Sunday, April 27, 2014

Salvation

You who seek salvation
Will That come to you?
No It won't heed your call
Till you look inside of you
Let not that hatred, that sorrow
Bind you down to this rue
Key not that anger, that jealousy
Darken your vision and block your view
Free your self in this moment now
The world will have a different hue
Open those eyes to the Invisible, for how
Shall you drink that sight, that Immortal Brew?
Reach out within, embrace thyself
Then will you be your own
Rise shall you from those ashes
Like a phoenix doors, all new
So what if few can get there
Why should that stop you?
That is what you truly yearn
Act not like a shrew
Joy comes to those who are brave
Fear not what you not knew
Let the light of love flow bright
And truly free from this world
Shall be you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fish Curry Recipe

There are so many fish curry recipes that keep floating around that one can get boggled very easily. However, cooking fish curry, as I have belatedly realized, is a very simple process. You do not even need very complicated methods or novel ingredients not seen otherwise, and any one who can cook daal can cook this fish curry too. This is a spin-off from the traditional rural fish curries of East and North East. The closest that comes to it is Assam's Masor Tenga, and it is a particular reference from my side if you wish not to try this particular recipe and go for the original instead.

Ingredients:


4 medium sized fillets of fish
Oil - I don't buy mustard oil in Hong Kong, and use olive oil instead. But stick to mustard oil if you can do that - about 1.5 tbsp. Even ghee will work
3 targe tomatoes chopped/pureed. I prefer a bit of the peel to be present in the fish for a more rustic feel
1 medium onion chopped fine or pasted
2 tsp of Ginger and garlic paste or finely chopped, whatever possible
Cilantro/Coriander - handful chopped up
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
Turmeric - about 3/4 tsp
1/2 cup water

Process:

The essential ingredient, fish, is one tricky thing. I usually buy fillets here because they are cheap and easily available. However, try to buy any fresh fish you can. Freshwater fish has its advantages - the fishy smell is usually absent, and you can simply steam it too, so choose between carp, catfish (singhara) or whatever you can see. If you use seawater fish, try to stick to pomphret, tuna, threadfin or even Bombay Duck. However, in that case, soak the fish in brine (salt mixed in water) for about fifteen minutes before doing anything else.

Heat oil in a handi or a wok till smoking. Fry the fish and remove it from the wok and keep aside. The idea behind frying is that it would otherwise disintegrate if you are using fillets. Frying also seals the flavour of the fish as it is, and the oil gets released into the end when put back into the finished gravy. If you are using solid carp pieces, you may wish to avoid it - it is entirely your choice.

Once done with the fish, on the high flame, throw in the onion and ginger garlic pastes, and keep stirring the mix till the onions start to brown. That is when you know the onions are done, and the oil separates.

Next, throw in the tomatoes and cook them thoroughly till they become mushy. Stir occasionally and beat the tomatoes with a ladle into pulp if necessary. Cover the whole thing up for faster cooking.

One the tomatoes start drying out, put in your turmeric, red chilli powder and salt (keep the chilly powder on a slightly higher note; it will also make the dish look red, going in sync with the tomatoey flavour). Keep stirring so that the whole thing becomes a good paste.

Put in water so that a gravy is formed. Next, put in the fish and mix well. Put in the chopped cilantro
and let the whole thing stew for about fifteen minutes on low heat.



I prefer serving it with rice, though some adventurous people may want to try rotis with it. Either way, hopefully you guys will enjoy it

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Power Decentralization Within Society - Could It Have Saved Andhra Pradesh?

The new states - Telangana and Rayalaseema (Courtesy: The Hindu)
I watched a fascinating television feature done by NDTV's Hyderabad resident Journalist Uma Sudhir. Her husband, T S Sudhir, and her have covered Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka in a fascinating manner as TV journalists for NDTV and other channels over the past two decades (pity that such journalists don't become stars, while those lobbying in Delhi for parties do). The show clearly highlighted the churning of the caste-religion cauldron in the new states of Telangana and Seemandhra as it heads towards polls for their respective assemblies and the Lok Sabha polls simultaneously. What fascinated me was the reminder that both regions have seen a domination of the Kammas and Reddy castes in Andhra politics for ages now, even though they constitute merely 10-20% of the total population. This isolation of Backward Classes (BCs), Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), and minorities to an extent, was one of the major thrusts for the Telangana statehood movement. Even in the new Seemandhra state, the game is turning out to be interesting, with the BCs, SCs and STs trying to assert themselves with greater force. This made me think deeper today about the whole state creation process in India, and the factors that often drive it, and what may have been preventing the same from happening.

Telangana and the Three States of Last Decade (Courtesy: The Telegraph India)
All the new states that have been formed over the past decade and a half in India have particular similarities in them. The people are economically and/or socially backward, and often also lack political representation in a significant way from the region. Except for Uttarakhand, which saw Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Narayan Datt Tewari become Chief Ministers of the erstwhile united Uttar Pradesh, none of the other states saw that happen. Moreover, even in Uttarakhand's case, real political power always lay in the Poorvanchal region within the erstwhile United Uttar Pradesh, dominated by the better off people of Lucknow, Meerut and Varanasi. If one examines Jharkhand's case, there never was a tribal Chief Minister. Similarly, Chhattisgarh never gave a Chief Minister to united Madhya Pradesh - it always came from areas like Rewa, Indore and Bhopal. Curiously, like Telangana, the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have a huge chunk of their population listed as BCs, SCs and STs, though none may be considered to be numerically significant in the political game.

Mayawati at an Election Rally in 2011 (Courtesy: The Hindu)
So why have I posed this question? Well, the question comes from a significant example in Indian politics that has much more to it than we often see. With the ascendance of Mayawati as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (having won a clear majority), Uttar Pradesh saw the power shift significantly from the upper castes or numerically significant BCs to people who otherwise had no representation despite numbers. Her consolidation within the SCs of Uttar Pradesh (UP), particularly those of Western UP and Gorakhpur belt in Eastern UP has meant that the Dalits in these regions had political representation. There has been no mass-based statehood movement in Uttar Pradesh which has clear divide in economic prosperity west-to-east since the Uttarakhand separation in 2000. Mayawati passed a resolution in the Uttar Pradesh assembly favoring a division of the state into four parts, which will be to her advantage, given number of districts with more than 40% SC population. However, if one were to ask the average Dalit voter on the ground for it, chances are that they would cite their satisfaction with the status quo on the question of the state's existence as a single entity.

This certainly raises the importance of political empowerment of communities within states being critical to the unity of a state. This may deemed be crucial for the real socio-economic empowerment of the marginalized within India to take place. Those opposed to the formation of new states (there are several festering wounds) need to understand that greater, meaningful representation in the political framework of the state is needed. There needs to be a let go of the hegemony of certain caste groupingsin the states. Bengalis need to accommodate Gurkhas in the political mainstream, while Vidarbha should see its man being the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Bundelkhand saw Uma Bharti become Madhya Pradesh's Chief Minister for a while despite being politically insignificant. A Chief Minister from Jammu or Ladakh, especially a minority man (in this state's case, a Hindu or a Buddhist) amy be critical to quell the flames of separate statehood demand that continues to ignite Jammu even today after six decades. Greater unity to prevent division is possible only if political accommodation can be learnt. For this, political parties need to change their prisms and become truly inclusive. Will that happen? Only time can tell.


The Economic Slowdown Needs Immediate Address

The Buck Stops With the Duo (Courtesy: Bloombergquint) The fracas in Maharashtra notwithstanding, things are at a critical juncture ...