Posts Tagged ‘Sans Serif’

How Bangalore looks from the edge of a crane

23 August 2014

jameskingstonHow Bangalore looks from up above. British professional adventurer James L. Kingston climbs up a crane to come up with dramatic pictures of a city which, increasingly, doesn’t quite look like this from down below.

What Master Murty should tell Narayana Murthy

10 June 2014

Vinaashakaale vipareetha buddhi pretty much explains the decision of the Sikkapatte Important Company of Karnataka to send out legal notices to three newspapers, seeking legal damages of Rs 2,000 crore (that is a little less than a third of Nandan Nilekani‘s net declared wealth of Rs 7,700 crore), “for loss of reputation and goodwill due to circulation of defamatory articles” in the said publications, presumably following the executive meltdown following N.R. Narayana Murthy‘s return to bossmanship.

Hopefully, the laundry list of impugned articles that have caused Rs 2,000 crore of damages, does not include this spoof letter, from one “R. Murty” to Dr D, published in Panache, the newly launched Friday supplement of The Economic Times.

***

Respected Dr D:

for loss and reputation and goodwill due to circulation of defamatory articles

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/infosys-defamation-suit-why-media-should-fight-for-its-quick-disposal-1564273.html?utm_source=ref_article

 

I am a good son. I did what was expected of any South Indian Brahmin boy. I stood first in class (to nobody’s surprise) and I learnt the subtleties of the pre-Trinity and post-Trinity composers of Carnatic music by the time I was 10. I went to Cornell to pursue my degree, to MIT for my master’s and then to Harvard. Aced all of them. Didn’t even have to try.

I worked at Microsoft, which I would probably have headed if I weren’t called back, and I shall have more to say about that later.

I married the daughter and heiress of the TVS family (she’s a hottie). Can a son be more perfect than I have been? So far so good, and you must remember that I was not yet 30 before all of this happened. Then the fall. All right, not so much a catastrophe, but certainly a diversion from all of the world-conquering and giant-killing I had done after leaving Bengaluru in my teens.

My father returned to his old firm, ostensibly because it was in trouble, but, some whispered, because he was also at a loose end. I don’t want to say which is truer, but the fact is that he did return to take charge of something that he had given up. And he took me with him. He did not really ask me, so much as inform me. “Son, let’s set this thing right together.” I was made his assistant. Seriously? I thought.

What the heck kind of job is that for someone of my skills and background? Set up meetings and get the coffee? Nonetheless, I reported for work and have endured the drudgery of working with and reporting to my father.

I am bored out of my brilliant skull.

I want to head Microsoft and Apple and want to run start-ups that take on Google and Facebook. But, I’m managing this gigantic call centre instead. Not even managing it, mind you, merely drawing up timetables for the old man to do it. I don’t know what else I’m expected to do. It’s been a full year now and there seems to be no end in sight. How do I tell dad that I’ve had enough?

R Murty executive assistant to the chairman, Infosys

***

Dear Rohan,

I feel your pain. Here are five ways to get your father to let you go:

1) Show up for work on Friday in your Speedos. 2) Interrupt his speech at the AGM with the question: “Why did you come back, dad?” 3) Include slides of your family holidays (dad in his shorts!) in his next PPT presentation to the Americans. 4) Repeat everything he says at board meetings. 5) Send out from his ID a message to all employees on the dos and don’ts of topless sunbathing.

I hope this helps. If it doesn’t, be strong. Go to your mom.

Dr D

***

Text: courtesy The Economic Times

Also read: Is Infosys becoming Narayana Murthy‘s property?

Can NaMo solve Bangalore’s garbage problem?

3 June 2014

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To the eternal mortification of the naysayers, Narendra Damodardas Modi has won an admirable election for the BJP and is now firmly installed as the 15th prime minister of India. As an example of one man single-mindedly pursuing his goal and achieving it against a mountain of opposition this is success nonpareil.

churumuri is happy to be proven spectacularly wrong—and humbled. Somewhat.

That said, the difficult part is meeting the ocean of expectations that Modi channelised into his victory. In urging voters to vote for him by voting for BJP candidates, Modi deftly turned a parliamentary election into a presidential one, in which all the nation’s hopes were somewhat irrationally invested in one man.

As if members of Parliament don’t count.

As if members of Legislature don’t count.

As if members of city corporations don’t count.

A good test of the new prime minister’s supposedly omniscient powers and abilities is in supposedly “high-tech” Bangalore, where sights such these is today commonplace in a City governed by the prime minister’s party; in a State governed by the Congress.

Is it reasonable to expect a “municipal” problem to be solved by the PM, whose MPs also represent the City? If yes, how precisely would Narendra Modi go about this? And how many days should it take for “Achche Din” to dawn on the hapless residents of Bangalore who voted for him and his party?

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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Also read: Should NRN open world Kannada conference?

When did 328 become greater than 100,000?

Yella not OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

Don’t gift them fish. Teach them how to fish

Can Azim Premji do what the government can’t/ won’t?

Yedi is fiddling when namma naadu is burning

Do our netas, parties really care about education?

When will our kids start questioning? Don’t ask

 

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…?

To Narendra Modi. From the Maharaja of Mysore

24 April 2014

As the words I, me and myself trip off the ads, lips and trolls of the man who thinks he will rule India soon, a sobering blast from the past. This, here, in his own hand, is a plaque commemorating Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar‘s note to his subjects upon completion of 25 years as the maharaja of Mysore.

Dated the 8th of August 1927, the choice of words is revealing. While the English part of the letter has the King speak of himself in the first person singular—four “I”s and four “my”s—the Kannada part is replete with the collective “namma” (our), with not a word screaming “main” as is now the wont.

The man who thinks he will rule India soon may like to remind himself that it was in Krishnaraja Wodeyar’s reign that Mysore became the first state to have a democratic system of governance.

And as the man who thinks he will rule India blithely watches his minions spew words of exclusion in 2014, it’s also useful to remember that Mysore, under Krishnaraja Wodeyar, was the first State to provide reservations for the weaker sections of society in government jobs.

Also read: Rama, Rama rajya & Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

When the maharaja’s son failed an examination

Why the Queen sold her diamonds and jewels

It requires lots of two legs to launch three legs

23 April 2014

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Nothing, it seems, can be sold to consumers or projected to the media these days, without a bunch of girls posing for the lenses. The 23rd piece of evidence in our commodification of women series, of models posing for camera tripods, in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu PrabhakarAnother example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

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

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka TrivediSee, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

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

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

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

Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops

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

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

Jayanti, Bharati, Tara, Padmaja Rao: The great gold obsession

Bhavana: When you see plastic, just bend and pick up

Priyanka: How to keep your head up with half a kilo of gold

Sanjana Jain: ‘Minority’ appeasement of sarees in political season

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

When an Editor salutes a politician, it’s news

7 April 2014

Star of Mysore editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy (right) with the politician H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda, who passed away yesterday

Star of Mysore editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy (right) with the politician H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda, who passed away yesterday

The relationship between politicians and journalists is usually an after-dark activity in India, with neither participant ready or willing to put the other’s involvement on the record.

Wise heads in politics will counsel newcomers against getting too close to journalists, because, well, you never know when the snake could discover its fangs.

Grey beards in journalism will lament such proximity, because, well, it could harm the holy grail of our profession that textbooks say exists—“objectivity”.

K.B. Ganapathy, the editor-in-chief of the evening daily Star of Mysore, swerves off the beaten track to pay a heart-warming tribute to the three-time BJP MLA in Karnataka, the former mayor of Mysore, H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda, who passed away yesterday.

***

By K.B. GANAPATHY

It was 1979; Star of Mysore was into its second year of publication from its office in Saraswathipuram near Kamakshi Hospital.

One afternoon, a young, lean, tall man, neatly dressed with his shirt tucked into his pants held in by a leather belt, wearing specs with thin plastic frame, came to my desk hesitantly wanting to discuss an incident to be published.

He was an angry young man. There was clarity in his speech and honesty in his voice.

The officer in charge of issuing cement permits in those days of scarcity and license-permit Raj at the divisional commissioner’s office was partial and corrupt, he said and wanted the paper to expose him.

He had come to me after creating a scene at the office with the support of the disappointed permit-seekers. I grabbed the opportunity and published the story with his picture.

Lo and behold, a leader was made.

Having been a journalist in Bombay, I knew every leader would have his detractors. Soon, I was fed with information about his antecedents, specially as a manager in the Janata Bazar. But I knew there was not much truth in it.

He was already into poultry business with his unit at Martikyatanahalli on Bogadi road, eight km from city. He was staying with his family in his own house near our office. His name was H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda.

And soon we became very close friends.

***

The first quality I found in him was his helping nature. Second quality was his societal concern. The third quality was his immediate reaction both in words and deeds.

To me he was a unique kind of a person. Naturally our contact blossomed into friendship. This bonding had helped both of us in succeeding in our chosen field of activity.

To cut out details, he as a politician and I as a journalist and newspaper publisher.

I remember those early days, he on his scooter and I on my motorbike, going to his farm, in the evening, to spend some ‘quality’ time enjoying boiled eggs and omelette aplenty or even a chicken fry. And he would load my motorbike’s side box with vegetables and trays of eggs on the rear seat despite my protestation.

To further strengthen our friendship, he found out a three-acre land close to his which I bought, but later sold, just as he himself did with his farm.

Again, it was at his insistence and moral support that in 1983 I built my own house at Kuvempunagar in a 60×40 site.

A dashing man of courage and confidence, I was convinced by him that I could build a house knowing that I did not have required money.

In the meanwhile, he was wanting to become a politician, Janata Party politician. By then I had built personal rapport with the leading politicians of Janata Party in city as a journalist and through my elder brother late Dr K. B. Subbaiah.

Again rivalry and he was nowhere in the race for Corporation election ticket.

I was doing the background work no doubt, but it was his presence of mind and the way he reacted in lightning speed that enabled him to wangle a ticket from Janata Party.

One day, he was in my ‘own’ house at 7 O’clock in the morning on his scooter. By then I had a Fiat car.

I took him to the government house to meet Azeez Sait [the late Congress leader], made him speak to M.S. Gurupadaswamy [former Union minister], went to T.V. Srinivasa Rao’s house in Vidyaranyapuram where Shankaralinge Gowda’s challenger for the ticket too was there.

He gave me a sheepish smile and whispered, “what have I done to you?” in Kannada.

First I went into a huddle in a room with H. Kempe Gowda, the city president of the party, Azeez Sait and T.V. Srinivasa Rao. Gurupadaswamy did not come but had given his consent. Then I called my friend and introduced him to the party honchos.

Well, Shankaralinge Gowda never looked back.

***

It was I who advised him to change his sartorial choice immediately to that of what politicians are seen wearing. In his case, kurta and pyjama, with a stoll.

I was his political guru (and he would embarrass me by declaring it in public meetings) till he won the first MLA election from the BJP which he joined, again, at my insistence and a little help. Later, both my guruhood and friendship too faded away to the point of occasional telephone contacts.

I recall today the timely help given to me by Shankaralinge Gowda when I had faced threat to my life and harassment by those who were upset by what was published in those early first 10 years. It was during those trying days Shankaralinge Gowda showed his sterling qualities of heart and head for a friend.

If anyone doubts the time tested saying that ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed,’ here I am to vouch for the veracity of such a saying. He was a friend who stood by me, specially on two occasions.

One, when I was harassed and threatened by one who was exposed for cheating students seeking medical college seats and two, when my life was threatened by another group taking offence to what was published connected to LTTE.

Shankaralinge Gowda may not be with us today but his memory and my days of friendship with him will always remain indelible in my memory.

Adieu my friend, goodbye.

RIP, Shankaralinge Gowda.

Text and photograph: courtesy Star of Mysore

Also read: A song for an unsung hero, C.P. Chinnappa

9 steps for success from a (super-successful) editor

When a freelance writer cannot meet an editor

Khushwant Singh dies 24 years after his obituary

20 March 2014

Khushwant Singh, the self-proclaimed “dirty old man of Indian journalism”, has passed away at the age of 99.

Exactly, 30 years ago, when Singh was 69, the journalist Dhiren Bhagat wrote a pre-obituary of the “sardar in the light bulb” for the now-defunct Sunday Observer.

Ironically, Dhiren Bhagat was to predecease Singh by 24 years, and Khushwant Singh ended up reviewing a collection of his work for India Today in 1990.

Below is the full text of Dhiren Bhagat’s “obituary”, written for the February 13, 1983 edition of The Sunday Observer.

***

bhagat

By DHIREN BHAGAT

I was saddened to read that Khushwant Singh passed away in his sleep last week. What a quiet end for so loud a man.

How the gods mock the mocking.

Contradictions surrounded Khushwant at every stage of his life. He strove to give the impression that he was a drunken slob yet he was one of the most hard-working and punctual men I knew.

He professed agnosticism and yet enjoyed kirtan as only few can and do.

He was known nationally as a celebrated lecher but for the past thirty years at least it was a hot-water-bottle that warmed his bed.

He devoted his last years in the service of a woman who  decisively spurned him in the end.

He made a profession of living off his friends’ important names and yet worked single-handedly to diminish that very importance.

Empty vessels make the most noise but Khushwant was always full of the Scotch he had cadged off others.

He was a much misunderstood man. So before the limp eulogies start pouring in (how Khushwant would have hated them!) let me set the record straight.

As Khushwant once said, the obituary is the best place to tell the truth for dead men file no libel suits. (An agnostic to the end he didn’t believe in the Resurrection.)

***

Khushwant was born in 1915 in a rich but not particularly educated home. They were Khuranas from Sargodha who made good in Delhi.

His father, Sir Sobha Singh, was the contractor who built the city of New Delhi and who in consequence received a knighthood. In 1947 it used to be said (somewhat inaccurately it must be admitted) that ninety-nine per cent of New Delhi was owned by the Government and one per cent by Sir Sobha Singh.

After his initial education Khushwant was sent to England to appear for the ICS. He didn’t make it.

Later he would tell a story of how he had made it to the Merit List but how that year there was a reserved place for a non-Jat from Phulkian state (later PEPSU) and how some-one with less marks than him filled that place. But Khushwant was always a great raconteur so it is difficult to know what to believe.

Once bitten, twice shy. Khushwant didn’t try for the ICS again but instead enrolled himself at the London School of Economics from where in the course of things he acquired a BA.

The examiners decided to place him in the Third Class. After his degree Khushwant read for the Bar where he was equally successful. (His brother Daljit, now a businessman, was always the better scholar of the two.)

When Khushwant came back after six years in England a family friend asked his father: ‘Kaka valaiton kee kar ke aayaa hai?  (What has the boy done in England?) Sir Sobha Singh replied ‘Time pass kar ke aaya hai jee.’ (He has been marking time.)

It is unlikely the canny contractor was joking.

***

After the Partition Khushwant joined the Indian Foreign Service and this phase of his career took him to London, Ottawa and Paris. In this period he began publishing short stories on rustic themes.

In 1955 he shot to fame when a novel of his won a large cash award set by an American publishing house in order to attract manuscripts. It was a mediocre Partition quickie called Mano Majra (later published as Train to Pakistan).

Years passed. Khushwant kept writing books, on the Jupji, on the Sikhs, on India, stories, translations: many of them provocatively titled and indicative of his deepest desires, “I Shall Rape the Nightingale”, “I Take This Woman” etc. Some of these attempts were successful.

But success and cosmopolitan living did not spoil the earthiness of the robust Jat.

He continued to down his Scotch with a ferocity that made his hosts nervous. He

continued to tell stories that revealed his deep obsession with the anal.

He had a theory that all anger was a result of an upset stomach and instructed his son to ask his mother if her stomach walls troubling her whenever she scolded him.

In his more smug moments he attributed his own iconoclastic calm to the severe constipation from which he had suffered since childhood.

In 1969 Khushwant took over the Illustrated Weekly of India and embarked on the most controversial phase of his career. On the editor’s page Mario Miranda drew a bulb and Khushwant sat in it, along with his Scotch and dirty pictures.

Sitting in that cross-legged position Khushwant took the ailing magazine from success to success, all along illuminating millions of readers on the more outre aspects of the world’s brothels.

Once in a while he tore into a friend’s reputation. So great was our prurience that he became a household name in a short while. Fame he had, honour he sought.

In the early seventies an eminent Muslim journalist friend of Khushwant’s approached Rajni Patel. Could Rajnibhai fix Khushwant with a Padma Bhushan? If the honour didn’t come his way soon Sardarji would have a heart attack. Patel flew to Delhi twice and fixed it. Later Khushwant showed his gratitude in strange ways.

***

Then came the Emergency. Khushwant’s friends and admirers were very troubled by his stand: IndiraGandhi was Durga incarnate, SanjayGandhi the New Messiah and the highways of the land were clogged with smoothly running Marutis.

Many explanations have been offered for his position but I believe I am the only person to know the right one. (Khushwant in an unguarded whisky-sodden moment once opened up to me and told all.) And since it is only in obituaries that it is proper to disclose the little-known details of a man’s personal life I shall come out with it now.

Impotence had claimed Khushwant back in the fifties. At first he had been sorely troubled by this condition (most Jats are) and had tried several remedies, mostly indigenous. This accounted for his immense knowledge of jaree-bootees and his disillusionment with quacks.

When he had finally given up all hope of lighting the wick he had turned to other pleasures with a vengeance. (Exposing his friends’ affairs was a favourite pleasure: it was envy compounded with righteousness.)

It must be remembered that Khushwant’s lechery was of the mildest order: he as a voyeur, he could do nothing. Scotch was a palliative, but in the end even that failed to make up the loss.

It was Sanjay’s power that finally did the trick. So great was the vicarious pleasure the ageing Sardar felt that it went to his head. And after Sanjay’s death Khushwant lost his vitality, his vigour. He grew listless.

And then the quiet end. A lively man all in all. Even as I write this I am sure Khushwant is busy looking up the angels’ skirts. And since angels are constitutionally condemned to celibacy that should suit Khushwant fine.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: Khushwant Singh on his last day at The Weekly

Why Khushwant Singh fell out with Arun Shourie

Khushwant Singh: 11 secrets of a long and happy life

Khushwant Singh: When R.K. Narayan saw a blue film

Khushwant Singh on L.K. Advani: the man who sowed hatred

One question I’m dying to ask Nandan Nilekani

10 March 2014

Like Arvind Kejriwal overshadowed Anna Hazare leaving the old man suitably stumped and stupefied, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has taken a giant leap into electoral politics that should leave his former colleague, N.R. Narayana Murthy, moaning in his majjige-huli.

By joining the Congress a day after he was named the party’s candidate from Bangalore South, Nilekani has put his political money where his voluble mouth is, a far cry from Murthy, who after aiming to be the President of India, said he was happy to be India’s ambassador to the US, before finally returning to his parent—and sneaking in his son Rohan Murthy in a fit of meritocracy.

But parachuting in politics is the easy part, especially if you have the ear of Sonia Gandhi and the earpiece of Rahul Gandhi. The difficult part is landing, and in a few weeks from now, Bangalore South will show (and Nilekani will learn) if the “urban, educated, literate, middle-class” truly wants change, or if it is happy with Ananth Kumar.

On his YouTube channel, paid twitter messages, and super-soft interviews with business correspondents whom he courted in his previous avatar, Nilekani paints himself as a son of the soil, being born to a Minerva Mills employee, in Vani Vilas hospital, who lived in BTM layout, etc.

He even tries to speaks in Kannada.

But there is plenty Bangaloreans do not know of Nilekani. So, what is the one question you are dying to ask the Bangalore South candidate?

Like, have his number-crunchers already computed the victory (or defeat) margin on their computers? Like, will he run away, as NRN did from the Bangalore international airport project, at the first hint of criticism? Like, all Congressmen, does he too think Rahul Gandhi is god’s gift to Indian politics?

Like, does he see Rohini, Nihar or Janhavi taking over from him, should he win, in the best traditions of the Congress?

Also read: Not yet an MP, could Nandan become PM?

Can Nandan Nilekani win from Bangalore South?

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

Nandan Nilekani: The five steps to success

When you can’t think of your tiff with your GF

10 March 2014

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SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Mandakalli airport. 10 kms south-east of Mysore.

A four-seater Cessna 172 waits on the tarmac on a balmy early March morning. The young and affable Captain Harshit Gupta (25) is at the controls.

He goes about his routine pre-flight checks on the small aircraft with well-rehearsed efficiency, clambering up on a footstep on the side of the tiny aircraft to check the fuel levels inside the two tanks mounted on either side of the wings with a wooden dipstick in hand.

As Capt Gupta turns on the ignition, the piston driven aircraft comes to life more like a motorbike, spewing greyish exhaust smoke from a pipe located to the right side of the body.

As the whirring propellers make their perennial arc, Capt. Gupta radioes air traffic control, seeking permission to take off. The mandatory interaction over; he eases the aircraft into taxiing mode.

On board are two other men: Ales Palicka and Shibu Alexis.

As the Cessna slowly lurches forward in a northerly direction with the greyish hued Chamundi Hill in the distance, looming large with a forbidding omniscience; and makes the mandatory turn to the left seeking the asphalted runway of the Mysore airport, it is about to be part of an aviation rarity in India—a sky diving expedition!

Among the two other men on board the aircraft, Palicka (31) is a Czech hailing from the town of Karviena. He has a hard earned diploma in commercial sky diving from New Zealand, at the only sky diving school in the world close to Christchurch, which offers a diploma after 32 weeks of intense training.

Ales was a back packing tourist in New Zealand in early 2009 when he encountered a man at a bar who floored him with his extraordinary zest for life explaining to him that he was a sky diving coach. That man went on to colourfully describe to the young and impressionable Ales that it was the most exciting sport in the world where you could live man’s oldest fantasy; the fantasy of flying in air!

‘People pay me to jump out of a plane and have fun. What better way to live?’ the stranger had laughed uproariously.

Ales was hooked for life. He raised the necessary NZD 50,000towards fees and equipment (the helmet alone with the cameras cost him NZD 5000), partly with help from his parents and partly through a bank loan. He then went about diligently learning the intricacies of sky diving.

Alexis(26) is a techie and a sky diving enthusiast who has driven down all by himself from Chennai to be part of the indescribable adventure of playing a gliding eagle high up in the sky for a short while at least.

All these three men are about to embark on a 45 minute expedition in the skies above Mysore, underlining the city’s least known status as the one and only sky diving destination or drop zone in technical skydiving parlance, in the entire country;recognized by no less an international accreditation agency as the United States Parachute association (USPA), which recognizes authentic drop zones around the world.

How did Mysore of all the places, known more for its sandalwood, silks and royalty come to be recognized as the only perfect sky diving destination in the country?

Ales explains why. Ideal weather conditions, perfect visibility, clear airspace, a full-fledged airport with a terminal building and a functioning air traffic control tower, a fire station and most of all, very sparse air traffic in the skies above the city.

With just one single commercial flight operating out of the Mysore airport throughout the day, the rest of the day cannot be anything but perfect for sky diving. The itinerary for the day is so precisely charted that when the larger commercial aircraft is within fifteen nautical miles of the airport, all skydiving activity is halted with the entire paraphernalia on the ground.

With Mysore being one of the most popular tourist destinations nation-wide with innumerable places of interest around, Ales has every reason to believe that the city has the potential to become one of the top destinations for sky diving in the world.

Well, he should know, because he has done over 2600 jumps across the globe.

Big cities anywhere in the world and so also in India simply cannot offer any semblance of an ideal condition for this sport because the air traffic above them is so high that planes keep landing and taking off like a flock of birds. And the danger of men gliding about in the sky strapped to parachutes amidst all this frenetic aviation activity is simply too serious to contemplate.

It was this reality that made Dr Aanchal Khurana and her business partner Commander Kaul scour every perceivable part of the country seeking the right airstrip for launching sky diving expeditions under the aegis of Sky Riders, the sky diving division of their company Kakini Enterprises.

Meeting people, understanding procedures to be followed and permissions to be sought, they zeroed in on Mysore with the help of two local adventure enthusiasts, Satish Babu and Deepak Solanki, and decided that this is where they would set up base.

It was October 2012. Dr. Aanchal’s company has since facilitated some 200 jumps in the skies above the royal city with the pink domes of the Wodeyar’s palace in the distance.

Enthusiasts come from as far as Delhi, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Chennai and Bombay. And foreign tourists too. The corporate world of Bangalore, a mere three hours away also constitutes a major chunk of the company’sclientele. All seeking the thrill and excitement of a life time.

Cut to the Cessna. The plane is readying itself for takeoff.

Seated inside the aircraft, one of whose doors has been deliberately dismantled for easier access to the aluminium foot board attached to the frame of the aircraft, Ales Palicka throws a smile and a thumbs up sign. His ‘student’ Shibu Alexis grins and if there is any hint of butterflies in his stomach, he doesn’t show it.

Both of them are wearing heavily padded jump suits with zippers running right through the middle and goggles that make them look like lesser astronauts whose area of activity is well below the limits of outer space! Both of them have a plethora of strong metal hooks attached to their suits. It’s into these hooks that the harnesses will go when it’s time for the jump.

The main parachute made of high quality nylon is lying inside a bag; folded, ready and strapped on to Ales’s back. The rip cord that will activate it when pulled is to the side. There is another reserve parachute too strapped on to Ales with a built in computer into which is fed data in the form of a pre-determined altitude and velocity.

Should the main parachute fail to open, for reasons as varied as the man fainting or his co-ordination going completely awry, resulting in an uncontrollable free fall, the computer on the reserve parachute upon sensing that the pre-set altitude and velocity has been breached, will trigger the Automatic Activation Device (AAD).

The computer smells danger and sends a signal to the built-in cutter that will severe the loop. The compressed spring loaded pilot chute shoots into position unfurling the reserve parachute completely on its own. ‘I always say that sky diving is more safe than driving your car to the airport to do it,’ Ales had joked while being on the ground.

Every six months the reserve parachute has to be unpacked and repacked from its bag as a matter of procedure.

Nobody is ever allowed to even as much as touch it unless he has what is known as a riggers licence, a licence that authorises one to handle the meticulous processes involved in ensuring that the reserve parachute is indeed in working order.

After all, it’s a question of life and death. Ales got his riggers licence from a rigging school in Philadelphia in the United States after five months of study and practice. ‘Such is the level of precaution and safety while sky diving’, assures Ales.

Ales is now asking to Shibu to come closer so that he can strap himself with harnesses to his ‘student’. They are readying themselves for what is known as a tandem jump.

The air is palpable with nervous excitement. Capt Gupta though, is focused on reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet. He has radioed the ATC that he will be within a radius of 5 nautical miles of the Mysore airport, which translates to a vicinity of some 9 kms.

The tiny Cessna takes close to half an hour to reach the necessary altitude of 10,000 feet, climbing up in huge circles. Soon it is a speck in the cloud laden sky above Mysore. Only the drone of the engine can be heard as a distant reminder of the aircraft’s presence somewhere high above.

An altitude of 10,000 feet is the preferred one for sky diving anywhere in the world as anything above that height would be like sitting in the plane for an unnecessarily long period and also the plane itself would be burning more fuel as the air gets thinner above that height.

Soon the altimeter shows 10,000 feet. The atmosphere inside the aircraft is filled with a sense of nervous electricity. There is a sense of joy interspersed with a deep seated feeling of fear, especially in the heart of Shibu, who’ll be making his first ever sky dive.

The thrill, the delight, the enchantment and ecstasy of jumping off a plane from that height into the unfathomable nothingness of the sky with the horizon in the far distance amidst the fluffy white clouds that look like balls of cotton is an experience that can make a poet out of a soldier and a soldier out of a poet in a sense!

Because to summon up all known and unknown reserves of mental strength and will yourself to get close to the door of a moving plane at that fantastic height and jump is something the faint hearted simply cannot achieve. You are stepping into nowhere, into the unknown; letting yourself be a part of the giganticness of an ocean of ethereal blue.

It’s just your body with no engine!

Complete freedom from thought, you are living the moment as most masters of the art of life and living have extolled. ‘No mortgages to think about, or the recent tiff with your girlfriend,’ jokes Ales as he readies himself near the opening of the aircraft with Shibu strapped beneath him and in a flattened position.

One, two, three and Ales shouts, ‘jump’!

Even before Shibu’s mind can register what’s happening, he is in a free fall on his belly at an unbelievable velocity of 220 miles per hour. The feeling is simply incredible. The adrenalin is pumping, the blood is rushing to the head, the heart is pounding, the mind is perhaps a little numb and the eyes are straining to focus.

And in 40 seconds, the parachute opens accompanied by an incessant flutter and the faint hiss of nylon. Ales has pulled the rip cord. Both of them are soaring now, spiraling into the womb of the cosmos.

The parachute is shaped like a colourful bow up in the sky with two miniscule human figures dangling with their legs. They make turns to the left and then to the right, their manoevres giving them the freedom to use the vastness of the sky as their own private playground. They are now experiencing the sheer unbridled sense of freedom; a kind of unfettered exuberance; a feeling of complete lightness; a sense of unrestricted abandon.

Ales is such a master at controlling the parachute that he finally positions it to land at a designated spot where a make shift wooden stick with a white cloth attached to it is planted for guidance.

As they go around in small circles they eventually touch down exactly on the square piece of grass right in front of the terminal building. There are squeals of joy and euphoric laughter from Shibu as both of them brace themselves to touch the earth with their legs as the parachute billows in the wind behind them.

For Shibu it was an experience to tell his grandchildren about. For Ales too. For he says, ‘The first jump is the most thrilling and the scariest. So is the 100th!’

***

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‘Minority’ appeasement of sarees in poll season?*

6 March 2014

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With the Jain community having been granted minority status by a Congress-led government that is nearly bankrupt of new ideas, the Kannada and Tamil film actor Sanjana Jain endorses a magnificent commodity at the opening of a saree showroom in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Save women from having to save the saree

* Search engine optimisation techniques shamelessly at work

***

The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu PrabhakarAnother example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

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

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka TrivediSee, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

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

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

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

Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops

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

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

Jayanti, Bharati, Tara, Padmaja Rao: The great gold obsession

Bhavana: When you see plastic, just bend and pick up

Priyanka: How to keep your head up with half a kilo of gold

Thank god, you don’t need Aadhaar for bus ticket

5 March 2014

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Infosys co-founder, outgoing Unique Identity Authority chairman, and prospective Congress candidate from Bangalore South, Nandan Nilekani, takes a bus ride as part of the pre-poll schmoozing exercise, in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Ironically, the photo-opportunity happened on the day angry commuters were demanding increased bus services and not just in the IT-BT corridor which gets most of the attention.

Thankfully, the bus conductor did not holler out to the wannabe-MP to keep his legs in front of him.

Hopefully, the ace quizzer remembers the bus number.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Why your TV couldn’t show you this ‘mega rally’

25 February 2014

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Sitaram Yechury addressing the Left rally in Hissar, but without the “Jimmy Jib” cameras

The point has been made before, that the current political coverage, especially on television, is more than somewhat skewed, tilting unabashedly towards Narendra Damodardas Modi of the BJP vis-a-vis Rahul Gandhi of the Congress.

Now, the CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri explicates it a bit more in the Hindustan Times, comparing the TV coverage of Arvind Kejriwal‘s Aam Aadmi Party vis-a-vis the Left parties and unions.

“Two days ago, the Left held a Haryana-level people’s rally for a political alternative at Hissar. On the same day, AAP held a rally called much after the Left rally announcement at nearby Rohtak. The latter was widely covered by the corporate media while the former was hardly mentioned notwithstanding larger participation.

“This is not surprising. Earlier, when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement was on in the Capital, over two lakh workers organised by the central trade unions had converged at Parliament against corruption and price rise. While the former hogged 24/7 media coverage, the latter hardly found any mention.

“Clearly, for the corporate media, a so-called ‘morally’ upright alternative that does not adversely affect profit maximisation is always better than an alternative that aims at improving people’s livelihood while not excessively promoting profit maximisation!”

For the record, though, Kejriwal launched into the media at the Rohtak rally, inviting a statement from the editors guild of India.
Photograph: courtesy Ganashakti
Read the full article: Sitaram Yechuri in HT
Also read: Is Modi media biased against Rahul Gandhi?

 How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feat, a promo’

NaMo, PaChi, chai, MaShAi and Mahabharatha

20 February 2014

Those who know Gujarat politics know that its chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s claims of having been a tea-seller at Ahmedabad (or was it Vadnagar?) railway station in his youth is a minor “fake encounter with facts”. Sonia Gandhi‘s man friday from the land of Amul, Ahmed Patel, has helpfully clarified that Shri Modiji was only a fafda-seller at his uncle’s shop.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped some Congressmen from revealing their upbringing.

Mani Shankar Aiyar with Doon school, St. Stephen‘s college and Cambridge in his curriculum vitae said Modi could sell tea at the Congress office, prompting the BJP (or its corporate sponsors) to do some “Chai pe Kharcha” to organise Modi’s “Chai pe Charcha“.

More recently, when Modi began doing some major fake encounters with economic facts, finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, with Harvard on his CV, stepped in to remind the world that what the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” knew about economics could be written on the back of a postal stamp.

The condescending comments revealed the class prejudice prevalent in Indian society and politics, writes P.M. Vasudev in Deccan Herald. But it is not something Aiyar and Chidambaram discovered with Modi on the horizon; we have grown up with it since the time of the Mahabharatha:

“With many of the negatives in contemporary India, it is possible to trace to the Mahabharatha the attitude underlying the statements of Aiyar and Chidambaram.

“At the display by the Pandavas and Kauravas on completion of their training in military skills, their guru, Drona, dared any person in the assembly to challenge Arjuna.

“When Karna rose to do so, Drona insulted and humiliated him about his lowly social position as the son of a chariot-driver and questioned how he could dare challenge a prince.

“Of course, in doing so, Drona brushed aside the main issue – namely, the skills of the contestants.

“Betraying deep-seated rank prejudices, he taunted Karna about his social position. It is a different story that Duryodhana, who had his own agenda to put the Pandavas down, stepped in and made Karna the prince of a small state, so he could compete with Arjuna ‘on a par.’”

Read the full article: Class prejudice, competence & spirit of democracy

Photograph: courtesy Daily Bhaskar

Also read: Do they teach this at Harvard Business School?

T.S. Nagarajan, a legend and a gentleman: RIP

18 February 2014

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tsn_now1churumuri records with deep regret the passing away of the legendary Mysore photographer, T.S. Nagarajan, in Madras this morning. He was 82 years old.

Younger brother of the equally accomplished T.S. Satyan, Mr Nagarajan had been ailing for some time and had shifted from Bangalore to be with his family.

The end came at 10.40 am, according to his daughter Kalyani Pramod.

Mr Nagarajan, a former photographic officer in the photo division of the government of India—who became a photographer thanks to the maharaja’s elephant—spent a lifetime shooting pictures of homes and houses, especially their interiors. He wrote about his “most unforgettable picture” in 2006 without the photograph, letting readers imagine—and then provided the picture (above).

Like Mr Satyan, Mr Nagarajan was brilliant with painting word-pictures and wrote several pieces for churumuri, which he then compiled into a book for private circulation. A 4,624-love story of his wife and life companion for 50 years, Meenakshi—“I thought she would live forever“—was received to global acclaim.

Mr Nagarajan’s most selfless act as a photographer was to make available, through churumuri, in 2008 a picture he shot in 1955 for All India Radio of the Kannada literary legends at one table, for all Kannadigas to use and re-use—free of cost, with these words:

“I had just graduated from the First Grade College and was entertaining ambitions of becoming a photojournalist. I had a broken (and repaired) Argoflex camera, a present from my celebrated elder-brother T.S. Satyan, with which I took this picture.

“Akashvani paid me a handsome sum of Rs 6 for using it in their programme journal.

“I stumbled upon this print while looking for another rare picture of my grandmother from a stack of old prints. I feel this picture does not belong to me now. It belongs to all Kannadigas. Therefore, I request churumuri to offer it on my behalf to all lovers of Kannada by placing it in the public domain.”

A book of his pictures Vanishing Homes of India was released by Mani Ratnam and N. Ram last month.

***

By T.S. Nagarajan: I thought she would live forever

The R.K. Narayan only I knew

The Sharada Prasad only I knew

External reading: The T.S. Nagarajan interview

A bird’s-eye view of Metro through fish-eye lens

13 February 2014

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A panoramic view of the ongoing metro project near the Krishnarajendra (KR) market in Bangalore. In the background is the Victoria hospital. (Click on the picture to view a larger frame.)

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete Namma Metro photo portfolio

Democracy by SMS: Do we really know the best?

12 February 2014

The Aam Admi Party in Delhi has made a virtue out of “consulting the people” whenever it has a sticky decision to make. Should Arvind Kejriwal take Congress support to form the government? Place a missed call. How should members of Parliament make laws? By asking the mohalla sabhas.

Inherent in this line of thinking is the wisdom of the crowd. That the top is uniformally rotten, compromised and far from the salt at the bottom of the earth.

Really? asks the economist Prabhat Patnaik in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The view that the top-down approach should be eschewed and the people, as they are, should be entrusted with decision-making, is based on flawed thinking. It idealizes the people as they are, and sees them as a pure and undifferentiated mass that is entirely a repository of virtue.

“In fact, however, the people in their empirical state of existence, are neither pure, nor pristine, nor homogeneous, nor free of the web of local-level power relationships.

“Consulting the people under these circumstances amounts to bowing before these power relationships; apotheosizing the people under these circumstances amounts to glorifying these relationships; and the decentralization of power and resources under these circumstances results not in an elimination of corruption, or even necessarily in a reduction in its level, but rather in a decentralization of corruption.”

Image: courtesy CNN-IBN

Read the full article: Wrong at the top

CHURUMURI POLL: Should RSS be banned again?

8 February 2014

The release of audio tapes and transcripts of four interviews conducted by a journalist of the monthly magazine, The Caravan, which show the terror-attack accused Swami Aseemanand in conversation with the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in 2005, virtually implicating him in targetting civilians, once again show the twice-banned “national voluntary organisation” in disgraceful light.

“In the last two interviews, Aseemanand repeated that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS—all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time,” reads a press release. “It is very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh.”

While BJP and RSS spokespersons have questioned the veracity of the tapes and the ethicality of the journalist managing to enter the jail where Assemanand is lodged to record the interviews, they do not detract from the elephant in the room: the alleged involvement of RSS functionaries in attacks of terrorism, raising the spectre of “Saffron Terror” with the intent of political mobilisation.

For some the tapes will only confirm their worst fears: that the RSS, which was banned (by then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel, no less) after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992, is upto no good. That such an organisation should be playing a quite conspicuous role in shaping the future and fortunes of BJP in circa 2014 will please them even less.

Many others, though, will suspect the timing of the release of the tapes on the eve of a general election, and the rather candid admissions of a terror-accused who over the last three years seems to have somehow forgot to spill the beans to his custodians in jail and interrogators in court.

Obviously, the charges are still a long way from being proved. But if they are, on the strength of mounting evidence—Colonel Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Indresh Kumar—should the RSS be banned a third time? And if Narendra Modi, whose installation as the BJP’s  “prime ministerial candidate” was one of the RSS’s biggest successes last year, does end up becoming PM, will his government have the guts or the objectivity to take such a tough call?

Also read: Should the RSS be banned—part I?

Will an RSS-run BJP be more vicious in future?

How Karnataka is becoming Gujarat of South

Usually before an election, the wheels come off

29 January 2014

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During his recent whistle-stop tour of Kerala, Rahul Gandhi jumped out of his security cocoon and clambered on top of a police vehicle. But it is not just the Congress vice-president who feels compelled to do these “mass” numbers on the eve of an election.

Exhibit A is former Union minister H.N. Ananth Kumar of the BJP and Exhibit B is the former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular). The former taking part in an event to promote use of bicycles in Bangalore; the latter flagging off a party rally.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why Adiga‘s wants a COO for idli-vada-sambar

Double-riding in the era of helicopter joy rides?

No helmets, please; they are for the aam janata

Don’t miss: Behind every successful cyclist, there are few men

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’


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