Archive for February, 2010

Maybe we are safer if our leaders sleep more?

28 February 2010

In The Telegraph, Calcutta, Sankarshan Thakur reports on the antics of the nation’s leaders on whom our democracy rests on budget day:

“But beyond these and few more, Pranab Mukherjee’s hold appeared vanquished by the pursuit of other pre-occupations. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda snoozed on the crook of his wrist in the front Opposition bench. Plonked beside him, Lalu Prasad chuckled mischievously.

“Mulayam Singh Yadav repeatedly prompted him to nudge Gowda awake, but Lalu remained stoutly averse to the idea of putting an end to his benchmate’s embarrassment. “Sone do, sone do,” he reasoned with Mulayam. “Kya karega uth ke? (Let him slumber on, what will he do if he is woken up, anyhow?).”

Read the full article: Please laugh, it’s a joke

Link via Dhruva Batni

How the Pakistanis view Sachin Tendulkar’s feat

27 February 2010

Editorial in the Pakistani daily, The Dawn, celebrating Sachin Tendulkar‘s double cenury, the first ever by a batsman in the 50-over format:

“There are many truly wondrous things about Sachin Tendulkar breaking the world record for the highest one-day score and becoming the format’s first double centurion, in effect cracking one of cricket’s many four-minute miles. He is months away from turning 37 and he batted through 50 overs.

“He has now been in the game for over 20 years. He did it not against minnows but a top side and the best fast bowler today. And for years he has looked the most likely to do it. But above all was the simplicity with which he greeted his feat: arms raised, a smile, and a peek up to the great beyond. No leaps, no fist-punches or extravagance, only humility. It has been the leitmotif of one of sport’s greatest, most significant careers, for the most remarkable thing about Tendulkar is that he is still Tendulkar 20 years on.

“He remains as committed and devoted to the sole idea of scoring runs and winning matches as any teenager taking his first steps in the game. The game today is not the same he came into. For one, greater riches are now available. Tendulkar is part of the reason for this abundance and is its beneficiary as well. Countless other distractions offer themselves. But he remains the same, the focus, priority and hunger untouched and untainted, his skills undimmed.

“All cricketers, but particularly some on this side of the border, would do well to learn from that. Swiss watchmakers might have struggled to create a more consistent, longer-lasting and elegant model. In all likelihood there will be more double hundreds now that Twenty20 has further liberated batsmen — not that they needed it. But few will come from a man such as Tendulkar. We have been fortunate in the subcontinent to have Little Masters aplenty, in Hanif Mohammad and Sunil Gavaskar. But Tendulkar is the biggest of them all. Remember him and appreciate him, for there may never be another like him.”


The Shiv Sena, which berated the Bandra Bomber just recently for his “Bombay-for-Indians” comments, wants a Bharat Ratna for Sachin.

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Anybody for the Bharat Ratna?

A Bharat Ratna for P.V. Narasimha Rao?

CHURUMURI POLL: A doctorate for MTR boss?

25 February 2010

After a brief spell of sanity under governor T.N. Chaturvedi, the business of Universities awarding honorary doctorates has now reverted to the familiar, well-trodden cycle of rewarding sychophants, chamchas, ideological blood-brothers, drinking buddies and worse.

First, the Karnatak University in Dharwad ran afoul of the secular brigade when it decided to hand a D.Litt. to the editor of Vijaya Karnataka, Vishweshwar Bhat. After Transparency International got into the act raising serious questions, Bhat withdrew citing “personal reasons”.

Now, Tumkur University has decided that the man who runs the legendary Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) restaurant, Sadanand Maiyya, deserves to have the “Dr” honorific attached to his name. For the record, Maiyya did not set up MTR, he inherited it. Although he played a key role in expanding MTR’s packaged food brands, he sold it to a Norwegian company in 2007.

Question: Doubtless, MTR is a fine restaurant and MTR products have earned the undying gratitude of homesick Kannadigas across the globe. But do Maiyya’s stellar achievements demand a doctorate? Is he the only homegrown entrepreneur who came to the University’s eye? Is running a restaurant of repute credentials enough? Is giving the doctorate to young, fresh faces a good idea or are we devaluing it beyond redemption?

From: Comrade Varada. To: Comrade Karat

24 February 2010

W.R. Varada Rajan, a 64-year-old left trade union leader in Tamil Nadu and a CPM central committee member, has committed suicide because he was unfairly hounded and removed from all posts of the party for some “offensive and inappropriate SMSes” he allegedly sent to a woman.

But before walking out of his home never to return, Varada Rajan wrote to CPM general secretary Prakash Karat detailing his woes. That letter has now been published by The Indian Express, and it presents the picture of a party being held hostage by careerists and opportunists.

Varada Rajan’s body was discovered in a lake, identified by his wife and cremated on Tuesday with none of the party bigwigs in attendance:

“I am shocked to find that for this “misconduct”, the party state secretariat had come out with a proposal of summary removal from all elected posts in the party as punishment. The imperative that any punishment ought to be proportionate to the misconduct may be dismissed as a bourgeois concept; but the proposed punishment in my case is grossly unjust and severe, in the backdrop of earlier cases of proven physical sexual relationship involving party members in Tamil Nadu at the level of CC member to state committee member.

“The reason for making such a harsh proposal, as adduced by the chairperson of the enquiry committee at the meeting of the party state secretariat, was that the secretariat faced humiliation in the last two meetings of the party state committee and hence to safeguard the credibility of the party state secretariat such a proposal was essential. To my regret the entire party state secretariat bought this argument and carried the proposal to the party state committee and had the same endorsed.”

On the strength of Varada Rajan’s letter, is there a fit case for the CPM leaders in Tamil Nadu and Delhi to be booked for abetment of suicide?

Put another way, would the media and intelligentsia be reacting in the same, supine way had a BJP leader written such a letter to Narendra Modi and walked to his death?

Read the full letter: Yours comradely, W.R. Varada Rajan

Image and text: courtesy The Indian Express

CHURUMURI POLL: Ban cricket under lights?

24 February 2010

An environment activist in Bengal has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court to not permit Indian Premier League (IPL) matches at night. His contention: floodlights consume a lot of electrical power resulting in “extravagant wastage”.

Fair point, or killjoy? If IPL matches are disallowed, should the ban extend to other day-night matches too?

How the skyline darkened for a few on Tuesday

23 February 2010

Smoke billowing out of Carlton Towers on the old airport road in Bangalore on Tuesday following a fire mishap.  Firemen rescued many employees but the state’s home minister V.S. Acharya was quoted as saying five people were feared dead.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Whoever said Mohammed bin Tughlaq was dead?

23 February 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Ace Political Expert (APE) was taking a rhythmic walk in the Cheluvamba Park after learning about the new form of walking from “experts”.

With global warming, climate change and Bt Brinjal issues heating up debates all over the world to a new high, APE had quietly donned the hat of an environmental expert.

As we sat on the roughly mowed lawns of the park in front of a heap of sippe kadlekayi, I asked for his views on the proposal by “City Planners” to convert the JNNURM-funded Rs 14-crore freshly constructed bus station into a tonga stand.

“It’s an excellent idea,” chortled the APE. “No where in Karnataka or in India, have they thought of reviving tonga as the main vehicle to meet burgeoning traffic. We will be free from diesel and petrol fumes and the air will be that much purer. True, we have only a handful of tongas as of now. But when tongas outnumber KSRTC buses one day, surely we can easily solve the problems due to pollution. Of course, there could be some other issues….”

“Such as?” I butted in, mildly annoyed at his uncanny knack of looking for clouds on a clear, sunny day.

“The horses pulling the tongas will deposit some solid waste as they run through the city. But, mercifully, our City has one of the best solid waste management systems in the country which have bagged national awards. I am positive they will solve this problem in a jiffy,” he asserted.

“But the fact remains we have just spent Rs 14 crore on this swanky bus stand after inconveniencing the public for more than a couple of years. The paint is still wet, so to say. Why was this not thought of earlier?”

“There will always be ‘nay-sayers’ like you with endless grouses! What is 14 crore rupees when you have woken up and found you are going to destroy the environs of the Amba Vilas palace by having a bus stand, even if it is newly built after razing the old rickety one? It’s a pittance when you consider you have just averted a major ecological disaster.”

“What about cycle tracks? There is a move to create bicycle tracks on the City’s main roads so that people will be enthused to switch over to cycles after disembarking from their cars and scooters?”

“Excellent idea! People will automatically refrain from driving their cars and zooming around on their mobikes. Instead they will use cycles to flock to the “central business district (CBD)” and park their cycles along with the tongas. There will be no hesitation to switch over to cycles and to a bygone time and bygone era.”

“Do we have enough roads for riding cycles, especially main roads?” I asked.

“Of course, they will widen the roads if required, by chopping off trees which come in the way. I don’t think it will be necessary. In the absence of cars and scooters, the whole width will be available for cyclists, except a few tongas of course.”

“Since they have had a rethink about the JNNURM bus stand, do you think there could be similar rethinking elsewhere?”

“There could be. The subway at Sayyaji Rao road junction at once comes to my mind.”

“What could happen to the subway?”

“Look, I am no soothsayer. But with most people switching over to cycles, there will be hardly any pedestrians who would want to use the subway when they can easily run across the road. I feel one day, they will close one gate and convert this to an underground shopping complex, like Palika Bazar in Delhi. This will help bring revenue to the corporation.”

By that time, we had demolished the mountain of kadalekayi into solid wastes of their shells.

We disposed of the shells into a yellow dustbin, the size of a small letter box kept for such purpose in the park which draws hundreds of visitors each day.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A sure sign of climate change (proof attached)

22 February 2010

Winter’s over, summer ‘s here. As R.K. Pachauri & other disgraced “scientists” look for fresh evidence of climate change, a worker without any conflict of interest goes about the more mundane task of clearing dry leaves at Lalbagh in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Anna-sambar & the price of ISRO’s moon mission

22 February 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Two pieces of news concerning the Indian Satellite Research Organisation (ISRO) caught my eye recently.

Exhibit A: Former ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair was quoted as saying that there were no takers for the voluminous data collected by the moon mission,  Chandrayan, which ultimately failed towards the end of its flight.

“We have a huge volume of data running into several terrabytes. Indian scientists have to wake up and chew on that,” Nair has told Deccan Herald. 80 Indian universities were approached by ISRO to respond to study grants that would have brought in the data analysis experts, but only four universities responded.

“We want to encourage Indian scientists to come forward to work on this, but there is a shortage.”

In other words, there is lots of data but not enough people to digest and analyse it and almost no interest from our so-called “oceans of learning” to get into the act.

Obviously, without meaningful analysis, all the data will be garbage.


Exhibit B: ISRO is planning to spend Rs 1,000 crore to set up a moon simulator laboratory on the outskirts of Bangalore near the new international airport.

“The 1000-crore facility will recreate the moon’s surface on earth which will help in getting a first-hand report of how a lunar rover works,” ISRO’S Chandrayan project director Annadorai has been quoted as saying by Bangalore Mirror.

“We are planning to create a small area which will look like the moon to test the lunar rover. With a simulator in place, it will be easy for us to understand the lunar rover’s path,” D. Sreekumar ISRO’s space astronomy group director says.


Many questions can be asked about both these pieces of news, but here’s just one.

With tur dal shooting beyond Rs 110 per kg, with the agriculture minister and the cabinet having no clue about how to combat rising food prices, with most of indices of health and education hovering at sub-saharan levels, do we need to cotinue with this moon exercise again?

We have made our point by setting out on a moon mission, but should it become our obsession?

US President Barack Obama has realised there are far more important things on earth to do and has cancelled their next scheduled manned project to moon.

Aren’t we splurging good money on irrelevant things, when there are hundreds of causes and issues crying out for urgent infusion of funds, like education of children, child labour or upliftment of urban poor children who need support than anything else?

Hottege hittilla, juttige mallige hoovu?

Also read: ‘A modern Indian pilgrimage to another world’

Who would you like to see on moon mission?

‘I thought she would live forever’: A love story

21 February 2010

At the urging of his grandson, the renowned photo-journalist and churumuri contributor and wellwisher T.S. Nagarajan has just put together a private book titled ‘A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf and Other Memories‘ for his friends and family.

The piece de resistance in the beautifully produced, brilliantly written 198-page book is his 50-year love affair with his wife Meenakshi that ended two Decembers ago. is both honoured and privileged to be given the permission to reproduce a 22-carat love story, all 4,624 words of it.



I do not know where to begin but I do know where it ended.

So many years together, so many memories. Losing her has changed my life.

Going back now to an empty house in Bangalore is difficult. There is no one to greet you. The house with its silence seems to grieve with you.

Somehow, this place doesn’t seem to fit me since Meenakshi died; but I really have to live here.

I love this place. It is my home.

Our house in Bangalore meant everything to both of us. We spent 20 of the full 50 years of our married life in this home. The house grew with us and acquired all its colours and glory. We developed a beautiful garden. Meenakshi was its brain. I was only the brawn.

Instead of a compound, we preferred a line of crotons as a green wall in front. Today, as I water them every evening, the plants remind me of the green fingers that nurtured them as they grew from little saplings to tall, robust and colourful sentinels. Meenakshi was a great gardener. She had magic in her hands. Whatever she touched flourished.

Life rolled on at an enjoyable pace for ten years. As all good things come to an end, we found it difficult to manage the garden. After much deliberation, we came to the painful decision to close the garden and pave the space around the house with grey granite.

I put in an ad in the paper announcing the sale of the garden. A few days later, an old gentleman arrived with a carrier van to buy the garden. After the deal, Meenakshi urged me to take some photographs of the garden and vanished from the scene.

She found it too difficult to witness the departure of her loved ones. The garden vanished in a jiffy.

As one grows older, passing through the realities of life, dreams die. But I still keep intact my memories of sharing an exciting life with someone special.

Meenakshi is dead.

How am I to tell you?

One does not fix appointments with fate.

There is a rigid lump in my throat. I am learning to hold on and come to terms with the reality that she is no more.  Old age demands dignity. I manage a stoic face with a deliberate smile. Cross-sections of my life with her spring involuntarily from my memory. I have enough of them to ruminate upon.


Madurai to Delhi was a huge change for Menakshi. A few weeks after our wedding in the temple-town, she travelled by air for the first time and landed in the capital to a noisy welcome from my friends.

They were stunned by her beauty.

She looked like one of those chiselled figurines in the Madurai temple, her skin shining like ebony in the midday sun and eyes those of angels. She appeared as though she had descended from heaven just to taunt the blue-blooded beauties of Delhi.

Delhi’s weather was an entirely new experience for her. In summer, she loved the cooling rain that followed the dust storms, and wondered why in Delhi no one carried umbrellas while walking in the summer sun. She loved the exhilarating aroma from the wet khus curtains.

Phatphatis”, Delhi’s famous motorcycle rickshaws, thrilled her. She had never seen a Sikh. She was puzzled most by the sight of a Sardarji drying his hair in the winter sun.  Khushwant Singh was the first Sikh she saw and spoke with. He was also the first to plant a soft kiss on her cheek.

In course of time, she fell in love with Delhi, its people and their manners and customs. It was in Delhi that our two daughters, Kalyani and Vasanti, grew up and were married.  We spent 30 long years in the Capital. They were indeed the sunshine years of our life.


Moving from Delhi to Bangalore was like going back home. A welcome change. We loved the city’s salubrious weather and the slow pace of life.

Riding on a Vespa scooter, we discovered Bangalore together.

Not knowing Kannada was a big handicap for Meenakshi.  But she learnt the language by persisting to speak, despite the initial imperfections. In a few years, she was able to speak well,  and relate easily with the women in the neighbourhood.

One day, I heard her speak in Kannada to a gathering of women in the temple behind our home. It was a meeting to form a women’s committee. She was elected its first secretary.

Our scootering adventures became less frequent after sometime. We then turned to walking. Most friends in the area got used to seeing us always together. If, for some reason, Meenakshi stayed back, I had to explain her absence to the friends I met on the way. To avoid this, I made it a point  to cancel my walks on the days she didn’t go.

One evening, barely a few minutes after we had left home for a walk, I found Meenakshi   lagging behind, unable to keep pace with me. This was unusual. I asked her what was the matter. She said that she was feeling exhausted and wanted to return home.

As we turned back, I found her collapsing on the road, a small by-lane in the area, and sweating profusely. I was shocked to see her lying on the road, unable to talk. I sensed something serious. A passer-by helped me lift her and take her home in an auto-rickshaw.

I managed to put her on the bed. Her pulse was terribly low. I gave her a glass of sugared water, thinking she might have had low blood sugar. She was diabetic.  It might also be a heart attack, I thought. I put in a tablet of Sorbitrate (nitroglycerine, very helpful in such situations) under her tongue.

I had saved a strip of this drug for an emergency. Soon after the first aid, I phoned my grandson Duglu and told him that his grandma was sinking and urged him to rush home with his parents.  They arrived quickly accompanied by a hospital ambulance.

She was given emergency treatment in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Her condition stabilised by late in the night. She was declared out of danger the next day. A coronary angioplasty  was done. The doctors found an advanced block in one of the arteries.  She was given a stent.  She remained in the hospital for a few days and returned home, bright and beautiful.

The entire family heaved a sigh of relief. After a few weeks of rest and recuperation, Meenakshi resumed her normal routine.  She got up well before sunrise, helped herself to a cup of coffee, got the breakfast ready (invariably an oatmeal), finished the  day’s cooking and sat down in the favourite rattan chair in her room with the prayer book in hand. This was her meditation time. I made it a point not to disturb her.

It was also the time when some women, who swept the road every morning, her best friends, would drop in for their daily bible-babble. She wouldn’t mind their intrusion. She would make coffee for them. (A whole group of them came home to see me and condole her death. This was her speciality. She would relate with everyone on equal terms.)


Within months after she arrived in Delhi after the wedding, we attended a reception to the President of Ghana at Hyderabad House. It was hosted by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Meenakshi saw Jawaharlal Nehru escorting his guest into the hall and whispered to me that she wanted to meet Nehru.

I told her that I didn’t know the Prime Minister personally. Barely I had finished saying this, she rushed through the gathering towards where Nehru was talking with some people. The next moment, I saw her talking with the Prime Minister.

Cameras clicked.

The picture became a hit in the family back home in Madurai.

Another  interesting incident involving Nirad C. Chaudhuri, the famous Indian writer,  comes to my mind. We had met him a few times at Khushwant Singh’s place. When Khushwant Singh became editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, he wanted me to do some interesting pictures of Nirad Babu to illustrate a series of articles by him for the magazine.

Accompanied by Meenakshi, I went to the writer’s home. Nirad Babu had become a familiar figure walking the lanes and quadrangles of the Mori Gate area of old Delhi; a thin, short, spry man in dhoti and kurta. He would usually don Bengali clothes at home. His suits and the hats were reserved for his walks. He was proud of everything British.  He loved showing off his collection of a variety of items, especially those made in England, to his visitors.

As he talked with us, he opened the shoe rack and pulled out a pair of shining Oxford shoes and began explaining its special features. When he brought the shoes somewhat close to Meenakshi, urging her to see them, she boxed her nose and politely pushed the shoes back telling him “Nirad Babu, thus far and no further, please.”

Nirad didn’t mind her comment. He had a hearty laugh with us, and continued singing in praise of the English shoes. Fame or position of people just didn’t bother her. She was frank. She was candid. She was brave. She had nothing to conceal. She was true to herself.


I found a big change in her in the years after her heart attack. She became very spiritual and often talked about God. She joined a group of women, all her friends, and started attending prayer meetings every Saturday morning. She stopped going out for walks because of pain in the knees.

She spent minimum time in the kitchen and would retire to her room when once the morning chores were over. Her interest in TV serials waned.

In the evenings, when I was busy with my computer in my room, she preferred to lie down on the couch in the drawing room waiting for me to come and sit next to her.  This is the time we listened to classical music.  Half past eight was dinner time. Thereafter, we would retire for the day.

Meenakshi was deeply interested in music and loved listening to her favourite singers. She was close to the diva M.S. Subbulakshmi. They became good friends when we spent three days in MS’ home in Madras documenting her life in pictures.

MS made it a point to meet Meenakshi whenever she came to Delhi or Bangalore. They would discuss not music but cooking.

We generally stayed at home and talked a good deal on various subjects. We listened to each other with steadfast attention. Often we discussed serious subjects like life, death and even God. We also indulged in a bit of gossip about the goings-on in the neighbourhood.

We derived a vicarious delight in giving nicknames to people. For example, we named a vegetable seller, who came every morning announcing his wares at a high musical pitch, “Bhimsen”, after the music maestro Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Meenakshi felt that Bhimsen was indeed blessed with a great voice; if he had only taken to music, he would have been a celebrity.

The woman, who swept the road,  Lakshmi was called “R.L.”, Road Lakshmi. After she left, she was replaced by another Lakshmi. The new Lakshmi was called “N.R.L.”, New Road Lakshmi.

We found delight even in seemingly simple things in life. This is what perhaps made our life an enjoyable journey.

*** (more…)

All that namma hudugi has to do khuda ke liye

21 February 2010

Mysore (and Yadavagiri) girl Kalpana Pandit‘s new remix Khuda ke Liye, and a still shot during the shooting of the song in Bombay. Kalpana is also a doctor of great pedigree, and offers some health tips on her blog.

Photograph: via Facebook

Also read: Namma Nafisa owes it all to Nanjangud hallu pudi

It used to be 1,411 till last night. Now it’s 1,410

21 February 2010

A 15-year-old tiger found dead in the Baragi forest area of Bandipur national park on Saturday. Officials said it was killed by hunters.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why our Nagarahole scores over Ranthambore

In Nagarahole, tigers are like city buses….

Nagalinga raised his arm. Behind was a charging elephant cow’

Name of tiger. Age. Name of father of tiger. Age.

Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai & Journalism

20 February 2010

Amitabh Bachchan, who only eight months ago confessed he wanted to be a journalist in his next life, continues to have problems with those practising the craft in their current life.

Four months ago, the BBC’s “star of the millennium” was in a tug-of-war with Abhijit Mazumder of MiD-DaY. Earlier this week, he had problems with Kaveree Bamzai of India Today.

Today Bachchan, who played the conscientious media baron Vijay Harshvardhan Malik in Rann two weeks ago, is sparring with The Times of India group and Meenal Baghel of Mumbai Mirror.

The tabloid from the Bennett, Coleman stable, issued free with The Times of India in Bombay, ran a story attributed to “Mumbai Mirror Bureau” on his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai allegedly having problems in conceiving due to stomach tuberculosis.

“It’s no secret that Aishwarya is 37, and she isn’t getting any younger. But it now comes to light that the reason for her inability to bear a child at the moment is because she has been suffering from stomach tuberculosis for a while. Says a source, ‘The medication Aishwarya is taking for her stomach ailment is hampering her from getting pregnant. Until the tuberculosis is fully cured, she is unlikely to risk a pregnancy’,” reads the operative portion from the story.

Aishwarya Rai denied the story on the day it appeared, calling it false and fabricated, which the paper carried in full.

Now, Bachchan, who, according to Mumbai Mirror, is said to have described the ailment as rich man’s TB on his blog, has blogged back against the “soiled and unworthy piece of garbage” in post number 669, demanding an apology and a retraction for the “debased journalism”.

“The unprofessional and slanderous nature of this article in such an esteemed and respected newspaper as the Mumbai Mirror is deeply disturbing. It brings the author of this article into disrepute. It brings the editor that published this article into disrepute. It brings this particular newspaper into disrepute.

“Due to the illicit nature of this slander, I request a retraction and full apology. The full apology comprises the names of the individual journalist and chief editor, the journalist’s and editor’s unqualified retraction and refutation of the contents of thearticle, the apology should be addressed to both Aishwarya Rai Bachchan first and specifically, and also to the Bachchan family in general.

“The apology is to be printed on the first page of the entertainment section of the Mumbai Mirror on the same page, in the same size print, and including the signatures of the aforementioned journalist and editor and an immediate donation of a sum of (amount to be decided by members of my extended family of the blog) to a national charitable foundation of your choosing that supports those who suffer fromtuberculosis and an article in your newspaper highlighting its work.”

Newspaper screenshot: courtesy Mumbai Mirror

Also read: The strange and scandalous silence of Big B

How Big B has pushed India into a regressive, new low

Will Amitabh Bachchan do anything for money?

Will Amitabh do anything for money—dviteeya?

shōmei sho: hai, rajninippon no sūpāsutā de aru

19 February 2010

Rajnikant‘s superstardom in karaokeland, Japan, which is what the lettering in the headline above means, has long been an object of mystery and mirth. Finally, there is proof of his hold in Nippon, where at a song and dance show on television, a Japanese singer mimicks the Tamil superstar. The original number was sung by S.P. Balasubramanyam to the lyrics of Vairamuthu and the music of A.R. Rehman.

Link via Alfred Satish Jones in Washington, DC

Also view: If Chiba san isn’t a son of the soil, who is?

Divine sanction for mass murder of mute animals?

19 February 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: ‘Rivers of Blood flow at animal sacrifice in Raichur Village‘, screamed the Deccan Herald headline on February 15, when thousands of buffaloes and rams were butchered as part of a sacrifice for the ‘Durgamma Devi Jathra’ in a village near Raichur.

Apparently, the temple committee had a ‘secret buffalo service’ in which thousands of buffaloes and 7,000 rams paid with their lives for the wellbeing of the presiding humans.

We have famous swamijis in Karnataka some of whom are national Padma award winners, some of whom proclaim their love to man and beast, some of whom preach non-violence frome every pulpit and podium. They sit on thousands of acres of land doing discourses, meditations, prayers.

How come not one of them have condemned an incident that amounts to nothing less than mass murder?

Since events such as these are an annual ritual in the name of religion, it is a divine shame no guru/swamijii/ godman has come out against this horrific practice.

And how come none from the media, both press and electronic, question this barbaric butchery beyond reporting the bare details? And how come none from the media have the voice to question the so-called swamijis’ for not raising their collective voice?

Photograph: Members of Karnataka prani daya sangha stage a dharna at Basaveshwara circle in Bangalore on Friday in protest against the killing of animals during the devi jathra in Koppal Dist (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Ours is not to ask why, ours is to see and whine

One man’s offering is another’s sacrifice

Do our gods’ sanction politicians’ silly games?

From: Mallika Sarabhai. To: Amitabh Bachchan

19 February 2010

Bollywood thespian Amitabh Bachchan recently appeared in Ahmedabad to promote his film Paa, rubbed shoulders with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and promptly declared his availibility to be the  “brand ambassador” of the State of Mahatma Gandhi and the Somnath Temple.

This, on top of his already onerous responsibilities of spreading the good word for brand such as BPL, ICICI, Parker, Luxor, Maruti Versa, Cadbury chocolates, Nerolac Paints, Dabur, Emami, Eveready, Sahara City Homes, D’damas, Binani Cement and Reliance.

Dancer, activist, 2010 Padma Bhushan and Gujarati, Mallika Sarabhai has penned an open letter to the BBC’s “star of the millennium”.

“My dear Bachchanji

“Everyone knows of our vibrancy, of the billions and trillions pouring into our State through the two yearly jamborees called Vibrant Gujarat. Did you know that by the government’s own admission no more than 23% of these have actually moved beyond the MOU stage?

“That while huge subsidies are being granted to our richest business houses, over 75,000 small and medium businesses have shut down rendering one million more people jobless? That while theAll-India reduction in poverty between ’93 and 2005 is 8.5%, in Gujarat it is a mere 2.8%? That we have entire farmer families committing suicide, not just the male head of the household?

“That in the 49 years since the Narmada project was started, and in spite of the Rs.29,000 crore spent on it, only 29% of the work is complete. That whereas in 1999, 4,743 of Gujarat’s villages were without drinking water, within two years that figure had gone up to 11,390 villages?

“That in 2001 the State debt was Rs.14000 crores. This was before the State became a multinational company. Today it stands at Rs.1,05,000 crores. And to service this debt we pay a whopping Rs7000 crores a year, 25% of our annual budget.

“One rape a day, 17 cases of violence against women, and, over the last ten years, 8802 suicides and 18152 “accidental ” deaths of women are officially reported. You have said that you are our Ambassador because we have Somnath and Gandhi. Somnath was built for people. Gandhiji was a man of the people. Do the people of this State matter to you?”

Read the full letter: Can I believe in your endorsements, Bachchanji?

Also read: ‘Gujarat was vibrant long before Narendra Modi

At last The Great Debator’s quest for a debate is realised

Eight more questions for The Great Debator

Five more questions for The Great Debator to ignore

A few austere 5-star tents for the knicker lobby

19 February 2010

Mail Today cartoonist R. Prasad‘s take on BJP president Nitin Gadkari apeing Congress MP Rahul Gandhi‘s stopover at Dalit homes. After the photo-op, the BJP jambooree has moved to Indore for the party’s national council, where party leaders are slogging it out in tents more expensive than five-star hotel rooms.

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Also read: Tents test loyalty to tenets

Behind a successful cyclist, there are a few men

18 February 2010

At the BJP’s national council meeting in Indore, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa pedals away, softly, to whirr of the cameras.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

A spectacle straight out of a Mani Ratnam movie

17 February 2010

With summer round the corner, sprinklers get all active at the Cubbon Park in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

CHURUMURI POLL: Gangubai music University?

17 February 2010

The “proposal” to name the Music University in Mysore after the late Hindustani vocalist Gangubai Hanagal has triggered off a row. A bunch of Carnatic musicians, led by R.K. Srikantan and R.K. Padmanabha, have come out openly and expressed their displeasure at the move.

Their contention is that naming the varsity after Gangubai will: a) give the impression that it is a Hindustani music university, b) be too much of the same thing, since a music study centre in northern Karnataka and fishing village on the west coast are already being set up in  her name, and c) give room for further “regional imbalance”.

Instead, they say, the University could be named after a Carnatic stalwart as Purandara Dasa, Veene Seshanna or Piteelu Chowdiah although Hindustani music will also be taught there. Or after patrons of music like the maharaja Nalavadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar or Jayachamaraja Wodeyar.

Question: Is it wrong to name the University in the south of Karnataka after an artiste from the north? Should the University not be named after Gangubai merely because two other establishments are being named after her?  Should a varsity teaching Carnatic and Hindustani be named after a person who was a doyen of only one of the two streams? And, surely, opposing Gangubai’s name itself furthers “regional imbalance”?

“An appeal in the name of our friend, George”

16 February 2010

The following is the full text of an appeal/ statement in the matter of member of Parliament George Fernandes by his longtime friends and wellwishers, issued by former Union minister and ambassador, Ajay Singh.


George Fernandes is one of the most influential of India’s political leaders of the last four decades. His entire life was dedicated to fighting tyranny, oppression, corruption, and for the upliftment of deprived sections of our society. His battles for equality, democracy, a free media, human rights and against all forms of injustice are well known.

“We, the long time friends of George Fernandes, are deeply distressed at the events of the last few weeks, which diminish this image of a great man who, due to a debilitating illness, is unable to defend himself or express himself publicly.

“We are also making this public statement to convey our deep concern for the well being, health and care of our friend George. We understand he is being moved from place to place and decisions on his well-being are being suddenly and arbitrarily taken by people who are not familiar with the particular aspects, past progress and treatment of his ailments. This is bound to have a severe adverse impact on his state of mind and body.

“A panel of suitable people comprising of his familiar doctors at AIIMS and his long time colleagues and care givers, including the immediate and extended family, should be constituted through a legal process to ensure a stable atmosphere for him to feel comfortable and at ease.

“All unseemly speculation and discussion being carried out in public view about his assets and relationships undermine the values that our friend George stands for.

“It is our duty as his friends and admirers to ensure him his dignity and to demand respect for what he has done and the choices he has made over so many years.”


Issued by

1.    Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah , former chief  justice, Supreme Court of India, former chairman national human rights commission, Padma Vibhushan awardee

2.    Farooq Abdullah, Union minister of new and renewable energy, former chief Minister Jammu and Kashmir

3.    Jaswant Singh, member of Parliament, former finance minister and defence minister

4.    Viren J. Shah, former governor West Bengal and arrested in the Baroda dynamite case with George     Fernandes, former Member of  Parliament

5.    Kamal Morarka, chairman Gannon Dunkerley group, former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and former Minister of State

6.    U.R. Ananthamurthy, renowned Kannada writer,  Jnanpith awardee, socialist, Padma Bhushan awardee

7.    R.V. Pandit, philanthrophist, film producer,  publisher

8.    Rahul Bajaj, chairman Bajaj Group, Member of  Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

9.    Uday Kotak, vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank

10.  Ravi Ruia, vice chairman, Essar group

11.  Chandan Mitra, editor and publisher The Pioneer,  former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

12.   Capt C.P. Krishnan Nair, chairman, Leela Group of hotels,  Padma Vibhushan

13.    Rajesh V. Shah, managing director Mukund Ltd, former president CII

14.    Lord Meghnad Desai, writer, economist, member of the House of Commons, UK

15.    Kishwar Desai, writer

16.    Vandana Shiva, writer, social activist, scientist

17.    Leela Samson, eminent dancer, writer, Padma Shri awardee

18.    Dr Beatrix D’Souza, educationist , former member of Parliament

19.    Dr. Sonal Mansingh, eminent dancer, Padma Vibhushan Awardee

20.    Ajay Singh, former deputy minister for railways,  former ambassador to Fiji, journalist

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: By George, it’s pati, patni aur woh & some crores

How the BJP government hounded Tehelka promoters

Green outside, red inside, only amber is missing

15 February 2010

Of all the many ways to judge the onset of summer, is there any as precise as the sight of water melons on roads and streets, as they were in the area formerly known as Munireddypalya in Bangalore on Monday?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Look, who’s shaming the moral police in State

15 February 2010

Former Karnataka minister Shobha Karandlaje, quoted in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Agreed, pubs are not part of Indian culture. But if a youngster’s family has no problem in him or her going there, why should the Rama Sene (blamed for the attack on women in a Mangalore pub last year) bother?”

Read the full article: In BJP, she isn’t afraid to ask

Also read: Look, who’s blasting the disgrace in Mangalore

How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

CHURUMURI POLL: Girls drinking beer not Hindu?

Giving Lord Rama a good name 24 x 7 x 365

Now, what will those fools do with these kids?

14 February 2010

She carries the reputation of being a hotheaded motor mouth. But say what you will, the Kannada actress Ramya nee Divya Spandana has her heart where it should be.

While the self-proclaimed soldiers of Lord Rama were wreaking vengeance on those celebrating Valentine’s Day by forcing them to tie the rakhi, the bubbly star was greeting children suffering from cancer at the Kidwai institute of oncology on February 14.

Photo-op for her newly released film?

Maybe, but so what?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: One more example of commodification of women

Another example of commodification of women

Another example of commodification of examinations

Like, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

Adolf Hitler, Bal Thackeray and My Name is Khan

12 February 2010

In which the Fuhrer und Reichskanzler gives it to, verdammt!, the Faux Fuhrer of Kala Nagar, the Hindu Hridaysamrat with the Heineken.

Also view: Adolf Hitler and  the rise and fall of the iPad

Adolf Hitler and the rise and fall of the IPL