nation decides to decorate the deputy chairman of the planning commission with a Padma Vibhushan!

For what, pursuing growth at all costs?

Question #4: By rewarding a fellow-traveller, has Manmohan Singh sent the clearest signal yet that he may not be around as prime minister this time next year to do the needful?

History might not give a rat’s posterior to the Padma Vibhushan, but it will surely remember neo-liberal Montek’s neo-conservative George W. Bush moment last week.

Just like the US former president blamed the global food crisis in 2007 on hungry Indians eating more, Montek observed that “the high inflation number points towards people eating healthier food, better lifestyles“.

As the food expert, Devinder Sharma writes:

“Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been at the helm of India’s planning process for quite some time now. It is during his tenure as the deputy chairman of the planning commission that India has been pushed deeper and deeper into the quagmire of poverty. With the largest population of hungry in the world, the Global Hunger Index 2010 has placed India in the pit.

“I wasn’t therefore shocked when I read Ahluwalia blame the hungry for the rise in food inflation. From someone who literally lives in the ivory tower of the Yojana Bhawan, anything can be expected. But what, of course, surprised me was the audacity with which he blamed the poor and hungry in the rural countryside for the rising inflation.”

And for this Marie Antoinette-esque moment, we decorate the deputy chairman of the planning commission with a Padma Vibhushan? WTF.

WTF, as in Who The Fuck is Alice, yaar.

Question #5: By goofing up with Sant Singh Chatwal one year and Montek Singh Ahluwalia the next, surely something is rotten in the Singh Parivar?

Of course, similar questions can be asked about some of the other business choices on the 2011 list: like, is there some rule that everybody on the Infosys board should get a Padma honour (as evidenced by the choice of “Kris Gopalakrishnan, for what?) Or, what really is ICICI bank chief Chanda Kochhar‘s stellar contribution?

It’s just that Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets our goat nicely, thank you.

Also read: A Padma Bhushan for K.V. Kamath?

A Padma Bhushan for the BGS swamiji?

Why Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt must decline Padma Sri

Three feet off the ground gives you a nanosecond

28 January 2011

If this were a cricket match, the commentators would at this very moment be going over and over “slow-mo” replays to see if there is a ray of light between the left foot and the ground to see if our headline is right. But since this is just a wrestling game at the Hampi Utsav on Friday, spectators will just accept it as being part of the fast action that a photographer was lucky to seize for the morning papers.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: A limb for a limb makes the whole world go click

This BJP man has every right to slap his thighs

A cradle of civilisation, at its peak or its nadir?

28 January 2011

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Our 62nd Republic Day dawned with the morning newspaper announcing—or more appropriately, screaming out—the news of the brutal lynching just a day before, of a sincere and committed public servant holding the high office of additional district collector in the not-so-distant Maharashtra.

As I picked up the paper which was lying on my porch, itself doubled up like a limp and lifeless corpse, and glanced at the headlines, the stark reality of what our country had come to hit me like a sledge hammer and a wave of disgust and outrage swept over me.

Our Republic Day, which shares its importance in equal measure with our Independence Day and which in fact surpasses it on a few counts, should have served as a proud annual reminder of how to govern ourselves better. We gave ourselves a Constitution that would uphold the rule of the law and dispense fair justice for every Indian.

Every Indian young or old, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, irrespective of his or her caste, creed, colour and social status, stands covered under its protection. It is a Constitution which has few equals today even among the most advanced countries many of which cannot even talk, let alone boast of a written Constitution.

Despite holding this sacrosanct commandment aloft to remind the world of our greatness, what are we reminded of, day in and day out, as we go about our daily lives?

Are we able to say proudly that we have all been abiding by all the provisions enshrined in it?

I am afraid not.

Yes, we have some of the best written laws that should do justice to our claim to being a great nation but are we doing justice to our Constitution by following it in letter and spirit?

I am afraid not.

The high and mighty amongst us have no accountability whatsoever and have nothing to fear. The law is a deterrent only to the handful of those who fear it while all the ones who thumb their noses at it can go about their evil deeds, undeterred.

It is a deterrent to the lowly office clerk or village accountant who surreptitiously holds his hand under the table for transferring a title deed from a dead farmer to his son but it does not deter the neta who collects suitcases full of money to transfer thousands of acres of land illegally to land sharks.

Today, by our own willingness to be sucked into it, we are helplessly trapped in a whirlpool of mafias. There is a land mafia, a loan mafia, a coal mafia, an oil mafia and a job mafia to name just a few of the scores of organised murky activities that thrive unhindered, eating away at the innards of our prosperity and respectability.

Our leaders who are suppo-sed to set an example of honesty are the best examples of the highest kind of dishonesty.

They live perpetually on the payroll of the kings of crime and depend so heavily on the huge sums of money doled out by them to win elections on false promises. In turn they promise to twist the neck of our legal system to make it look the other way while their mentors rule the roost.

We, the educated citizens who consider ourselves enlightened enough to know what is good and what is bad, cast our votes blindfolded in favour of candidates guided not by a sense of fairness but only by considerations of caste and community. And, when the election results come we hold newspapers in our hands and bemoan what our country is coming to because of how the poor, illiterate masses vote under the influence of money and cheap liquor.

Have we stopped to ponder what is happening to the social fabric of our country by our abject disregard for our Constitution? This only garment of respectability which we have been wearing is now virtually ripped to shreds, almost laying bare in its entirety our savage nakedness to the eyes of the entire world.

The ease with which the officer in Maharashtra was doused with petrol and set aflame on the roadside in broad daylight with dozens of onlookers simply watching the macabre act helplessly, speaks of two chilling things.

# One, it screams out aloud that our complex administrative machinery has buckled under the brute force of the Frankenstein that we have ourselves created by our ever increasing tolerance and acceptance of corruption as a necessary and convenient evil.

# Second, when you consider the inaction with which the mute bystanders chose to just stand and watch, it tells us in hushed whispers that with the law crippled by a total lack of honesty and commitment, the safest thing to do in any dangerous situation, if it does not concern you directly, is to mind your own business.

I wonder why the helpless man, who certainly must have been familiar with the ways of the underworld, did not think of first summoning the help of the forces at his command before venturing to question what some of its kingpins were doing.

We call ourselves civilised and announce to the rest of the world that we were the ones who first rocked the cradle of civilisation. We also claim to be riding on the wave of a cultural and economic revolution right now. But it is significant to note here that every wave has a nadir and a peak.

I am tempted to ask at which one of these two points on this wave do we Indians stand today?

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

At the quincentenary amid the rocks, a beauty

27 January 2011

In the 500th year of the ascension of Krishnadevaraya to the throne of the Vijayanagar empire, the dancer-actor Shobana (left) performs at the Hampi Utsav, in Hampi on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: 400th year of Dasara and we can’t even remember?

Has the middle-class deserted Manmohan Singh?

27 January 2011

Manmohan Singh was always the darling of the middle-class. He was educated, honest, and had risen to the top on his own steam—plus Manmohanomics had put money in their pockets. Clean Mr Singh was seen to be beyond all the muck that the “system” was seeped in.

Post the 2G, CWG and Adarsh housing scams in UPA-II, this umbilical chord bond between Manmohan and the middle-class has broken, writes Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr in DNA:

“In the beginning the middle class saw Singh as an honest man who had nothing to do with the political quagmire surrounding him. From 1991 to 1996, it was P.V. Narasimha Rao who was the villain of all the things that went wrong….

“Even during his first term as prime minister, Singh was spared the criticism. The sharpest criticism of the main opposition party, the BJP, was that he was weak and ineffective and not his own man.

“By the end of 2010, the scandals and corruption that overwhelmed the UPA-II, and friends of Singh were not willing to give him the privilege of being a non-political prime minister anymore. In an abrupt turnaround, they are now pinning the blame on the man for pervasive corruption.

“There are two reasons for this. For the first time, the middle class is feeling the pain of market economy in recession. It is bitter and angry and in an irrational manner thinks the PM is somehow responsible for its economic anxieties arising out of the 2008 market meltdown.

“Corruption comes in handy to nail Singh at last. They are not willing to accept that an honest man cannot do much to fight the corruption around him on his own. They are now convinced that he had the power to prevent corruption and remove the persons responsible for it, without realising that then he would be bringing the roof down upon himself and his party, if he does so.”

Cartoon: courtesy Thomas Anton

Read the full article: The middle-class turns away from the PM

Also read: Why our silly middle-class loves Narendra Modi

An epitaph to the literate, educated middle-class

Do you really have to shout that you love India?

26 January 2011

Also read: Why Jan 26 is more important than Aug 15

This day, that age the mission got a statement

Padma Bhushan for namma T.J.S. George

25 January 2011

churumuri.com is delighted to announce that a friend, philosopher, guide and well-wisher—Thayil Jacob Sony George better known to the world as T.J.S. George—has been decorated with the nation’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan.

Founder-editor of the now-defunct Asiaweek magazine and editorial advisor to The New Indian Express, Mr George is a genuine wordsmith, authoring several books including dictionaires, biographies and a critically acclaimed volume on M.S. Subbulakshmi.

To Mr George, we proudly say: “Well done, young man.”

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Photograph: T.J.S. George after he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Press Club of Bangalore on 31 December 2010 (Karnataka Photo News)

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Also read: Padma Awards: Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

The T.J.S. George blog

Narayana Murthy and the Netaji Bose fixation

25 January 2011

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: Cutting across all ideological colours, many of us seem to enjoy playing an occasional game of counterfactual fantasy.

It’s called, “If only we had the right leader!

Socialists, for example, like to fantasise on how India would have turned out had Jayaprakash Narayan been Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s choice, first to assist him in creating a new India and thereafter to succeed him as the undisputed leader of India.

What inspires such fantasising is not only JP’s impeccable moral core but also his leadership for nearly two decades of the socialist faction within the Indian National Congress, which enabled him to build a stronger left-centre alliance by bringing in stalwarts such as Ram Manohar Lohia and Acharya Narendra Dev into a governing coalition.

Admittedly, JP, Lohia and Narendra Dev were Nehru’s ideological cohorts rather than any of his cabinet colleagues. At the heart of this fantasy is also the fondest hope that such a move would have eliminated the need for Indira Gandhi to have entered into politics.

Many to the right of the socialists fantasise how India could have overcome many of our security and development related issues, if only Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had led India instead of Nehru after India attained independence in 1947.

To these, Subhash Chandra Bose would have been even better.

I am a professional student of history and yet, many a times, I do not understand this never-ending ‘man-crush’ on Subhash Chandra Bose.

On Sunday, Bose’s 114th birthday, our beloved Infosys chief mentor, N.R. Narayana Murthy, delivering the annual Netaji oration “If only Netaji had participated in post-independence nation building” in Calcutta, suggested that Netaji Bose could have taken ‘India past China’.

The Economic Times quotes Murthy as saying the following:

# “I believe India would have been a powerful exporter much before China if only Netaji had a frontseat in our policy making along with (Jawaharlal) Nehru… India would have seized the opportunity the world offered and would have become the second most powerful economy in the world…

# “Netaji was one of the most courageous leaders in India. Netaji was a real bold Indian leader who could have stood up to anyone… courage is one attribute which is more important in leadership than any other quality…

# “India would have embraced modern methods of scientific agriculture and made us food surplus year on year. India would have embraced industrialisation better and become more export oriented than relying on import substitution which has led to all kinds of problems.”

# “He would have continued and perhaps would have accelerated our efforts to control population through fair and transparent method.”

There’s no denying that the muscular, aggressive centre-right nationalism of Netaji Bose will always be appealing to some. Bose also famously differed with Gandhi throughout the 1930s, and that too makes him an attractive character for the Gandhi–haters amongst us.

His prison break, and the subsequent travels all over the world in search of allies and arms to fight against British imperialism is an absolutely romantic story, although one could say there is nothing romantic about joining hands with Nazis and Fascists, even if it is to liberate one’s homeland.

Still, I don’t get the love for Bose.

Narayana Murthy seems to believe that the courage displayed by Netaji Bose is an indicator of leadership qualities, and more importantly, the kind of public policy he would have advocated.

How could we surmise, as Murthy does, that had Netaji been part of the post-independent leadership, India would have benefited “in areas like economic progress, population control and adopting modern agricultural methods”?

Here is the danger in the kind of lazy thinking Murthy seems to be indulging in: that we reduce all the great problems faced by humanity—be it poverty and hunger, sickness and general well being, inequality and oppression—to the absence of the right kind of leadership.

Our corporate titans, in India and in the west, are often guilty of exaggerating the role of leadership. All that is required is the right, aggressive, problem-solving leader and humanity would be better off!

Our politicians too seek to cash in on the Netaji. Karnataka’s beleaguered chief minister, B.S.Yediyurappa found time to promise a one crore rupee grant so that a book on the Netaji could be written and distributed to the school children of Karnataka.

Now, this is something which the historian in me finds worthy of backing. Only if I were to get the contract to write and publish the book. And why not? I am a credentialed historian and very, very eager to serve my State.

Photograph: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on the cover of Time magazine in 1938

Also read: Narayana Murthy to revive Swatantra Party?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is it all over for socialism?

The sad truth is Netaji Bose would be 109 years old today

More demcoratic India gets, less the Congress does

The stunning moral collapse of BJP in Karnataka

24 January 2011

The hi-decibel war-of-swear-words between the governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bharadwaj, and the chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, over the issue of the former’s go-ahead for the latter’s prosecution on corruption charges, has played out on expected lines. (So far.)

Lost in the thickets of ideology, party affiliation, and mutual name-calling and finger-wagging, is the life-source of a functioning democracy: political morality, both as a virtue to practise and as an ideal to pursue.

Dinesh Amin Mattu, associate editor of the Kannada daily Praja Vani, makes a much-required intervention in today’s paper on how the BJP has squandered the high moral ground. Translated from the original Kannada by Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, and reproduced here in full with the permission of the publishers.

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By DINESH AMIN MATTU

Hansraj Bharadwaj, the governor of Karnataka, may have committed a hundred-and-one sins in his prior political life. Every time the Indira Gandhi family was in trouble, the ever-loyal Bharadwaj may have dutifully trodded on a path, legitimate and illegitimate, to save his masters.

After coming to the State, he may not have missed any opportunity to criticise the BJP government. His frequent loose talk may also not have been appropriate for the high office of governor. Despite all this, can we conclude that all the decisions taken by him are ‘tainted’?

This, indeed, is the claim of the chief Minister, B.S.Yediyurappa, and the BJP leaders. Their constant refrain is that the “governor is a ‘Congress Agent’ and therefore his decisions are not to be honoured.”

How the ruling party has arrived at the ‘Congress Agent’ charge, we do not know. But if Bharadwaj becomes a ‘Congress Agent’ simply because he was a member of the Congress party, then are all the governors who were appointed by the BJP-led NDA during its six-year regime ‘BJP Agents’?

Wasn’t Bharadwaj appointed to the governorship because he has all the qualifications that the Constitution stipulates? If there have been any errors committed on that front, surely the BJP leaders could have brought them to the attention of the President. But no one seems to have done that.

Political parties raise objections about governors only when they are in the opposition. When in power, they do not hesitate to use the same office for political benefit.

The Sarkaria commission has made detailed recommendations on the eligibility and appointment procedures for governors. Why didn’t Arun Jaitley, who lectures now on the office of the governor, implement these recommendations when he was the Union law minister?

In independent India, disputes concerning the office of governor, painting them as  them as villains, have emerged largely in three situations. First, while deciding on who has the majority after an election. Second, while a political party seeks to prove its majority during a ‘no-confidence’ motion. Third, when a government isn’t allegedly functioning as per the Constitution.

All these three contexts have given birth to several political crises, which have found their way to the courts. The main reason for this is the lack clarity in the Constitution itself with respect to the role of the governor during the above mentioned situations.

Article 164 of the Constitution states that the (chief) ‘minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the governor’. According to Article 356, the governor may dismiss a government whose functioning is unconstitutional. In shot, the governor will have to take these decisions using his discretion.

Generally whenever discretionary power is used, individual interests are the determining factors and since the political party at the Centre will take a decision ultimately, these decisions lead to political disputes. However, whenever it has appeared as if the governor’s decisions have violated the constitutional framework, then the Supreme Court has intervened and provided relief.

However, the present political crisis in Karnataka hasn’t come about because of any the three political situations outlined above.

Using the right to information (RTI) Act, two lawyers have collected evidence on the corruption charges against the chief minister. They have presented that evidence to the governor and sought permission to prosecute him as per the the provisions of the prevention of corruption Act, 1988.

In cases such as this, if the governor can verify the truthfulness of the evidence, within the limits of the powers of his office, and if he is convinced that there is some truth to the charges, then he may allow for the prosecution of the chief minister. This power is given to the governor by the Constitution and Bharadwaj has used it.

Therefore, the governor cannot be charged with either the misuse of his powers or of breaking the law.

Yes, the governor could have rejected the plea of the two lawyers. But the Constitution does not require the governor to reject such an appeal nor does it say that the governor does not have the power to approve the appeal to prosecute. Therefore, it is clear that the governor has functioned within the framework of the Constitution.

If he has violated the law, then there is the Supreme Court to question his conduct. Why do we need all these allegations, abuse, protests and the bandh?

There are other reasons for the governor to justify his decision. This isn’t the first time there are allegations against the chief minister. The Lok Ayukta and the Padmaraj commission, which has been appointed by the government itself, have already been inquiring into several of these allegations.

Even the State Cabinet resolution, which demanded that the governor not permit the filing of a criminal case against the chief minister, cites these inquiries. If there was no truth in any of these allegations, why would the Lok Ayukta initiate an inquiry? Why would even the State government appoint a commission to inquire into these allegations?

Yediyurappa makes two allegations in order to justify himself: that the governor is behaving like an agent of the opposition parties, and that the opposition parties too have committed similar transgressions when they were in power.

In one sense, Yediyurappa is right. He truly hasn’t done what his predecessors haven’t done beforer. But how will the corruption of opponents justify one’s own corruption? Yediyurappa, who occupies a responsible office such as the chief ministership, should clarify which court will accept that argument. He doesn’t seem to realize this allegation could be used against him as well.

If the previous governments had been corrupt and had escaped being prosecuted, then wouldn’t the Opposition parties be responsible for that? What will Yediyurappa’s response be if he is asked about his own dereliction of duty as the leader of the opposition party in the legislative assemby?

BJP leaders also ask why a third inquiry when two institutions (Lok Ayukta and the Padmaraj Commission) are already seized of the matter. But isn’t this something that the BJP government itself started? Didn’t the BJP government think it was improper when it appointed the Padmaraj commission to investigate those cases which were being looked into by the Lok Ayukta without even bringing it to his notice?

Chief Minister Yediyurappa is truly in a bind now. The noose of three different inquiries has enveloped him. There aren’t too many choices to retain power. He may survive for a while through protests, bandhs and allegations against the governor. But he will not complete his term by resorting to these strategies.

The situation is getting out of hand.

Political games may have no rules but within the parliamentary democratic system, the game will be played within the framework of the Constitution and there, one will have to abide by the rules. If not then, one will have to leave the field.

Unfortunately Yediyurappa has himself created such as situation.

Yediyurappa may try to retain his office by claiming that he is innocent until proven guilty. Legally, a chief minister need not resign simply because of allegations or inquiries. However, how will BJP turn its back to the moral question since it has always been talking about a different kind of political idealism?

When confronted with similar accusations, the Congress party sent home many of its leaders, from Natwar Singh to Ashok Chavan. Now, how will the BJP face the Congress with this black mark?

The present-day BJP leaders have forgotten that their own leader L.K. Advani resigned as the leader of the opposition leader because letters resembling his name appeared in a Jainhawala case diary.

What a stunning moral collapse/ decline of the Bharatiya Janata Party!

Photographs: (top) BJP leaders led by L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Venkaiah Naidu emerging out of Rashtrapati Bhavan after petitioning the President of India, Pratibha Patil, on the conduct of governor, H.R. Bharadwaj, in New Delhi on Monday (Karnataka Information department photo); author photograph, courtesy Praja Vani.

Also read: How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Getaway of the louts in the gateway to the South

‘BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP people’

Why Karnataka politics has reached this sad state

BHIMSEN JOSHI: A LEGEND IN HIS LIFETIME

24 January 2011

churumuri.com records with deep regret the demise of Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi in Poona this morning. The Gadag-born Bharat Ratna was 90 years old and had been ailing for some time.

Also read: Balamuralikrishna, Bhimsen Joshi & ‘amritam

When Bhimsen Joshi said, ‘akka, haadi torsala‘?

The Bharat Ratna adorns a real gem from Gadag

When the soil, air and the peda aid the vocal chords

In the darkness, a ray of light at 19:12:30 hours

23 January 2011

First they said the trial run would begin on Monday, 24 January 2011. Then they said it wouldn’t. But Namma Metro slithered silently along Mahatma Gandhi road, well ahead of schedule on Sunday, 23 January 2011 (top), after blue, white and red-helmeted technicians had attended to some repair work on the track at Ulsoor.

For the record, the top picture was shot at 30 seconds past 7.12 pm.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

***

The Namma Metro photo portfolio:

The biggest day in the history of Bangalore?

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

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

Why Yediyurappa is on a strong wicket (for now)

23 January 2011

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: A  protracted legal battle, especially over the issue of the discretionary powers enjoyed by the governor, appears likely to be the most important fallout of the spat between H.R. Bharadwaj and B.S. Yediyurappa, over the sanction of prosecution of the chief minister.

Of  secondary importance is the impact of the governor’s action on the political equations in the State in general, and the propriety of the CM continuing in office despite the go-ahead for prosecution in particular.

From all available indications, Yediyurappa is unlikely to oblige his detractors and prefers going down fighting rather than throwing in the towel. As a matter of fact, he finds himself in an advantageous position, much to the chagrin of those who have planned and executed this move.

***

The discretionary powers enjoyed by the governor is a grey area, which still needs to be fine tuned through judicial interpretation, like Article 356 of the Constitution (on imposing President’s rule) was done by the Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai case.

Under the present frame of things, the governor enjoys two kinds of discretionary powers, namely the one given by the Constitution under Article 163, and the others given under the relevant statutes including section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (for sanctioning of prosecution).

While the former has been clearly defined, the latter has some areas of doubt on the question of whether the discretionary power enjoyed by the governor is individual, or whether he is bound by the advice of the council of ministers.

***

There have been three important rulings of the apex court in this connection: a 1974 judgment in the case of dismissal of two judicial officers of the Punjab government; a 1982 case of a special leave petition (SLP) filed in connection with the prosecution of then Maharashtra chief minister A.R. Antulay; and a 2004 case of prosecution of two ministers of the Madhya Pradesh government.

What stands out in the three judicial pronouncements is that the governor has to necessarily act on the advice of the council of ministers.

The question of the governor exercising individual discretion comes only in the rarest of rare cases and in cases involving the choice of the chief minister or the dismissal of  a government which refuses to resign after losing majority and the dissolution of the house.

Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who were members of the seven-judge bench, had something more to add while concurring with the other judges:

“The President, like the King, has not merely been constitutionally romanticised but actually has been given a pervasive and persuasive role. While he plays such a role, he is not a rival centre of power in any sense and must abide by and act on the advice tendered by his ministers except in narrow territory, which is sometimes slippery…[and]  should avoid getting involved in politics.”

In the case of Antulay, a two-member SC bench led by Justice Chinnappa Reddy noted that the discretionary powers exercised by the governor (in sanctioning the prosecution of the CM) arose out of the concession made at the high court by the attorney-general, who had appeared for the respondents.

“The governor, while determining whether sanction should be granted or not, as a matter of propriety, necessarily acted on his own discretion and not on the advice of the council of ministers,” said the bench, and expressed its satisfaction that concession given by the attorney-general was to advance the cause of justice. But it made amply clear that this applied to this particular case only.

***

As for the sanction of prosecution of the Madhya Pradesh ministers, the Supreme Court upheld the governor’s decision in view of the bias, inherent or manifest, in the cabinet decision.

It is this 2004 judgment on which the Karnataka governor has relied while giving permission for the prosecution of the B.S. Yediyurappa.

But there is an essential difference between the  Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka situations. In Madhya Pradesh, the matter went to the governor after the cabinet had rejected the permission. And the governor had the benefit of the Lok Ayukta report on the charges made against the two ministers to act upon.

But in Karnataka, the lawyer’s petition seeking the sanction went straight to the governor, and the governor conceded to the request even when the matter was pending investigation with the Lok Ayukta and the judicial commission especially appointed for the purpose.

The Karnataka episode has thrown up another new problem: what validity should the discretion exercised carry when the governor’s action is perceived as biased/ prejudiced/ or one sided?

The  BJP has a long list to prove its charge of bias and its spokesmen, including the chief minister, have been harping on this aspect. This may also be put up for judicial scrutiny.

***

As far as the impact of the current imbroglio on political equations in Karnataka, the answer is simple. Nothing worthwhile is expected to happen. No doubt Yediyurappa and the BJP are terribly embarrassed. But Yediyurappa is a person who will not easily give up office and so won’t his party.

However, it must be said that The problems faced by the BJP are its own creation. It has needlessly provoked the governor.

The BJP should have been careful in its dealings the moment a longtime Congress loyalist like Bharadwaj, who is known to have no scruples in serving party interests in whatever capacity he is holding, was sent as governor.

But it did not so and is now paying the price for its indiscretion and lack of sophistication in dealing with the governor. The relations between the governor and the government have never been on even keel at any time and both have stoked the fire of mutual animosity and acrimony and find themselves caught in a cleft stick.

The governor, in the name of exercising caution, has cornered them.

***

Going by the names figuring in the complaint, on the basis of which the sanction to prosecute Yediyurappa was given by the governor, it is clear that it is his family members rather than party functionaries or dissidents, who have landed him in trouble.

This was the point which the BJP leader in charge of the State, Arun Jaitley, had reportedly made to upbraid Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra at the height of its last crisis to save the CM’s chair two months ago. The remarks by the BJP president Nitin Gadkari that the actions of Yediyurappa “may be immoral and not illegal” have only added spice to the same.

But with all this, the BJP finds itself in a politically advantageous position. This is because the denouement smacks of  political bias. The governor has acted unilaterally in acting on the allegations hurled at the CM repeatedly by the opposition JDS and kowtowed to by the Congress, without giving a hearing to the concerned.

Nothing under the circumstances prevents Yediyurappa from launching a political campaign to proclaim that it is all a pre-planned conspiracy to unseat him. He may stomp round Karnataka narrating the  sob story of his continued persecution by his detractors, who are envious of his success and want to undo the mandate given by the people, in the same manner he had when H.D. Kumaraswamy refused to hand over the reins as had been agreed upon.

This has a bright chance of success for two things. Firstly, the corruption has ceased to be an issue influencing the poll, barring the solitary exception of Rajiv Gandhi losing the 1989 general elections in the wake of the campaign against the Bofors payoffs.

Secondly the BJP’s image remains high in the eyes of the people, as has been proved in all the elections for the different fora held ever since BJP came to power in Karnataka more than two years ago. The latest in the series has been its success in the panchayat elections.

The performance of the BJP, which was practically a non-starter in the realm of panchayats, has been much better than its rivals, who have been left far behind, despite a vigorous political campaign.

Moreover, in general parlance, the sanction by the governor to launch the prosecution, hardly means anything.  It merely presages the starting point of a legal battle and has so many phases to be covered, for which the party is getting ready. The first step has been taken with a complaint already filed before the Lok Ayukta court.

Yediyurappa is not obliged to resign merely because the governor has sanctioned his prosecution. He is the company of his peers like L.K. Advani, who continued in office despite a chargesheet filed in an Uttar Pradesh court in connection with the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Yediyurappa may have a long legal fight on his hands to clear himself of the charges made but none of this warrants his resignation.

Knowing his nature he is not the one to give up the office that easily. He may refuse to resign and may dare the governor to dismiss him if it comes to that. This would surely enable him to take his fight to the people. In this, he apparently has the full backing of the party at the national level.

BJP has made an  opening gambit of taking the issue to the people by calling for a bandh. Efforts are underway to mount pressure for the withdrawal of the governor, which are doomed to fail  going by the manner in which the Congress is backing the Governor.

What happens to the common man in the process is not difficult to guess.

(Mathihalli Madan Mohan (in picture, top) is a former special correspondent of The Hindu)

Photograph: Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose‘s birthday celebrations, in Bangalore on Sunday (Karnataka Photo News)

A naataka mandali for the theatre of the absurd

23 January 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I bumped into yesteryear’s Ace Dramatist (AD) at the Ranga Shankara last night.

AD is an actor, playwright and producer who has seen better days. He even the played the role of a thief—kalla known as chor to Hindi audiences—in Gubbi Veeranna’s classic Sadaarame.

As we ordered coffee in the canteen I asked him how theatre was faring these days.

“Our company could survive talkie cinema, cricket, television, even the internet, but now we are being wiped out by another drama company from our own State.”

AD looked down and out.

“You now face extinction from one of your own? Et tu brute!” I sympathised.

AD continued: “You may say so, Ramanna. Ours is a small group of just 8 to 10 artistes. So we do multiple roles in a play, we squeeze ourselves in a small car and go around playing to small audiences in obscure corners of the State. It is hard life but we were eking out a living somehow. But with the entry of KaraNaama,  nobody will call us to stage plays anymore.”

KaraNaama? What is it? A new drama company?”

“Yes. KaraNaaMa is a short form of Karnataka Naataka Mandali. It’s a government company specialising in ‘theatre of the absurd’.”

“What do they do?”

“They do what their name says, naama haakodu, on the gullible public! They also stage plays.”

“How big is this troupe?”

KaraNaama has 224 members. They have a loudSpeaker and a speedGovernor, making the total 226.”

“This is the age of liberalisation, you must learn to face competition from market forces, kanaiah.”

Ayyo, Ramanna, KaraNaama is a huge company with bottomless resources. They have artistes for any role: drunkard, debaucher, broker, agent, killer. If they fall short of cash, they can create fictitious companies and make banks give them crores of rupees. They can play the role of politicians on a padayatra and dance on the street wearing goggles. They can play devout, religous roles. They can play incurable lovers.”

“Really?”

Some can even cry at the drop of a hand kerchief. Cauvery and Kabini are always ready to start streaming down their cheeks at a moment’s notice. Even Master Hirannaiah says he is nothing compared to these pros.”

“This is a big compliment. How do they travel?”

“They move around in A/C Volvo buses which their sponsors have donated for the cause of theatrics in the State.  Every now and then they go and stay in exotic resorts for days together and depending on the situation, kidnap their own members, threaten them and sometimes even auction themselves.”

“Don’t they fight when they travel? After all, 224 is a big number?”

“Yes, they do. Some of them even tear their shirts on stage. That’s where the loudSpeaker comes into operation. Through the loudSpeaker comes the voice repeating itself hoarse: ‘I say, keep quiet!’ or ‘Dayamaadi,dayamaadi, koothkoli’.

“What about the speedGovernor?”

Avankathe ne bere. The speedGovernor makes sure the bus stays within the prescribed speed limit but sometimes when the bus exceeds the speed limit, passengers and public hear words such as ‘Ulta chhor Kotwal ko daante!’ from the microphone attached to the speedGovernor.”

“Amazing.”

“The problem is, the troupe members are unable to see who is the Chor and who is the Kotwal. I understand the speedGovernor is gradually getting defective and needs either an overhaul or some tuning.”

“Ha, ha! Where has KaraNaama staged their plays so far?”

“To a wide variety of audiences actually. The bootleggers association of bewdaas. The illegal gold diggers’ association of Bellary. The benaami land holders’ association. When the attention flags, they manage to get the TV stations to simultaneously stage their plays”

“Which are their most famous plays?”

“They have reworked Hiranniah’s Lanchavatara. They have done an English play called The Last Resort. They have a Telugu bilingual called Reddygaaru-Cheddygaaru. They have a medico-criminal play called Nursoo-Purseoo.”

“With so many artistes don’t they fight among themselves.”

“Fight? They call each other loafers, liars, landgrabbers, they come to exchanging blows, they kidnap each other, they stand on their seats and tear their shirts etc. But when money is offered in crores they hug each other and declare their undying loyalty. Even the experts at NIMHANS can’t explain their behaviour.”

“That explains everything. Do the artistes have any personal ambition?”

“It seems they all aspire to become MLAs one day.”

“What about the loudSpeaker and the speedGovernor?”

“They are disposables. As the Speaker gets old  and cranky, they may sell it off and get a new one; when the speedGovernor loses control and goes crazy, her Boss will throw it and replace the same with a new one,” replied AD.

File photograph: Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa after inaugurating a forest camp project at Sakrebylu in Shimoga district in July 2010 (Karnataka Photo News)

And how a famous head looks after the ‘2G scam’

22 January 2011

After using a cartoon to prove what a caricature he has made of the State (with help from governor H.R. Bharadwaj), chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa strides down the stairs, with a Star News reporter in tow, after addressing the media at his official residence, Krishna, in Bangalore on Saturday.

The 2G scam in Karnataka?

“Good Governance,” of course.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

How a famous bus station looks without the buses

22 January 2011

The Kempe Gowda bus station— the late R. Gundu Rao‘s most famous contribution to the skyline of Bangalore as chief minister—wears a deserted look on Saturday, following the bandh called by the BJP to protest the sanction of prosecution of the incumbent, B.S. Yediyurappa.

And, apropos of nothing, three random Facebook comments, courtesy a TV personality, a film maker and a journalist:

The TV personality: “This is the second time in two years that the BJP has called for a Karnataka bandh. Who will be made responsible for all the stone pelting, arson and the losses?”

The film maker: “BJP is still not used to being in power. It thinks and behaves more like an opposition party than a ruling party. How ridiculous for a government that is supposed to take care of its citizens, to declare a bandh? Who is supposed to take care of us? The custodians of law are becoming its breakers?”

The journalist: “Political parties continue with their acts to trouble the people. The BJP brings the state to a standstill on an issue that is related to just two individuals.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A governor whose reputation precedes him

22 January 2011

Much like it is difficult for all the scams in theUPA-II regime to be mentioned without invoking the “personal integrity” of the prime minister Manmohan Singh, it seems it is difficult to view the sanction of permission for the prosecution of the Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa on “grave charges of corruption” without invoking the dubious history of the governor, H.R. Bharadwaj.

***

Deccan Herald says the governor, H.R. Bharadwaj, has exceeded constitutional boundaries:

“As a constitutional authority, he has every right to guide the administration, offer counsel and even pull up the government where it goes wrong. Yes, the Yediyurappa government has committed many wrongs in the 32 months that it has been in power, and as the constitutional head of the state, the governor was duty bound to ask questions and seek remedial actions. There are clearly defined constitutional boundaries and well-established conventions for the governor’s conduct.

“But Bhardwaj has adopted a crudely confrontationist approach, which was totally unwarranted. Where he was expected to exercise caution and discretion in his actions, he used his loud mouth to get himself into a tangle. If chief minister Yediyurappa and some of his colleagues have openly accused the governor of acting in a ‘partisan manner’ or like ‘an agent of the Congress party,’ Bhardwaj has nobody to blame but himself.”

The Hindu says the governor’s action is legally correct but politically coloured:

“It is one thing to turn the Raj Bhavan into a retreat for elderly or inconvenient politicians. It is quite another for the government at the Centre to use it as a political stage for undermining State governments run by rival parties. H.R. Bhardwaj has often looked more the part of an opposition leader than a constitutional head, with his politically-loaded barbs against the Yediyurappa government.

“In the latest instance, he likened the ruling BJP making complaints against him to a ‘thief scolding the police’. In the context of his earlier statements against the State government, asking Yediyurappa to take action against two of his Ministers and publicly talking about their alleged profiteering from illegal mining operations, the ‘thief’ remark certainly raised serious doubts about his motives.”

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask H.R. Bharadwaj

When a governor gets it left, right and centre

From Murthy to Reddy, and from IT to ‘looty’

22 January 2011

On the eve of the 61st anniversary of the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India, the historian Ramachandra Guha bemoans the state of the State in the latest issue of Outlook*:

“At the close of the last century, my home town, Bangalore, was a showpiece for the virtues of liberalisation. Access to global markets had allowed the skilled workforce of the City to generate vast amounts of wealth, which in turn spawned a new wave of Indian philanthropy.

“At the beginning of the presen decade, my home State, Karnataka, has become a byword for the darker side of globalisation. The loot of minerals and their export to China has wreaked large-scale environmental damage and polluted the political system through the buying and selling of legislators.

“A State once represented to the world by N.R. Narayana Murthy was now being represented to itself by Janardhana Reddy…. Had Manmohan Singh not been so reluctant to act against his tainted ministrs, B.S. Yediyurappa would not so easily have ridden out press exposure of his corrruption and that of his cabinet colleagues.”

* Disclosures apply

Read the full article: A nation consumed by the State

Also read: ‘A heady confluence of crime, business & politics’

How China changed the face of Karnataka’s politics

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

ARAVIND ADIGA: A 21st century Adiga’s call to Kannadigas

Badsha, Sukri’s, Simha Silks, Tiffany’s & Logan

22 January 2011

A new TV commercial for Logan, the Renault car manufactured and marketed in association with Mahindra & Mahindra, is shot in Mysore. Built to address the ageold Indian question of mileage, the husband takes the wife from silk shop to silk shop in the City to show how efficient the car is.

Except that a keen-eyed Mysorean will notice that most of the establishments that Suresh Vishwanathan drives his wife around are in the K.R. Circle to Devaraj Urs Road stretch, which is like, no more than a mile.

Just.

Also read: Paper dosa, rava dosa, onion dosa, Mysore…

CHURUMURI POLL: Prosecute B.S. Yediyurappa?

21 January 2011

Karnataka’s disgraceful tamasha since the BJP came to power two years ago—a scandal and scam-tainted tragicomedy that has reduced a great and glorious State to a laughing stock in the eyes of the world—is seeing one more ridiculous twist following a spurt in the tu-tu-main-main between the governor and the chief minister.

At stake is the issue of the prosecution of the CM, B.S.Yediyurappa, and his man friday, the home minister no less, R. Ashok, on a petition made by a lawyers’ forum, chronicling the well-documented charges of corruption against the two. The State cabinet has adopted a resolution urging the governor not to give permission for prosecution, but H.R. Bharadwaj is, if nothing else, relentless in proving why he was sinecured to Bangalore.

However since asmita is the last refuge of pumped-up, linguistically challenged, pseudo-patriots—like you know who, Narendra Damodardas Modi —Yediyurappa has sought to turn the governor’s deployment of the well-known Hindi proverb ulta chor kotwal ko daantein” (the pot calling the kettle black) into a question of Kannadiga pride, claiming that the governor’s use of the word “chor” (thief) is an insult to the people of the State.

Unperturbed, Bharadwaj says he will give the go ahead for the chief minister’s prosecution, while the BJP plans to petition the President for the governor’s recall, besides holding dharnas all over the State.

Questions: Should the governor give his permission for the chief minister’s prosecution, or not? Is the State being harmed by the antics of Yediyurappa & Co more, or by Bharadwaj’s? Will the political cat of nine lives, Yediyurappa, survive this, too?

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask H.R. Bharadwaj

When a governor gets it left, right and centre

The timidity of the Ultimate Playsafe Alliance

20 January 2011

In November 2007, the US embassy in Delhi sent a cable to Washington, which was revealed later by Wikileaks. It said, among other things, “Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Proof in the new year comes in the form of the reshuffle of the Manmohan Singh team.

***

# Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph:  “The much-awaited cabinet shuffle turned out to be an uninspired and uninspiring exercise that has only served to reinforce — rather than end — the sense of confusion and drift gripping the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi-led UPA in their second term in power.”

# Editorial in The Indian Express: “Reshuffling a pack fools nobody…. The UPA might think that good optics are enough. They are not. And the truth is that a mere reshuft fle is not even good enough optics. The crisis the UPA faces requires not just reshuffling, but discards.”

# Editorial in The Times of India:  “UPA-II has been buffeted by corruption scandals and spiralling food inflation. And it’s been under sustained attack from an opposition that’s smelt blood. A cabinet rejig was just what it needed to signal changed course and renewed combativeness. Manmohan Singh required it especially, not just as a reminder of his authority as prime minister but because the buck for governance shortfall stops at his door. As things turned out, the reshuffle was a damp squib, signifying no real change to the status quo. Barring some exceptions, it focussed neither on projecting result-oriented ministers nor the youth factor.”

# Editorial in The Economic Times: “The lack of ambition in the reshuffle is borne out by the failure to drop anyone from the Council of ministers. All that we see is some wagging of the prime ministerial finger here, a mild rap on the knuckle there and a more liberal use of that mortification called making someone stand in a corner.”

# Editorial in DNA: “It can be argued that cabinet reshuffle is not meant to send out political signals about which way the ideological wind is blowing and that it is just a reassigning of work. That is not convincing enough.”

# Vinod Sharma in the Hindustan Times: “One had expected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to renovate his ministerial council with fresh talent and out-of-the-box thinking. To that extent, he comes across as having rearranged furniture without completely discarding rickety chairs and faded upholstery. The makeover is partial, even half-hearted with ministers shifted from one portfolio to another.”

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today; E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

The biggest day ever in the history of Bangalore?

19 January 2011

How the nuts, bolts, rivets, cables, moats, etc, will look like under the wheels when Namma Metro slides into and slips out of the Ulsoor station for its trial run from Monday, January 24, 2011.

Is the launch of the Metro the most momentous event in the history of Bangalore? If not, which one? The opening of the Vidhana Soudha?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

The Namma Metro photo portfolio

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

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

Any wonder private sector hates reservations?

19 January 2011

The mention of “social inclusion” invokes a yawn in many people but this infographic accompanying a story on the first-ever caste census of corporate India’s human resources, in The Indian Express, shows why it should not.

The proportion of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe employees in the private sector, it shows,  does not reflect the SC/ST population in many of India’s most industrialised States, according to a CII survey.

Karnataka, where SC/STs comprise 22.8 per cent of the State’s population, is able to give a job to only nine per cent of them, leaving a gap of 13.9 per cent. The gap is lowest in Tamil Nadu: 2.1%. Andhra Pradesh has a gap of 5.7% and Kerala, has more SC/STs in the private sector than their share in the population and therefore a -3.26% gap.

Infographic: courtesy The Indian Express

Also read: Should there be reservations in private sector?

Are yesterday’s Brahmins today’s Dalits?

Just 4% of population but 7 Brahmins in Indian XI?


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