Archive for February, 2012

How reformer Manmohan became a xenophobe

29 February 2012

Twenty years after he emerged in our lives as a practising politician, Manmohan Singh appears to be happily dismantling the very attributes that endeared him to the chattering classes—or allowing those around him to do so.

For one, as the 2G and CWG scams show, “Mr Clean” has wilfully turned his nose away from the stench of corruption asphyxiating his government, while blithely letting the attack dogs in his ministers to tear into independent institutions like the election commission and comptroller and auditor-general—and the media.

There is dark talk of the return of “estate tax” that is widely believed to have paved the way for the reforms that he unleashed in 1991, in this year’s budget. And now the original reformer who opened the nation’s doors to the world and taught us to trust “the other”, is talking of a “foreign hand” behind the protests at the Kudankulam nuclear power project.

The irony is too heavy to be lost: a government that is seen to have surrendered to the “foreign hand” behind the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, a government that is seen to be the chihuahua of global finance giants, is turning against a citizenry fearful of what reactors can do to their lives and livelihood, post Fukushima.

Behind all this is the dire message: Agree with me, agree with what we do.

Or else.

***

In the Indian Express, the commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes that the prime minister’s remarks show a diminishing space for dissent in our democracy.

“On the surface, Indian democracy has a cacophony of voices. But if you scratch the surface, dissent in India labours under an immense maze of threats and interdictions. What is disturbing about the prime minister’s remark is its construction of what dissent is about.

“The idea that anyone who disagrees with my views must be the carrier of someone else’s subversive agenda is, in some ways, deeply anti-democratic. It does away with the possibility of genuinely good faith disagreement. It denies equal respect to citizens because it absolves you from taking their ideas seriously.

“Once we have impugned the source, we don’t have to pay attention to the content of the claims. The necessity of democratic politics arises precisely because there is deep, good faith disagreement. Reducing disagreement to bad faith betrays a subconscious wish of doing away with democratic politics.

“This has serious consequences for dissent. Our actions and rhetoric are sounding increasingly like China’s. The state, when challenged, will often resort to all power at its disposal to pressure organisations and institutions. Make no mistake about it: seriously taking on the state is still an act of bravery in India….

“The prime minister unwittingly showed what a banana republic India can be. If a few crores here and there, given to NGOs which have no instruments of power other than their ability to mobilise, can bring this country to a standstill, then we are indeed in deep trouble.

“Banana republics are more paranoid about dissent than self-confident democracies.”

Illustration: courtesy Keshav/The Hindu

Read the full article: Do not disagree

CHURUMURI POLL: Too much democracy in India?

Is India moving towards becoming a dictatorship?

ARUNDHATI ROY:  A corporate Hindu state

CHURUMURI POLL: All over for Yediyurappa?

28 February 2012

The bottomline of the five headlines— “The high command had promised to reinstate me as CM in six months.” ” I won’t go to Delhi seeking CM’s chair.” “Untrustworthy people ditched BSY.” “BSY reinstatement chances bleak.” “Not many options before BSY.”—is that the BJP appears to have finally called the bluff on B.S. Yediyurappa.

Since his unceremonious ouster eight months ago, the former chief minister had, by turns, been sulking, simmering and scheming to return to the seat he once occupied but from which he was unceremoniously toppled under a haze of corruption charges involving the denotification and illegal mining scams.

Even the ignominy of a jail stint didn’t quell his ambitions, nor did it stop the Lingayat mutt heads—and the “leaders” seen with him—from making his return a caste issue.

So, what next for Yediyurappa? Will he stomach the insult and continue in the BJP? Will he bide his time till the elections? Will he split the BJP and join hands with Congress rebels to kickstart that outstanding party of clean politics, Sharad Pawar‘s NCP in the State? Does he still have some draw?

Or, is it all over for BSY bar the counting?

Also read: How much longer will BSY stay in BJP?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP dump BSY?

CHURUMURI POLL: Yediyurappa as CM again?

Public TV head declares assets on live television

27 February 2012

Even as a question mark hangs over the heads of many editors and journalists, H.R. Ranganath, the chairman and managing director of the newly launched Kannada news channel, Public TV, has declared his assets and liabilities on live television, with his tax consultant sitting alongside him and reading out the list.

Ranganath—former editor of the New Indian Express owned daily Kannada Prabha and the Rajeev Chandrasekhar owned news channel Suvarna News—says he provided the list of his assets and liabilities to his proprietors at his previous ports of call each year, but was only now putting it in the public domain.

Any piece of property over and above those listed by him can be auctioned and the proceeds used for public use, declares Ranganath.

The editor’s assets, as read out by his tax consultant of 15 years, Vijay Rajesh:

# A gift from his mother of four guntas of land in Arkalgud, Hassan

# 1991-92: Partnership in a plot of 13,980 square feet in Mysore

# 2002-03: A house constructed on a 30×40 site in Bangalore

# 2005: A Hyundai Accent car bought on loan

# 2009: A Honda Activa scooter

# 2011: A second-hand 1975 jeep bought last year

# 11,000 shares in Mindtree, 12 shares in Reliance Industries, 15 shares in Kairon

# 250 grams of gold belonging to his wife, 100 grams gifted at the time of marriage, the rest bought over the last 20 years.

Also readIncome, outgo, assets, liabilities, profit, loss

Aditya Nigam‘Editors and senior journalists must declare assets’

***

Is there room for another Kannada news channel?

This is your chief minister and here is the news

PM goes to Press Club without his media advisor!

24 February 2012

Yes, the clothes are white, the turban is blue, but this ain’t Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister’s lookalike Gurmeet Singh Sethi arrives at the press club of Bangalore (PCB) on Thursday, with faux special protection group (SPG) men in tow, to promote his film 498-A, The Wedding Gift—and promptly tucks into chicken masala. Fareeda Jalal plays Gursharan Kaur. The director is rumoured to be looking for someone to play Pankaj Pachauri.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Five questions for L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley

24 February 2012

His mouth already full, metaphorically speaking, former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa lunges for a plate of chakkuli and kodebale from the next table, at a meeting of leaders and legislators at his residence in Bangalore on Thursday.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Who exactly is ruling Karnataka right now?

Exhibit A: The Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) guarantees  employment in rural areas. Of the Rs 2,153 crore approved in the budget, districts in Karnataka have spent only Rs 1,265 crore—58% of the allocated funds—despite severe drought.

Exhibit B: Studies have shown 37% of children are underweight, about 28% are undernourished, and 5.5% of children die of hunger before they reach five years. Prevalence of malnutrition in Karnataka in Raichur and other districts has reached epic proportions.

Exhibit C: The process of naming a Lok Ayukta to replace Justice Santosh Hegde is still going on months after he remitted office, even  as minister after minister or official or other is caught every now and then with mind-boggling income totally unrelated to his / her income.

Exhibit D: The ‘blue babies’, the 3 MLAs  who were watching porn material while the legislative assembly session was on have already shamed the party, on top of all those caught in similar misdemeanours.

These are only few examples.

Despite all these major problems confronting the State and the ruling party, the only issue the BJP MLAs and BJP ministers seem to be interested in is: when will D.V. Sadananda Gowda pack up and go leaving the seat for B.S. Yediyurappa?

For this, dinner meetings spending lakhs of rupees are held,  the ex-CM dashes in and out of either Benares or Vaishnodevi, burning tax-payers’ money as if he is just taking a stroll from his bed-room to drawing room. The Veerashaiva swamijis, who are ready to jump into this any time, have become willing partners in this plot.

Confabulations are held in resort after resort, plans are afoot to unseat the CM by hook or crook.

Here are five key questions:

1) Why are sanctimonious BJP and RSS leaders tolerating such natak from its political actors in Karnataka, week after week, month after month?

2) Why is BJP president Nitin Gadkari putting up with such an audacious and brazen lust for power, giving room for suspicion?

3) Now there seems to be a plan to bring in Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat, to replace D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a vokkaliga, becasue Yediyurappa cannot become CM immediately. How can the BJP make such casteist moves so openly?

4) Why is the central BJP allowing the authority of present chief minister to be so openly eroded?After all they nominated him for the post after all sorts of discussions and he is the elected leader of the legislature party.

5) Why are leaders like the former future prime minister of India L.K. Advani and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley mum on the subject? Can they unseat a CM and replace him with another against whom cases are still pending, no matter how much he hankers for the post?

BJP will again become a laughing stock if they bring back Yediyurappa due to coercion, religious and caste politics.  The cases against him are still on and he has not been declared innocent. He is only out on bail.

Meanwhile, let the administration be damned in the State.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP win Karnataka again?

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Raichur, malnutrition deaths and BJP ‘governance’

Yella OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

Has RSS infiltrated into IT, media in Karnataka?

22 February 2012

Tehelka magazine has a cover story on Karnataka this week. With the cover reading “Hindutva Lab 2.0“, the story asks if Karnataka is becoming the new Gujarat, the second laboratory for the BJP and the larger sangh parivar, following the right-wing Hindu attacks on Muslims and Christians.

“A greater cause for concern for Karnataka’s liberals is the attempt to inject communal polarisation even in the cosmopolitan environs of Bengaluru, India’s IT hub. A casual visit to the Satyam and Infosys complexes makes for some disturbing observations.

Umesh Hegde (name changed to protect identity) talks about the infiltration of the Hindutva groups into the IT sector: ‘Initially, we were asked to come to the shakha to rejuvenate ourselves and learn yoga. Within a month, my colleagues and me were shown a map of Akhand Bharat, and told how Bharat needs to be cleansed of Muslims. And believe me they have managed to find sympathisers.’

“In five years, the number of RSS shakhas in Karnataka has gone up by 50 per cent, helped by public funds and facilities….

“The unfortunate part in the process of communalisation of Karnataka has been the concurrence of the media. Newspapers in Karnataka have encouraged the polarisation for pecuniary benefits. For example, the Mangalore-based daily Hosa Digantha has been accorded “state newspaper” status although its circulation does not meet the required criteria. Its editor, Chudamani Aiyyar, is an RSS activist.

“While Gujarat newspapers played up the supposed threat to Narendra Modi from Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists, Karnataka too witnessed such attempts. Rashid Malbari, an underworld figure and regarded a foil to Hindutva gangsters like Ravi Pujari (also from Karnataka), was put behind bars for allegedly plotting to assassinate Modi and senior RSS men in Karnataka.

“Local dailies played up the story just like they did in 2005 when Udayavani reported that madrassas were hoisting Pakistan flags. It had to issue a retraction when the police gave a clean chit to the madrassa. Other newspapers like Vijaya Karnataka too sedulously promote the idea of Muslims and Christians as “members of other religions.”

Read the full article: Hindutva Lab 2.0

GAURI LANKESH: ‘Karnataka as the Gujarat of South’

POLL: Should Kingfisher Airlines be shut?

20 February 2012

To no one’s surprise, Kingfisher Airlines has floated into yet another stormy spell of turbulence.

For the second time in four months, flights are being cancelled without “guests” being told in advance; employees haven’t been paid for months; the airline owes money to the oil companies and airports; the airline’s bank accounts have been frozen; there is no food on flights due to “technical reasons”; Yana Gupta isn’t exhorting us to tighten our seat belts because the in-flight entertainment systems are off, and…

And the king of good times, the pasha of profligacy—the honorary doctorate in “business administration” from South California University—is once again trying to hoodwink his friends in the government. No, not to “bail out” the airline, because as someone who believes in the free market, he is ostensibly against it. No, he just wants the government to tweak its civil aviation policy, which is short hand to bail out all the airlines which are similarly floundering.

Last time round, when “Dr” Vijay Mallya‘s airline was gasping for breath, the government had forced private sector banks to pick up a stake in Kingfisher at a premium—yes, at a premium—in the name of corporate debt restructuring (CDR), convincing sceptics that modern-day capitalism seems to have become about socialising losses and privatising profits, conflict of interest be damned.

Even so, the plight of the excellent but poorly managed airline struggling to stay afloat, even as rumours swirl around of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) being interested in it, prompt a simple question: should Vijay Mallya—he of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Formula One, the yachts, the calendars,  and of course the booze—be rescued? Or should Kingfisher be allowed to breathe its last, even if it has a domino effect on other airlines, thus endangering civil aviation in the country?

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

How namma Vijay floored Captain G.R. Gopinath

Even a crown jewel needs a nice coat of paint

20 February 2012

An artist gives final touches to the statue of Kuvempu near freedom park, in Bangalore on Sunday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

FREE: 5 easy ways to a happy, stress-free life

20 February 2012

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: By qualification I am not an expert in stress management. But as a physician I think I see stress and its results on people more often than what most people think. Day in and day out I encounter patients who come to me and complain straight away that they are too stressed up and need some prescription for it.

But for every such patient who knows what his or her problem is, I meet at least ten more who simply do not know that every one of their physical complaints are related to the abnormally high levels of stress they build up as they go about their daily lives.

This stress in disguise can be very detrimental to a healthy and comfortable life and is the cause of many psycho-somatic problems where an over-burdened mind begins to induce disorders like insomnia, hyperacidity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes in an otherwise healthy body.

***

From the days when I started practice soon after post-graduation, just about 25 years ago to the present day, I have been seeing and treating these stress related problems and I have found that their incidence is increasing by leaps and bounds every passing day.

That is because, from the days when we were cavemen and just hunters and gatherers to the present day where we have become hunters, gatherers, usurpers and accumulators, our life style has gone through a full circle of change.

Now even the most independent and affluent amongst us have just become bonded labourers who work ten times harder than necessary for a nonexistent boss to live just one life. Most of us till we reach the time to retire still continue to slog, trying to create more and more wealth which we will eventually be unable to use to make ourselves happy.

By the time you discover that you have made enough money to start spending it for your pleasure you discover that there is simply no time for you to do it in good health. So in the end you only end up making some doctor or hospital wealthier by it.

When you really come to think of it, we need not really work so hard and burn ourselves up in the process because what we really need to go through this life comfortably does not require so much effort.

I have seen hundreds of people around me who have made millions but who have ended up exiting this world as miserable paupers with their wealth intact and unused. If only they had worked a little less and had taken time off their slogging for a little leisure or to see the world around them they would have been happier and in better health although with a little lesser wealth.

Our obsession with building a cyber world of instant connectivity and communication too, without which we seem to be ill-equipped to survive, has certainly added much to our misery.

I know of many software professionals in metropolitan cities who after a hard day at the office come home tired and weary with a much harder time in the peak hour traffic. They come home not to put their feet up and relax with their loved ones but only to perforce open their laptops to be available online when their counterparts on the other side of the world wake up to interact with them professionally.

When the much-awaited weekend comes they find that they are either too tired to stir out of their homes or too deterred by the weekend rush at every tiny source of recreation.

Many cyber-professionals, as if in response to a conditioned reflex, simply rush to resorts with their families during holidays only to communicate with them in monosyllables without looking up from their laptops while they try to catch up with their work.

However much a person gets paid to work like this, it is all a very brief and pointless game.

It is no different from burning a candle at both ends to get more light but this way we only end up getting darkness twice as fast. Therefore, this game is certainly not worth the candle.

Very recently, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article on the net where a nurse who was in charge of looking after terminally ill patients had revealed what most of them expressed as to what they would have liked to do instead of what they did during their lifetimes.

What she says makes very revealing reading.

She says: “For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who were destined to die as they were suffering from incurable problems. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow up a lot when they are faced with the prospects of their own death. Each experienced a variety of emotions like denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient when questioned about any regrets he or she had or anything he or she would do differently, invariably came up with these five answers again and again.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not fulfilled even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. But the moment you lose your health, it is too late to do this. Health brings a freedom and opportunity very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from every male patient. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had then not been bread-winners. All of the men deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a me-diocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react sharply when you speak out your mind honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases you from this unhealthy relationship. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Often people would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.

It is common for anyone in a busy life-style to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It all co-mes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions as well as their physical lives.

Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their own selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful it is to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.”

But although very revealing, these last wishes and much belated flashes of wisdom usually do not make sense to most of us until we realise that it is almost time for us to go.

If only we remind ourselves that the whole purpose and happiness of this life lies not at the end of the journey but all along the road, we will all find a completely new meaning and purpose in living. This calls for a new and completely different way of looking at life from an altogether new perspective, perhaps with our feet up and our heads down !

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

Also read: Khushwant Singh‘s 11 secrets of a long, happy life

It’s not just birds of a feather that flock together

16 February 2012

While their unfeathered friends nestled in the so-called temple of democracy show a distinct distaste for decorum, a pigeon, a couple of mynas, and a couple of crows patiently line up to have a shower near the Vidhana Soudha, in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

This is your chief minister, and here is the news

12 February 2012

Karnataka chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda inaugurates the Kannada news channel, Public TV, in Bangalore on Sunday by reading a news item from a laptop computer. The channel is headed by H.R. Ranganath, the son of a southern railway employee in Mysore, who rose to be editor of Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Is there space for another Kannada news channel?

Why Karnataka nixed sex education proposal

12 February 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: According to a statement by an official of United Nations children’s emergency fund, in April 2011, the Karnataka government prudishly turned down a UNICEF proposal to impart sex education to school students in classrooms.

While attending a state level consultation on ‘Adolescent children and their issues’, a senior UNICEF official was quoted as saying:

“We cannot shy away from reality. Adolescents around the world are engaging themselves in sexual relationships. They risk getting infected with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, if they lack awareness. Moreover, girl children are at the risk of having unwanted pregnancies. In such a scenario, sex education should be mandatory.”

Maybe the Karnataka government were waiting for the right and experienced teachers to do the job.

Now that problem has been solved.

Three of D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s cabinet Ministers, the tech-savvy Lakshman Savadi, C.C. Patil and Krishna Palemar who were caught while watching a porn video on their mobile handsets while the legislative assembly session was going on and dismissed from Government, can be given the job.

They are eminently suitable to impart sex education and much more.

Now UNICEF should not have any complaints!

Also read: How the BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Why news of the porn scam did not reach Athani

The porn film the BJP ministers should have watched

What’s in Poo’s name? Try asking Dr Bum Ramesh

12 February 2012

External affairs minister S.M. Krishna may consider himself a tennis connoisseur, but the Kannada film industry already has a "Tennis" Krishna

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes: Many Indian kids, after they grow up, have trouble with long, tongue twisting names. Luckily we have nicknames to rescue us. But sometimes nicknames too become just as bad, especially when they have double meanings like say ‘Dicka uncle.’

Even shortening Indian names can some-times be dicey with Pooja lovingly becoming Poo.

Unfortunately, when it comes to nicknames, generally English names are used. And they are used to the point one is left wondering if it is really true. It is said that there is a couple named Happy and Gay! I guess they’ll be naming their kid ‘Glee.’ But by far, if you are a native of Mysore you will love the names adopted by some of our local “heroes” — people who put either their profession before their name or the name of an animal.

There is ‘Tiger’ Ramesh. I am waiting for a day to meet him so I can have the pleasure of being amused by introducing myself to him as, “Hi, I am ‘Panther’ Muthanna.” Wonder if he too will be amused and may be feel an immediate sense of feline bonding.

Then there is ‘Cat’ Balu, no not because he is ‘cool cat’ or light-footed, but apparently because he has green eyes.

Then there is the famous ‘Choori Loki’ (Dagger Lokesh). How he got this threatening name is an interesting story. When in college, all of us had heard of this guy. He supposedly was a rowdy and everyone was wary of him. After all, if he has ‘Choori’ as his first name, he must be a dangerous man. But years later we heard the origin of his name.

It seems Lokesh used to hang around with rowdy-type characters all the time but was never himself one. One day there was a clash between the boys he hung out with and another group. Lokesh was caught in the crossfire and one of the rowdies knifed him in his buttocks. He was rushed with a bleeding bum to the hospital.

Soon, he became the ‘butt’ of ‘buttock jokes’ and his friends named him ‘Choori Loki.’ And no one bothered to ask why he was named ‘Choori’, instead they simply assumed he was the perpetrator of pain and not the victim. Choori Loki too noticed the newfound respect that he commanded and kept mum about his story.

There are numerous such names from ‘Chirathe’ (leopard) Manju to ‘Kardi’ (bear) Balu. All nicknames created in their younger days have now become their unofficially-official names. In fact they believe their name helps increase their recall value.

Some of them are in politics and when their real names are published, they call the office the next day and request that their “business” name be used.

Even our Kannada film stars have interesting prefix to their names. There is the ‘Rebel Star’ Ambarish, ‘Golden Star’ Ganesh, ‘Challenging Star’ Darshan and ‘Power Star’ Puneeth Rajkumar. We love prefixes. Yes, indeed, you may have worked hard for Dr. prefix, but the above prefixes are a lot more “cooler” and unique.

In Mysore, it’s common for people to use a person’s profession as prefix to their name.

The popular example would be our “Snake” Shyam, the man who has been catching snakes in houses for free and doing Mysoreans a great service. His real name is Mirle Subbarao Balasubramanium! Call him this and he himself will not respond. But “Snake” Shyam, everyone knows and he willingly responds.

Another example is our former ex-Mayor Sandesh Swamy. His real name is Sithapura Satish. Satish became Sandesh Swamy as the Hotel Sandesh The Prince is owned by his family and Swamy is his nickname. In fact, his older brother, who is an MLC, is addressed popularly as Sandesh Nagaraj, his real name is Sithapur Nagaraj.

So may be some people may call me ‘Writer Muthanna.’ But that’s not too bad compared to a piles doctor — ‘Dr Bum Ramesh.’

To add to this, some people are given their physical attribute as prefix before their name such as ‘DhadiyaLokesh (Giant Lokesh) or ‘Kari’ Nagesh (Dark Nagesh). It may sound quite derogatory but it’s just a name created for recognisability.

Once they are recognised, they want luck to be an add-on. So, many politicians now have begun changing the spelling of their names to change their luck.

In Mysore, the first popular name change story was that of the Chamaraja Constituency MLA late Harsha Kumar Gowda. It is said that when he was initially just Harsha Kumar, he contested for MLA election twice and lost. Then he was advised to add ‘Gowda’ for luck. It worked and he won the third time.

More than numerology, may be the ‘Gowda’ add-on helped affirm his allegiance to a community and get him the votes because after the first term, this name change strategy never worked because another man with the ‘Gowda’ suffix came into the fray—H.SShankaralinge Gowda—who has won from Chamaraja constituency ever since.

Luckily nobody advised Harsha Kumar Gowda to add another ‘Gowda’ to his name making him double-Gowda.

The other famous name change was that of our District In-charge Minister who became S.A. Ramdas, he found it unlucky being just an A. Ramdas. Then our former Chief Minister became B.S. Yeddyurappa from B.S. Yediyurappa, our MP Vishwanath became Adagur H. Vishwanath from being just H. Vishwanath.

Well, how much does this work?

It’s going well for Ramdas, it’s going great for Vishwanath but what about Yeddy? Some numerologists may defend it saying that if not for the spelling change, Yeddyurappa would still be in jail. So we wonder if he should go for another spelling change to reclaim his CM chair or else he may just disappear into political oblivion as “Yeddyyarappa (Who’s Yeddy)?”

The same trend exists among ordinary citizens of India. May be numerology is a science. May be it is not. But while everyone is changing their names, while all our politicians are busy changing the spelling of their names to get ahead in life, has anyone thought of our motherland?

Ever since independence, we have had too much trouble; we have been “forever a developing” nation but never getting to be “developed” one. May be this streak of dosha (bad luck) can be ended with the name change or a spelling change. It’s surprising that while all governments are busy changing their States’ names, and our leaders changing their names for better forunes, no on has bothered about a name change or at least a spelling change for our nation.

May be if we change the spelling of India to Endia or Indiya, this nation’s fortunes could change.

What an idea, Sirji?

No… it’s just numerology.

(Vikram Muthanna is the managing editor of the evening daily Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

***

Also read: Why Snoop Doggy Dogg won’t play in Mysore

Coming: Nimmoppan experiments with untruths

Jinchaak: gaargeous like a baambshell

Coming soon: Mission Impossible III in Kannada

Boosa, kuule, woost, matash: a short dictionary

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP win Karnataka again?

11 February 2012

As if to show that India’s two biggest political parties are cut from the same tainted cloth, the Congress-led government at the Centre and the BJP  government in Karnataka have been slipping from scam to scam, crisis to crisis—and making a mockery of the people’s mandate—in a regular and nearly identical manner.

While the Manmohan Singh government’s scandal-marred second tenure, pockmarked with a brazen assault on free speech, is now part of political lore, the B.S. Yediyurappa-led (and now D.V. Sadananda Gowda led)  regime in the State has fared far worse with more than a dozen ministers under scrutiny for financial (and sexual) corruption.

The communal undertones of one regime is matched by the casteist undertones of the other. Both regimes survive from court order to court order. And both seem convinced that the wise voter is actually a silly fool, who doesn’t read, hear or watch the news; and that she will forgive and forget the excesses if she is thrown a few crumbs and a saree.

But there is one key difference. The BJP government’s conduct and governance in Karnataka makes nonsense of the party’s  sanctimonious posturing and fingerwagging about the Congress. Its always-vacuous claim of being a party with a difference, guided by high morals, is now a pathetic joke that cannot even be uttered in the presence of children.

The Congress’s big test will come in the UP and other state elections. But here’s the other question: will the BJP come to power in Karnataka if there is a snap election tomorrow? Or, like with the faction-ridden, leaderless BJP at the Centre, is the faction-ridden, leaderless Karnataka Congress in no position to exploit the pitiable state the BJP finds itself in?

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

10 February 2012

Cartoonists and headline writers are having a field day as BJP government in its so-called “Gateway to the South” turns a fine and civilised State into the butt of jokes across the nation. The number of disgraced ministers who have had to sadly wash their hands off the “development agenda” is now 12.

Six ministers charged of corruption: B.S. Yediyurappa, G. Janardhana Reddy, G. Karunakara Reddy, B. Sriramulu, Ramachandre Gowda, Katta Subramanya Naidu.

One minister charged of molestation of a friend’s wife: Hartaalu Halappa.

One minister of molestation of a nurse: M.P. Renukacharya.

One ex-minister in denotification scam: S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty.

Three ministers charged of watching porn: Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil, Krishna Palemar.

Cartoons: courtesy Rahul da Cunha/Amul, R. Prasad/ Mail Today, E.P. UnnyThe Indian ExpressS.V. Padmanabh/ Kannada Prabha

When Bangaloreans were sleeping last night…

9 February 2012

It looks all neat and clean from the outside when the trains start plying, but plenty goes into getting a City ready for the metro. On Tumkur road in Bangalore on Wednesday, workers on the Namma Metro project manfully toil with steel and pylons in the dark of the night.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete Metro photo portfolio

Why news of porn video didn’t reach Athani

9 February 2012

A battle royale has broken out between the two leading Kannada news channels over who broke the porn video scandal, involving ministers in the BJP’s “gateway to the south”, Karnataka.

Market leader TV9 ran a news item on its 9 pm primetime news show on Wednesday, complete with a visual of its head honcho, Mahendra Mishra. The news item contained an interview with its cameraman in the legislature who caught the ministers prying into their cellphones, and who then sent off an SMS to the reporter, Laxman Hoogar.

Not to be outdone, the Rajeev Chandrasekhar owned Suvarna News claimed it was the first with the story.

All evening it ran news of the scandal with mnemonics and a “super” shouting “Naave First” (we were first). Its news item had one of the errant ministers referring to a Suvarna News reporter by name, which the channel played in a loop as to validate its claim.

All this breast-beating comes a day ahead of the launch of another news channel, Public TV, to be edited by former Suvarna News head, H.R. Ranganath.

More importantly, The Times of India reports that one of the three ministers caught with his pants down, Laxman Savadi, ensured that visuals of his watching the porn visuals was blacked out in his constituency, Athani, by ordering that electricity be cut off.

No newspaper of any language reached the town as most bundles were booked and purchased by his supporters en route.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: One more claimant for 2G spectrum scam

Everybody loves (to claim credit for) an expose

Times Now. Times Now. Times Now. Times Now.

Porn picture BJP ministers should have watched

8 February 2012

On the day three self-appointed saviours of  “Bharatiyata” resigned in ignominy after being caught with their pants down in the temple of democracy, a spoonbill watches a pair of pelicans smooch in the midst of two little ones, at the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary near Mysore on Tuesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Look, who’s blasting the disgrace in Mangalore

How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

CHURUMURI POLL: Girls drinking beer not Hindu?

Giving Lord Rama a good name 24 x 7 x 365

How Karnataka is becoming the Gujarat of the south

Can these venomous buffoons spell Bhartiyata?

Why Medha Patkar declined the Basava Award

8 February 2012

Medha Patkar, the anti-dam crusader at the centre of the Narmada movement, has declined to accept the Basava award conferred on her by the government of Karnataka. Below is her statement as contained in press release issued by the national alliance of people’s movements.

***

“It would have been an honour to receive this [Basava] award in the name of revolutionary saint poet, philosopher Shri Basaveshwara of 12th century who promoted social change, reform and communal harmony.

“However, the collective opinion of the movements I am associated with suggests that Karnataka Government has not been able to deal with the mining scam and other scandals.

“The Lokayukta controversy is not yet over and there are disagreements with people’s movements on certain policies related to farmers, workers, unorganised sector workers, slum dwellers and government’s attempt at privatisation and corporatisation of scarce natural resources – land, water, forests and minerals.

“I, therefore, would like to state with humility my inability to accept the award which you may be free to give to any other deserving activist.”

***

The department of Kannada and culture had announced the Basava Puraskar 2010 to Medha Patkar by a government notification dated December 3, 2011. Award includes a citation and Rs. 10 lakh for contribution towards social change and promotion of the principles which Saint Basaveshwara championed.

Also read: The cons, cheats and frauds lording over Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Will the BJP dump B.S. Yediyurappa?

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

BJP apologises for its ‘natak’ in Karnataka? No.

7 February 2012

After over six months in office, the Karnataka chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda (second from left) finally—finally!—strikes a telegenic pose worthy of his predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa, at a yoga camp for legislators in Bangalore on Tuesday. Others in the front row include the chairman of the legislative council, D.H. Shankara Murthy, and the minister S.A. Ramdas.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The best B.S. Yediyurappa photos on Earth

Not every song can become a Kolaveri Ditty

6 February 2012

Yes, it’s catchy. Yes, it’s creative. Yes, it’s a hit.

But, sadly, it will never be Kolaveri Di.

Still, to ask the contrarian question, does the song Pyaar namdukke aagbutaithe from the comic hero Komal‘s upcoming film Govindaya Namaha that uses “Shivajinagar Kannada” underline the usual stereotype about Muslims in a funny but offensive sort of way?

Also read: When Kolaveri Di meet Sharad Pawar ji

A real viral is when Hitler and Mr Bean sneeze

They gave us Veena Malik, we give them Dhanush

And the most popular song of the year is…?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Manmohan Singh survive?

2 February 2012

In its second term in office, the UPA government of Manmohan Singh has been dealt several body blows that could have completely ennervated and incapacitated a lesser man. Scam after scam, scandal after scandal has hit the Congress-led UPA regime, but like in a C-grade Bollywood film, the protagonists have found the energy to wake up from every thundering blow administered by the courts and the constitutional bodies like the CAG, dust off the rubble and prepare to fight another day.

But could 2 February 2012 be slightly different?

In responding to pleas by Subramanian Swamy and Prashant Bhushan—cancelling 122 licences issued by the now disgraced telecom minister A. Raja; allowing the CVC to look at the functioning of the CBI and in giving a free hand to a lower trial court to adjudicate if home minister P. Chidambaram too should be made a party to the crime—the Supreme Court of India has virtually validated the Rs 173,000 crore 2G scam that had been described as a “zero-loss” scam by a fatcat lawyer in minister’s clothing.

And it indirectly validates the Anna Hazare campaign that has been floundering and looking for oxygen.

With the Uttar Pradesh elections around the corner, the SC verdict pulls the rug from under the feet of the Congress which has been going to town over Mayawati‘s corruption, even raiding her closest supporters. It also puts a big question mark over the future of the Manmohan Singh government, pending a judgment in the Chidambaram matter. With the budget session of Parliament looming and presidential elections around the corner, it also throws up interesting improbables.

Questions: Will the Manmohan Singh government survive? Or is it all over bar the counting? Or should the prime minister resign to protect what little credibility there is left to his once-clean image?

Also read: Will Manmohan Singh survive?

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan Singh, still ‘Mr Clean’—II?

Has the middle-class deserted Manmohan Singh?

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan Singh, still ‘Mr Clean’—I?

Can the paragon of virtue hear his conscience?


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