An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Friday, December 30, 2005

News round-up: Dec. 30

Lots of things happening towards the end of this eventful year:

1. Monkey and Man

No, this isn't about evolution vs. intelligent design!

A monkey bit at least 25 people in a residential area of Akola district in eastern Maharashtra, forest department sources said on Friday.
Forest department officials rushed to the area soon after they were alerted on Thursday and administered tranquilizer shots to the monkey.

It was later caught and released into Shahanur forest, they added.

What's missing in this report is the crucial aspect of the story! Did the monkey bite 25 people in separate incidents or was it a single incisive rampage?

At the end of the report:

Meanwhile, a wild boar bit a person in another part of the city on Thursday, hospital sources added.

The "meanwhile" at the beginning of the above sentence is simply delicious (no pun intended!).

2. So Spake Salem ...

Salem speaks out on underworld activities during narco test

Extradited gangster Abu Salem gave a wealth of information on underworld activities and even revealed details of incidents that happened 15 years ago during a narco-analysis test in Bangalore Friday, sources in the Forensic Science Laboratory and Anti-Terrorist Squad, Mumbai, said.

Salem was "unstoppable" during the three-hour test conducted at the Bowring Institute in Bangalore and has "given all the information that police wanted", the sources said.

The gangster, in sub-conscious state, also elaborated on the statement he made before the Mumbai police in which he disclosed the names of certain persons who were part of his financial chain of collection and distribution of money.

Great work done by the staff at the Bowring Institute, the Forensic Science Lab and the Anti-Terrorist Squad!

However, beware of "human rights/secular watchdogs" who will protest against the use of narco-analysis and say that such evidence is inadmissible in court!

3. Tapping Mulayam

Mulayam has accused Sonia of ordering tapping of telephones of senior Samajwadi Party leaders (including him) in Uttar Pradesh, with a view of toppling his government! (See Sonia tapping our phones: Mulayam Singh )

Some particularly interesting comments/allegations from Mulayam:

  • The intelligence bureau was being used for the purpose, as it had earlier been 'exploited' during operations Duryodhan and Chakravyuh in order to 'divert people's attention' from Volcker Committee report issue.
  • "Congress' history has proved that it could go to any length to defame its adversaries," he said, adding that former foreign minister, Natwar Singhm has been sacrificed to save the name of a particular family.
  • A similar campaign was also on against the other non-Congress chief ministers. The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, however, was their first target.
  • The move reminded him of 'Italian mafia culture'.
  • A core committee consisting of Pulak Chatterji, the private secretary of Sonia Gandhi had also been set up to oversee phone tapping operations.

And how does the Congress-led govt. respond to these serious allegations?

Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in the Union Home Ministry L C Goyal said the allegations were baseless.
[T]he Union Home Ministry on Friday conducted an immediate in-house probe and registered a case of criminal conspiracy and forgery against 'unknown persons'.

How quick these probes can be conducted, forgeries detected and unknown persons held responsible! Such is the efficiency of the UPA GoI!

4. California textbook controversy: counsel Suhag A ShuklaRediff Interview with Hindu American Foundation

Ms. Shukla provides a superb articulation of Hindu sentiments! A must-read!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Explosives missing near Mumbai! Be careful!

In another scare-the-living-daylights-out-of-everyone incident, a consignment of over 100 tonnes of explosives has gone missing from a merchant ship off the coast of Mumbai! (See Explosives missing)

Complete report:

Mumbai/New Delhi: A consignment of over 100 tonnes of explosives meant for use by the Border Roads Organisation in Afghanistan has gone missing from a merchant ship, which set sail from Mumbai on December 22.

The captain and six crew members of the Iran-bound ship have been detained and are being questioned.

The explosives were meant for blasting rocks and mountainsides for the highway being built by the BRO to link Delaram with Kanadhar. Officials said the ship, sailing for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the consignment was to be offloaded for being taken to the project site, had gone missing 10-15 nautical miles off Mumbai.

The Navy and the Coast Guard located the vessel just off the Mumbai coast on December 23 and towed it back under escort.

The captain claimed that the explosives, in five or six containers, had sunk in the sea in rough weather, the officials said.— PTI

This incident seems to be straight out of a Frederick Forsyth novel! The ship sets off from Mumbai on Dec. 22, the Coast Guard finds it still near Mumbai on Dec. 23 and the captain brings up the oldest saddest excuse that the containers were lost at sea!

Carrying such sensitive cargo, aren't the captain and his crew expected to notify the buyer/seller if it is lost in transit? Did they?

My guess is that the captain and his crew passed the explosives onto some terrorists off the coast of Mumbai. And now that the explosives are probably back in India, I don't think they are going to be used as fireworks for New Year's celebrations! Is something big (think "serial bomb blasts") being planned?

Watch out, people!

Terrorist Attack in Bangalore! Professor killed, 5 others injured!

By now, you must have already heard about terrorists attacking delegates at an Operations Research conference in the Indian Institute of Science campus at Bangalore! A professor was killed and five others injured in this deadly attack. Is this the first attack on an educational institution in recent history?

The Hindu, in a bold display of political correctness blames "intruders" for this act in the following report Scientist killed as gunman opens fire in Bangalore).

OK, "gunman opened fire and killed scientist". That's like describing the events of 9/11 saying "boxcutter-men took control of planes and didn't land them properly, killing people"!

Narayana, please give us a break from this political correctness!


Security agency sources told The Hindu that they suspected the attack was the handiwork of a militant group, probably from Kashmir. The police found five magazines, believed to be from an AK-47 rifle, a used grenade, a live grenade and spent bullets in front of the auditorium.

Why "militant"? Why not "terrorist"?

Also, in the report

"Neither the IISc. Registrar nor the organising secretary of the conference informed us that there were 56 foreign delegates and 250 Indian delegates. They did not ask us for security," [Director-General and Inspector-General of Police B.S. Sial] said.


In view of threats from terrorist groups to attack vital installations and information technology firms in the city, the police had tightened security at important places.

What this shows is that it's important that both parties - the protector and the protected - are aware of the threats from terrorists! Although the police knew of threats to vital installations, the conference organisers were not aware and did not inform the police of the scale of their conference. But then, have we come to such a PATHETIC state in our country that we view academic conferences as terrorist targets?

P.S.: The Times of India rag has an interesting headline describing the terrorist attack:"IIT professor gunned down the day Salem was in Bangalore" . Bah, I will not even dignify that headline by deconstructing it!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Jaithirth Rao in Indian Express: "Poor, little, rich protestors"

Jaithirth Rao talks about the anti-globalisation protestors in his column in the Indian Express (see Poor, little, rich protestors). Although the column appeared more than a week ago, I got to see it only now.

Some gems from the column:

The real grouse of anti-globalisers at WTO? Free trade isn’t helping leftist PhDs make money.
It is the basic law of capitalism that a pot-bellied pan-chewing businessman who wears safari suits and who is in the “import-export” business will on average take more risk and on average will make a lot more money than a PhD in multi-cultural anthropology from JNU. And this is from the perspective of the left-wing intellectual both unpalatable and unjust.

The intellectuals of communist China don’t seem to have a problem with this. It is only the leftist elites of the West and their counterparts in India who seem to feel this way!

Diplomacy at its best!

Excerpts from

'Rice a mad woman, US govt a circus'

Cuban President Fidel Castro called US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "mad", after having condemned the head of the US diplomatic mission in Havana as a "little gangster".

The communist leader's latest tirade against the United States has been in response to Rice's meeting this week with a US government Commission intended to prepare for a democratic transition in Cuba after Castro.

"I am going to tell you what I think about this famous Commission. They are a group of s[*]-eaters, who do not deserve the world's respect," Castro told the Cuban parliament.

The Hindu does it again! Don't just read the headlines!

"Special Correspondents" at The Hindu are really special, in that they can cook up headlines that have nothing to do with the underlying articles.

For an example, click the link below:
BJP-RSS differences to the fore

On reading the headline, one might expect to read about heated debates between the BJP and the RSS. But, if you go beyond the deadline and read the article, you can see that NOT A SINGLE DIFFERENCE has been highlighted or written about!

Indeed, there is mention of the strong ties between the RSS and the BJP, and how the RSS wants the BJP to be strong!

RSS joint general secretary Madandas Devi, who presided over the function, said RSS activists had no axe to grind, and all that they wanted was the BJP to be strong in the interests of the country.
The RSS, which did not want to join any political party, allowed some of its members to work for the Jan Sangh. "I am one of those functionaries," Mr. Advani said. He said the BJP was proud of its RSS links.

How low can The Hindu go?

Moral of the story: Read the whole news article. Don't just go by the headlines!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Michael Witzel and his racist remarks

If you have not already heard of Harvard University's Michael Witzel and his racist remarks on Hindus and Hinduism, please go here:
Prof. Kalyanaraman's Article or Vivekajyoti blog.

Witzel is part of the clique comprising Romila Thapar and the "secular academics" who believe in and peddle the much discredited "Aryan Invasion Theory". You can see these "secular academics" writing about "Hindutva" quite often in the pages of another red-rag of The Hindu group, the "Frontline" magazine.

Of course, there's not a peep of this story that appears in The Hindu till now. Why would The Hindu publicise that one of its own is the hate peddler?

Leading Questions: An illustration from R. Krithika of The Hindu

First, let us see what is meant by "leading questions". ChangingMinds.org has an excellent description of "leading questions" and provides several examples.

One way of influencing a person is to ask them questions that are deliberately designed to make them think in a certain way. Leading questions either include the answer, point the listener in the right direction or include some form or carrot or stick to send them to the 'right' answer.

Ask for agreement
A very direct leading question is where they are closed questions that clearly ask for agreement, making it easier for the other person to say 'yes' than 'no'.
"Do you agree that we need to save the whales?"
"Is it true that you are happier now?"

Let us now see this how these were put to use by R. Krithika in a perfectly asinine "e-mail interview" published in The Hindu Sunday supplement on Dec. 25 (An unusual epic).

Sample questions from the interview:

  • Your introduction says you chose the Mahabharata because it was "evil". What is your definition of evil?
  • Despite Draupadi's fearlessness in voicing her opinion, would you agree that she was actually oppressed ...
  • Krishna is, as you have said, a very complex character. Would you agree that he is perhaps the most open character in the entire epic; that he does what he has to?
  • Do you agree that the Mahabharata was an internal family feud and that the epic's current form was not the work of one man?

Please read the interview. Although faced with such pathetic questions, Samhita Arni doesn't fall into the trap but provides quite reasoned and mature responses overall. An example follows:

There are no hard and fast classifications of good and bad in the Mahabharata. Comment.

That's what makes the epic come alive for me. It resembles reality in the murkiness of the decisions and choices that the characters have to make, and the complexity of cause and effect.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dec. 24: Malladi Bros. at German Hall

I attended my 3rd Malladi Bros. concert in as many days today at German Hall. I was hoping for a repeat of y'day's Mylapore Fine Arts performance - indeed, the brothers were accompanied again by Sri Nagaraj and Sri Sivaraman (and Sri TV Vasan replacing Sri EM Subramaniam on the ghatam), so I wasn't being overly hopeful!

Let me first list the krithis/compositions rendered:
1. Mohanam Varnam
2. Palukavemi Na Deivama - Poornachandrika
3. Samayamu Telisi - Asaveri
4. Parandhamavathi - Dharmavathi
5. Anathudu - Jingala
6. Endhuku Nirdaya - Harikambhoji (Main)
7. Mayamohamu - Jog
8. Vagaladibodhanalaku - Behag
9. Bhaja Govindam

The concert was quite good - but nowhere near the levels of the previous day. However, this does not reflect on the artistes. There were numerous other factors: the hall had poor acoustics, the Mridangam's microphone level was not set right, there was a time limit (the concert started at 5pm, and the next one was to start at 7:30pm - so it was always going to be a race against time, like at The Music Academy). The thani was over 20 min. in length - which is too long for a 2 1/4 hour concert. However, the final mohra/korvai in thisra nadai was out of the world, for the speed at which Sri Sivaraman played them. (However, there were quite a few errors during the thani avardhanam, which did detract from the whole experience.)

There was a most unnecessary and annoying interruption after the thani (around 6:55pm). One of the organisers felt he had to share his "expertise" in music - so he shared with us some very basic insights - like how the brothers had to be careful in singing Harikambhoji without transforming it into Khamas, and other trivia like how he arranged this concert, and how grateful he was to the artistes for agreeing to perform. The organiser ate up a valuable 7 min. (although it felt much longer), and to make things worse, he requested them to finish the concert with the Behag javali. What was the tearing hurry to finish?! Who knows - we might have had an express ragam-tanam-pallavi, but for this interruption!

Highlights for me:

  • First time I listened to "Samayamu Telisi" krithi of Sri Thyagaraja. I like Asaveri.
  • Fantastic alapana and kalpana swara for Parandhamavathi (although the korvai was the in the same pattern as the one they sung in Academy).
  • Simply loved how the brothers rendered "Maya mohamu" krithi of Annamacharya. The tune was composed by their father, Malladi Sri Suri Babu.

That the concert was not perfect only goes to show that the Mylapore Fine Arts concert was special, perhaps even magical. You can't put together geniuses and expect a masterpiece every time - there are times when factors converge, and times when they don't ...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Operation Duryodhana: MP expulsions - good news for the UPA

As predicted earlier, Parliament expels the 10 Lok Sabha MPs caught in the sting operation conducted by AajTak and Cobrapost.

Parliament expels tainted MPs

This expulsion helps the ruling UPA government in at least a couple of ways: 1) removal of 5 opposition BJP MPs, 2) public relations - they can fool the people that they have promptly and sternly addressed corruption (although their handling of the Natwar Singh episode, and the continued prominence of stalwarts like Laloo in the Cabinet would scream otherwise).

In a related report Government will not control media: I&B minister, Dasmunshi of the Congress(I) pontificates

Dasmunshi, who took over the reins of the I&B ministry recently from Jaipal Reddy, said, "Any regulation and control is contrary to fundamental rights of the media."

"Any kind of operations which can expose the politicians is welcome," he added.

Perhaps realising he has given too much leeway, Dasmunshi backtracks ...

However, he made clear that if any attempts were made to breach sensitive security zones, the government could consider taking action.

Delightfully vague "sensitive security zones" - which can be used to prevent any attempt that might bring the government itself under scrutiny.

I will ask these questions again:

  • Given that those in power in governments are more likely to indulge in corruption, how come we dont see these media-driven "sting operations" targetting the ministers and MPs of the UPA - the Congress and the Communists, for starters?
  • Aren't there guidelines as to who can conduct such sting operations?
  • Isn't offering of bribes punishable under law?

What if a government bankrolls a compliant media to conduct "sting operations" targetting the opposition? Can we have Parliament conducting its own investigations into the "sting operations" and OK-ing the findings, so long as they serve their purpose? For what purpose do we have law enforcers and the judiciary?

Isn't it surprising that during the NDA rule, the media was conducting stings on the ruling NDA, while during the UPA rule, the media is conducting stings on the opposition NDA?

Further, compare how quickly this issue has been "resolved" by the UPA with the long drawn-out treatment of the oil vouchers scam that implicates the Congress and Natwar Singh! The latter issue is practically buried now.

An Incredible Experience: Malladi Bros./Mysore Nagaraj/UKS/EMS at Mylapore Fine Arts on 23/12/05

It's not often that one experiences a sustained and heightened state of ecstasy for 3 or more hours. A state where one has simply transcended hunger, thirst, other internal and external reminders of a human existence. I was fortunate to experience such a state on Friday, Dec. 23, 2005, thanks to what must be the best concert I have attended in my life - Malladi Brothers Sreerama Prasad and Ravikumar with Mysore Nagaraj, Umayalpuram Sivaraman and E M Subramanian at Mylapore Fine Arts.

I had attended the Brothers' concert at The Music Academy the previous day. Although their performance at the Academy was overall excellent, I got the impression that their planning and coordination could have been better. So it was with a little apprehension that I ventured into the premises of the Mylapore Fine Arts. However, that apprehension was dispelled soon, when they launched into Janaki Ramana, one of my favorite krithis (I got hooked onto this krithi after listening to a recording of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer's rendition (in a 1950s Music Academy concert). I have since listened to the recording a few hundred times - I keep coming back to it, drawn by the haunt of the raga and his kalpana swara at Raktha Nalinadhala Nayana Nripala). There was no turning back after that krithi: the concert rose to higher levels with every krithi that followed. The choice of compositions (raga, composer) and their presentation (alapana/neraval/swara/timing/duration) was as perfect as could be. The coming together of musical geniuses, adding to and in the process elevating each others brilliance, what an effect!

Song list:

Kedaragowlai varnam
Janaki Ramana - Suddha Seemandhini
Kalaharana - Suddha Saveri
Ni Chitthamu - Dhanyasi
Nagagandhari - Nagagandhari
Sri Kanthimathim - Hemavathi
Ma Kelara - Ravichandrika
RTP - Begada - Chathusra Jathi Ata Thala (Pallavi: Karunajoodave Thripurasundari Parameswari Shivasankari Kathyayani Kalyani)
Sevika Vendum Ayya - Andolika
Padam - Saranga
Akativelala - Revathi
Ramachandrudithadu - Dwijavanthi
Marali Marali Jayamangalamu - Madhyamavathi

Sri Sivaraman was outstanding: he showed how he could make the Mridangam sing. He egged on Sri Nagaraj, after the Brothers had finished the korvai for the main piece - he was relishing the experience too, and that made it that much more special for us in the audience. He was so charged up, so involved that when the Brothers requested him to do the tri-kalam for the pallavi (even before they started kalpana swara for the pallavi), he launched into an express thani! Not that there is anything wrong with that. His "accompaniment" for Ma Kelara was out of the world.

Of course, this is not to say that the concert could not have been better. For instance, it could have been a couple of hours longer! :) And the mind boggles at the thought of the genius of the late Harishankar complementing that of the Brothers, Nagaraj and Sivaraman on this day. What an experience that would have been!

I hope this concert has been recorded and will be released unedited for the public.

This concert was what music is all about!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No more tinted glasses to hide

Hehe ..., when I saw the headlines of this article No more tinted glasses to hide , I thought this would apply to Mr. Karunanidhi, but alas, it wasn't to be! Go find out yourself to whom/what it applies.

Garish (Red) Khare in The Hindu

In an op-ed (see Party time in Mumbai and Hyderabad) that stands out for its bias against the BJP in a style perfected by The Hindu writers, garish Harish Khare shows why he is the master of double-standards.

Towards the end of December, the BJP proposes to stage an elaborate celebration in Mumbai to commemorate the organisation's survival for 25 years. Then, in the third week of January, Congressmen are scheduled to congregate in Hyderabad for the party's plenary session.

See how masterfully he inserts the loaded word "survival" when he talks of the BJP's meet, yet talks about the Congress in matter-of-fact terms.

... the turmoil within the Shiv Sena has brought out the party-as-a-family-jagirdari dimension

WOW, this is unbelievable! Apparently we know of the "party-as-a-family-jagirdari" syndrome in Indian politics only from the Shiv Sena's recent troubles. The history of the Congress - Jawaharlal "I wanna be an Englishman" Nehru, Indira "is India" Gandhi, Sanjay "Freedom to have a family? No way!" Gandhi, Rajiv "Mein Banana" Gandhi, Sonia "I have been Indian all along, except for the citizenship part " Gandhi, Rahul "I could have been PM when I was 25" Gandhi; Laloo and Rabri; Farooq Abdullah and Omar; Mufti Mohammad and his daughter; Karunanidhi and Stalin; NTR, Parvathi, Chandrababu; ... my God I could go on and on. Harish Khare is either clueless or thinks we are clueless!

I was surprised, indeed a bit worried, that don't-Khare-if-I-sound-so-prejudiced had not mentioned his patrons the Commies so far into the article, but my worries were laid to rest when I saw the following soon after ...

The octogenarian Marxist from West Bengal remains an icon and a respected voice but he has becomingly allowed a new generation to take over the leadership role in the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Heh, he "allows" the new generation when he is more than 75 years old! How graceful!

Later on, probably realising that such biased tripe (about the Shiv Sena highlighting the p.a.a.f.j. dimension) cannot escape even the editors at The Hindu, he concedes the problems that dynasty poses for the Congress, but only so far as to say that the party will suffer in local elections! Oh, how sad! Nothing about democratic principles figures in the analysis of the Congress!

And the finisher:

... the two parties [BJP and Congress] are happy to be mired in the quagmire of a nine per cent growth rate ...

"Quagmire of a 9% growth rate"! This is fabulous stuff!

TN Politics - At its worst!

1. More on the stampede

Today morning when I read the newspaper I felt vindicated, as well as really angered. My gut feeling that the stampede (in which 42 poor souls were killed - see earlier post) could not have happened without an external agent provoking it was vindicated by this report in The Hindu. I had said earlier that I was inclined to believe JJ that miscreants were behind this tragedyMURDER.

Vindication transformed into anger when I saw that it was a DMK councillor who had provoked the whole episode. The report says

It revealed that Mr. Dhanasekaran and others allegedly spread rumours and were responsible for the tragedy.

A senior police officer said early on Sunday, Mr. Dhanasekaran, along with a few others, went round the streets in MGR Nagar announcing that Sunday was the last day for receiving flood relief tokens and that the distribution would start at 5 a.m

Of course, at the time of writing this, everything is still in the realm of allegation/suspicion, but the deafening silence from the DMK leads me to believe that there is much more behind the story than an allegation.

This dastardly murder of 42 people was planned and executed solely for political gains (see my post y'day regarding what the opposition in Tamil Nadu are gunning for). I hope ALL the people involved in this murder, from the ones who hatched the conspiracy to the ones who executed it, are punished severely - public execution will be too soft a punishment for these scoundrels!

The most annoying part of the report linked above is towards the end:

He [Dhanasekharan] was a heart patient and required treatment. The court told Dhanasekaran the grounds of his arrest. His counsel sought `A' class facility for him in prison.

2. Meanwhile, in bizarro world ...

See CPI(M) blames AIADMK activists, but The Hindu sugarcoats the CPI(M)'s stupidity

The State unit secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday urged the State Government to arrange long-term relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction measures in flood-affected areas "without shirking its responsibility." It also asked the Government not to attempt to divert people's attention by blaming Opposition parties for the tragedy.

Further, magnanimityfiscal irresponsibility from the CPI(M):

The party called for enhancing the solatium for the next of kin of the deceased to Rs. 5 lakh, apart from providing a Government job to a member of each of these families.

Demanding crop loan waiver and the disbursement of crop insurance in affected areas, the party asked the Government to provide 1kg rice and Rs. 25 a day to farm workers, besides implementing the food-for-work programme.

Rs. 25 a day for how many days? Blanket demands ...

3. Problematic Party Propaganda Philm

See DMK to seek court permission to screen party film

In his petition, Mr. Anbazhagan said the Government of Tamil Nadu, represented by the District Collectors and Superintendents of Police, was preventing the screening of the film in most of the districts. Only Nagapattinam district administration permitted screening of the movie, with a condition that it should not hurt the feelings of any individual of a community.

What a delightful condition (to block the screening) - the film should not hurt the feelings of any individual of a(ny) community!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Awesome post by Atanu: A must-read!

I have been a fan of Atanu's writing ever since I came across his posts on the usenet group soc.culture.india. Atanu has an amazing talent for writing about profound ideas in clear, crisp, level-headed terms. And the best thing is that he doesn't mince words - he truly calls a spade a spade!

Please do read Atanu's thoughts on Lee Kuan Yew's Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Lecture in Delhi on Nov. 21, 2005. Your time will be well invested.

Atanu's Analysis

Sunday, December 18, 2005

News round-up: Dec. 18

1. Who's responsible for the death of 42 people at a relief camp?

I was shocked and angered when I read about the senseless and entirely preventable death of 42 people in a stampede at a relief distribution centre in Chennai (see The Hindu report: 42 killed in stampede at relief distribution centre in Chennai).

I am inclined to believe Chief Minister Jayalalithaa when she states that some miscreants had spread rumours on the timing of the distribution to bring a bad name to her Government.

Consider the following:

  • relief operations on a massive scale have by and large been going on smoothly, except for an earlier stampede in November and this one,
  • the chorus of calls for her resignation from the assorted local opposition outfits that differ in name by a few letters but are united in their greed for power,
  • Karunanidhi's statements
    "Where is law and order in the State? The question of failure [in law and order] would arise only then?"
    Link Karunanidhi statement.
  • Assemby elections coming up in the first half of next year, and
  • Dayanidhi Maran saying he will submit a report to the Central Government

Is the ground being prepared for the imposition of Governor's Rule through Article 356 in Tamil Nadu before the elections so that some can get the extra edge? How easy it is to exploit a tragedy politically!

2. Keep your hands off the private sector, UPA!

I read that the UPA govt. is planning to further its "social justice" agenda through the politician's favored approach to sow social distrust and discord - the quota system (see Times of India link UPA govt. plans job quota in private sector).

Of course, given ToI's standards of journalism (see my earlier critique of CP Surendran's op-ed) and its well-known inclination to fill pages with gossip and innuendo masquerading as news reports, can we put much stock in this report?

Indeed, the report itself seems to contradict itself, when it initially states:

Sources say government, which had so far maintained that it would leave it to the private sector to consider introducing job reservations, is now bringing both an amendment to the Constitution, as well as enacting a new law for the purpose.

but later,

Unlike the law officer who felt that government would’ve to amend the Constitution to satisfy the clamour for pushing the quota frontiers, the ministry has held that the purpose can also be achieved by enacting an ordinary law and placing it under the 9th Schedule of the Constitution for immunity from legal challenge.

Clearly, the latter quote implies that one doesn't need both amendment and law to introduce the disastrous idea of reservations in the private sector. And, given our MPs tendencies to shirk work, why would they do tow things, when they need to do only one?

Leaving aside the merits of the report, what on earth is the UPA govt. thinking by introducing reservations by law in the private sector? Why now? Is this an admission that public sector quotas are not doing their job (no pun intended)? Do the following come under the private sector - a start-up of 10 people, retail stores (ranging from potti kadai to the Big Bazaar-types), small scale industries, massive corporations? Can you imagine the hassles of recruiting to the quota, when you are trying to start-up a company?

If the law comes in to place, the govt. would obviously be in charge of enforcing these quotas. You can be sure that this leads to more corruption, declining productivity, and our country becoming an economic wasteland.

3. The Left and BPOs

With increased economic and career opportunities beckoning youths nowadays, thanks to the rise in business process outsourcing to India, the Left is becoming more and desparate when it finds that its conventional recruiting bases are no longer yielding sufficient recruits. Of course, by recruiting bases I mean the millions of fresh-out-of-college graduates who had no prospects and hopes, in the era of government-controlledstrangled economies.

As a result, the Left, through its outfits like the trade unions is desperate to enter the BPO space and wreak havoc there, under the guise of "improving labour conditions". Regulate BPO sector, says CITU

As predicted in my news round-up of Dec. 17, the Left is using the gory murder of Pratibha as an excuse to make another attempt into interfering with the BPO sector.

What thrilled me was the following statement:

Despite their efforts, trade unions have not been able to make any headway in unionising BPO workers, mainly due to a lukewarm response from the workers themselves.

Hope the Left is continually rebuffed in its attempts!

"Carapace of riverine traditions" etc., courtesy Surendran of ToI

First, thanks to Nanopolitan for alerting me to this pathetic op-ed on ToI.

I was disturbed on a leisurely Sunday afternoon by the writing of Mr. Surendran who shares his thoughts via the venerable rag of India, the Times of India (ToI), in this trashy op-ed Urban Lexicon. Readers - please read the article before proceeding.

My goodness, Surendran - your article itself is a veritable lexicon of words. Did you write your article with a thesaurus or dictionary open so that you can pick up strange words and force them into your article to sound learned? Or do you think and speak like that always? "Carapace of riverine traditions" - wow, that's a mouthful! I had to look up all these via dictionary.com while reading your article.

Surendran, I am sorry to say that using such strange words in an article does not automatically make the said article sound intelligent. You should first think (see, I didnt use 'cerebrate' in place of 'think') before writing.

Surendran, I find such wonderful examples of poorly-thought-out and even-more-poorly-written-up "ideas" in your article:

  • " ... computers and English. Indeed the two are really one. Click is an English word.
  • "As a matter of fact, in 2001 alone, the number of Indians flocking to the US was 70,290, making India the second largest source of legal migrants in the world. Clearly, Young India wants to be colonised."

Surendran, please don't get me wrong, but next time, try to think through your ideas and then express them through simple sentences.

OK, that's enough advice for Surendran.

Now, back to you, readers:

I seriously doubt we can change/educate the likes of C.P.Surendran or ToI. At least, let us change one of CP's sentences in the op-ed piece to "With what agility this article escaped the logic of the Times of India editor!"

FYI: Surendran has stated on record his egregious viewpoint that "there is no future in India. Money, fame, satisfaction, everything is in the West…. . See Disgusting Interview with Surendran.

I wish he would follow his own advice: "Write well or die. If you can't write well, go commit suicide. But keep your sanity while you write or die."

How do these nutcases get published in main stream media?!! What does this tell us about our main stream media?

A finer example of Macaulay's child you cannot see!

Friday, December 16, 2005

News round-up: Dec. 17

1. Safety and BPO sector

The kidnap and murder of Prathiba is a deplorable incident (see link below).

However, a staff reporter at The Hindu tries to use this incident to hype up the dangers of working at a BPO company. This is not unexpected: the reds have a GodMarx-given inclination to derail (in the guise of questioning) any venture that moves India forward from its overly-regulated-licence-permit-raj-characterised-by-rife-unemployment economy. (See the same tactic used in another area - Privatising airports- but I digress)

Beginning with a poorly-worded sentence (see below) that seems to promise plenty of juicy questions, the reporter gives an account of the gruesome kidnap and murder, and then finishes with what are perfectly sensible policies followed by the company involved.

The opening statement: The chilling details of how a criminal kidnapped and murdered call centre employee Prathiba have raised a number of questions with regard to safety in the time of business process outsourcing and the logistic challenges involved.

Link: Account of Murder

Now, what are the numerous questions, dear reporter? Can we have an inkling, at least? Let me try to finish your article, by providing some basic questions that I would ask as a parent, before sending my daughter/son to a BPO that works at night:

List of questions:
A. What are the safety policies/procedures governing:
1. transit to/from the workplace: e.g.
a. badges/uniforms for drivers/security-personnel?
b. seatbelts in vehicle?
c. conduct in the vehicle?
d. use of cell-phone while driving?
e. employees not allowed to stand in moving vehicle?
f. availability of escorts/security for walking from office to vehicle?
g. security personnel in the office vehicle?

2. at the office (campus): e.g.
a. the environs well-lit and patrolled by security personnel?
b. how can employees signal an emergency when inside the office, when on campus?
c. are there self-defence training classes provided to employees?
d. emergency contact information provided to/by employees for family, office, police?

B. Who is responsible for ensuring adherence to the safety procedures?
C. What is the safety track record of the company? (E.g., reported incidents of theft, harassment etc.)

Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

Let us resolve that:

  • We will use this as an opportunity to improve the safety systems around us (wherever we work, wherever we play)! Safety is paramount!
  • We will not be manipulated by mainstream media (MSM)! (The Hindu article has a disgusting picture of MSM vultures are hovering around poor Prathiba's poor husband. Sickos, don't you have feelings?)
  • We will not get manipulated by political parties/unions into protest marches (against BPO's)!

  • More later.

    P.S.: I do not work for or invest in any BPO.

    2. Sports and Politics:

    Ganguly Issue and the Lok Sabha

    Excerpts: Mohan Singh (Samajwadi Party) wanted a discussion on the manner in which Ganguly was dropped. He lamented politicisation of sports in general and cricket in particular and said this trend would demoralise good players.

    In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said Ganguly's exclusion was an insult to the player "as well to all of us." The decision was "unjust." He said he had told Mr. Pawar that none could accept it. "Let's see what happens."

    Someone please explain to me how a discussion of Ganguly's sacking by our esteemed MP's (who are the quintessence of politicking) does not contribute to further politicisation of sports!

    When communists such as Buddhadeb are hovering over the issue, be sure that the issue will not go away soon.

    Excerpt from The Hindu:
    Bengal Protests

    Protests continued across the city and suburbs for the third successive day against the former captain's exclusion from the team. Suburban trains were disrupted at several places in the Sealdah section of the Eastern Railway. Roadblocks led to traffic diversions at several places.

    I support Pawar's comment:

    Excerpt: "If people start using Parliament to say who should be in the team, it would cause irreparable damage to cricket and cricketers."

    Taking this a little further, can you have people using the Parliament to say who should be in your (private) company, because it could cause irreparable damage to your company and it's employees? Of course not. Then why do we encourage discussions on reservations in private sector companies? What's next, the government dictating who you should marry, in the interests of "communal/caste harmony?"

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    News round up: Dec. 15

    1. Can you legislate common-sense?

    Anti-superstition Bill introduced

    Excerpt: "A Bill seeking to punish those making false claims and taking advantage of people's superstitions was introduced in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday. Maharashtra is the first State to propose such a law. ... [check cheating by quacks.]"

    Although I support the government when it comes to punishing fraudsters for their false claims, I am wary of the presence of the word "superstitions" in this report. One human's superstition is another's faith. Also, does the bill cover only financial aspects of cheating? What about the emotional costs? Opening up the bill to cover emotional cheating would be a lawyer's dream!

    Warning: Long sentence ahead! Indeed, if the bill becomes a law, can newspapers be hauled up for their "astrological predictions", "vaastu", "fengshui", for their claims such as "love is in the air today. You will meet someone ..." or "Move the ceramic pot such that when it is viewed from underneath the sofa, it is in line with the dustbin, the printer and the TV-stand, while when viewed while suspended 2 feet above the sofa, it is enclosed by an equilateral triangle containing the aforementioned items ..."?

    In our country, entrusting a government with the right to define "superstition" and implement a law based on it is as dangerous as (if not more than) allowing them to sneak in an ill-defined (and hence much distorted and abused) "secularism" in the constitution.

    On the other hand, if passing the bill results in the cold hands of the law landing on the likes of the charlatans advertising mass healings at their prayer meetings ... dream on, it's never going to happen!

    2. On missed calls

    You can't miss them

    The write-up generally extolls the utility of missed calls in several situations, prominent among which is the following:

    Excerpt: "Whenever I want to convey to my fiancé that I miss her, I love her, or I am thinking of her, all that I have to do is send a buzz and the message is conveyed. Since she is into research it is not possible to disturb her while she is in her lab, to convey my love notes. So this works perfectly for us and she reciprocates in a similar way. Hats off to this feature in mobile phones," says Shameem Mustafa."

    I have a serious problem with this.

    Now, don't get me wrong, dear Shameem, but isn't the feature that really helps you the SILENT MODE feature of the mobile phone, and not the "missed call"?! Presumably, you can send all the messages you want to your beloved fiance and she can receive them with the mobile in the silent mode! The only message you are conveying is that ... you are CHEAP! And going by your story, looks like your fiance has also accepted your specious argument! :)

    Further, I can't (under)stand it when someone asks me to "give a missed call"! Please understand, people, that I can only "give a call", it's usually up to you or the telephone company to miss it! Of course, being practical, I am not going into the theoretical possibilities of dialling a number, waiting for the number to show up on the recipient's mobile and then disconnecting the call. If that's what you mean by "giving a missed call", I'm OK with it. There, I just figured out something by writing about it ... this blog has a purpose, you know ...

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    News round-up: Dec. 14

    Here are some interesting items from the paper edition of the Chennai edition of The Hindu dated Dec. 14, 2005:

    A. Photos:

    Looks like Reuters had a fantastic day y'day taking photos!

    1. Manmohan "Daler Mehndi, who?" Singh arrives for dinner at the ASEAN Summit in KL

    If there's one picture you should clip out from the paper and save for posterity, it has got to be this! PM-ji, with all due respect, what were you thinking? I know we Indians love gold, but isn't this a little overboard?

    For readers: I searched on the web for a soft-copy of this image, but couldnt locate it! If I do find it later, I will link to it. Priceless stuff!

    2. Troubled Waters: A protester afloat at the Victoria Harbour [after jumping in to protest against globalisation]

    Who comes up with these nutty wild ideas? And where do they find people willing to follow-up on these ideas? How can jumping into the sea help?

    B. Ad

    On pg. 24, I saw an ad for Superstar's Sivaji The boss. I was quite surprised that they had released the movie so soon after the muhurth (launch) and went off on a train of thought whose premise was the technological prowess of the Tamil film industry (I will not call it Kollywood!). I came crashing down to earth when I saw the "SHOOTING STARTS TODAY" caption on the left.

    Wow, is this the first time that an ad has been released to mark the first day of shooting? Can you imagine the amount of pre-release hype there is going to be?

    C. Expansion of the phonetic alphabet (The link is actually to the New York Times, whence The Hindu has sourced the article.)

    My attention was arrested by a very suggestive article on a very mundane item, thanks to the words "labiodental flap", "buzz ... capped by a faint pop", "... lower lip moving backward and forward ...". However, the flap is far less exciting than what one would believe. Go hear it - I certainly couldnt make out any buzz or pop. Can you?

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Operation Duryodhan - some questions

    Ok, there's much hoopla about 'Operation Duryodhan', but I would love to know the answers to these questions, even if some of them may seem rhetorical ...

    - Are you surprised that our venerable neta's can be bribed? Or that they are bribable for anything and everything, including asking questions? Given our glorious history of scams - Bofors, Harshad's suitcase, Laloo's fodder, the PVN era of urea, pickle and JMM, JJ's, Karunanidhi's, Laxman's, and the more recent oil-vouchers, why should be we surprised at bribes and MP's being in the same sentence (or camera footage)?

    - Why is the list of 11 MPs so heavily loaded with BJP MPs (6 out of 11)? How were the MPs selected as targets for the sting?

    - Why aren't our dear communist MPs in this list, if indeed the operation was aimed at all parties? Is it indeed true that our red brethren are beyond reproach when it comes to graft? Or is it that they were beyond approach?

    - Who is allowed by law to conduct such sting operations? What are the guidelines governing such sting operations? If anyone can conduct a sting operation (against anybody), then under the guise of a sting, anyone can bribe with impunity, with the confidence that if caught, one can always claim that he or she is in the process of a sting operation!

    - Who benefits most from this sting? If the MPs are dismissed by their respective parties, will bye(buy)-elections be held? Presuming that the voters vote out the incumbents, it would seem that the UPA will be very comfortably placed with the ouster of the BJP MPs.

    - Timing-wise, the media-release couldnt have been better for the Congress, could it, given the heat it's facing regarding the oil-vouchers scam?

    - When can we expect a sting operation on the media itself? How we would love to know what goes on behind closed doors in our "secular" media offices when they put together stories to suit their prejudices!

    - Is there room for hope in that the bribed MPs delivered on their contracts with the bribe-givers? :)

    Vijay Siva concert - 12/12/05

    I attended a good performance of Vijay Siva, Sriram Kumar and Neyveli Narayanan at Brahma Gana Sabha in Alwarpet. I missed out on probably a couple of the opening compositions, but was all attention for the rest of the kutcheri. The pieces rendered were:

    Amba Vani Nannu - Kiravani - Muthiah Bhagavathar
    Raghupathe Rama - Sahana - Thyagaraja
    Chede Buddhi Mannura - Atana - Thygaraja
    Kathaya Kathaya Madhavam - Kalyani - Narayana Theerthar
    Sarasadalanayana - Khamas - Muthuswamy Dikshithar
    Muripemu - Mukhari (Main) - Thyagaraja
    Sharadha Bhujangam - Ragamallika - Adi Shankaracharya
    Other items like Meera Bhajan, Thirupugazh

    The highlights for me were:
    - the Neraval for Muripemu at the charanam Ituleni Malaya Marutamuce.
    - the Sharadha Bhujangam of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. Each stanza contains a raga name that was used in the ragamallika.

    Vijay's jnana (depth and breadth) and his passion for perfection have amazed me ever since I first listened to him in Music Academy over 15 years ago.
    Sriram's himalayan vidwat and his disarming down-to-earth attitude are instantly endearing.
    Narayanan was simply phenomenal in his accompaniment and thani avardhanam.

    MP Sting Operation - Rediff can't count

    The news report at the link below opens with "... 54 [MP's] were shown taking money for raising questions in Parliament ...", but later says "Only 10-12 MPs have been caught on camera accepting bribes."

    I cannot reveal details of operation: Bahal

    Which number do we believe? 10? 12? 54? 11?

    Onkar Singh/Rediff - please be specific! It's not as if there was a mob of MPs caught in the act on camera and you couldn't count how many were there!

    More on this later!

    Idea for Airports

    Chennai Airport. 1:30 am. Waiting for the delayed arrival of dear relative A on flight xyz from the US. Four layers of people between me and the barricade that separates the onlookers from the security and the arrivals.

    Almost everyone's on their toes, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of akka or appa or amanji returning from Tallahassee or Cologne or Dubai after a year or a week or a decade ... but thanks to the layers of people who beat them to the coveted position at the barricade (either by getting in earlier or by just barging through extant layers), none of us can see who's exiting through the airport gate.

    Why doesn't the airport authority put up a large TV screen (plasma welcome) above the gate so that people (from a comfortable distance) can see who's exiting (and thus, arrived) without the hassle of a pre-Olympic-sprint stretch routine? How much more relaxed can we make things!

    Don't judge a paper by its name ... "The Hindu"

    I have been wanting to do this for long - set up a blog that picks apart and showcases the ideological bias that underpins "news reporting" in "The Hindu". Perhaps this post marks the start of that journey where I collect and showcase examples of bias ...

    I grew up with The Hindu through my school days - I used to devour those "Slice of Life" write-ups of Gangadhar, the Friday reviews of Carnatic music and cinema (no, not Carnatic cinema! :)) , the sports section (when I was an avid cricket and tennis fan), the sundry other supplements (science, education) ... and generally had a positive impression of The Hindu as a media establishment.

    It was not until much later - the end of the 1990s that I started noticing tinges (then shades and then lashes) of red in its coverage of events.

    It's not too difficult to see why the detection of bias wasn't until much later. As a school boy, one's not (Ok, at least I wasn't) really very interested in political events (unless these have a direct impact on school or college prospects - such as school holidays due to the demise of "national leaders" or the reservations issue), so it's not unusual to skip much of the newspaper and head straight for the sports section and the supplements. And, it would take a considerable deal of effort for even diehard reds to indulge in dialectics over cups of filter kaapi, pitch reports or a review of Smt. Karpagambal Sabesan's rendition of "Sriman Narayana" in GK Hall.

    The late '90s saw me in the USA for graduate study, and when one is that far away from the homeland, trust me, one gets interested in much more than accounts of filter kaapi and cricket news (the modern version of 'bread and circus', if you will). The politics of the homeland at once becomes vital to your existence and you find yourself analysing late at night why Sunil Chaudhury won over Suneel Choudhri in the recent Mayurpur bye-elections (did I spell that right, or is it buy-elections?), often with a group of five other similarly enthu grad students ...

    Thus, with the power of the Internet at my disposal and an increased interest in the political climes of our country, I would scour cyberspace for reports or opinion pieces on the same events across different newspapers. And would typically find The Hindu contorting itself into awkward positions, very far from commonsense - based on an undefined/ill-defined/hazy/nebulous concept it likes to call "secularism", which in India means "the principle to uphold double-standards".

    I wrote quite a few letters to The Hindu (during the Sep. 11 attacks on the US, the Gujarat elections) deploring the double-standards and shoddy analysis of the journalists, and unsurprisingly, none of them was published.

    I then gave up trying to correct the newspaper, and thought that it might be a better idea to publicise the bias via the internet (I drew inspiration from spindianexpress on the web). After much procrastination, I have finally got down to it via this blog.

    Satyameva Jayate!

    To Vigneshwara

    Vakrathunda Mahakaya,
    Kotisurya Samaprabha
    Nirvignam Kuru Me Deva,
    Savakaryeshu Sarvada