Archive for December 3rd, 2007

The Betels song: When ajji wanted some bajjai

3 December 2007

Nothing is ever a hassle when the legs are young and the lungs are bold.

D.G. MALLIKARJUN captures a slice of coastal Karnataka where boys brave the rains and winds with little over their heads, nothing around their chests and a smile on their lips; as home, work and play joyously comingle in lugging back the areca nuts.

‘We, the People’ are responsible for what we get

3 December 2007

GOVINDA K. writes: It is blithely said that the people deserve the kind of leaders they get. But two recent incidents of the misbehavior of newly elected elected corporators in Mysore shows that there is more than an element of luck or chance involved in the election of such leaders.

That “We, the People” are more responsible than we would like to claim culpability for it.

In one case, Congress corporator of ward No.53 Anwar Baig, alias Aftab fired at Nasir, a tenant of a house at Rajiv Nagar on December 1. According to the police, Baig, who is also into real estate activities, reportedly wanted to move into the house, and was exerting pressure on Nasir to vacate.

Nasir lodged a compliant with Udayagiri Police, but inspector Dhananjay said the accused was absconding. A case had been booked against Baig for attempt to murder and under the Arms Act.

And in the other case, Mahadesh aka Avva Maadesha, a JDS corporator from V.V. Mohalla ward, is said to have slapped the driver of a Mysore City Corporation van carrying garbage and used vulgar language. The driver Jagadeesh tried to lodge a complaint with V.V. Mohalla police station. But the police refused to register the complaint.

The incident took place on November 27. When police took no action, Jagadeesh approached Corporation commissioner P. Manivannan through the corporation workers’ association. The police have now registered a complaint but have claimed that the said corporator is absconding.

These two incidents pose a number of questions. Why do we elect such representatives? How do they go around with guns and revolvers? Why do they have no control over their tongues and limbs? How do they manage to “abscond” at the drop of a hat? Why do the police seem so reluctant to act against such leaders?

And above all, is there no way we can evolve a mechanism to recall such recalcitrant representatives instead of being stuck with them for the next five years?

CHURUMURI POLL: Does Murali’s record count?

3 December 2007

Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralidharan has become the highest wicket taker in the history of cricket, overtaking Shane Warne‘s tally of 708, in his home-town Kandy. It is an extraordinary feather in the hat of a small nation which only began playing international cricket a couple of decades ago. And it is an even more extraordinary feat for a smiling assassin who has been his team’s only match-winning weapon.

The numbers tell the tale: Warne took 145 Tests; Murali has done it in just 116 Tests. His average of just a little over 21, his number of five- and ten-wicket hauls, and his role in giving Sri Lankan cricket a semblance of respectability are all obvious. But the shadow of chucking hangs over Murali, just as it has all his career. Bishen Bedi, who has bracketed Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh with Murali, has called chucking “a bigger disgrace than match-fixing.”

Questions: Will any bowler every overtake The Kandy Man? Is chucking the main reason for Murali’s success or his turn and guile? Will the chucking allegations forever cloud his accomplishments? If life-threatening bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee can hurl their beamers joyfully, is Bedi barking up the wrong tree? Is chucking a bigger menace than match-fixing or is Bedi plainly jealous? Above all, does Muralidharan’s record of 708 wickets count?

Photo courtesy: BBC

And the parrot said, Rahul Gandhi will be next PM

3 December 2007

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was surprised to see the Ace Political Expert (APE) sitting in front of a crystal ball in his office. He also had a bull—kole Basava—next to him along with a parrot in a cage. Obviously, with the assembly dissolved, he had taken up gili shastra as a pastime.

“You are one of the keenest political observers in the State. You could analyse events and people and predict the future of governments and its leaders. What has come over you?” I asked.

“The politics in Karnataka has gotten so bizarre there is no point in doing political analysis any more. Anyway the State is mostly run on the advice of astrologers and soothsayers. I am earning far more ever since I switched over to this.  You can ask whatever you want to know. I will do it free for you.”

I asked him the first question on everybody’s minds: “Who will win the next assembly elections?”

The APE mumbled something in Basava’s ears, scribbled something on a pad, and held it in front of the animal. The Basava nodded his head sideways.

“Obviously he doesn’t like your query. He feels nobody will get the majority. We will be back to square one.”

“Can your parrot at least say who will become the next chief minister?”

“Why not?” said the APE. He scribbled some names and held the chits of paper in front of his gili. I was about to watch gili shastra in action. The parrot made a screeching sound, made couple of sorties in its cage, and fiercely poked repeatedly on one of the sheets of paper.

H.D. Revanna will be our next CM!” announced the APE after deciphering the torn sheet the bird had poked. “I myself would not have been able to predict this with such pinpoint accuracy with all the political acumen gathered over the years. But that’s how it is! Birds and Basavas will be better judges of political situation in future at least in Karnataka.”

“What about national politics? Can our Basavanna predict who will win the next Lok Sabha election?”

“Politically, I can’t even make a guess at this stage. But let’s see what Basava has to say.” The APE placed a set of colour-coded index cards depicting the symbols of various parties in front of Basava. Basava nodded his head up and down when he was shown the red card.

“Basava says, the Left will come to power after the next Lok Sabha elections!” said an excited APE.

“Will it be Prakasah Karat, Brinda Karat or Sitaram Yechury who will be the next Prime Minister?” I asked.

I was impatient.

“Don’t rush me. My gili will pick the name.”

“The gili did not pick up any names from the papers kept in front of it. Finally, it flew off the cage and tore a sheet off an old newspaper on which the APE had spread all his wares and dropped it in front of APE.

The torn sheet had a picture of Rahul Gandhi on it! That’s out-of-the-box thinking for you.

“Although the Left may win the election, they will not have the numbers to form the government on their own. They will form a coalition government with the Congress, with Rahul Gandhi as prime minister, and one of the Karats as deputy prime minister! My Basava and gili will never go wrong in their predictions,” said the APE.

As I came out, I saw quite a few ministers and MLAs of the defunct assembly waiting patiently for their turn outside.

No news is good news unless it is bad news?

3 December 2007

One of the hackneyed charges against Western hacks in India is that they diligently separate the wheat from the chaff and report the chaff. India’s successes, triumphs and achievements, we are told ad nauseam, are ignored by the “nattering nabobs of negativism” who can only see death, disease and despair; floods, famines and failure.

KANCHAN KAUR forwards a story from the latest issue of the superb tech magazine Wired, which looks at India’s underground trade in human remains. For long, India was the world’s primary source of bones used in medical study. Officially, the export was banned in 1985, but Scott Carney reports that the trade still going on.

Coming in the wake of The Observer‘s undercover story on use of child labour for Gap products, and in the wake of the New York Times story on manhole overs being fabricated by foot in Bengal, is the western media’s infatuation with India’s tech boom, the new billionaires, the growing consumption, etc, over?

And is it back to business as usual for the foreign correspondents?

On the other hand, isn’t this what journalism is all about? Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Throwing light in the dark nooks and corners that we want to turn away from.

Is it such a bad thing that the western media should alert us to what is happening in our backyard when our media seem inclined to ignore the warts? Is the western media dutybound to buy into the new rising, shining, incredible India? Should the media only be purveying good news, as the former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam believes?

Isn’t there a difference between advertising and journalism, hacks and flacks? Or have we lost the ability to distinguish?

Read the Wired story here: Inside India’s underground trade in human remains

Illustration: courtesy Wired