Monday, September 24, 2012

Cultural diversity

At the recent investiture of the President of India in July 2012, the world witnessed:

A Parsi, Chief Justice Kapadia, swear in a Bengali Brahmin President, Pranab Mukherjee.  
Also present were Muslim Vice-President Hamid Ansari;
a Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh;
an Italian-born Catholic chairman of the ruling party, Sonia Gandhi;
a Dalit Speaker of the Parliament, Meira Kumar;
a Sikh Chief of the Indian Army,  General Bikram Singh;
an Anglo-Indian Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Norman Browne from Allahabad, whose son Omar is also a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force.

 I wonder which other country on this planet has a similar record for living with diversity? 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Under-achiever

At last our Prime Minister is under scrutiny of the Time magazine- Asia edition. The magazine has pronounced our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh as “under achiever” of the year. I wish that the esteemed magazine had used some mild words to express their views.

We all can take heart from the fact that under achievers are also one kind of achievers just as “infamous also get some kind of fame.” However, the fact of the matter is, the UPA government has failed India in their eight years of rule given various scandals, economic slowdown, prices sky rocketing, farmers’ suicides and various other failures.

In spite of all this, the Prime Minister is hopeful of economic revival, is sure that the scams are not out of proportions, and that everything will be hanky dory in the next two years. I salute his “never die” spirit. It is a known fact that a ‘wrong doing’ such as a scam takes no time to achieve. But to rectify that ‘wrong’ may take years if at all the wrong can be rectified. Our experience says otherwise. One case in point is that of “Kalmadi”, the Common Wealth Games scam champion. It took Kalmadi the time of just one Common Wealth Game to pull off scam worth several thousand crores of rupees. He was tried, even jailed and came out eventually and even holds a post in the government so that he can pull off another one. Can the money scammed be realized? No chance. This is just one example. There are hundreds of scams, small and big, right under the UPA government’s nose. The authority is helpless and a mute spectator.

And yet, Dr. Singh is hopeful of putting every wrong thing right in the balance two years left for them to rule. He has boldly declared that everything is not lost yet. The simple logic is: “How can ‘wrong doings’ of eight years of their rule be ‘corrected’ and economy down trend be controlled in the remaining two years?
Would the PM care to explain?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chidambaram speaketh

Chidambaram speaketh, nation listeneth. Chidambaram, honorable that he is, recently commented that “the Indian middle class is willing to splurge on ice-cream and mineral water without fuss, but protests against a small increase in price of wheat and rice.” This comment is totally out of context and has raised tremendous hue and cry throughout the nation and rightly so.

Here is why Chidambaram’s statement is outright blunder and silly. First of all, not only the middle class, but even the rich are wary of sky rocketing prices, what the honorable minister puts as ‘small or marginal’ rise. He has mentioned small increase in prices of wheat and rice. What about sugar and petrol and all other essentials? The prices have increased four hundred to five hundred times. Perhaps in Chidambaram’s dictionary many fold increase is ‘small increase.’

Secondly, Chidambaram has mentioned only ‘middle class,’ conveniently forgetting lower middle and poor class. Or perhaps he does not consider them class at all. He should know that the poor people do not get ordinary potable water to drink and cannot afford wheat and rice to eat, leave alone mineral water and ice-cream. There can be no comparison between them.

Third and most important-survival does not depend on mineral water and ice-cream. You have no choice there, take it or leave it. Survival does not depend on them. Wheat, rice, sugar, travel are essentials, no choice there. You have to have them whether you can afford them or not. Mr. Chidambaram would do well to remember that poor, middle and rich, all classes need wheat and rice for survival.

I wonder if a man of Chidambaram’s education and back ground thinks the way he does, how can one blame Lalus and Rajas and Kalmadis and the likes?

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Austerity

Reports in newspapers suggest “Olympic freeloaders down from 166 to 10.” This means that the number of officials (freeloaders here) who accompany Olympic players is reduced. How considerate, if the news is to be believed. But for once, let us believe the news.

Let us do a simple mathematics. How many officials are required against each Olympic participant, one? Two or three? Let us assume 50 players are participating in this major event. By the count of 166 officials, each player gets services of more than three officials. How do these officials justify their presence in the game? Let’s see.

Two junior officials say their presence is required to keep an eye on the athletes and their needs. Fine, presence of a couple of officials is accounted for and justifiably at that. Next, four more are needed to ascertain that the two juniors do their duty properly. Now the arc of inspection widens and eight more are required to keep checks on those six officials as well as to control players. Moreover, they require personal services of their junior officials. But that should be enough, why more? Here is why.

The sports minister accompanies the Olympic group (He may not know anything about sports, though). Now athletes and officials are one thing. But a sports minister’s presence is quite a different matter altogether. He has his status to maintain and of course, he represents our country. Our athletes can do with 15-20 officials. But the minister requires a posse of junior ministers and senior officials to look after his needs, official and personal. A minister is not a mere athlete whose needs are limited. A minister’s needs are varied and require more attention.

However, when suggested by the government to practice some austerity, the minister agrees immediately and suggests: “Why do we need so many athletes in Olympics? We need to tone down their numbers. Why can’t one athlete be trained and made to participate in four-five games? After all, they (athletes) are freeloaders.” Well said, minister.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Political kho-kho

Our chief ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan are in the wrong business, that is, business of politics. They should have been playing Kho-kho because they are experts in passing the buck to their opponents, literally. On the other hand, they are in the right business because they could have been experts in Kho-kho had they taken the game on national level or even on international level but for the fact that Kho-kho pays almost nothing whereas politics pays money as well as flats. Adarsh is a case in point.

In the game of Kho-kho, several persons sit in a squatting position in a row, their faces in opposite direction to one another alternately. One person runs around this group of sitting people and another one from the group tries to catch him. The running person has to avoid getting caught. He can take a U-turn around the sitting group while running but is not allowed to turn left. The person running after him and trying to catch him can push any one squatting on the ground who in turn tries to catch the runner. There are other rules in the game too.

Here in politics, Sushil Kumar Shinde pushes (blames) Deshmukh who in turn blames Chavan who blames both Shinde and Deshmukh. The fun is, in Kho-kho once you get caught you are out of the game. In politics you go round and round for years and nobody gets caught. There will be court cases and enquiry commissions and the ball will roll between the three of them for years to come. In the meantime, everybody makes money. The three have already made some, commission people will make some. Other related people are in business till the case runs and it is likely to run for years. Everybody is happy and everybody comes out a winner.

On top of money, the three of them and also their relatives & friends have gained flats in the Adarsh building. Kho-kho doesn’t offer such perks.

Ironically, among the three, Deshmukh has got an appropriate name for himself, ‘Vilasrao.’ Vilas means luxury or extravagance. Deshmukh has to remain in luxury to justify his name. And he does so, scam or no scam.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fuel mathematics

Jagjit Singh, our most beloved gazal singer, had once said: “These ‘aroh-avroh’, ‘utar-chadhav’ are all complex mathematics of music,” though he himself made simple music which was easy to the ears.

However, these utterances of our legend fit our fuel pricing. The government has made the calculation of petrol price very complicated. On one hand it gives subsidy on the fuel, on the other hand it levies various taxes and other charges making the fuel unaffordable, even for the well to do. Every time the price of petrol increases, there is hue and cry from the government that the administration is losing quite a chunk in subsidies. Some experts opine that the actual cost of petrol is very low, between forty and forty two rupees. The rest are taxes - central and local, vats, road improvement tax, education cess and what not, making it complicated.

All this is humbug. It is a simple formula related to scams. To make it simple, when there is increase in petrol price, it directly affects almost all commodities-right from bus, auto, taxi fares to food and other consumer items. Similarly when scam occurs, it has direct affect on petrol. When there is a scam (and there are many) our politicians are sure that the amount of the scam cannot be recovered. Whoever can recover anything from Kalmadis, Telgis, Hasan Alis and the likes? No, that huge amount of tax payers’ money in hundreds and thousands of crores is gone down the drain (drains named Kalmadi, Telgi and Hasan Ali and others) forever. On top of that there are litigation and cases and inquiries that run forever costing huge money to the administration. Already our central and state governments run on deficit budget. And in these deficits, scam amounts are not provided for.

So what do we do? We already have various taxes- income tax, sales tax, central tax, vats, toll tax, road tax, octroi, TDS, professional tax- you name it, we have it. So we have come out with a simple solution. Increase petrol prices and make its calculations complicated. Kalmadi has scammed for four thousand crores? Increase petrol prices. Telgi has scammed another twenty? There is our petrol to recover it from. Our budget - national and state- should remain the same. People’s budget be damned.


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gadkari

A while back there was this nice, clear and big picture of Nitin Gadkari trying to touch our beloved Baba Ramdev’s feet. Gadkari couldn’t quite make it though. Some journalists appreciated this humble gesture and quite a few criticized declaring it a politically motivated move. Gadkari could have salvaged the situation somewhat like this:

One of the journalists who appreciated the move: “Gadkariji, we are really impressed. What humbleness, a man of your stature and in your position giving such respect to the Baba.”

Gadkari: “It is our culture. Our culture teaches us to give respect to our elders.”

Journalist: “But Sir, Baba Ramdev is not that old. There is hardly any difference in your age”

Gadkari: “No no, he is older. Moreover he wears saffron. In our culture those who put on saffron are ‘sadhus’ (sages) and must be shown due respect.”

Journalist: “He is not a sadhu. He does wear saffron but he is not a sadhu. He is a ‘yoga’ instructor.”

Gadkari: “There you are. He is a teacher, a yoga teacher. Our scripture say “Guru devo bhava” (teacher is equivalent to god), hence the gesture.”


One of the journalists who opposed his move: “Nitinji, your gesture was a political move. You have met the Baba earlier too but you never touched his feet.”

Gadkari: “Who me? I don’t touch anybody’s feet, not even mine.”

Journalist: “But there was this prominent picture in news papers showing you touching the Baba’s feet.”

Gadkari: “That is humbug. I was just tying my shoe laces.”

Journalist: “Sir, you had no laces on your shoes.’

Gadkari: “Oh…. ah….I was just trying to touch my own feet you see. After my Liposuction I have made it a point to exercise a few times a day.”

Journalist: “But how come Ramdev Baba………..”

Gadkari: “It was a coincidence. Just when I bent to try to touch my toe, the Baba came along and people thought…….”

Journalist: “So you didn’t bow to the Baba?”

Gadkari: “Certainly not. I would rather pull the rug from under his feet.”

Journalist: “All right, that makes it quite clear. By the way, your fingers didn’t quite touch your toes.”

Gadkari grimaced: “Yes, that is that. I guess I will have to go for another Liposuction”



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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gender Bias

One of our three top ranking tennis players, Leander Paes is sulking, and how? Paes is sulking because none of the other two, Bhupati and Bopanna, have agreed to play with him in London Olympics. And Paes does not want to play with lower ranking players who have given their consent. His ego is hurt.

In their own time there were other greats in the game like Naresh Kumar and Ashok Amritraj, just to name the two, but they were never known to have thrown tantrums. Our dear Paes seems to have a king sized ego, conveniently forgetting that there was a time when Naresh Kumar had taken him under his wing when Paes’ rank was much lower. Had he not, history would have been different.

But that is not the main point. The point is, our tennis association is going all out to woo Paes at all costs, it seems. Is an individual, however great a player he may be, greater than the association or the game itself? At one point Paes is alleged to have said: “For the sake of Indian tennis, I am prepared to withdraw from the game”, knowing well that the association will go all out to woo him back. The association did.
When Paes disregarded all offers from the federation, the latter tried to placate him by offering him Sania Mirza as his partner in mixed doubles and that too without consulting Mirza herself. That, in other terms means that Sania doesn’t have any say in the matter as Paes does. Gender bias?

Paes, on the other hand, grasped the opportunity and had the audacity to ask from the association in writing that Sania will play with him. Not only that, he wants conformation in writing from Sania too that she will partner him.

Great, but in all this we forget that Sania Mirza has her own standing in the game. She is not A ‘looking-for-an-opportunity-to-play’ girl. To cap it, she has her own mind and doesn’t hesitate to voice it should the need arise. If she refuses, and she very well can, what is the association going to do? Didn’t the association realize, even for common courtesy, if nothing else, to ask Sania if she was willing? But here again “She is a woman and will do as told” mentality coming to the fore.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The 'Bad'shah of Bollywood

Badshah of Bollywood, King Khan - Shah Rukh Khan is always surrounded in controversy. Is it his insecurity that prompts him to remain in the limelight? Shah Rukh likes himself to be called the Badshah of Bollywood, nothing less would do.

The fact is no one in the crop of present actors deserves any title whatsoever except one person Amitabh Bachchan (Big B). Bachchan has never demanded any title, never went for number games, never tried any stunts at public places and has always remained humble though he is the only actor who is a super star in the true sense of the word. He is always normal and never blows up any issue.

But back to our so called Badshah. Shah Rukh is trying hard to do everything in his fifties, what he could not do in his younger years. He is known to hit people in parties, known to light a smoke in prohibited places, pick up fights with the likes of Salman. Is he so desperate after his recent flops?

Khan’s recent stunt in IPL is deplorable to say the least. Not only did he come totally drunk and where he should have restrained little kids accompanying him from entering the ground, he started to quarrel with BCCI officials and used abusive language for officials and other staff. He also threatened the security guard knowing well that the guard was too small a person to reiterate. Is it what Badshahs do? Khan is known to be a good parent. Is this good parenting using expletives in front of a young growing daughter and other children? Or he was sure to get away because of his celebrity status?

The fact is, he is losing his place to other younger talents and cannot accept the fact that he is slowly but surely coming of age. So at his ripe age, he has started behaving like an eighteen year old.

Mr. Shah Rukh, you would do well to remember these famous lines:

“wo shaks jo tujse pahele yahan takht nashin tha,

Wo bhi sochta tha wo khuda se kum nahin tha.”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Poonam Pandey

Miss Poonam Pandey has achieved what she had set out for. For well over a year now she has been threatening to go nude. She received no positive response from any quarters and so she has gone ahead and imposed upon us her porn pictures.

To set the record straight, Poonam had offered to go nude for the benefit of our Indian Cricket team if they won the World Cup. They did. But my guess is, they (the Indian team) would have preferred to lose the game rather than suffering the torture of looking at Miss Pandey in her birthday suit. It was only when the management assured the team that they would not allow Miss Pandey to have her own way that the team made it to the top.

Here dear Poonam made a small error. If she is so fond of taking off her clothes, she should have made the same offer to an individual player, say to anyone who scores a century or the one who has a five wicket haul. She probably would have found some response then. In fact she was likely to have two opportunities- one stripping for a centurion and another for a five wicket taker. It is OK to strip before one person in private but for a team or a nation, it’s no go. It is not in our culture.

However, now she has posted her nudes (without invitation) after KKR won the IPL. According to her it is for the benefit of IPL-KKR-SRK. It is imperative to note here that nobody wanted to look at her, with or without clothes. But she would have none of it. Since it was her life time dream, she has imposed herself up on us.

To be fair to Poonam, she has put a warning on twitter-18 & under should not try looking at her nudes. She does not take responsibility for anyone under age.

Miss Pandey, you will do well to remember that people above eighteen have seen better bodies with much better faces on them. Next, you are sadly mistaken about people under eighteen. These days under eighteens know much more and have seen much more of it than you can offer. So no go there too. Yes, it is under tens who don’t have much access to satisfy their curiosity in such matters, will venture on your Twitter account to see what it all about. They, that is under tens will steal a look at your nudes in haste and repent in a lifetime of horror.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Political views-More Pawar speak

“The person making the statements is under scanner and has questionable credentials.” This is how Pawar responded to the reports that Niira Radia had told CBI that Pawar could be controlling D B Realty. This is the issue of his involvement in spectrum allotment. Pawar made this statement as if his own credentials are not questionable. Shreyas Navare, in Hindustan Times of 16th instant has a wonderful cartoon on Pawar depicting a weighing scale where even a feather is shown heavier then Pawar’s moral stature. He has his fingers in every thing, Hazare has attacked him, Niira has blamed him, his name is in 2G spectrum scam, farmers’ suicides, food price inflation you name it. And yet, the great man talks of moral.

Then again, “I am not responsible for what people I know do.” Apparently not, Mr. Pawar, except the fact that people who know you do these things under your protection and blessings. For instance, Mukund Bhavan Trust which was given 326 acres of land inYerwada by fudging documents. Supriya Sule and her husband had 9 per cent share in it. Could this have been possible without Pawar’s knowledge? Is he not responsible for what his own daughter does?

Then there are allegations of his links with the tainted Balwa and opposition is demanding investigation against Pawar. BJP leader Khadse also accused Pawar for irregularities in the transfer of land to companies owned by Pawar family.

Niira Radia is no pure soul, we all know that. But Pawar, of all the people has no moral stand to question anybody’s credentials. He is the biggest hypocrite ever. He and his family should be thrown out of politics and people should put final nail in his political coffin. It will be a great service to the nation.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Indian politics-Bandit queen

Mayawati, the undisputed bandit queen of UP, has not uttered a single word in the case of her MLA Shekhar Tiwari, killing an engineer, Manoj Gupta in 2008 and receiving life term in the process.

It is a known fact that Shekhar Tiwari was collecting money from all and sundry for the Bandit Queen’s birthday celebrations. The engineer’s refusal to contribute for such a deserving and noble cause angered Tiwari and he and his stooges killed Manoj. Tiwari’s wife was also involved in the gruesome deed, woman power in Bandit Queen’s Raj.

This incident reminds me of, not so similar yet identical, incidents in Calcutta years back. Though they seem minor now, in those days they were cause of concern. Every street (Para) in Calcutta used to celebrate Durga Puja (even now they celebrate) when I was young. A group of aggressive young lads from that particular Para or locality, used to collect donation (Chanda) from each family in that locality. It was called donation but it was compulsory, particularly for non Bengali affluent residents of that area. If you wanted to live peacefully through the year, you paid what was asked.

Similar is the case with our Bandit Queen’s birthday, only stakes are higher, to put it mildly. Where in Calcutta, it was a question of living in peace, in Mayawati’s case it is a matter of life itself. You pay with your life. If you want to live, you contribute, or else.

But what poor Tiwari got for his enthusiasm was that he was expelled from the party that year itself and was left in lurch to defend for himself. Mayawati had no further role to play and washed her hands off him. In the process Tiwari got a lifer and our queen in her wonderland continues to celebrate her birthdays year after year and people now pay without questioning the authenticity of the process of collection. That is Maya’s Maya.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Politically incorrect-Miracle man

The death of Sri Sathya Sai Baba has spread gloom throughout the country and many parts of the world. Are these miracle men or god men for real, as they claim to be? The place of a miracle man has fallen vacant with the death of Sathya Sai Baba. Who will be the next to claim the post?

With all due respect to the departed soul, I wonder why these god men have to perform miracles to prove they have super powers. Why do they have to claim that they are incarnations of god? Why do they have to amass wealth that they know, is going to create chaos after their death?

Just give a thought to the sages of the past like Ramkrishna Paramhans, Shirdi Sai Baba etc. They never claimed themselves to be incarnations of god. On the contrary they considered themselves to be servants of the almighty. They never amassed wealth, lived in abject poverty and performed miracles only in utter necessity never boasting about their super powers. They lead a simple life and in spite of having large followings, always remained humble.

Now look at all the recent god men – Asaram Bapu, Baba Ramdev, Rajneesh, Chandra Swami, Mahesh Yogi among others. All are or were surrounded in one or more controversies. Even Sathya Sai Baba was not without one. All of them are exceptionally rich. They preach of tyaga (renouncement) and saiyam (control). But look at each one of them. They live in super luxuries, have large mansions, fleet of cars and several are involved in sex scandals. Bhagwan Rajneesh had 93 Rolls Roys cars. He was deported from US on charges of immigration fraud. Chandra Swami did more political activities then spiritual service. He was more like Niira Radia in the garb of a spiritual leader. And yet people follow them blindly, even educated ones. They have political patronage. They leave behind greed, chaos and internal quarrels. Do we really need them? You think.

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Header image credit: adapted from David Niblack

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