Kshetrajna

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Quiz!

Every now and then you read something that makes you sit back and re-visit some of the assumptions (euphemism for prejudices!) you carry along. You wonder what ever drove you to view someone with such lenses, and having corrected said lenses, you begin to wonder if these lenses need further correction.

Here is something that I read from TSR's book that made me think about one person in a new light.

Question for the reader: can you identify who X is? Please provide your answer in the Comments section! Hint: X is a substantially prominent politician today.

TSR writes:

That year, X ... was the chief guest and [X] addressed the 200-odd IAS officers who had gathered at the meeting. What [X] had to say made me sit up indeed. [X] spoke on these lines: "You all have such excellent minds and education; some of you are scholars; some of you have Nobel prize minds; you will all succeed in any walk of life, wherever you turn your attention to; you have good jobs; you can educate your children well; and you are all respected by society; - (and then the clincher, raising ... voice) - Why do you come and touch my feet? Why do you come and lick my shoes? Why do you come to me for personal favours? When you do so, I will do as you desire and then extract my price from you.


I will disclose who X is after I have 10-20 guesses. Does what X say give us an idea why governance is what it is today in India?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nehru-Gandhi Sycophancy at Rediff!

Wow, is this pathetic or what? Since when do we observe sundry anniversaries of every assumption of Prime Ministership? Or is this because the event is associated with the Nehru-Gandhi family? Congrats, Rediff: you have set a new low in journalistic standards! A slide show, a 'report', a message board for this "major" event - must have been a slow news-day!

From the report:
Indira Gandhi was a leader like none other in India's post-independence history.

Usha Bhagat ... recalls those heady days, when Indira Gandhi took charge, 40 years ago.

[Indira's] face had a glow of an inner radiance.



Never mind that every leader is like none other! Further in an intro to the message board:


In 1971, she broke the back of Pakistan's army, and carved out Bangladesh on our eastern borders, thus giving the lie to the two-nation theory.

In 1974, she exploded the Bomb, and risked international pariah status for India despite deciding to use the atom only for peaceful purposes.


Readers, please note media policy:

When an N-G family member is ruling the country,
He/she broke the back of Pakistan's army ...
He/she exploded the Bomb ...

When similar creditworthy events occur under the NDA government,
The Indian army defeated the Pakistani army in Kargil (not Vajpayee) ...
India's scientists exploded the Bomb in 1998 (not Vajpayee) ...

[Please note: I do not mind our army/scientists being praised - all I am doing is lamenting the double-standards of our media!]

Of course, the opposite also holds true if there are problems. Thus, if there is a scam or riot during the rule of a non-N-G PM/CM, it is the fault of the non-N-G PM or CM for not preventing it. However if the scam or riot occurs during the rule of an N-G PM, it is a "systemic" problem.

Great work, Rediff! You have set a new standard in stooping to please. Hopefully other media outlets will take the cue! Some suggestions for future stories:

"Reports" observing/celebrating 1st, 2nd, 3rd ... anniversaries of Rajiv starting school/college, flunking out, meeting an au-pair, Rahul's first step, his first date etc.: after all, anything to do with the N-G family is an event worth celebrating! Imagine, if Rajiv hadn't met Sonia in Cambridge on that glorious day, would we be able to observe anniversaries of grand "renunciation", or entertain dreams of Rahul (and/or maybe his Colombian girlfriend) lording over sacrificing their lives for our country? Shudder!

Monday, January 23, 2006

News-picks - Jan 23

1. So we hear that Q has withdrawn funds from his de-frozen British bank accounts, thanks to the largesse of Bharadwaj/UPA. What a shame - the Bofors case is well and truly closed now.

2. One must give credit to Deve Gowda's sense of politicking. He seems to have learnt from his earlier lessons at the Centre. A couple of days back he pretended to be all upset and shocked that his son had betrayed him by eloping with the BJP. Now he's praising his son for saving his party (from the Congress and its insults)!

Robert De Nobili - The Roman Brahmin deception etc.

A couple of days ago I came across this report in The Hindu.

CHENNAI: The Jesuit community in Chennai will come together on Saturday to commemorate three important events in the history of the mission in South India: the 450th death anniversary of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the movement, the 400th founding year of the Madurai Jesuit mission (the first such mission in this part of the country) and the 350th death anniversary of Robert De Nobili, the founder of the mission.


The mention of 'De Nobili' and Madurai in the article rang a bell - although a slightly muffled bell. Surely I had come across Nobili somewhere in my readings. It wasn't too long before I made the connection with the story of the 'Roman Brahmin' deception. Please read Sri. Arun Shourie's article on the hoax perpetrated by De Nobili on Indians in his quest to harvest converts. (Aside: This site contains a host of brilliant articles by Sri. Shourie that expose the chicanery of the pseudo-secularists in various contexts.)

Some excerpts from Sri. Shourie's article (emphasis is mine):


A missionary, De Nobili came to India in 1608. In Church lore, he is credited with having secured among the largest harvest of converts for Jesus.
...
De Nobili put out the fiction that he was a "Roman Brahmin" -- Romaca Brahmana was the title he gave out. Francis Ellis, in his contribution to the 1822 Transactions of the Asiatic Society, explained, "Nobili, who was looked upon by the Jesuits as the chief apostle of the Indians after Francois Xavier, took incredible pains to acquire a knowledge of the religion, customs, and language of Madura, sufficient for the purposes of his ministry. But this was not all: for to stop the mouths of his opposers and particularly of those who treated his character of Brachman as an imposture, he produced an old, dirty parchment in which he had forged, in the ancient Indian characters, a deed, showing that the Brachmans of Rome were of much older date than those of India and that the Jesuits of Rome descended, in a direct line from the god Brama.
...
It turns out that forgery was a regular industry with de Nobili. He produced a "fifth Veda" into which he had smuggled notions which would help inveigle people into Christianity. Ellis found the original forgery in the possession of Catholic missionaries in Pondicherry. He found that our artful missionary had similarly produced versions -- with convenient alterations and interpolations -- of the Rig, Sama, and Atharva Vedas too. And several other "scriptures"!

To deceive people into conversion, de Nobili not only altered his own appearance, he disguised rites such as baptism, the service etc. And he asked his disciples as well as the new converts to retain Indian appearances: "....His converts retained the 'Shendi' or tuft of hair which marked the caste Hindu," Ogilvie writes, "they wore a sacred cord indistinguishable from that of their Hindu neighbours, and they bore an oval caste mark on their brow, the paste composing or being made of the ashes of sandalwood instead of as formerly the ashes of cow dung."

When his rivals in the Church charged de Nobili with dissimulation, he argued that what he was doing was in accord with the prescription of Saint Paul: for had Paul not advised missionaries to be sure that they became "all to all"?


What Sri. Shourie wrote then about the deception in the context of Sonia (see below) is equally applicable to Rahul:

The dissimulation is on display on the public platform every day. In the beginning, the recluse. Then the carefully planned public exposure. The daily audiences to the privileged few. The central claim of being the "Roman Brahmin". The stout denial to being European. The falsehoods which are put out on behalf of, and for the advancement of the Romaca Brahamana....

Sigh, we Indians never learn ...

Friday, January 20, 2006

TSR's book: Anecdote 1

I have been completely absorbed in the reading of TSR Subramanian's book the last few days. Although I have wanted to post regular updates while reading the book, I find it incredibly difficult to put down the book, making it difficult for me to share some anecdotes from it.

I would heartily recommend the book to you if you are interested in India and how her administrative structures have served her since independence.

Here is one anecdote that really moved me:


The Azamgarh elections were conducted in the peak of summer when, under the broiling sun, the temperature often reached 120 F in the open. On polling day, I was in my jeep, with my armed escort, criss-crossing the constituency, and visiting polling stations, to observe if the proceedings were smooth. At mid-day, I stopped the vehicle on a side road, under a tree, to have my sandwich lunch, which I had brought along.

In the far distance, I could see through my binoculars a field where a peasant clad only in his loincloth, was tending to the land in preparation for the planting, in advance of the approaching monsoon rain. I soon also saw his young wife, carrying a small basket containing his meal, accompanied by her two children. From a distance, I could observe the children bounding ahead to embrace him as they approached him. I also could see the affectionate greeting that the woman gave him, in a loving yet dignified manner, without even coming close to touching him. I could sense a certain restful peace in that rural scene, under the fierce mid-day sun in one of the most backward parts of India, among rustic folk who lived barely above subsistence level. I looked at this sight, contemplating the tranquility that the good Lord had bestowed on those who are content with the most elementary things. I thought of the politicians and the bureaucrats and the industrialists and the professionals who extract from such people the last bit of juice for their own luxury and their own narrow ends. Had the man not heard of the election or if he had, could he not perhaps spare the time to further democracy? He was immersed in his own simple routine with its minimal needs. His fortitude and inner strength are what have prevented a bloody revolution in India, despite the deprivation and exploitation of the class he represents."


TSR's wonderful experiences - the diversity of roles he has played, the locations he has been posted in, the people he has worked with - leave me awestruck at the wonder of my country, India. There is such a wealth of experiences in my country that it would perhaps take a million janma to understand, if not, experience even a fraction of them.

For a while in secondary school I had a wish to be a part of the IAS (the Indian Administrative Services). I have been a good student through my life and I am sure that if I had made an attempt I could have been part of the services (despite the gruelling exams and interview).

What turned me off from the civil services was a "Career Day" at school when I was in the tenth or eleventh grade. Among the various professionals invited was an IAS officer. She spoke quite engagingly about her work. When it was the time for students to ask questions, I explained to her that I wanted to be a technocrat - get an engineering degree (say, from the IITs) and afterwards work with the IAS (in a managerial sense), and in this context would it be a good idea to take the IAS exam after an engineering degree?

Her response completely put me off the civil services track - she said that it would be an absolute waste of an engineering education to join the IAS afterwards, and that there are much better career options (even of the technocrat-sort) after an engineering degree. She was also quite disappointed with her own experience at the civil services, and strongly discouraged considering the IAS as an option. I remember thinking then: wow, if this is the view from the inside, I don't really want to go there.

Later, during and after my studies at IIT-M, I never revisited the idea of taking the IAS exam, opting instead for the well-worn route of graduate studies in the US (although I must say that I did certain things differently).

Now when I read of TSR's experiences, I wonder at what might have been ...

Nevertheless, I have had some excellent experiences along my own journey and will share these with you over the next few years ... :)

NGO = No-Good Organisation

NGOs show concern over Imam's fate

[Mumbai's] so-called elites are at it again with their petitions. This time Mahesh Bhatt and company have come up in support of the arrested Imam of Mosque at Haj House. They say that the Imam arrested by the Mumbai Police's Anti Terrorist Squad should not be projected and publicised in the manner he has been.

At a press conference, the NGOs showing concern over media reports said that while the Government, NGOs and all concerned are struggling to ensure sustenance of communal harmony in Mumbai and at all other places, instances such as these damage the spirit of mutual faith and even though belonging to different religion trust among people who live together as brothers.

It was argued that whenever a person is arrested for his alleged involvement in a serious crime he need not be identified and projected as a person representing any religious community.
The wide publicity of the arrest and his relation with the Haj House has only created undesirable sense of fear, hatred and condemnation towards Muslim community as a whole. On any occasion when a priest from any faith is required to be interrogated in relation to any crime, the sensitivity and delicacy of the situation requires a very proclaimed approach. In this case it is projected as if the holy Haj House is a den of criminals.


I don't recall a single call for "sensitivity and delicacy" when the poor Kanchi Shankaracharya's were hounded by a state government hell-bent on jailing them and seizing the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam funds! One set of guidelines for the Hindus, another set for the minorities - this is the practice among the Indian state, the NGOs and the media!

What's up with Mahesh Bhatt and terrorism? This man is set to make a movie on (the London 7/7) terrorist attacks with a sympathetic view of the terrorists, and now this rallying to the support of an Imam charged with harbouring and conspiring with terrorists!

It would have been nice if the NGOs had been named in this report - it helps us keep track of a rapidly proliferating species. A common leftist/communist tactic is to have multiple organisations made up of essentially the same members - the benefits are many:
a) people can be easily fooled when a leftist cause claims the support of "numerous" organisations (as opposed to the support of 1),
b) the multiple organisations, all being linked, provide for an easy way to "lose" funds,
c) the members themselves can feel proud of serving multiple causes.

And, finally, I don't think "the sensitivity and delicacy of the situation requires a very proclaimed approach". Last I checked, "proclaim" means "declare" or "praise" - I don't think one would want to proclaim anything when you are dealing with a sensitive matter.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Round-up: Jan. 19

1. View from across the border

Oh-so-appalling Indians

Thousands of Pakistanis including the enlightened citizen convey their gratitude to Mr. Iftikhar Rashid, Chairman (PEMRA) Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for banning foreign channels (Star Plus) which was negating the basic values of social/religious sentiments of Muslims in Pakistan. One is appalled by the social life style of Hindu society, where all married couples have illicit relations, encourage illegitimate children and ladies indulge in nothing but conspiracies, while their men folk stand like deaf and dumb stooges. The ban may have dismayed thousands of viewers but in the overall scenario such condemnable social evils must not be allowed to be aired. -MAJ (Retd) FATEH ALAM SHEIKH, December 27.


This is a Major's view! Published in The Nation - one of the leading newspapers of The Land Of The Pure! Note that the deranged Major does not refer to Indian society - he writes about Hindu society.

Think about it - will a bigoted rant like this about Pakistani Muslims ever be featured in one of the leading English-language papers in India? "NO" - why?

2. The Usual Suspects are at it again!

The headline for the article in the web edition is "Concern over personalised attack against Brinda Karat" while in the paper edition in Chennai it is "Groundswell of support for Brinda". Wonder why they chose different headlines?

Nothing to worry, though, the groundswell is made up of - hold your breath - 150 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY ONLY - no more trailing zeros) "scholars, academicians, artists, health practitioners and social activists"!

And the release contains the usual shrill phrases - examples:
"hate campaign"
"obscurantist forces"
"a high-pitched and personalised attack targeting [pseudo of the day]"
"right to critical and rational debate"
"untenable view"

Among those who have put their signatures to the statement are Jean Dreze, Armaity Desai, Prabhat Patnaik, C.P. Chandrasekhar, Githa Hariharan, Uma Chakravarty, Tanika Sarkar, Zoya Hassan, Utsa Patnaik, Molayashri Hashmi, Subhashini Ali, Indira Jaising and Sohail Hashmi.


There are 13 of the usual suspects in the above. What happened to the regulars like Bidwai, Azmi, Akthar, Roy? I suppose they do this on a rotation basis - after all, every one needs publicity every now and then, right? Publicity is the oxygen for these secular terrorists!

3. End "jungle raj" in Delhi: High Court

Unfortunately, the High Court is not talking about the UPA "Non-government"!

Hitting out at unauthorised builders, violators of building by-laws and encroachers on public land and extending further the scope for demolition of unauthorised constructions in the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to demolish all commercial properties on "Lal Dora" land and raze those properties first ``whose owners are in power and authority''.


4. If I had more energy I would comment on the daily dose of platitudes that we are subjected to, (like those below), but I don't. So more later!

"Zero-tolerance for corruption",
"No political interference in the CBI",
"Terrorism is the biggest threat"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Currently Reading: TSR Subramanian

I have recently begun reading Sri. T.S.R. Subramanian's "Journeys through Babudom and Netaland: Governance in India" (Rupa & Co., 2004). The author began his journey in 1961 as a joint magistrate in Moradabad (U.P.) and after 35 years of service, was appointed Cabinet Secretary to the Govt. of India (the highest civil service post).

So far, the reading's been quite engrossing. I will try to post key learnings (TSR's or mine) as I go along.

An excerpt from the preface:


The bottom third of our population is invisible when the curtains are drawn ... it does not exist in India for all practical purposes. All the policy initiatives and developmental actions are taken by the top half of the population, for their own benefit; and all the moves are driven by the group interests of the major players: the politicians, bureaucrats, professionals and the judiciary. There is an unspoken conspiracy that India belongs exclusively to this ruling class, with the middle classes being the beneficiaries of the leftovers; and the poorest on-third left behind. This is the post-independence dharma of India.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Serious monkey-business!

MCD has a challenge!

NEW DELHI: Slamming the city's civic authorities for failure to tackle the simian menace plaguing the Tis Hazari courts complex, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday told the MCD: "If you cannot catch monkeys, then close down."

A Division Bench of Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma gave the MCD four weeks' time to rid the complex of monkeys, in response to a PIL filed by a practising advocate, Nirmal Chopra.

The petitioner had complained that the monkeys attacked lawyers, their clients and court staff and even snatched eatables.


What is the 'MCD'? Is it the 'Municipal Corporation of Delhi' or the 'Monkey Catchers' Department'? Which monkeys are to be caught? ;)

Meeting Mr. B.

I was on my way to another part of the town the other day when I ran into Mr.B., a fellow-traveller:

Mr.B.: Here, sir, please read this (hands over a book and pamphlet).
Me (thinking): Aiyo Rama! Not another missionary!

Mr.B.: Read the book and pamphlet! Keep yourself occupied.

As I glanced at the b. and p., I noticed that they were in Tamil. Further, I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture of a Swamiji (rather than JC or hell-fire! :)) on the cover of the book. Reading further, I noticed that the b. and p. were on the merits of vegetarianism, the health problems associated with a non-vegetarian diet, and the unethical nature of killing animals for one's food. Being a vegetarian myself, I was familiar with all of this. So I set aside the b. and p. and started chatting with Mr. B.

Me: I am already a vegetarian, so you don't need to convince me. How did you get these books? And why are you giving them to me?
Mr.B.: I am one of numerous disciples of this Swamiji - we are interested in preserving vegetarianism in India. During my spare time, I go around slum-areas and tell people to give up meat.

Me (thinking):You should probably go to middle-class areas or even agrahara's, given how even traditional vegetarians are crossing over. (aloud) Do people listen to you?
Mr.B.: Sometimes. The problem is that when we speak of our Hindu culture, the ideals of vegetarianism etc. in slums, we are working against the "Hallelujah-gumbal".

Me: The who?
Mr.B.: "Hallelujah-gumbal" [To reader: gumbal is 'crowd' in Tamil], sir. These people who come chanting Hallelujah, convert the people living in slums to Christianity. These H. people have a lot of funds - they get them from foreign countries. Once the slum people convert to Christianity, they do not want to listen to anything that I say or Swamiji says! They even ask me to convert!

Me: Yes, I am aware of this. So what do you do?
Mr.B.: I persist, hoping that my message prevails in the end! There are at least 20 people who have become vegetarians.

Mr.B. then branches off vegetarianism, moving onto threats to India and her culture - in the form of missionaries, conversion money, rapid population growth of minority communities (Muslim+Christian) and how Hindus will become a minority community in India within the next 100 years.

I reassure Mr.B. that if we Hindus are vigilant and are strong in our faith and culture, we will be able to withstand all threats.

Mr.B. complains that Hindus are short-sighted. None thinks beyond his/her own family - everyone obsesses about becoming an engineer or doctor and moving out of India, to the USA. No one thinks of what India will be if the Hindus become a minority.

I agree with him on the myopia and the dangers of an India where Hindus are a minority. By this time I have reached my destination, so it's time to part ways.

I ask Mr.B. not to worry, do his work well and wish him the best in his efforts.

Mr.B. thanks me for talking to him, and gives me his contact details. He receives the auto-fare, and drives off, looking for his next passenger.




Now, reader, were you surprised that Mr.B. was an auto-driver? Why?

Subsidy to Haj pilgrims "un-Islamic": Prince of Arcot

Prince of Arcot Mohammed Abdul Ali has appealed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consult ulemas, religious scholars and intellectuals in Muslim community before offering Haj subsidy to pilgrims.

In a letter to Dr. Singh, he said subsidy for Haj pilgrims was un-Islamic and against the principles of Shariat. "Haj pilgrimage is one of the obligatory duties to a Muslim, who can only afford it, but not acceptable on somebody's obligation." No country in the world, including Muslim countries, offered the subsidy. Clerics of Saudi Arabia, Muslim high dignitaries and intellectuals had objected to the subsidy.
...
"There is a need to create opinion among Muslims that going on Haj pilgrimage with Government subsidy is against the tenets of Islam," he said in a press release.


The Haj subsidy is one of those unique features that distinguishes the Indian Government's practice of secularism! In what was probably an attempt to show Muslims (in India and most importantly, Pakistan) that it was more Muslim-friendly than Pakistan, the GoI instituted the Haj subsidy to allow Haj-pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia for a discounted fare (the 2005 discounted fare was Rs. 12000 - I'll try to find out what an undiscounted fare might be!). Now, the irony is that this subsidy itself is un-Islamic!

I wish the Prince all the best in his attempts! Indeed, let not the Govt. of India be guilty of inducing apostasy in devout Muslims! Then it would be in the unenviable position of neither being secular nor pseudo-secular!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Time to own up: Individual and Collective Responsibility

There is no question about it: Law Minister H. R. Bharadwaj has to go! He is guilty of failure: coming to the defense of Quattrocchi is at best an act of servitude to Sonia, and at worst an act of brazen illegality! Savour the delicious irony of the episode: a law minister doing his best to help a criminal and working against the government's investigative agency! We hear that the Additional Solicitor General of the Govt. of India specifically went on a trip to London to defreeze Q's bank accounts - and pay out Q to the extent that was available in the accounts! [See below: from IBNLive]

The CBI director was also forced to agree to the proposal mooted by the Law Ministry, which resulted in Additional Solicitor General (ASG) B Dutta's visit to London last month.

ASG Dutta met officials in the Crown Prosecution Service and told them to move court and defreeze the operations in two bank accounts of Ottavio Quattrocchi in the BSI AG bank in London.

Interestingly, ASG Dutta's visit to London was sanctioned on November 25, 2005, in a letter from the Department of Personnel and Training, a ministry that comes directly under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


The most incredible part of the story is that our [increasingly dis]honorable PM-ji was "unaware" about the minister's and the ASG's shenanigans!

Let's see: every time the UPA Govt. has been caught with its pants down, the PM-ji has done one of the following: a) claimed he was unaware, b) dissembled with sanctimonious stories, c) not offered a reaction, or worse d) spouted platitudes.

Dear Manmohan-ji, you have let us down. We had high hopes that you might bring a breath (or two) of fresh air to governance when you were anointed PM. But it is clear that you have absolutely no control over your Cabinet colleagues - they are running amok, serving themselves and their mistress.

It is all too well to invoke the culpable minister's individual responsibility whenever the minister has been caught red-handed. However, when these acts become commonplace, it is time to own up collectively! The UPA government (in its current form, at least) can no longer govern India: it must go! Perhaps, PM-ji, you can start by tendering your resignation (at least, threaten to resign, like you apparently did last November)!

Update: Swapan Dasgupta is much less polite about Dr. Manmohan Singh, calling him A shamefully, clueless PM (via SomethingLikeLife). Excerpts:

The identity of the all-powerful friends of Quattrocchi is not exactly a secret, although it is being disingenuously suggested that even they were unaware of what Bharadwaj and Pachauri were up to.

The delight of an extra-Constitutional authority is that it cannot be pinned down. There are no tell-tale notings in the files that can be unearthed through the Freedom of Information Act. Nor does anyone have the gumption to say that they did what did in the belief that it would please the invisible hand that controls the government.

The Government of Britain works on the quaint principle that the Queen can do no wrong. In India, there is no formal monarchy but here too the Queen can do no wrong. To uphold the principle, even the Prime Minister has to end up openly proclaiming that he is a cipher whose writ doesn't run in his own office. Even honourable men should not be devoid of shame.

Antics Arundhati

Celebrated writer Publicity Hound Arundhati Roy on Saturday refused to accept the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award in protest against the Indian government toeing the United States' line by 'violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation.'
...
"Even today, this government shows a continuing commitment to these polices and is clearly prepared to implement them ruthlessly and violently, whatever the cost," she said.

She further noted that, in the last few months, apart from the growing number of farmers' suicide and the forcible eviction of people from their lands and livelihood in thousands, the country had witnessed police brutality on industrial workers in Gurgaon, killing of a dozen people protesting against a dam in Manipur and the killing of another dozen people protesting their displacement by a steel plant in Orissa.


This is incredible: when I thought that the UPA government couldn't go any lower by offering Arundhati this award, I hear that she has snubbed it by refusing the offer! If the offer was an act of pseudosecular-patting-pseudosecular, the refusal was one of unadulterated sanctimony!

Note that Arundhati doesn't emote concern about the numerous people killed in jehadi terrorist attacks in India (Ayodhya, New Delhi bomb blasts, Bangalore IISc, apart from J&K, to mention a few) over the past few months!

[Aside: You ask why I call her sanctimonious? Well, despite the pro-environment image she has assiduously built up for herself, she doesn't tell us she had constructed a resort (for herself and other "progressives") in an ecologically sensitive and protected area - a wildlife sanctuary in Panchmarhi (Madhya Pradesh)! Apart from the self-righteousness which serves her well in her publicity stunts, Arundhati has also a tremendous ability to conjure up dramatic stories and pass them off as truth in her media releases - recall her concoction about the "daughters" of Jaffri being burnt alive in Gujarat, when in reality there was only one daughter who was in faraway USA!]

SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ACTION!

N Senthil Kumar was overjoyed in February 2005 to have topped the entrance test for the prestigious Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry. But to his shock, he could not find a seat in the PG course.

Reason: 50% of the total seats were filled through an entrance test conducted by AIIMS, and the rest was filled by students from the reserved category.
...
Appearing for the Medical Council of India, counsel Maninder Singh said it was an injustice to a student who topped the entrance test only to be told that no seats were available in the open general category.

He suggested the 50% quota policy be made applicable to total number of seats available after filling half the seats from the all-India quota.



If this isn't perverse, what is? "Secular progressives" will shrug and say that this devious policy of quotas is the only way of dispensing social justice to the "oppressed"! How many more Senthil Kumars will be turned away at the doors of education and employment in the name of "social justice" ("secular progressive" Orwellian for "anti-social injustice")?!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Happy Pongal!



Dear Readers,

Here's wishing you and your families a VERY HAPPY AND BOUNTIFUL PONGAL FESTIVAL!

Regards!

To learn more about Pongal, visit PongalFestival.org!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Round-up: Jan. 11

Let's begin with this egregious write-up in The Indian Express.
1. Marketing Guru by VRINDA GOPINATH

Is Swami Ramdev a 21st century Swadeshi Jagran Manch groupie and Jane Fonda, all rolled into one nationalist-yogobic-cosmic package?


Is this the standard for writing about a Swamiji who has brought about a profound transformation in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Indians? 'Groupie', 'Package'? 'Yogobic' (this one really gets me!)?! If this was coming from a foreign journalist, one might excuse it on the grounds of cultural insensitivity, but from an Indian (and ostensibly Hindu) journalist? Macaulay couldn't be prouder!

His DIY Yoga, beamed on millions of television sets every morning through a religious channel, promotes the practice of pranayaam or breathing techniques for healthy and pure living, is perhaps the only next thing after the hysterically popular 1980s Jane Fonda aerobic workout regime.


Why this obsession with Jane Fonda? Don't you tire when these journalists describe practically every phenomenon in India in terms of phenomena abroad (read, USA)? Who are these journalists writing for that Swami Ramdev is compared to Jane Fonda? For readers in India or abroad?

The Swami understands the power of technology, selling his spiritual wares ...


'Spiritual wares'? 'Wares': articles of commerce!

SWAMI Ramdev would have continued on his astral-marketing journey uninterrupted, had it not been for Communist leader Brinda Karat, who had a bone to pick with him.


Leaving aside the awful pun on picking bones, 'astral-marketing journey'? Clearly Vrinda has by now slotted all that Swami Ramdev has done in business/commercial terms: so, never mind that he is helping hundreds of thousands improve their lives through meditation, it has to be seen as marketing!

Wait, don't puke yet! Hold it and puke the whole lot out in one go - read on:

Naturally, his screaming followers hurled abuses at Karat and burned her effigies, and accused her of being an MNC stooge. It is perhaps not spiritual indignation but a keen corporate sense that has propelled Swami Ramdev to unleash the protests and agitations. After all, he was only protecting a vast cosmic empire that was now threatening to collapse under this incriminating heap.


Such are the standards of Indian journalism!

2. Phone tapping follow-up: Amar Singh vs. Delhi police

a. Police gives clean chit to the government

The Delhi police on Tuesday gave a clean chit to the Government in the telephone tapping allegations made by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and said it was a "case of forgery and cheating."

Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul
, in a report submitted to Home Secretary V.K. Duggal, ruled out the involvement of the Government as alleged by Mr. Singh.
...
Police believe that one of the two detectives had forged letters seeking permission to intercept Mr. Singh's telephone.


OK, fine, the documents were forged by the detectives! But, the important question, dear police commissioner, is 'at whose request' (did the detectives set out on the forgery and tapping)?! It seems unbelievable that these detectives would decide on a whim to tap the Samajwadi Party leaders! What of the reports of these detectives being paid Rs. 5,00,000 every week for months together for the tapping? Who is behind the tapping conspiracy?

b. Amar Singh: miscreants tried to enter my house

Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh on Tuesday lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police, saying that some miscreants, purportedly belonging to the Youth Congress, forcibly tried to enter his Lodhi Estate accommodation on Tuesday. However, the police denied that there was any such attempt.

Around 4-30 p.m., Mr. Singh went to the police headquarters to file a complaint to Police Commissioner K.K. Paul. Though Dr. Paul was not present, the complaint was accepted.

Mr. Singh said that in the past several days he had been maintaining that there was a threat to his life from the Congress, but no one had paid any heed.

...
A police officer said about 70 protesters gathered outside Mr. Singh's residence on Tuesday. They were detained and brought to the local police station in a peaceful manner.

As of now, no action on Mr. Singh's complaint was being contemplated, he added.


I remember that several years back the police had refused hospital privileges to a prominent industrialist who was charged with some crime. The poor industrialist died due to the police's refusal. I hope Mr. Amar Singh has adequate police protection.

3. We'll continue to violate the Constitution, says Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh!

Or something to that effect! Never mind that the Supreme Court threw out acts of a previous Congress Govt. according minority institution status on Aligarh Muslim University and the current UPA Govt's discriminatory reservation of seats for Muslims on grounds of constitutional illegality! Arjun Singh still wants to violate the constitution!

Monday, January 09, 2006

General Musharraf gives leadership tips to PM Manmohan

From Karan Thapar's interview of Musharraf on IBNLive:

President Musharraf: Yes it is because of the history. But history changes. I have said I trust Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, because I see sincerity in him. But I know that there are organisations within your government, agencies who work against this. I know that.

Now, if a leadership cannot be in charge and give their ideas and not allow the ideas to be dominated by organisations and agencies, then I am afraid we will never move forward. The agencies and organisations must be dominated by the leader and he must dictate the way forward.

Thapar: That’s the message you are giving to Dr Manmohan Singh, “be your own man, don’t be dictated by the agencies”?

President Musharraf: I am giving this message to all leaders including myself. Leaders have to dominate organisations. Ideas have to flow from them and the agencies and organisations, everyone goes along with those ideas. Otherwise he is no leader.

If the ideas come from others and the ideas that the leader or the thoughts that the leader has are dominated by the old hackneyed ideas of organisation and agencies who do not see anything in a flexible manner.


Musharraf has given our PM-ji what must be the diplomatic equivalent of a resounding slap.

PM-ji, enough is enough!

More analysis later!

Mulayam's latest bombshell: Unbelievable, any way!

Cong. hatched plot to kill me: Mulayam

Close on the heels of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh alleging the Congress tapped his phone lines, UP chief minister Mulayam Singh dropped another bombshell and said on Monday that the same party and a leading industrialist had hatched a plot to assassinate him.
...

"Prominent politicians who were not part of UPA were on the hit list of the Union government, which was willing to go to any extent to harass these leaders," he said.

Alerting Lohia Vahini — his army-in-red — he cautioned the party to remain on guard and urged them to turn up in large numbers during the January 29 rally in Lucknow "against the Congress deeds".


Unbelievable, any way you consider it! If what Mulayam says is true, the audacity of the conspirators is unbelievable; if what Mulayam says is false, his audacity is unbelievable! Has the Indian polity sunk to such abysmal levels that these politicians think they can get away with such stuff? A hit list? What is the Union Government - a mafia?

Speechless!

"I'm speechless. Speechless. I am without speech. I have NO speech."
- George Costanza

When I didn't feel quite in the mood to say anything serious today, I was reminded of the above quote from Seinfeld. So I'll post some thing light-hearted today: a few quotes from Seinfeld (one of my favorite sit-coms (the other being The Cosby Show); aside: my favorite TV-serial: most likely The Mahabharatha by B.R.Chopra).

Hope these bring back some fond memories for you!

1) "The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli" - George Costanza

2) "Pity's very underrated. I like pity. It's good" - George Costanza

3) "If you look annoyed all the time, people think you're busy" - George Costanza

4) "To the idiotmobile" - Jerry Seinfeld

5) "I have airbrushed photos before. You know that picture of me and Gerald Ford? I took it to the photo place and got that Ford right out!" - Cosmo Kramer

6) "I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're going to hear about them!" - Frank Costanza

And, on that note, did you know that Festivus has a Wikipedia entry? Go read it - there's some amazing stuff there!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Towards a Backward Nation, we strive!

Central nod for OBC list modification

Union Cabinet on Friday approved inclusion and modification of certain castes and communities in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The new communities, which have been included, are located in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Pondicherry and Uttar Pradesh, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
...
The new castes and communities included in the Central list of OBCs are: `Sikligar' and `Siddula' in AP, `Bakho (Muslim)' and `Thakurai (Muslim)' in Bihar, `Rai-Sikh (Mahtam)' in Delhi, `Bhandari-Naik' in Goa, `Dhangar' as synonym of Bharwad and Jagri, Khavas and Sagar castes/ communities of Gujarat.

They also include `Aryakshatriya' and `Sarige' as synonyms of Somavamsha Arya Kshatriya and `Hindu Sadaru' castes/communities of Karnataka, Twashta Kasar, Kansar as synonym of `Tambat', `Kurmi' as synonym of Kunbi and `Yellam/Yelam' castes in Maharashtra. In Orissa, `asini patara/aswini' and `aswini patara' as sub-castes of Patara, `rangini hansi' as sub-castes of Hansi/Tanti, `Kapala Velama, Kapulu Elama, Koppala Elama, Kappula Elama, Kupala Elama, Kapala Elama, Kapala Elaga, Koppala Velama and Tamuli have been included in the OBC list. `Barai' and `Chaurasia' as synonyms of Tamoli, `Kurmi-Sainthwar' and `Kurmi-Mall' as sub-castes of Kurmi and Unai Sahu have also found place in the list.


By the looks of it, more and more people are becoming backward! The term 'Backward Class' is now a badge of honour, something for communities to aspire for! I don't see any community being removed from the Central list - indeed, why would any community want that, given the host of privileges they would lost!

A suggestion for the Central Govt.: why maintain lists of backward classes? Given that the length of this list is always increasing, wouldn't it be easier to maintain a "forward classes" list whose length always decreases? One day, having declared all communities backward, there wouldn't be any need for a list! That is the day towards which we strive!

SP phone tapping: Amma wades in, Congress + Laloo evade!

Press statement of Jaya, after meeting Amar Singh

It is shocking and outrageous that the Central government has misused its power in tapping the telephone of a respected political leader citing all kinds of baseless grounds, which would apply to a dreaded criminal affecting the internal security of the country.
...
While this specific instance of tapping of telephones of political leaders has now come out into the open, I have all along felt that my telephones are being tapped by the Centre.

I have so far refrained from making this public because I knew that there would be a flat denial by the Centre.

Now, Shri Amar Singh has furnished solid proof that the Centre has organized the tapping of the telephone of an opposition political leader.


Good stuff, this being tapped all along, but not making it public!

What I dont get in this story is why Reliance Infocomm has been involved in tapping the Samajwadi Party leaders. Given the Ambani's strong links to Mulayam and Amar Singh, it's almost unthinkable that Infocomm would tap the latter - at whoever's behest. Unless, of course, the political equations/realities have changed or Anil Ambani had no clue about the tapping.

Laloo, who is not a big fan of Mulayam (I think it's got to do with the issue of which Yadav is the 'true representative' of the Yadavs), has stepped into the fracas in support of Sonia, and told reporters that Sonia was being wrongly blamed for the tapping.

Besides, he said the nation should know the content of the tapes and so there should be ‘public demonstration’ of its contents within a week. The RJD leader’s comments come a day after AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni felt that there was “something very serious in the tapes, which would cause them (SP leaders) dear in public”.

“The honourable Chief Minister and his fund manager Amar Singh are very tense and very agitated over what they are apprehending has been recorded ... Is it like operation Majnu,” Soni remarked on Wednesday.


It's remarkable that Sonia's chamcha Ambika Soni and Laloo are trying to distract us from the key issue. Unless there is a justifiable police/intelligence case for the tapping of Mulayam/Amar (say national security), it does not concern us what the latter spoke over the phones! And to hint cheaply at Operation Majnu shows the level to which Sonia and the Congress will stoop!

Meanwhile, Amar Singh declares boldly that he is not afraid of blackmail! That's the way, Amar, stand up to Sonia!

Under Congress attack in the phone-tapping issue, embattled Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh on Friday demanded that the tapes purported to show him in poor light be made public and alleged that a big industrialist and a journalist-turned MP were involved in the "conspiracy".
...
He claimed that at least 60 tapes involving leaders of different political parties, including that of BJP and Congress were in the possession of Sonia Gandhi and said he would be meeting non-congress leaders to caution them.


The mind boggles at the implications if it turns out that Amar Singh is speaking the truth!

Time for an independent inquiry commission to find out and tell us the truth!

Swami Ramdev vs. The communists and The Indian media

Sandeep has a couple of excellent posts on the controversy raked up by communist Brinda Karat over the Ayurvedic medicines produced by Swami Ramdev's organisation, and the manifest bias of India's media against Hindu leaders like Swami Ramdev. Please visit Sandeep's blog to read more.

Following up on Sandeep's second post, I present more examples of media bias against Swami Ramdev. IBNLive seems to be the leader for now.



  • IBNLive: Swami's cure or animal remains? by Smitha Nair

    There are lakhs of people who swear by yogic guru Swami Ramdev's medicine but the man himself is now under scrutiny.

    A health ministry letter made available to the media by the CPI(M) alleges that the Swami's herbal medicines contain animal parts and powder from human skulls.

    So be careful the next time that you take an Ayurvedic pill for epilepsy as it might contain animal matter or powder of human skulls.


  • IBNLive: Bone traces found in Swami's drugs by Hemangini Gupta: This is a good example of proclaiming one thing in the headlines, and revising it in the actual text.

    Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has said that they have found animal residue in samples of Ayurvedic medicine purportedly manufactured by yoga guru Swami Ramdev’s Divya Yog Mission.

    The samples were submitted to the Ministry by CPI-M leader Brinda Karat who alleged that the medicines and contained bones and animal residue.
    ...
    The Health Ministry will now check whether the samples submitted by Karat are those actually made by Divya Yog.


    Hmm, so we dont know whence Brinda got the drug samples, yet we can proclaim that the bone remains were found in the Swami's drugs. Very interesting!

  • Swami Ramdev: Yoga does it

    Swami Ramdev reportedly had a portrait of the late Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar as the backdrop for one of his television shows, which are beamed live to 170 countries. For the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliates in the Sangh Parivar, Ramdev holds a special status.

    In one of his camps, which are attended by hundreds of people, Swami Ramdev claimed Vice-President Bhairon Singh Sekhawat had asked him to hold a camp for patients at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.


    What the heck does "Yoga does it" in the title mean? And see how the reporter links the Swami to the secular media's pet hates - Golwalkar and his RSS! You don't see Karat being linked with communist liars and mass-murderers like Che Guevara, Stalin, Mao in this report, do you?

  • NDTV used the well-known trick of reporting unrelated criticisms of Swami Ramdev so as to do a hatchet job on Swami Ramdev and hurt his standing in the currrent issue. (This is a well-known trick - it was used unsuccessfully by Tamil 'news' channels against Kanchi Sankaracharya.)

    So NDTV wrote up a report saying Swami Ramdev was criticised for 'selling' yoga. I accessed the report at this link some time back:

    http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?category=National&slug=Ramdev+criticized+for+%91selling+yoga%92&id=83372

    However, the strange thing is that this report no longer exists at the above link! Even a Google-search did not yield the report. So my guess is that NDTV retracted the report. The above link now results in a story about the Dal Lake encroachment! Strange are the ways of the Indian media!

  • UPDATE: Hindustan Times fares a bit better than the others. Although it was guilty of the the same bias, it reports on readers complaining of its bias in this report. Funnily, although the headline says "Just shut up, Brinda" - it would be more appropriate if it said "Just shut up, Hindustan Times" but that's asking for too much, perhaps!

    It's quite clear they [readers] are extremely angry with both the MP and HindustanTimes.com.

    Almost all felt Karat was working at the behest of the MNCs who are angry with Ramdevji for advocating against their wares.

    The surfers have accused us of being partisan because they thought we gave a 'misleading' headline.

    In our story 'Ramdev's medicines have animal matter: Ramadoss', they said that the Health Minister stated very clearly that the samples were not collected by a Government department, but were provided by the MP herself. So, how could we presume that they were true, they screamed?


    It's great to see irresponsible and biased reporting being pulled up!



More later.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

India's Judiciary socks it to the UPA Govt.! Again!

Following on the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling against the Andhra Pradesh Congress Govt.'s discriminatory quotas for Muslims, the Allahabad High Court threw out the UPA Govt.'s illegal quota for Muslims in Aligarh Muslim University!

The UPA Govt. is amassing tons of egg on its face in the past few weeks! Yet, it shamelessly carries on in office, disregarding all notions of morality in governance! If so many major laws passed by the UPA Govt. are deemed UNCONSTITUTIONAL by our judiciary, what legal or moral authority does the PM-ji and President-ji and super-PM Sonia Gandhi have to continue in office?

Excerpts from Quashing of quota for Muslims in AMU upheld

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday quashed the Central law, which gave Aligarh Muslim University its minority status, and held illegal the reservation of seats for Muslims in its postgraduate medical courses.

A Division Bench confirmed a single-judge order holding that the AMU Amendment Act, 1981 was unconstitutional and that the university was not a minority institution. The single judge also quashed the February 25, 2005 Union Human Resource Development Ministry notification, permitting AMU to reserve seats for Muslims in postgraduate medical courses.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.N. Ray and Justice Ashok Bhushan, passed the order on appeals filed by the Centre and AMU challenging the single-judge verdict delivered on October 4, 2005. The Bench said the 50 per cent reservation being extended to doctors in postgraduate courses was illegal and incorrect.


However, the 'limited relief' joke continues:

Granting limited relief, it said students who were admitted earlier under a quota system would continue to study in the university.


Consider the following case. X hires Y to work for your company, contravening morality and legality - e.g., by accepting a bribe (cash or kind) from Y or in an act of nepotism. If you discover this fact, what would you do?

  • Fire X only
  • Fire Y only
  • Fire both X and Y
  • Reprimand them and allow them to continue in your company


Suppose you discover that this is not the first time that X has done this - he has hired several people illegally. How would you react?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Supreme Court quashes Andhra Govt.'s job quota for Muslims!

In a welcome move, the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court to strike down the legislation that provided a quota for Muslims!
The Hindu, meanwhile uses legal terms to confuse the readers on what the Supreme Court did, headlining the article "Quota for Muslims case for Constitution Bench".

New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh Government suffered a setback on Wednesday with the Supreme Court refusing to stay the operation of the judgment of a full Bench of the High Court, which struck down the legislation providing for a five per cent quota for Muslims in public appointments and admissions to educational institutions.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice R.V. Raveendran said: "We are not inclined to stay the operation of the impugned judgment and make operational a law, which has been invalidated by the High Court."


What prompted the Congress party to go in for this blatantly discriminatory legislation?

Senior counsel K. Ramakrishna Reddy, who also appeared for the students, said the law was enacted pursuant to a Congress "election promise." The Government went ahead with reservation for Muslims though earlier attempts failed.


Meanwhile, Y. Samuel R. Reddy, Congress Chief Minister, is determined to not let the High Court and Supreme Court rulings come in the way of his prejudices, see Guarded reaction by Chief Minister!

Reacting to the news, he said: "I just came to know that the issue was struck down. That is all. Let the Government go through the copy of the judgment. We will explore further ways and means."


Our friend in staunchly-secular-because-they-are-a-Muslim-party MIM provides a suggestion to Samuel Reddy.

[Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM)] Party's floor leader in the Assembly, Akbaruddin Owaisi, asked the Congress to take up the question of Constitutional amendment providing reservations to Muslims at its plenary here.


Yeah, that's the right attitude: if something is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, make it constitutional by amending the constitution! This is Indian democracy in action: learn from it, dear readers!

I also don't like the Supreme Court when it granted a limited relief, ordering that admissions already made or public appointments made by the Government be not disturbed.

This is not the first time - even recently, when it ruled on the UPA government's dissolving the Bihar assembly and calling for elections, the Supreme Court said that though the decision was UNCONSTITUTIONAL, they wanted the elections to go ahead! What's the logic?

[How can we have a Prime Minister and a President continuing in office despite the Supreme Court ruling their acts unconstitutional? Don't the PM and President take an oath to uphold the constitution? More examples of Indian democracy!]

[Update: In this online report, The Hindu still doesn't talk straight, headlining it "Apex court upholds HC order on Andhra Muslim quota"]

Phone-tapping story - the watch continues!

The phone-tapping story is gaining some momentum now, what with Amar Singh trying to rally other political parties behind him, while Mulayam Singh pushes for an independent probe (The Hindu report).


The Samajwadi Party on Wednesday sought to mobilise political support for its case against the Congress and the Centre in the phone-tapping issue, with its leader Amar Singh calling on Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat here.

Soon after the meeting, Mr. Karat told the media that the issue was "serious'' and demanded an investigation.

He told The Hindu that the party had always opposed tapping of telephone lines of political leaders. This development raised the larger question of "assault on civil liberties.'' The CPI (M) had also cautioned the government against opening up the telecommunications sector to private companies or to foreign capital.
...

Mr. Amar Singh plans to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu.



It's not unexpected that Karat uses this issue to rail against privatisation and liberalisation of the telecom sector (never mind that his wife Brinda's sister Radhika and brother-in-law Prannoy run one of the premier privately-run television networks in the country - NDTV!). "Whatever problem arises, blame it on privatisation/liberalisation" seems to be the motto by which the Left dinosaurs still run their parties. Again, never mind the fact that in those glory days when the Govt. of India was the only one running telephone exchanges, it used to tap the ruling party's (read: Congress') adversaries' phones left, right and center!

Sandeep also comments on the Left's behaviour in this post.

Meanwhile, our PM-ji weighs in with his usual profundity that doesn't bother with responding to questions asked:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said tapping of telephones was a ``serious matter'' and it should be ``given a thought.''

``There are no two opinions that there should be no tapping of telephones,'' he said when asked to respond to the demand of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh that a special task force be constituted to look into tapping of phones.

Keeping updown the image: courtesy, Somini Sengupta at NYTimes

Much has been written about the "caste, curry, cows" syndrome that plagues much of reporting on India in the Western world. (If you are clueless about this, please read the scholarly analyses of Sri. Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation. Google it - I am not going to provide you the links.) Add the 'Kamasutra', 'Hindutva', 'Sati' or 'Dowry' to the 3 C's when reporting on India (on any topic, mind you!) and you have a heady mixture that misrepresents and exoticises India to readers around the globe.

No, it's not just Westerners who are guilty of this dishonest style of reporting - our Indians routinely excel at this. Sample: Somini Sengupta writing for the New York Times on the recent police action against publicly romancing couples in Meerut (see Is Public Romance a Right? The Kama Sutra Doesn't Say
).

I have a problem with this article, right from the start! Why drag the Kama Sutra into the title of this 'report'? Somini, you write as if the Kama Sutra is the governing/constitutional manual for us Indians! Reporters usually bring in the Manusmriti when it comes to Hindu laws ...

Somini then sets the scene with

"[couples] ... sat together on the benches of a well-groomed little park named after the country's most famous champion of nonviolence: Mohandas K. Gandhi."


The idea of bringing in Gandhi is to contrast the police violence with the actions of the "most famous champion of nonviolence". Let us set aside the fact that parks, roads, colleges, laboratories, barber shops, people - any thing that can be named in India (pets, toilets, also?) - have been named after Gandhi, so, Somini, don't try to shock us that violence occurs in places seemingly connected with Gandhi!

Some samples from the article:


"This [raid] is a basic infringement of our right to freedom," cried Vikas Garg, 21, a master's student in mass communications at the local Chaudhry Charan Singh University, a couple of days after the raid. "We are free to sit where we want."


Heh, Vikas, a reminder: even the "freedom to sit where you want" is limited.

What is more, Priyanka said, the policewoman slapped her and called her a "chamari," a slur based on her caste. (Ms. Gautam denied making the remark.)


Yep, the police in India are a casteist lot (I am sarcastic, for the sarcasm-impaired!). Too bad for Somini that it was a policewoman (and not a policeman) who had slapped Priyanka, otherwise it would be a "typical" case of a casteist male chauvinist assaulting a helpless downtrodden lady.

From the political right and left came condemnation of the police action. Brinda Karat, the most prominent woman representing a coalition of leftist parties in government, denounced the police for pouncing on courting couples while violent rapes remain unsolved. Sushma Swaraj, a legislator from the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, took the podium in Parliament and called it a product of "a sick mind."


Note the dynamic "denounce" vs. the passive "took the podium and called"! Somini, why bring in the "Hindu nationalist" when talking of the BJP with reference to this incident?

Even so, the reprimands did not stop Hindu radical activists here from storming Gandhi Park three days after the episode and, taking the law into their own hands, beating up the small handful of couples who had dared to return.


Now I see why you brought up the "Hindu nationalist" description of the BJP! In your very next line, you write about "Hindu radical activists storming" - for your readers to make the connection between the BJP and these activists. Very clever, Somini!

Thanks to "Hari Kumar", another Indian (going by his name), for his stellar contribution to Somini's article!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Terrorist attack at IISc: Indian PM responds, and how!


[Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted that] "no force on earth could weaken the resolve of Indians to emerge as a great and modern nation."

"It is a symbol of success of Indian science and technology, of our emergence as a knowledge power, that the symbols and temples of our knowledge society are today being targeted by terrorists," he said referring to the killing of Prof. M.C. Puri at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Speaking at the Indian Science Congress here, Dr. Singh said


This should have those jihadi terrorists quaking in their boots! Bring on more suicide bombers, you jehadis, kill more of our innocent people, we Indians don't care because our beloved PM-ji has said that our resolve cannot be weakened!

Yes, and we can use this terrorist attack to be pat ourselves on the back! Heh, the terrorists are targetting our academic institutions because of our emergence as a knowledge power!

Next, when the film studios, cinema theaters are attacked, our PM-ji will wax eloquent that the jihadis attacked them because our emergence as a phillum power! What, did you not know that Aishwarya Rai was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey? And that Rajinikanth is famous in Japan?

The jehadis will target our country where ever they can - schools, colleges, temples, musical institutions, conferences, trains, planes - because they know that they can get away with it!

Aren't you sick and tired of the Govt. of India, my dear fellow citizen?!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Gurcharan Das on Indian commies vs. Chinese communists

A guide to clear thinking

A must-read, with gems like:

Indian communists give fish to the hungry; Chinese communists teach them to fish.

Indian communists stall labour reforms, defend an unviable public sector, and advocate high interest on pensions. Chinese communists work hard to build exports and create an investment friendly climate.

India's communists fight for Ganguly's inclusion in our cricket team. More to the point, India's Leftists sacrifice merit in advocating reservations in education and jobs.

Hence, China will not only win gold medals at the Olympics, but it will create a society based on merit and excellence.


The only problem with the above is that Indian communists do not give fish to the hungry. They keep the fish in the name of the hungry.

Private sector jobs quota: UPA Govt. starts twisting arms

Get set for quota, India Inc told

Flashing the law ministry’s stand that the Centre can extend job quotas to the private sector even without amending the Constitution, the ministry of social justice has started pushing reluctant corporates to act on their own to ward off state intervention.

The point is learnt to have been conveyed by social justice minister Meira Kumar to Infosys chief NR Narayana Murthy and Thermax boss Anu Agha.

In both the cases, the minister was learnt to have told her guests that resistance would leave the government with no option other than bringing in a law to push the quota jurisdiction to private sector.
...
[Meira Kumar], however, said that the government was making a renewed pitch for voluntary action on the part of the industry.
...
The social justice minister also made it plain that the government was not satisfied with the offer of the industry to provide training to the target categories.


Narayan Murthy's silence on this issue that has a massive impact on Indian industry (Infosys included) is baffling! Given his recent penchant to rail against politicians (and their non-performance in sectors that mattered, and their interference in sectors beyond their scope), one would think it natural for him to object to this brazen arm-twisting by the UPA govt. Let's keep an eye on this story as it evolves.

Chetan Sharma: Javed Miandad :: Rajdeep Sardesai: Sonia Gandhi

If the title needs explaining, you are probably not familiar with the notorious Sharjah cricket match. Allow me to explain: faced with what was once a near-impossible task of scoring 4 runs off the last delivery to win the match, Javed Miandad is treated by Chetan Sharma to a full toss. A full toss that is smashed for a six, handing the game and the championship to Pakistan.

In this case, it's not so much that Sonia Gandhi is Javed Miandad - indeed she is a Courtney Walsh (or a McGrath) with the bat. It's that Rajdeep is SO Chetan-like that even Sonia cannot seem to be anyone other than Miandad (for the most part). Sonia's government has been in office for nearly 2 years now - a period where they have excelled in various acts of constitutional violations, pompousness, pusillanimity, corruption and administrational incompetence. So you would think Sonia would have a real tough time explaining her government's performance, but think again - you haven't reckoned on Rajdeep coming to the rescue!

In what is billed to be the "first major interview since turning down the PM's chair" Exclusive: Sonia's interview Part I, Sonia is lobbed so many full tosses that it seems more like a promotional public relations exercise by Rajdeep's organisation! Even then, we hardly get any response of significance from this sphinx! What a low our country has sunk to that this lady is (for all practical purposes) the Prime Minister, and the media has nothing to say other than this apology of an interview!

Rajdeep gushes, starts by calling her "arguably the most powerful person in the country", and then proceeds with laughable questions and some times setting up responses for Sonia that she can readily agree with, such as:

    So India will not be thwarted by terrorism?
  • Yes, we saw that after the Volcker Report you took action. So that is a clear message [any one found guilty of corruption will be held accountable] you are sending out. (My comment: Wow, really? How long did it take for the ministry to be prised out of Natwar's vice-like grip?)
  • So will the money go to the needy in the Rural Employment Scheme?
  • Will this government last a full five-year term?
  • Have you thought of any role for him [Rahul]? Or have you always left it for the party to decide?
  • PM Manmohan Singh rated his performance as a six on 10 in a private conversation to me. How would you rate him? He is a man who doesn’t like to trumpet his own achievements.
  • [Secularism]'s an issue which your family over the years has fought for, right from Jawaharlal Nehru. Do you believe that that concept is under threat in India today? Like in the case of terrorism?
  • Are you saying that if Sonia Gandhi makes a resolution, she keeps to it?
  • When you look at yourself today and you look at the Congress Party, do you look at it as furthering Rajivji’s legacy?



What can be more annoying than the questions that Rajdeep asks? The responses from Sonia! This lady does not go beyond the most worn-out cliches: there is no depth, no analysis! I shudder at the thought that this is the lady responsible for running the country!

How does Rajdeep sign-off?

Well, Mrs Gandhi, if you’re not the most powerful person in India, I don’t know who is! But thank you very much for joining us.


This analysis has been interrupted due to a sudden bout of gagging experienced by the author ... the program will be resumed when the author has recovered!

On New Year Resolutions

Barbara Ellen has this terrible article on New Year Resolutions in The Hindu.

Don't read it if you get easily discouraged or depressed! :)

Lots of psychobabble in this article - examples:

  • Are we "butterflies (waiting to happen)" or "snakes" or "snails"? (For those dying to know, Britney Spears is a born "snake".)
  • The human soul is a boomerang that always comes back exactly the same shape, however hard and far away we try to throw it.


What an awful metaphor this "boomerang-soul" stuff! If you drop a boomerang ("throw it down") does it come back to you? Clearly, the direction of throw is important - not just the force of the throw! And the shape of a soul? Since when do souls have shapes? Why doesn't she just say "unchanging soul" rather than impose on us the boomerang metaphor?

The Music Academy Sadas on Jan. 1, 2006

I attended the Sadas of The Music Academy (Chennai) yesterday. It was an excellent function: punctual, well organised and well attended. The speeches were appropriate to the occasion and most importantly, not rambling. Smt. Vedavalli and Sri. Ramachandran were outstanding examples for felicitatory speakers - they delivered very clear, crisp, sincere speeches.

Sri. M. Chandrasekharan received the prestigious Sangeetha Kalanidhi title. The Sangeetha Kalanidhi title is verily a life-time achievement award for contribution to Carnatic music and is by far the most coveted honor in Carnatic music. Sri. Chandrasekharan is indeed a most deserving recipient of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title. When one thinks of the various factors (e.g., politics, timing) that have in the past led to some deserving musicians not being awarded the title, one is gladdened by the thought that such factors did not play a part in this instance!

Sri. Chandrasekharan's musical journey and achievements are all the more remarkable, given his visual handicap!

The Hindu has a report on the proceedings The Music Academy Sadas.

[Mr. Mahalingam, the industrialist who presided over the function] appealed to the academy's new team of office-bearers to make efforts to hold music festivals in other cities and towns including Madurai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore and Thanjavur.


I like the idea - it's important for us music lovers that Carnatic music blooms in other cities in TamilNadu (and elsewhere). Apart from finding musical talent in these places, the music festivals can promote understanding and appreciation of Carnatic music.

P.S.: I couldn't help noticing like everyone else that Sri. N. Ch. Krishnamacharyulu had a very difficult time on stage. As an award winner he was seated on stage for a long time - near 2 hours - and given his age and condition, he had to frequently go off and back on the stage or beckon the help of others. Perhaps the Academy should have insisted on his presence on stage only during the main award ceremony, given his condition. Luckily, for him and the organisers, he (or his helpers) decided to leave soon after he received the award!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Watch on the phone-tapping story!

Recall that Mulayam had alleged that the GoI was tapping his and other Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders' phonelines! The GoI had dismissed the tapping orders as forgeries.

Now, the GoI has apprehended and started interrogating the owner of a detective agency in Delhi in connection with this case. I will try to follow this story as it unwinds the next few weeks.


The Special Cell of the Delhi police is interrogating the owner of a South Delhi-based detective agency, who was arrested on Saturday, to track down the person at whose instance he had allegedly been tapping the phones of some Samajwadi Party leaders using forged documents.

It is learnt that the accused, Bhupender Singh, had been running Metro Intelligence Agency at South Extension for the past one year. The police arrested him from his office on Saturday after technical investigations revealed that he allegedly forged documents in the name of Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police (Crime Branch) Ranjit Narain and Delhi Principal Secretary (Home) R. Narayanswami to illegally tap the phones of certain Samajwadi Party leaders.

Govt. of India and spine ...

Balochistan: India defends comment

When I read the following quote, I was led to believe that the Govt. of India (GoI)may actually have a spinal precursor, if not an actual spine!

``Why should there be inhibition on our side to say something on what is happening in our neighbourhood? A serious situation has been developing in Balochistan and when a reaction was sought, the MEA spokesman gave it,'' a senior government official said responding to Pakistan's objection.


However, such hopes were dashed when I read the following in the same article!

New Delhi insisted that the reaction it gave was ``quite restrained and reasonable'' and did not mark any departure from its policy on Pakistan.


Fantastic, this means that the GoI will continue with its peace-talks, bus-rides and "people-people contact"(1) policy of kowtowing to Pakistan!

Footnote:
(1) The "people-people contact" policy: India sends its liberal elite by the cartloads to Pakistan to meet Muslim elites there, while Pakistan reciprocates by sending its Islamic-fundamentalist terrorists to gun down Indian children, women, men.

Coming soon this year is the visit of the Indian cricket team to Pakistan. Watch out for those press plants touting and spouting "they are just like us ... they eat the same food ... they watch the same "Bollywood" trashmovies ... they look like us ..."!

Greetings for 2006!

Here's wishing you "A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2006"!