Archive for October, 2010

‘If they can’t eat roti, let them go and eat boti’

31 October 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As I was walking with my hot upma plate at the UNI Canteen in Delhi, who do I notice sipping a cup of coffee looking in the general direction of nearby the Planning Commission but Yojana Singh, the Ace Planning Expert (APE).

What luck! Here was a chance to find out how they are going to eradicate hunger from our country.

As we settled on the stumps of some chopped-down trees in the open park, I asked: “India has slipped two places further to 67 out of 84 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2010. In fact Sudan, North Korea and Pakistan fare better than us. Does that not worry you, Mr Singh?”

“Worry? No way. The poor in India are responsible for this bloated figure in the index.”

“I didn’t get you.”

“More and more hungry poor people have started eating well. Our people in rural areas are eating as if there is no tomorrow. This has created unprecedented pressure on the commodity prices and hence there is inflation.”

I  thought it was down right rude of the APE to make such caustic remarks on our rural populace.

“Wht are you suggesting, that the rural hungry shouldn’t eat at all?”

Arrey Bhai! When did I say that? I am only quoting President George W. Bush who once blamed the poor in China and India for eating more meals in a day, thus raising grain and cereal prices in America. Dubya found that he couldn’t afford jam and butter spread for his bread and pretzels for evening tea anymore. It’s all simple see-saw in world economics; you push it down here, it goes up in USA and elsewhere.”

“Mr Singh, this year 13.5 lakh metric tons of food grains were allowed to rot in the open for want of storage facilities. Despite bumper crops, millions of children still go to bed without a  proper meal. What was the Planning Commission doing all these years?’

Dekho bhai, we had to attack the problem of availability of seeds, water for irrigation, fertilisers, etc. This alone took us some six five-year plans. Thanks to M.S. Swaminathan and Norman Borlaug for the Green Revolution, and Dr Verghese Kurian for the White Revolution, which put us on a path of continuous growth of food grains and milk. But we didn’t have any revolution for storing food grains and milk, you know.”

“No revolution in storage of food grains?”

“That’s right. We knew how to grow but nobody taught us how to store. So we decided to store in  the open in  places where it has not rained over the last few years. Our planning was excellent but nature was against us as it rained  all through the year.  That’s why the grains started rotting after the rains. Sheer bad luck. Kya karen?”

Great planning, I must say! The Supreme Court had to rebuke your agriculture minister for refusing to distribute even the rotten grains free of cost.”

“With all my due respects to SC, what do they know of the economics of distribution of grains? We have middle men who have to be engaged all the way until it reaches the poor, and middle men don’t come free. We have to pay them to distribute grains even if it is through ‘Rajiv Gandhi Mufth Dhanya Vitharana Samstha’ or ‘Indira Gandhi Ghar Ghar  ke liye Gehu Pahunchana Nigam’.”

“You are saying you would rather pay the middle men than distribute free to the poor?”

“I am not saying that. All I am saying is that this is how the economics in food operate.”

“Mr Singh, some estimates say over 5,000 children die every day due to malnutrition in our country. This was also discussed by the Millenium Development Goal (MDGS) of the UN Summit in its meeting in September.  Why are we not doing something at least with respect to children? Why is it there is less and less consumption of grains every year?”

“The consumption  of food grains maybe coming down, but it may be more and more children must be consuming milk, vegetables and fruits.”

“This looks like the modern version of what Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XIV, said to the French people, ‘If they can’t eat bread, let them eat cake!’  Can you do something to stop this trend of massive deaths due to malnutrition?”

“‘Of course! Children are our greatest asset. I am not saying this! Pandit Nehru, I believe, used to say such things. We intend starting a programme covering lakhs of children across the country to give them an egg every day so that they get enough protein in their diet. We will be calling this, ‘Jawaharlal Nehru Rashtriya Bachhonke Poustika Ahaar Ande Vitharana Karyakram.”

“Good you have at last something for children.”

“But funds are not available. They have all been diverted to CWG 2010.  Even, Rs.170 crores of funds allotted as pension for disabled persons and widows was diverted to CWG this year as their budget shot to Rs 70,000 crore. I will see what I can do,” said APE Yojana Singh of Planning Commission.

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Sushma right about Modi?

28 October 2010

Yet another inkling of the internecine war in “Generation Next” of the BJP has come, with the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, brusquely turning away Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi from campaigning in Bihar, with the categorical assertion that “his magic need not work everywhere.”

As it is, with Modi’s anti-minority image rendering him persona non grata in several States,  Sushma’s matter-of-fact remark reveals that the leadership of the BJP for (and post) the 2014 elections is far from being sealed, signed and delivered in Modi’s favour, despite the growth and development mantra he keeps chanting.

At another level, the ambitious Sushma has struck a telling blow by raising Modi’s “acceptance” problem outside “Vibrant Gujarat”, which was evident in the 2009 general elections. Of the 300-plus rallies Modi addressed in the 2009 election campaign, BJP won 37 seats (against 75 for the Congress from Rahul Gandhi‘s 102 meetings).

For a party which has near-zero presence in 143 Lok Sabha seats, and whose seatshare and voteshare have been going downhill since 1999, Modi’s image is the elephant in the room. And the new infighting reveals that not everybody within his own party is enamoured of Modi , nor willing to accept his “leadership” without a fight.

At the same time, Sushma Swaraj’s appeal is not to be sniffed at. One of the few women of stature in the BJP, Swaraj came to faraway Karnataka to take on Sonia Gandhi, speaks English with reasonable fluency unlike Modi, has never been afraid to face interviewers, unlike Modi, and has cultivated her own resources, vide the Reddy brothers.

Question: Is Sushma Swaraj right in asserting that Narendra Modi’s “magic” need not work everywhere? Or has Modi overcome his past to emerge as a leader of national importance? Has Sushma revealed her cards too soon? Or are the battlelines drawn in the BJP for another leadership squabble? And between Sushma and Modi, who is  likely to be the bigger vote-getter in the long run?

What what can can Sri Sri tell tell IITians IITians?

27 October 2010

PanIIT, a conglomeration of alumni of the seven Indian Institutes of Technology, is to hold its 2010 conclave from  October 29-31 in New Delhi. The focal theme of the three-day meet is “Sustainable Transformation: Our New India“.

“Participants would have the unique opportunity to tap into the experience of globally recognised thought leaders, to learn from peers in a collaborative learning environment…,” reads the mission statement.

Among the globally recognised thought leaders providing gyan at the gab-fest are the likes of economist Jeffrey Sachs, technologist Nandan Nilekani and columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

And “India’s future Nobel laureate“, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

In session “S20”, on the concluding day of the conclave, “Mr Shankar” is expected to throw kindly light between 10.45 and 11.30 am. Not all IITians are enthused by the thought. Below is the full text of a press release issued by “PanIIT Ravi Shankar Protest Committee”:


The mantra of PanIIT conclave for this year is “Sustainable Transformation: our new India”.

Will Ravi Shankar be able to help us in being a role model in achieving this objective? Even a cursory glance at his achievement sans all the spin by the media will show how IIT alumni will be totally misled and get the wrong message.

PanIIT conclave is an opportunity to send strong messages by inviting those leaders who have been successful in projecting good values. Ravi Shankar has certainly been a superb salesman in marketing sudarshan kriya. His Art of Living foundation has been successful in earning huge profits while being a charitable organization.

Unfortunately, the values represented by his activities are not the ones for us to emulate. Especially when corruption is the top agenda item in India preventing the proper development of India, should we invite some one like Ravi Shankar?

Would we invite Ambani brothers despite their enormous wealth to give a talk on values and sustainability?

In one of the satsangs, when he was asked about global warming and climate change, Ravi Shankar seriously compared it to the Y2K problem, and how Y2K was not a problem and so also global warming. Either he was not aware of the enormous efforts by the world to avoid Y2K or he gave a wrong analogy.

When he was asked how to solve Kashmir problem, his “insightful” comment was that youth should get involved. Was it supposed to be a joke?

While the web sites of AOL give all the information about how to enroll for basic and advanced courses, how he has been involved in solving all the world problems like Iraq, Kashmir, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, there is no information on what happens to millions it has earned or the assets it has accumulated over the years.

It is true AOL does help the poor, educate the needy and supports worth causes. So do many of our corrupt political leaders and unethical businessmen. Do such acts of goodwill wash their sins?

Any charitable organisation seeking donation is expected to be transparent and publish its accounts. Why has AOL not published them? Has it paid any income taxes on its earnings as any business activity would? What kind of values it transmits when there is no transparency?

It is possible to give a long list of reasons why inviting Ravi Shankar was a wrong decision. But the above short explanation should be more than adequate. Some of us protestors, even at the risk of being rude to an invited guest (we do feel guilty), wanted to send a message to organisers to be more vigilant in inviting the right kind of people for future conclaves. We also invite attendees even at this late stage to show our disappointment by not attending the event where Ravi Shankar would be speaking.

Suresh Adina, Convener, PanIIT Ravi Shankar Protest Committee


Also read: The the great great Sri Sri NGO NGO scam scam

For one godman & his devotees, ignorance is bliss

When a newspaper recites the Gita to a godman

CHURUMURI POLL: Target Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

Dalits, Brahmins, Muslims and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say…’

27 October 2010

Editorial in The Hindu:

“In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.’ It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others.

“It is to this powerful libertarian mid-19th century principle that we owe the idea that free speech cannot be proscribed merely because we find it disagreeable, and that curbs may be imposed only if such expression constitutes a direct, explicit, and unequivocal incitement to violence.

“There is no such nexus in Arundhati Roy‘s statements on Kashmir, which are shaped around the theme of gross human rights violations and ‘fundamentally a call for justice.’ It is tragi-comic that there is talk of ‘sedition’ at a time when it is regarded as obsolete in many countries.”

Editorial in Mail Today:

“Those arguing for registration of criminal cases against these individuals are only betraying their lack of respect for the right of free speech and their rather fragile notion of what constitutes our nationhood….

“Arundhati Roy is a public intellectual and has a right to voice her views even if they may appear anti- India in nature. The right of free speech and expression lies at the core of our democracy, and any abrogation of it, diminishes freedom in the country. That is why censorship is the most important weapon in the arsenal of autocrats….

“The bottomline here is that the Indian state is not so weak or fragile as to feel threatened by speeches that few will commend for their balance or good sense.”

Venkatesan Vembu in DNA:

“Soundbite-savvy Roy’s polemics were once merely infuriatingly dishonest (even when they had half a point), her most recent public articulations on Kashmir, coming on top of her unvarnished defence of Maoist resort to violence, cross the threshold of what any self-respecting, law-bound nation-state can tolerate….

“Apart from being historically inaccurate, Roy’s words also betray an inadequate sensitivity to the enormous gravity of any loose talk of azaadi or self-determination at a time when the separatist campaign in Kashmir finally stands exposed before the world as having been propelled all along by Pakistan-backed jihadis who are playing for much larger stakes: the disintegration of secular India.

“Perhaps in parlour room polemics, among calm and politically sanitised minds, there may be little risk from intellectual explorations of the merits of Kashmiri self-determination. But the Kashmir mind today is in a fevered state as a result of years of hot-headed jihadi indoctrination; only when that fever subsides can other cures be contemplated.

“Right now, given that inflamed state, Roy’s words have the potency to bestir indoctrinated minds into extreme action.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

ARUNDHATI ROY: Why I said what I said

26 October 2010


I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir.

I said what millions of people here say every day.

I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years.

Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice.

I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice.

I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get insaf—justice—from India, and now believed that azadi—freedom— was their only hope.

I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up.

On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians.

It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one.

Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Photograph: courtesy The Guardian

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Arundhati guilty of sedition?

What the Gandhis could learn from the Nehrus

26 October 2010

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

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

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

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

Read the full article: That family feeling

Why does the BJP persist with Operation Kamala?

26 October 2010

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: One puzzling aspect of the political scenario in Karnataka has been the ruling BJP’s penchant for poaching the members of the opposition.

One could understand their dilemma during the time of the formation of the government, or even the recent trust votes, when there was uncertainty over the numbers.

But why should it persist in this endeavour, when, for all practical purposes, the B.S. Yediyurappa government finds itself safely ensconced in power and when it could attract adverse comments, giving a handle to its detractors?

One can immediately point to the two pending petitions challenging the disqualification filed by the five independents and 11 BJP legislators separately and argue that the BJP probably wants be on guard to ensure that it is safe in case of any exigency. But a closer look at the ground realities reveals that the fears are misplaced.

As far as the first case pertaining to the independents is concerned,  it is true that the situation is a bit tricky, since the independents cannot be treated on a par with the party legislators technically in the matter of disqualification. In the event of the high court annulling the speaker’s action,  the BJP has hardly anything to worry; it has already fortified itself against such a possibility.

Let’s come to the second case filed by the 11 BJP legislators.  Here, too, the BJP’s anxiety over a possible adverse verdict appears to be misplaced.

What happens in that contingency is that the concerned legislators return to the fold of the parent party and do not under any circumstances swell the ranks of the opposition. And they hardly get any chance of acting openly against the government on the floor of the house, because of the Damocles’ sword of disqualification falling on them once again.

And the only option they have is to pursue their agenda for the change of the leadership within the party forum, where they have hardly any chance of success.

Having had the foretaste of what it means to be disqualified, they would be in chastened mood and would be averse to carry the game of political adventurism once again. They would be happier to retain the membership of the legislature rather than taking one more risky step again.

But once thing is sure. Their career in politics for all practical purpose is over for most of them.  In the BJP, they would surely find themselves in the dog house. Since most of them happen to be political novices, the non-BJP parties may not have much use of them later on, once their utility is over.

If the BJP has launched the second phase of the Operation Kamala, with a view to hoisting the opposition with its own petard, as it were, in a bid to avenge the predicament it suffered  as a consequence of the opposition’s action in weaning away a group of legislators, it is a different cup of tea.

CHURUMURI POLL: Arundhati guilty of sedition?

25 October 2010

The author turned activist Arundhati Roy has been a compelling and contrarian voice with her views going against conventional wisdom on Indian elections and democracy, Maoism, the nuclear bomb, poverty and so on. Even by her yardstick, has the Booker Prize winning writer bitten off more than she can chew on Kashmir?

In the first instance, at a seminar on “Azadi-The Only Way” in Delhi on Friday, Roy said Kashmir should get azadi from “bhookey-nangey Hindustan“. “India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs from India,” she said, sharing airtime with hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

“India needs azadi from Kashmir and Kashmir from India. It is a good debate that has started. We must deepen this conversation and am happy that young people are getting involved for this cause which is their future. Indian Government is a hollow super power and I disassociate with it,” Roy said amid great applause from separatists. “Earlier we used to talk about our head held high and now we lay prostrate to the US. Kashmiris have to decide whether they want to be with or get separated from bhookhey-nangey Hindustan where more than 830 million people live on Rs 20 per day only”.

And on Sunday, in Srinagar, Roy went one step further, stating that Jammu & Kashmir was never a part of India and that India was a colonising power in the State since Independence.

“Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this,” she said.

The comments, testing the limits of liberalism, have drawn criticism. The BJP has slammed the Centre for allowing the azadi meet in Delhi, with the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, saying: “The right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution cannot be used against the country.”

The Union home ministry is said to be considering the charge of “sedition” with legal experts, and the Delhi police is likely to register the charge against the speakers.

Question: Has Arundhati Roy crossed the line with her Kashmir comments? Or is does free speech include the right to offend? By making the comments when the Centre has despatched its “interlocutors” after the recent round of violence, is Roy playing the Hurriyat line? Or should a mature democracy be able to face such criticism?

Arundhati Roy: ‘India is a corporate, Hindu State’

‘What Muslims were to BJP, Maoists are to Congress’

‘India is not a democracy’

‘Elections do not make a democracy’

‘Middle and upper classes are in their own country’

Also read: Azadi advocates should be tried for treason’

Eight reasons why we should just let Kashmir go

10 steps to turn Vikasa Soudha to Vinasha Soudha

24 October 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Indra, the king of Amravathi, and Vishwakarma, the first architect, were flying over southern India when Indra noticed a bunch of strange-looking men sweating all over, moving suit cases from city to city with much difficulty.

With his divya drushti, it didn’t take long for Indra to understand what’s going on.

Dissidence being a major preoccupation of the asuras in Karnataka, Indra felt the Emme Les deserved a headquarters of their own for the benefit of their “developmental” activities.

What better location than the Vikasa Soudha?

Since the State is also renowned for ‘Agni Pareeksha‘ (vote of confidence’) and Seetha apaharana (kidnapping), Indra thought Vikasa Soudha was the right place to combine the various talents of the members of the Vidhana Soudha.

With the architect-in-chief of the devas, Vishwakarma, beside him, it did not take long for Indra to put his vision into practice. Once Indra briefed him on what he wanted, in two minutes’ time Vishwakarma got the blueprint for the new Vikasa Soudha ready with all its new features.

1. The roof of the building was converted into a helipad to transport ‘loyal’ as well as ‘rebel’ MLAs to whichever resorts the respective high commands decided. Naturally, a fleet of helicopters was in ready attendance, bought from the budget allotted for flood relief operations in North Karnataka.

2. The Emme Les thought it was unwise to spend tax-payers’ money by running to resorts at the drop of an ‘Agni Pareeksha’. So, the second floor was turned into a swimming pool with all the stress-busting massages that the resorts provided. ‘Soma Rasa’ ‘Tarra’,  ‘Desi’, ‘Videshi’ maals were available on tap with a 24×7 kitchen.

3. Sound-proof cubicles were available for parlays between Appa–Magaa, Anna–ThammaAppa- Maga-Thamma, boss-girl friend, mining mother and sons . Those who paid double the tariff could get their conversations recorded into ready-to-transmit “sting operations” for TV9.

4. One floor was converted into a fake ICU with fake doctors, fake blood, fake medical equipment, fake treadmill, fake reports, but with real nurses, for Emme Le or ministers caught red-handed in rape, notification/ denotification, recruitment scams, land scams or benami transactions.

5. Underground safety deposit vaults were now available for the convenience of the parties and the Emme Les. However, the minimum deposit was Rs 25 crore.

6. Black magic and voodoo being the backbone of any ‘Agni Pareeksha’, facilities for homas, pujas, vamaachar were available on number 106 by room service. For a fee, the Emme Les can have a virtual darshan of gods and goddesses in Tamil Nadu or donate an elephant to a temple in Kerala. All the raw material for the maata-mantra such as bangles, pins to pierce dolls, kumkuma, haladi and blood of sheep, pig or cat will be made available for the puja between midnight and 3 am.

7. If the Emme Les were kidnapped either by the ruling party or the opposition, the new structure would have swamijis of various mutts on call to deliver discourses on ‘Sita Apaharana’ till the person is found or the case is abandoned whichever is earlier.

8. Eme Les kept in separate cow-sheds or horse- sheds and will be openly auctioned by the marshals of the assembly and sold to the highest bidder. ‘Boosa’, ‘ mamool’ ‘chai paani’ will be made available at the shed  itself for the animal thus being auctioned.

9. Kiosks of the various mobile companies will be set up on each floor for the convenience of the Emme Les to keep in touch with their bosses/suitors.

10. A high-speed underground passage  would be constructed to the Raj Bhavan so that traffic is not disrupted each time the Emme Les have to report to or seek guidance of the honourable governor.


After a year when they visited the site again, both Indra and Vishwakarma found  the place bursting at seams in all the floors. Vikas Soudha, now renamed Vinasha Soudha, had truly come of age with its own brand of politics.

How the Mysore Peta has become a turban legend

22 October 2010

SHASHIKIRAN MULLUR writes: The Mysore Peta is traditionally made in silk, and ornamented with gold threading. It was worn by the Maharaja of Mysore, and by the noblemen about him. Also, His Majesty would honour men of achievement with the peta in ceremonies organized to recognise his illustrious subjects.

The Maharaja lives, but even if he is a raja he is not the ruler, and now in the republic he vies in various ways for some recognition for himself.

Meanwhile, the idea of the peta is appropriated by everyone who can buy one, and who have a need to win favour, such as small politicians who need to be taken note of by a larger politician, and citizen groups who have taken notice that one of them has risen above all of them.

Something like Britain converting to a republic and deciding that anyone can dub anyone else a knight. But it is all right; no one has been making a fuss about the matter, not here.

And commerce, it will not ignore a good idea.

I had to spend two days in the ITC Royal Gardenia in Bangalore, attending an aerospace conference organized by KPMG the first day, and Lockheed Martin the second, and I spent some moments now and then in the lobby.

Some senior politicians were resident in the hotel, perhaps connected with an exercise the planning commission was doing next door to the aerospace conference. And local politicians were coming in, in a stream, to greet their kind from the Union government, and perhaps to win budget allocations.

The former chief minister Dharam Singh extricated himself from his large car with some difficulty and walked with as much effort to the lifts, with the added weight of many eyes upon him. But not before a slim young lady in green put a peta on his head. After three steps he took it off and also the shawl they had draped over his shoulders, and the sandalwood garland.

Then, some European businessmen arrived, and the hotel staff were ready with the peta for them too, and with the sandalwood garlands. The guests, white businessmen in sharp gray suits, retained the decoration upon themselves at least until I lost sight of them.

While I was leaving, last evening, I saw that the hotel had geared up to honour a good many with the peta, and with the efficiency of an assembly line. A pile of petas lay on the bell desk, with little containers of vermilion and other extreme elements to anoint high-spending humans.

Coming from a manufacturers’ conference, I couldn’t help but wonder how the supply chain for that sober turban was organised. How many petas were in the hotel stores? Was the stock vendor managed inventory? How low had they driven down the price for it?

Challenges the Maharaja’s men never concerned themselves with in their time, I’m sure.

There’s a new epidemic called Road Widening

22 October 2010

ARUN PADAKI writes: Just as Mysore begins to unwind after nine hectic days and nights, a shocker from the Mysore City Corporation. Two hundred and one, yes 201, trees on some of the best avenues of Mysore will go chop, chop, chop if MCC has its way.

Official reason? Road widening.

Unofficial reason? You work it out.

The quaint avenue trees on Vani Vilasa Road leading upto the law courts with coloured lamps on the trees, pictured during the Dasara a week ago, will be a thing of the past.

Also read: How they are ruining my beloved Gandhi Bazaar

See, a brand ambassador always gets good press

20 October 2010

Actor Priyanka Upendra nee Trivedi reveals her pearly whites at a media interface to announce the 12th jewels of India exhibition in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: 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?

Now, what will those fools do with these kids?

Surely all that glitters is more than just gold

The best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy

What it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Denims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

CHURUMURI POLL: Is ‘Operation Kamala’ OK?

20 October 2010

The resumption of “Operation Kamala”—the BJP’s advertised attempt to cobble up a majority by prompting legislators from the Congress and JDS to resign their seats—has seen a furious backlash from the Congress, which staged a dharna in front of the chief minister’s residence last night.

On paper, the BJP’s tactics may seem par for the muddied course. After all, it can claim that it is not wooing opposition MLAs to defect to its ranks; it only encourages them to leave the party on whose ticket he was elected and then stand for election on its symbol. In reality, though, Operation Kamala is fraught.

At one level, it openly dangles the fruits of office before susceptible legislators, as if they should be the only motivation of being elected legislators. In effect, a bribe. And, at another level, it makes nonsense of ideology, provided such a thing exists in the lexicon of any legislator today.

For the BJP, which has essentially been paying the price for the Operation Kamala as every round of dissidence has shown, the fact that it has had to embark on another round of the same exercise demonstrates how fragile its existence is, and how compelling the need to be survive at all costs.

On the other hand, the fact that legislators are willing to resign their seats, dump their voters and risk everything once again, shows how tempting the power of office is.

Question: Is “Operation Kamala” a legitimate political strategy?

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

19 October 2010

A gaggle of eagles take a bird’s eye-view of construction of the metro railway station in front of what used to be Plaza theatre. The first phase of Namma Metro, from Anil Kumble circle to Byapannahalli, is scheduled to commence operations in January next year, and the 140 personnel who will operate services on the 7km route are now in Delhi undergoing training at Delhi Metro.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News


The Namma Metro photo portfolio

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

A 21st century Adiga’s appeal to Kannadigas

17 October 2010

Alarmed as every right-thinking Kannadiga should be at the State’s emerging politics, Aravind Adiga, the Booker Prize winning Kannadiga, pens a passionate appeal in The Sunday Times of India, titled ‘Kannadigas, stand up for Karnataka’:

“The source of this crisis is cash. It has been flooding into this state. Some of the new money is from the IT and real estate sector, but a large part comes from the mining interests in the north….

“Culture, in the south of India, has always been a bulwark against money. Sadly, just when he needs it most as a defence, the Kannadiga sees his language and culture being eroded everywhere….

“Our sense of who we are has unraveled. There is money, but there is no pride in Karnataka any longer. The cultural identity of the state is fraying, and needs to be reinforced.

“I appeal to those who have migrated from the north to teach their children the Kannada language, and to learn something about Kannada culture. Please develop some sense of ownership and belonging in Karnataka — for the sake of your own children.

“Tamilians care about Tamil Nadu, and Malayalis about Kerala. Kannadigas, wherever they are — inside the nation or in Silicon Valley— must become more active. Many excellent NGOs have sprung up across the state, and if you spend a few minutes scanning the internet you will find one that is right for you. Strengthening the Kannada cultural identity is another part of the solution.

“But do pay attention, my fellow Kannadigas — Gowdas, Murthys, Sheikhs, and D’Souzas, all of you. Ten years from now, if the residents of Bihar tease you for coming from India’s most lawless state, don’t say that you had no warning.”

Photograph: Fiction Writers’ Review

Read the full article: ‘Kannadigas, stand up for Karnataka’

Also read: All you wanted to know about Aravind Adiga

220 yards is a long distance in namma Bangalore

12 October 2010

PRASHANT KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: A week may be a long time in politics. But 220 yards is the essence of life.

The politics in Bangalore stinks to high heavens today as the politicians and puppeteers, and their masters and minders, indulge in never-before-seen skulduggery in the Vidhana Soudha and the Raj Bhavan, and at every hotel, resort and spa in between and beyond.

The shenanigans of the well-fed, obscene, inglourious basterds fill you with anger. And disgust. And disappointment. And despondence. And embarrassment. And hate. And negativism. And rage. And shame.

Their core competence is built on failure.

The contrast is available just a couple of hundred yards away on the playing fields of Chinnaswamy stadium, by a short, stock fellow hasn’t put a foot wrong in 21 years, in showcasing skills which will never ever be seen in Bangalore and Birmingham, and at every ground and stadium in between and beyond.

The feats of the little gem fill you with happiness. And pride. And joy. And pleasure. And awe. And love. And positivity. (And envy.)

His core competence is success.

One does business in the dark; the other shines in broad daylight. The credo of one is to conceal; the credo of the other is to reveal.  One is driven by the urge to take the low road; the other knows no other road but the high one. One pulls down; the other pushes up.  For one, self comes comes before State; for the other nation comes above all else. One attracts bricks and barbs; the other collects plaudits and applause.

In climbing Mount 14,000 on Monday (in picture), in crossing his sixth double century on Tuesday, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar shows why every mom would want her son to be him.

In disgracing themselves and shaming us on Monday, and in disgracing themselves and shaming us on Tuesday, the well-fed, obscene, inglourious basterds show why every mom would want her son to be anything but them.

Photograph: K.S.N. Kumar

One question I’m dying to ask H.R. Bharadwaj

12 October 2010

Barely a day after B.S. Yediyurappa “won” a vote of confidence in a severely depleted House by a voice-vote—and barely 18 hours after he himself recommended President’s rule in Karnataka—governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj has given “another chance” to the BJP government to prove that it has the trust of the majority of MLAs.

The Governor’s move overshadows a planned parade of the 105 MLAs that the BJP was planning before the President and the ruling of the Karnataka high court on the disqualification of the BJP MLAs and independents that was so crucial in Yediyurappa’s victory. But what if the CM, who has won the vote, declines to take a fresh one, or if the HC rules that the disqualification of MLAs was by the book?

What is the one question you’re dying to ask H.R. Bharadwaj?

Keep your queries short, civil and gubernatorial.

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Say hello to the sarsanghchalak of ‘Ling Parivar’

11 October 2010

M.P. Renukacharya, the poster-boy of the “party with differences”, waits for his turn as chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa takes the lift to leave the Vidhana Soudha, shortly after “winning” the confidence motion in the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Monday.

“Nurse” Renuka, as the excise minister is better known for his famous medical experiments, holds a bright, luminous candle to the casteist, opportunistic and gutter politics that the BJP has pioneered and perfected in Karnataka, but which it somehow thinks is better than that of the Congress and JDS.

Last November, Renukacharya hitched his wagon with the Reddy brothers to land himself a ministerial portfolio. This October, he signed the petition expressing lack of confidence in the chief minister. One day, last week, he was the ring leader of the “rebels” in Goa, and the next day, he was back in the BJP fold.

On Monday, disqualified along with the other BJP MLAs and independents for the “rebellion” that landed the chief minister in trouble, Renukacharya was clinging on to CM’s tail (and vice versa) without remorse for the harm that such politics is doing to one of India’s most progressive States.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Nothing is what it seems when scoundrels meet

11 October 2010

Indian politicians, cutting across party lines, cutting across States, have two, standard quotable quotes for the camera. One, “nothing is impossible in politics”. And two, “there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies”.

Ordinary, law-abiding citizens who have something called self-respect and self-esteem cringe when they hear such cliches but they know that this is just shorthand for the extremely malleable disposition that modern politicians are blessed with.

These pictures are proof.

For years now, Karnataka’s politics has been held hostage to the Holenarsipur-Ramanagaram-Kanakapura worldview of H.D. Deve Gowda and his sons, H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna. And the Bellary worldview of the Reddy siblings and their bumchum, B. Sreeramulu.

There is nothing the two sides have not done to throw mud and muck at each other.

And for a week now, an entire nation has watched agape as Karnataka’s reputation for decency, honesty and civility has been made mincemeat in the clash of the two worldviews, that manifested itself with the latest “rebellion” against the B.S. Yediyurappa regime last week.

On Judgement Day Monday, as the BJP’s members trooped out of the Vidhana Soudha after the “voice-vote” in favour of the BJP regime, guess who shook hands and pressed flesh like long-lost friends, and whispered sweet-nothings like lovers into each other’s ears in the full glare of the cameras?

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why Karnataka politics has reached this sorry state

History repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce

‘BJP has taken Karnataka politics to the bottom’

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

When cops had to be called in to save the crooks

11 October 2010

11 October 2010 will go down in the annals (and anus) of Karnataka politics for a number of execrable reasons, but also for the role played by the police commissioner of Bangalore, Shankar Bidari, in the proceedings in the legislative assembly when the House convened to take up confidence motion moved by the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

Bidari rubbed shoulders with opposition legislators (and the marshals), glared eyeball to eyeball with the leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah, and himself got into the act with his staff to clear members of the media to leave the Assembly hall in the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Monday.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Yediyurappa safe for now?

11 October 2010

After collecting the blessings of all the gods, after disqualifying the “rebel” MLAs, after getting into a slanging match with the governor, after barring the “black sheep” from entering the Vidhana Soudha, after blocking the media from recording the assembly proceedings…

After gallivanting from resort to resort, after attempting suicide and kidnap, after a naked display of astonishing money power, after gatecrashing into the House, after slapping the watch and ward staff, after tearing their shirts in the House, after exchanging expletives…

After every incident, big and small, that should bring Karnataka’s reputation to shame, the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa has won the confidence of the House by a voice-vote. Is this the end of the chief minister’s strife? Or is this just the beginning of the end of the chief minister”s strife?

The shadow boxing of old rivals in a new bottle

10 October 2010

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: The two key players in the latest round of the political tamasha currently underway in Karnataka are the inveterate political rivals, former chief minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JDS and G. Janardhana Reddy, the BJP minister and mining baron.

While the beleaguered chief minster has been on a temple-hopping spree seeking divine help for warding off the dangers to his ministry, on the ground, the battle is mainly being fought between these two worthies.

The political career graph of HDK and Reddy runs on almost uniform lines.

Both had a stratospheric rise in politics, thanks to the clout, political, financial and otherwise, that they wield. Both have a long innings ahead, though at the moment it has been blotted by their sins of omission and commission. Both are politically ambitious, care a penny for scruples and are ready to adopt any means to reach their goal.

And, as far as their relationship with B.S. Yediyurappa is concerned, it has been a mixture of love and hate for  both.

After befriending Yediyurappa to achieve the otherwise impossible task of landing himself in the gaddi of the chief minister in 2006, Kumaraswamy chose to drop him like a hot potato, once the latter’s utility was over. He wants people to forget the 20-month honeymoon and has now turned out to be Yediyurappa’s chief critic.

It appears that the plot for the current rebellion by a section of the BJP has been scripted by Kumaraswamy and his father, the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

The Reddy story is a bit different.

After worming their way into the BJP while managing Sushma Swaraj‘s election campaign against Sonia Gandhi for the Lok Sabha elections from Bellary, Reddy and his brother Karunakar Reddy and their colleague B. Sriramulu moved closer to Yediyurappa.

They showed their “talent and skills” in mustering support through the infamous “Operation Lotus” for the latter to CM after the 2008 elections. They extracted their pound of flesh all right for their services and quickly donned the role of king makers in the BJP.

When Yediyurappa showed some signs of liberating himself from their clutches and started acting independently, the Reddys hit back hard, launching a campaign for his ouster last November. Yediyurappa had no alternative but to pocket his pride and kowtow to the wishes of the Reddys despite the intervention of the national leadership.

The manner in which Yediyurappa procrastinated on the report of the Lok Ayukta on illegal mining in Bellary district, spoke eloquently of the Reddys’ power to call the shots.

The antipathy between Kumaraswamy and the Reddys goes beyond politics and extends to the realm of mining too.

Being an MLA of one of the constituents of the BJP-JDS coalition, did not come in the way of Janardhana Reddy launching a diatribe against Kumaraswamy and hurl open the charges of corruption against him in the realm of mining.  Despite all the ballyhoo it created and embarrassment caused to the BJP, Reddy got away with it.

The present farcical political drama, which has put the future of the Yediyurappa government in jeopardy, has provided one more platform for the two rivals to flex their muscles.

Initially Reddys were quiet, when the dissidents made the first public move.

Rumours were afloat hinting at their hand in the happenings, because of some of their known supporters were in the dissidents’ camp.  But when it became clear that the whole thing was being masterminded by Kumarswamy, the Reddys opened jumped into the bandwagon  in  a bid to save the ministry, which they themselves wanted to remove a couple of months ago.

The Reddys are known to employ money power, where the legislators’ loyalty is openly on sale.

Kumaraswamy appears  to have been endowed with the resources  abundantly in starting the game and in sustaining it against Reddy this time round. This is evident from the manner in which legislators were herded from one posh resort to another in Madras and Bombay only to be holed up in south Goa before returning to Madras.

Despite the media glare, both made a sojourn to Goa to talk to the dissident legislators.

It is a battle of nerves between Reddy and Kumarawamy. Who wins ultimately will be known tomorrow, of course, since they appeared to be well matched in strategies and counter strategies.

Who are the Suresh Kalmadis at work in Mysore?

8 October 2010

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Our Dasara which is an annual event, unlike the Commonwealth Games, has already started. But like the Commonwealth Games, at least in the Indian version of it, where work never seemed to stop even after the event itself started, all the works which have to be undertaken just to conduct the Dasara seem destined to go on for a long time even after the festival itself concludes.

Another similarity that our Dasara shares with the “common wealth” games is that since they are being done in a tearing hurry without proper supervision and accountability, much of these jobs are naturally of a very shoddy quality although contracts for them are invariably awarded at an astronomically escalated cost.

Though it is a well-known and sadly well-accepted fact that our Dasara is a money-spinner for its many automatic shareholders, I wonder why some proper planning does not go into its preparations.

At least it can then serve its intended purpose of showcasing our City at its best and making our tourists happy that the time, effort and money they spent on seeing it were worth it.

Everywhere all over the city I see work going on at a hectic pace in a vain bid to beat the deadline.

My observation is that whenever this happens and it has been happening with unfailing regularity over the past few years, all the half-done jobs are simply abandoned midway until the next year so much so that our Dasara preparations are best described by the idiom: “Well begun is half done.”

Even as late as this morning I found that the storm-water drain work which has been taken up bang opposite the main gate of Bannimantap grounds, the main venue of our Dasara, is still miles behind completion.

Although Dasara has already started, the whole place still resembles the construction site of some dam or factory. The concrete covering slabs that you see in the foreground of the picture have been cast just last evening and since concrete takes at least three weeks of proper curing to attain its correct strength, I wonder how they can be expected to do their job adequately.

Nevertheless, as we will all soon see, half-baked as they are, they will be used to cover the drain that has been dug on either side of the road and since they will be trampled upon by the jostling crowds on Vijayadashami Day in just a week’s time, they are likely to crack or crumble and go waste.

With the rainy season almost gone and with Dasara so near I wonder why this job had to be undertaken at the last moment this year. It could have been taken up next year along with the mother of all money-spinners that we are all going to see when work on the ‘Raj Path’ commences.

While even an unqualified mason could have given some valuable practical advice on this issue, I wonder how the whole army of our Corporation engineers could have planned this job so improperly.

Is it just to ensure that the huge amount of money that this project fetches is not held up for another full year?

This year’s Dasara seems to take the cake for some of the most important cosmetic jobs being completely ignored and left out of the menu altogether.

The main arch that welcomes our Dasara procession into the Bannimantap grounds, although adorned with its share of decorative light bulbs, still stands with its old maroon paint peeling off in layers. The inordinately ornamental compound wall, which I have criticised in the past for its inappropriate design, stands with its tiles all cracked and dislodged in many places due to acts of vandalism.

Many of the parks and circles where flowering shrubs used to be planted in time for them to bloom during the Dasara and which have been earning our city the sobriquet of the ‘Garden City’ have been left untended. In the days of the Maharajas this lapse would have been considered an unpardonable sacrilege.

A glaring example is the Milleneum Circle which actually is the first landmark that greets all tourists who head for our city from the State capital. Today it stands forlorn with only weeds and uncut grass under the glare of decorative lighting that only helps to show how shabby the place is. This is a spot where some carefully manicured shrubbery which does not obstruct the vision of road-users would have looked decent and appropriate.

The tragedy today is that none among all those who are busy working upon our Dasara seem to have any idea of how it was conducted in the past. It is a well-known fact that Mysore has some very capable and talented brains among its former planners and officers who were at the helm of conducting our Dasara during the sixties and seventies and who now lead retired lives in obscurity.

I think it would not be a bad idea to invite them to offer their experience and expertise which made our Dasaras of the past world famous and which I am sure they would be most willing to share to make our present day Dasaras more beautiful and meaningful.

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician, who writes a weekly column in the Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Photograph: A file photo of the illuminated Amba Vilas palace, the centre of attraction during the Dasara festivities in Mysore, that will be inaugurated on Friday. The palace will be illuminated with more than 97,000 light bulbs. (Karnataka Photo News)

Why Karnataka politics has reached this sad state

8 October 2010

KIRAN RAO BATNI writes: The now out-in-the-open fissiparous tendencies  in Karnataka’s BJP government can make anybody question whether State politics in Karnataka can ever rise above corruption, in-fighting, inefficiency, ignorance and mindless stone-throwing.

There are two inter-related reasons for this mess, each reinforcing the other in a vicious cycle: one, the presence of lower-calibre politicians at the State level; and two, the relative unimportance of State-politics due to half-hearted federalism.

The high-decibel noise of empty vessels: A basic problem with the politics of Karnataka is that the politicians themselves are often of too low a calibre—often uneducated, corrupt and ignorant. Such politicians in the Vidhana Soudha repel higher-calibre people (who just can’t match up to their level of corruption to even get elected) and attract even lower-calibre ones.

Not just electoral candidates, but even the general public is repelled from state-level politics because of the bad name which the low-calibre politicians of Karnataka have brought to State-level politics.

Admittedly, State-level politics is more “hands-on” into the dirty mess of casteism and mindless largesses to a population which should ideally be better educated and taught to work instead of expecting those largesses.

Karnataka’s politicians have been unable to solve these issues to anybody’s satisfaction, basically because they lack the necessary grey-cells for doing so. Instead of solving these issues, the inability and ignorance of our politicians makes them exploit the issues to water their own vested interests.

And of course, amidst all the high-decibel noise created by the empty vessels that Karnataka’s politicians are, governance has taken the back-seat. The little that the Karnataka government has control over is also mishandled by our low-calibre politicians.

With this being the performance of Karnataka governments right from 1956, hearing the word “State-politics” mentioned itself has started to become a nauseating experience.

Karnataka should look to Gujarat: True federalism is the right way for India to progress, since New Delhi simply cannot run a country which has more than a billion people if it continues to poke its nose into state-level issues. New Delhi can never understand the importance of Kannada in Karnataka, or the way in which Kannadigas can progress, or what projects need to be undertaken for Karnataka to progress.

For the record, New Delhi does not speak Kannada (there are many in New Delhi who can’t tell if Kannada is a language or a country in North America), and therefore can never run Karnataka to any degree of satisfaction. Nor should it, for that would be not much different from the British ruling Karnataka – a state of slavery where Kannadigas are ruled by non-Kannadigas.

Given this, while the importance of Karnataka’s politics is implicit, the half-hearted federalism in India does not explicitly grant that importance to it.

Over and above this, the nauseating State-politics of Karnataka makes one come to the utterly wrong conclusion that New Delhi is better than Bangalore when it comes to governing Karnataka. That is a disastrous feeling which is doing its rounds in the intelligentsia, and must as such be removed.

While the State-politics of Karnataka is admittedly nauseating, states like Gujarat have retained the sanctity of State-level politics by giving better governance, better utilisation of State funds, encouragement given to investments and business, etc.

Gujarat is not just the media babe of India, but a true example of what good leadership and high-calibre politicians can do to the very image of state-politics and federalism itself.

Today, while Gujarat is an example of a responsible state which further affirms that true federalism is the way to go, Karnataka brings down the case for true federalism because of its irresponsible, corrupt and non-delivering politicians.

It is high time our own politicians grow up, stop being those empty vessels, develop some grey-cells and start delivering like the politicians in Gujarat.

Unimportance waters low-calibre: Why is it that we see less corruption, in-fighting, inefficiency, ignorance and mindless stone-throwing at the central government? Is it that we just don’t get to see similar behavior (when it’s present in reality)? No, it would be wrong to say so.

Admittedly, politicians at the Centre are of a higher-calibre than at the State-level. Why is that?

The main reason is that central politics is of relative higher importance. It’s simply a better job with better challenges with better people around. The most important portfolios are held by the Centre, many of which are nonsensically so held.

For example, the States are left with virtually no revenue to run their states, while the Centre gets a disproportionately large revenue for the little work that it does. One often sees highly productive states beg the Centre for their own rightful share of central budgetary allocations.

Karnataka, perhaps, stands foremost among States which are so cheated.

The presence of lower-calibre politicians at the state level and the relative unimportance of state-politics due to half-hearted federalism have together resulted in a major degradation in the quality ofSstate-politics in Karnataka. Unimportance waters low-calibre, and low-calibre waters unimportance.

The way out of this mess is to have more power to the States and simultaneously for our politicians to grow up.

(An earlier version of this piece was first published in June 2009)

Photograph: The east gate of the seat of power in Karnataka, the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, closed on Thursday due to a government holiday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: History repeats itself: first as tragedy then as farce

‘BJP has taken Karnataka politics to the bottom’

Gauri Lankesh: Is Karnataka the Gujarat of the South?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Getaway of the louts in the Gateway to the South

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

History repeats, first as farce, then as tragedy

8 October 2010

The BJP’s “Gateway to the South” is riddled with so many holes that it is beginning to look like Swiss cheese. And dissidents and rebels raise their head so regularly in the “party with a difference” that you could almost set your watch by it. Little wonder, in between each round of dissidence, the chief minister ravaged by scams and scandals, his and that of his colleagues, chants the “development” and “governance” mantra like a stuck cuckoo clock.

The only sane way to cover Karnataka’s comical—and deeply shameful—politics under the watch of the holier-than-thou party with a difference, it seems, is through comics and cartoons.


Editorial in The Hindu:

“The BJP continues to pay the price for opportunistically cobbling together a majority in the Assembly after the 2008 general election with the help of independents, and then carrying out ‘Operation Lotus,’ a euphemism for engineering defections from other parties.

“Karnataka, which has tremendous development potential led by India’s internationally admired IT capital, Bangalore, seems set to limp from one political crisis to another till the next general election.”

Editorial in The Indian Express:

“The ease with which legislators can be persuaded to shift parties is the big, distorting factor in the state. Karnataka’s politics boils with money. Its legislators are fickle, used to picking party allegiances on the basis of inducements of patronage that make some of the country’s biggest political scandals look paltry in scale. The tentacles of powerful mining and real estate interests snake into every major party. Conflicts of interest have flooded the system with so much cash that it is crucial to restore balance.”

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

“The revolt in itself is a symptom of a debilitating disease that the body politic in Karnataka is suffering from. Over the past few years, the moral standards of elected representatives in the state have degenerated drastically. The anti-defection law has not been able to check the rampant horse-trading and hocking of loyalty. Nor for that matter, the changes in the electoral laws have been able to stem the entry of the corrupt and corruptible into public life.

“The enormous power that MLAs and the ministers command is attracting the dregs of society to politics. While it is easy to blame the voters for electing such persons, one has to look at the broader picture to find the source of the malady.

“Certain undesirable aspects of the liberalisation of the economy, chiefly the rejection of service motto and altruism and placing money as the raison d’etre of individual and society had to have its consequences on public life. With wealth replacing learning and service as a virtue, it was inevitable that society at large would some day accept passively and unquestioningly, the pursuit of power and wealth as legitimate, even desirable goals. That explains the acutely worrisome public tolerance of the contemporary sordid politics.”

Cartoons: courtesy Surendra & Keshav/ The Hindu; Unny/ The Indian Express; P. Mahmud/ Praja Vani

Also read: Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala