Archive for the ‘Kannada & Karnataka’ Category

Why South Indians are different from ‘Punjabis’

10 May 2014

The differences in the mindset of South Indians and North Indians has been the object of much fascination and in no small measure, pride and envy. The stereotype of the rough, rugged, aggressive, foul-mouthed, back-stabbing, money-minded, itching-for-a-fight “Punjabi/Bhaiyya/Bihari” stands in stark contrast to the soft, docile, introverted, passive, friendly “Madrasi”.

The reasons usually trotted out for this obvious gap are the rougher terrain in the north, the inhospitable climate with extremes of summer and winter, and the number of wars and invasions at the hands of the Mughals and the British, not to mention the bloody Partition at the middle of the last century.

These factors, it is assumed, has made the North Indian tougher, hardier, and in their absence, South Indians have become somewhat soft and namby-pamby.

But could it also be that we are what we eat?

New research by American and Chinese scientists shows that there are psychological differences between people in rice-growing and wheat-growing regions, which, according to The Telegraph, Calcutta, “could also explain certain cultural differences between similar populations in India.”

“The study suggests that people in rice-growing provinces [in southern China] show higher levels of holistic thinking and loyalty to friends or relatives and appear less prone to conflict than people in northern wheat provinces.”

The study, which will appear in the US journal Science, shows that farmers who cultivate rice need to cooperate with neighbours to cordinate flooding and dredging of paddy fields. Cultivating wheat takes only about half as much effort as rice—and the lighter burden of wheat allows farmers to look on their own plots without relying on neighbours.

“Rice agriculture provides a disincentive for conflict,” Thomas Talhelm, a psychologist and research scholar at the University of Virginia says. This makes people in rice cultures avoid conflict, while people in wheat cultures can afford to be individualistic and less resistant to conflict.

The study shows that rice-growing and rice-eating people were more interdependent and holistic in their thinking and display higher levels of loyalty. The scientists also found differences in divorce rates—the rice-growing south had lower divorce rates than the wheat-growing north.

So, next time you chuck a rice baath and order a roti, guess what you are doing to yourself?!

Or guess what the growing appeal of idli and dosa is doing to them?

Photograph: courtesy NDTV

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Are north Indians lawless?

5 reasons why South India is better than the North

Ram Guha: Would war have made South Indians different?

Why aren’t more South Indian firms on the Sensex?

Anna-sambaar to the American on the Blackberry

When the heart pines for panneer butter masala

Zen and the art of eating the Mysore masala dosa

English or Kannada? Does the State know better?

9 May 2014

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K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: The recent judgement of our apex court striking down the appeal of our State government to make primary education in the mother-tongue compulsory has attracted both flak and appreciation from citizens’ groups and citizens depending on which side of the fence they stand.

What we should understand here is that the education of our children is a very personal matter in which all decisions are best left to the parents.

The State even with the help of experts in the field of education, who claim to have based their conclusions on studies, however extensive, cannot simply declare that it is easier for children to gain their education if their learning process is started in their respective mother-tongues when the experience of their parents is different.

In fact, these experts cannot claim to be more knowledgeable than most parents like me who have themselves studied in English medium schools and whose children have followed in their footsteps very comfortably.

My parents who had studied in their mother-tongue like millions of others thought it sensible to put all their children into English medium schools simply because they felt out of their personal experience that it was a better path than the one they had trod.

It is only because of this simple realisation that generations of parents in the past have taken great pains and have gone to great lengths, relocating themselves from villages and small towns to cities, often jeopardizing their occupations and livelihoods, just to enable their progeny to get a firm foothold on the most useful education.

Thanks to the proliferation of good schools even in the remotest reaches of our State today, this exodus is no longer necessary.

While I have seen dozens of cases of parents transplanting their children from mother-tongue medium schools to English medium schools, I am yet to come across someone who has thought it wise to do the opposite. When this is the case, can assumptions that come out of a few years of academic research rival the learning that comes out of generations of experience?

If research is the gold standard for determining what is good and bad for us, why do most educated and enlightened parents move heaven and earth during the school admission season year after year, standing in long queues, braving not only the sun by day but even the chill by night, before the gates of English medium schools?

Why are these schools proliferating like mushrooms after a good monsoon, while mother-tongue medium schools are going abegging for students and shutting shop in despair, unable to sustain themselves against the tide?

Before we shout ‘unfair’ at what is happening in our society we should pause for a while to ponder. To ask ourselves if this monstrously overwhelming majority of parents, desperate to give their children an English medium education can all be wrong?

What we all need is a good and useful education that while giving sustenance to our children does not kill the language of our State. This can be ensured by paving the way for education in the English medium for all those who clamour for it with a strict stipulation that the language of the State, Kannada in our case, is compulsorily taught throughout the entire schooling process, without any exception.

The State government should be satisfied if the importance of the language of the State is not undermined in any of the schools on its soil and the so-called experts if they so desire, making the best use of their wisdom, can get their kith and kin to study in their mother-tongues.

Most people who are now advocating a return to education in the mother-tongue are the ones who have never tasted the fruits of a firmly grounded education in the English medium. If the others think that ‘English medium delayed is English medium denied,’ what is wrong with it?

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

Photograph: A view of the meeting of the great and the good in the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, on Friday, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgment on the medium of instruction for class 1 to IV. (Karnataka Photo News)

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Meanwhile, in parts still not hit by the Modi Wave

24 April 2014

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Election time is one of most exhilarating periods in the life of the less-than-aam aadmi, when politicians (and the media) suddenly descend on earth, files move, officials respond, there is food on the table, water in the taps and a freebie around the corner.

After the election—and till the next one—it is another story, which is why we are like this only.

Exactly a week after polling day in Karnataka, it’s back to square minus one in Belgaum as the familiar mid-summer sight of girls and women lugging empty pots to collect water, when they ought to be studying and playing and having fun, dot the landscape in village Alataga.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why the Mysore palace does not run out of water

If we can send man to the moon, why can’t we…?

Bhavana, Bhavya, Radhika, Ragini, Shruthi, Tara…

16 April 2014

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The 2014 election campaign saw Karnataka taking some giant steps towards emulating the cinema-obsessed politics of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, with film actors (and actresses) of varying waist (and goggle) sizes turning up to campaign for political parties and candidates; some officially, many not.

Sadly, reality just kicked in.

The stars were only for the “road shows”, to provide some box-office glamour to the beauty parade of the not-so-beautiful, which is what realpolitik is. The real hard-bones electoral work at the booths tomorrow will be done by these folk, some of whose names, if you are lucky, could match those whom they leer and cheer.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

CHURUMURI POLL: Who’s ahead in Karnataka?

16 April 2014

From a Karnataka perspective, the 2014 Lok Sabha election has been a roller-coaster ride.

After the Congress’s thumping return to power in the 2013 assembly elections, the party believed it would repeat its showing in the general elections, thus making up for what is certain to be a serious rout in the Seemandhra region, following the noisy creation of the Telengana state.

The populist decisions undertaken by the Siddaramaiah government was also supposed to help to add to the Congress tally in Karnataka (Congress bagged 8 of the 28 seats, against the BJP’s 18 and the JDS’s two).

But the return of B.S. Yediyurappa to the BJP, and the re-inclusion of B. Sreeramulu, has altered the conventional wisdom on top of the headwind that Narendra Modi brings to his high-voltage campaign. The opinion polls are divided in what is in store in the state, except to suggest that the Congress might not get as high as it thought it would and the BJP as low as many thought it would.

So, what do you think would be the final score?

When a general election is an ‘agni pareeksha’

14 April 2014

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The Congress candidate for the Davanagere Lok Sabha constituency, S.S. Mallikarjuna, walks over somewhat smouldering, somewhat dying coal embers during a pit stop as part of campaigning in the central Karnataka town once renowned for its textile mills, on Monday.

In true Congress style, which Rahul Gandhi says he wants to overthrow but cannot quite come around to doing it, the constituency was earlier represented by Mallikarjuna’s father, the education magnate Shamanur Shivashankarappa.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Did R-Day Tipu tableau insult Kodavas & Jains?

28 January 2014

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ARUN PADKI writes: 65 years after to the day when the Constitution of India was adopted paving the way for the birth of Republic of India, has the government of Karnataka undermined the spirit of our democracy by displaying a tableau of Tipu Sultan?

Knowing very well that the antecedents of Tipu are hazy and not one that could be showcased as a symbol of the State or Karnataka’s pride, the government of Karnataka’s decision to make him the theme of its tableau at this year’s Republic Day parade is not in good taste.

The fact that this tableau was chosen over Kodagu-the land of warriors tableau is only rubbing salt over their wounds.

The contribution of Kodavas to this country is immense and on this community Tipu committed atrocities unimaginable that befits a king. Only a warlord or one with extreme perversion and hatred could do these heinous acts of murder, maiming and forceful conversion.

The other people who suffered similar atrocities during Tipu’s regime were the people from Coastal Karnataka, mainly Catholics and the people of Malabar who were forced to flee to a friendlier King, the Raja of Travancore and the rest staying back, after accepting a religion forced onto them.

The government could have chosen from and done justice to the citizens of the state and country by showing Karnataka in true spirit: The splendour of Mysore Dasara in the 18th century or the Saavira Kambada Basadi (thousand-pillared temple), a Jain temple that is spell binding.

Since Dasara has its own platform to exhibit’s the splendour, this can be given a miss.  As a true Mysorean, even I would not complain since we are a State with lots of diversity. One State, many worlds…indeed!

For centuries Jains in Karnataka have given more to the society than one can imagine.  If the monuments they have built, their generosity and the benign leaders of the past are one aspect, the education institutions of today and the charity work they are doing in today’s world is another.

They do not ask for favours from Government unlike others although the the UPA government has conferred them the title of ‘minority’ in an election year.

Tipu’s contribution to culture, literature, Kannada language and more importantly secularism is always questioned.  Kannada was replaced with Farsi language.  As far as making him a freedom fighter is concerned, biased historians have compromised on his correspondences with the French to overthrow the British.

The Government of Karnataka has played dirty politics by displaying a tableau of Tipu with the elections in mind.  It is for the people who are the target of appeasement here to understand the facts of about Tipu and not get swayed by these short term gimmicks.  Mutual respect and equality is important than being appeased or tolerated.

And today, Kodavas and Jains, being small communities, have become inconsequential to the politicians as they are not a vote bank.

Also read: Oldest book in President’s house is on Tipu Sultan

Should a University be named after Tipu Sultan?

CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

‘Most Hindus and most Muslims are communal’

Did the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ really tame a tiger?

Tipu Sultan and the truth about 3,000 Brahmins

Tipu Sultan left his last meal unfinished’

How do you say seun van ‘n teef in Kannada?

15 January 2014

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Dodda Ganesh on the day he retired from cricket, with his wife and children (courtesy The Hindu)

In a commemorative volume brought out by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in his honour, batting legend, member of Parliament and Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar recounts this anecdote involving the former Karnataka cricket Doddanarsaiah Ganesh, who played four Tests for India:

Dodda Ganesh and I were batting and Alan Donald was bowling lightning-fast deliveries.

“When Dodda faced his onslaught fearlessly Alan started mouthing words at Dodda. On three consecutive deliveries Dodda got confused but did not lose his wicket.

“At the end of the over Alan went over to Dodda and let loose a string of verbal abuses. Since Dodda’s face remained impassive, Alan became even more furious.

“I witnessed the interaction from the non-striker’s end.

“When Alan came to fetch his cap from the umpire at the end of his over, I told him, ‘Alan, Dodda only knows a local language called Kannada. I find it difficult to communicate with him as well when we are batting together. So how can he understand your abuses in English? If you want to trouble him, speak to him in Kannada so that at least he will understand.’

“This made Alan even more furious. He almost snatched his cap from the umpire and making wild gestures with his hands.”‘

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: When Kumar Sangakkara gave it to Shaun Pollock

Lip service: The 10 top sledges in cricket?

The Talibanisation of Kannada cinema—Part II

15 January 2014

VASANT SHETTY writes from Bangalore: Bangalore is home to “Sandalwood”, the Kannada film industry.

The industry produces 120-130 movies an year and, like other major film industries in India, has about a 10% success rate.

Unfortunately, unlike other film industries, Sandalwood is known for banning dubbing of content to Kannada.

This unofficial ban on dubbing content effectively isolates Kannadigas who know only Kannada (approximately there are 2.5 to3 crore Kannadigas who know only Kannada and no other language) from the sea of knowledge and entertainment that exists in other languages.

We must note that the ban has no legal sanctity and is put in place by a private trade bodies like Karnataka film chamber of commerce (KFCC) and other similar organizations.

The private ban was put in place six decades ago in order to give boost to the then ailing Kannada film industry under the aegis of the legendary actor Dr Raj Kumar. The protectionist measure helped the novice industry to scale from less than 10 films a year to more than 100 films a year.

But like other typical protectionist schemes, the continued “PRIVATE” protection has resulted in isolating Kannadigas from receiving worldly knowledge in visual form and is fast turning counter-productive from the view point of increasing language’s reach.

Several past attempts by concerned individuals to debate the unconstitutional ban on dubbing was shot down in the guise of protecting of language and culture by vested interests.

Last year when the Hindi cinema actor Aamir Khan set out to do a social awareness program called Satyameva Jayate, he wanted to make this program available in most Indian languages using the means of dubbing.

In Kannada, the general entertainment channel Suvarna was planning to air this program in Kannada and as soon as the news broke out, sundry trade organisations affiliated to Kannada film and TV industry made sure that Suvarna channel backed off from that idea.

When Suvarna put the first episode of  Kannada version on YouTube, it received more than 30,000 views in 24 hours and strangely the very next day the video was pulled out from the internet too. Cartels from the film and TV industry were suspected to be behind this.

Amidst all this, Competition Commission of India (CCI) entered the scene after a complaint was lodged with it on the grounds that the ban violates the freedom of choice of a Kannadiga consumer from watching the best of entertainment and knowledge programs from across the world in his mother tongue.

The dubbing debate seems to have entered the last leg with recent media reports (Udayavani, 7 January) indicating that the CCI has come down very heavily on all associations affiliated to Kannada film and television industry for their blatant anti-consumer and anti-competition actions. This has triggered raging debates on Kannada TV and social media about pros and cons of dubbing once again.

On a serious note, is there anything to debate at all?

It’s an open and shut case. Whoever wants to see original content, they should have their choice, and whoever wants to see dubbed content, they should have their choice too.

In this context, we are running a petition requesting the chief minister of Karnataka and his administration to ensure that the citizens of Karnataka are able to exercise their freedom of choice.

I request all those individuals who believe in liberty, freedom of choice, democracy and rule of law to sign this petition and show your support for this people’s cause.

Sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1izOkfI

Also read: The Talibanisation of Kannada cinema and television

An open letter to Aamir Khan, from a Kannadiga

What the Darshan‘s brutality says about Scandalwood

A private zoo owner climbs up Forbes celeb pole

14 December 2013

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Celebrities live in a strange and nearly unbelievable age of make-believe, where often times bad news is good news.

For all their cinematic talent and box-office success (and, on top of it, demonstrated decency in public life) neither Dr Raj Kumar nor Vishnuvardhan ever figured like or towered over their peers and compatriots in the national consciousness.

But Darshan Tugudeep (in picture, left) is a different kettle of fish.

The “challenging star” of dozens of execrable films which strangely seem to have a magnetic hold on moviegoers; the “challenged star” who beat up his wife, stubbed a burning cigarette, tore her dress, bit her ear, threatened their son, and pulled out his revolver sparking homas and processions from his equally challenged followers, has made it to Forbes India magazine’s list of the top 100 celebrities in the country.

In fact, the Mysore-born star debuts healthily at No. 65, three places lower than Sudeep at No. 62.

The accompanying text for Darshan reads:

65. Darshan

Earnings: Rs 24 crore

Fame rank: 98

“The Kannadiga actor [who has a private zoo] is among the highest paid stars from the South Indian film industry…. Darshan won the best actor award at the south Filmfare awards for his role in 2012 historical biopic Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna. Like many of his other peers, Darshan too is attempting to build a business that is independent of his acting skills. His family currently owns a a shooting unit…. Apart from a production house, Darshan has started a film distribution business, giving a boost to his earnings.”

In contrast, the text for Sudeep, who earns less and is apparently less famous, is positively bland.

62. Sudeep

Earnings: Rs 13.50 crore

Fame rank: 61

One of the few Kannada actors to have successfully transitioned across language barriers, Kichcha Sudeep had a pretty varied and fulfilling year. He won a slew of awards for his role as the villain in the Telugu-Tamil fantasy movie Eega.

The only other Kannadiga celebs on the list are Deepika Padukone who is at No. 11 with earnings of Rs 39.50 crore, Rahul Dravid who is at No. 30 (Rs 7.66 crore), Aishwarya Rai who is at No. 51 (Rs 13.50 crore), Prabhu Deva who is at No. 90 (Rs 8.50 crore).

Also read: What Darshan‘s brutality says about Sandalwood

Darshan scandal reveals Kannada bias, bigotry’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Darshan be banned?

When wife-beater Darshan campaigns for Congress

From Bindiganavile to Jind via Central Asia

13 December 2013

kesavan front

Where is hometown in the world of elastic geographies?

What is mother tongue in the era of mixed parentage?

In this, the first chapter from his new book, Homeless on Google Earth (Permanent Black), the historian, cricket writer and novelist Mukul Kesavan—son of B.S. Kesavan, the Mysore-born scholar who became the first Indian director of the National Library in New Delhi—writes on home in the wired world.

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By MUKUL KESAVAN

When I was 7 or 8, I asked my father where I was from.

Or what we were, which seemed, then, to amount to the same thing.

My father told me that I was a Kannadiga and that we were from Mysore, the name by which Karnataka was known in 1965. At the time I was a schoolboy in Delhi so the information was useful; “where are you from?” was the first question you were asked in class. The second question, but second only by a short head, was “what does your father do?”

My father was a librarian and his “native place” was contained, theoretically at least, within his name.

South Indians (or Madrasis as they were known in Delhi in the 1960s) often had two initials before their names: the first indicated a place name, the second was often the father’s name. So B.S. Kesavan expanded into Bellary Shamanna Kesavan, which made me a Kannadiga from Mysore, and if a classmate wanted me to get more specific I could even supply an ancestral place name.

Only it wasn’t as cut and dried as it sounded.

My father, despite his name, felt no sense of belonging to Bellary. The name was an affectation, a lie: an ancestor who had achieved petty government rank had decided that it was grander to claim Bellary, a district capital, as home, rather than the obscure place to which he belonged, a tiny town called Bindiganavile.

When, towards the end of his life, he felt the need to return to his origins, my father led a little cavalcade of cars filled with members of his extended family to Bindiganavile where his ancestors had endowed a temple.

But even Bindiganavile wasn’t where he (or I) began.

There lurked a pre-Kannadiga identity and the clue to it lay in the fact that my father spoke Tamil fluently, as did his brothers.

Some ten years ago, I visited my uncle in Bangalore and found him in a rage. A militantly nativist movement had begun to attack “outsiders” in Bangalore, speciallyTamilians, allegedly because they didn’t identify with Karnataka’s language, Kannada, and continued to speak Tamil.

My uncle, who like his brother thought of himself as a Kannadiga and spoke Kannada like a native, was infuriated that arriviste politicians had declared that people with names like Kesavan and Natarajan were enemy aliens. “Kannada! I’ll teach these fellows Kannada!” he growled, his moustache bristling.

The language my father and his brothers grew up speaking at home was a dialect of Tamil because, many generations earlier, their ancestors had migrated from the Tamil country to present-day Karnataka, following their spiritual preceptor, Ramanujacharya.

Their descendants – B.S. Kesavan and his brothers amongst them – spoke pidgin Tamil within the family and Kannada to the outside world. This didn’t make them linguists, it made them liminal: “real” Tamils thought they were inadequately Tamil while militant Kannada activists refused to see them as authentically Kannadiga.

But it would be inaccurate to say that Hebbar Iyengars (the jati or caste community of which my father’s family was a part) were Kannadiga in the monolingual way in which language chauvinists like Vatal Nagaraj would have liked them to be.

Linguistically, my father was a cosmopolitan: he could make himself understood in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Hindi, and English; he read Sanskrit for pleasure, and had leant German in Weimar Germany and subsequently forgotten it.

This multilingual ability was, to some degree, the norm in his family.

Nearly all my cousins on my father’s side of the family speak four, sometimes five, languages. So language alone didn’t, couldn’t define home. Home to them was a curious blend of the towns they had grown up in (and it was always a town or a city; there wasn’t an ancestral village that anyone could remember) and their caste identity as Brahmins of a particular sort.

Hebbar Iyengars tended to go on a bit about how light-skinned they were and this anxiety about pigmentation sometimes became the basis of speculative theories of origin.

One cousin, who had read B.G. Tilak’sThe Arctic Home in the Vedas, explained to me that this absence of darkness indicated the northerly, non-Dravidian origins of the Hebbar Iyengar community. In his mind, he was simultaneously from Mysore and the Central Asian steppes, that cradle of white, Indo-European goodness.

My claim to being a Kannadiga, or even my claim to a hybrid Tamil-Kannadiga identity, was nominal.

I first visited Karnataka when I was 21; I was born in Delhi, educated in its schools and colleges, and I’ve been working in that city ever since.

My mother’s family had been Dilli-wallahs since at least the time of the last Mughal: we had the papers to prove that Munshi Nathmal, our ancestor, once a minor clerk in Bahadur Shah Zafar’s administration, turned his coat and defected to the British the moment Delhi rose in revolt in 1857.

I had none of my father’s languages: for many years I couldn’t even tell if he was speaking Telugu or Kannada or Tamil; it was just a sludge of South Indian to me. I spoke Hindi and English and nothing else, which used to prompt my father to say that I spoke my mother’s tongue, not my mother tongue.

If I had a native place, then, it was Delhi.

In terms of location and language I was more an Agrawal from Delhi than an Iyengar from Mysore, but so powerful was the idea of patrilineal descent that through childhood and youth I believed I was “South Indian”.

But even my North Indian identity was an odd confection of fact and prejudice.

My mother’s family had lived in the old city for more than a hundred years. In the Bania narrative of Delhi’s history, everything bad or coarse that had happened to the city since Independence was put down to the influx of Punjabi refugees.

They were vulgar, thrusting, untutored in Delhi’s ways and especially its language.

They said “mere ko” instead of “mujhe”, and “bola” instead of “kaha”.

I soaked up these notions as a child and came to the conclusion that since everyone must have come to Delhi from somewhere else, and since we weren’t (heaven be praised) Punjabis, we must have arrived in the city from UP. My mother even had a cousin who owned ancestral property in Banaras, which seemed to clinch things in favour of that state.

Some years later a maternal uncle gave me a yellowing book with a family tree that traced my mother’s lineage to Jind. Jind had been part of undivided Punjab and was now part of Haryana. I didn’t want to be from Haryana so I said I didn’t believe the family tree.

My uncle grinned hard-heartedly and told me to count from 90 to 100 in Hindi.

I did.

When I finished he said, “Can’t you hear yourself? Instead of the simple ‘n’ sound of ikyanvey, baanvey, tiranvey, chauranvey, which is how someone from UP would count, all your ‘n’ sounds came out like the retroflexive ‘n’ in Haryana. Because Haryana is where you’re from.”

If I was to look for Home on Google Earth, there are a variety of places that I could plausibly zoom in on.

Bellary, Bindiganavile, Mysore city (where my grandfather worked and my father taught), Mlyapore in Chennai (where my father lived many years of his childhood), Central Asia (whence Iyengars might have sprung), Nehr Sadat Khan in Old Delhi (where collaborating banias prospered), even Jind in Haryana.

If there is a moral to my story, it must be that the reality of “home” is subject to alteration, that the native place is as often a place of transition as a point of origin, that instead of being a still centre to which we are historically attached, home is an idea to which we choose to belong.

I choose not to belong to Jind.

(Excerpted from Homeless on Google Earth, by Mukul Kesavan; 314 pages, Rs 595; Permanent Black, 2014; with the author’s permission)

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: How our buddhijeevis became one-tongue ponies

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

The best actor in the history of Indian cinema is…

The greatest batsman in Test match cricket…

The 8th Wonder: How Chandru became Sumitra

26 November 2013

8th Wonder

“I am a victim of multiple disadvantages. As an uneducated transgender from a poor Dalit family, I am cursed in more ways than one. I have been teased, insulted, beaten up, stripped and abused by strangers and acquaintances—even by those who I considered friends and family.

“People ask me what I do, and I say, ‘commercial sex work’. This ends the conversation many times. But some tend to drag it. ‘Why?’ I am asked. A smile is my only answer. As if they care. As if someone like me has many choices. As if a different answer would make them reconsider how they look at us.

“Born as Chandru, I went under the knife to become Sumitra. The surgery did not just change my gender. It changed my life. I worked in hamams (public bathrooms) and did other odd jobs before I moved into this role. Here you are always the unwed wife, never the mother.”

“Looking at Hampi, I wish someone called me the eighth wonder. That is because I am as beautiful as the ruins of a grane empire, if not more. What is more, I move on against all odds, sans the pomp or fame of Hampi.

“My grace transcends my beauty, although very few tend to notice it. That is because beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, while grace springs from the heart…. These stones are so much like me, yet so different. If ruins can conceal beauty within them, so can I.

” I may be easy on the eyes, but completely shattered inside.”

Photograph: courtesy K. Venkatesh

Words: coutesy Rishikesh Bahadur Desai

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Photo Caption

The Kannada actress Radhika (centre) at the inaugurates of “The 8th wonder”, an exhibition of pcitures by K. Venkatesh at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore on Monday.

A ‘teesra’ from a legspinner is still a legbreak

20 November 2013

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Former India and Karnataka cricket captain, Anil Radhakrishna Kumble, delivering the Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi lecture in Bombay:

“In 1990, as a teenager, I took my first steps in international cricket and was eager for encouragement and a kind word in the cricketing world. I came across a comment from an accomplished Indian cricketer and a respected leader of men.

“I quote: ‘This lad, I don’t see him winning Test matches for India, either at home or abroad. He rarely turns the ball. At best he can be restrictive.’

“The assessment came from Mr Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

“Two decades of international cricket and 619 Test wickets later, it is indeed a great honour and privilege to address this august gathering.

“It was my misfortune that I never had a chance to confront Pataudi on his comment, but I am confident that had I done so, he would have had a good laugh. Unlike many men with a reputation for possessing a sense of humour, he was capable of taking a joke against himself.

“In cricket, as in most things in life, perceiving is believing. I think it was the great English left arm spinner Wilfred Rhodes who said that if the batsman thinks it’s spinning, then it’s spinning. As you might imagine, it is a philosophy I can identify with.

“In recent years such gifted bowlers as Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq have spoken of the ‘zooter’ and the ‘teesra’ respectively to keep the opposition guessing and wasting hours in their back rooms figuring out what these exotic terms meant.

“Perception. It is all a matter of perception. After all, what can a teesra be? A leg break bowled with an off break action that turns out to be an off break after all?”

Read the full lecture: Perception and practice

Photograph: Former India captain Anil Kumble arrives to address the meet-the-press programme organized by Bangalore Reporters Guild, at the Press Club of Bangalore, in Bangalore on Wednesday (K–arnataka Photo News)

Also read: What Sania Mirza needs to learn from Anil Kumble

The secret of Anil Kumble‘s success is his un-Kannadiganess

BCCI, Anil Kumble, Infosys and a silly PR exercise

The runaway kid who runs an idli-dosa empire

29 October 2013

From The Telegraph, Calcutta, the story of Jayaram Banan, the son of a bus driver in Udupi who ran away from home to Bombay as a boy, and now runs a chain of south Indian restaurants in the north under the brand name Sagar Ratna.

“I worked as a serving boy and then manager in small-town restaurants before moving to Delhi, where I turned entrepreneur,” he recalls. Banan opened a canteen-style idli-dosa outlet in Delhi’s defence colony market in 1986. He called it Sagar.

“The butter chicken-loving Delhi lapped up his southern fare. Apart from the Sagar Ratna chain, Banan runs Swagath for south Indian coastal cuisine. Launched in 2001, it now has 10 outlets.

“Some of Banan’s restaurants are exclusively owned, some are parnerships and some franchisees. “We plan to double our turnover and the numbers of restaurant in the next five years,” he says

For the record, even today Jayaram Banan stands outside his very first Sagar Ratna™ outlet in defence colony and welcomes guests for half-an-hour every day at 7 pm.

Vir Sanghvi wrote:

“I discovered that he has never once sat at a table and eaten at one of his restaurants. Most days he eats at the Defence Colony Swagath but takes the meals in the kitchen. I’ve known him to drink the odd whisky but he will not touch liquor at one of his restaurants. As far as he’s concerned, the restaurants are places where he is meant to serve, not enjoy.

“His dedication and drive are also exemplary. He leaves home at 9 am every morning and rarely returns before 11.30 pm, trying to visit as many of his restaurants as he can. On Sundays, he leaves at 7 am and visits all 29 restaurants in the Delhi area. There is no other way of maintaining standards, he says.”

Photograph: courtesy Growth Institute

Read the full story: Bon appetit

Also read: How V.G. Siddharth built Coffee Day cup by cup

Why Vasudev Adiga wants a COO for idli-vada-sambar

A good dosa is like your first love: unsurpassable

Karanth & Bendre in the hands of Muthappa Rai?

18 October 2013

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The Frontline page which called him one of Karnataka’s “most elusive criminals“ who “allegedly operated extortion rackets”, no longer exists. His once-colourful Wikipedia page has been cleaned up to state dryly that Muthappa Rai is a “former underworld don and entrepreneur“.

But can even the convenient company of such literary diamonds of the land—K. Shivarama Karanth (left, bottom) and D.R. Bendre—give the Jaya Karnataka chief, the man Wired magazine called “The Godfather of Bangalore“, the kind of lustre and legitimacy he seeks?

Here, Rai and gang take part in a rally to demand impartial education.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: On Ugadi, a brand-new Kannada warrior emerges

Pampa to Champa: what a fall, my countrymen

Thankfully, Ripley‘s museum is located in Bidadi

A giant leap to stop the criminalisation of politics

A few more sites is all they need for a nice layout

An architectural beauty, yes, but user-friendly?

16 October 2013

Photo Caption

Back when it was built, the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore perhaps looked big and beautiful and daunting, and conveyed the full might of the “State”. It perhaps even inspired some of those who secured a five-year lease of occupation. But who can argue that it is the most the user-friendly, for the rulers or the ruled, in the 21st century?

Notwithstanding that, dozens of replicas of Kengal Hanumanthaiah‘s architectural legacy have sprung up all over Karnataka. If the districts have scale-models in the ‘Mini’ Soudha, in faraway-Belgaum there is a near-replica of the original one, the Suvarna Soudha, and it doesn’t look half as pretty when your gaze turns to the shepherd.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Bangalore’s best building since Vidhana Soudha

When George Fernandes tried to blow up Vidhana Soudha

Gavaskar vs Vishwanath = Tendulkar vs Dravid?

12 October 2013

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Although they were part of the same Indian team—sharing the dressing room, sharing partnerships, sharing victories, defeats and draws—cricket fans detected a faint undercurrent of competition and conflict between Sunil Gavaskar and G.R. Viswanath.

On one level, this was the old battle between two stellar domestic Ranji Trophy sides, Bombay and Karnataka, playing out subliminally through its two leading lights, one a fearless opener who faced the fast and the furious without a helmet; the other an artist who wielded the willow like a brush.

On another level, it was a deeply ingrained stereotype, that “Sunny”, for all the records against his name, was a selfish, mammon-worshipping run-machine with one eye always on the right-hand column of the scoreboard, as opposed to the selfless “Vishy”, who put the team’s interests before his own.

It would have been easy to blame the media for the Gavaskar vs Vishwanath row, but this was in pre-television, pre-internet India of the 1970s and ’80s.

Gavaskar’s pathetic gesture of batting left-handed, down the batting order, in a Ranji match Bombay were losing against Karnataka only confirmed the worst suspicions of cricket followers, but all was forgiven when Gundappa chose Sunny’s sister Kavitha to be his wife.

Action replay.

Was there a similar vibe between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid? The former, a run-machine from Bombay who adored Gavaskar, and the latter, a touch artist whose idol was Vishy?

Like their icons, Tendulkar and Dravid were kingpins of batting. Without the other, each would have had less to show; without both, the side would have suffered. They played hundreds of matches, scored thousands of runs together.

Still, was it all hunky-dory between the two?

Did Dravid have his team’s interests when he declared the Indian innings in Pakistan even as Tendulkar was within striking distance of his first double-century? Did Tendulkar conveniently lose his form when Dravid was captain?

Two days after Tendulkar announced his pre-retirement from the game, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes:

“My most revealing journalistic Sachin moment came in an NDTV Walk the Talk.

“‘If you had to take one stroke from each one of your four great batting peers, Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman, what will it be,’ I asked.

“‘It will be Sehwag’s cut, nobody cuts like him,’ he said, ‘Ganguly’s cover drive, Laxman’s flick off-the-hip and Dravid…’ he paused for a moment to think.

“And what will you take from Dravid, I asked, my mischievous journalistic sensors abuzz, thinking of the little issue the two had just had in Pakistan (Multan) when Dravid had declared with Sachin not out at 194.

“‘I will take Dravid’s defence,’ he said, ‘nobody has a defence like his.’

“I called 10 self-proclaimed cricket experts to ask if that comment was bitchy or brilliant. The verdict: 10:0, brilliant.

Now, wasn’t that a stroke of cricketing genius?

Photograph: Sachin Tendulkar takes a nap on the floor of the dressing room in 1989, as New Zealand swing legend Sir Richard Hadlee (right) and left-arm spinner, Saggi Venkatapathy Raju, look on (courtesy H. Natarajan)

Read the full article: Since 1989

Also read: India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Sunil Gavaskar: India’s most petulant cricketer ever?

An open letter to Rahul Gandhi from an Editor

11 October 2013

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K.B. Ganapathy, the editor-in-chief of India’s leading English daily evening newspaper, Star of Mysore, pens an open letter to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

***

Dear Sri Rahul Gandhi

Let me come to the point, for you are a busy man. And it is the busy man who has time to spare. Please spare a few minutes to peruse what I have written here concerning Karnataka, my State and its Chief Minister of a little over 100 days old, Sri Siddaramaiah.

I know him from the day he was a lawyer, law teacher and then an angry young politician inspired by Jayaprakash Narayan and the socialist leaders of Nehru-Gandhi years. Hailing from a backward village of an industrially backward district Mysore, he had the dream of ameliorating the living conditions of the oppressed and the have nots.

Since you will have a dossier on Siddaramaiah, I will not dilate.

However, what prompted me, rather provoked me to write this letter of appeal to you is the news that broke out last evening on TV channels and that appeared in cold print this morning saying that about 20 Congress MLAs have sent a complaint against Siddaramaiah to the Congress high command.

As if to prove the blind belief of many earlier Chief Ministers of Karnataka that whoever visited Chamarajanagar — whose inhabitants are mostly Dalits and Scheduled Tribes — would lose power, these 20 MLAs must have submitted their complaint.

It may be their belief that the bold decision of Siddaramaiah to visit the “cursed” district could be an auspicious moment for them to conspire to bring down Siddaramaiah and then allow the TV and the Press to go to town saying, “didn’t we say he would lose power after visiting Chamarajanagar?”

Dear Sri Rahul, I want you to congratulate Siddaramaiah for his deliberate, daring visit to Chamarajanagar despite advice to the contrary. In doing so, he has led the motley crowd of people steeped in superstition from the front urging them to give up such blind belief. Siddaramaiah, thus, has set a personal example, unlike other Chief Ministers. Now, it should not be shown as if he made a mistake by going to Chamarajanagar.

I will only say this. If you listen to these disgruntled MLAs and sack Siddaramaiah, it will tantamount to yourself subscribing to the superstition and thereby perpetuating the same in this century of reason and scientific temperament.

And in any case, the people of Karnataka know what could be the nature of their complaint. The MLAs generally want their favourite (read corrupt) officers to be posted in most ‘revenue” generating departments like police, revenue, PWD and zilla panchayat. The deputy commissioners (DCs) are tough nuts, being IAS.

So these MLAs want the Chief Minister to give them their favourite police inspectors, tahasildars, executive engineers and CEOs of ZPs.

Totally self-centric, not Karnataka-centric in their conduct as MLAs.

In the past, the Chief Minister, in order to remain in his seat, used to oblige these MLAs. But, have we seen corresponding increased development in the constituencies of these MLAs? No. Reason: Self-aggrandisement.

However, there is another complaint tagged on to the first one, “that Siddaramaiah is ignoring the MLAs’ requests and he is surrounded by his old friends and old gang etc.” This one is to provide a moral facade to an untenable complaint. They alleged that Siddaramaiah goes by their advice.

So what?

Ramakrishna Hegde had his “Brains Trust.” Every Chief Minister will have to consult, apart from the Cabinet colleagues, somebody in whose wisdom, expertise and experience he has trust.

According to reports, Siddaramaiah has five such advisors. I understand they are not only committed and loyal to Siddaramaiah but also to his party, Congress. They are: 1. Kempaiah, IPS, retired. 2. Ravi Bosraj. 3. Chenna Reddy. 4. Konanakunte Laxman. 5. MLA Bhyrati Suresh of Krishnarajapuram, Bangalore.

If it is true, it will be perceived by the people, not by politicians and bureaucrats, that these five will be like ‘Pancha Ratnas’ similar to the ‘Navaratnas’ in the courts of Ashoka and Akbar. Like your mother listened to her inner voice about 10 years back, you had better listen to the voice of the people of Karnataka.

More importantly, development of the State is possible only if the Chief Minister is allowed to complete his term, unless he is incompetent or corrupt. For now, Siddharamaiah is competent, what with many years of experience in the earlier governments of JD(S) and he is our Mr. Clean.

For Kannadigas, development is more important than 2014 Parliamentary election.

Yours faithfully,

K.B. Ganapathy

File photograph: Karnataka governor H.R. Bharadwaj administrating the oath of office to Siddaramaiah during the swearing-in ceremony at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore on Monday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: The editor who foresaw Siddaramaiah as CM

Is South Indian cinema better than Bollywood’s?

4 October 2013

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In the fourth week of August, Madras played host to a three-day jamboree to mark 100 years of South Indian cinema.

Song and dance delegations from each of the four states got a chance to show their wares. By all accounts, it was an event hogged and monopolised by the Mysore-born actress-turned-Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha Jayaram, to the exclusion of all else in the film fraternity, in an election year.

But does South Indian cinema really have much to celebrate, regardless of the snooty South Indian belief that south cinema is better than Bollywood cinema? Regardless of the talented stars, the macho mustachioed actors, the sexy actresses, the villians, the vamps, the directors, music composers and technicians?

The long-time film critic Randor Guy alias Madabhushi Rangadurai, offers a blistering critique of Kollywood and Mollywood and Sandalwood, in The Pioneer:

“We are where we started in 1913. Indian movies in general and south Indian movies in particular have not moved an inch forward. It is all the same. Personalities have been changed to accommodate youth. That’s the only notable change.

“South Indian language films continue to be the extension of the old theatre. There is no semblance of reality to the real life. There should be logic, reasoning and art in the product.

“Do you think hard hitting dialogues, songs shot with hundreds of co-stars in exotic locations, the hero single-handedly bashing up the goons and walking away with the heroine makes a good movie? I am aghast.. Most of the directors have not seen classical movies and they have not read good books too.

“The movie Nenjil Oru Aalayam (A temple inside the heart) was sent as an entry for the Oscar Award. The man in charge of the category for which the movie was sent laughed at us and asked weren’t there any divorce laws in India. He told us that the story could have been cut short had the protagonists approached the court of law instead of singing songs and mouthing tough dialogues.

“If films represent only glamour and nothing else, well, there is no need to elaborate. If even third grade movies could throw up global leaders from the fraternity, imagine, what could have been the scenario had we produced movies matching the ones made in Hollywood?”

Photograph: courtesy Cinema News Today

Also read: Poll: Is Hindi cinema Indian cinema?

‘Bollywood: India’s most moronic cultural export’

Has Bollywood wrecked our cinema sensibilities?

Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?

The greatest actor in the history of Indian cinema?

The sexiest South Indian south Asian actress is…

Why national media ignores the national awards

POLL: Can Nandan Nilekani win Bangalore South?

18 September 2013

Kite-flying effortlessly replaces cricket as the nation’s favourite sport before every election, state or national, and so it is in the run-up to 2014, with “guided rumours” of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani suddenly but not unexpectedly doing the rounds as a potential Congress candidate from Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency.

For the moment, there is no confirmation from the man, but he has certainly not denied the report which first appeared on the website of the business newspaper, Mint. “It’s speculative,” is how the Sirsi-born software mogul has chosen to greet the unattributed reports which clearly emanate from his “camp”, and all of which uniformally talk of his candidature having Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi‘s imprimatur.

On the face of it, Nilekani has plenty going for him. He is young (58), has a demonstrated track record as an entrepreneur and a technocrat, has ‘written’ an ambitious book on how he imagines India, and is a past-master at charming the pants off the media. On top of that, his wife, the former journalist Rohini Nilekani has pumped in crores into philanthropic projects.

Nilekani’s role in crafting “Brand Bangalore” is not insignificant. It is Infosys that largely put the shine back into Bangalore and made it the country’s unquestionable IT capital. Nilekani was also the brain behind the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) during S.M.Krishna‘s tenure. So, the Congress’s, if not Nilekani’s, calculation is: this is payback time.

The preponderance of IT types in Bangalore South, the large sprinkling of Brahmins, and a five-time sitting Brahmin MP (Ananth Kumar) who is not on the right side of the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate”, Narendra Modi, makes the Sai bhakt’s candidature look all very rosy—on a spreadsheet.

But politics is not a zero-sum, page 3 game as the similarly qualified Captain G.R. Gopinath discovered not too long ago.

It is not only software engineers who go to vote, in fact they can barely get their backsides off a spa table on the weekends. Plus, Bangalore South has a sizeable Vokkaliga population, and who doesn’t know H.D. Deve Gowda‘s antipathy to urban, educated, rich, IT-BT types?

Above all, for all the friendly media coverage of Nilekani’s “Aadhar” card, the fact remains he has essentially presided over an unconstitutional scheme which does not have Parliament’s OK, and which has actually taken millions out of the welfare net, while precisely claiming to do the opposite, by stopping leakage and pilferage. These are the people who vote and, sadly for Nilekani’s and Aadhar’s backers, there are thousands of them in Bangalore South too.

So, does Nandan Nilekani, who can just about speak Kannada, stand a chance, if he gets the chance, or is he like so many billionaires deluded about what his billions can fetch? If he does, could he end up being a potential minister in the next UPA regime, if there is one? And, while we (and he) fantasise, could he even be the kind of quiet technocrat who could be Rahul’s Manmohan Singh? Just kidding.

(Or, tongue firmly in cheek, could Nandan Nilekani’s nomination papers get rejected because his date of birth does not match the DoB on his own Aadhar card?!)

Also read: Dear Nandan, quit Infosys, join politics, start a party

Nandan Nilekani: the six things that changed India

CHURUMURI POLL: Has Nilekani trounced NRN?

MUST READ: 12 things no one is telling us about namma Nandu

The spotlight is now on ‘Make Up’ Naani’s son

31 August 2013

bala

In Lounge, the weekend section of the business paper Mint, the columnist Aakar Patel doffs his hat to Prakash Belawadi.

The engineer-son of ‘Make Up’ Naani and Bhargavi Nagaraj who became an Indian Express reporter, who became a magazine correspondent, who became a television chat show host, who launched a journalism school, who launched a weekly newspaper…

And who made a national-award winning English film, who made a hit Kannada TV serial—and who is winning accolades for his role as a Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in the just-released Hindi film, Madras Cafe:

“Prakash Belawadi started and edited a weekly newspaper, Bangalore Bias (it shut down). He has begun so many enterprises, a media school among them, that I have lost count just of those he has been involved in since 2000, and would not be surprised if he has too.

“Belawadi began his career as a journalist and worked for Vir Sanghvi’s Sunday. He remains a columnist and a first rate one. He has the best quality a columnist can have and that, according to Graham Greene, is never to be boring.

“Belawadi has a dangerous lack of ideology that makes him an aggressive and unpredictable debater. He can casually assume a position, often contrary to one he held a couple of days ago, and unpack a ferocious argument. Like all good men, he likes a fight, and like all good men it is promptly forgotten. He has a quality that is admirable among men.

“He is restless and tireless, and totally uncaring for the middle-class ambitions that most of us cannot let go of, and few of us ever achieve.”

Read the full article: A restless Renaissance man

“prabel” in churumuri: Everybody loves his own Jnanpith winner

Also read: For some journalists, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister

What could you want when you’re an MP at 31?

29 August 2013

Photo Caption

India’s youngest woman MP, the Kannada actress Ramya aka Divya Spandana, offers prayers at Ajmer dargah, the shrine of India’s most famous Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Don’t you know, don’t you know, she’s very very

Don’t you know, don’t you know, she’s very very

24 August 2013

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There are many labels the Kannada and Tamil actress Divya Spandana also known as Ramya has attracted in her chequered career: moody, hothead, temperamental, drama queen, etc.

She may be all that and more, but she is also spunky, spirited, full of beans, not short of “attitude”, never short of a word, and lives life on her own terms.

Being elected the youngest female Congress MP for the short time that is left in the tenure of the current Lok Sabha may seem trivial, but doing so in the male-dominated Vokkaliga hotbed of Mandya carries all sorts of import.

Will the Ooty-educated actress with a cloistered upbringing, who is now a firm favourite for a ticket in the next general election, be a successful politician with her ear to the ground? Or will she end up being seen as a puppet of politicians firing at their rivals from her nimble shoulders?

***

Watch Ramya in an item number in the movie Johnny mera naam, Preeti mera kaam:

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: How Facebook solved a Kannada movie scandal

Raksha bandhan in the Hindu saffron brotherhood

21 August 2013

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The conventional wisdom on raksha bandhan is that tying a rakhi symbolises a “sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.” But in the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS), there is a small problem: there are no women, although there are women “volunteers” in the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, which follows the RSS philosophy and ideology.

Here, member of Parliament Prahlad Joshi (right), who is also the president of the BJP Karnataka unit, ties a rakhi to his RSS brothers, in Hubli on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Has RSS infiltrated into IT, media in Karnataka?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should the RSS be banned?

Does our sanskriti sanction regressive MCPs?

When the knicker lobby smells a nice opportunity?

Can chief minister owe allegiance to the RSS?

A picture for the personal albums of the sangh parivar

Pink, orange, red and black in the land of gold

19 August 2013

Photo Caption

Ammerahalli Lake near Kolar poses for the cameras on world photography day, August 19.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


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