Archive for November, 2012

How a Bangalorean changed the nation’s view

28 November 2012

The bumper 318-page eighth anniversary issue of Impact, the media magazine from Anurag Batra‘s exchange4media group, features dozens of print, electronic, digital and radio professionals recounting their personal stories.

Among them is the 2012 television editor of the year, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Times Now*:

By ARNAB GOSWAMI

In August 2007, Sanjay Dutt was being moved from Arthur Road jail to Yerawada jail in Poona and we were following it keenly. Everybody was in the middle of this crazy chase, looking desperately for a shot, a sound byte, a picture….

In the midst of it all, I received a phone call from a viewer in Bangalore who said that he had been following my career and Times Now for a long time, but he wouldn’t do it anymore.

I was very surprised and asked him why he felt that way.

The person said he had a friend, a colonel in the Indian Army named Vasanth Venugopal, who had died fighting on the border. His body was being brought back to Bangalore but not a single news channel was bothered, so busy they were covering Sanjay Dutt.

There wasn’t even a mention of this martyr on any channel, while Dutt was being covered like there was nothing else happening in the world.

I was very upset and felt very guilty.

I told the gentleman that we would send a cameraman and get pictures of the cremation and do a story on it. That night, after we had done the story, I requested this gentleman and come and talk about his friend.

When I started my programme, and asked the producer whether the person had come, he said, ‘She is here.’

I told him I was expecting a gentleman, not a lady.

The producer replied, “Colonel Vasanth’s wife has come.”

Subhashini Vasanth had witnessed the last rites of her husband barely four hours back, yet she came to our studio.

Nothing has ever moved me as much as what she said that day.

She spoke about her family and her husband’s martyrdom, making me realise that journalism can sometimes lose its way and that we have an obligation to our viewers that goes beyond the narrow perspective of covering a movie star.

Since then, the way we cover the armed forces, internal security, issues relating to Pakistan is far more detailed than any other channel. That incident shaped the work that we do now.

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Apoorva Salkade/ Outlook

POLL: Should Sachin Tendulkar retire now?

26 November 2012

India’s defeat at the hands of England in the second Test match in Bombay has turned the spotlight not on the spinners who were supposed to take revenge on the Poms for what they did to us when we went to their country, but on India’s greatest ever cricketer, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

With the 39-year-old getting out cheaply twice in a row to the left arm spin of Madhusudhan Singh alias Monty Panesar—his last 10 Test innings have yielded just 153 runs at an average of 15.3—the calls for Sachin’s retirement are ringing aloud once again.

For its part, the BCCI says the maestro will himself decide when it is time to go.

“He will hang up his boots when he thinks it’s time for him to go. He does not need any advice on this. Before making a comment on his performance you have to see his colossal record and his past performance. “He will do well in forthcoming matches,” BCCI official Rajiv Shukla has said.

The irony will not be lost on many, that while Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman—no less contributors to the India Batting story—were given no such choice to decide their fate, the BCCI seems overly reluctant to make up its mind on Sachin’s future although Sachin himself indicated in a recent television interview that he was unlikely to play the next World Cup.

Question: should Sachin take the cue from his recent performances and pack up his bags or should he stay on because, well, a turnaround could still be around the corner?

***

We asked this in 2007 too: Should Sachin retire now?!

Esther Preethi and the true meaning of education

26 November 2012

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: The week that has gone by had a mixed bag of events that have left me with mixed feelings, both happy and sad.

The news that really stirred my soul and elevated it to an unusually lofty level of happiness was about the Sri Venkateswara University in Andhra Pradesh postponing its engineering examinations by a full week to let the students of one engineering college collect donations to save the life of one of its students — Esther Preethi, the daughter of a poor taxi driver from Madanapalli in Chittoor District, now doing her final year engineering at NBKR Institute of Technology in Nellore.

She reportedly developed liver failure for which she was advised a liver transplant costing almost Rs 50 lakh.

Her father was crestfallen as this amount was far beyond his means and even what he could hope to garner from sources open to him. That was when his daughter’s college-mates decided to do their bit by collecting donations from the public to pay for Preethi’s surgery.

Since the need for surgery was very urgent, as it usually is in such cases, about 540 students of final year engineering rushed to the director of the college, V. Vijayakumar Reddy, with a request to allow them to go out and collect donations by skipping classes.

Touched by the students’ resolve, the college management, too, offered financial assistance and allowed the students to spare no efforts to save Preethi’s life.

Forming about 30 groups, the students went around Nellore town and nearby villages and started collecting donations. Since their examinations too were just round the corner the students again pleaded with their college management to speak to the Vice-Chancellor to postpone the exams on humanitarian grounds.

In perhaps an act of unprecedented magnanimity, the Sri Venkateswara University (SVU) responded to their request and postponed the first semester examinations of its final year, which had to begin on November 14, to give time to the students to help save their ailing friend.

“This could be the first time that a University has rescheduled examinations to allow students to collect funds for a noble cause,” Reddy said after SVU Vice-Chancellor W. Rajendra issued a notification acceding to the students’ request.

My joy is naturally very great because this is the true meaning and spirit of any real education. There is no point in simply quoting rules and applying them mechanically as is usually done all around us when a more humanitarian approach would do much good in a delicate situation.

When the powers vested in us permit us to be kind rather than curt, it is important to take the former approach. I salute all those who did their bit to save Preethi’s budding life and wish her a speedy recovery.

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

***

Also read: From Guruswamypalyam, a lesson for all shishyas

A Hindu iftar for a good Muslim doctor at work

A hero who served the dead and living of all castes

Would Gandhi have condoned Kasab’s hanging?

21 November 2012

On the eve of the winter session of Parliament and with the Gujarat elections around the corner, the scam and scandal-ridden Congress-led UPA has stumped the scam and scandal-ridden BJP-led NDA with its early-morning announcement of the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 26/11 siege of Bombay.

Within a matter of hours, a weak government is being seen as assertive by the lynch mobs which routinely bay for blood, and a “soft-state” is slapping its thighs in delight, although the implications of the hanging—on India-Pakistan relations, on the fallout in the country, on the fate of Sarabjit Singh, etc—are still to be weighed.

Above all, in the very week India refused to be a signatory to a United Nations resolution banning the death penalty, the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, almost as if to satiate the public and political need for revenge and retribution, throws a big question mark over India’s presumed humanism of the land of the Mahatma.

The former diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar writes on rediff.com:

The vast majority of world opinion abhors meting out death penalty for any crime. This majority includes countries such as Russia, Israel UK and Germany that have been victims of terrorism. But Indian stands with stony hearts like the United States, China, Pakistan and Iran.

India’s plea is that it is its sovereign right to determine its own legal system, that death sentence is carried out India only on the “rarest of occasions” and that too with great deliberation. But India parries the big moral issue, which is that execution by the state (or the community) is nothing but a barbaric practice dating back tp primeval times when the thumb rule used to be “eye-for-an-eye”.

For India, it is a particularly agonizing question because Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism,  three finest flowers of its ancient civilization, all equally forbid such killings. Indians needs to reflect. I wonder if Gandhi would have condoned Kasab’s execution.

Read the full piece: India snuffs out Kasab‘s life

Dal, rice and a round of Scotch in ‘Little England’

17 November 2012

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes from Nuwara Eliya: It’s monsoon time in Sri Lanka. The rain drops sound like little pellets bearing down on you from some invisible musket somewhere in the high firmament, their intensity simply unrelenting, as I set out on highway A1 from Bentota to Nuwara Eliya, a good seven hours away.

My driver, Alex, though, seems unfazed by the celestial barrage as he manoeuvres the Toyota Land Cruiser with the ease of a seasoned veteran used to water splashing on the wind shield with more force than the feverishly sweeping wipers can handle.

Past the Mackwoods Labookellie tea estate, 1200 acres in all, and founded as far back as in 1841 by an Englishman named captain William Mackwood, on a beautifully winding road of sheer beauty, with thoughtfully marked lines in glistening white on either sides of the dark asphalt, I finally reach the Hill Club up in the mist wrapped mountains of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s ‘Little England’.

The Hill Club, born in 1876, as a watering hole for British planters, assumedly for them to gather in the evenings to mingle with their own kind, is a mesmerising symbol of all that the age old era of British colonialism stood for.

Walking into the grand stone and timber manor standing like a lone weather beaten sentinel amidst the white clouds that seem to be on some perpetual journey through the day and night in this part of world, I was transported instantly to at least a hundred years back in time.

Incandescent lights issue forth a mellow glow from their positions along walls that also play host to a myriad other objects of curiosity ranging from an amusingly wooden specimen of a rainbow trout caught by a club member in one of the lakes around, way back in 1927, to a black and white photograph of Queen Elizabeth II as a young girl, a little past her teens.

There is a certain British air to the whole place; not for a moment to be mistaken for any hint of snootiness that has unfortunately come to be associated with that time and age, but a gentle, easy, relaxed charm to it, a certain dignified classiness to it all, an ever so subtle intimation of old courteousness pervading the place, leaving you with a strange sense of being part of an era where the world was a lot more unhurried and more importantly, less complicated.

The quietude, the remoteness, the feeling of being gently cut off from the hubbub of the world at large; you could well imagine you are somewhere in Kirkmichael in Ayrshire in Scotland!

Sri Lankan waiters, gloved in white and wearing golden woven epaulets on their uniform shoulders, genially smile and greet you at every turn along the corridors inside, where are placed vases full of lilies on wooden stands that were surely made at the turn of the last century.

In the library with its collection of books ranging from the latest magazines to one on the history of the club is where I found out that the first-ever remark written in the club’s register was in 1881 when a member complained that there were no markers in the billiards room!

The ceilings are an ornate decoration in solid rose wood, all carved, dark and regal; the furniture mostly in latticed wood. Tables look like they are perpetually set for an impending banquet with snow white napkins neatly folded in a floral form; the cutlery perfectly in place.

Huge upholstered sofas with floral designs sit in the splendidly large ‘formal’ dining hall, with the ubiquitous fire place in the middle, to sup at which, you are expected to wear a jacket and tie, which anyway shall be provided ‘free of cost’ from the club’s wardrobe, as the manager told me, if I was interested.

Of course, there is a ‘casual’ dining hall too, where I settled down for the evening.

Corn and egg drop soup, roast pork or seer fish, plus profiterole, tomato soup, and orange mousse for dessert. Chicken dipped in mayonnaise and garlic sauce.

Herb roasted lamb sandwich with tomato, lettuce, red onions and tzatziki. Ground tenderloin meat loaf sandwich, baby spinach and blue cheese salad with granny smith apples and sweet grape, tomatoes tossed in warm bacon vinaigrette.

I beckoned the waiter whose name was Chamila and asked him if I could get some rice and dal with vegetables.

He smiled and said, ‘yes sir’.

My evening was made. I ordered another scotch!

India vs England series, and ESPN’s crass TV ads

13 November 2012

KRISHNAKUMAR P. writes from Bombay: Is the Indian cricket fan so cheap?

Do only cheap tricks appeal to the Indian cricket fan?

When ESPNStar won the broadcast rights for India’s home matches for the next six years, Indian fans rejoiced.

First, there was hope of better telecast quality. Second, there was the promise of some erudite commentary. And third, there was the hope that the viewer would now get to watch the first and last balls of each over.

Above all, being a pure sports broadcaster with years of experience covering cricket, ESPNStar was expected to deliver a rich viewing experience as opposed to the kitschy fare delivered by earlier broadcasters.

In short, here was a golden opportunity for ESPNStar to begin the Channel9-isation of Indian cricket broadcast, by injecting some much-needed professionalism at a time when cricket has been packaged and promoted more as entertainment than sport.

But the manner in which the broadcaster has been promoting the India-England series starting on November 15 comes as a sad reminder that not much has changed from the time we were told that ‘it was tough being a West Indian or a Sri Lankan in India.’

The running theme in the ESPN Star TV commercials—‘Angrezon kit toh bajaa di!’ using, in different spots, a pungi, a dafli, a band, and basuri—is as bad, if not worse, as Neo Sports’s racist ads targeting the West Indians or the Sri Lankans.

Understandably, ESPNStar has just come back into the subcontinent and would want to garner as much attention as possible. And admittedly, these ads are just to tell the viewer that the coverage of the series is available with Hindi commentary.

But rather than absolve the broadcaster, this only raises another disturbing question: Does ESPNStar think that the Hindi speaking/listening fan cannot understand the nuances of the game and the only way to connect with those fans is to appeal to their basest instincts?

And does it think that fans are only interested in seeing the Angrez getting bajao-ed and would not be interested in watching a hard fought, evenly matched series of cricket?

What is even more disappointing is that, unlike the Neo sports campaign, which was in the innocent pre-IPL days, this comes in the age of the shrinking dressing rooms and when player camaraderie that cuts across nations and clubs.

Could ESPNStar not have celebrated this newfound camaraderie to promote a big series in India, the home of the IPL?

It is not like STAR cricket doesn’t know how to promote a marquee series on its cricketing merits with a dash of good natured humour and wit. You just have to wait for another ad break between overs to see the ads promoting another cracker of a series being played a couple of time zones removed.

A South African fan asks his Aussie counterpart, ‘Hey Bru, what do you call a world-class Aussie cricketer?’ and goes on to answer: ‘A retired cricketer’. Another spot has the Aussie fan returning the complement, saying the best chance South African fans have of seeing a Dale Steyn wicket on this tour is when he walks in to bat.

Back then, Neo Sports found itself taken to court for its racist ads.

Considering that this time around it is our former colonial masters that are subjected to some old-fashioned bajao-ing, ESPNStar may well get away with it. But make no mistake — these ads are crass, tasteless and offensive.

POLL: Has RSS shown Narendra Modi his place?

12 November 2012

The RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya has kicked off a big storm in the BJP teacup ahead of the Gujarat elections, by alleging that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was behind the recent campaign of vilification against the party president Nitin Gadkari, which culminated in a demand for Gadkari’s removal from the post by the renowned lawyer and BJP member of Parliament, Ram Jethmalani, and his lawyer-son Mahesh Jethmalani.

On his blog, Vaidya writes:

“Needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

In many ways, what Vaidya says is not particularly new; Modi’s alleged involvement (and of his lackeys) in hurling allegations at Gadkari over his business dealings through the media has been gossip in the political corridors and television studios in Delhi for days now. After all, Jethmalani senior (who represents the former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, in the encounter cases) was given a Rajya Sabha seat at the behest of Modi.

But the backroom buzz has been given a certificate of authenticity with Vaidya putting it on record and then reiterating it, although the BJP has been at pains to reject the insinuation. However, since nothing in the RSS happens without a pattern, Vaidya going public with his allegation at this juncture poses several questions:

Is the RSS conveying its displeasure of Modi’s tactics and his overweening ambition to occupy the national stage? Was Gadkari retained as BJP chief last week (after another RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy gave a clean chit) largely to show Modi his place? Did Modi mount a subversive attack on Gadkari in the full knowledge that if Gadkari finished his first term or got a second term (as the party’s consitution now allows), he could prove a hurdle in his path given the backing he enjoys from the RSS?

More importantly, does Modi’s ascension look less assured even if he wins a third term, as he is slated to? And, if he is rebuffed in his prime ministerial ambitions should NDA get a majority, could Modi (as B.S. Yediyurappa aide and the president of his soon-to-be-formed party, Dhananjay Kumar, has said on TV) break away and form his own party as Yediyurappa is threatening to do?

And, does the recent turn of events indicate the kind of polarising figure Narendra Modi will be if he graduates to Delhi?

***

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Why can’t our ‘leaders’ speak like Obama?

10 November 2012

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes: Barack is back, and what a victory speech he gave us!

I say ‘us’ because the speech had something for all of us, in India too.

Like many of us Indians, as I watched Barack Obama’s victory speech on Thursday morning, I was left feeling envious — envious of Americans for having elected for themselves such an inspiring leader as their President.

I was left asking, “Why can’t I have a Prime Minister like him? A Prime Minister who inspires me, makes me feel like I matter, arouses a renewed sense of patriotism even in this severely fractured democracy that is India?”

Just a few days before Obama’s victory speech, our Prime Minister and our future prime ministerial candidate also spoke at a Congress mega rally. What a disappointment it was. No one on the dais could connect with the people they were addressing.

Rahul Gandhi’s ‘screech’ was full of sound and fury, at one point it seemed like he might collapse under his own vocal ferocity. But in spite of all the sound, in the end he shed very little light on any issue.

Instead, he showed us how dim he sometimes can be when he compared support for Kargil war to FDI! Neither did he inspire nor did he inform.

The only good thing about his speech was its timing. It was short.

Then our Prime Minister spoke. The content was repetitive, and like all his speeches, uninspiring. At best it could have inspired a few ventriloquists. Probably Robocop would have done a better job of connecting emotionally to us than our PM.

It is unfortunate. What use is intellect, if it can neither save us nor give us hope or produce words that will inspire us?

More importantly, what most of us would have noticed during the American presidential elections is the role of the family. We Indians never tire of saying that Americans are very detached from their families and add how we are such a family-oriented culture.

But every US President is judged by his family life. Every US President brings up his family in his speech, and never fails to mention the family values they imbibed in their formative years.

On the victory night, Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden both had their families on stage.

In fact, Obama said:

“and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more.”

Then he acknowledged his children saying:

“You’re growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I am so proud of you.”

In fact, not only did Obama thank his family, he also thanked and praised his opponent Mitt Romney’s family when he said:

“The Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is a legacy that we honour and applaud tonight.”

Now we have to ask, for a people who claim to be so much more ‘family-oriented,’ how many of our leaders have ever brought their family to the public fore to feel one with the people?

How many of our leaders have thanked their wives for their success (may be they don’t want to create ripples by picking one over the other)?

How many politicians have thanked their children for tolerating their absence?

None.

Even if they do, it is a display to garner sympathy and not family values.

Every Indian politician’s family life is shrouded in secrecy and when their children join them in politics, it is for personal gain, or when they have learnt the dirty tricks of the trade. Or even worse their names surface only when their illegal property is unearthed or a back door deal is exposed.

So political families get involved to stay in power and loot together. It makes us wonder, is there any true patriot among Indian politicians? It seems more likely that they love this country like one would love their goose that lays golden eggs, that’s all.

While we were in envy, Obama’s speech also made us feel miserable, because he made us think about our own nation when he said:

“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world.”

We were left thinking, what do our leaders want to leave behind for our children? A chaotic mess, that churns out black money and mediocrity, over which their equally greedy children can rule?

American Presidents care about legacy. But our leaders care only about power. And the only legacy they worry about is passing on their constituency and seat to their children. So they are either in power or forever in pursuit of it.

No wonder that yesterday Vijay Kumar Malhotra at age 80 won his 40th term as President of the Archery Association of India. It’s astounding that in 40 years, the members could not find anyone better than him.

When this is the case, it’s power that drives our leaders, not the vision of a better India or patriotism. That is why our election is based on promise of freebies, caste and money.

Not on agendas such as social justice, equality and prosperity.

Obama made us cheer for an otherwise arrogant America, when he said:

“We believe we can keep the promise of our founding fathers, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”

Can any of our leaders say that?

Have we ever heard our leaders say “no matter whatever you are, North Indian or South Indian, no matter if you are rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, abled or disabled, if you are willing to work hard and be sincere, you can make it in India?”

No. Instead, our leaders have created an environment where you have to be born rich or be crooked to make it in India. We have to be a certain vote bank to avail basic facilities and must be able to mobilise a mob to get justice.

Obama probably is the best thing that happened in recent times to the very idea of democracy. Because when we heard Obama’s speech, we felt inspired to be part of a democracy.

We felt we needed to be part of nation-building.

We felt we mattered.

We felt we had to vote.

We felt we had to be responsible citizens.

In contrast, our leaders have left us feeling deceived and helpless, so helpless in fact that we want to flee this nation the first chance we get. The only ones who are staying back are those who cannot leave due to financial or family constraints; in some cases, the inability to adjust to a new culture.

That is why so many of our young, unappreciated minds go there. They almost always do better than they would have here in their own country. They go there and become whatever they want. Some may disagree, especially our neo-rich, real-estate barons and corporate honchos who say that India is shining and no one wants to leave.

Well, then how come there is still a line outside the US Consulate offices all over India even today and there is no line in sight anywhere near an Indian Consulate in any part of the world?

That’s because India does not harbour an environment to facilitate the development of a decent and dignified citizen.

Instead we are engulfed in the smog of corruption, crony-capitalism, casteism and a lethargic justice system that has only helped the development of a crooked, greedy and self-centered citizenry.

When Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister with Rahul Gandhi waiting in toe, we assumed there was hope. Instead, in these ‘hopeful’ hands, our nation has become hopeless.

And so today while we watch in envy the American President’s inspirational and touching address to his nation, we are left orphaned with no leaders to inspire us or lead us. The only thing holding us together is our collective sense of greed and insecurity.

We have no hope.

We have only God.

But he too seems to have given up.

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

‘Ram, a bad husband; Lakshman, a worse brother’

9 November 2012

The Ramayana, reinterpreted by the renowned criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, in The Hindu:

Ram was a bad husband. I don’t like him at all. Just because some fisherman said something, he sent that poor woman [Sita] to exile.

Lakshman was even worse.

“When Sita was abducted, Ram asked him to go and find her as she was abducted during his watch. Lakshman simply excused himself saying she was his sister-in-law and he never looked at her face, so he wouldn’t be able to identify her.”

Image: courtesy India Forums

Also read: Rama, Krishna, Shiva and political correctness

Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and the women’s bill

Should gods, godesses have caste identities?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idlis

If Lord Rama was here, there, everywhere…

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

You’re too old for Dilli but not so for your Halli*

8 November 2012

The lord moves in mysterious ways in the Congress party. At the age of 80 years and six months, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna was overnight found too old to be the nation’s external affairs minister and packed off to the boondocks in quick time to usher in Salman Khurshid, 21 years his younger.

But at the same age of 80 years and six months, S.M. Krishna is still young enough for the verdant political landscape of his State, where the Congress is eyeing a comeback after six years in the doghouse. On Thursday, the “dapper” former chief minister, who is eyeing the CM’s chair once again according to the grapevine, was meeting independent MLAs who, having supported the BJP earlier, are now eyeing the Congresss.

Question: Can S.M. Krishna, the only Congress figure with Statewide appeal, make a difference in the assembly elections?

* To be sung to the tune of the old Amul jingle

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Is there a lesson for BJP in Barack Obama’s win?

7 November 2012

Reading newspaper reports, columns and editorials on the magnificent reelection of Barack Obama—and listening to his reelection speech full of hope and promise—brings home the stunning similarities between the current plight of the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s biggest democracy, in the year of the lord 2012.

There, like here, a man seen to be a reasonable, transformational figure was reduced to a divisive caricature by constant denigration. There, like here, the opposition put every hurdle in the path of the ruling dispensation, not allowing it to pass key legislation even if some of it may have been for the good of the country.

There, like here, the opposition stuck its head in the sand and pretended every problem was one man’s creation with no part of theirs or of the global economy. There, like here, sections of the media were skillfully used to spread the canards and the cock and bull stories reeking of self-righteousness and sanctimony.

There, like here, the opposition party allowed its agenda to be dictated by fringe elements from outside the boundary. There, like here, the opposition thought that the people would be fooled by the negativism and resentment, the intolerance and hate that they have made their leit motif.

There, like here, it was the single-point agenda of the opposition to get the ruling party out. There, like here, the opposition had no solutions for the travails, only more problems. There, like here, the opposition believed the fiction it had happily spun for public consumption.

Questions: Considering the glorious fate of Mitt Romney‘s Republican Party, is there a lesson in this for the BJP as it eyes the general election?

What does the great gold obsession say about us?

5 November 2012

The Punjabification of southern celebrityhood attains new heights—or plumbs new depths—with each passing day. Notions of austerity and simple living and high thinking are passe; flaunt it if you have it is the new mantra as “stars” exploit every ounce of their stardom, or what is left of it, for a few rupees more.

With Deepavali round the corner, it is habba for filmi folk.

Three generations of actors—from left, Bharati VishnuvardhanTara, Jayanthi and Padmaja Rao—pose for the camerasat an antique jewellery mela as part of the Deepavali festival celebrations organised by a jewel firm in Bangalore on Monday. Like, celebrating the festival of lights with anything less is a crime.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: All that glitters is a gold scam about to burst?

***

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

What Minoo Masani’s wife thought of Sonia G

5 November 2012

These are quite extraordinary times we are living in. The floodgates have opened, indeed the floodgates have been prised open. And what till not long ago used to be taboo topics—the wheeling-dealing of Robert Vadra, the business acumen of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the status of Priyanka‘s marriage, etc—is now meat and drink.

***

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

In Zareer Masani’s recent memoir of his parents, And All is Said, he quotes a letter written to him by his mother in 1968.

“Yesterday we went to Mrs Vijayalakshmi Pandit’s reception for Rajiv Gandhi and his wife,” wrote Shakuntala Masani, adding, “I can’t tell you how dim she is, and she comes from a working-class family. I really don’t know what he saw in her.”

And All is Said was widely reviewed when it was published, but no reviewer seems to have picked up on this comment. Shakuntala Masani was the daughter of Sir J.P. Srivastava, once one of the most influential men in India, an industrialist with wide business interests and a member of the viceroy’s executive council besides.

Shakuntala’s husband, Minoo Masani, was a well-educated Parsi from a family of successful professionals, who was himself a leading politician and writer. By upbringing and marriage Shakuntala Masani was a paid-up member of the Indian elite. Hence the condescending remarks about the working-class Italian whom Rajiv Gandhi had chosen as his wife.

Read the full article: Family romance

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Is this Congress’ Bofors—II?


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