Archive for September, 2012

What it takes to alert people about snake bites

30 September 2012

It’s a Hindi movie called Jan Leva 555. It’s a “romantic musical mystery thriller spanning 555 years”—and 15 songs.  It’s due for release on October 19. And it stars our very own Kalpana Pandit of  1st main road, Yadavagiri, Mysore 570020.

Produced by Kalpana Pandit, MD, a former “Miss India USA” who belongs to the Nanjangud B.V. Pandit family, the movie aims to sensitise audiences to cobra bites; proceeds from the film will apparently go to buy ventilators for cobra-bitten patients and anti-vinen research.

Kalpana’s previous Kannada flick Jo Jo Laali dwelt on HIV.

News reports say Jan Leva 555 also stars Anant Nag in a Hindi film after two decades and Vyjayanthimala Bali (who was herself married to a doctor) after 42 years.

The Marimallappa’s college and Mysore medical college alum, who is a emergency doctor in Arizona, had previously acted in M.F. Husain‘s Gajagamini.


Visit the Facebook page: Jan Leva 555


Photograph: courtesy Indian Masala

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

All that namma hudugi has to do khuda ke liye

When the Taj group stole cooks from Amaravathi

30 September 2012

Vir Sanghvi in the Hindustan Times:

It was in Bangalore – and not, sadly enough, in Hyderabad -– that I first encountered fiery-hot, non-vegetarian Andhra food at such restaurants as Amaravathi and RR. I had my first Chicken 65 – a dish unknown north of the Vindhyas in that era – in Bangalore, the city where it was invented. And the South Indian vegetarian food at small restaurants and some larger establishments (Hotel Chalukya, for instance) was a revelation.

I wondered if any of the dishes I encountered in Bangalore would ever make it on to the menus of more up-market restaurants or whether they would make it to Bombay at all. Clearly I was not the only one to have had the same idea because in early 1984 when the Taj group opened the Taj Residency (now called Vivanta), Camellia Panjabi put many of the dishes I came to Bangalore for on to the menu of Southern Comfort, the hotel’s coffee shop.

It was, as far as I know, the first five-star-hotel restaurant to serve appams; the first to serve Andhra dishes, including a biryani and the first to give Chicken 65 the recognition it deserved. Southern Comfort did some Goan food too, which was fair enough, because the Taj had a strong Goan presence. But as for the rest, it came from cooks stolen from the best local joints, lured to the Taj with fancy five-star salaries.

Eventually, the owners of such restaurants as Amaravathi began to warn P.K. Mohankumar, the Residency’s food and beverage manager, of dire consequences if he stole any more cooks. But by then, it did not matter. The Taj had begun to understand South Indian food itself and its own chefs were mastering Mangalorean dishes and promoting such previously unfashionable fish as Kane.”

Read the full article: Bangalore diary

Since government work alone is not god’s work

27 September 2012

Some of Bangalore’s hardest working men, workers on the Namma Metro project, take a breather near the Vidhana Soudha, the headquarters of some of Karnataka’s you-know-who.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete Namma Metro portfolio

What Kannada racists can learn from a Raja-Rishi

26 September 2012

The silhouette of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, the 25th and last maharaja of Mysore—a raja-rishi” (statesman-saint) in the words of a certain somebodyon Wednesday, as a sad and silly storm over a memorial for the world’s most famous Indian writer in English, R.K. Narayan, gathers chauvinistic steam in their hometown.

Even a cursory glance at the Wikipedia page of the king, who also served as the governor of Madras, suggests that he helped Ramanathan Krishnan to play at Wimbledon; that he helped the Western world discover the music of the little-known Russian composer Nikolai Medtner; that he provided patronage to ‘Tiger’ Varadachar….

But then, the Wikipedia page is in English.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Once upon a time at the Maharaja’s study circle

Once upon a time, a 50′x50′ site for 50 rupees

‘My father, His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore’

CHURUMURI POLL: Will reforms result in UPA-III?

26 September 2012

A week is a long time in politics; ten days is an eternity. Ten days ago, the Congress-led UPA government was weighed down by the scams and scandals that have enveloped it since its return to power in 2009.  The economy was down, the fiscal deficit was up, the ratings were near-junk, the writing was on the wall.

It was deja vu 1991 in circa 2012.

But the partial rationalisation of diesel prices followed by the announcement of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, aviation and broadcasting (followed by a slew of measures including one rank-one pension for Army wallahs, dearness allowance hike for government employees, etc) have changed the headlines.

Suddenly, the coal scam is off the front pages and nightly news.

Suddenly, the main obstacle to reforms (Mamata Banerjee) is out.

Suddenly, the “underachiever” prime minister is talking.

Suddenly, there is talk of a reshuffle of the Union ministry and Congress party apparatus.

And, on top of all that, the entire opposition from the left to right is united in its opposition to FDI in retail, citing the interests of everybody from the farmer down to the consumer, to dire warnings of economic slavery and colonisation of the mind. Even Narendra Damodardas Modi who has gone around with the FDI bowl in his hand to more countries than most chief ministers is warning of the “foreign hand”.

What last week’s Bharat bandh (in which UPA ally DMK too took part) and today’s BJP suggestion of a rollback of the FDI in retail should it come to power, have done is to willy-nilly paint the Congress as the only “pro-reforms” party in the country ahead of 2014, which is all the more surprising because this was the party which in the last few years had turned subsidies into an entitlement.

Questions: Will the reforms work in reviving the economy and will that in turn convince the electorate to plump for UPA-III? Or, is it just a desperate last-ditch effort by the Congress to revive its chances, one doomed to electoral failure? Will the aam admi see through the xenophobia, or will he let his wallet do the voting?

The New York Times: Reforms do win elections in India

4 reasons why R.K. Narayan deserves a memorial

25 September 2012

15, Vivekananda Road, Yadavagiri, Mysore 570020: the home R.K. Narayan built in 1952 and lived in for nearly half a century

K.C. BELLIAPPA writes: R.K. Narayan is in the news again thanks to the objections raised to a memorial for him by a host of Kannada writers. The fact that many of them are giants in the Kannada literary scene made me sit up and read their press release with utmost care.

Let me respond to their objections.

The first objection is that R.K.Narayan is not a Kannadiga. This is stating the obvious but we should remember that Narayan is first and foremost an English writer. He did not write in any other Indian language. They are unhappy that Narayan while he translated Kamban’s Ramayana into English did not introduce any Kannada literary work to the outside world like A.K. Ramanujan.

To draw a comparison between Narayan and Ramanujan is manifestly unfair.

While Ramanujan was an acclaimed translator who had inwardness with three languages — Tamil, Kannada and English — Narayan was not a translator in the real sense of the term but what he managed to do was to render a free translation of Kamban, generally regarded as a work of inspiration.

Narayan had neither the competence nor the talent to translate Kannada works into English. Hence, this is not a legitimate complaint.


The Kannada writers are unhappy that Narayan sold his manuscripts to an American University and did not donate it to any University in Karnataka. They regard this as injustice to Kannada readers who know English.

I honestly fail to understand their specious logic.

Let me now give the real reason behind this decision. During one of my visits to Narayan’s house in Yadavagiri with Prof C.D. Narasimhaiah, he held forth eloquently on his reason for giving the manuscripts of his novels to Boston University library.

He said:

“CD, if I had given my manuscripts to the government archives, they would have dumped it in some corner where it would have been lying gathering dust and I would have got an acknowledgement on a buff paper. In Boston, they are preserved in air conditioned lockers.”

Of course, he added that he was paid $5,000 for each manuscript. In a manner of speaking, Narayan was a professional writer and looked at his writings wholly from a commercial perspective. I am not too sure whether we can question this premise of his.


They further argue that Narayan did not know Kannada well enough except for four or five sentences which he spoke with a mixture of Tamil. I think his Kannada was much better than that and this accusation has to be seen in the context of their opposition to the memorial.

Finally, they are of the view that Narayan’s relatives are selling the house just as Narayan did his manuscripts solely for money. The major burden of their argument is that Narayan as a non-Kannadiga does not deserve a memorial in Mysore and the government of Karnataka should not spend any money over it.

To be honest, I read the press release repeatedly to make sure that they meant what they had said.

I cannot understand how writers, eminent ones at that, could take such a stance.


Literature at its basic level teaches us to transcend all differences, be it linguistic, religious, cultural or any other for that matter. If they were genuinely concerned about memorials for other famous Kannada writers, they ought to have raised this issue dispassionately without questioning the decision of the government of Karnataka to build a memorial for Narayan.

R.K. Narayan by virtue of his being a writer in English is a pan-Indian literary figure of international acclaim. He is an eminent Indian English novelist who along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao was responsible for putting Indian Writing in English on the map of world literature.

He is possibly the most widely translated Indian writer.

I suspect that he was also the bestselling author among Indian writers and should rank as one of the richest among them. Narayan will reign supreme in world literature as far as readability is concerned.

There is a larger question whether governments should spend money on building such memorials for writers. England, for instance, has preserved the house of every writer, for that matter of all artists irrespective of their being considered major or minor in importance.

For the lover of arts, it is bound to be a memorable visit wherein he feels the ambience and the spirit of the place.

Depending on one’s familiarity with the artist, memories will come rushing in and result in an aesthetically satisfying experience. As a matter of fact, this is the nearest that one can come to experiencing the real thing. Surely, there is no substitute for this.

I would like to add that all such houses of writers should be seen as slices of literary heritage and not as pieces of real estate.

Here, I am reminded of what a friend from the fourth estate told me. Apparently, the heirs of a well-known politician of Karnataka demanded a fancy price for the house of their ancestor. When the officer concerned demanded that they offer the house free to the government, they refused. It was clear that they were more interested in the money part of it rather than the desire to perpetuate the memory of their illustrious forefather.

To be fair to Narayan’s relatives, they offered the house for sale as there was no one to stay in it. Only when the demolition of the house began did this become a public issue. Star of Mysore Editor-in-Chief K.B. Ganapathy, an ardent admirer of Narayan’s writings, wrote about the necessity of converting the house into a memorial.

Officials and Ministers responded favourably to this demand and it was officially announced that the government will buy the house and make it into a museum. It is more than a year since this happened and hence it is regrettable that such renowned writers are making an issue of this so belatedly.

(Former vice-chancellor of the Rajiv Gandhi central university in Arunachal Pradesh, Prof K.C. Belliappa is former faculty of the department of English, University of Mysore. This piece originally appeared in Star of Mysore and is republished with kind courtesy)

It doesn’t hurt to pray; it does if you do to plastic

18 September 2012

A cricket idol (Anil Kumble, if you must ask) is appearing on TV channels, exhorting people not to use pick up synthetic idols made with synthetic colours this Ganesh Chathurthi. At least this smart devotee has heard and paid heed to the clarion call while making her purchase at Gandhi Bazaar in Bangalore on Tuesday.

How about you?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


Also read: At 8th Cross, even Ganesha wants a good concert

Once upon a time, Govinda, Venky, Seshu, Gundu…

One child per family; one Ganesha per colony?

When Gajanana meets JCB on Chowpatty

Not quite the Hero who’d say it’s a boy thing

Sai Baba couldn’t make Tharoor win. At least…

18 September 2012

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who is also in charge of the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, throws a new challenge:

“If Uttar Pradesh becomes open defecation-free in 10 years, I can accept that Sai Baba is alive.”

Also read: Can the Sai Baba make Shashi Tharoor win UN poll?

Shhh: India’s best mango pickles come from here

17 September 2012

D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: This small, Mangalore-tiled house is a landmark in Sagar in the Malnad region of Karnataka. Seetharama Bhat, who is famously known as Uppinakayi Bhattru has been selling the best Appe Midi Uppinakayi—pickles made from tiny mangoes—from this address for over 40 years.

Almost anyone in Malnad can make Appe Midi. But nobody can beat Uppinakayi Bhattru at the craft.

He does everything on his own, he chooses his own ingredients, and his recipe is a closely guarded secret. And, on top of it, Bhatttru is not your typical pickle maker. Sometimes his fearful moods keep people away; he even refuses to sell his appe midi pickles to people whom he does not like.

During April-May, he scouts for the best mangoes in and around Shimoga district. Normally, he gets it from Rippon pete (a small town between Sagar and Thirthahalli). If he does not get it there, he goes to Sringeri, Koppa, Sirsi and even Hassan. And he buys the best red chilly from Byadagi in neighbouring Haveri district.

There have been occasions when Uppinakayi Bhattru has made no pickles due to shortage of good appe midi or red chilly or both.

On an average he makes over 10 quintals of Appe Midi every year. Most of his clients are regular buyers. Half his appe midi produce travels to the middle-east and the United States during monsoon. Professionals can learn the art of water tight/air tight packing from him.

Bhat, a native of undivided Dakshina Kannada district, came to Sagar almost 50 years ago. He became a disciple of a famous ayurvedic doctor and astrologer Govinda Pandit and worked with him till his guru’s death.

Result: lots of people even today come to Bhattru‘s house for astrological consultations. But he entertains only four clients on a first-come, first-served basis. Sometimes, when he is in the mood he asks customers, who have come for the pickles, to reveal their date of birth, year etc and predicts their future.

At times, he may even ask them to show their palms. If they are lucky, they can go back with a pack of appe midi in hand!

Whenever he is in a good mood, he also repairs watches and wall clocks.

He is also aware of Italian traveler Pietro della Valle‘s comments on the unmatched skill of the people of Sagar in making the best mango pickles.

Pietro travelled through the domains of Keladi Nayaks and even spent six months at Ikkeri (the second capital of the Keladi rulers, which is 6 km from Sagar town). He wrote that the rulers of Gerusoppa and Ikkeri ate a large quantity of rice and ghee with spicy mango pickle, thrice a day.

Uppinakayi Bhattru has helped sustain a grand tradition across the globe. If you couldn’t read the phone number below the name plate, it is 9242839837.

A hero who served the living & dead of all castes

14 September 2012

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Last week, Mysore saw the passing away of a man whom most people of any substance will perhaps never miss. But the less fortunate ones amongst us, whose number is legion and who are considered a burden on society, both while they are alive and strangely even after they are dead, will perhaps begin to notice his absence from their midst very soon.

Ghulam Hussain, the nondescript and soft spoken man whom I knew over the past 30 years, bid a silent adieu to this world and to his most humble and thankless existence without me even knowing that he was dead. I discovered that he was not only dead but buried too only when I picked up Star of Mysore on the evening of that fateful day of his departure.

He was perhaps the only person in our midst who served the living and the dead alike, unmindful of who they were or to which caste and community they belonged, as long as they just happened to be the unfortunate ones who belonged to nobody.

I first ‘discovered’ him prowling the dingy and humid wards of K. R. Hospital, way back in the year 1982 when I started my post graduation in medicine. To be very frank and honest even at the risk of inviting the wrath of those who already knew him better, I first saw him only as a pesky nuisance and interference in my work.

He used to walk about in the wards, very often during the non-visiting hours, softly conversing with patients and making enquiries about their ailments with doctors and post-graduate students.

Now, which post-graduate student, especially of a subject as lofty and as hallowed as medicine, who feels he is the absolute lord and master of the ten rickety and ramshackle beds allotted to him, will tolerate the presence, let alone the interference from a miserable looking man in faded clothes and much mended leather chappals during his work?

But very quickly and thankfully the realisation dawned on me and my colleagues too that while we considered our work very noble and noteworthy this man was only making it a little easier for us with his presence by our side.

He would be in our ward, often a little before us and enquire about the poorest of the poor patients who needed some medicines or lab tests that were not available in the hospital.

Incidentally, there was no dearth of the facilities that were then not available in the hospital and so we would sheepishly tell him what would do much good not only to our patients but to our reputations too.

He would write down the requirements on a small scrap of folded paper and walk over to the next block of the hospital only to reappear the next day with a day’s medicine for each one of his beneficiaries that would keep their hearts and hopes ticking.

How he managed to garner funds for this kind of work was beyond our understanding but he was always a beacon of hope for anyone unfortunate enough to fall sick with no one to turn to.

He would always tell me that he was only a social worker of the Jamat-e-Islami-e-Hind which had entrusted him with what he was doing under the president ship of Altaf Ahmed, another silent toiler for the cause of communal harmony and service to the downtrodden, sans communal barriers.

Ghulam Hussain would not only look after the material and medical needs of poor patients but would also visit them after their operations and console them through their periods of anxiety and apprehension if they were seriously ill.

His reputation as an honest and sincere worker had grown so much that many rich and well to do people would immediately agree to extend financial help to needy patients if it was routed through him. In the unfortunate event of the deaths of any destitute in the city he would be the first one to arrive at the scene and arrange for the last rites fully in accordance with the person’s religious affiliations.

That he never saw human life on the basis of baser considerations becomes evident from the fact that once during communal clashes that briefly tore asunder the harmony of our City, he stood between an armed group of Muslims and two young Hindu boys who had been cornered.

He told the threatening goons in no uncertain terms that they would have to first kill him before laying their hands on the two helpless boys. Knowing who he was, they quietly dispersed into the lanes and alleys without a word of argument with him.

His association with the K. R. and Cheluvamba hospitals continued till his own end.

On the sixth of this month when he perhaps for the first time realised that his own end was near, he took his assistant Faiyaz Ahmed to the RMO and introduced him as the man who would henceforth continue his work. Just four day after this, Ghulam Hussain was no more, having died as quietly as he had lived and worked.

The measure of this very poor and modest man’s greatness can be gauged from the fact that at his funeral there was no space for all the mourners to stand in the mosque. The prayer had to be conducted in a big playground alongside. All this, while he himself was perhaps standing in surprise with his head bowed before his maker to get his rightful due.

(With inputs from Prof Riaz Ahmed and Dr Irfan Ahmed Riazi)

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

A picture is worth a thousand buses (and autos)

13 September 2012

On the day the city bus terminal at “Majestic”, aka Kempe Gowda bus station, at Subhashnagar in Bangalore wore what tomorrow morning’s newspapers will call a “deserted look”, autorickshaws whizzed around K.R. Market  as if they owned the roads, all thanks to the strike by KSRTC employees demanding a hike in wage.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

How ‘trial by media’ turned into media on trial

13 September 2012

Is it a good thing that the Supreme Court of India has not announced clearcut guidelines for media coverage of court cases? Or has it opened the floodgates by introducing a “neturalising device” that underlines the right of the accused to seek postponement of coverage on a case-by-case basis?

By introducing a “constitutional principle” has the judiciary appropriated to itself the power of the legislature to make law? And by giving credence to the complaints of corporates, has the SC sacrificed the interests of faceless and voiceless millions seeking justice and guidance from the top court?


The Tribune, Chandigarh: Thoughtless curbs

The Supreme Court judgment that courts can defer media coverage of a case for a short period if there is a danger to an individual’s right to fair trial will curb freedom of the Press, limit the people’s right to know and unnecessarily encourage litigation. Growing complaints of “trial by media” had prompted Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia to initiate a discussion on framing guidelines for court reporting….

There is a growing tendency in the judiciary as well as the executive to curb free speech. The Allahabad High Court banned all media reporting of troop movements after a news report hinted at a coup attempt. The government recently gagged social media sites on the pretext of restoring order. The arrest of a West Bengal professor for circulating a cartoon, the removal of cartoons from school textbooks and the slapping of a sedition case against a cartoonist for disrespecting the national emblem are other instances of executive intolerance of dissent. Vague judgments like the one in the Sahara case will only fuel this tendency.


Deccan Herald, Bangalore: Gag on media

A fresh threat to the right to free speech and expression, which has been sanctified by the Constitution, has come from an unlikely place, the Supreme Court of India, which has in the past protected and promoted it as a basic entitlement of citizens. Its judgement empowering courts to ban reporting of hearings in cases where there is a perceived chance of interference in free and fair trial amounts to muzzling media freedom. It needs to be opposed like all other assaults on the functioning on the media, which are becoming frequent now.

The court has propounded a  ‘constitutional principle’  which would allow aggrieved parties to seek postponement of the publication of hearings if they are seen to be prejudicial to the administration of justice. But this is disguising an unfair restriction as a constitutional doctrine, creating a devious device to undermine a basic right.


The Indian Express: Lines of control

This “doctrine of postponement” of reporting is meant to be a preventive measure, rather than a punitive one, and is intended to balance the right of free speech with the right to a fair trial. The courts, the SC said, will evaluate each appeal carefully, guided by considerations of necessity and proportionality. However, the very outlining of the principle, in effect, leaves journalism at the mercy of the high court, rather than being internally regulated with better editorial gatekeeping.


The Hindu: Don’t compromise open justice

The Supreme Court’s judgment justifying a temporary ban on the publication of court proceedings in certain cases is likely to have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press and the very idea of an open trial…. Indeed, by emphasising the right of an aggrieved person to seek postponement of media coverage of an ongoing case by approaching the appropriate writ court, there is a danger that gag orders may become commonplace. At a minimum, the door has been opened to hundreds and thousands of additional writs — a burden our legal system is unprepared to handle — filed by accused persons with means.


Mint: Judgment and some worries

While the court prescribed tests of reasonableness, among others, on deciding issues of postponement, time is of the essence for media and citizens dependent on it for information. It is not far-fetched to presume that during this period of stasis, reporters and editors, can be arm-twisted into submission. The judgement whittles down an already embattled freedom available to the Press. It will add psychological pressure and uncertainty in an already difficult environment.


Business Standard: Tilting the balance

Tuesday’s judgment has done is to tilt the balance in favour of litigants seeking court interventions — which might well result in the imposition of such gag orders on the media. To that extent, the apex court’s order is prone to misuse…. The legal process (of deferement) is certain to cast an adverse impact on the freedom of the media and undermine the people’s right to know about such cases before the court.

Instead of paving the way for such curbs, it would perhaps make more sense if the courts took upon themselves the responsibility of allowing independent and comprehensive electronic coverage of court cases that both the people and the media can freely access for information or reportage. That would be a more effective way of ensuring that the coverage of court proceedings does not create the risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trials.


The Times of India: Chilling effect

The bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia came up with an alternative approach to maintaining the balance between free speech and fair trial. Drawing upon the contempt law, the apex court devised a judicial power to order the postponement of publication as a last resort. Even this, however, may negatively impact the salutary principle that trials be held in public, as powerful defendants could routinely invoke such postponement orders….  The media is anyway a heterogeneous entity and the right of journalists to cover court proceedings is an essential attribute of a fair trial.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Corruption, religion, spirituality & the Dalai Lama

13 September 2012

The Dalai Lama at a seminar organised by the Ramakrishna mission in New Delhi on Tuesday, quoted in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“I recently went to Ladakh and someone told me, for example, if the government gives them Rs 100, only Rs 20 reaches them. Rest 80 per cent disappears.

“This is very sad.

“Indians are religious-minded people and they fear God.

“It is a big contradiction. On the one hand they pray in the morning and through the day they do corruption. This is not done. When you deny God and deny spirituality then at least one can understand.”

Read the full article: Dalai rues mix of graft & prayer

Also read: Do our gods sanction our silly games?

Are Indians endemically corrupt as a people?

India’s most secular religion has to be corruption

Ram Guha: India, not a rising or an emerging power

Kannada Prabha owner among top political donors

11 September 2012

Mobile phone turned media baron and member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, continues to be a prominent donor to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, according to a list compiled by the asociation for democratic reforms (ADR).

Chandrasekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha elected with BJP support, who owns the Malayalam news channel Asianet News and the Kannada news channel Suvarna News besides the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha, donated Rs 10 crore to the BJP in 2009-10 through two Corporation Bank cheques issued in the name of Asianet V Holding Pvt Ltd (address: Jay Chambers,  Service Road, Mumbai).

Simultaneously, Asianet TV Holdings Pvt Ltd operating from an identical address (address: Jay Chambers, service road, Vile Parle, Mumbai 400057) donated Rs 2.5 crore to the Congress in 2009-10 through a Corporation Bank (M.G. Road, Bangalore) cheque.

The general electoral trust of  salt-to-cellphone major Tatas, the Gujarat power company Torrent and Bharati electoral trust of the telecom company Airtel top the list of donors. The documents were procured by ADR under the right to information (RTI).

Also read: Media baron donates most to parties after Birlas

Everybody loves to claim credit for the 2G expose

10 media barons in India Today power list of 50

CHURUMURI POLL: Who could be NDA’s PM?

10 September 2012

The BJP’s race of aspiring (and perspiring) prime ministerial contenders is growing long—and wagging. On top of the pile, as always, is the “former future prime minister” himself, Lalchand Kishinchand Advani, who as the default “elder statesman” still fancies his chances should the NDA end up ahead of the UPA in the next general election.

Then there is Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who, through his artfully constructed PR initiatives in the last few years, has left no one in any doubt that he will well and truly be in the great race in Delhi after he has wrapped his third election victory in his home-state (provided the long arm of the law doesn’t trip him in his ambitious path).

Through the boycott of Parliament over “Coalgate” and through his magisterial demeanour on TV, the Rajya Sabha leader Arun Jaitley has conveyed that he is quietly climbing up the greasy pole, and that there might be very helpful people to lend him support from below like Bihar chief minister and NDA partner, Nitish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar himself has delivered many thinly disguised messages in the past few months, but two statements stand out: the NDA’s next leader has to be “secular” (which means you-know-who is out) and that he himself is not in the race because he believes the biggest party in the NDA should get the shot (which means you-know-who is whom he wants).

To this list, a new name has been entered by another NDA partner, Shiv Sena “supremo” Bal Thackeray:

“At least today, there is only one intelligent and brilliant person. And that is Sushma Swaraj. She will be a superb choice for the prime minister’s post. She is deserving, (and) an intelligent lady. She will work very well.”

On top of which, there is the BJP president Nitin Gadkari, not to forget Rajnath Singh.

So, who amongst the lot might be best suited to head the NDA should an opening arise? Who amongst the lot might have national resonance? Or, as the Congress alleges, is the NDA counting its chickens before they are hatched?

Also read: ‘The only person to blame for BJP loss is Advani

Defeat of BJP is a defeat of BJP brand of journalism

Even a paper tiger roars when ship starts leaking

Not quite the Hero who’d say ‘It’s a boy thing’

10 September 2012

On Magadi Road in Bangalore on Sunday, an artist gives the final touches to an idol of Ganesha, astride on a motorcycle, shelya flying in the air, as Ganesh Chathurthi looms on the calendar.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: At 8th cross in Vontikoppal, a 24-day extravaganza

One child per family; one Ganesha per colony?

When Gajanana meets JCB on Chowpatty

‘We are really guests at the dinner party of life’

10 September 2012

The British academic and philosopher A.C. Grayling in conversation with Srijana Mitra Das, in The Times of India:

In turbulent times, can people achieve a state of reason?

An individual really has to sign up for trying to live the considered life, very much a response to the great Socratic demand to be reflective about life. I like to remember what the Greek writer Plutarch said in an essay about the dinner of the seven wise men – it’s always men in ancient times – where he talks about two sages going to a dinner party. One says to the other, we know what the duty of the host is, provide the food and wine, but what is the duty of a guest? The other says – to be a good conversationalist.

This means he should be informed, thoughtful and he organises his thinking, so he can have a point of view, explain and defend it – and that he’s a very good listener. He can hear what the other person is saying, which is quite an art. To be informed and attentive requires us to educate ourselves. This doesn’t only mean book education but to remember that wisdom is free and belongs to everyone. We can use wisdom in the conversation of mankind because we are really guests at the dinner party of life. We should be people who are such good conversationalists and listeners.

Read the full interview: A.C. Grayling

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Khushwant Singh: 11 steps to a long, happy life

If it works for the young man, it sure works for us

What’s in a name? A train service? A megastore?

6 September 2012

Not a new logo for the Bangalore metro, just construction work happening for the railway project outside the German shop-for-shopkeers in Yeshwanthpur.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete namma Metro portfolio

Writer owns up to breaking lamp, 68 years later

6 September 2012

From Star of Mysore:

Mysore, September 6: People usually like to forget the mistakes they committed in the past and would seldom want to recall them. But here is a rare example of a noble soul who not only confessed of his crime committed out of childish naughtiness but also punished himself.

The noble soul is litterateur Dr N. Ratna, a resident of the city and former director of the all Indian institute of speech and hearing (AIISH).

He recently wrote a letter to the Mysore city corporation (MCC), confessing to his “crime” of smashing the lamp globes of streetlights when he was a boy, about 68 years ago.

Dr Ratna says the guilt had been pricking his conscience ever since and he wanted to compensate for the loss he had incurred to public property.

Taking the occasion of the 150th anniversary of MCC as the right opportunity to absolve himself, Dr. Ratna wrote in his letter that though he had lived in Mysore for half the number of years of the 150th anniversary and had served the city in many ways, he intended to punish himself for smashing the light domes by paying a sum of Rs. 2,500 to the MCC.

The letter enclosed a cheque for the amount.

He also added that he was prepared to undergo any punishment that the MCC meted out to him for his “crime”.

Is slamming PM, government ‘yellow journalism’?

5 September 2012

The Washington Post newspaper has put in print just about everything that an ordinary Indian thinks about prime minister Manmohan Singh as he presides majestically over scam after earth (and space) shattering scam:

“An honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat (who) has slowly given way to a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.”

The people quoted by the paper (including the historian Ramachandra Guha and the PM’s ex-media advisor Sanjaya Baru) have called him a “tragic figure”—fatally handicapped by timidity, complacency and intellectually dishonesty—who has transformed himself from an object of respect to one of ridicule, and is in danger of going down in history as a “failure”.

Not surprisingly, for a government which thought Time magazine did not have the right to call Manmohan Singh an “underachiever”, there are calls for an apology from the Washington Post. Ambika Soni, the information and broadcasting minister who was once part of Sanjay Gandhi‘s charmed circle, has called Washington Post‘s reporting “yellow journalism”.

“We have our apprehension to a foreign daily publishing something baseless on our prime minister… This is what we call as yellow journalism,” Soni said.

“How can a US daily take the matter such lightly and publish something regarding the prime minister of another country. I will speak to the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and government officials and definitely do something over this issue,” she added.

Really? Is this yellow journalism or legitimate journalism?

You can jump 1.74m but only if you think you can

4 September 2012

At the Paralympics in London, G.H. Nagaraje Gowa aka Girish Hosanagara Nagaraje Gowda opens India’s medals tally with a silver in the men’s high jump finals.

Photograph: courtesy Getty via The Wall Street Journal

How much is one divided by zero? Don’t ask…

4 September 2012

The chairman of the press council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, wrote an article in The Hindu on September 3 on education.

Titled ‘Professor, heal thyself’, it contained this paragraph:

The level of intellect of many teachers is low, because many of them have not been appointed on merit but on extraneous considerations. To give an example, when I was a judge of Allahabad High Court I had a case relating to a service matter of a mathematics lecturer in a university in Uttar Pradesh.

Since the teacher was present in court I asked him how much one divided by zero is equal to.

He replied, “Infinity.”

I told him that his answer was incorrect, and it was evident that he was not even fit to be a teacher in an intermediate college. I wondered how had he become a university lecturer (In mathematics it is impermissible to divide by zero. Hence anything divided by zero is known as an indeterminate number, not infinity).

Not surprisingly, two wise readers of The Hindu have corrected the press council chief through letters to the editor:

In his article “Professor, teach thyself” (Sept. 3), chairman of the Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, has cited an incident that took place when he was a judge of the Allahabad High Court. He says he chided a mathematics lecturer, whose case he was hearing, and told him that he was not fit to be even a teacher because he (the lecturer) said one divided by zero was infinity.

Justice Katju claims that anything divided by zero is indeterminate. He is wrong and the lecturer was right because any non-zero number divided by zero is infinity. It is zero divided by zero that is indeterminate.

While I can understand the plight of the poor lecturer who did not have the courage to correct the judge hearing his case, I am appalled at the timidity of “some of the top senior academicians” of Jawaharlal Nehru University, to whom Justice Katju narrated the incident. I wonder why they let his fallacy pass unchallenged. Justice Katju must seek out the mathematics lecturer and apologise to him.

Kanan Vihari Jaswal, Noida

I would like to digress from the primary point made in the article — with which I completely agree — and talk about the mathematics lecturer’s answer. “Infinity” is indeed the correct answer to the question posed by Justice Katju to the lecturer. 0/0 is indeterminate because it can take multiple values depending on the limit being calculated (for example 2x/x; x->0 is 2 , 5x/x; x->0 is 5) whereas any finite number divided by 0 (eg 1/0) is an impermissible operation, which is just another way of saying that the result is infinite (an absurdly large number).

Siddharth Tiwari, Kanpur


Also read: ‘I have a poor opinion of most media people’

Editors’ Guild of India takes on Press Council chief

The kleptocratic republic of India that is Bharat

3 September 2012

T.N. Ninan in the Business Standard:

“The coal scandal began with revelations about the Manmohan Singh government, then expanded in scope to take in the Vajpayee government, and has now become a sweeping saga that lays bare the contemporary Indian state.

“Not to put too fine a point on it, we are running a kleptocracy, one where the majesty of the law is used repeatedly to favour the growing tribe of crony capitalists, until a crisis erupts and all bets come off….

“Corruption silenced telecom, it froze orders for defence equipment, it flared up over gas, and now it might black out the mining and power sectors. Manmohan Singh’s fatal flaw — his willingness to tolerate corruption all around him while keeping his own hands clean — has led us into a cul de sac, with the country able to neither tolerate rampant corruption nor root it out.

“How much of today’s policy paralysis and economic slowdown are because the state has been captured? And how much of that is a consequence of the prime minister’s Faustian bargain with the kleptocracy?”

Read the full article: Dr Faustus‘s Price