Archive for October, 2012

CHURUMURI POLL: Does Mukesh Ambani run India?

31 October 2012

Long years ago, when Doordarshan was the only TV option for the mango people, the weekly serial was the sole form of entertainment in the back of beyond. Each evening, thirsty masses waited with bated breath for what Hum Log and  Khandaan, Ados Pados and Jaane bhi do yaaro would throw up that week.

That done, the waiting would begin again.

In the age of 24×7 news television, editors and journalists appear to have outsourced one hour of each week to Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan to allow them to air their libel-laden soap opera.

One week, they show the wheeling-dealing of Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra; another week it is Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s son in-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya. One week, it is Salman Khurshid, another week it is Nitin Gadkari. One week, it is DLF, another week it is Reliance Industries.

And so it is, this Wednesday evening, when the producer-director duo behind India Against Corruption have merrily stated that it is RIL’s Mukesh Ambani, not Manmohan Singh, who is running the country. Using the cabinet reshuffle, in which the oil and petroleum minister S. Jaipal Reddy was shunted out to the lesser science and technology ministry, as the peg, the two have alleged:

# Reliance’s arm-twisting ways have caused a massive loss to the nation. Reliance has promised to deliver cheap gas for 17 years, but it has never delivered…

# Reliance has the contract to extract oil from KG Basin. Under an agreement of 2009 with the government, they are supposed to sell gas at $ 4.2 per mmBTU upto 31 March 2014. Midway now, RIL is demanding that the price be increased to $ 14.2 per mmBTU. Jaipal Reddy resisted that and he was thrown out…

# The then petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was replaced and Murli Deora was brought in to benefit RIL. Pranab Mukherjee gave undue benefit of Rs 8000 crore to RIL in 2007. Now, Jaipal Reddy has been ousted for objecting to raising RIL’s demand to raise gas prices.”

“The government is succumbing to the illegitimate demands of RIL. Even the PM was very sympathetic to RIL. And as a result, Reliance has gained more than Rs 1 lakh crore, that the country lost.”

Question: Are Kejriwal-Bhushan right? Do Mukesh Ambani and Reliance run the country?

Also read: Rajya Sabha TV tears into RIL-Network18-ETV deal

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

The Indian Express, Reliance & Shekhar Gupta

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, Prannoy Roy & NDTV

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

What should we do to this Japanese immigrant?

29 October 2012

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: There is an ongoing tussle between the forest department of Karnataka and wildlife enthusiasts on one side and the breeders, sellers and users on the other side over which side of the conservation fence the Japanese Quail stands.

While the former group says that this bird is protected under the Wildlife Act, the latter argue that it is not at all a native species, having been imported into the country and being bred purely as a table bird.

It is now becoming quite popular as a tasty treat in most restaurants across the country, thanks to the promotion of its breeding on a commercial scale in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It all started a few years ago when quail breeding was promoted in Kerala with the krishi vigyan kendra, Kannur, under the Kerala agricultural University, encouraging it as a part of its creative extension scheme.

The Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, also known as coturnix quail or Pharaoh’s Quail, is a species of old world quail found in East Asia.

They are a migratory species, breeding in Manchuria, Southeastern Siberia, Northern Japan, and the Korean Peninsula, and wintering in the south of Japan and southern China. They dwell in grasslands and cultivated fields and the species is very abundant across most of its range.

Currently, it is being bred as a table bird in many European and South East Asian countries and also in the US.

The species, which is being reared for its meat and eggs, is seen as a good “dual-purpose bird”. Very interestingly, Japanese quail eggs have orbited the earth in several Soviet and Russian spacecraft, including the Bion 5 satellite and the Salyut 6 and Mir space stations to test the viability of birds’ eggs in space conditions.

In March 1990, quail eggs on Mir were successfully incubated and hatched.

The present controversy in our country stems from the fact that many agencies both government and private, are of the mistaken impression that this bird is the same as the Indian Partridge, which is commonly called ‘Teetar‘ and which is protected under schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife Act (1972).

A few self-educated experts have also quoted Salim Ali, the famous ornithologist while claiming that the Japanese Quail is a wild Indian bird.

But this is not true as the wild Indian Partridge, which this bird resembles quite closely, is the Grey Francolin (formerly also called the Grey Partridge), Francolinus pondicerianus, a larger-sized species found in the plains and drier parts of South Asia.

They are found in open cultivated lands as well as scrub forest and their local name of teetar is based on their calls, a loud and repeated Ka-tee-tar…tee-tar, which is produced by one or more birds. The term Teetar can also refer to many other partridges and quails of varying sizes found in the wild. But each one of them is of a sub- species distinctly different from the Japanese Quail.

Incidentally they all run very swiftly and gracefully and they actually seem to glide rather than run, and folklore says that the native Indian lover can pay no higher compliment to his mistress than to liken her gait to that of the Partridge! This is an observation about which too there is a small controversy because it is attributed to both A. O. Hume and John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling.

In poetry, too, the partridge is associated with the moon, and, like the lotus, it is supposed to be perpetually longing for it, while one member of the group, the Chakore is even said to eat fire.

Now my interest in this whole dispute about whether it is legal or not to eat this farm-raised bird is not because I relish it but because in our confusion, we may be endangering many of our forest dwelling species.

I know of many instances where many trucks transporting these birds from farms in Kerala and Tamil Nadu to marketing outlets in Karnataka have been intercepted by our officials and the birds simply released into the forests, citing the Wildlife Act.

Now, while this may look like a very merciful and wildlife friendly act to many, it is in fact a very thoughtless and dangerous thing to do. The farm bred birds are capable of harbouring and transmitting some very deadly viral diseases to our wild species which can quickly wipe them out for good.

In a similar scenario in the sixties, the Rinderpest or Cattle Plague infection that was picked up from domestic cattle grazing in and around Bandipur almost wiped out the entire Bison population there which did not have any native immunity against it.

It took a full three decades for the Bison to make a comeback there.

Such an ecological disaster should not be allowed to occur while we stand and argue to decide on which side of the Indian Wildlife Act the Japanese immigrant should stand.

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

CHURUMURI POLL: Has India lost moral compass?

23 October 2012

In its 62nd year as a Republic, India presents a picture that can only mildy be termed unedifying.

Scams are raining down on a parched landscape with frightening ferocity. From outer space (2G, S-band) to the inner depths of mother earth (coal), the Congress-led UPA has had it all covered in its second stint. Meanwhile, Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of the first family of the Congress, has taken charge of scandals at or near sea level.

Salman Khurshid, the smooth-talking Oxford-educated law minister, thinks it is beneath his dignity to respond in a dignified manner to charges of pilfering Rs 71 lakh from the disabled. The Harvard-educated finance minister P. Chidambaram and his family is happily busy gobbling up parts of the east coast from farmers. Etcetera.

But what of the opposition?

The BJP’s president Nitin Gadkari is neckdeep in a gapla of his own,  one that threatens, in fact one that is designed to deprive him of a second stint in office. “Scam”, of course, was the middle-name of party’s Karnataka mascot, B.S. Yediyurappa. From Mulayam‘s SP to Mayawati‘s BSP to Sharad Pawar‘s NCP, from Karunanidhi‘s DMK to Jayalalitha‘s AIADMK, money-making is the be-all and end-all.

The less said of the corporates who have pillaged the country since time immemorial the better but Vijay Mallya presents its most compelling side as he shuts down his airline while his son hunts for calendar girls. The do-gooders of Team Anna and now Team Kejriwal are themselves subject to searching questions on their integrity levels. And the media is busy getting exposed as extortionists and blackmailers.

Questions: Have we as a country completely lost our moral and ethical compass? Are we going through an “unprecedented” phenomenon or is this what the US and other developed democracies like Japan have gone through in their path to progress? Or does it not matter in the greater scheme of things? Is all this leaving the citizenry cynical and frustrated or do we not care because all of us are in it, in our own little ways?

What the lights ‘n’ sights of Mysore hide from you

20 October 2012

Doorada betta nunnuge” (from afar, even a distant hill looks smooth) is an old Kannada saying.

The sight of the Mysore palace with the Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar circle in the foreground, all decked up for Dasara in Mysore on Saturday, is a shining example of that. “Dasara Works” are going on feverishly even as the festival is veering to an end, but tourists and visitors are unlikely to notice.

For, the lights provide a nice veneer to mask the darkness.

***

Dr K. Javeed Nayeem writes in Star of Mysore:

“We are all in the middle of Dasara which is our most important annual event. But Mysore is still getting decked up for the occasion even after the short-lived celebrations themselves have started and are also about to end. It is a little like the bride still getting dressed even after the priest has started chanting the sacred mantras, completely unmindful of the fact that she is missing and only mindful of not allowing the designated auspicious moment to slip away!

“This is the scenario that meets our weary eyes year after year, ever since the Dasara slipped from the hands of our erstwhile royalty into the hands of our new netas. I wonder why some proper planning does not go into its preparations. At least it can then serve its intended purpose of showcasing our city at its best and making our tourists happy that the time, effort and money they spent on seeing it were worth it….

“Here I am reminded of Aesop‘s fairy tale where work on the project which started off in great haste, has fallen asleep enroute like the hare, while it is slowly but steadily being overtaken by its rival, the tortoise of escalating costs. Instead of wasting money and time on fairy tale projects and trying to achieve the impossible, it would be better if we concentrate on doing something tangible and useful.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What is so world-famous about Mysore Dasara?

Should Bollywood have a place in Mysore Dasara?

Once upon a time, on this day, in another age

Mysore Mallige for the Maharani amid gold, glitz

Nagoji Dikshit & his Kantian quest for knowledge

20 October 2012

Sri Siddeshwara swamiji of the Jnana Yogashram in Bijapur, quoted in Star of Mysore:

Immanuel Kant lived up to 80 years and spent all his life in the quest of truth. When asked why he had not married, he replied that he had forgotten about it in his search for truth.

“Similar is the story of an Indian philosopher, Nagoji Dikshit who too went in the quest of truth for 60 years. On the very first day of marriage, he told his wife that he did not want to be tied down by marital fetters and wanted to roam free in search of truth and meaning of life.

“His wife agreed and he went away, only to return six decades later.

“By the time, the wife’s beauty had waned and he too had grown very weak. The wife greeted the prodigal husband with great love and respect. The husband told her that they had two children. When the wife asked, ‘how?’ he showed her two books, filled with knowledge.”

When ‘time piece’ gets a whole new meaning

19 October 2012

churumuri‘s acclaimed campaign against the commodification of women continues without a pause. This time, models flaunting Titan’s Edge series of watches at a launch in Bangalore on Friday. –

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu PrabhakarAnother example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

Jennifer KotwalThe best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka TrivediSee, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

RamyaDon’t ask us what it is, but it sure costs a bomb

Mandira BediIt ain’t so easy to woo an iPhone4 user, sister

Tejaswini Prakash: As if we didn’t have traffic diversions already

Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops

Raveena Tandon: From a flower of stones to a stone of flowers

Sameera Reddy: Finally, some ‘commodification’ we are OK with

When Mr Gandhi sent a message to Ms Gillard?

18 October 2012

The Australian prime minister Jullia Gillard tripped and fell at Mahatma Gandhi‘s memorial, Rajghat, in Delhi on Wednesday after she had placed a wreath and was walking towards the television and newspaper personnel waiting for her.

Gillard, who has a long history of footwear malfunctions, brushed it all off:

“For men who get to wear flat shoes all day every day, if you wear a heel it can get embedded in soft grass and when you pull your foot out the shoes doesn’t come,” she said.

But not everybody is seeing the incident in such a matter-of-fact way. The protestors at the Koodankulam nuclear plant certainly do not; they see it as some sort of an inter-gallactic message being sent by the Mahatma to Gillard of what lies in store if her country co-operates with the Indian government.

In a press release, the protestors say:

“The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) as well as our sympathizers all over India would like to apologize to Julia Gillard, the honorable Prime Minister of Australia, for the dangerous fall she suffered at the Raj Ghat. If we ask the local authorities in Delhi why they had not taken enough precautions to avoid such a dangerous fall and why none of the security officers could prevent an important international leader from falling on her face or for not coming to her rescue on time, we may attract more sedition charges.

“Madam Prime Minister, this whole Raj Ghat episode reflects the authorities’ utter lack of safety precautions and emergency preparedness. And your government is seriously considering selling Uranium to these folks. Maybe, Madam Prime Minister, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Our Nation, is trying to say something to you and please listen to him.”

Mysore Mallige for ‘Maharani’ on day of glitz, gold

16 October 2012

On the first day of Dasara 2012, the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Mysore, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, dressed in traditional robes, sits on the throne at the main palace (top and middle), and blesses his wife Pramoda Devi, during the private darbar, on Tuesday. –

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What is so world-famous about Mysore Dasara?

Should Bollywood have a place in Mysore Dasara?

Once upon a time, on this day, in another age

It’s true: every view can have an opposite view

15 October 2012

At Hasthakala, an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, a divine dude in stately recline takes a comfortable look at visitors, in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

The total number of colours in this picture is…

11 October 2012

Students of the Satya Sai institute of home science turn out in their colourful best at a youth festival organised by the women’’s University in Dharwad on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

Also read: Save women from having to save the saree

2011: How the Dharwad peda enhances your smile

2009: 22 ways to smile in a blaze of earthy colours

They don’t make journos like VNSR any more

9 October 2012

churumuri records with regret the passing away of V.N. Subba Rao, the former chief reporter and chief of bureau of the undivided Indian Express—and a guru and mentor to hundreds of young journalists—in Bangalore, on Tuesday morning. He was 81 years old and had been ailing for a few months.

VNSR, as he was known to his myriad friends and colleagues, was brilliantly bilingual, churning out thousands of words each week in English and Kannada at frightening speed, from the intricacies of Karnataka politics, most of whose practitioners he knew on first-name terms, to the shenanigans of the Kannada film industry.

He wrote his weekly political commentary column “In Passing” on a typewriter with barely a mistake in the copy, the rhythmic sound of the carriage making music across the corridor of No. 1, Queen’s Road where the Express was nestled in its glory days. That column shifted to Deccan Herald, where he worked briefly.

Upon his retirement, VNSR launched a tabloid political weekly and a film weekly, both of which folded in quick time. Unlike modern-day political commentators, Subba Rao proudly wrote Kannada movie reviews with the zeal of an intern and attended every press conference without fail.

The New Delhi-based political commentator, A. Surya Prakash, who got his first job with the Express in Bangalore under VNSR in 1971, said: “The net value of all the journalists who learnt their craft under Subba Rao must run into a few hundred crore rupees.”

K.S. Sachidananda Murthy, the resident editor of The Week in New Delhi, who too worked under VNSR, sent this message to friends: “Let us remember his great leadership, quest for exclusive news, soaring prose, unquenchable curiosity and grooming of many of today’s stars of journalism. A life fit for celebration.”

For one who dealt with the high and mighty of Karnataka politics, VNSR had the unique ability to be surprised even by a small fire. His trademark reaction to every story and tip-off, big or small, was a simple “Howdaa?” (Is it so?) followed by a noisy hands-free swipe of the nose which seemed to suffer from a perpetual cold.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: T.N. Shanbag: Man who educated Bombay journos

Rajan Bala: cricket writer of cricket writers

Russy Karanjia: The bulldog of an editor

J. Dey: When eagles are silent, parrots jabber

E. Raghavan: Ex-ET, TOI, Vijaya Karnataka editor

Pratima Puri: India’s first TV news reader passes away

Tejeshwar Singh: A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

K.M. Mathew: chief of editor of Malayala Manorama

Amita Malik: the ‘first lady of Indian media’

***

K.R. Prahlad: In the end, death becomes a one-liner

M.R. Shivanna: A 24×7 journalist is no more

C.P. Chinnappa: A song for an unsung hero

8 reasons Karnataka is wrong on Cauvery issue

8 October 2012

Like a bad penny, the Cauvery “dispute” returns to the national discourse every few years with both the “riparian” States involved the story, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, making the same noises—the former of everlasting injury and the latter of arrogance, with the Centre acting like a traffic policeman with his hands tied.

Every time the dispute flares up, and that is usually when there is scanty rainfall, the same revanchist forces of linguistic chauvinism and parochialism dust themselves and utter the same threatening cliches.

The world’s topmost water resources experts—the moviestars of Gandhinagar—descend on the streets. Bandhs are called, roads are blocked, resignations are offered, the ruling party flexes its muscle, all-party delegations meet the PM, and the media beats the familiar wardrum that sends shivers down the spines of those who can remember 1991-92.

Lost in the melee is sense and common sense. A dispute involving a couple of districts in the deep south holds the rest of the State and its relationship with a neighbour hostage. Karnataka’s fair name as a law-abiding State and the reputation of Kannadigas as a decent, civilised lot is muddied in the eyes of the nation and the courts.

Here, a lawyer conversant with the intricacies of the dispute lists eight reasons why Karnataka is once again barking up the wrong tree in circa 2012.

***

1. When the agreement of 1924 was signed between the Maharaja of Mysore and Madras, the former diwan of Mysore,  Sir M. Visvesvaraya, supported it unequivocally. The said agreement gave 80% of all the water to Madras, which is equal to 360 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) at the Border.

2. The Cauvery Tribunal, reduced the quantity from 360 TMC as provided by the agreement of 1924 to 205 TMC in its interim Order, or 192 TMC in its final Order, which is a reduction of about 50%. During the years of drought, the shortfalls are to be shared equitably by riparian states. How is this distress to be shared?

3. According to Tamil Nadu, if the shortfall in the flows is 40%, its share ought to stand reduced by 40%. On applying this simple mathematical reduction formula of pro-rata, the shortfall in the flows given to Tamil Nadu comes to 40 TMC as on 19 September 2012.

4. However, the Prime  Minister rightly ignored the pro-rata formula when he passed the Order on 19 September 2012 directing Karnataka to ensure 9000 Cusecs till 15 October 2012 equivalent to only 20 TMC. This 20 TMC not only includes the arrears but also the monthly quota. Therefore, in real terms, the Prime Minister has only given 10 TMC towards arrears as against 40 TMC which ought to have been due to Tamil Nadu under the pro-rata formula.

5. Present storages is about 65 TMC. Even in the worst year of 2003-2004, 30 TMC flowed into the Karnataka reservoirs till December. So, in this year too, a similar quantum of water can be expected.

6. Cauvery is a political issue for the Vokkaligas. Historically, none from the Vokkaliga belt in Mandya and Mysore ever raised a word of opposition in 1924. Even after independence in 1947 or the re-organisation of States in 1956, none from Mandya or Mysore sought revision of the agreement of 1924. It is only after 1974, that the Opposition to the 1924. After 1974, the opposition in the Vokkaliga belt started but it is selective, targeting Non-Vokkaliga Government.

7. Mandya Vokkaligas opposed the Varuna Canal because it benefitted the Lingayats and Backward Classes in Mysore District. Mandya Vokkaligas do not bother when water is released from Kabini to fulfil the Order because Kabini caters to Lingayats, SC, ST and OBCs.

8. The ones who should really be complaining are Coorgis, since Coorg does not have drinking water though more than half the Cauvery water comes from there.

Photograph: Kannada movie stars (from left) Pooja Gandhi, Prameela Joshai, Shruti, Tara and Sudharani emerge out of the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Saturday after submitting a memorandum to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on Cauvery issue (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: If it’s summer, it’s time for a nice Cauvery row

Not everybody is a loser in the Cauvery dispute

CHURUMURI POLL: Is this Congress’s Bofors-II?

8 October 2012

The grenade lobbed by the Arvind Kejriwal-Prashant Bhushan gang on Friday, accusing Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, of dubious deals with the construction company DLF, has sent the Congress camp into a tizzy. Over half-a-dozen Union ministers trooped into TV studios to defend FDI*—the First Damaad of India—even as Vadra maintained a studied silence, before breaking it on Facebook (he has since deleted his FB account).

To be sure, there was little of surprise: the same details had been carried by The Economic Times a year and six months ago, quoting Registrar of Companies (ROC) documents. At the time, the Congress had not seen it fit to respond. But the timing of the latest “expose”, after the Jan Lok Pal movement was tarred and tarnished, after the announcement of a new party sans Anna Hazare, and in the run-up to the Gujarat and general elections, gives the issue a whole new angle.

Questions: Will the charges against Vadra become a millstone around the Congress’—and by extension, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi‘s necks—forever, like Bofors has? Or will they peter out because there is no foreign hand like Ottavio Quattrochchi‘s and no clear quid pro quo? Do the charges prove crony conspiracy at its worst? Or, has the Kejriwal-Bhushan duo bitten off more than they can chew by hitting below the belt?

*courtesy Rama Lakshmi/ WaPo

If the Mahatma could rethink his xenophobia…

8 October 2012

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

R.K. Narayan did not write in Kannada, but his works sensitively portray the people, culture and landscapes of the state of Karnataka. His 1938 book, Mysore, remains a classic of travel-writing; still valuable for anyone who seeks to know about, or visit, the shrines, towns, and water-falls of the southern part of the state.

The Malgudi of his novels was almost certainly based on the town of Nanjangud, on the banks of the river Kabini, some 15 miles from Mysore. The name, Malgudi, was made up from the names of two venerable Bangalore localities, Malleswaram and Basavangudi.

The restaurant-owners, printers, shopkeepers, teachers, housewives and students who people Narayan’s stories are as authentic Kannadigas as one can get. Which is why the television serial, Malgudi Days, was such a hit in Kannada and among Kannadigas. And it continues to be watched, 30 years after it was first made, available in DVDs that can be downloaded from the internet.

I hope the Kannada writers [who claimed Narayan was, so to say, a ‘foreigner’, have the good grace to withdraw their protest after this necessary intervention by Girish Karnad and U.R. Anantha Murthy. To admit that one was wrong, or mistaken, is in the best traditions of writing and scholarship. Besides, there is the example of Gandhi; if he could rethink his impulsive xenophobia, so can the rest of us.

Read the full column: Good Kannadigas and bad Kannadigas

Also read: Four reasons why R.K. Narayan deserves a memorial

What Kannada racists can learn from a Raja-rishi

How can Bhyrappa & Co be the same as Yedi & Co?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Yedi exit harm BJP?

4 October 2012

After threatening to leave the Bharatiya Janata Party virtually every fortnight since he resigned from office in disgrace under a haze of sleaze and corruption in July 2011—and after making a mockery of two wonderful Kannada words sthana (position) and maana (respect) since then—former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has finally mustered the strength and the courage to say that he has had enough with the BJP and will call it quits from the party.

By all indications, Yediyurappa will announce his new party in November or December, in time for the assembly elections due in the first-half of 2013.

Yediyurappa has ruled out joining any other political party although he has been singing paeans of Sonia Gandhi‘s Congress party over the last few weeks, and although Nitish Kumar‘s JD(U) and Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s Samajawadi Party, both avowedly secular parties with little presence in the South, are both said to be toying with the idea of joining hands with Yediyurappa, who cut his teeth in the RSS.

But the questions remain: Has Yediyurappa delayed his exit too long? Has BJP neutralised his influence by allowing him to drag on with his antics? Will Yediyurappa on his own be even half the force he was with the BJP? Will the BJP split help the Congress in the assembly polls? Will Yediyurappa’s new party result in a four-way race in the State and thus make it easier for the BJP?

All that glitters is not always what you think it is

2 October 2012

Not a gold mine, just work afoot on the Namma Metro project at Minsk Square in Bangalore on Monday evening.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The namma Metro photo portfolio

How can Bhyrappa & Co be same as Yedi & Co?

2 October 2012

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Parochial thoughts. Narrow-minded pettiness. Divisive ideas that spell acrimonious discord. Ttaking cheap potshots at men and twisting core issues out of proportion. Displaying a reckless and irresponsible sense of disdain towards the sensitivities of society.

Raising issues of language and even caste….

These, as no one would dispute, have been observed for long as the in-built characteristics, perhaps the very genetic make-up of men and women, who identify themselves as politicians in this country, of course with the odd exceptions, who anyway show up on our political horizon, as regularly as a certain comet named after an English astronomer called Edmond Halley.

But for writers, for men of letters?

The commentators of society at large, those who, with their power of the pen and their intellect can dissect and disseminate thoughts?

They, who tell stories of man and have the talent to chronicle the ways of humankind?

They, who are supposedly adept and capable of sifting the chaff from the grain of life itself; those who have been endowed the powers and gift of serious, sensitive, responsible, fair, meaningful, and worthy intercourse on matters profound and intelligent?

They, who are the arbiters of all that should be invoked in society in order to make it a better entity for lesser men to inhabit; those ordinary members of the public who obviously do not have the talent and the powers of serious writers?

For a group of such writers to make a case for a fellow-writer, R.K. Narayan, to not have the posthumous privilege of a memorial in his name; in a City (and at a home) in which he lived and wrote for close to 50 years is something that simply confounds, confuses and numbs the minds of all right-thinking citizens of the great city of Mysore.

Narayan was a man who traversed its lanes and by lanes with fond affection; someone who made a fantastic connect with the very ethos of the city, its people, their ways, their eccentricities and foibles, their loveliness and innocence, their very being in a sense; and weaved some of the most rollickingly interesting, sensitive, comical, gentle, poignant and tender stories of his age and time about a certain unique culture, and immortalised in print, the very soul of a largely unknown city called Mysore which was widely presumed to be his literary muse, among the rest of India as also in the eyes of the west, save for those few westerners who had had the pleasure and honour of having been invited to the city and acquainted to it by its Maharaja as his guests, perhaps for Dasara or the Khedda in the jungles of Kakanakote.

That Narayan did not speak Kannada; that he chose to move to Madras during his later years; that he did not donate his manuscripts to the University of Mysore and chose to give them away for a price to a foreign university; that he was not a Kannadiga in the first place but a Tamilian.

So what’s new about such haranguing?

What is new is this, perhaps not so new but something that needs to be reiterated at this juncture.

That R.K.Narayan was a man who had the gift of the pen like no other Indian writer in English had some 75 years ago, that he was a man who had the confidence and the literary flamboyance to make an English publishing house in England of that era sit up and take notice and finally agree to publish his stories, for their sheer flow and flair, for their simplicity of prose and the absolute enthralling grip of the narration; about a people and their culture, that was I’m dead sure, to the publisher himself as alien, strange and unknown as the river Avon and the denizens who populated its banks was, to the dramatis personae of Narayan’s stories!

The decision to become a full time writer and endeavour to make a living off it, with a family to feed; at a time in history when Indians at large, barely comprehended the alien language, let alone write or speak it with any great expertise.

Narayan’s tensions, his worries, and the patience he exercised in waiting for replies from a place, England, so far from Mysore that it could well have been on another planet, every time he either sent excerpts of his writings or plainly corresponded with potential publishers.

At a time when the red-coloured post box was all that existed as a symbol of communication. And not the power of the telephone or the speed of the internet, for heaven’s sake.

At a time when most Indians were ridiculed for their lack of English proficiency, so much so, that most of them were thought to not even be able to write four meaningful lines by way of a leave letter to be presented to their bosses in office; for Narayan to be able to write not four but perhaps forty thousand or four hundred thousand lines in English that not only impressed but had the west in thrall is a decent enough reason to remember him.

To cut to the chase, let’s give Mr Narayan a memorial for sure.

And as soon as possible.

For in his memorial shall lie the story of one man’s inimitable brilliance and perseverance in making the impossible possible. To put it simply, that is.

It simply shouldn’t matter that he was not born 16 miles west of Holenarispura or some such place in Karnataka and that his father was called Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer.

Cartoon: courtesy Mahmud/ Praja Vani

Also read: Four reasons why R.K. Narayan deserves a memorial

What Kannada racists can learn from a Raja-rishi


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