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Showing posts from November, 2012

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

Parivartan in the Palace

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Introductory Note:   The following short play was written by me for the Annual Day of my school.  It has been staged today, the Annual Day, whose theme was PARIVARTAN.  The Cast King Chatterjee - Minister Mrs Pandey - Minister Patel - Minister Sharma - Minister Patnaik - Leader of Opposition Nath - Opposition Member Mrs Nanda - Opposition Member Beggar Soldier 1 Soldier 2 A view from the play The King’s Palace.  There’s a throne in the centre.  Chairs on sides.  When the curtain rises all the ministers and opposition are standing on the stage talking among themselves softly. Drum beat.  Bugle call. Silence on the stage.  All stand at attention. Soldier 1: (from side) Attention, attention!  The Great King, the Champion of champions, the Warrior of warriors, the Conqueror of the world, the Eliminator of enemies, his Excellency, the Mighty Shatrughna Vikram Singh Bahadur is on his royal waaaaay. Royal music as the King arrives in royal ro