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

Monday, February 27, 2006

Nehru-Gandhi Bootlicking at Rediff Continues ...

A while back when I had written this post lamenting the low standards of Rediff, I received a comment from someone who goes by the self-proclaimed epithet "Non-partisan". I reproduce the comment below.

Sad. Very sad... To excoriate something/someone without providing all the facts calls for some blind hate and/or wilful misunderstanding.
An excerpt from a book about a powerful, if tyrannical, Indian leader is perfectly legitimate, one would think. Even if it is written by a sycophant.
Indira Gandhi is pariah enough in media circles - given her censorship among other things - that few of its members would risk extolling her. And rediff has often discussed the excesses she and Sanjay Gandhi indulged in, without reducing the exercise to a witchhunt.
To make it sound as if publishing the excerpt means rediff supports Indira Gandhi is worse than just unfair behavior, it's the sign of a mind that wants to lean reality its way.

Now, the N-G bootlicking at Rediff has gotten so pathetic that the portal is observing the day that "thirty-eight years ago on February 25, Rajiv Gandhi wed a shy, Italian girl, with warm, doe eyes, at 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi in a simple ceremony".

Dear "Non-partisan", hope you start recognising your mind's tilt before you find fault with others'. Perhaps your "non-partisanship" is much like India's self-styled "secular intellectuals" whose only claim to secularism is declaring others as non-secular.

Please excuse me while I go puke ... Perhaps when I return I will have the physical poise to dissect the piece ... the retching takes a violent toll on the body ...

Friday, February 24, 2006

A chance meeting with a prospective MLA candidate

Today evening while I was waiting at a photo studio for some photos to be printed, I struck up a brief but interesting conversation with the owner. He seemed to have quite a profound interest in politics and was even contemplating running in the upcoming state elections as a candidate of a national political party.

How much would it cost to contest? Somewhere in the range of Rupees Ten Lakhs!
Would the party help him with the funds? No, he would have to finance the run himself! Imagine an investment and a risk of this magnitude for a studio owner!
Wasn't there a limit to the spending? Oh, yes, all on paper, but flouted with impunity in practice.

Collecting my photos, I wished him all the best and bid him farewell.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reading "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

Over the past few weeks I have been reading (in fits and starts) the book "Life of Pi". The plot is pretty interesting, indeed quite unlike any other that I have come across: "Pi Patel" is on his way to Canada (from Pondicherry) by ship along with his family. The ship sinks in a storm, leaving behind Pi and four other survivors in a lifeboat "bobbing on the wild blue Pacific". The four other survivors are a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. Intrigued? Go read it!

I didn't much appreciate the rather artificial writing describing how Pi, born a Hindu, also becomes a Christian and a Muslim. I wonder why Pi stopped at that and didn't become a Buddhist, Sikh, Jew, Parsi etc. Indeed, in the few hundred pages that I have read till now, I haven't seen much of a need for this forced amalgamation (you know, like the "Ishwara Allah Tere Nam" line grafted on to the "Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram bhajan"). Perhaps the plot requires it later on. Let's see.

However, there are a few lines in the author's preface that really resonate with me.

I would settle in a hill station and write my novel. I had visions of myself sitting at a table on a large veranda, my notes spread out in front of me next to a steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy with mists would lie at my feet and the shrill cries of monkeys would fill my ears. The weather would be just right, requiring a light sweater mornings and evenings, and something short-sleeved midday. Thus, set up, pen in hand, for the sake of greater truth, I would [write].

What a compelling vision!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Apologies for the lapse in blogging!

Dear regular(!) readers of this blog, please accept my apologies for the lapse in blogging. I was away from the computer for some time, so couldn't post as often as desired. Hopefully things will improve from now on!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mohammad Cartoons

I had written a post a few days back on this topic, but due to some problems at Blogger, that post is now irretrievably lost! Let's hope at least this post is retained!

My view on this issue is quite simple:
a. The cartoonists have the right to portray Mohammed.
b. The Muslims have the right to protest peacefully. (Say, by writing letters, boycotts etc.)

The right to protest peacefully however does not include: setting fire to embassies, damaging property, rioting, threatening people and nations with death ... you get the idea ...

The silence of the Indian (pseudo)secular-fundamentalist brigade is quite deafening, yet not inexplicable: either way they speak on this issue, they will be exposed. For instance, if they support the cartoonists, they will be targetted by the Islamic fundamentalists; if they support the Islamic fundamentalists, they can no longer assume the self-righteous airs that goes with being the self-proclaimed "defenders of artistic freedom" (you know, the (pseudo)secular-fundamentalists who rose as one to the hypocrite M F Husain's defence when he produced obscene paintings of various Hindu deities?)!

Nevertheless, even in such situations one comes across fantastic explanations of Islamic fundamentalism in The Hindu. Tabish Khair writes:

As a reaction to European imperialism and, later, a political development of the west's fight against communism and socialism, Islamic fundamentalism is a quintessentially modern phenomenon.

Wow, this is breath-taking inanity, blissful ignorance at best, and willful white-washing at worst! Hey, Mr. Khair, why don't you read about what Islamic fundamentalists have been doing to India since the early days of Islam?!

This has got to be the I-F APOLOGIA of the century!

Please also head over to the following websites:
a. Atanu's Deeshaa: Excellent analysis of the need for freedom of speech
b. Do a google search for Muhammad Image Archive, and you will be led to an archive of images of Muhammad (duh!) over the past centuries. Go have a look before someone takes the site down! The site's author brings up an important point:
While the debate rages, an important point has been overlooked: despite the Islamic prohibition against depicting Mohammed under any circumstances, hundreds of paintings, drawings and other images of Mohammed have been created over the centuries, with nary a word of complaint from the Muslim world.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What's more important?

What concerns you more:
a) the length of Sania Mirza's skirt? or
b) the promise of equality before law?

If you were anyone other than an Indian Express editor, I would expect your answer to be "b) the promise of equality before law".

Although I am glad to hear that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) rubbishes the fatwa on Sania's short skirts, I would be much more interested in knowing what the AIMPLB's opinion is on the Uniform Civil Code! The Indian Express, however, presumes otherwise. Thus, the Indian Express headlines a report on the meeting of the AIMPLB with the latter's opinion on the critical issue of the length of Sania's skirt.

What does the AIMPLB think about the Uniform Civil Code?

Following the meeting of its 'Islah-e-ma'ashra' (reforms in Muslim society) committee yesterday, the board also demanded abolition of Article 44 of the Constitution pertaining to uniform civil code.

"The uniform civil code was against the spirit of the Islam and hence it should be abolished," Maulana said.

"As long as this article remained in the constitution there would be a possibility that it could be enforced one day. It should either be abolished or Muslims should be exempted from it," he said.

Nizamuddin said the Muslim personal laws were governed by the 'shariat' and no one could make any change in them.

Dear Maulana, what is the point in having a Uniform Civil Code and exempting Muslims from it?

The report goes on to say:
Maulana said that the meeting was attended by 70 odd participants who expressed serious concern at the social evils that had crept in the Muslim society.

The issues that came up for discussion at the meeting included lavish expenditure during 'nikah' (marriages), demand for dowry, divorce and girls education besides others.

Maulana said the board would launch a programme to eradicate the social evils from the Muslim society.

I hope and pray that the issue of "girls [sic] education" is not a social evil to be eradicated from the Muslim society!

Argh - Blogger lost me some posts!

Inexplicably, Blogger has lost two posts of mine! One of which dealt with the Mohammed cartoon controversy (and took quite a long to compile)! Luckily I have a copy of the other one, so I'll post that again.

I don't see how Blogger expects to hold onto its bloggers if the latter is in constant fear of losing their precious posts!