Showing posts from 2012

Is This What People Protested For?

Fifteen lakh rupees? Is that the value of a woman's body, mind and soul? Our government seems to have shown, as has always been the mentality of the ruling elite, to value a dead woman. This shows how they are no different from the Taliban and khap panchayats, who indulge in somehow think that Eating chowmein induces rape Women's clothes induce bad behavior in men Educated women are a danger to this world There has been an utter failure of administration on all fronts, and this government, nay, most governments, have behaved like a rudderless ship when it comes to managing law and order in our society, our country. Law and order is restricted only to Lutyens' Delhi, Chandigarh and the seats of power that we see everywhere. And yet, why should we forget that the very ruling elite expressing sorrow has remained silent time and again, when violence against women has been seen at the very highest levels, in the corridors of power? Why was Karunanidhi never

The Storm

It was raining heavily that night, as if hell had broken loose, and was headed towards the earth to soak it in its pain, misery, suffering and torment. And it was a bad night, was this one, for reasons one can only feel, but cannot express to himself, herself or anyone else, even to the person who is really close to the person in question. But it was a bad night, and would get only worse. He was standing under the ledge of the window that otherwise allows people from within to look outside, but usually allows everyone to look in normal times: nature, people, animals, everyone and everything that can be conceived of. There was a strange expression on his face, as he was feeling the raindrops fall on his outstretched hand. Why would he do that, one would ask, and what is so special about him doing that? So many people do it, and so frequently that we could ignore it totally. But this guy was different, you see. He could not see at all, so he tried to make up for his lack of the s

Angst of a Pained Mind

Today, I have never been sadder. It has taken such a gruesome crime to remind us of what we have reduced humanity in this country to. I should perhaps stop calling people human, for the behavior we see everyday, against women, elderly, children and all the weaker sections of society, we are worse than xenophobic chimpanzees. And yet, every day, the cases are just beginning to come out - of absolute barbarity, of absolute horror and utter shamelessness. Those who call themselves our leaders get away abusing women in Parliament, outside it, on television channels, and none of us actually were stunned by it. Our leaders continue to hold up the status quo and assure us that things for the better, and yet, what do we do with this status quo? When will things get better for us? When will our women feel safe? When will the weak in our society feel safe, and emboldened enough to come forward and complain on such instances without the fear of shame, humiliation and further vict

Letter to Justice Verma Committee

This time around, I am putting up the letter that I wrote to the Justice Verma Committee set up by the Government of India in wake of increased violence against women. Hope you like the ideas I put forward. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Respect Members of the Committee, You have been appointed by the Government of India to deal with the aforementioned subject pertaining to changes in criminal laws. As a concerned citizen who believes in the democratic process, I would like to put forward by point of view on the same. A large number of crimes take place against women across this country. The nature and type of these crimes varies drastically, but in the end women are always bearing the brunt of a large number of social ills. The issue is much larger than just changes in the Criminal Procedure Code. There are enough legal provisions, though some more could be brought in. There is a thorough a

Secularism - The Ideological Confusion of India

What is secularism? Frankly, people who keep blabbering about secular values in India get my goat. I am fed up of the continuous rant that I have been hearing about 'secular' values of India. Our concept of secularism is so warped that we should be rightfully declared laughing stock of the world. We are a nation of minorities, since everybody is an aggrieved minority in India. Why on earth is there so much confusion about minority-ism in India? Our political class has failed this nation due to its inherent confusion with the understanding of what and who exactly constitutes a minority in India. Are Sikhs a minority in Assam? Yes. Are they a minority in Punjab? Hell no! Similar situations arise in states like Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland, and yet, our political class is pandering to votebank politics, thinking that people vote en masse in India. Apparently, they think India is a nation of cattle (since we do have our fair share of holy cows, goats, pigs, buffaloes etc.

Gujarat - Why it is important

Gujarat elections are due soon. While the Indian media has never behaved so excitedly even about the Uttar Pradesh elections (because of you know who), it is silly to be stuck around the cult of Narendra Modi and not pay attention to what the real gist of this election is.This election is truly important. While the media keeps talking about this being the last chance to contain Modi within Gujarat, this election is even more important than Modi's ambitions and Congress' nervousness. Finally there is an election that talks issues and has led people on either side of the pole named Narendra Modi to discuss threadbare the economic surge of Gujarat. I will not get into numbers and statistics, but the fact remains that while there has been polarization in Gujarat and major environmental degradation (which is now being given attention), Gujarat was written off in the eighties and nineties due to the incessant labour unrest and the consequent flight of capital and business. With an

Congress Rally - Bugle for 2013 Polls

Congress had a massive rally today, November 4, 2012 in Delhi. While many people are trying to read the aggressiveness in the Congress' stance, particularly the stance of the top three - Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan Singh ji, are tea leaves that need to be read again. This was an attempt to recharge the ground level cadre of the Congress party, which has been beleaguered by the incessant spate of corruption charges, many with credible grounds, going all the way up to the top. A defensive Congress is a weak, directionless Congress, and hence, the rally is a war cry. Sonia Gandhi is a combative person by nature, and she believes that offense is the best defense, and hence this rally. Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh's roles are being given a revamp within the party set-up. Manmohan Singh can no longer be apolitical, and the set up of the Congress is being re-written ala the People's Action Party (PAP) of Singapore, which has not lost an election, but had Goh Chock Tong betwee

Why the Red Tape is Tied to India

For all the brouhaha that we have been witnessing from the politicians in outshining each other in their indulgence in corrupt, unethical practices, an important issue keeps coming back to the center of the discussion table. This issue is the issue of how Corporate India has been equally complicit in promoting the quid pro quo way of doing things in India. I remember an interview of Ratan Tata that took place at the time when crisis of confidence in journalism ethics began to surface. The Radia (or is it Radiia?) tapes that had 'leaked' had pointed the complicity of a few Kashmir expert news editors as well as some medium term analysts (I will not take names) among many others. Ratan Tata had joked that work starts after six in the evening in India because Dubai is two and a half hours behind us. This was followed by an interview of K P Singh, owner of DLF, who discretely admitted to having bribed his way to 'success' (or whatever you may call it) and was in fact st

The General Elections of 2013

Yes you read it right - all four of us reading this blog! Much water has been held up along the Cauvery delta (even as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka squabble over who gets the water), and the political climate of this country has been getting uncertain with each passing day. With Sharad Pawar speculating about 'offending allies in November' and Mulayam Singh and Mayawati loathe to play the 'secular' card at the risk of eroding whatever little electoral respect people have for them, the set-up is perfect to precipitate an early general election. With the government in a suicidal mode (judging by Salman Khurshid's angry exchange with journalists) we have a situation that can only explained by the word hilarious, the only way Congress can salvage its present downfall is to call early elections so that the yuvraaj can take charge and save the party from a severe rout. However, yuvraaj is in no mood to take charge of the party, and would rather go surfing and rock climbi

Anaar (Pomegranate Raita)

Yogurt is a favorite in almost all parts of India, and it also manages to transcend communal barriers. Some of the best yogurt sauces (called Raitas in India) are served with one of my favorite meals, the dum ki biryani at the biryani outlets. South Asia is full of examples of these raitas being served in some form or the other. Now let me be honest. I have no special love for pomegranates. I think they are one of the more boring fruits out there, and it is an extremely laborious fruit. However, they go wonderfully well with yogurt, as I am going to discuss in this recipe. Try it with anything, and I hope you like the combo. Ingredients 1 pomegranate - Kandahari ones are amazing for it, but any other will do as well. about 400-500 gm of yogurt 1/2 tsp salt - if possible use something called sendha namak , other wise used for Hindu fasts 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp shahjeera - its a shorter cumin seed, but regular cumin will do just as well Few pinches of raita masala Preparation

Manmohan Singh - the Myth of a Man

Our media channels have been living in a delusion all this while. They love to deny certain facts (though it is difficult to say why). Manmohan Singh, a doctor in economics, is always looked up to as someone who has been the original reforms man, and who can be the only one who can promise reform. However, there is more to the story than what the eye can see. Most people tend to forget that Manmohan Singh was the governor of the Reserve Bank of India during the Prime Ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, where a certain Pranab Mukherjee was the finance minister. Prior to that, he was in the IMF and was also on the Planning Commission.  The crisis of 1991 was precipitated by decision making during that decade (with the Left and Right doing no good either). It was a group of people, including P V Narsimha Rao, Dr. Subramaniam Swamy and N Govindarajan, all of whom were given Cabinet Minister level ranks by Rao, the unsung hero of India, who steered the economy around from a position of nationa

My Thought and I

The rain and the dark clouds make for a gloomy day for everyone but writers it seems. Writers are a lot like earthworms – they function only on these gloomy days, churning the earth of their minds to make it a fertile place for the crop of thoughts to grow on it. The clouds seemed to be getting darker and darker with each passing moment. The weather is a great excuse for people in India not to work. I guess it’s the gloominess of the dark clouds that play on our mind. That perhaps explains why people in certain parts of the country don’t work at all; it can be traced back to the incessant amounts of rainfall that they witness. I sat there, staring at the window outside. There were thoughts making circumambulations outside the periphery of the conscious mind. All that resonated in the mind was a song, which I kept humming along. It is a fairly popular song, though what stood out for me were the lyrics. Being a man of the word, that is what attracts my attention all the time. The r

The 'Coalgate' Primer

So much coal wash slurry has flown into the Yamuna because of the serious washing of dirty coal in public by the premier Ruling party and the principal Opposition party that the whole debate is becoming confusing to follow. Here is a lowdown on what is the whole matter all about. There was allocation of mines between 2006 and 2009 by the UPA government after discussing the matter with various state governments. So what? One may ask. Well the devil, as they always say, is in the fineprint of the whole allocation process. There was briefly talk of allotting mining leases based on auction prices. Eventually the government abandoned in the 'face of stiff resistance of the states'. It is an excuse of convenience, because as quite a few former CAGs have pointed out (and which I also pointed out thanks to their observation) that Seventh Schedule under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution defines the subjects on which Centre and State governments can legislate, and it clearly sp

India Against Corruption, a Political Party? A Welcome Idea

Much sewage has flown in the channels of the Yamuna, and several hours have been wasted trying to discredit Anna Hazare and his 'team' (though they do not have a lot to their credit except for their work). News has now said that these guys will enter politics. In my opinion they already were in politics, though their contest in the electoral foray is certainly welcome. It makes sense that they contest. In this age of live Lok Sabha telecasts, it would make sense for them to come into the Parliament and expose the corrupt deeds of the people who are disconnected from the ground reality. Till now, they had just an urban audience; they can now get even the rural audience's attention. Moreover, all they need to win elections is the anti-corruption agenda. The urban voters are angry and need the kind of alternative that this group can provide.In this day of coalition governments, even a handful of seats can make a huge impact. My personal assessment is that IAC can win about 20

When Solutions Become Problems

For some time now there has been talk about how indoor air pollution kills more people than anything else in the world, and how this is prevalent in rural India. A lot of it has been attributed to cookstoves, and while it is true that they are a major cause, the solutions that have been bandied about for some time now are all in the same direction. Let us improve the cookstoves is the unanimous voice that resonates across the world. But there seems to be more to it than this. A recent paper by Esther Duflo, Rema Hanna and Michael Greenstone has been doing rounds for a while now. For those who have seen the program upfront as well as others who are familiar with it, the paper seems to have confirmed the worst - the problem of women's health in rural areas has not been mitigated in any way. The paper goes on to highlight how the distribution of cookstoves has been an abysmal failure because people stop using them within a year. Why is it so? The question does not have a difficult

The Mess of Basic Infrastructure

Seeing the amount of hot air over the various issues of chalta hai attitude that afflict this country, I wonder why people think this is appalling. Anyone who has travelled across the country would tell you horror stories of the terrible infrastructure (or mostly lack of it) in this country across a range of public services that would otherwise be considered a public right in developed nations (I do not count the United States in this). Lack of beds in hospitals, horrifying mental asylums. incessantly long queues at hospitals, strips of roads in potholes (and not the other way round), open manholes and deep flowing drains. no remediation of the annual breakouts of dengue, malaria and chikungunya across the country during monsoons - you name the problem, you find its evidence in abundance across the country. Nobody however seems to be trying to diagnose the disease. This country has a law that can declare strikes of people working in 'essential services' illegal. There are al

The Only Way Out of the Kashmir mess

Reading the comments given by the interlocutors on how to deal with the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (sometimes it feels like a cottage industry enterprise of a handful of people), I am forced to question the 'breakthrough' Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari really achieved by churning out lassi from the yakhni (yoghurt) that was all over in the first place. Many mistakes have been committed, but the biggest mistake is being committed right now by the Indian media by not discussing the report of the interlocutors threadbare. Keeping the state united in my opinion is not an option now. The regions of Ladakh and Jammu are financially supporting the Kashmir valley, but there is a lot of anger and hatred in these areas for the Kashmiri separatist sentiment, which goes beyond the religious divide. Go to places like Bhadervah in Doda, and you realize just how fed up the Muslims there are of the incessant calls for bandh issued by the Hurriyat, and the unrelenting hatred

Its the Economy, Stupid!

No, I am not merely recalling Bill Clinton's unofficial slogan for his presidential re-election bid of 1996. This is what I want to tell a host of mandarins (elected and unelected ones, ruling and opposing ones) sitting in South and North Block who have decided to bury their heads like ostriches into the sand. If I do not see the hunter, he is not there. Similarly, they can wish all that they want to, but any complaints about the more than 7 rupee hike in petrol prices is just a signal of the financial mess that we have created for ourselves right now, thanks to myopic work done by the ruling dispensation. Add to that the oversell of Manmohan Singh, Kaushik Basu and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. three 'progressive' economists who just seem to be warming chairs, and outsiders fail to understand where we went so horribly wrong. If one wants to put the economy on track, we need economic reforms. That does not stand only for FDI in retail (which by the way does NOT need

The Path

The soul is a wanderer Why weep for its loneliness? Free yourself from the bonds of life Such that nothing then affects Were you born with something in your hands That you seek to hold on to? Raise yourself past the six limitations And then on your senses you can hold onto Know that this too shall pass Permanency of the world is a myth Delve deep into the depths of the soul And you will find the absolute truth Tread the lands as if walking on water Be in this world but not of it See everything to be equal, but judge nothing Identify what is the crux of this world, the gist

एक नदी थी बेतवा

एक नदी थी बेतवा एक शहर था ओरछा समय ने जिन्हें आँचल में ढांप लिया और ढांप के जिन्हें वो भूल गया हरबोलों चन्देलों की वीरभूमि पतझड़ जंगलों के बीच कहीं गुम गयी राम भूमि जिससे याद है वो इतिहास पर इस भाग्य का फेर देख लेता बस एक आस खजूरों की नगरी खजुराहो जहां कर्णावती नदी धीमे धीमे चलती है  सैलानी यहाँ दीखते अनेकों मंदिरों की वासना मई मूर्तिकारी देखते सभी भूल गए सब चंदेलों को           

Food Security - All that is wrong with our polity.

I was talking to a friend of mine, who has been working in the public health sector to understand a report recently brought out by the Public Health Foundation of India about rising non communicable diseases, especially those brought in by trans fats. She explained patiently (contrary to her nature of blowing the fuse off with dimwits like me) why people are already malnutritioned and stunted due to lack of vitamins and nutrients by the time they are able to earn and how they are interested in getting 'tasty' fatty food with their incomes, which translates into exposure to huge amounts of trans fats. This led me to ask her the question then - why is the food security bill so hamstrung with carbohydrate exposure when people need more of the other essential nutrients? Well, her answer was clear and concise. The food security bill is a monstrosity that is going to be shoved down people's food, which is not going to do anything different from what the aid agencies are already

Sri Lanka -Why raise the China bogey?

A lot of verbal diarrhea has flown into the sewers of the press since India voted for a watered down, non binding resolution over human rights abuses that was passed by the UN Human Rights Council. All of it can pretty much be described as paranoia, and we are certainly stuck in the foreign policy mess that we got as a legacy from Jawaharlal Nehru and his ideals of Non-Alignment as rightly pointed out by Sadanand Dhume . Again and again the China-Pakistan bogey has been raised. But all that is frankly nonsense if you were to ask me. Here's my counter to reasons due to which this move is being counted as a foreign policy failure in major sections of the Indian media. India has pushed away its most trusted ally Not true! Its a fallacy to think that any of the South Asian countries except Bhutan are trusted allies. One need not forget the double game that Ranjana Premadasa and TS Jeyawardene kept playing with our mandarins and leaders over the Tamil issue for decades, because of whi