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Showing posts from December, 2021

Some New Year Thoughts

  Image from T his is the last post of the year 2021. The year that is dying hasn’t been particularly cheery. The pandemic hampered most movements. I would have loved to visit a lot of places as I had planned earlier. Worst of all, classes went online and I now have a whole batch of students whose faces I won’t recognise if I meet them somewhere. Two events of the year that worry me largely are not personal, however. They are about the nation. Both happened recently. One: the Haridwar hate speeches . Two: Cutting off foreign donations to Mother Teresa’s Charity and the attacks on Christian churches on Christmas day. These are all interrelated events. India has become a nation of haters and hatemongers. Most tragically, ascetics have become the foulest citizens spewing venom against minority communities. And the government is just mute. None of the authorities from the Prime Minister to the chief ministers of various states where the hate speeches and attacks took p

Children of Cows

  Source: Prime Minister Modi declared the cow our mother last week while addressing a rally in Varanasi. I have my own mother and am certainly not interested in a surrogate especially at my age now. If some of my fellow citizens are in need of more mothers, who am I to object? My problem is not about having many mothers but about what Modi ji is doing for the cow’s children. Now that he is completing eight years in power, we need to assess his performance and see whether it is more mothers we need. Let me tabulate a few indices to summarise Modi ji’s contribution to the nation in the last eight years as PM. Index Year & Rank Year & Rank The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2014 - 27 2020 – 53 UNDP Human Development Index 2014 - 130 2020 – 131 IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2013 - 40 2021 – 43

Campus Ghosts

  Book Review Title: Young Blood Author: Chandrima Das Publisher: HarperCollins India, 2021 P eople enjoy reading horror fiction or watching horror movies because the emotional roller coaster rides provided by them are delightfully scary while being mere illusions. Chandrima Das’s short stories in the collection titled Young Blood are brilliant creations based on certain legends and beliefs particularly on ten Indian university campuses. Every story in this book succeeds remarkably well in creating tension, fear, stress and shock in the reader. Moreover, they have some very memorable characters. The stories are all set in a university campus – ranging from the defunct Khairatabad Science College in Hyderabad to the sanctimonious St Anthony’s College premises in Shillong. Each story is unique too. If a whole college building becomes a monstrous and gigantic ghost in the first story, a witch (chudail) haunts us in the second, and one’s own inner demons apparently metamorphose i

Religious Tourism?

  Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi recently. A whopping Rs 900 crore was spent on the corridor which connects the classical temple with the Ganga river. The project is expected to promote religious tourism. I have never been able to come to terms with the view of Modi and his party that religion should play a major role in the running of a nation. My view, for whatever it is worth, is that religion should have nothing to do with politics. Religion is a matter of the soul and it should remain there: with the individual souls. There can be temples and other places that may help people to stay in touch with their souls. But what is a Prime Minister of a country doing in a temple doing what a pujari should be doing? For centuries now, eminent thinkers have questioned the validity of religion particularly in public life. Too many philosophers and writers have told us in no uncertain terms that a thinking person could be happy


Jan J Manithottam   The loss of a pet can be a lingering pain. Jan J Manithottam , a grade 12 student of mine, wrote this moving poem on the death of her beloved cat, Kiara.   Our baby, my first child, I don’t know where she came from, But I know where she has gone. On a Saturday night, when it was raining, This little creature started crying in our garden. Soon she walked into our hearts.   She became our baby, my first child. She grew not in our home but in our hearts. We loved to watch her changes with curiosity. She cried, played, laughed, loved and lived with us.   Our baby, my first child. We called her Kiara. I used to talk to her, feed her, cuddle her, Care for and love her. The sparkle in her eyes When I took her in my arms, The purrs she made When I cuddled her, The joy she expressed When she saw me, The jumps she made When I sat next, The vibe she changed When I was moody, The heartbeat I felt When we were close, Al

Prime numbers are like life

  “Prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” The narrator-protagonist of Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time , makes that captivating observation. 15-year-old Christopher loves numbers and has a way with them. For example, ask him ‘What’s 251 times 864?’ and he’ll tell you in a moment the answer: 216,864. It’s easy, he will tell you, you just multiply 864 x 1000 which is 864,000. Then you divide it by 4 which is 216,000 and that’s 250 x 864. Then you just add another 864 on to it to get 251 x 864. And that’s 216,864. He’s good at science too. What he’s not good at is understanding people. People are more complicated than maths and science. They tell lies. They have complex emotions and motives. And beliefs. Christopher tells us that he cannot tell lies, ‘not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies.’ His mind is too logical t

An India Burdened by the Past

  Book Review Title: The Murderer, The Monarch and The Fakir Authors: Appu Eldhose Suresh & Priyanka Kotamraju Publisher: Harper Collins, 2021. Pages: 234 Can both Mahatma Gandhi and his murderer Nathuram Godse be national heroes? The ruling party, BJP, is attempting to yoke the two together. Recently the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, tried to get the Mahatma’s support for Godse’s guru, V D Savarkar. But his statement was soon proved to be yet another roguish attempt by the BJP to falsify history. There was nothing in common between Savarkar’s allies and Gandhi. More importantly, Savarkar and his allies conspired again and again to murder Gandhi who was antinational in their perception. The chief contention of the book under review is that Godse was just one of the many assassins of Gandhi, Savarkar being a major figure in the group of conspirators. The authors of this book unearth information from previously unseen intelligence reports and police records to show how th