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Showing posts from July, 2013

Dr Ambedkar

Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability: Analysing and Fighting Caste Author: Christophe Jaffrelot Publisher: Permanent Black, Delhi, (2005) Pages: 205 Price: Rs250 [2009 edition] There’s an idiom in Malayalam which may be translated as: Unable to swallow because it’s bitter and unable to spit out because it’s sweet .   Dr B R Ambedkar was one such man in Indian history.   Right from Gandhi through Nehru, Rajendra Prasad and Madan Mohan Malaviya down to Arun Shourie, quite many people had serious problems with Ambedkar.   Shourie even went to the extent of writing a book, Worshipping False Gods: Ambedkar and the Facts which have been Erased (1997).   On the other hand, even right wing organizations and political parties such as RSS and BJP have tried to co-opt Ambedkar into the Hindu pantheon of great leaders. As Christophe Jaffrelot says in his book under review, “On the one hand it [BJP] praises Ambedkar, the symbol of the Dalit movement because it cannot alienate th

Farewell to a Friend

This is a season of farewells for me.  I have lost count of the persons who have already left or are being hauled up before the firing line by the Orwellian Big Brother in the last quarter of the year.  The person, to whom we bid farewell today, however, had chosen to leave on his own.  He is going as the Principal of R K International School , Sarkaghat, Himachal Pradesh. Mr S K Sharma was a colleague and friend.  He belongs to the species of human beings whose company enriches you and whose departure creates a vacuum, notwithstanding the fact that Nature which abhors vacuum will fill it in its own unique ways.  Administration is an art for Mr Sharma, though he calls it a skill.  Management lessons, strategies and heuristics are only guidelines.  No one can manage people merely with the help of these guidelines.  People are not machines which can be controlled mechanically.  Machines work according to rules.  People do not do so usually.  “... intelligent, alert people

Pappu Grows Wiser

Suddenly Pappu remembered.  His English teacher had given him a project.  He had to write 5 sentences about his grandfather or grandmother, about their likes and dislikes.  So Pappu ran into grandpa's room. Grandpa was dyeing his hair.  Why should a 65 year-old man dye his hair?  Pappu was a precocious child.  Though he was studying in class 5 some of the questions that rose in his mind belonged to class 10. "Grey hairs are a sign of maturity and wisdom," explained Grandpa with a mischievous grin.  "I possess neither of them.  That's why I'm dyeing my hair." The next morning, as soon as the school bus dropped him on the campus, Pappu ran to Matheikal Sir, one of the teachers in the school, and asked, "Sir, why don't you dye your hair?"


Why do good to others?

Courtesy: “Most people would rather die than think and most people do,” said Bertrand Russell in his characteristic witty way.   Professor of Philosophy and author of many books, A C Grayling, is of the opinion that religion has continued to survive even in today’s scientific world because people don’t want to think.   They would rather accept readymade answers given by religion.   God is the ultimate readymade answer for a whole lot of problems.   And a very easy answer too. If we really think and evolve our own moral systems instead of borrowing them from religion, we will be far better human beings, says Grayling in his latest book, The God Argument.   If we think sensibly (common sense would do if we cared to use that faculty), we will realise that we all have a duty to contribute to the welfare of the entire human species.   The simple logic is that when the species is “flourishing” (Grayling’s word) we too flourish.   When we ignore the welfare of

The Saga of Warrior

Short Story When they killed my husband, it was the spirit of undaunted daring and unfailing love that was murdered. You romanticise the love that Shahjahan bore for Mumtaz because he erected that mausoleum called Taj Mahal in memory of his supposedly unfailing love for Mumtaz.  But Mumtaz was just one among the many wives and concubines on whose bosoms Shah Jahan expended his lust night after night.  Your historians will romanticise the heroism of many a ruler just because they went far and wide marauding and massacring. My husband may find no place in such histories.  But he was a genuine hero and romantic lover, a rare combination.  He fought the battles of life more bravely than any conqueror.  He loved me passionately, more than any Mughal emperor loved any of his women. Yet the universe conspired against him just as mediocrity conspires against the genius.  He was subjected to so many deaths.  Deaths in life.  Khusru, my beloved, was also the beloved of the greates

The King orders his tomb

Short Story The King was acutely aware of the smallness of his stature.   In fact he was the smallest man among all his adult citizens.   Even the queen stood half a foot taller.   He sought to solve the problem by making his crown as tall as possible so that the crest of the golden crown would stand above the heads of his citizens if at all he would ever come into contact with them.    A king cannot live without ever coming into some contact with some people.   Every such contact made the King feel small.   He tried to masquerade the smallness with self-flattery.   “I am very popular among the citizens, aren’t I?” he would ask his ministers.   Or, “How was the cultural show I arranged last evening?”   “Isn’t my new robe designed by Christian Lacroix a marvel?”   Ministers are people who have mastered the art of diplomacy and self-flattery invariably loves to call a spade a clade.   Nevertheless there is an awareness that lies deep beneath the surfaces of flattery and diplomacy

The Bagpipe Music of a Scarecrow

It’s no go the Yogi-Man, it’s no go Blavatsky, 1 All I want is a pack of cigars, and a pint of whiskey When the evening is spread out against the sky 2 Like a penitent bereft of his heavenly pie. Sorry, Descartes, I think, but I do not exist; Sorry, Bergson, I exist, but I do not change. Standing at the crossroads of life’s mid-way I look like a scarecrow scared of crows, Baffled by the tumbling turns of the tide, The flaming sword of Eden’s cherub onward To the battles and wars men fought with men: His own God’s own men, in the widening gyre. 3 It’s no go the bodhisattva, it’s no go the Mahatma, All they want is a bank balance, and a bit of sadhana On weekends to appease the thirst of the spirit That’s superannuated on a computer’s digit. Do not go gentle into that good night, my son, 4 Coat your lollipop with iron and your heart with chocolate, Fold your arms to the white of the priest’s habit, Shake your hand with the blah-blah of yo