Posts Tagged ‘Tipu Sultan’

Did R-Day Tipu tableau insult Kodavas & Jains?

28 January 2014

Photo Caption

ARUN PADKI writes: 65 years after to the day when the Constitution of India was adopted paving the way for the birth of Republic of India, has the government of Karnataka undermined the spirit of our democracy by displaying a tableau of Tipu Sultan?

Knowing very well that the antecedents of Tipu are hazy and not one that could be showcased as a symbol of the State or Karnataka’s pride, the government of Karnataka’s decision to make him the theme of its tableau at this year’s Republic Day parade is not in good taste.

The fact that this tableau was chosen over Kodagu-the land of warriors tableau is only rubbing salt over their wounds.

The contribution of Kodavas to this country is immense and on this community Tipu committed atrocities unimaginable that befits a king. Only a warlord or one with extreme perversion and hatred could do these heinous acts of murder, maiming and forceful conversion.

The other people who suffered similar atrocities during Tipu’s regime were the people from Coastal Karnataka, mainly Catholics and the people of Malabar who were forced to flee to a friendlier King, the Raja of Travancore and the rest staying back, after accepting a religion forced onto them.

The government could have chosen from and done justice to the citizens of the state and country by showing Karnataka in true spirit: The splendour of Mysore Dasara in the 18th century or the Saavira Kambada Basadi (thousand-pillared temple), a Jain temple that is spell binding.

Since Dasara has its own platform to exhibit’s the splendour, this can be given a miss.  As a true Mysorean, even I would not complain since we are a State with lots of diversity. One State, many worlds…indeed!

For centuries Jains in Karnataka have given more to the society than one can imagine.  If the monuments they have built, their generosity and the benign leaders of the past are one aspect, the education institutions of today and the charity work they are doing in today’s world is another.

They do not ask for favours from Government unlike others although the the UPA government has conferred them the title of ‘minority’ in an election year.

Tipu’s contribution to culture, literature, Kannada language and more importantly secularism is always questioned.  Kannada was replaced with Farsi language.  As far as making him a freedom fighter is concerned, biased historians have compromised on his correspondences with the French to overthrow the British.

The Government of Karnataka has played dirty politics by displaying a tableau of Tipu with the elections in mind.  It is for the people who are the target of appeasement here to understand the facts of about Tipu and not get swayed by these short term gimmicks.  Mutual respect and equality is important than being appeased or tolerated.

And today, Kodavas and Jains, being small communities, have become inconsequential to the politicians as they are not a vote bank.

Also read: Oldest book in President’s house is on Tipu Sultan

Should a University be named after Tipu Sultan?

CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

‘Most Hindus and most Muslims are communal’

Did the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ really tame a tiger?

Tipu Sultan and the truth about 3,000 Brahmins

Tipu Sultan left his last meal unfinished’

A BIAL by any other name is still a hideous KGIAL

14 December 2013


Some of India’s most inanimate public structures have seen massive sex-change operations in the post-colonial age: Lady Willingdon‘s park became Lodi Gardens in New Delhi; Queen Victoria terminus became Chattrapati Shivaji terminus Bombay.

No such complicated medical procedures were required for “hi-tech” Bangaloreans, where the Bangalore international airport (BIAL) smoothly (well, nearly smoothly) transitioned into the Kempe Gowda international airport (KGIAL) in the 50th week of the year of The Lord 2013.

BIAL was termed the “most underdesigned, underconnected, woeful piece of infrastructure that is the face of new India to the world” by Janagrahaa founder Ramesh Ramanathan when it opened five and a half years years ago.

Another critic said:

“The entire [BIAL] airport looks like a block of hollow concrete bricks. Add to it flawed design and bad colour combination and it looks positively aesthetically challenged… The graphic inside gives you the feel of an old government office built without any architectural sense….

“You could easily mistake the first floor of the airport for the Forum Mall. I did not see anything that reflects Indian architecture, anything that represents our core values; or which tells the world that we are no longer a developing nation.”

Sure enough, a joint house committee of the Karnataka legislature too came to similar conclusion: it said the airport was not of international standards and slammed the the multinational corporations for “faulty” design and construction, and “poor quality of workmanship”.

The good news is that BIAL,which was now part of the GVK group after Zurich Airport pulled out,decided to do something about it.

The bad news is the new, expanded, revamped airport looks just as hideous, with nearly no local motif; just a large industrial shed which through it’s increasingly frequent change of ownership gives the faint whiff of a scam no one wants to catch.

Meanwhile, GVK wants to sell a part of its holding. Get the drift?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: 5+1 questions for Ramesh Ramanathan, R.K. Misra & co

PPP: where public is the puppy of the private

After all, an airport doesn’t open/close every day

Us and them: bricks and mortar vs click and mouse

CHURUMURI POLL: Bangalore airport, a disaster?

Wodeyar got more than what he leaves behind

11 December 2013

Photo Caption

Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar (third from left) with his wife Pramodadevi (third from right), and his sisters (file photo)

As Mysore observes a spontaneous bandh, as plebs and celebs spill platitudes, as newspapers and TV channels plunge into panegyrics, Dr Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi of the department of history at the Karnataka state open University provides a much-needed critique of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the last scion of the erstwhile royal family of Mysore, in The Indian Express:

“Wodeyar’s more notable public preoccupation in the last decade had been the legacy of his family. He spiritedly contested a script written by Lingadevaru Halemane, a Marxist playwright and linguist, which was to be used for a “sound and light” show at the Mysore palace.

“Wodeyar contended that his family’s history and accomplishments ought to be highlighted as the singular factor in creating modern Mysore.

“He demanded that everything else, including the contributions of people such as Sir M Visvesvaraya or the history of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, be deleted from this hour-long show. Halemane’s script was altered several times but Wodeyar wasn’t satisfied.

“Even though the “sound and light” show has been occasionally held, it hasn’t become a permanent feature at the Mysore palace. Wodeyar’s resistance has been a determining factor.

“Wodeyar’s inheritance was immense. His legacy isn’t. His royal counterparts from northern Indian states have had greater success both in politics and especially in business. Such success may have eluded him but in Mysore he remained a simple, decent but significant presence, especially during the annual Dasara celebrations.”

Read the full article: Mysore ‘last prince’

Also read: Tell the full, fair, undistorted story: Wodeyar

Srikantadatta Wodeyar: part of Mysore’s royal history or not?

Oldest book in President’s house is on Tipu Sultan

14 June 2013




With Pranab Mukherjee, an acknowledged man of letters, moving into the Rashtrapati Bhavan as President, the library is being dusted and brought back into shape. And the oldest book in the collection, dating back to the year 1800, is on the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, or Tipu Sultaun as he is spelt on the cover.

The book, by Lt Col Alexander Beatson is a narrative of the operations of the army under the command of Lt Gen George Harris that resulted in the overthrow of Tipu and the discovery of his body at “Watergate”. The book was prepared for the attention of the chairman and directors of the East India Company.


The President’s library also boasts of an 1810 volume that contains “historical sketches of the South of India” in an attempt to trace the history of “Mysoor”, from “the origin of the Hindoo government of that state to the extinction of the Mohammedan dynasty in 1799″, with the downfall and death of Tipu Sultan.


‘If there’re no trains for Muslims and Christians…’

24 April 2013

When the Union minister for minority affairs, K. Rehman Khan, announced last November a move to set up five central universities across the country where 50% of the seats would be reserved for the minorities, it quickly became an inter-communal debate, with various BJP functionaries in Karnataka joining the fray.

Ahead of assembly elections in Karnataka, the move also served to add to the stereotype.

Mohamed Shareef, writing in Deccan Herald, helps break it somewhat:

“Some people of Mysore, under the influence of vested interests, have demanded a separate university for the community and that it has to be named  ‘Tipu University’. The very idea of a separate university for Muslims is not acceptable because Muslims do not have any separate identity in this country.

“All Indians, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, belong to the one and the same common identity and heritage. Foreign religions have been accepted and respected in this country because of the secular and broadminded attitude of the Hindu majority.

“In one way all Indians are Hindus because Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life.

“Different cultures and ceremonies certainly add colour and vibrancy to our social fabric but the over-emphasis of the diversity is useful only from a tourist point of view. The more diversity we can boast of, the more tourists we can attract.  Apart from these utilitarian points of view, the religious sentiments of the people of any nation has to be accommodated in the broader interests of national unity and national identity.

“We do not run separate trains for Muslims and Christians because the function of a train is to transport people and not to express religious identities.  Similarly a university is a place to receive education and to conduct research and it is not a forum for expressing religious views. We do not have a separate physics teacher for Muslims because the learning of physics follows only one method of science as followed all over the world by the scientific community.

“It is high time we kept our religious sentiments away from the mainstream of the civil society. “

Read the full article: Is there a Hindu or Muslim train?

Also read: Should a University be named after Tipu Sultan?

Tipu Sultan and the truth about 3,000 Brahmins

CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

Time to save S.L. Bhyrappa from Hindutva brigade

Time to save S.L. Bhyrappa from Hindutva bigots?

3 March 2013

For an “infuriatingly good” wordsmith whose 21 works fetched him the Saraswati Samman and Sahitya Akademi awards, it is an odd twist of fate that, at 81, the Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa finds himself reduced to a Hindutva mascot, who supports bans on conversion and cow slaughter, and thinks “Tipu Sultan is a religious fanatic rather than a national hero”.

The turning point, suggests the Booker Prize-winning writer Aravind Adiga, in an article in Outlook* magazine, was Aavarana.

“For decades, Bhyrappa had said that an artist ought not to preach. In 2007, he broke his own rule. Aavarana (The Concealing), though technically his 20th novel, is a polemic—a list of all the sins that Muslims have allegedly wreaked on Hindus and their culture for generations. U.R. Anantha Murthy criticised the novel, and Bhyrappa entered into a rancorous public debate with him (the two men have a long history of attacking each other). A bestseller in Karnataka, Aavarana earned the aging Bhyrappa a cult following of young, rabidly right-wing readers.

“He seems to enjoy his new role as spokesperson for Hindutva causes, and recently urged the government to scrap its plan to name a university after Tipu Sultan. The result is that the term Aavarana now describes what has happened to S.L. Bhyrappa himself: swallowed by his weakest novel, passed over for the Jnanpith (the traditional crown for the bhasha writer), and in danger of having a fanbase composed entirely of bigots.

“Anantha Murthy and Bhyrappa are the opposite poles of the modern Kannada novel. If one is its Flaubert—the author of a compact, exquisite body of work, left-liberal in its sympathies—the other is its Balzac—prolific, unruly, and right-wing in his politics. If India can absorb an Islamocentric poet like Iqbal, it can accommodate S.L. Bhyrappa. Anantha Murthy may be the better writer, but Bhyrappa evokes more affection in those who speak Kannada.

“More than twenty years ago, as a student in Sydney, Australia, I met one of that city’s richest doctors, a man from coastal Karnataka. When he compared the state of Australia with that of India, the doctor felt depressed; at such moments he flicked through an old copy of Parva that he had brought to Sydney. Seeing how Bhyrappa had modernized the Mahabharatha gave the doctor hope that India, too, could become a prosperous country—without losing its culture. For nearly five decades, S.L. Bhyrappa’s richly imagined and deeply felt novels have helped his readers tide over difficult moments in their lives.

“Now it is time for them to return the favour and rescue this great Indian writer’s legacy from the biggest threat it faces: Bhyrappa himself.”

* Disclosures apply

Read the full article: In search of a new ending

Also read: Anantha Murthy, our greatest living writer?

A 21st century Adiga‘s appeal to Kannadigas

S.L. Bhyrappa versus U.R. Anantha Murthy?

Should a University be named after Tipu Sultan?

8 January 2013

There are many ways to guess if an election is round the corner, but a sureshot signal is when our politicians gird up their loins, slap their thighs and fan the flames of communalism.

So, therefore, Andhra Pradesh is abuzz with the arrest of the hate speech delivered by Akbaruddin Owaisi, an MLA of the Majlis party which has a long track record of nuisance making in Hyderabad. So, people are dying in Maharashtra’s Dhule district because of an altercation that broke out on the streetside.

And so, the row over the proposed Tipu Sultan University in Srirangapatna.

In November last year, the Union minister for minority affairs, K. Rehman Khan, said the Moulana Azad education foundation, under his Ministry, was setting up five central universities across the country where 50% of the seats would be reserved for the minorities.

One of those five would come up in the temple-town and island-kingdom of Srirangpatnam, 18 km from Mysore, which was home to the 18th century ruler.

In December, Rehman Khan, who hails from Karnataka, reiterated his intentions, and said there was no question of changing the name of the University.

“There is no patriot like Tipu. There are instances where kings sacrificed kingdom for the sake of state but Tipu sacrificed his sons. He was the first person to coin the word Karnataka,” he said, according to an UNI report.

And, as naturally as night follows day, a right royal “literary” row has broken out—one that has been witnessed before—between the usual suspects. In one corner are the fundamentalists who have a pathological hatred for anything with a non-Hindu name, and in the other corner are the secular-fundamentalists who suspect a BJP-VHP-RSS-Bajrang Dal hand in all such opposition.

There’s even an online petition campaign that is going around, against the “mass murderer, Islamic extremist and traitor of India“.

Question: Should the central University be named after Tipu Sultan or not?


Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

‘Most Hindus and most Muslims are communal’

Did the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ really tame a tiger?

Tipu Sultan and the truth about 3,000 Brahmins

Tipu Sultan left his last meal unfinished’

Who the hell wants a Mysore-B’lore bullet train?

30 April 2012

YOGESH DEVARAJ writes: Recently, there have been news reports about plans to introduce a “bullet train” between Mysore and Bangalore.

My question to the honourable industries minister and the State government is: why? Do we really need a bullet train between the State’s premier cities, or for that matter in any part of Karnataka?

As a Mysorean and a train passenger between Mysore and Bangalore for more than 25 years, as one who is aware of this rail segment’s history, understand its needs and track the progress of the infrastructure, my belief is we definitely don’t need the bullet train.

Passengers and commuters have watched with dismay their demands being put on the backburner by the railway ministry and State government for years. To see the talk of a “bullet train” is at once revealing and disappointing.

The conversion of the track (which was laid in 1882) from metre gauge to broad gauge took 14 years to complete but even when that was done, all the State got was a single line. Gauge conversion was budgeted in 1978 and completed in 1992.

C.K. Jaffer Sharief as railway minister takes credit for the gauge conversion but never owned up the failure to get the second lane. It made economical and common sense to lay a double track at the time of conversion than adding a second lane at a later stage.

In the last 20 years, several governments (both at Centre and State) have come and gone but very little progress has taken place in this segment. The doubling of the 140 km line is progressing at a snail’s pace with only 65 km complete (55 km between Bangalore and Channapatna, and 10 km between Mysore and Naganahalli).

There is plenty more to be done: Only a third of the land required for the project has been acquired. The single line bridge in Srirangapatna over the Cauvery river needs to be demolished and replaced with two new bridges. Tipu Sultan‘s armoury needs to shifted. Etcetera.

On top of all this, there are several demands crying for intervention. Like electrifying the track; like setting up additional ticket counters (right now buying tickets in both stations is a nightmare); like establishing a railway medical college (was proposed in 2009 Rail Budget but so far no progress, not even foundation stone laid).

Instead of addressing all these important and urgent issues, which impact thousands of passengers and commuters every day, the State government is talking of a “bullet train”, which will only serve a limited few because of the high cost involved.

The State government should push the railway ministry (we have one of our own K.H. Muniyappa as minister of state) to get the pending works completed instead of embarking on something which we don’t need and can’t afford. At least not at this stage.

‘Most Hindus and most Muslims are communal’

23 April 2012

Even as his observation that “90% of Indians are fools” flatters the other 10%, Justice Markandey Katju, the retired judge of the Supreme Court turned chairman of the press council of India, offers a ten-point defence in the Indian Express.

Defence #9:

“Most Hindus are communal, and most Muslims are also communal.

“As I have repeatedly pointed out, they were not communal before 1857. Before 1857, Hindus used to celebrate Eid, and Muslims used to celebrate Holi and Diwali. Muslim rulers, like the nawab of Avadh, Tipu Sultan et al used to organise Ram Lila, give grants to Hindu temples, etc.

“It was after suppressing the Mutiny that the British decided that the only way to control India was by divide and rule. Hence a deliberate policy was laid down by the British to generate hatred between Hindus and Muslims.

“All communal riots started after 1857. The English collector would secretly call the local panditji, give him money, and ask him to start speaking against Muslims, and he would also call the local Maulvi secretly and give him money to speak against Hindus. This poison was systematically spread year after year, decade after decade, until it culminated in the Partition of 1947 .

“Even now, there are powerful vested interests promoting communal hatred. The truth is that 99 per cent people of all communities are good, but it will take a lot of time to remove the communal virus from our body politic. Today the situation is that whenever any bomb blasts take place, immediately Muslim individuals or groups are blamed for it.”

Read the full article: Ten ways of being foolish

Also read: Tipu Sultan and the truth about 3,000 Brahmins’

Are 90% of Indians “mentally backward”?

Welcome to Kempe Gowda international airport?

6 April 2012

In the simmering caste cauldron that is Karnataka, a nice dollop of masala has been added by the reported decision of the Union civil aviation ministry to name the Bangalore international airport at Devanahalli after Kempe Gowda, the purported “founder” of the city of baked beans in the 16th century.

Coming as the confirmation does from the mouth of the Union external affairs minister, S.M. Krishna, and apparently on the Congress leader’s recommendation, all the requisite signals will be received by all concerned. The civil aviation ministry decision, however, awaits the approval of the Union cabinet.

Is the decision to name the airport after Kempe Gowda, who was born near Yelahanka, the right one? Should it have been named after Tipu Sultan, who was born in Devanahalli? Or some other worthy—like the 12th century Basavanna or the 20th century visionary, Sir M. Vivesvaraya?

Should it have stayed as BIAL since it is neither in Bangalore nor very international? Or should it have just been named after Rajiv Gandhi to erase all confusion?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda

CHURUMURI POLL: Bangalore airport: a disaster?

After all, an airport doesn’t open or close every day…


I have seen the future in Hyderabad and it works

Country cuisine crashlands at new airport

Tipu Sultan & the truth about 3,000 Brahmins

25 April 2011

Supreme Court judge, Justice Markandey Katju, has used the example of Tipu Sultan to illustrate the point that Hindu-Muslim relations suffer from the rewriting of history to project Muslim rulers as intolerant and bigoted, whereas there was ample evidence to show that the opposite was true.

From a news report in The Hindu:

“Justice Katju said the myth-making against Muslim rulers, which was a post-1857 British project, had been internalised in India over the years. Thus, Mahmud Ghazni‘s destruction of the Somnath temple was known but not the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples. The judge… buttressed his arguments with examples quoted from D.N. Pande‘s History in the Service of Imperialism.

“Dr Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during Tipu’s rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam.

“The only authentication Dr Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference.

“Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri’s book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.”

Read the full article: Muslim leaders deliberately projected as intolerant

Also read: ‘Tipu Sultan left his last meal unfinished’

Did the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ really tame tiger?

CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

External reading: Girish Karnad, S.L. Bhyrappa, Tipu Sultan and others

Why our Nagarahole scores over Ranthambore

11 October 2009

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: A regal looking crested serpent eagle with its beautiful yellow ringed eyes flies silently, almost in stealth, and perches itself on an overhanging branch of a mathi tree, its gaze intent as ever.

A giant Malabar squirrel, with its handsome bushy tail made of glorious russet and brown moves around on the long intertwined branches up on a large canopy of green, high up from the lush green grass covered ground, making a range of metallic calls that seem to carry into the distance.

A family of babblers flit around with their brown tails acting like little aerilons, slowly moving up and down in complete synchronization with their short bursts of take off and landing in the vicinity of a roadside lantana bush with its tiny flowers made of pink.

The swoosh of the bamboo and the swaying of the branches; the wind-swept woods and their rain-swept luxuriance; little flowers of red, blue and yellow glistening in pure freshness at the tip of tender, lithe stalks that grow around a roadside water hole; the grey-black asphalt of the road that snakes through this halo of natural magnificence, a wonderful contrast to a million shades of green.

As I drive past the Murkal area of the Nagarahole National Park, the drone of my jeep intermingles with the sudden trumpeting of a massive tusker, chained to a tree in a state of serious musth.

I recognize him as one of the camp elephants.

Past the famous ‘Chirathe Bande’, a huge outcrop of black dolorite, on which a lucky few have seen a leopard stretched out at various times of the day; and past  Kolangere haadi (a tribal settlement), my jeep moves at a steady, slow 20 kmph clip.

My eyes dart to the right and left of the narrow road, in the hope of spotting something interesting. But then, drama is far off the agenda, as nothing, not even the regulation chital come into view.

Where have the elephants gone I wonder; at least they had to be around. Especially with the juicy grass swaying so temptingly by the roadside at this time of the year, soon after the rains. If not a big herd, at least a family of three; the mother, the calf and the aunt. Or a lone tusker. Foraging by the road. But on this day, nothing, no such usual life forms as I have come to bear witness on my innumerable drives into these jungles seem to exist.

I turn towards the Karmad road which eventually takes you into Kodagu, past the tiny village of Balele. The Karmad section of the Kalhalla range is flush with dense green bamboo jungle on either side of the gloriously isolated road, where not too many people venture, not necessarily out of a sense of fear but more because not too many people travel to Coorg from this end, save for those who happen to be resident planters in Balele.

Even on this road, or around it, on this day, not a creature seems to be around.

I’m lost in my solitude; slowly lowered into the depths of my thoughts, in complete isolation from all known forms of civilization; soaking in the sheer sense of seclusion.

I stop by a small bridge in the area as I have a done for so many years; the same bridge on which a big black bear had approached my jeep so closely, that it sniffed at the registration plate in front, a few months ago! I sit inside my vehicle, remembering the excitement that particular incident had created in my heart.

Soon, it is time to head back home. The time on my watch shows a little past six in the evening. As I engage my gear and began to move my jeep slowly, the birds have begun to chirp around. It is roosting time for them. And they are going through the moves, of finding their places to stretch out for the night.

As I touch the Murkal road which will eventually take me to the Veeranahosalli gate and out onto the Hunsur road, some 20 kms away, the jungle around me begins to close in. It is not really dark but grey. As I travel the stretch, I tell myself that this was one of those completely eventless days as far as wildlife sighting went. But then, to be in the jungle was a joy by itself, a bliss. Sightings or not.

And then it happened.

As I turned a regulation bend, I heard a soft thud.

A tiger landed right onto the road, just a few metres in front of my jeep’s grill!

Hugely built and immense, with paws that seemed so densely padded; and an imperial head that stamped a sense of unmistakable authority.

His handsome features glowed magically in the fast ensuing darkness, his tail twitched up and down, as he looked slightly startled by the suddenness of my arrival into his domain.

And then, he composed himself and gave me a look.

A kind of look that only the surest, the most confident, the most unperturbed and one of the greatest of living creatures can gather! “Oh, you’re one of those…mortally inadequate ones,” his expression seemed to convey!

I didn’t mind at all!

In fact I wanted to call out to him; to almost reach out; to want to make contact of the surrealistic kind; to somehow convey to him that I was one of those humans who held him in the highest honour; for the sheer phantasmagoric symmetry of his being as perhaps one of the most intuitive and inspired creations of god!

And then he began to move slowly into a thicket.

I almost said, ‘hey wait… a little while longer’. Moments later he was gone, the slight parting of the leafy undergrowth and its ever so slight stirring, the only indication that he had taken that route.

This is the magic of Nagarahole. The impossible improbability and the million possibilities. Complete hopelessness and a sense of ennui on a drive giving way to sheer heart stopping drama. All in an infinitesimal moment. Leaving you with the memory of a lifetime.

Unlike the more famous Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, and Kanha national parks in the north of India where foresters talk in terms of zones with names like B1, B2 and B3, with a ridiculous piece of paper that you have to pick determining which route you’ll take for the day; and where tigers have names like ‘Charger’ and ‘Chameli’s daughter’; and where tiger watching has been reduced to a pathetic, orchestrated ‘tamasha’ with hordes of well-heeled men and women and children paying through their up turned noses, and awaiting their turn in a convoy of jeeps in the midst of noxious diesel fumes to be finally presented with a pre-meditated ritual of seeing the big cat.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu (used for representation purposes only)

Also read: In Nagarahole, tigers are like city buses…

Poachers: forest guards :: Terrorists: Police

5 years = 1,825 days = 43,800 hours = The End?

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one on Rajnikant

Did Tipu Sultan, Tiger of Mysore, really tame a tiger?

Rama, Rama Rajya & Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

4 June 2009

He was 11 years old when he ascended the throne.

Mahatma Gandhi called him a “Raja Rishi”  (saintly king). Historians have compared him to emperor Ashoka. He is seen to have ushered in the golden age of carnatic music.

Yoga and Sanskrit learning took flight under him. Sir M. Visveswaraya was diwan under him. Under them, Mysore became the first State in the country to generate hydro-electric power; Bangalore the first City to have streetlights.

Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, or Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV to give his real name, was born 125 years ago on 4 June 1884.

Shyam Sundar Vattam reports in today’s Deccan Herald that a political party which has Lord Rama on its electoral lips hasn’t even bothered to remember the man whose kingdom has been described as Rama Rajya on his 125th anniversary. And this, while the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa is splurging untold millions in taking out advertisements on the completion of one year in office.


S.M. Krishna‘s gutless regime acquiesced to communalists and parochialists who blockaded Tipu Sultan‘s 200th death anniversary because he was alleged to be anti-Hindu if not anti-Kannada. What is the excuse of the great Hindu nationalists wearing their religion on their foreheads and fighting their elections with it?

Read the full article: State forgets Wadiyar anniversary

Photograph: courtesy Wikipedia

The King of Good Times rescues a very Old Monk

6 March 2009


ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: Something that Indians rever was on the auctioner’s block in the Big Apple last night: the personal effects of the most selfless human to have walked this soil in the 20th century.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi‘s glasses, watch, sandals….

The Mahatma’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi launched a bid to retrieve the national jewels. Prime minister Manmohan Singh wanted the treasures back at all cost. Television anchors were frothing at the mouth. Backroom negotiations were on to prevent the auction.

Now it was off, now it was on.

Finally, on Friday morning, came the good news that the King of Good Times “Dr” Vijay Mallya had successfully bid for the items. “The nation can be proud and happy that the items are with us,” culture minister Ambika Soni said, chest all puffed up some pride, on television.

The Indian Government procured the five personal articles through the services of Mallya, she said, as it could not bid directly because of a stay order of the Delhi High Court.

But pause a moment to reflect on the irony.

And then imagine tomorrow morning’s newspaper headlines if there were some truly ballsy tabloids in the country:

Mallya rescues Mahatma

King of Good Times bails out Old Monk

Liquor Magnate buys Gandhi Goodies

Beer Baron picks up Gandhi’s Glasses

And then ask yourself this question:

In this country of a billion people, could the government of India only find a man, whose millions are built on liquor, to ensure that the artefacts of a man who abhorred it, stayed with India?

And then this question:

In rising, shining, growing India where corporate and industrialists and businessmen trip over each other to demonstrate their so-called “corporate social responsibility”, could only Vijay Mallya find the requisite crores in an economic downturn to prop up the Father of the Nation?

And then this one:

In the land of opportunities, in the US of A, in the land of a million Patels and Shahs hailing from “Vibrant Gujarat”—most of them motel owners, doctors, real estate brokers, investment bankers—could not a single Gujarati or a bunch of them find the wherewithal to help one of their own?

Why couldn’t the Birlas, with whom Gandhi shared a close relationship, in whose precincts the Mahatma received the assassin’s bullets, with a “Hey Ram!”? Why didn’t the Tatas or Mittals who are buying up companies all over the world as if they are going out of fashion?

Why didn’t the Ambanis of Chorwad—Modh banias like the Mahatma—who are building 24-storeyed skyscrapers or buying planes, for their wives on their birthdays?

Or how about churumuri‘s favourite IT czar: N.R. Narayana Murthy?

Infosys probably earns Rs 9 crore a day. Would it have been so difficult for the image-conscious company to buy up the items and erase the bad press Murthy got becuase of his perceived insult to the national anthem?

And so on.

Pardon me for going on like a stuck record. Sure, these are tough times, but the short point is: Is Rs 9 crore that big a sum for our Superbrands™? And do our corporates and their captains have any vision beyond the bottomline at all?

In an age when image is all, the Gandhi auction was a god-sent opportunity for individuals and institutions to score big time on goodwill and publicity.

In an electio season, what if the overseas outfits of the Congress or BJP had bought it? What if Mayawati had bought it, or Amar Singh who “donated” Rs 40 crore to the Bill Clinton Foundation? What if L.K. Adavni had, instead of spending silly zillions on Google ads?

What if Rahul, Priyanka or Sonia who have benefitted from the greatman’s surname?

While these people and others may rue the missed opporuntity, Vijay Mallya has earned his place in the history books after successfully bringing back the Tipu sword, proving once again that while he may not be everybody’s favourite CEO, he is certainly the smartest, the quickest of the blocks.

At least he puts his money where his mouth is.

As for the others, all they are destined to say tonight is “Cheers”, while Mallya laughs all the way to the bank.

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

With so many legs, who on earth needs a tripod?

20 August 2008

On World Photography Day on Tuesday, Karnataka Photo News editor Saggere Ramaswamy captures the great orb preparing to take a dip below the now out-of-use Wellesley Bridge at the island-town of Srirangapatna, the erstwhile lair of the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan.

Cross-posted on sans serif

CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

19 May 2008

The Bangalore International Airport is due to open on Friday, 23 May 2008, and already the battlelines are being drawn—and redrawn. On the one hand, the captains of Bangalore industry are out on the streets demanding that the old HAL airport be kept open keeping in mind Bangalore’ future potential. And, on the other hand, a right royal battle has broken out over the name of the new airport.

BIAL had perhaps thought that the issue could be swept under the carpet by calling it Bengaluru International Airport. But the CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri has said it should be named after Tipu Sultan, who was born in Devanahalli where the new airport is located. And now the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike has jumped into the scene, demanding that the airport be named after Kempe Gowda.

Questions: Who should the airport be named after? Tipu or Gowda? Are there other worthies deserving of the honour? Sir M. Visvesvaraya maybe? How much longer before someone demands that it be named after Dr Raj Kumar? Is this just a meaningless debate or a genuine expression of identity? If airports in Bombay and Delhi and Hyderabad, and Chicago and New York and Paris can be named after towering individuals, why not Bangalore’s?