Archive for October, 2007

CHURUMURI POLL: Private sector=Unequal India?

31 October 2007

India’s private sector brooks no interference in its recruitment policies. It resists the idea of quotas being introduced. It says it is a fair and equal employer. It says it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of caste, religion or “family background”. And it says it doesn’t turn away adequately qualified candidates. But a study by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies in collaboration with Princeton University has shown that the situation is exactly to the contrary.

The study—using 548 job advertisements among 4,808 applicants over 66 weeks, across five metros—found that a Dalit had a 60 per cent less chance of being called for an interview, and a Muslim30 per cent less, as against their higher caste peers. The wage earnings too were found to be  five to 20 per cent lower, between SCs as compared to upper castes.

Questions: Are claims of “merit” being the only deciding factor in private sector recruitment bogus? Or are studies like these motivated, arriving at preconceived, politically correct conclusions? Are Indian companies practising a perverse form of discrimination? Or should they be free to choose candidates as they feel fit? Should employers use “family background” to screen candidates? And, above all, as the “State” ceases to be the primary source of employment, is the private sector unwittingly helping create a very unequal society through its exclusivist policies?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Quotas in private sector?

Guess who employs, exports more than IT?

Very soon, they will move into the Last Resort

30 October 2007

News item in Star of Mysore:

Bangalore: After staying in Ramanashree Comforts and Prakruti Resorts on the outskirts of Bangalore, the MLAs of JD(S), owing allegience to H.D. Kumaraswamy moved to a third resort yesterday.

After visiting Raj Bhavan to submit individual affidavits, the MLAs were taken to Eagleton Resorts in Bidadi instead of Prakruti. The JD(S) MLAs are on the move fearing horse-trading by the Congress.

Sources said the MLAs will not return to Bangalore till the Governor gave green signal to BJP-JD(S) to form Government. Kumaraswamy, who was not with the MLAs yesterday, is joining them today.

Is the IT boom stubbing out the dowry menace?

30 October 2007

You can debate it till the cows come home and go back, of course, but on the Open Page of The Hindu, Chandra Kommera claims that the advent of the “IT revolution” has led to a gradual if not immediately discernible decline in the dowry menace.


Reason 1: A considerable number of young men are getting highly-paid jobs. They are become rupee millionaires pretty quickly and are reluctant to ask/accept dowry even if their parents insist.

Reason 2: The IT boom is also helping young women to get highly-paid jobs, who are not reluctant to assert themselves and reject marriage proposals from men who ask for dowry.

Reason 3: The spread of IT jobs has spawned a new social class whose way of life is almost homogeneous across castes. This enlarges the playing field for the youth to look beyond their own caste.

Reason 4: The increasing financial independence of boys and girls at a young age is prompting to go in for “love” marriages rather than arranged ones with all their attendant baggage.

Reason 5: With IT boys and girls setting the trend, there is no longer the same kind of demand for IAS and IPS recruits as the parents of girls prefer less-dowry/non-dowry SWE to an IAS/IPS groom.


True or false? Is the IT revolution resulting in this unforeseen social revolution? Or have you heard the horror stories among IT pros too? Are IAS and IPS types really going out of demand? Or are we just clutching on to whatever trend straws we can spot? And, IT or not, will the dowry menace really end in this yug if not the next?

Democracy doesn’t flow from the tip of a pen

30 October 2007

U.R. Anantha Murthy in a letter to the Governor, on behalf of his writer-friends Girish Karnad, Devanur Mahadeva, and G.S. Maralusiddappa, quoted in Deccan Herald:

“We do not want the unholy alliance of the BJP and the JDS to form a government even if they have majority for they have vitiated the whole atmosphere by their mutual abuse.”

As they say, bedfellows make strange politics

30 October 2007

Impossible is nothing in the world currently inhabited by Karnataka politicians. In this telling picture, Zameer Ahmed Khan (second from left) of the Janata Dal (Secular) rubs shoulders with C.T. Ravi of the Bharatiya Janata Party as packs of photographers try to capture the action in the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Monday.

Zameer Ahmed, who represents Chamarajpet in the Legislative Assembly, is a bum chum of former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. Ravi, the legislator from Chikamagalur, has been at the forefront of the growing communal mobilisation at Baba Budangiri, in defusing which H.D. Deve Gowda rightly claims a not insignificant role.

When the JDS snubbed the BJP over 20 days ago, Gowda cited Bababudangiri among other things. The sangh parivar outfits, he claimed, were turning Karnataka into a ‘Hindutva laboratory on the lines of Gujarat‘.

Photograph by B.K. Janardhan/ Karnataka Photo News

Also read: How the scientists slog it out in the Hindutva lab

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, a Hindutva Lab

When “We, the People” are mere pawns

29 October 2007

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

“A government is a result of a contract made by political parties with the people. Coalitions are made on the basis of principles and public interest that should appeal to the people and should go beyond the personal and factional interests of individual leaders.

“If a government emerges out of the wreckage of principles and democratic norms that is witnessed in Karnataka now, it will not have the moral or political right for governance of the state, whatever way the legal and constitutional issues involved in the present situation are interpreted and resolved. The legitimacy and credibility of the political process is as important as the end result.”

Read the full editorial: No moral right

A twist in the tail causes a twist in the tale

29 October 2007

A truly secular witness has switched sides

E.P. UNNY in The Indian Express

Indians should never ask where on earth Gabon is

29 October 2007

As the media exults over the Bombay Sensitive Index climbing the 19,000 peak, P. SAINATH digs up an alarming set of numbers in an article in The Hindu on how India id est Bharat is doing on the indices that matter, and they blow your mind away.


# According to the Global Hunger Index, India stands at number 94 of the 118 countries computed. Ethiopia—the country that inspired Bob Geldof‘s Live Aid show—came in at 93; Pakistan at No. 88 and China at No. 47. According to the State of Food Insecurity Report, between 1995-97 and 2000-02, hunger grew in India at a time when it fell in Ethiopia. And the 2004 showed that India had added more people to the “newly hungry” in the planet than the rest of the world together.

“In the world of the media, though, only one index matters: the Sensex. Watching which has spawned a whole little industry in itself. The numbers who pronounce on and debate it (in the media, anyway) are impressive. The oracles reading equity’s entrails for omens. Maybe we need a media relevance index. An MRI scan of mass-produced mediocrity.”

# According to the World Health Organisation, of the 536,000 women who died in childbirth in 2005, every fifth one of them was an Indian. That is, 117,000 of them. A total that could only be matched by Nigeria, Afghanistan and Congo together.

“A study done for the WHO in six Indian States found that 16 per cent of households it looked at were pushed below the poverty line by heavy medical costs. Nearly 10,000 families from lower income groups were covered by the survey for the years 2002-05. Some 12 per cent had to sell their assets to meet health expenses. Over 43 per cent had to resort to loans for the same reasons.”

# According to the Human Development Index of the United Nations, India ranks 126th among the nations of the world, below Bolivia, Guatemala and Gabon.

“One study found that if we were to derive the HDI for our tribes only, they would rank in the worst off 25 nations of the world. The study also found things to be worse by the region. The tribes of Orissa, it reports, fall below even the low end of the HDI of sub-Saharan African nations.”

Read the full article here: Indexing inhumanity, Indian style

Once bitten, twice smitten, thrice…?

28 October 2007

As the BJP-JDS couple re-read their wedding vows, E.R. RAMACHANDRAN dons the quizmaster’s topi.

Who said this of whom, he asks: 

“Bevina maradalli maavinele chigurathhe antha thilkondidvi. Eega gotthhaythu. Bevina maradalli bevina elene chigurodhu. Mavinaele chigaralla.”

(Rough translation: We thought a mango leaf would bloom on a neem tree. Now we know that only a neem leaf can bloom on a neem tree; not a mango leaf)

Also read: Kaun karega kitapati: the world’s toughest quiz

‘Sadly, a lensman is just a cog, never the wheel’

28 October 2007

The well-known photojournalist T.S. SATYAN was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award for Freelance Photojournalism instituted by the Essel Group and the Zee Network, in Bangalore on Sunday. Another Mysorean, former Praja Vani editor M.B. SINGH, was also honoured similarly.

This is the full text of Satyan’s acceptance speech.


“Thank you for the honour done to me. I accept this award with great pleasure and much humility. It is very special for me because it is not a government award. It is an award conferred on a freelance photojournalist.

“I have worked for nearly sixty years and enjoyed both the ecstasy and agony of freelance photojournalism. In my own humble way, I have attempted to visually enrich the pages of many newspapers and magazines around the world, shunning the more profitable sector of commercial photography.

“My early years were difficult. I had to live on my wits and from money order to money order and later from cheque to cheque. Unable to earn enough from pictures alone, I was forced to take up temporary jobs to supplement my income. Not many of you know that my first job, after graduation, was that of an engine-cleaner-cum-inspector at the Hindustan Aircraft factory in Bangalore, in 1944. My boss, B.G. Karve, told me one day that I had a great future in the aeronautics industry! Thank God, I disproved his prophecy.

“I was greatly influenced and inspired by the pictures published in the Life magazine that was started in 1936. No other magazine at any period of time had such extraordinary impact on its readers. I had the wonderful opportunity of working for Life for some 15 long years. I was able to meet with and work alongside some great photographers of the world. I learnt a lot from them.

“Even today, for a large country like India, only a few photographers have made the grade and are big names. They are in demand. This is the tragedy of photojournalism in the country. It is confined to a limited circle of elite practitioners. This circle should expand as quickly as possible.

“There is a total absence of organized training facilities in photojournalism for those who want to specialize. Most of our successful photographers are self-made. There are institutions for pure photography, not photography for journalism. Even here, those who teach have not had much practical experience. In a society which cries for information, there are not enough men and women trained in the visual media to rise to the occasion. Also, there is not much appreciation of the photographer and his work by those connected with the media in the government.

“The amazing part of print journalism is that while some editors become celebrities and an occasional reporter becomes a hero or a heroine for a day, the regular photographer hardly ever commands the limelight. It is rare for a photographer ever to be discussed at the breakfast table. Usually he is taken for granted. Rarely is he taken note of. He may be sought after, but not socially. He is rarely to be found at a celebrity dinner in his personal capacity. He is a cog in the wheel, but he is not the wheel.

“I feel disillusioned on one important count. Even top printed media houses in the country are continuing to illegally access photographs and publish them without a credit or a courtesy. Requests for clarification and payment are ignored. To be indifferent to authorship hurts photographers. These very media houses endlessly publish columns and editorials on copyright, intellectual property rights and ethical practices, but banish them in their own dealings. These unprofessional and unethical situations are agonizing and traumatic for photographers. I ardently say this, as a personal victim, so that we wake up to building healthy professional milieus in the future. I pray that tall professional and ethical standards become common pursuit for everyone in the media.

“It is the prerogative of the photographer to record the present as a reliable witness in the court of history. This is what is going to make photography a witness to the past as well as the future.

“I thank you once again for the honour bestowed on me.”


Also read: T.S. SATYAN

Cross-posted on sans serif

End of the beginning? Beginning of the end?

28 October 2007

History is famously said to repeat itself, first as a comedy, then as farce. The political drama in the theatre of Karnataka may yet prove history wrong, but P. Mahmud has few doubts in this week’s Sudha.

BJP-JDS together: For how long, why, what next?

27 October 2007

The yo-yo, on-off-on politics in Karnataka would defy Mr Ripley, if he hasn’t given up already. But the key question after Saturday’s developments—when the JDS and BJP once again seemingly came together—is how long will the second honeymoon last? Will it last the full course of 19 months? Will it last less than a year? Will it last between three and six months? Or will it tumble within the first three months?

There are two other questions: what prompted the two parties after all the name-calling over the past 25 days to join hands once again? Was the JDS driven by the fear of the Congress splitting the party, as H.D. Kumaraswamy claims? Or is the JDS playing it safe after the local body elections and reluctant to alienate Lingayats completely? Has the BJP shown its desperation to get into power by swallowing its humiliation? Or were the two parties fearful of letting the Congress benefit from their squabble?

And, secondly, who gains and who loses from the latest turn of events? Will Ananth Kumar ever come to terms with B.S. Yediyurappa becoming chief minister? Has M.P. Prakash‘s hopes of the gaddi been dashed forever? Has Siddaramaiah’s dreams of getting back at his bete noire H.D. Deve Gowda been quashed? Will the renewed lease of life enable the MLAs to make hay while the sun shines over them for a few more months? And will the reputation of the JDS get enhanced by its latest action?

Surangani, surangani, suranganita maalu genaava

27 October 2007

As “Bush Country”—America, not Australia—readies the ground to go into Iran, despite Iraq, SWAROOP DEV forwards a YouTube music video doing the rounds that proves the old dictum that the only thing nations learn from history is that you don’t need to learn from history.

The original Sinhalese baila song, of course, is “Surangani, surangani, suranganita maalu genaava“, which was adapted into Konkani and later into Tamil by Ilayaraja for the Kamal Hassan-starrer Avar Enakke Sontham.

Bhadralok to the power of four in Paschim Vengol

27 October 2007

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“On my last trip to Calcutta, I had what can only be described as a uniquely bhadralok experience: I bought a book by a Dasgupta about another Dasgupta, which was sold to me by a third Dasgupta, after he had been guided by a fourth Dasgupta.”

Read the full article here: A unique trail


CHURUMURI POLL: Will law catch up with Modi?

26 October 2007

Tehelka‘s revelations on the single-minded precision of the scientists, attendants and masterminds of the Gujarat Genocide will surprise only fully paid-up members of the lunatic fringe. But as the magazine’s editor of investigations Harinder Baweja writes, the issue goes beyond blood and death; it goes to the very fundamentals of our democracy, a liberal secular democracy.

“…the Police and the Judiciary—the two pillars that ordinary Indians bank on—stand naked. Two public prosecutors are on camera acknowledging allegiance to their faith over their profession—paying homage to a warped sense of religion over nobility of duty. Details of how they are actually working to help the guilty escape the law. How they have even turned brokers and have already helped an accused—who had used a sword to cut a man to pieces — by offering money to the victim’s family.”

The question, therefore, is: will the long arm of the law finally catch up with chief scientist Narendra Modi who now stands squarely exposed in the town centre? Or will he, like Bal Thackeray of Bombay 1993 and the Bhagats and Tytlers of 1984, walk free till all but the very end? Should the UPA government act to demonstrate that there is something called law and order? Or will it cringe because it might help Modi in “polarising the Hindu vote” in the run-up the assembly elections? Should the Supreme Court take suo motu notice of the murderous machinations of the “Modern-Day Nero“? Or, arise Jaya Jaitely, are all sting operations fabricated until proven genuine?

Hindus? Vegetarians? Gandhi? Democracy?

26 October 2007

The bestial brutality in Gujarat 2002, following the equally bestial brutality of Godhra 2002—and the silent but savage applause for what happened—has always had a few obvious questions staring those human enough to face them.

What does this kind of bloodlust say about Hinduism? What does such thigh-slapping cannibalism say about vegetarianism? And what does it say about the maturity of our democracy to see the killers being voted into power and being hailed as “prime minister material”? About voters in the land Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born?

In the latest issue of Tehelka, editor-in-chief Tarun J. Tejpal writes a bone-chilling preface on the bone collectors:

“Like Germany and Italy once, Gujarat begs many questions.

“How do a non-militant people suddenly acquire a bloodthirsty instinct? Does affluence not diminish the impulse to savagery? Does education not diminish the impulse to bigotry? Do the much-vaunted tenets of classical Hinduism not diminish the impulse to cruelty? If tolerance and wisdom will not flourish in a garden of well-being and learning, in the very land of Mahatma Gandhi, then is there any hope for these things at all?

“Is it possible that contrary to all the hoopla we may have already lived out the high tide of our democracy? Many Indians may get richer and richer but as a people—a deep civilisation—we will now only get poorer and poorer? Is it possible that a country sprung from the vision of giants can now only sustain small men with small concerns? Once a few good men shaped a modern egalitarian nation out of a devastated colony; are there none now to staunch the rot?”

Also read: What does Narendra Modi’s victory say about us?

‘Gujarat is a Nazi type of society’

‘Distribution not production is the bane of PDS’

26 October 2007

“A careful reader going through the columns of the table will observe that there is not much correlation between starvation and per capita food production. There are low foodgrain-producing states like Gujarat and Karnataka with low levels of starvation, there are relatively high foodgrain-producing states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh with some starvation and there are high foodgrain-producing states with almost no starvation like Punjab and Haryana.”

Read the full analysis: Grain of truth

CHURUMURI POLL: Are T20 cheer girls obscene?

25 October 2007

The flame of morality continues to cause palpitations in the loins of our politicians.  Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, who drove Bombay’s bar dancers out of business, says the cheer girls employed at Twenty20 games and the skimpy clothes they wear are “obscene“. And typically for our politicians (remember Salman Rushdie‘s Satanic Verses being banned on the basis of Syed Shahbuddin‘s review of the book in India Today?), Patil’s threat of “action” comes without the minister examining the evidence.

“I was not present at the India-Australia match but we will go through the tapes before taking any action. I am told their performance was vulgar and their movements left nothing to the imagination,” Patil, who belongs to BCCI president Sharad Pawar‘s Nationalist Congress Party leader has been quoted by The Telegraph as saying.

Is it OK for cheer leaders to whip up excitement and keep the spirits up among spectators in a Twenty20 match, or is it not quite cricket? Are the hip-wiggling actions and jhatka-matka gyrations of the girls vulgar, or are they just a sign of the times? When the girls are not being forced to dance and prance around, does anybody have any business telling them what to do? Don’t our politicians have any better work to do, like say saving Maharashtra’s malnourished children? Or is protecting “Indian culture” from such transgressions more important than such mundane things?

Photo courtesy: Press Trust of India

‘It takes two to tango, but only one gets the rap’

25 October 2007

Sixty people were sentenced to life yesterday in various parts of the country for various crimes, ranging from terror attacks, riots, even love revenge.

In Coimbatore, Al-Umma founder and accused number one, S.A. Basha, lashed out upon being read his sentence, and said Muslims were being targetted and singled out for punishment:

“Only Muslims are being punished. Why is it that the members of the Sangh Parivar are not punished. It is shame on India.”

Co-accused Basith, the explosives expert who is said to have designed several IEDs that were set off at several places across Coimbatore, went for the jugular saying that not only were the Advanis, the Modis and the Togadias not being punished, they were enjoying the fruits of power.

“They have not spent even one day in jail, while we are languishing for nine years. They are enjoying Z category security. Just withdraw their security for an hour and see what happen.”

Also read: Day of life terms

Muslims being singled out: Basha

Infographic: The Telegraph, Calcutta

Is urban India as modern as it thinks? “No.”

25 October 2007

Endless mega serials on television show women at their shrewish, assertive best. Every other week, there are talk shows on gay rights and single parenthood. Live-in couples openly flaunt their relationships on air. And there is an unthinkable level of boldness is evident in fashion and lifestyles.

Yet, the stories of Konidela Srija, who fled her father Chiranjeevi‘s home to marry her sweetheart, and the Calcutta girl Priyanka Todi, whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway tracks soon after their marriage,  raise the simple question: is the news of India’s modernisation vastly exaggerated?

Yes, writes former Debonair editor Amrita Shah in today’s Indian Express:

“The social fissures that form so easily in cities as a response to issues of reservation and religion indicate that caste and religion are still pervasive influences in urban India. As far as marriage goes, surprisingly the young—despite appearances to the contrary—are more prone to conforming to tradition than rebelling against it.

“Youth surveys reveal a majority to be inclined towards arranged marriages. And though most want a greater say in their choice of partners, they are likely to choose spouses from the same class and the same or congruent castes. Materialism and a willingness to permit women in the workplace have also not translated into an upheaval of old patriarchal attitudes.

“There is a telling scene in the recent film, Chak de, India, when the goalkeeper, a married woman, tells her coach that her in-laws, after having availed of the flat allotted to her as a sportsperson, now want her to stop playing the game.”

Read the full article here: Papa will preach

A suitable gift for someone you love (or hate)

22 October 2007

The festival season has begun, and it is a time to give, to all those whom we love—and even to those we don’t.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN has chosen to send out gifts to some of our VIPs. And he is giving away cassettes which they may never listen to, or books they may read, even gift coupons they may not accept.


To H.D. KumaraswamyNeenarigadeyo elamanava

To B.S. YediyurappaNinna nambi kettavaruntu

To H.D. Deve Gowda… A lesson. Period. (But will he learn?)

To H.D. Revanna… A slogan, “Appa, mera number kabh aayega?”

To Siddaramaiah… A talking doll which screams, ‘Mein kaun hoon, mein kaha hoon?

To Governor Rameshwar Thakur… A title, Uncrowned King of Karnataka

To Benazir Bhutto… An email, “Is there life after near-death?”

To Pervez Musharraf… A ‘birthday suit’, which he doesn’t want

To Manmohan Singh… A baton, to hand over

To Rahul Gandhi… A baton, to receive

To Sonia Gandhi… A whistle, to start the exchange of batons

To Prakash Karat… The title, Chairman Karat

To Brinda Karat… A bindi in the size of the new two-rupee coin

To Thiru Karunanidhi… ‘A burning sethu

To Andrew Symonds… A lesson, that racism is a two-way street

To Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly… A copy each of The last days of PompeiiTo Rahul Dravid… Audio book of ‘Paradise lost

To Mahendra Singh Dhoni… A rendition of ‘Paradise ‘gained’ (apologies to Milton)

To Ricky Ponting… A lesson, that 20/20 is bigger than 50/50

To the Stock Market… A yo-yo toy


Join in the give-and-take revelry. Who would you like to send a gift to?

Look who says he made Deve Gowda the PM!

22 October 2007

CPI(M) politburo member, Sitaram Yechury:

Deve Gowda‘s opportunism is something I can’t really understand because I was personally instrumental in making him the Prime Minister 10 years ago…

“At that time ”all of us came together in the opposition to communal forces”.

“The ‘turn-around’ Gowda did in Karnataka by joining hands with the BJP to form a government is ”very, very surprising and extremely contradictory. It’s very difficult to predict where he will be.”

Does BJP owe an apology for Gujarat genocide?

21 October 2007

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has walked out of an interview with Karan Thapar for the CNN-IBN programme, Devil’s Advocate. Below is the transcript of the few minutes that were recorded before Modi felt the heat of Thapar’s questioning on the 2002 pogrom which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently termed a “holocaust“.

Modi and his minders in the BJP believe that he was only exercising his “freedom” in walking out of the powwow when asked about his “image problem”. But, in spite of Gujarat’s supposed development under Modi, does the “Modern Day Nero” owe an explanation to the world for what happened in 2002? Or is a modern day hero?

If Manmohan Singh could apologise for the anti-Sikh progrom of 1984, although he was in no way involved, should the BJP pick up the cue and apologise for the post-Godhra genocide, in spite of or regardless of the provocation? Or is Modi right in showing an aggressive interviewer the door in the name of Gujarati asmita and being unapologetic?


Karan Thapar: Mr Narendra Modi, let’s start by talking about you. In the six years that you have been the CM of Gujarat, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has declared Gujarat to be the best administered state. India Today, on two separate occasions, declared that you are the most efficient chief minister. And despite that people still call you to your face a mass murderer and they accuse you of being prejudiced against Muslims? Do you have an image problem?

Narendra Modi: I think it’s not proper to say that (there are) people. There are two or three persons who talk in this terminology and I always say God bless them.

Q: You are saying this is the conspiracy of two or three persons only?

Modi: I have not said so.

Q: But you are saying it’s only two or three people.

Modi: This is the information I have. It’s the people’s voice.

Q: Can I point out to you that in September 2003, the Supreme Court said that they had lost faith in the Gujarat government? In April 2004, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said that you were like a modern day Nero who looks the other side when helpless children and innocent women were being burnt. The Supreme Court seems to have a problem with you.

Modi: I have a small request to make. Please go through the SC judgment. If there is anything in writing, I’ll be happy to know everything.

Q: There was nothing in writing, you are right. It was an observation.

Modi: If it is in (the) judgment, then I’ll be happy to give you the answer.

Q: But do you mean a criticism by the chief justice in court doesn’t matter?

Modi: It’s a simple request. Please go through the court judgment. Hand out the sentence you are quoting and let the people know it.

Q: OK. It wasn’t just an open comment made by the Chief Justice. In August 2004, the Supreme Court reopened some 2,100 cases out of a total of around 4,600 — almost 40 per cent — and they did so because they believed that justice hadn’t happened in Gujarat.

Modi: I’ll be happy. Ultimately, the court of law will take the judgment.

Q: But isn’t this the reason that despite the fact (that) India Today called you the best chief minister, (and) the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation says Gujarat is the best administered state, tens of millions say Modi is prejudiced against the Muslims. This is why I ask you do you have an image problem?

Modi: Actually, I have not spent a single minute on my image. And that can also be a reason. I am busy with my work. I am committed to Gujarat, I am dedicated to Gujarat. I never talk about my image, (have) never spent a single minute for my image, and confusions may be there.

Q: I’ll tell you what the problem is, even five years after the Gujarat killings of 2002, the ghost of Godhra still haunts you. Why have you not done more to allay that ghost?

Modi: This I give it to media persons like Karan Thapar. Let them enjoy.

Q: Can I suggest something to you?

Modi: I have no problem.

Q: Why can’t you say that you regret the killings that happened? Why can’t you say maybe the government should have done more to protect Muslims?

Modi: What I had to say I have said at that time, and you can find out my statements.

Q: Just say it again.

Modi: Not necessary I have to talk about in 2007 everything you want to talk about.

Q: But by not saying it again, by not letting people hear the message repeatedly, you are allowing an image contrary to the interest of Gujarat to continue. It’s in your hands to change it.

Modi: (Takes the microphone off.) I’ll have to rest. I need some water.

Q: Paani (water).

Modi: Dosti bani rahe. Bas. I’ll be happy. You came here. I am happy and thankful to you. I can’t do this interview. It’s OK your things are. Apne ideas hain, aap bolte rahiye, aap karte rahiye. Three-four questions I’ve already enjoyed. Nahin please.

Q: But Modi saab…

Modi: Nahin please, Karan

Q: But Modi saab

Modi: Karan, dekho main dostana sambhand rakhna chahta hoon, aap usko koshish kariye…

Q: Mujhe ek cheez samjhaiye, Sir. I am not talking about doing anything wrong. I am saying why can’t you correct your image?

Modi: This is not the time. Uske liye aap mujhe 2002 mein mile hote, 2003 mein mile hote, main sab kar leta.

Smart, alert, passionate? Shit, it’s the Indian MP.

16 October 2007

Back home, they rarely visit their constituencies, shout and squabble like fisherwomen, skip Parliament and waste valuable time, take money for asking questions, smuggle housewives to foreign countries for a fee, find holes in everything and agree on nothing, and generally travel in a time machine which after sailing in the 12th century AD, has just entered 4th century BC.

But, boy, have our parliamentarians learnt their lessons from Lalu Prasad Yadav or what. A group of eight MPs have attended a workshop at Yale University. These are the reactions they have drawn from their hosts and teachers:

# “Indian politicians are extraordinarily intelligent, extraordinarily passionate about India’s advancement and extraordinarily committed to helping the nation and its people. The students were exceptional,” said Yale vice-president Linda Koch Lorimer.

# “This is an exceptional group of individuals. They are alert, engaged, smart, and passionate. I was amazed by their quick grasping power,” said Jefferey Sonnenfield, who has also taught politicians from China. ”We wish, we had them for one more week.

# “They are alert, engaged, smart and passionate,” said Prof Barry Nalebuff who gave practical lessons on negotiations.

Sonnenfeld said the most striking part of these MPs were their tolerance level, intellectual tenacity and their commitment. “US lawmakers would constantly come and go. Nobody here left. Not a single person, during the four days even for a minute picked up a BlackBerry or a cell phone. This is never the case with US legislators and politicians that are always doing some hit and run engagement they really do not see,” Sonnenfeld said.

The programme was organized by the Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the India-US Forum of Parliamentarians.

The parliamentarians’ team was led by B.J. Panda, Janata Dal MP from Rajya Sabha. Other members of the group were Deepender Singh Hooda, Dharmendra Pradhan and Dushyant Singh (Lok Sabha), Robert Kharshiing, R.C.S. Reddy, Chandan Mitra, Shahid Siddiqui (Rajya Sabha).

The topics covered program include economic and social development in India, democracy and the secular state, India-China economic relations, affirmative action, climate change and sustainable development, foreign direct investment in India, strategy, negotiation and game theory for the politician, strategic thinking for the politician, and energy security.

Read the full story here: Indian politicians extraordinary: Yale

CHURUMURI POLL: Time for a new Constitution?

16 October 2007

There is never a dull moment with Thiru Muthuvel Karunanidhi. As if going by the logic that if the game gets hard, the rule book needs to be altered, the Tamil Nadu chief minister has suggested that there is need for a new Constituent Assembly that could draft a new Constitution in the era of coalitions so that the country could look towards a federal form of government in the true sense.

Speaking to Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24×7’s Walk the Talk programme Karunanidhi said:

“Our Constitution has been changed many times. What should be done is that all shortcomings of the Constitution should be addressed in one sitting. That is what I feel.”

Questions: Is there really a need for a new Constitution? If so, what specifically shold be incorporated into it? Is there anything wrong with the Constitution in its present form, or are our politicians finding an excuse for their own inadequacies and shortcomings? Is Karunanidhi playing into the hands of the BJP which set up the Constitution review panel? Or is this just another meaningless controversy which will soon die a natural death?