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Showing posts from 2012

Educate not to Rape

So many experts have spoken so much about the most controversial rape in India.  I read quite much.  I viewed equally much on the television. My heart weeps for the woman whose dreams have been buried even before she started seeing them clearly. But why did it all have to be this way? I’m a teacher and I’d place the blame squarely on two entities: the parents and the schools. The parents want their children to outshine everyone else.  Compete.  Defeat .  That’s the mantra given by parents to their children.  Life is about competing with other students and defeating them.  If not in academic results, at least in sports, games, acting, singing, dancing… somewhere.  If not in any of those, defeat physically.  Win somehow, anyhow.  Use hook or crook or hit below the belt. The schools too want to publicise their performance.  On Honour Boards.  Performance matters.  And only performance matters.  Values and principles are no concern of anyone.  The teacher will be q

Women and Mr Mukherjee

A friend mailed a copy of a report about how an American court of justice endorsed the firing of a female assistant simply because her feminine charms were perceived as a threat to the family life of her male boss. The court didn’t see the firing as an instance of gender discrimination but as motivated by “feelings and emotions.”  The boss and his wife thought that the female assistant’s attractiveness was a threat to their family life as their feelings and emotions were swayed by the employee’s physical attractiveness. This is funny indeed.  If we go by this logic, it would be quite impossible for women to be attractive and hold on to their jobs at the same time.   Extend the logic a little further.  Can a boss fire any employee (of any gender) for disturbing his/her “feelings and emotions”?  Can a boss fire an employee on account of jealousy, for instance? The seven judges who passed the above judgment were all male.  Their argument is not any different from th

I too

A stupid  post - I mean, personal post.  I too want to live yaar. You come claiming to be an expert and hammer another nail in my coffin and you go to send me an email to say that we will talk in the network I don't believe in networks any more than in religions . Didn't networks ruin me enough? I want to live my life. Give me a life. Can you, expert? Can you, my manager? Can you, my RETIRING principal? No, I don't want any help. Just leave me alone. I will make my life. Leave me alone, can you? Alone from your extorting religion? From your EXPERTISE? From your own greed? Which you think is religion? Note: This is a purely personal post.  Wicked post.

Bring Up the Bodies

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One of the many ballads that were made in the pubs of England during Henry VIII’s reign named the King Littleprick, according to Hilary Mantel’s latest [2012] Man Booker Prize-winning novel, Bring Up the Bodies .  There are many places in the novel where Henry’s sexual potency or the size of his genital organ is called into question.  In a way, the novel is about the King’s lack of “skill” and “vigour” in copulation.  Is it some psychological complex about his sexual skills or the size of his penis that drove Henry to marry six times?  Well, Anne Boleyn was his second wife, and the present novel tells the story of the King’s and many other men’s affairs with her.  Maybe, in the next volume of the series, Mantel will explore this theme further.  Maybe not.  Mantel’s real interests lie in Thomas Cromwell who is the indirect narrator of both the first two volumes and promises to continue that job in the next one too.  Wolf Hall , the first volume in the series, ends with Henry

My Christmas

The Buddha, Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi are three persons whom I found myself admiring as I grew older though not proportionately wiser.  I don’t share their great qualities, feeble as I am.  In fact, I may find myself towards the middle of the spectrum if we construct such a continuum of human qualities and personality traits as the one envisaged by philosopher Spinoza.  Is what another philosopher, Nietzsche, said of himself true for me too: “What I am not, that for me is God and virtue” [in Thus Spoke Zarathustra ]? If I apply Spinoza’s classification, these three luminaries whom I have grown to admire belong to the category of people who regarded love as the primary virtue, considered all people to be equally precious, and resisted evil by returning good.  Spinoza argued that people like Jesus and Buddha constructed an ethical system that stressed feminine virtues.  At the other end of that spectrum are people like Machiavelli and Nietzsche [and most administrators I’ve b

Delhi Rapes

I’m getting increasingly convinced that Delhi can only rape.  Ms Sheila Dikshit can shed crocodile tears on the umpteen TV channels to which she condescended to give interviews after the most recent and most publicised gang rape.  I watched her on Times Now, NDTV, and CNN.  She might have given interviews to many other channels too.  She looked like a wax statue that one sees at madametussauds .  That look may be a  gift of current international politics, I grant.   Buy and Sell kind of international politics.  Use and Throw kind of politics. This Buy and Sell+ Use and Throw is what I learnt about as I was on a routine duty today.  I cannot mention the duty and the place as well as the people involved because of the oath of secrecy that even a stupid school teacher has to take these days. The duty brought a Delhi policeman face to face with me.  As we waited wasting our time as demanded by our duties [his as a policeman and mine as a school teacher], he asked me what

Alms for Aam Aadmi

Finally Ms Sheila Dikshit has spoken the truth: the government exists for the rich; the poor will only get alms.  She has fixed the amount at Rs4 per day per person.  Rs600 will be enough to meet the food requirements of a family of 5 persons, according to didi.  They can buy daal, rice and wheat in that amount.   Her party is annoyed with her for speaking the truth about the government’s intentions. We should be grateful to didi for giving us an indication of things to come. In the neoliberal system which India has accepted lock, stock and barrel, the real rulers are the capitalists.  The government exists only for the sake of formulating policies which will enable the capitalists to take over the resources of the country at minimum rates. The Economic Survey 2009-10 stated without mincing words that “prices are best left to the market.” There will be no welfare government anymore.  No welfare schemes, no subsidies, no Public Distributions Systems.  Instead the gov

Save me from gods

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In the year 1257, an elephant died in the Tower menagerie and was buried in a pit near the chapel.  But the following year he was dug up and his remains sent to Westminster Abbey.  Now, what did they want at Westminster Abbey, with the remains of an elephant?  If not to carve a ton of relics out of him, and make his animal bones into the bones of saints? The above quote is taken from Hilary Mantel’s latest Man Booker Prize-winning novel, Bring Up the Bodies (page 69, Fourth Estate, London, 2012). Mantel’s novel, which I’m still reading, thrusts before us a lot of questions without ever making it look like thrusting.  I like such novels.  Novels that tickle us into thinking, gently, slowly – quite unlike the fist-wielding street hooligans’ (ab- surd ) ways.  I ordered this novel even before it was published in India because I knew it wouldn’t disappoint me. I have lived for over 5 decades with people who claim to be religious, people who pretend to be good .  The p

Two Books on the Games of Life

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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are two books that I read last.  While the first was sent by a friend who wanted me to read it for reasons that have not been revealed to me yet, the second came as a complimentary copy from the parents of a student.  Coincidentally both are about a world that’s quite different from the one we are used to seeing in regular literature. Both the novels have children as characters.  Both are about the game of war, so to say. Ender’s Game tells the story of a battle school where children as young as six are enlisted and trained to fight an ominous war with an ingenious and dreadful alien force.  Ender (a corruption of Andrew) is one such six year-old boy who is seen by his trainers as the saviour of our planet.  Ender wins games by circumventing rules.  His determination to win at any cost and the brilliance of his intelligence are what will lead mankind to success in the war against the aliens.

The Politics of Change

“… there are times when the world is in flux and the right voice in the right place can move the world.  Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin, for instance.  Bismarck.  Lenin .”  [ Ender’s Game , Orson Scott Card] The most repeated refrain at my workplace now is “ change .”  The focus is always on change from within .  We’ve had a number of “workshops” on the theme.  A lot of Stephen Covey has been shoved down the throats of the participants.  The latest “workshop” ended a couple of hours back.  The participants were enlightened on the 90 / 10 principle of Covey, according to which we cannot change 10 percent of the reality because that is not under our control, but we can change the remaining 90 percent because that is related to our response to the reality.  For example, if my little daughter topples the coffee cup on to my shirt during breakfast, I can choose to let out my ire first on my daughter, then on my wife for being careless about where she placed the cup, then on my car f

Innocence

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  Ready? Go ahead, don't bother about me. I'm just an intruder with a gadget. Yeah, that's it. You are a newborn calf. You believe my words. Soon you will learn not to. [Originally posted on 19 Oct 2010.  I'm posting it again because tomorrow my students will return after their Diwali break.]

Is Kasab in Paradise?

According to the lascivious promises made in the Islamic scriptures to the martyrs, Ajmal Kasab must now be in the blissful paradise reclining on “a raised throne woven with gold and precious stones,” wearing “silken garments,” “bunches of fruits hanging within reach,” jugs of wine at hand, served by “ Houris with wide, lovely eyes (as wives for the pious), like preserved pearls, a reward for deeds that they used to do”… Probably, Kasab was not aware of such heavenly rewards when he agreed to hold up the Kalashnikov against the teeming multitude in an Indian railway station.  Somebody with nothing more than primary education and abject poverty as the only resources, Kasab could not have been aware of even the voluptuous aspects of Islamic jihad.  When he was questioned by the police soon after his arrest, Kasab, lying in a hospital bed, said clearly that he had done it for money and nothing else.  He said his father must have been paid lakhs of rupees.  It is that earthly

Trade Fair Entertainment

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Is Delhi starved of entertainment?  The number of people who gathered today, a weekday, at Pragati Maidan to visit the India International Trade Fair (IITF) would make one think so.  The number ran to thousands. A fraction of the visitors at IITF If you were to observe for some time you would easily notice that most visitors never bought anything much from any stall.  The only stalls that did good trade were those dealing in food items. I was also a casual visitor who had no serious intention of buying anything.  I was merely curious and today  being a holiday for me I decided to indulge my curiosity.  The realisation that there are too many people like me in Delhi who visit the IITF merely out of curiosity or just for the heck of it did amuse me.  And people are ready to undergo much inconvenience for the sake of such an insubstantial entertainment. It was entertaining to watch other people, however.  The way they examine certain things which they may have no intention of b

Was Thackeray an Anachronism?

Bal Thackeray was the Hitler of Maharashtra.  He not only admired the ‘Great Dictator’ but also tried to emulate him by fighting the non-Marathis with all resources available to him.  The number of people in various parts of India who must have celebrated the death of Bal Thackeray at least in the privacy of their hearts may not be minuscule.  Just as Hitler wanted a Germany of pure Aryans, Thackeray wanted an India of pure Hindus.  His blinkered vision rankled with inveterate hatred for Muslims and Christians, a hatred which went to the extent of getting even cricket matches and pitches dashed to wrack and ruin if the Pakistani team was in the vicinity.  His men, mostly antisocial elements, went around assaulting people who celebrated the Valentine’s Day.  He hated people for loving people.  He did not hesitate to wield his cudgel against Sachin Tendulkar merely for stating that he was a Marathi but also an Indian .  This very same Thackeray had, however, no compunction a

Jab Tak…?

The movie [Jab Tak Hai Jaan] was a terrible disappointment.  Three hours wasted.  Add another hour for the formalities in the multiplex and the intermission.  At my age I shouldn’t expect anything great from Bollywood, I know.  But I wanted to enjoy my Diwali break with my wife who loves movies.  Even she felt bored.  May Yash Chopra Rest In Peace. It’s an ancient story told in the most boring way possible, except for the bikini shot of Anushka in the beginning, and the skimpy dress that both Katrina Kaif and Anushka are asked to wear in quite many places.  Add Anushka’s Delhi spirit, and you have the salt and pepper. Delhi spirit means superficiality at its best.  Confidence at its best too.  Yash ji was merciful enough to give some depth to Anushka’s character for the sake of the movie.  I think the movie would have been far better if the real Delhi spirit was explored.  But Bollywood is not interested in any spirit , except the commercial one.  What Anushka’s

Medha Patkar and A K Antony

Medha Patkar was in Kerala today.  She praised A K Antony, India’s present defence minister and Kerala’s former chief minister.  She said that Antony was trying to bring development to Kerala without harming the environment.  Antony is an honest politician.  No, I don’t mean any irony like the one spoken by Shakespeare’s Brutus about Mark Antony of the ancient Rome (Sonia Gandhi’s Italy). Yesterday A K Antony criticised the Congress government in Kerala for scuttling many of the progressive measures that the Central government could have done for Kerala.  He said clearly that he was able to do much more for Kerala when the Left govt was ruling in Kerala than now when the Congress govt is ruling.  He said he has no courage now, when the Congress govt is in power, to bring industries to Kerala.  He said that the Left govt had cooperated more with him.  He became emotional mentioning the Left leaders like V S Achuthanandan (former chief minister) and Elamaram Kareem (minist

Novel as history and biography

Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s latest novel, The Dream of the Celt [Faber & Faber, 2012], delves into the history of the colonisation of the Congo and Amazonia as well as the biography of Roger Casement, an Irish nationalist. Llosa questions the very validity of history many times in the novel.  Most history, implies the novelist, is a “more or less idyllic fabrication, rational and coherent, about what had been in raw, harsh reality  a chaotic and arbitrary jumble of plans, accidents, intrigues, fortuitous events, coincidences, multiple interests that had provoked changes, upheavals, advances, and retreats, always unexpected and surprising with respect to what was anticipated or experienced by the protagonists” (109-110). A historical novel may be more accurate than documented history because the novelist looks at the events from a wider and deeper perspective than a historian.  For example, Sir Henry Stanley is portrayed in history as the heroic founder of the

Diwali, Gifts, and Promises

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Diwali gifts for me! This is the first time in my 52 years of existence that I received so many gifts in the name of Diwali.  In Kerala, where I was born and brought up, Diwali was not celebrated at all in those days, the days of my childhood.  Even now the festival is not celebrated in the villages of Kerala as I found out from my friends there.  It is celebrated in the cities (and some villages) where people from North Indian states live.  When I settled down in Delhi in 2001 Diwali was a shock to me.  I was sitting in the balcony of a relative of mine who resided in Sadiq Nagar.  I was amazed to see the fireworks that lit up the city sky and polluted the entire atmosphere in the city.  There was a medical store nearby from which I could buy Otrivin nasal drops to open up those little holes in my nose (which have been examined by many physicians and given up as, perhaps, a hopeless case) which were blocked because of the Diwali smoke.  The festivals of North India