Posts Tagged ‘Jawaharlal Nehru’

If Kejriwal is ‘anarchist’, how about L.K. Advani?

25 January 2014

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes: Ever since AAP came to power in Delhi, they seem to have become the favourite punching bag of the media, intellectuals and politicians.

Arvind Kejriwal was declared a threat to Indian democracy — an ‘Anarchist.’

Yes a dose of criticism is healthy, but to speak in a tone suggesting that voting for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was a mistake and that they have become a menace is not only unfair, but also a disservice to a nation that is in the threshold of change. It also reeks of fear and propaganda.

All this sudden blaming and name calling of AAP by many Indians makes one wonder if most Indians really want a corruption-free India?

It seems many want AAP to fix just enough corruption to make life convenient?

Convenient enough that they don’t have to bribe to get a Driver’s License, but then not so efficient that it becomes impossible to bribe a Policeman when caught riding without a helmet or jumping traffic lights. Is that what it is? Selective anti-corruption options.

First, the Congress and BJP called Arvind Kejriwal’s two-day protest an anarchist movement. Really? For starters, where was this fear of anarchy when L.K. Advani took his chariot of fire all the way to Ayodhya and the BJP lotus bloomed from 84 seats to 183 in 1999?

Where was this fear of anarchy when Bajrang Dal ran amok beating up young girls across the nation on Valentine’s Day teaching them lessons in morality?

As for Congress, where was their fear of anarchy when Sikhs were massacred? Has any party even apologised for these acts? Where was the Indian upper middle class and intellectuals’ fear of anarchy then?

Now, a party very different, has come to power in the capital. It feels helpless as it is unable to control its own Police force and stages a peaceful dharna because the Union Government is unwilling to even discuss the issue and every one calls it ‘anarchy.’

Yes may be there may have been a slight traffic inconvenience to the Delhi citizens, but can’t a citizen handle being inconvenienced a little by a protest which will give him better policing?

We always want someone else to fight out fights, to make our lives better, without inconveniencing ourselves. How selfish is that?!

Indeed we want AAP to work within the framework of the law, but isn’t peaceful dissent within this framework as well? Yes, when it comes to politics, everyone suffers from amnesia. Indeed two wrongs don’t make a right, but still, to call AAP’s protest in Delhi ‘anarchy’ is just plain unfair.

While they say Kejriwal is turning India into a Banana Republic why is no one asking about the Bill to bring Delhi Police under the Delhi Government which has been pending for 15 years? What is waiting for? Is it on purpose?

After all ‘timing’ of passing certain laws or bills is in fact a political strategy. More than to benefit the citizens it is meant to win elections. This what creates a Banana Republic, not a government that sits in peaceful dharna.

The Delhi CM wants to give good governance to his people and good law and order is part of it. So he wants control of law and order, which he is not being given, so the protest. Is that wrong?

In that case, when H.D. Deve Gowda, a former PM of this country sits in dharna on Mysore-Bangalore road to get us Cauvery water for agriculture, drinking and cooking, does it make him an anarchist?

Now the Delhi Police say they act only upon issue of a warrant, but still when a crime is underway do they need a warrant?

Everyone in Delhi knows the area between Saketh and Malviya Nagar has had issue of prostitution. The residents of Hauz Rani which lies between these areas, had complained repeatedly for months and no action was taken.

Finally when a Minister goes to have a look, orders the Police to act, it is termed ‘vigilantism.’

How would the upper middle class “cultured” citizens react if they had a “Service Centre” next door? We are sure, they would have called the Home Minister and warrant or no warrant it would be cleared in a jiffy.

The details of the Delhi incident of course were made murkier and louder by now what seems like an anti-AAP media.

The same media which went hyper and showed us doctored tapes of AAP reportedly accepting cash, which some say cost Shazia Ilmi of AAP her seat, who lost by just 326 votes. But then once it was proved the tapes were doctored the raw footage was never shown.

The man who made it, earlier was given ample screen, but was never brought back to be grilled. In the Delhi incident a media that gets a sound byte from all and sundry did not get too many residents’ opinions. There was also no clarity and consistency in reports, why?

So while the media says the AAP Minister Somnath Bharti has brought bad name to India internationally, maybe selective journalism did too?

The same media just before the elections said AAP will not get more than 6 to 10 seats, in a way encouraging voters not to waste their vote and stick with the winning horse, the BJP, only to be proved wrong.

Is the Corporate owned media with other varied interests suddenly scared that too much anti-corruption may come knocking on their own doors or are they trying to play ball with BJP which is sure to win many more seats than any other party right now?

Also interesting is the fact that as one watched the AAP Minister wagging a finger at the Policeman, the Policeman too wagged his finger right back! Wonder if he would dare to do so at a BJP or a Congress Minister?

No way.

He knows very well what will happen. It seems it has not sunk in the officialdom that an aam aadmi has come to power, because AAP does not project power like traditional politicians do, which can be brutal and leave one in a perpetual vindictive legal limbo.

In fact, our politicians follow the same principle as that of the British. Independence ushered in only a change in management and not swaraj. No wonder the laws that British used to suppress us is still in use and no party wants to change it.

Forget the laws and attitudes; even the residences did not change. Soon after independence Nehru moved into Flagstaff House (Teen Murti Bhavan), the palatial residence of the former British Commander-in-Chief, our President moved into the palace built for the then Viceroy of India.

This is why it is said, “Democracy did not adopt India, Indians usurped democracy because it could be moulded to fit earlier structures without threatening them. It caught the popular imagination not for the new values it symbolised, but for the possibilities it opened up for the consolidation of the old. The miracle of India is that the practice of democracy has flourished within its boundaries for over six decades in the absence of a democratic temperament.”

AAP, it seems is here to rewrite democracy and they must be critiqued but not shouted down into oblivion and death.

True, AAP is in a hurry to become a National Party without getting its structures in place. They are advised to prepare well, for they need to survive, grow and deliver us not just from corruption, but help us rewrite our democracy, that will allow us to transcend into pure patriotism.

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

Garv se kaho India doesn’t belong to Hindus alone

15 February 2013

As the attempt to airbrush Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s 2002 record and sweep it under the carpet of “development” gains steam in the media, following his admirable hat-trick of wins in Gujarat, Justice Markandey Katju, the chairman of the press council of India, strikes a discordant note in The Hindu:

“India is broadly a country of immigrants and consequently, it is a land of tremendous diversity. Hence, the only policy which can hold it together and put it on the path of progress is secularism — equal respect and treatment to all communities and sects. This was the policy of the great Emperor Akbar, which was followed by our founding fathers (Pandit Nehru and his colleagues) who gave us a secular Constitution.

“Unless we follow this policy, our country cannot survive for one day, because it has so much diversity, so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups.

“India, therefore, does not belong to Hindus alone; it belongs equally to Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, Jains etc. Also, it is not only Hindus who can live in India as first-rate citizens while others have to live as second or third rate citizens. All are first-rate citizens here. The killing of thousands of Muslims and other atrocities on them in Gujarat in 2002 can never be forgotten or forgiven.

“All the perfumes in Arabia cannot wash away the stain on Mr Narendra Modi in this connection.”

Read the full article: All the perfumes of Arabia

Also read: Where would Modi be without the UPA?

Narendra Modi cannot be the face of India’

‘Why Narendra Modi will never be India’s PM’

Why our silly middle-class loves Narendra Modi

How much is one divided by zero? Don’t ask…

4 September 2012

The chairman of the press council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, wrote an article in The Hindu on September 3 on education.

Titled ‘Professor, heal thyself’, it contained this paragraph:

The level of intellect of many teachers is low, because many of them have not been appointed on merit but on extraneous considerations. To give an example, when I was a judge of Allahabad High Court I had a case relating to a service matter of a mathematics lecturer in a university in Uttar Pradesh.

Since the teacher was present in court I asked him how much one divided by zero is equal to.

He replied, “Infinity.”

I told him that his answer was incorrect, and it was evident that he was not even fit to be a teacher in an intermediate college. I wondered how had he become a university lecturer (In mathematics it is impermissible to divide by zero. Hence anything divided by zero is known as an indeterminate number, not infinity).

Not surprisingly, two wise readers of The Hindu have corrected the press council chief through letters to the editor:

In his article “Professor, teach thyself” (Sept. 3), chairman of the Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, has cited an incident that took place when he was a judge of the Allahabad High Court. He says he chided a mathematics lecturer, whose case he was hearing, and told him that he was not fit to be even a teacher because he (the lecturer) said one divided by zero was infinity.

Justice Katju claims that anything divided by zero is indeterminate. He is wrong and the lecturer was right because any non-zero number divided by zero is infinity. It is zero divided by zero that is indeterminate.

While I can understand the plight of the poor lecturer who did not have the courage to correct the judge hearing his case, I am appalled at the timidity of “some of the top senior academicians” of Jawaharlal Nehru University, to whom Justice Katju narrated the incident. I wonder why they let his fallacy pass unchallenged. Justice Katju must seek out the mathematics lecturer and apologise to him.

Kanan Vihari Jaswal, Noida

***
I would like to digress from the primary point made in the article — with which I completely agree — and talk about the mathematics lecturer’s answer. “Infinity” is indeed the correct answer to the question posed by Justice Katju to the lecturer. 0/0 is indeterminate because it can take multiple values depending on the limit being calculated (for example 2x/x; x->0 is 2 , 5x/x; x->0 is 5) whereas any finite number divided by 0 (eg 1/0) is an impermissible operation, which is just another way of saying that the result is infinite (an absurdly large number).

Siddharth Tiwari, Kanpur

***

Also read: ‘I have a poor opinion of most media people’

Editors’ Guild of India takes on Press Council chief

How Sonia has taken Congress beyond sloganism

6 August 2012

Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of the New Indian Express, in the Sunday Standard:

“It’s a perfect picture of perfect politics—a Sikh Prime Minister accompanied by a Christian defence minister and a Dalit home minister.

“When the monsoon session of Parliament starts this week, an erudite Sikh economist and a former Dalit police inspector—the new home minister—would occupy the first two seats in the first row of the Treasury benches. It will also have Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

“The two Houses of Parliament are presided over by a Dalit—Meira Kumar (Lok Sabha)—and an articulate Muslim—Hamid Ansari (Rajya Sabha). Never since Independence have the top legislative and executive posts been held by a combination of minorities and socially backward leaders.

“It was not mere political accident that led to the creation of a hierarchy, which was heavily loaded against the upper classes who always claimed to be born rulers. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi, the Gandhi parivar was the darling of the minorities and the Dalits. It lost most of this support after the 1984 Sikh massacre and the Babri Masjid demolition.

“Ever since Sonia Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress in 1998, the party has been undergoing an invisible social transformation. Both Indira and Rajiv believed in sloganism. However, for the past 14 years, Sonia has been silently working according to plan to change the social character of the government and the party.

“She may have allowed the urban elite to dominate the Council of Ministers, but her long-term agenda to create and promote new leaders from the minorities and Dalits is finally acquiring shape.”

Read the full article: Sonia’s new umbrella

Corrupt, communal, cynical and also casteist?

27 December 2011

Caste is back—and in your face. To pave the way for fixers seeking to stymie the Lokpal match, the Congress-led UPA has envisaged reserving half the nine-member institution on the basis of caste. And, a day before the Election Commission could notify the elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other States, the Centre created a 4.5% subquota within the 27% OBC quota for minorities.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes in the Indian Express:

“The Anna Hazare movement has rightly been castigated for the morally obscene use of the caste of children. Recently, it was reported that Rahul Gandhi referred to Sam Pitroda’s caste in an election rally. Is this really the party of Jawaharlal Nehru or even Rajiv Gandhi?

“We ought not to disguise the appalling realities of caste, where appropriate. But using them in this way? Someone remarked on reading this story, “Rahul ne to Sam Pitroda ki bhi jaat dikha di.” Even if the intention was benign there is a truth in this.

“Is it not appallingly diminishing when we create an institutional culture where the first thing we want to point to is someone’s caste? I thought the idea of India was to escape precisely this original sin. And now Lokpals, tomorrow judges, all will be identified through caste.

“Perhaps the Congress is in love with the “C” in its name. Corruption was not enough. It had to become corrupt, casteist, communal and cynical. India’s tragedy is that there is no national level challenger to this party that is diminishing us all.”

Read the full article: The C in Congress

It’s an ad, ad, ad world and it’s even official

20 December 2011

Rajiv Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 108 ads across 48 pages in 12 newspapers surveyed by churumuri.

Indira Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 64 ads across 32 pages in the same 12 newspapers.

Now, the Union information and broadcasting ministry has put a figure to the advertising blitz: Rs 7 crore in all; Rs 4.79 crore on Rajiv’s and Rs 2.46 crore on Indira’s ads.

The I&B ministry’s computation, which obviously includes other non-Delhi and non-English papers, does not take into account the death anniversaries of the two, or the birth and death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru. In all, 393 pages of advertising were published on the six anniversaries, on the pages of 12 newspapers this year.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for The Family

‘Linguistic states doing more harm than good’

12 December 2011

The Marathi-speaking councillors of Belgaum City corporation recently conspired to pass a resolution not to honour the Jnanpith Award winning Kannada author, Chandrasekhar Kambar. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have gone to virtual war over the Mulla(i)periyar dam.

The veteran editor, author and columnist T.J.S. George writes:

“It is becoming clearer by the day that the linguistic reorganisation of states has done more harm than good to our country. Instead of welding the nation into a functioning federalism like Canada or Switzerland, it is reminding us of the Austrian and Ottoman empires that came to grief because they could not turn their multicultural diversity into a viable unity….

Ambedkar was among those who warned of the dangers ahead. Nehru had his reservations too. Distinguished foreign pundits cautioned that linguistic division could encourage secessionist forces (See Selig Harrison, India, The Most Dangerous Decades, 1960). The chief argument was that India was different, from Canada and the Ottomans and every other case in history because in India “linguism was only another name for (caste) communalism,” as Ambedkar put it.

“Proving his point, new States became battlegrounds for Marathi Brahmins and Maratha peasant-proprietors, for Kammas and Reddis, for Lingayats and Vokkaligas. D.R. Mankekar, a prominent editor of the 1950s, said: “We find once again, on lifting the linguistic cloak, casteism and love of office grinning at us”.

Read the full column: Choices for linguistically warring India

Also read: Does Kambar deserve Jnanpith ahead of Bhyrappa?

Kambar and Karnad, Bhyrappa and Puttappa & Co

Everybody loves his own Jnanpith winner

Stepmotherly affection for Father of Constitution

6 December 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For all the lip service it pays “dalits and the downtrodden”, for all the tokenism of a Dalit as speaker of Lok Sabha, and for all the buzz about a possible Dalit replacement for Manmohan Singh as prime minister, the Congress-led UPA government has issued a measly six pages of ads in 12 newspapers to mark the birth death anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution—and the icon of Dalits—Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

In contrast, the State government of Uttar Pradesh, headed by Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, has issued seven pages in the same 12 newspapers surveyed by sans serif.

The Centre’s six pages of ads for Ambedkar is in stark contrast to the 393 pages of ads issued by various ministries and departments of the Union government and Congress-run State governments to mark the three birth and three death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in 2011.

While various ministries were falling over each other to sing hosannas for the three ex-PMs, only the ministry of social justice and empowerment is in evidence for Dr Ambedkar. The only State government advertiser is the Delhi commission for safai karmacharis.

***

The breakup of the Ambedkar ads today are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 2 Ambedkar ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 26-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Indian Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 compact page

The Hindu: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Telegraph: 24-page issue; 0 ads amounting to 0 broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 24-page main issue; 0 ads

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 0 ads

Financial Express: 18-page issue; 0 ads

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

***

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Photograph: courtesy Sepia Mutiny

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

It’s official, RG greater than IG greater than JN

19 November 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For the final anniversary of the year of India’s “Family No. 1″—the birth anniversary of the nation’s first woman prime minister Indira Gandhi—there are 70 advertisements amounting to 32 published pages in 12 English newspapers that have been surveyed through the year by sans serif.

With this anniversary, the total number of government ads to mark the three birth and three death anniversaries of the three former prime ministers from the family—Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi—in the year of the lord 2011 goes up to 393.

In effect, the government has bought space amounting to 190¼ pages in the 12 newspapers.

# The Times of India is the biggest beneficiary of the ad blitz to mark the six anniversaries among the general-interest newspapers with 65 published ads followed by Indian Express 62, Hindustan Times 57, The Hindu 42, The Pioneer 41, Mail Today 36, The Statesman 25 and The Telegraph 18 ads.

# The Economic Times and Business Standard top the list of the busines dailies with 14 ads each, followed by the Financial Express with 11 ads. Mint (from the Hindustan Times stable) has received just one ad for the six anniversaries.

# As a group, the Times group has received 79 ads in all, the Express group 73 ads, and the Hindustan Times 58 ads.

While it is natural that ToI and HT should garner so many ads given their large circulations in the national capital, the second place for the Express group is revealing considering it sells less than five per cent of market-leaders ToI and HT in the Delhi market, which both sell in excess of 5 lakh copies.

The tabloid Mail Today, which has the third highest circulation among the Delhi newspapers, too gets fewer ads than the Indian Express.

***

The affection of various Union ministries, departments and State governments for the three departed leaders of the family is revealing.

While Rajiv Gandhi tops the charts with 177 advertisements amounting to 89 pages for his birth and death anniversaries, Indira Gandhi comes second with 134 ads amounting to 64 pages, followed by Pandit Nehru at a lowly 82 ads amounting to 37¼ pages.

***

The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads today are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 10 Indira ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 4¾ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 14 ads amounting to 5¾ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 5½ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 20-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 3 broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 18-page issue; 6 ads amounting to 2¾ broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 26-page issue; 0 ads amounting to 0 broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 16-page main issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages

Business Standard: 18-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ pages

Mint (Berliner): 12-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, culture, water resources, statistics and programme implementation, north eastern region, micro small and medium enterprises, social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, there are ads of the national commission for women.

***

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Nehru’s CTC (cost to country): 58 ads, 26 pages

14 November 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There are 58 government advertisements amounting to 26¼ pages in 12 English newspapers today to mark the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In contrast, there were 108 ads amounting to 48 pages to mark his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday in August.

All told, so far this year, between three death anniversaries (Nehru’s, Rajiv’s, Indira Gandhi‘s) and two birth anniversaries (Rajiv’s and Indira’s), various ministries of the Union government and Congress-ruled State governments have spent taxpayers’ money in buying 323 advertisements amounting to 158¼ published pages in the 12 surveyed newspapers.

The breakup of the Jawaharlal Nehru ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 11 Nehru ads amounting to 4½ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 24-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¼ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 2¾ broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1 broadsheet page

***

The Economic Times: 30-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

Business Standard: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to 1 page

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ page

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resource development, micro small and medium enterprises, youth affairs and sports.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan and Delhi. Besides, there are ads of Nehru Yuva Kendra and the national book trust.0

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Indira Gandhi: 64 ads, 32 pages; Vallabhbhai Patel: 9 ads, 3 pages

Congrats, your taxes have helped buy 265 ads

31 October 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: After the advertising blitzkrieg to mark Rajiv Gandhi‘s birth and death anniversaries, and the death anniversary of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru earlier this year, Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments have once again splurged heavily to mark Indira Gandhi‘s death anniversary today.

In the 12 newspapers surveyed, there are 64 advertisements of various sizes, amounting to approximately 31½ published pages to mark the assassination of the former prime minister on this day, 27 years ago.

In contrast, Vallabhbhai Patel, the late Union home minister, whose birth anniverary too falls on October 31, gets 9 advertisements in the same 12 newspapers, amounting to 3 published pages. While there are multiple advertisements for Indira Gandhi, no paper has more than one ad for Patel.

The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 22-page main issue; 9 Indira Gandhi ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 6¼ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 22-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¾ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 26-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 2 ads amouning to 1 page

Financial Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a page

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the 13 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resources development, development of north east region, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, most newspapers carry an advertisement inserted by the Congress party.

All told, so far, this year, tax payers money have been spent in buying 265 advertisements amounting to 132 published pages in the 12 newspapers.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi death anniversary: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

What an idea RG! 108 ads, 48 pages in 12 papers

20 August 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There is yet another advertising blitzkrieg by Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments in today’s newspapers on the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday.

And it beats the number of ads on Rajiv’s death anniversary hollow.

While there were 69 ads amounting to 41 published pages in 12 newspapers on May 21, there are 108 ads amounting to 48¼ published pages in the same 12 newspapers today.

Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 14 RG ads amounting to 7 broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 21 ads amounting to 9 broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 15 ads amounting to 6½ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 6½ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 7 ads amounting to 3 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 26-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to ¾ of a page

Business Standard: 18-page issue; 2 ads amouning to ¾ of a page

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ pages

Mint (Berliner): 16-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Among the 21 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, micro small and medium enterprises, power, health and family welfare, tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation, new and renewable energy, women and child development, commerce and industry, steel, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, all Congress-ruled States. And the departments putting their money where their mouth is are the Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology, Navodaya vidyalaya samiti, national small industries corporation, national commission for women, and the coir board.

And, of course, the Indian National Congress.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru: 24 ads over 11 pages in 12 newspapers

What one Yuvraj can learn from the other Yuvraj

17 May 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: In the second decade of the 21st century, India has two Yuvrajs trying to lord over all they survey.

***

The first Yuvraj is on the cricket field: Yuvraj Singh.

A brilliant fielder at cover-point and a batsman who can hit the leather off a cricket ball at will, he is every captain’s dream colleague.

This Yuvraj is a teen prodigy who came good despite a stormy upbringing: His partnership with Mohammed Kaif when India chased down England’s 326  to win the NatWest series, after being  147  for 5, is part of Indian one-day cricket folklore, second only to the win at 1983; make that third only to the World Cup win in 2011.

When he hit six sixes off a hapless Stuart Broad over  in a Twenty20 match in 2007, even  his critics had to sit up and say “wow”.

“Critics”, because Yuvraj Singh was not having the same success in Test match cricket. A nervous starter, he was vulnerable against both the short-pitched ball and the turning ball in the early part of an innings. Eventually he lost his place in the Test team to Suresh Raina.

To add to his woes, he was injury-prone, lost the vice-captaincy of ODI team, became overweight,  and  somewhat overbearing. He began making news off the field, even going after a pesky spectator who called him a ‘water boy’ because he was in the game only as a twelfth man.

From such a precarious down-in-the-dumps position, Yuvraj Singh rose like a Phoenix in the just-concluded World Cup. He worked hard on his fitness, lost weight and became the original mean and hungry looking man, batting and fielding like a man possessed.

He even sharpened his spin bowling to such a nagging length that he was difficult to score off and took  more wickets than the main spinner in the team, Harbhajan Singh. He was adjudged ‘man of the match’ four times, eventually being declared the most valuable player of the tournament when in the finals he took important wickets and stayed with his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to fetch India a famous victory after 28 years.

This is our first Yuvraj, who, despite a stormy childhood at the hands of his father Yograj Singh, started as a precocious talent, went into the doldrums and a period of uncertainty but bounced back and delivered when it mattered most and fulfilled his promise.

His aura is now firmly back.

The “water boy”, Clive Lloyd said, “was drinking from the fountain’.

***

Our other Yuvraj also plays in white, but in a different field: politics.

Quite unlike the other Yuvraj, Rahul Gandhi burst on to the scene with a “home” advantage.

He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His bloodline was impeccable. His parents were happily married. Being the son of the most powerful and influential Congressman, Sonia Gandhi, he didn’t have to work his way up into the “team”. He was captain material from the day he entered the park.

The crown prince: if not Royalty itself, he was the closest to Royalty in a democratic context.

With his great grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru), his grandmother (Indira Gandhi) and his father (Rajiv Gandhi) having all been prime ministers, the trajectory was clear for this Yuvraj from the day his mother heard her “inner voice”. Congressmen openly admit this Yuvraj has to only choose the time and day when he would like to become PM and the incumbent will readily make way.

This Yuvraj doesn’t have to bother about critics who criticise him, because they don’t.

This Yuvraj’s teammates doesn’t have to bother about the taunts of rivals and teammates, because they don’t.

This Yuvraj doesn’t have to bother about spectators who make fun of him, because they can’t get close to him.

Sure, he works hard like the other Yuvraj, travelling extensively in his continuing ‘Discovery of India’, campaigning in constituency after constituency. He even tries to get down from his ivory-tower SUV and mingle with the aam janata especially the young. And, he hasn’t shown any undue haste to become prime minister.

Sure, he says the kind of things people like to hear. He says he is against the pomp which most Congressmen fall prey to such as  motorcycle outriders and the “lal batthi” (red-light) syndrome. He admits that he had it easy but wants to democratise the party to allow youngsters to enter politics.

Still, success eludes this Yuvraj unlike the other Yuvraj.

Except for the childlike enthusiasm of the ‘Amul Baby’, the nation doesn’t know where he stands on the key issues of the day. Be it talking about “Kalavathy” or joining protesting farmers, the only arrow in his quiver seems to be symbolism.

His stand on substantial issues like Maoism, poverty, inflation, terrorism, etc, are unknown.

He holds on to his two-nation theory of India as if no other thought passes between his ears.

Worse, he has  exhibited a  penchant to put his foot in the mouth that exposes his limited knowledge of the Indian political system and the freedom struggle. His statement that ‘his family had made sacrifices’ to the country was met with strong criticism, perhaps deservedly so. The WikiLeaks cable that showed that he felt the growth of radicalised Hindu groups posed a greater threat to Indian security than Islamic terror groups, evoked guffaws.

So far, this Yuvraj hasn’t done anything spectacular to show that he has it in him to lead the nation despite the red carpet laid out for him. Indeed, if he was the other Yuvraj he would have been dropped from the team.

If this Yuvraj doesn’t come up with the numbers, doesn’t show leadership qualities soon, his ascendency to the throne will be regarded as a pure dynastic ritual rather than as any achievement that propelled him to that exalted position.

Whereas the cricketing Yuvraj changed his work ethic for the better which got him handsome rewards, the politicking Yuvraj is still only gardening the pitch, after taking guard nearly a decade ago.

Surely, it is time the crown prince Yuvraj took a leaf out of the commoner Yuvraj and belted some sixes and announced himself in the IPL—the Indian Political League.

Else, “We, the People” will be entitled to ask, why and not why not.

***

Photograph: Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi watching the 2011 World Cup semifinals between India and Pakistan in Mohali (courtesy PTI via The Times of India)

***

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Has Rahul Gandhi blown it?

What Amethi’s indices tell us about Rahul Gandhi

In one-horse race, Rahul Gandhi is a two-trick pony

‘Politics is about solving problems, not evading them’

‘Most opaque politicians in the democratic world’

Jesus, Mozart, Alexander and apun ka Rahul

A functioning anarchy? Or a feudal democracy?

Rahul Gandhi‘s ascension: a foregone conclusion?

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part I

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part II

Only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

A tale of two roads paved with debris & hubris

11 May 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: This is a tale of two roads in Mysore: the Janata marga and the Raja marga.

The Janata marga is the Krishnaraja Sagar road, in short KRS Road. Ever since the present ‘rulers’ of Mysore cast their eyes on this road, it has seen only misery.

Thousands of commuters used this road daily to reach their offices, shops and schools, and to go to the railway and bus stations. On the weekends, lakhs of tourists from all over the country used it because it connected the City with what used to be one of its most famous tourist attractions, the Brindavan gardens.

Such a vital link has been closed for more than a year.

Reason: A “multi-disciplinary project” involving the railways, Vani Vilas water works, electricity department, public works department, Mysore city corporation, etc is going on here. The work involves doubling the rail track, re-laying the pipes for water supply,  re-erecting lampposts for electricity and asphalting the roads.

But a year on, there is no end in sight to this magnificent project.

So, in these days of high costs of petrol and diesel, commuters and tourists are forced to take detours on roads not equipped to take the load, spending extra money, wasting time and wasting fuel.

No one knows who is in charge; so no one knows who to hold responsible for the mess: there is no coordinating agency, at least not one which we, the public, have been told, which monitors the work by the various departments and which specifies the date of commencement of work and its completion and the total cost.

Just what is holding up the project completion is unclear when other more important works are taken up round the clock and finished in record time in other cities and even smaller towns.

And as we speak, nobody knows whether it will be completed in the next 40 days, as announced by one of the officials, or if it will take another four months at least according to some other “experts”.

The Chief Minister comes here every now and then for his prayers and distribution of money, and the district in–charge Minister stays very close to this road.

Nobody seems to be bothered.

That is what happens to Janata marga. It is nobody’s baby really.

***

But the Raja marga is different.

The Raja marga is supposed to become the ‘pride’ of the administration.

It is supposed to cost Rs 18 crore to upgrade a present stretch of a road of 4. 5 kms and make it the mother of all roads. Naturally everybody is interested and involved. As the name suggests, it will be a ‘Royal Road’ in the heritage city of Mysore,  giving tourists  ‘a feeling of going back to around one hundred years’.

The first phase of work (between Hardinge Circle and K.R. Circle) is likely to be completed before this year’s Dasara festival.

The highlights of this project are a carved stone barricade, slabs to cover the storm water drain, ornamental lamps and tiles. These are supposed to depict the royal days of the Wodeyars.

Only, to facilitate this “feeling” of going back by 100 years, around 250-300 full grown trees will be felled without which the Raja marga cannot not be completed!

The Raja marga will be put to use for about four hours in a year and it is meant for tourists who can’t even walk on the road.

The KRS road which is used by thousands of tourists and commuters, can at best be described a mudtrack, basically meant for bullock carts with potholes and cannot even be termed a decent road. Most of them come back with problem of backache once they traverse up and down.

It is a shame the Government cannot concretise the road or at least ensure there are no potholes and unevenness for the entire stretch. Maintenance of this important road seems to be totally absent.

And we have money that is being poured into Raja marga in the name of tourists to give them a feeling of royalty hundred years ago.

The maharajas of Mysore and their Dewans, Sir M. Visveswaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in whose name this disgrace called national urban renewal mission (JNNURM) is being conducted… wish you were all here. You are all missing something.

Photograph: courtesy M.A.SRIRAM/ The Hindu

What the Gandhis could learn from the Nehrus

26 October 2010

With over 400 government initiatives, institutions, projects and programmes named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha takes a trip down memory lane in the Hindustan Times:

“When, in the year 1974, Indira Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) became bitter political opponents, there was a peculiar poignancy to their rivalry. For JP and Jawaharlal Nehru had been close friends. So, independently, were JP’s wife Prabhavati and Nehru’s wife Kamala….

“Prabhavati had wished to start a school for girls and name it for Kamala Nehru. She had written to Jawaharlal asking whether he would inaugurate it. Nehru, in reply, said that he was delighted that this school was being planned, for he had long been an advocate of education for girls.

“But, he added, he had taken a vow that in the case of any school, project, or programme started in memory of his father (Motilal Nehru) or his wife, he would not participate in its inauguration. He asked Prabhavati to go ahead and start the school, with another chief guest if required. He added by way of consolation that when the place was up and running, he would come visit it anyway.”

Read the full article: That family feeling

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?

17 September 2010

As if its thali wasn’t full enough, Judgment Day in the Ayodhya title dispute has landed in the UPA plate, sending it in a bit of a tizzy. Prime minister Manmohan Singh has issued an “appeal”, with the extraordinary line that “the determination of the issues need not necessarily end with this judgment, unless it is accepted by all parties.”

***

Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Both the votaries of Hindutva and the beleaguered defenders of the Nehruvian order were united in viewing the demolition as a point of rupture. For the former, the change would herald a Hindu reawakening; for the secularists, it threatened to destroy India’s pluralism and transform the country into a de-facto confessional State.

“Both sides of the confrontation, it would now seem, were guilty of hype. India wasn’t transformed into a Hindu Pakistan and the Constitutional edifice established in 1950 remained strong and intact. To borrow A.J.P. Taylor’s description of the 1848 revolution in Europe, the Babri demolition was a turning point in Indian history when history refused to turn….

“With the benefit of hindsight it would seem that the contemporary misreading arose from the premise that the Ayodhya movement was overwhelmingly an explosion of faith and sublimated Hinduness. The implication was that a new religiosity had penetrated the popular psyche and begun influencing secular life….

“The Ayodhya agitation encapsulated protest, millenarianism and modernity under one roof. It didn’t usher in Hindu National Socialism as its aesthetic detractors were convinced it would (leading to some facile comparisons of inept boy scouts in khaki shorts with Hitler’s stormtroopers). But it drove a stake through the heart of an incapacitated socialism.”

Read the full article: Twenty years too late

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan, PM till 2014?

6 September 2010

While almost every pundit worth his pixel is writing his political obituary on autopilot, prime minister Manmohan Singh has bravely stuck his neck out and said there is no question of his calling it a day.

“I am not aware of anything that can be called a disconnect between the Congress party and the Government. I can’t say that I will shut up every colleague in my Cabinet,” Singh has said.

Dismissing suggestions that various ministers were openly sniping at each other, Singh has claimed his cabinet was functioning with greater cohesion than even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru‘s and even suggested that he would go in for a cabinet reshuffle/expansion soon to reduce the average age of his cabinet.

The PM’s comments are designed to quell speculation (persistent since day one) that a) he might call it quits midway citing age or health, or b) may be given a quiet signal by the party to make way, or c) he might be sent off to Rashtrapati Bhavan to make the exit look more honourable, or d) fill your own conspiracy theory here.

Question: Will Manmohan Singh last out the full term till 2014 as he thinks he will?

External reading: Could Nandan Nilekani be a wild card?

‘Sunlight gets the votes. Twilight gets the notes.’

29 August 2010

For months, the UPA mantra was growth and development at the cost of food and general inflation. Gigantic projects and investments at the cost of spreading Maoist violence. Infrastructure development over the rights of tribals and other indigenous people, no matter the environment.

Suddenly, the Congress seems to have done a u-turn at a hairpin bend. P. Chidambaram‘s my-way-or-the-highway approach has few takers in his own party. Dozens of projects are hanging fire under Jairam Ramesh‘s environment ministry. There is talk of giving locals a 26% stake in projects, etc.

Course-correction? Or just clever politics?

The veteran editor and wordsmith M.J. Akbar provides perspective on the Congress’ sudden leftward lurch, as evidenced by party general secretary Rahul Gandhi‘s rally in Orissa after the Vedanta project had been shown the door, in The Sunday Times of India:

“It is axiomatic that a largely impoverished nation needs a political party that the poor can identify with. The Congress has set out to be the party of the poor in daytime, and of the rich at night. Its sunlight politics will fetch votes, its twilight policies will enable it to govern.

“This is an extremely clever act whose opening scenes are being played out for a new generation that is vague about Indira Gandhi and amnesiac about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The hero of this drama must have the charisma to dazzle the poor and the flexibility to keep the rich onside.

“That is the challenge before Rahul Gandhi. His avowed role is to be the guardian of the poor in Delhi, which means that the poor need protection from Delhi. He is at home with the elite in the evening and is now making the effort to capture the sunshine hours.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Read the full article: Crown prince Rahul cannily turns left

Also read: In one-horse race, Rahul baba is a two-trick pony

‘Politics is about solving problems, not evading them’

After Manmohan who? Chidu, Diggy or Rahul?

‘Most opaque politicians in the democratic world’

Jesus, Mozart, Alexander and apun ka Rahul

A functioning anarchy? Or a feudal democracy?

Rahul Gandhi‘s ascension: a foregone conclusion?

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part I

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part II

Only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

In one-horse race, Rahul baba is a two-trick pony

27 August 2010

One common lament against the “future former prime minister of India” (as opposed to the “former future prime minister of India“) is that Rahul Gandhi‘s views on the pressing issues of the day—mining, Maoism, price rise, land acquisition, etc—are not known, except to himself and (probably) his mother’s inner voice.

Yesterday’s rally in Orissa, 48 hours after environment minister Jairam Ramesh rejected Vedanta’s bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri hills, is remarkable for two reasons. One is the magisterial phraseology that provides proof, full and final, that UPA ministers are there to do his bidding, although there are 204 Congress MPs besides him.

“Two years ago you had come to me saying the Niyamgiri hill is your god. I told you I would be your sipahi (soldier) in Delhi. I am happy that I have helped you in whatever way I could. What is important is that your voice was heard without violence,” he told the party-sponsored rally.

Implicit in the choice of words is the imprint of an arch feudal, who otherwise bemoans the easy ride he has got in politics. The tone is one of, “I can get it done if I want to; they will do what I tell them to do.” Implicit also is the entitlement to power without the responsibility.

The other reason Rahul Gandhi’s speech is remarkable is because it provides proof, full and final, that while he may belong to the Nehru-Gandhi clan, the literary flourish of his great-grandfather so eludes him that all he can do, it seems, is to weave the same us-versus-them fiction about India again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

“There are two Indias—ameeron ki Hindustan (India of the rich) whose voices reach everywhere , and garibon ka Hindustan (India of the poor) whose voices are seldom heard,” he roared in the two-dimensional monotone that always draws applause from the cheap stands.

Remarkable concern for the downtrodden, you might say for one born with a silver spoon, spinning around in SUVs, and spending late nights at Smoke House Grill.

Remarkable till you realise this is exactly what he had said in July in Kanker, Chhatisgarh:

“There are two parts of India. One part is the part you see in urban areas, growing very fast. There is another part of India, a forgotten part of India, and tribals, Adivas and Dalits are part of it.”

Which is exactly what he had said in Ranchi in October last year:

“Two Indias have been created. One India is yours and my India, the India of basic amenities and opportunity… the other is of poverty-stricken villages where opportunities are very rare.”

Which is exactly what he had said in Calcutta in April last year:

“It angers me when I think that there are people who have more money than anyone else in the world. And there are people who don’t have food.”

Which is exactly what he had said in the budget debate in Parliament in 2008-09:

“There are two distinct voices among India’s people today. The louder of these voices comes from an India that is empowered… the other voice is yet to be empowered. The two Indias are fundamentally inseparable.”

Which is exactly what he will say in god knows where, oblivious of the role his father, grand-mother and great-grandfather may have played in creating and perpetuating the India versus Bharat myth.

At which point, someone should gently tap the not-so-young man on his shoulder and remind him of what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once said. That everything you say about India—including the existence of two Indias in India—is true.

And so is its opposite.

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: ‘Politics is about solving problems, not evading them’

After Manmohan who? Chidu, Diggy or Rahul?

‘Most opaque politicians in the democratic world’

Jesus, Mozart, Alexander and apun ka Rahul

A functioning anarchy? Or a feudal democracy?

Rahul Gandhi‘s ascension: a foregone conclusion?

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part I

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part II

Only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

Why Mysore is no longer R.K. Narayan’s Mysore

11 August 2010

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: Jayadev Gurumallaiah, a childhood friend from Mysore, who dabbles in real estate among other business interests, told me the following story.

After drinking tea at a café, a mutual friend of ours paid with a hundred-rupee note. While waiting to collect the change at the counter, Jayadev asked our friend whether he had received a black money payment and further, if the note he had just used was part of that transaction.

The friend confirmed Jayadev’s hunch but was curious to know what had made him suspicious since the note was issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

Jayadev replied that the note had smelt of a gunny sack.

Money comes into Mysore, especially for real estate transactions, not only through legal, banking channels but also in gunny bags, and that has been a common practice. Real estate transactions, with the exception of new apartments purchased from builders, generally include both a legal white money payment through a bank instrument, and a black money component of cash.

This flow of money into Mysore has been a constant feature of the last decade, and has mostly involved the real estate and construction industry.

Consider this proposition. The flow of money into Mysore has been disproportionate to the city’s economic prospects and its growth hasn’t occurred organically. Today, Mysore has a population of a million people, but it has never been a major centre of commerce and manufacturing.

Since Bangalore, the nearest major economic centre, is bursting at its seams due to inadequate infrastructure and is seemingly incapable of absorbing more investment, the logic of speculative investment in Mysore seems to suggest this city as the best alternative urban destination.

However, in reality, Mysore has received only moderate investment in the new economy industries and negligible investment in manufacturing. With the exception of Infosys and Wipro, no software major has established a development centre there.

Further, most of the smaller Mysore based software companies are call centres and medical transcription companies. More significantly, since software revenue generated in Mysore is a twentieth of Bangalore’s earnings, it does appear that the investment in the city’s real estate is primarily speculative and based on perceived potential.

The participants in these real estate transactions are both Mysoreans and outsiders—individuals, professional developers, cooperative societies formed by different professional groups, and speculative investors. Given that there is no scarcity of land, Mysore’s expansion isn’t following the pattern of other metropolitan cities in India.

Instead of constructing large apartment complexes, professional developers and big investors prefer to purchase large plots of land in and around Mysore to form residential neighbourhoods and private individuals buy housing plots. Consequently, there has been a dramatic horizontal expansion of the city in the last decade.

This flow of money and the speculative investment in real estate has produced a new form of urbanism and a different ethos in Mysore. While it is difficult to flesh out the city’s new ethos just yet, it is unmistakably clear that R.K. Narayan’s Mysore doesn’t exist any more.

***

At the heart of this new urbanism is the formation of residential neighbourhoods by private developers. The Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA), the nodal agency responsible for city planning, has largely abandoned its traditional role of assessing the housing needs, acquiring land, and developing residential areas.

While it continues to produce the Local Planning Area (LPA) and Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) documents, which ostensibly offer the blueprint for city development and also develop residential neighbourhoods on occasion, in reality, MUDA has become an approver of projects developed by either private developers or, more often, cooperative societies formed by professional groups such as journalists, employees of various banks, universities and colleges, government departments and public sector companies.

These private entities have not only usurped MUDA’s role, but have succeeded in undermining MUDA regulations. Thus, there has been a systematic dismantling of Mysore’s urban planning institutional mechanism, developed in the early 20th century by the administrators of the old Mysore state, resulting in the privatization of city planning.

***

In 1904, the Mysore government established the City Improvement Trust Board (CITB), one of the earliest town planning bodies in India. The first such urban planning institution, the Bombay City Improvement Trust, had been established only six years earlier in 1898.

The CITB planned new extensions and created modern civic amenities such as new drainage and sewage systems; moreover, it also augmented the beauty of the city by planning wide boulevards, circles and parks. Mysore administrators also built several monumental public buildings in Indo-Saracenic style, which served as administrative buildings, schools and colleges, hospitals and libraries.

All this contributed to the rapid urbanization of Mysore in the first three decades of the 20th century and the making of a handsome, modern city. In his Modern Mysore: Impressions of a Visitor, Padmanabha Iyer, a journalist and author, who had travelled extensively in India, wrote after visiting Mysore:

‘Mysore is the most handsome city in all India that I have seen. Its parks, gardens, broad roads, circles, squares, beautiful avenues, etc., arrest the attention of the visitor and produce the first impression which is most lasting. The city one sees today is entirely the making of His Highness, the present Maharaja, who has been taking a personal interest in its improvement and modernisation.’ (Sridhara Print House, Trivandrum, 1936, p. 31)

Not surprisingly, Mysore’s population grew rapidly between 1900 and 1930, exceeding 100,000 by 1931.

While Mysore’s urban form was planned by the CITB, the specific nature of its urbanism drew more from its status as a royal centre. While Mysore has often claimed a glorious pre-modern past, until the beginning of the 20th century it had always simply been the place where the kings lived, and was just a small town around the palace. It had never been a centre of manufacturing and trade, or of cultural, intellectual or military activities.

Its history is linked inexorably to two other cities which performed those functions: until 1799, when the British conquered Mysore it was the neighbouring town of Srirangapattana, and subsequently, Bangalore, which was developed by the colonial administrators, both as the administrative capital of Mysore princely state and a cantonment city.

The early British reports of Mysore too describe it as a rather modest town.

Col. Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington and the brother of the then Viceroy, Richard Wellesley, couldn’t find a suitable hall for the coronation of the new Wodeyar king of Mysore, after the 4th Anglo-Mysore war in 1799-1800.

In fact, Lord Valentia reports that the city consisted of one street, which was a mile long.  (See for more details Mysore City by Constance Parsons, Oxford University Press, London, 1930, pp. 18-19).

***

Unlike Bangalore, which rapidly grew as a manufacturing and trading centre in addition to being the administrative capital of the state, Mysore’s growth came from the status it earned in the 20th century as a centre of culture, education and intellectual activity.

This was particularly true after the founding of the Mysore University in 1916.

Although some modern industries (silk and sandalwood oil factories) were established by the state, Mysore city saw very little industrialization. Mysore’s demographic profile too remained mostly stable since the majority of the settlers were Kannada speakers from southern Karnataka.

After independence, Mysore continued its impressive growth between 1951 and 1991, often at the rate of 40%.

This growth didn’t alter its ethos even though this period saw the influx of tens of thousands of non-Kannada speakers. Their arrival was linked to the establishment of several major national research institutions and laboratories such as the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI, founded in 1950), the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL, founded in 1961), All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH, founded in 1965), Regional Institute of Education (RIE, founded in 1963) and the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL, founded in 1969).

These institutions strengthened the nature of Mysore’s urbanism as a centre of education and research, culture and service economy. Additionally, Mysore came to be known as a pensioner’s paradise due to its salubrious climate, relaxed lifestyle and good civic amenities.

***

The CITB continued with its role as the planner of the city and developer of residential neighbourhoods. There were hardly any private initiatives since even the CITB developed neighbourhoods had remained under-utilized. In 1988, the CITB was renamed as the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) but its responsibilities continued to be the same.

In the past decade, however, the old model of city planning has been abandoned as the new expansion of the city is managed by private developers4 and not by MUDA, which has mostly become an approver of private initiatives.

How has this changed the nature of Mysore’s urbanism? I argue that even though the private developers and cooperative societies are required to abide by the MUDA guidelines while forming their layouts, there are two significant ways in which their projects differ from MUDA developed areas.

First, the cityscape itself changes since private developers often do not plan parks and wide streets; given the focus on maximizing profit, developers frequently even violate MUDA regulations. Second, the developers are also free to sell housing plots to any individual, to even a non-resident of Mysore, and more significantly in any number, thus fuelling a speculative boom.

In contrast, MUDA regulations exclude not only non-residents but also those who already own a house in Mysore from even applying for MUDA developed housing plots.

While such regulations are often violated, yet it is undeniable that they constitute some restraint on speculative buying. Moreover, MUDA regulations are based on a notion of equitable distribution of housing plots, whereas private initiatives of the past decade are more in the nature of speculative investments.

As a consequence, there has been close to a tenfold rise in prices since 2003-4, effectively keeping large sections of middle class Mysoreans from ever owning a house in the city. Thus, we have begun to notice a change in the ownership patterns as well, which will likely be more pronounced in the next decade.

Finally, there seems to be a steady decline in the institutional capacity to develop and maintain civic amenities and it is in this regard that 21st century Mysore appears to have most regressed. It is not clear whether this inability reflects a larger institutional malaise or is a consequence of the privatization of city planning.

Mysore is a recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds from the central government for creating urban infrastructure and providing basic services to the urban poor. Mysore’s civic bodies are also supposed to submit ‘detailed project reports (DPR)’ in order to receive funding. Yet, even a cursory glance at the proposed projects reveals the ad hoc nature of planning and the massive corruption during execution.

By and large, proposed projects have focused on building bus terminals, upgrading water supply and waste management systems, and rehabilitation of slums. While the city of Mysore is home to multiple universities, management and technical institutions, none of these institutions appear to take up civic problems as part of their research agenda and produce city planning proposals.

***

Such lacunae are not unique to Mysore alone, yet it is baffling to witness the complete absence of engagement on the part of research institutions with civic problems. Note that this state of affairs is accompanied by a systematic effort to privatize basic services, such as water supply.

Additionally, we should note two groups of Mysoreans who have benefited enormously from the wealth created during the real estate boom, given their impact on the ethos of the city and its public life.

First, the booming land prices have produced a plethora of new millionaires: peasants from villages on the outskirts of Mysore, whose land would have been acquired by the CITB or the MUDA in the past, have in the last ten years sold their land in the open market. Kannegowdana Koppalu, a village that is now part of Mysore city, alone has more than three hundred multimillionaires, according to my survey.

The second group of beneficiaries is the large real estate investors, a majority of whom are Mysoreans and happen to be active in Mysore politics; this is an instance of politicians realizing very early on the potential of real estate business as a money making venture and benefiting from the booming market.

These politicians also have additional land holdings in and around the city, and it is in their interest to persist with the privatization of neighbourhood formation. Both by virtue of their land ownership and their ability to affect public policy, this second group will have enormous influence in determining Mysore’s new urbanism.

What is the impact of this new urbanism on the form and ethos of the city?

The cityscape has begun to change as modern architecture takes hold, slowly changing the character of the royal city. While the palaces and public buildings from the early 20th century continue to define Mysore’s landscape, new shopping malls, resorts, multiplexes, apartment complexes and luxurious private houses have now become fairly common.

Mysoreans seem to be quite receptive to the changes brought about by the new money flow. While there does exist some nostalgia for the older and simpler times, the younger Mysoreans are active in real estate trading and construction industry.

So far, despite its rapid growth, Mysore retains its 20th century charm and continues to be a manageable city.

That is Mysore’s attraction for outsiders: for thousands of software engineers, students from all over the world, and increasingly, migrant workers from North Indian states, who come to the city in search of employment. Additionally, over 2.5 million tourists visit the city, among whom are an exotic category of visitors: the yoga students, who have become an ubiquitous part of the cityscape.

Thus, it is not only money which is flowing into Mysore, but new people as well.

What will partly determine the ethos of Mysore is their form of engagement with the city. As noted earlier, Mysore has seen the arrival of outsiders in significant numbers; what’s different about the present is the rampant materialism that seems endemic to both Mysoreans and outsiders.

More than anything else, the flow of money in the form of speculative investment is and will continue to be at the heart of how Mysore will change. Will that leave Mysore’s unhurried and relaxed lifestyle as well as notions of civility and hospitality unaffected?

That ethos of Mysore, of which R.K. Narayan was the finest chronicler, seems to be disappearing. Rampant materialism wasn’t the ethos of Narayan’s Mysore. It only represented the quaint professionalism of Malgudi businessmen.

Today’s Mysore may not offer much space for them.

***

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi is on the faculty of San Francisco State University, specialising  in medieval South India (especially Kannada literature and cinema) and the cultural politics of contemporary South Asia. A fuller version of this piece appears in the August 2010 issue of Seminar.

***

Photograph: courtesy Michael Polizzi (top), and Karnataka Photo News

‘Politics is about solving, not evading, problems’

9 August 2010

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express:

“The scandal of Indian politics is not simply that the prime minister is politically weak; it is that those who are politically strong are constantly running away from political responsibility. This is diminishing the ability of the government to do anything imaginative.

“[This government] is also founded on the illusion that politics can be detached from policy. Andhra should have taught the Congress the lesson how quickly it can become vulnerable because of casual political judgments. But exempting Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi from serious political responsibility is beginning to extract a toll.

“It is letting the Congress get away with the illusion that the hubris, callousness, even charges of corruption that are now sullying the party will somehow not affect its core image. It is as if in case the Commonwealth Games turn out to be a bit of a financial scandal, it has nothing to do with the party as such. Second, it has created a political culture where Congress politicians always seem stuck in a nether zone: many are smart, have independent ideas, but are simply unable to move. And it has sent a message: the purpose of politics is not solving problems; it is the evasion of responsibility.”

R. Jagannathan in DNA:

“It is a tragedy to see a Gandhi scion hiding behind mamma, shying away from the real challenges of life. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru battled sectarianism and put his political prestige on the line to fight Hindu traditionalists in the Congress party and outside.

Indira Gandhi took on all the party bosses to establish her power and take the country forward. She took the fateful—unfortunately, wrong—decision to storm the Akal Takht and paid with her life. But she did not shrink from taking a decision. Rajiv Gandhi learnt from her mistakes and handled the next Golden Temple crisis intelligently. He also tried to bring peace to Sri Lanka by sending the IPKF to deal with the murderous LTTE. He too paid for it with his life.

“The mark of a good leader is not that he or she always takes the right call, but that they are never afraid to take a decision in the national interest. In contrast, Sonia and Rahul have made no wrong move ever. They are courting power by abandoning the idea of leading. They are opportunists. This country needs leaders, not opportunists.”

A. Surya Prakash in The Pioneer:

“The situation in Kashmir has spiraled out of control. The preparations for the Commonwealth Games are a shambles. The Maoists have carved out their own State and hapless constables of the Central Reserve Police Force are routinely slaughtered by those leading the armed insurrection. Food prices have hit the roof and rail and air accidents are the order of the day. Members of the Union Council of Ministers have given a go-by to the concept of collective responsibility and flung governance and accountability out of the window.

“Suddenly, everything appears to be falling apart. Threats to India’s constitutional well being and territorial integrity unfortunately coincide with non-governance. Amidst all this chaos, the lead actor appears to have deserted the stage. That is why there is just one question on the lips of many citizens these days: Where is the Prime Minister?”

Also read: After Manmohan who? Chidu, Diggy or Rahul?

‘Most opaque politicians in the democratic world’

Jesus, Mozart, Alexander and apun ka Rahul

A functioning anarchy? Or a feudal democracy?

Rahul Gandhi‘s ascension: a foregone conclusion?

Rahul Gandhi’s ascension: A foregone conclusion?

29 May 2010

It is rare for two columnists of diverse political leanings to begin their column on the same day in two different newspapers with the same words:  “On June 19, Rahul Gandhi will turn 40. That was the age his father became prime minister.”  But that’s how Minhaz Merchant begins his piece in The Times of India today, and that’s how Bharat Bhushan begins his piece in Mail Today.

Both articles are occasioned by prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s comments at his national press conference to The Rahul Gandhi question: when will you take him into the cabinet and, sotto voce, when will he replace you? The 2009 UPA victory and the Congress general secretary’s presumed role in it, plus the assumption that Singh has only been warming the chair for the scion of the family are a given.

So, which model will Rahul Gandhi follow as he enters the fifth decade of his life?

Writes Minhaz Merchant, author of a biography on Rajiv Gandhi:

“An intelligent and sensitive man whose common touch makes him a formidable political opponent, Rahul Gandhi concedes he owes his position to his birth. He is not proud of a system that allows such feudal anomalies and wants to bring internal democracy to the Youth Congress with transparent elections so that young men and women of merit can enter politics without the shoehorn of a surname.

“Rahul is silent about applying the same high standard to the top echelons of the party, including the post of president which his mother Sonia Gandhi has held for 12 consecutive years—a record in the Congress’s 125-year history…. If Rahul has his father’s sense of noblesse oblige-and he probably does-this is a situation that should make him feel uncomfortable. Does he have the political will to do something about it? At the moment, perhaps not.”

Bharat Bhushan, on the other hand, says Sonia will bring him to the forefront “only when he is sure of success because failure will unacceptable”. And three tests present themselves in the run-up to 2014.

“The first such opportunity may come with the elections in Uttar Pradesh in the first quarter of 2012. That is also the year when the presidential election is due in the month of June. Now, it has never happened in India that a serving prime minister has been kicked upstairs to Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, conditions can be such at that time that this might become conceivable.

“A mid-course change could also come about in the summer of 2012 as Congressmen are looking for change by that time — two years away from the next general election seems to be a reasonable time to put a new leader in place to create a buzz and see them through the polls at a time when they would be faced with 10- years of anti- incumbency. By that time Manmohan Singh would be past 79, pushing 80 and may opt for a smooth exit.

“The third possibility is that Manmohan Singh lasts his full second term. At the ripe old age of 81, he decides to hang his boots and appeals to the people to give a chance to the next generation. Manmohan Singh’s sagacity combined with the charisma and vitality of Rahul Gandhi would make for attractive electoral branding — especially because by that time, it is unlikely that the BJP would undergo any major revival.”

But what if Rahul Gandhi, too, hears the “inner voice” like his mother did in 2004?

Photograph: courtesy India Daily

Read the full articles: A role for Rahul Gandhi?

When will Rahul Gandhi come of age?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Sonia, smarter than Indira?

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi

The only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

‘Media’s Congress bias is ominous for Indian democracy’

When the reservation chart had a sack order

26 May 2010

Almost everybody seems to have an opinion, and not a good one at that, at prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s recent performance at his press conference in New Delhi, forgetting that governance is not about performance. And forgetting that not everything need be to the byte-sized expectations of television anchors.

The Telegraph, Calcutta, has a story on Singh’s precedessors who had a face for radio. Id est, they were just not media-savvy. Leading the list, Morarji Desai. But the father of the defamation bill, Rajiv Gandhi, who announced his foreign secretary’s replacement in a media powwow, and the mother of emergency, Indira Gandhi, were no better.

One of Indira Gandhi’s big boo-boos, according to H.D. Deve Gowda‘s media advisor H.K. Dua, involves Kengal Hanumanthaiah, the political architect of  the Vidhana Soudha.

“Unlike her son, Indira would never announce anything substantive at her media interactions, Dua said.

“He described how then railway minister K. Hanumanthaiah had sacked the railway board chairman, a certain Ganguly. The chairman refused to accept the sack order and set out for Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla station for his pre-scheduled trip to Jaipur.

“The minister had the sack order pasted on the coach Ganguly was to travel in. Ganguly did not budge and even held media conferences in the coach.

“At her news conference a few days later, Indira was asked about the situation. “She chose not to bite the bait but Hanumanthaiah was out in the next ministerial shuffle,” Dua said.

Read the full story: Manmohan waltzes where many slipped

Also read: All rise, the house is now called, and in session

How KSRTC hopes to cut down road accidents

21 April 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Recently I read something regarding the Karnataka state road transport corporation (KSRTC) which caught my attention.

It highlighted the efforts of its Tumkur division to reduce accidents in its jurisdiction.

Since there are deaths by the dozen these days, I was keen to learn how Tumkur’s KSRTC tackled the problem. I decided to meet the PRO of KSRTC at their double-road office in Shanthinagar in Bangalore.

The PRO welcomed me with akshathe and thambittu prasada.

“I understand your Tumkur division made an initiative to bring down accidents in Tumkur. Could you please elaborate?”

“Sure. There were 198 deaths due to accidents from January to July in 2008-09 in Karnataka involving KSRTC buses out of which 46 deaths were in Tumkur alone, which was rather alarming. Tumkur decided to do something about it. In a proactive step, they organized homas  to reduce accidents. The homas were conducted non-stop from six in the monring till nine in the night at various localities.”

Homas? Did they budget it in their annual plan?” I asked.

“No. It was drawn from the non-plan expenditure. When they explained their mission to the headquarters, we readily sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for the specific purpose of homas. They also raised money among drivers and conductors for prasadas.”

“I see. What is the next plan?”

“Since the pilot project is a success, we are going to replicate this in the entire State.”

“I wonder how you will go about organizing in such a large scale. Surely audit will not allow such huge amounts to be debited to ‘non-plan expenditure?  CAG will raise a big stink.”

“I know. The homa kundas and ghee alone will cost us a fortune. We have approached JNNURM for funds. Such projects are always approved by JNNURM. We are ready with a draft plan.”

“JNNURM is named after Jawaharlal Nehru. Our first Prime Minister always insisted on scientific temperament. Could you share some salient features of your plan?”

“Sure. Here are the details.”

1) Permanent homa kundas are needed in each City.  Because of its size Bangalore may need four or five. The municipal corporation in each City will be our co-partners, stakeholders if you will. BBMP will be our partners in Bangalore. MCC in Mysore and so on.

2)  KSRTC will have its own staff purohitharu on their roster who will do homas before each trip. Khaki panche and shalya will be their uniform. Traffic police in consultation with some mutts have suggested yellow and black thilakas for men and bindis of similar colours for women.

3) The driver and conductor will make sure the passengers do a pradakshine of the homa kunda and the bus before they get in. Prasadas like rasayana or kobbarisakkare will be distributed before the bus leaves the stand.

4) After the conductor blows the conch, the driver will start the bus.

5)  The tickets will have permanent red and yellow colours in the corners. It will also match with the Karnataka flag colour which we use during Rajyothsava.

6)  Only appata Nandini fhee will be used throughout for the homas.

“These are some of the features. Initially we are restricting these only to outstation buses. Later we will take a call on bus travel within city limits. But we could make changes as we go along,” said the PRO.

“Very well thought-out plan, I must say. But there could be accidents along the way. How will you prevent them?”

“Good question.  Our ‘Circle Inspectors’ enroute will do a ‘dhrishti nivarane’ as the bus enters their area. The circle inspector will break a coconut in front of the bus as his assistant will light an incense stick. A small aarti will be performed by female members of the circle inspector’s office. It is the responsibility of circle inspectors that aartis are done as soon as the bus enters their jurisdiction.”

“Fine. There is often complaint that stray cattle come in the way of speeding vehicles and busy intersections and are sometimes responsible for accidents? How will you tackle these?”

“This remains a serious problem. Neither the cattle nor their owners have done anything regarding this so far. By our experience we have found, most of the cattle are harmless and just stand in the middle of the road if they are left alone. The traffic police have advised us to get the cattle painted with alternate yellow and black stripes like zebra stripes. They will help as ‘road dividers’ on single lane roads.”

“That is good. It will also give some traffic sense and pride to the cattle too.”

“These are only some aspects of our draft plan. We have to refine it further before we finally launch.”

“I understand. By the way, are you giving your drivers some hands-on training on things like driving, traffic rules etc?”

“We have to. We cannot sit back and feel everything will be hunky-dory just from homas.”

“That’s true,” I agreed and left after one more helping of thambittu.

***

Postscript: Today’s Deccan Herald (Mysore edition) carries a cartoon and a story on page 3 titled ‘Clueless, cops turn towards’ divine intervention’.

Apparently, the Krishnarajendra police station on M.G. Road, located near the famous Ganapathi temple, are doing homas as they are unable to catch chain snatching and two-wheeler theft of more than 70 cases. A priest cum insurance agent conducted a homa at 4.30 am on Tuesday next to Lord Krishna deity with full attendance from inspector to constables.

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Shashi Tharoor survive?

1 March 2010

If Shashi Tharoor wants a title to flaunt  along with his myriad accomplishments, he might like to consider “Row Bahadur”. The minister of state for external affairs in the Manmohan Singh team has led what can only be mildly termed a charmed existence in the first nine months of the second innings of the UPA government.

After his failed bid to become secretary-general of the United Nations,with the backing of UPA-I, the youthful son of a journalist has been rarely out of the limelight, slipping from one 140-character controversy to another. His election campaign in Trivandrum was marred by reports that he had disrespected the national anthem.

Inducted into the council of ministers, the first-time MP’s five-star accommodation made embarrassing headlines and set the tone for a week of breastbeating over his tweet on travelling “cattle-class”. His reported comments about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at a book launch ruffled a few Congress feathers. His senior, S.M. Krishna, has had to publicly draw the lakshman rekha for his Twittermania. And now comes the gaffe about Saudi Arabia being an “interlocutor” in the India-Pakistan theatre.

Question: Will Shashi Tharoor survive the first reshuffle of Team Manmohan?

Also read: Can Sai Baba make Shashi Tharoor win?

Shashi Tharoor’s definition of globalisation

Shashi Tharoor on saving the saree


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