Search This Blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

R K Anand - First Greenshoot of Congress Revival

What's the difference between Western News and our news ? Simple. Western news is almost irretrievably Westcentric. Even when Western corruption is discussed, the watchful mind can see the shimmering halo, hear the fluttering wings.

Smugness, "see we can discuss our dirty linen, can you ?," not outrage is the droning undertone.

Out news is eccentric.

In keeping with the national obsession for submission/domination, we believe not merely in unfairness and disproportion, but in its brazen, outrageous display.

Not only must injustice be done. It must be seen to be done. Not only must injustice be seen to be done. It must be reported and rationalised by the idiot savants of our ruling class on national television.

Yes. I am in a foul mood.

Because I saw the disgraced lawyer R K Anand appear on two networks, CNN IBN and Times Now, to pronounce his jurisprudential wisdom on the disgusting Manu Sharma out on parole matter.

If anybody wanted a dipstick survey of the brimming insanity of India's insular, idiotic ruling class - here it was - on full display !

I googled RK Anand and found this little bit on The Telegraph.

Behind the curtain

Now for some news from poll-bound Jharkhand. The Congress, it appears, has struck a deal with Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. The credit for the pact should go to that old hand, RK Anand, and not to leaders such as Keshav Rao and Mukul Wasnik who are officially in charge of the polls in the state. Before the polls, the Congress, the grapevine has it, conducted a survey, which showed that the poll prospects of the party will suffer if it tied up with tainted politicians such as Shibu Soren. Taking the cue from the results, Anand got into the act and helped forge ties with Marandi who has a cleaner image to improve the Congress’s chances in Jharkhand. Anand must be hoping that the service rendered will improve his own chances of a raise in the pecking order as well.

The rehab appearance of RK Anand as a pundit of the Indian ruling class's idea of the rule of law,on two national news channels (maybe more ?) is not an accident.

It is another tender, "green shoot" of the rejuvenation of the India National Congress.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Faffing through the clutter

You create something for your little one. It works. It works so well, that your little one has taken it, used it and one day, you are watching tv and Amitabh Bachchan is using it.

Faff. It is a word, a space that you created, out of the forge of your intense concern and caring, to make it easy and playful for that tender and frail and effervescent, bundle of feelings and fears to talk to you. With whom you just had to connect.

So you would faff about school and teachers and friends, the little one sitting on your knee, or on a chair arm, but with your arm around it.

The little one may not hear you, but it could not have any doubt that you were there. The little one, whether it liked it or not, was not alone.

She took faff to school and then to hostel, to another school and then to college.

One day says," We just don't faff anymore Appa" .

Wow! you're thinking, so appa did get through to that bundle, through the voices on tv, through her ever expanding gaggle of friends and peers, your faff cut through the clutter.

PS: Feel free to start a convo. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ordinarising The Extraordinary. The State Bank Of India Versus Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.

From Drop Box

If only you knew, the magnificence of the life of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose would take your breath away.

If you are one of those fortunate few who have been blessed with the gift of wonder, you will find yourself yearning to be transported to the Calcutta of the early 20th century, wanting to find out how this handsome brown man even ventured to think those fantastic thoughts, with what steadiness and "madness" did he pursue them and finally by what miracle of industry did he make them material.

Consider this :

"A book by Sir Oliver Lodge, "Heinrich Hertz and His Successors," impressed Bose.

In 1894, J.C. Bose converted a small enclosure adjoining a bathroom in the Presidency College into a laboratory.

He carried out experiments involving refraction, diffraction and polarization.
To receive the radiation, he used a variety of different junctions connected to a highly sensitive galvanometer. He plotted in detail the voltage-current characteristics of his junctions, noting their non-linear characteristics. He developed the use of galena crystals for making receivers, both for short wavelength radio waves and for white and ultraviolet light.

Patent rights for their use in detecting electromagnetic radiation were granted to him in 1904.

In 1954 Pearson and Brattain [14] gave priority to Bose for the use of a semi-conducting crystal as a detector of radio waves.

Sir Neville Mott, Nobel Laureate in 1977 for his own contributions to solid-state electronics, remarked [12] that "J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time" and "In fact, he had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors."

In 1895 Bose gave his first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves, using them to ring a bell remotely and to explode some gunpowder.

In 1896 the Daily Chronicle of England reported: "The inventor (J.C. Bose) has transmitted signals to a distance of nearly a mile and herein lies the first and obvious and exceedingly valuable application of this new theoretical marvel."

Popov in Russia was doing similar experiments, but had written in December 1895 that he was still entertaining the hope of remote signalling with radio waves.

The first successful wireless signalling experiment by Marconi on Salisbury Plain in England was not until May 1897.

The 1895 public demonstration by Bose in Calcutta predates all these experiments.

Invited by Lord Rayleigh, in 1897 Bose reported on his microwave (millimeter-wave) experiments to the Royal Institution and other societies in England [8].

The wavelengths he used ranged from 2.5 cm to 5 mm. In his presentation to the Royal Institution in January 1897 Bose speculated [see p.88 of ref.8] on the existence of electromagnetic radiation from the sun, suggesting that either the solar or the terrestrial atmosphere might be responsible for the lack of success so far in detecting such radiation - solar emission was not detected until 1942, and the 1.2 cm atmospheric water vapor absorption line was discovered during experimental radar work in 1944. "

Excellence will not be contained.

Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose was a mentor of the legendary Satyen Bose, of the Bose Einstein equations.

150 years after his birth, the global scientific community has finally given Jagadish Chandra Bose, a tiny portion of the recognition that was due to him.

What a song of splendour. Let us sing it again. This time with Ashok Parthasarathi.

" In 1895, Bose successfully demonstrated in public in colonial Calcutta the wireless transmission of electromagnetic waves.

Generating waves using a self-designed and built transmitter at one end of a link and sending them to a similarly built detector located 75 feet away, through intervening obstacles such as the body of Lieutenant General Mackenzie who commanded the British troops in the Calcutta garrison, he set off an explosion in a cache of gunpowder at the other end.

That Bose built all the equipment in the abysmal conditions that existed at the University of Calcutta then, and the country as a whole, in the 1890s makes the achievement even more mind-boggling and creditworthy.

Over the next decade, Bose obtained four U.S. and U.K. patents for his invention with the aid of friends.

It took some five years more for a technician of mixed Italian-Irish parentage, Guglielmo Marconi, to make a similar public demonstration.

In the heyday of imperialism, the Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to 35-year-old Marconi and a 59-year old German physicist from Strasbourg, Karl Ferdinand Braun, “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.”

Bose was not given the prize although he had published his results in leading international journals and lectured at the Royal Institution in London in 1897 at the invitation of his teacher, Lord Rayleigh, one of the most distinguished British scientists of the time.

In 1899 Bose read a paper at the Royal Society in London, ‘On a Self-Recovering Coherer and the Study of the Cohering Action of Different Metals,’ on his invention of the coherer which used conductors separated by mercury.

In the paper, which was published in April 1899, he wrote: “For very delicate adjustments of pressure, I used in some of the following experiments an U-tube filled with mercury, with a plunger in one of the limbs; various substances were adjusted to touch barely the mercury in the other limb.

"... I then interposed a telephone in the circuit; each time a flash of radiation fell on the receiver the telephone sounded.”

Performing a series of experiments, Bose concluded that“there can be no doubt that the action was entirely due to electric radiation.”

More than two years later, Marconi transmitted radio waves across the Atlantic, using Bose’s coherer — with nary a mention of Bose.

Academic honours such as a D.Sc. by research from London University, a knighthood in 1917 and a membership of the Royal Society of London in 1920 that were conferred on Bose did little to affirm his pioneering status as the father of wireless.

Ironically, in a book by Orrin Dunlap, which Marconi personally edited, a page and a half is devoted to Bose, who is acknowledged by Marconi to have provided crucial support at a critical juncture when he needed it most.

Partial amends were made in 1998 when the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), New York, a global professional academy in the field, announced:

“Our investigative research into the origin and first major use of solid state diode detector devices led to the discovery that the first transatlantic wireless signal in Marconi’s world-famous experiment was received by Marconi using the iron-mercury-iron-coherer with a telephone detector invented by Sir J.C. Bose in 1898.”

With these revelations, belated though they are, we may safely say that Bose, and not Marconi, was the discoverer and demonstrator of wireless radio propagation through free space and thus the father of radio, television and all other forms of radio communication including the Internet. The IEEE inducted Bose into its Wireless Hall of Fame. "

What a horror then, what kind of a disease of the vision or intellect or character, that India's premier bank, the State Bank of India, would spend so much money on such a faint and fuzzy recollection of magnificence.

"A multifaceted genius with boundless curiosity, Jagadish Chandra Bose was a pioneer in several fields."

Is that all that you can say, SBI? Or is that all you know ?

Or is it that at a time when we need all hands on deck to build yet another " Rs 350 crore " memorial to Shivaji Maharaj, when our imaginations are hemmed in by a Jawaharlal this or Rajiv or Indira or Kalaingyar that, maybe getting even this feeble wheeze out was an exercise in pure valour ?

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ritual Abuse Of Shashi Tharoor

The revealing truth about the orgy of pseudo outrage that has erupted over Shashi Tharoor's twitter, is that it is so unreal. So "Kafkaesque".

Anybody who has read a little more than Mills & Boone would know that "cattle class" is an egregiously offensive comment only to folks like me who believe all sentient beings have a right not to be abused and preyed upon by humans.

It is an unfortunate, covertly Hitlerian - the Jewish people were transported to concentration camps in cattle cars - but sardonic jibe of profiteering airlines and incidentally on the hapless passengers who allow themselves to pay to suffer the humiliation and discomfort.

I was also disappointed by Tharoor"s casual use of the colonial,profoundly Hinduphobic, cliche "holy cows" and would have preferred an environmentally appropriate "holy clunkers" but then that's me!

The ruling classes are neophobic and they are made profoundly uneasy when their cliches are stepped on. They worship their cliches.

Tharoor was well in line and could not be faulted for any fey act of cliche busting either.

Was Tharoor being funny ?

That's what our beloved Prime Minister thinks and the likes of M J Akbar expertly opine that it was a particular, rarefied kind of "Oxbridge" humour, so I'll give it a maybe.

To my mind Tharoor spouted a trite, innocuous,inanity on an informal, chat forum.

It took the particular genius of a section of the Congress party and our corrupt, ninny editorial class to take that and turn it into an incendiary that could inflame our masses to storm the Tihar Jail.

Incidentally, I have never stepped anywhere near the shadow of St Stephens or any other of our tony educational spas, but Tharoor and I used to write for "Hi- Young People's Newspaper".

I was also "The Most Outstanding Speaker" at a Model United Nations General Assembly conducted way back in Hyderabad.

The topic of debate was the proposed admission of Israel to the United Nations.The organisers asked me to represent India. I disagreed with India's position and represented France instead.

My position did not come from any family indoctrination, but from reading the novels of Leon Uris.

I can say now, that the horrors of Nazism that I read about sent me into a spin for weeks and I had no adult around me who could understand my angst and take me to a better place.

My decision to represent France was not a slick,political move. Merely a non destructive expression of my naive but felt moral outrage.

In one of those novels, a young recruit to the dreaded SS (whose motto was " My Honour Is Loyalty")is given a puppy to care for. After the recruit develops a bond with his charge, he is asked to murder it as an exhibition of his loyalty to the "larger' causes.

In Govind Nihalani's Tamas, ( sorry, have not had a chance to read the translation), a RSS recruit is shown as having been subject to this humiliation.

Is this a rite of passage or a humiliation ?

Is the betrayal and murder of an intelligent and ennobling companion an expression of human growth or retardation and perversion ?

As Erich Fromm, describes it with an erudition and clarity that certainly took my breath away, it is not loyalty that is demanded but obedience and conformity.

Authoritarian elements in society relentlessly seek to assert themselves by hounding us to kill our puppies.

Abraham was commanded by "God" to sacrifice his adult son as a "test of his loyalty".

The masochistic hankering to propitiate mysterious , powerful elements, by self humiliation and the sacrifice of best fruits of his productivity runs deep and dark through the history of man.

It is met by the sadistic response of self appointed high priests, who demand propitiations in the name of some awful, magical power.

The compulsive bribe giving and taking is of a piece of this same 'accumulated human wisdom".

If the Congress party had any comments about the Prime Minister's speech on "pervasive corruption", I certainly did not read or watch them.

Many people have at least acknowledged that the attack on Tharoor appears hypocritical - another media euphemism for lack of integrity, schizophrenia - that there is nothing real about the outburst in the Congress party.

If anything this has made the BJP expulsion of Jaswant Singh "look good".

But something is going on.

What we are watching is an exhibition of human cretinism and viciousness.

A psychotic, "domination" episode. A quintessential abuse of public space.

As readers of Divakar's Sathyagraha would know, I am quite familiar with this.

I saw this happening to my dear friend Shri Indrajit Gupta when he chose to join the United Front government.

Some of us may remember that Sam Pitroda in his early days, was subject to a similar witch hunt.

My family and I have been a victim since close to two decades.

The public humiliation of an extraordinarily talented and attractive Indian politician, without the slightest public purpose.

Unless a more humane sanity asserts itself, those who have been branded heretics, mavericks, bakras, turkeys or whatever will with your joyous approval and happy applause be burnt at the stake.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Normality" Vs Consciousness

The Radical Ms Laidlaw

What about this other bit of management folklore that appears to be reborn with every generation - that the first impression , allegedly made in less time than a blink of an eye, allegedly percolates deep down and takes possession of the recipient's subconscious and continues even without their knowledge to rule their relationship with the recipient forever and more ?

Till date, I have not had anybody call this kind of nano second management by its real name - Prejudice!

Consciousness, self awareness, resisting the impulse to "label", "brand", "pigeonhole" life to some fanciful and usually self serving idea of "normal", delighting in the wonder of the search and of discovery, these are ancient and radical - as in seminal NOT extremist - ideas that help us get real.

Ms Laidlaw emphasizes them with the conviction of personal experience.


Personal Branding vs. Self-Awareness
Georgina Laidlaw writes for

Monday, July 13, 2009

Art 377 & India's GloboHomos

The sudden fuss and flurry about decriminalising homosexuality in India, reinforces the suspicion that contemporary Indian society may be a "boneless" wonder.

Very rarely does India allow itself acknowledge its problems and find solutions for them.

The case for decriminalizing homosexuality is unexceptionable and the mild questioning and narrow focus of the Delhi High Court's verdict is a passing breeze for the protection of personal liberties in this "secular country".

But why did it take so long ?

"Modern" India has to wait, generations, for a movement to suffer, sacrifice and develop in the West, acquire respectability, big funding and political clout , and only then will it offer itself as a franchisee for the idea.

Once all the right connections are established, the task of "modernisation" will be taken to some chosen among the babulog kay bablog, the courts will suddenly be possessed by a trailblazing zeal and India will have "modernised'.

A dread of lumpen religiosity and a consequent lack of a matter of factness about sex has kept Indians mired in agony and disease.

Ignorance and shame about sex has stunted more Indian lives than so called alternate sexual practices ever can.

The "Argumentative Indian" maybe a Nobel prize winning, bon vivant's vision of India.

But India's narcissistic elites prefer "shyness" and "modesty" in the face of disease and dementia.

BTW, in the light of recent events,

can we dare hope that the media will break its strange silence on the Skybus ?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

India's Musical Salaam To Michael Jackson

Farewell Michael ! There were others before you -
John Lennon,
Elvis Presley
Charles Chaplin,
"Fatty" Roscoe Arbuckle,
Jerry Lee Lewis - martyrs to "maturity".

Thanks for not having been too "grown up".

It was enough that you helped make people the world over, sing, dance and be happy.

And to make a whole bunch of "grown ups" a whole lot of money.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Express Good. Repress Bad.

Grown ups do not shy away from discussing so called "unpleasant" issues. They know it is critical to express, unhealthy to repress. There is no saintliness in abandoning important issues. Problems need to be gathered, pondered over, a consciousness created and understanding arrived at.

Esteemed readers may be interested to know that Jon Vogel and Deepak Chopra as also have found my comments worthy of inclusion. Eric R Danton heard me.

This is important because India's lugubrious editorial class, makes it a point to mutilate and distort my already severely restricted comments or not publish them at all. Bachi Karkaria and Anand Soondas as also The Indian Express have published the following comment:

divakarssathya says: June 19, 2009 at 02:42 PM IST

It has been well documented that rape is an act of domination and humiliation. So is corruption. Corruption is domination and humiliation of the very idea of the rule of law. So,In India today, where the systems of delivery of justice are in a frightfully derelict state, mutual consent is a mutual delusion. The Chief Information Commissioner who has systematically violated the RTI Act 2005 is no less psychotic, is no less heinous and an infinitely larger menace than an individual running amok.Shockingly,the Indian Press remains clueless and starry eyed. Welcome to Shiney Ahuja Versus The Chief Information Commissioner Of India Read about how our sycophantic press treats high officials with kid gloves and rose tinted prose.

I have put these esteemed newspapers on the scent. Let's see what they come up with.

Extraordinarily, The Vatican appears to mirror my views on Michael Jackson.

However, I leave it to esteemed readers to opine whether, tongue in cheek is exactly the most appropriate tone of voice when mourning the passing of a tortured angel.

Vatican daily proclaims Michael Jackson immortal - for his fans

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hemanta Da ! Madan Mohan sa'ab ! Michael Jackson ! Amar Rahe! Narcissistic India's Gratitude Deficit

June 16th was the 89th birth anniversary of Hemanta Da.

I would not have known this if I had not stumbled upon a news report in the Calcutta edition of one major Indian newspaper.

I've not had the good fortune of meeting Hemanta Da, but he like Rafi Sa'ab, Kishore Da and Mukesh and all the others were without a doubt members of my family.

They gave me joy and they gave me company, they inspired me and introduced me to shimmers and shades of mood and meaning.

They nourished my roots to my languages, culture and country as no school or teacher could have even tried.

To even think of death, in the company of such uproariously vivacious beings is mad. For me and millions of music lovers they will forever be our uncles and aunts.

Point 1. Bongs may not know much about TMS or Sirgazhi Govindarajan; but that is their problem and in a janma or two, I am confident they will sort it out.

But what I would really like the tone deaf, philistines of the Indian editorial class to know is .... Hemanta Da does not belong to Calcutta alone.

It is truly outrageous to tuck him away in a mohalla report. Hemanta Da is a national legacy.

A towering standard of virtuosity.

We are extraordinarily fortunate to have such a variegated legacy to celebrate.

So why does our media only want to dig graves and bury it?

June 25 was the 86th birth anniversary of Madan Mohan sa'ab. Born according to Wikpedia in Baghdad.

Now that's another global Indian!

What a magician!

Show me a woman today who can come on to a man for four minutes and eighteen seconds of sustained passion and I'll show you somebody who will very soon be made mincemeat by our necrophilous media.

Michael Jackson - Stopped Before He Got Enough

From a young age Jackson was physically and emotionally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling. Jackson's abuse as a child affected him throughout his grown life. In one altercation — later recalled by Marlon Jackson — Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and "pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks". Joseph would often trip up, or push the male children into walls. One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterwards, Jackson suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.

Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes get sick or start to vomit upon seeing his father.
In Jackson's other high profile interview, Living with Michael Jackson (2003), the singer covered his face with his hand and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse.

Jackson recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you." Wikipedia

Any consideration of Michael Jackson's awesome oeuvre has to include his angelic triumph over his brutal childhood.

His music was his triumph. A writing in the sky iteration of his love and sanity.

And just as violent repression by sections of the establishment is a thick black strand running through the history of Rock and Roll, so is love, love as feeling and love as healing, a theme through Michael Jackson's work.

No question, Michael Jackson was one of the sanest human beings of the 20th century.

To attempt to anachronise Michael Jackson is ridiculous. As for that matter is rest of Kaveree Bamzai's hurried, ahistorical, all motion no memory piece.

Harried and narcissistic column writers may want the President of the United States all for themselves,but POTUS would do well to acknowledge that he stands on the shoulders of many, many human beings who stood up and asserted their sanity.

Farah Khan makes a confession of the most acute cultural malnourishment, when she calls MJ her "guru".

O Tempora O Mores

What about the allegations of child molestation ?

First, I never believed them.

Second, remember they were brought to you by the same wonderful folks who gave you Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Third, the world over children, women and others who are not certified members of the power structure are treated with varying degrees of brutality. Those in power are quickly handed a cloak of invisibility by the media.

A case in point.

How many in India know that the Vatican has paid out close to a hundred million dollars to compensate for victims of child sexual abuse by albeit "a small minority" of priests.

The Indian media has barely reported that story.

Was the media's heinous silence an act of concern for Indian children or a hideously wrongheaded act of leaving well enough alone ?

The world treated this angel of light the way it treats its children.

We starve them and deny them. We pimp them and brutalize them. We load their futures with the costs of our profligacy. And we kill them. Yet we believe and behave as though we have some special wisdom to impart.

Michael Jackson, there are many in India, who rooted for you since your Jackson Five days.

We are shocked and grieve your untimely passing.

But you will always be with us.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - India's National Treasure Passes Away In An Alien Land

India's flakey editorial class may adulate a Narayanamurthy or even a A R Rehman as models of Global Indians, but this generation for all the fuss, does not remotely compare with the audacity, the cultural confidence and the joy and genius of the pioneering creators of Brand India.

There are many in the West, the Thatcher/Reagan types,- thankfully fading out (?) - who affect a loathing of the 60's, and their witless Indian acolytes have imported and imposed that deracinated disdain on a fearful and unquestioning generation.

But India individuated in the 60's. India was an idea in the 60s - a masterfully old and astonishingly fresh aphrodisiac of an idea.

India was the ginseng of the 60's.

India may have been materially undernourished, still searching for the right path to recovery, but there could be no questioning its rugged, cornucopian soul.

And what a soul ! From Jawaharlal to J Krishnamurti to JRD Tata, From Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Homi Bhabha, Indira Gandhi to Rukmini Arundale - these and so many others were Indian Originals.

Exemplars not just of innovation. But of Innovation and Integrity.

To my mind, and this is entirely my fond, personal opinion, nobody typifies the Universal Indian as Pandit Ravi Shankar does.

I have been truly blessed to have felt the Ravi Shankar vibe at very close quarters, a vibe that I would describe as a being unbounded by mastery.

In the sixties, Panditji played with Ali Akbar Khan Sa'ab and Allah Rakha Sa'ab. I have watched them and heard them and even as a child, I adored them. I adored the music. I adored the life that gushed from the carefully cultivated synthesis of rigour and spontaneity.

I thought Ali Akbar Khan sa'ab's sarode was the gentle, adoring restraint to the effervescence of Panditji.

I am deeply saddened that Ali Akbar Khan Sa'ab is no longer with us.

It matters to me that he could not be in India.

It says something about the babuised India of today, that his obituary was almost completely cogged from his website.

If some journalist had just Googled, "how to write an obituary", she may have found five and a half million entries. Reading even one, may have helped.

It will be a good day for all of us when an influential section of our ruling elite unlearns the idea that a surrender to tawdriness is the only response to pressure.

Maybe then our Masters will recognise the land they left behind and return to lay down their weary heads.

Must read:

Famed Indian-born musician Ali Akbar Khan dies SF Gate Jonathan Curiel
Ali Akbar Khan dies at 87; sarod player helped bring Indian music to U.S. LA Times Jon Thurber
Remembering Musical Giant Ali Akbar Khan Sandip Roy India Currents New America Media
Ali Akbar Khan, Sarod Virtuoso, Dies At 87
William Grimes, New York Times.
Don't forget to scroll down for treats from the NYT archives.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just A Teeny,Weeny Bit Behind The Curve, Maybe?

Here's what made my head spin today.

It is a piece of news that will probably appear in tomorrow's Hindu.

"First batch of students trained in HIV medical care passes out"

We have had this scourge since more than two decades, India probably has the highest number of HIV infected people on the planet with more than six crore Indians infected and "only 5 hours ago" have we received the news that India has finally produced a batch of 24 people who are trained to extend the special care needed for HIV infected Indians.

About 15 years ago, I wrote a proposal to Doordarshan, based on a cover story in Time magazine featuring Laurie Garrett's book .

The then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh represented my case with the nobs on DD, so did the Home Minister of the day, the late Shri Indrajit Gupta, Jaipal Reddy, the Information & Broadcasting Minister had written a fulsome letter admiring the Urdu language documentary that I had made for Doordarshan, but the nobs nixed me.

I am a bad boy, because I will not do kickbacks.

From CNN to Oprah, BBC to ABC they all beamed in on Lauries Garrett's book. The lady herself became, according to her bio, the only writer ever to be awarded all the three Big Ps of Journalism. The Peabody, Polk (twice) and the Pulitzer.

For us in India, nearly six months after the Garrett's book, the plague surfaced at Surat,Gujarat.

Incidentally, I tried and tried and tried, but I could not find a copy of Ms Garrett's book in India.

To the best of my memory, the book was not even reviewed in India.

Monday, June 1, 2009

M J Akbar - India's Marlboro Man

When one of the greybeards of India's decadent editorial class reveals his mind on the subject of modernity, you realise;

Gee! Whiz! M J Akbar is India's Marlboro Man.

He ought to be working for Philip Morris !

"The Bar in Mangalore is not about alcohol." intones our panjandrum from the Naive Fifties."It is about choice and freedom from the grey shadows of a moral police."

Apart from the minor fact that they do not serve sambhar and rasam at pubs in Mangalore or any place else, sambhar and rasam with turmeric and tamarind and fenugreek and pepper, all sanctioned and certified by "modern" science as life savers, enough for me to be able to boldly tell any teen,"If ever there was a food, made by the Gods, in a moment of fondness for mortals, it is sambhar and rasam, it is sambhar and rasam, it is sambhar and rasam." ,

the real issue is Akbar's quaintly conditioned ideas on freedom.

The chance to be addicted is freedom?

If a person is ignorant/gullible/plain unlucky enough to think as Shri M J Akbar does, then it is not very difficult for that person to believe that strapping on some explosives and blowing himself in public is not about killing innocent people, but about having a wild alcohol free party in the hereafter.

But Shri Akbar can neither claim to be ignorant or gullible; there are tonnes of reader friendly and viewer friendly material available about the potential dangers of substance abuse.

A mature, sane, loving mind would only be concerned about making a life. So what tempts Mr Akbar to make such a jejune observation?

Has he become that jaded about the many small and huge struggles involved in making a life?

Or has he always been a pathologically conformist,politically correct and market friendly raconteur, pretending to be a journalist and editor?

It is possible that Shri Akbar feels unfairly singled out for some close scrutiny.

If that were the case, his self pity would be justified.

The media by and large, has been more concerned about playing along with advertisers and the powers that be than in pitching in to creating a relatively safe world for our children.

Our kids need have no problems with pubs,cars or credit cards as long as they are not brainwashed into abandoning their intelligence and caution.

They need to be taught to watch out for any senile and perverted grand uncle in the media diabolically conning them about how these powerful and potentially lethal machines are "about" "choice" and "freedom" and "modernity".

It is one of the blessings of being an Indian, that there is so much to learn and so much to do.

An occasional vist to the pub need not be considered sacrilegious.

But the minds that attempt elevate a pub or a mall to the status of a temple of modern India or the driving force of the Indian economy ?

They are sick. They are out of touch. They need to take a break.

I am normally not a ban 'em and flog 'em kinda guy, but Cold Joe of Phillip Morris and his wog descendants may just have taken me to the edge.

For my own views on pubs and the idea of modernity, esteemed readers are invited to click on the links.

And Manananiya Akbar Mahodhay, the only kind of policing, idiotic policing, I have experienced is at the hands of corrupt babus and India's addled editorial class.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Microsoft Bing ! Haunted By Google !

I love Microsoft.

These guys have so many accidents on the road to the bank, thay can be forgiven if they have begun to believe that God invented the Second Law Of Thermodynamics just to make the 60 billion dollar Redmond, Washington software giant look like The Little Train That Could !

We now have news that Microsoft will be blowing a big packet on a cute, cuddly search engine, shopaholics will love it, they say, called Bing. to compete with the only game in town - Google.

Cute name, right? Friendly enough to make shopaholics beg?

But It's Not Google !

If Steve Ballmer is reading, a word of advice from a well wisher, break a truck of coconuts for Ganesa, go around the Navagrihas seven times, light lamps with sesame oil, adopt a black dog for Shani Bhagavan, trek up the seven hills for an appointment with Balaji and your entropy issues will be gone!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

India Must Love Mukul Shivaputra Back To Health

During the empty cacophony of the Indian elections comes a story of infinite sadness.

Mukul Shivaputra, the 52 year old son of the late legendary Kumar Gandharva and sublime Hindusthani vocalist in his own right appears to have a serious problem with alcohol and was "spotted sitting on the road outside a temple begging for money so that he could buy his next drink."

The report makes it clear that Shri Shivaputra does not enjoy the sympathies of his family and will probably become a ward of the tender mercies of the Madhya Pradesh Government.

Of course the MP government is due our gratitude for stepping in to remove Shir Shivaputra from the streets. But the larger issue is whether Indian society is anywhere near being adequately equipped to help victims of alcholism and other substance abuse.

The fact is, there are few instances where the brazen predatoriness of the Indian state is as thoroughly exposed as in the manner in which it guzzles vast excise revenues from the sale of alcohol and tobacco but has done next to nothing to support victims of alcohol, nicotine or other addictions.

Given that every single U S dollar contains traces of cocaine and that vast numbers of that manifest role model society and culture are victims of a variety of addictions, the West today has rationally concluded that addictions are diseases. Diseases that can be treated.

In India, our morality appears to have stagnated on the template provided to us by the sanctimoniousness of the medieval Christian missionary.

"Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine makes not drunkenness; but intemperance produces it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal."[101]

As an "incorrigibly" argumentative child growing up in a house that obsessively pursued music, I was always the lone intense voice on Flute Mali's side. Sure my family adored his music and would go miles to consume it.

But they were helpless and uninsightful about his addiction to alcohol.

While there has been no question about their extraordinary talent and achievement in the various avocations they chose, on the matter of human frailty,or humanness, they had little to offer.

Anita Nair's frankly gawking report on the genius is an example of the kind of imbalance that I am talking about.

But a TM Sivaraman kind of quiet, loving sanity appears to have few buyers in the Indian bazaar.

It is easy to put together an entertaining this or a that reflecting the ridiculousness of the human condition. They serve a purpose and they have a market.

But an artist of the sublime, where in the world will he reach out to, what company will he find?

Even as India braves and conquers the threats of terrorists and stages brilliant IPLs in friendly foreign lands, it has been gifted another very pleasant duty by a very human saint.

It is India's duty to reach out to Mukul Shivaputra and communicate to him that he is a precious jewel of the Indian soul and that we will love him to health.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blind India - NDTV's Middle Class Myopia

Do You See What I See?

Or Did You Miss What NDTV Missed?

Please write in with your comments.

I'll get back next week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is It Them Or Is It Us ?

Re:"Crass Disregard For The Law" The Hindu 02/04/2009

We all love to bash the extremists.

But excuse me, we are bhi tho not doodh se dhule huve.

When the judicial system appears to revel in its derelict, dysfunctional state, pathologies will follow.

Or will they not?

Consider this horror from The Hindu's own archives :

It’s just another day... NAVAZ KOTWAL AND MAJA DARWALA
In our courts, justice works in mysterious ways that are beyond mortal understanding.
Photo: Mahesh Harilal

The Judicial system:
In need of an overhaul.

After five years of knocking about district courts, you have to laugh really; if you didn’t, you would cry, it is all so pathetic.

It’s the fast track courts today. The case hasn’t reached very far. After five years, charges are still being framed. Today it is number three on board. Everyone waits. His Honour is well known for coming late on to the bench: never there before noon. But no one dares challenge the incredible waste of public time; instead they sweat gently into their seats and whisper resentfully about the law’s delays inside the filthy little court.

When the Honourable finally arrives, neither prosecution nor defence counsel are present. The accused have been there for hours, their eyes anxiously casting about for their lawyers. The witnesses too are downcast. They have been victims and are frightened all the time. Now they will hang about in close proximity to their tormentors for the whole day and lose a day’s wages in the bargain. But that is hardly the court’s concern.

All in a day’s work

While we wait, the next case is called. It’s a murder. Five witnesses are to be examined — two doctors and three policemen. The doctors are not around. The police are. The judge asks them if summons have been served to the doctors. Yes, say the smart cops, just this morning, they would have got it by now. The judge knows better. One of the doctors had to come from a town 100 km away and the other from a village 75 km away. The summons had been issued 10 days ago. The judge loses it. “Why did you wait till the 10th day? He shouts, “From top to bottom you are a lazy and corrupt service will never improve.” The audience laughs, happy to hear from on high what they cannot say with any safety. The cops shift on their feet but this is too common to care about and the court is too little a power in their universe to be a serious worry. Nothing is going to happen beyond a few standard slurs.

The judge signals and matters begin. The accused shuffle in and the formalities of examination begin. Meanwhile the Public Prosecutor is nowhere to be seen. His name is called out again and again. Still nothing. The judge takes over and does the examination in chief. The defence then takes on the cross. The case is reinforced by a dying declaration. This is strong stuff and valuable to the prosecution’s chances of getting a conviction. So valuable in fact that the record shows that the police have drawn it out of the dead man an hour after the body had been sent for post mortem examination. The confirming panchnama has been performed even after the dead man’s statements were recorded This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the old adage that the long arm of the law will get you in the end and now seemingly even beyond the grave if it has to. This is almighty good policing.

The defence asks the cop if there is any possible explanation he would like to put forward for such diligence and tenacity. But the cop is now as quiet: silent as the grave, you might say. The defence goes on. Does the policeman recall that one of the accused had a fractured leg and was on crutches when arrested? Is there a reason why the arrest memo and confirmatory inspection note missed this somewhat obvious condition? More silence ensues, as the defence buries the case.

Given the other circumstances, it’s likely that the police had in fact caught the right lot but no reliable corroboratory evidence has been gathered. As the errors in investigation mount up, the judge intervenes: have senior investigating officers seen these reports; has the case diary had the Deputy Superintendent’s attention? He despairs of responsibility or good practice coming from this quarter and comments: “You people don’t take your work seriously and when the judgement is delivered you blame the judiciary for letting off criminals.”

But all is not lost. There are the expert witness doctors yet to come. At 3 p.m., after the lunch recess, the much awaited doctors appear. The Public Prosecutor is still nowhere to seen and after a few desultory cries for him the judge again takes on expert witness examination. It should be a straightforward formality.

Expert witness

In the cross, the defence counsel establishes that it is the same doctor who has provided the post mortem report. It is indeed. Death, he says, was due to deep head injuries. The bones had been broken and pierced through. The site of injury is clearly mentioned in his report. The defence accepts these truths but is curious: where might the Frontal lobe be, is it in the front above the eyes or on top where the hair grows? The doctor hesitates and points a wavering finger mid-way at his own head. The defence wants clarification: is it up here or down there? But the doctor is accommodating — he is willing to go either way. The defence leaves that alone. The Frontal, it is now established, could be anywhere that is not “backside”. That’s fair enough. But still nice to know where all the other bones might be: so he asks where the Occipital is situated. These long names are getting the doctor down. He is in a sweat: Temporal, Parietal, Occipital — what is all this? What’s in a name? Isn’t it all somewhere around the head? The defence is patient. He asks gently, what the term CSF mentioned in the post mortem is. The doctor perks up. He knows this one. For sure “F” stands for “fluid” but is not really sure about the C or the S. One out of three is surely good enough. The defence thinks so and is satisfied.

Too many battles

The judge is not. The post mortem report is going to have no value if the doctor who did it can not verify it. He explodes. He asks the doctor if he has ever studied medicine; does he have a degree; is he really a registered practitioner? The doctor does not answer. The judge does not want to know. He knows the system too well to take on another battle. He waves him out. The cross is over. The defence rests. The result has been foreclosed.

Our case is called. But the defence lawyer says his submissions will take a full day and asks for a date 10 days hence. The judge knows he should hear the matter day to day. But the day is nearly over and there seems little point in starting arguments now. He has other business to attend to. So he gives a date nine days hence. He says he is helpless. We are all helpless. We bow ourselves out. It’s just another day in the palaces of justice. Ho hum.

Maja Daruwala is Director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative while Navaz Kotwal is Programme Coordinator.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu

And now consider the context:

Rs. 2,630-crore bribes paid to lower judiciary: report

Legal Correspondent

Delays and corruption lead to cynicism

  • Miscarriage of justice in Gujarat riots case
  • Upper judiciary is relatively clean

  • · New Delhi: Transparency International has revealed that an estimated amount of Rs. 2,630 crore was paid in bribes to the lower judiciary in India during 2006.

    · The Global Corruption Report 2007 released on Thursday deals with corruption in judiciary in 32 countries.

    "Although provisions for theindependence and accountability of the judiciary exist in India's Constitution, corruption is increasingly apparent. Two decisions provide evidence for this. One, a Supreme Court decision in the 2002 Gujarat communal riots exposed the system's failure to prevent miscarriage of justice by acquitting persons close to the party in power.

    The second involved the acquittal in 2006 of nine people allegedly involved in the murder in 1999 of a young woman, Jessica Lal, even though the incident took place in the presence of a number of witnesses. One of the accused was the son of a politician."

    Two manifestations

    The report says, "Corruption has two manifestations: one is the corruption of judicial officers and the other is corruption in the broader justice system. In India, the upper judiciary is relatively clean, though there are obviously exceptions.

    "Proceedings are in open court and documents are available for a nominal payment. There is an effective system of correction in the form of reviews and appeals. In the broader justice institutions, corruption is systemic. There is a high level of discretion in the processing of paperwork during a trial and multiple points when court clerks, prosecutors and police investigators can misuse their power without discovery."

    The report points out that the Centre for Media Studies, which conducted a countrywide survey in 2005 on public perceptions and experiences of corruption in the lower judiciary, found that bribes seemed to be solicited as the price for of getting things done.

    "The estimated amount paid in bribes in the 12-month period [in 2006] is around Rs. 2,630 crore. Money was paid to the officials in the following proportions: 61 per cent to lawyers; 29 per cent to court officials; 5 per cent to judges; and 5 per cent to middlemen. The primary causes of corruption are delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and complex procedures, all of which are exacerbated by a preponderance of new laws."

    Huge pendency

    As of February 2006, cases numbering 33,635 were pending in the Supreme Court with 26 judges and 33,41,040 cases in the High Courts with 670 judges. There were 2,53,06,458 cases in the 13,204 subordinate courts. This vast backlog leads to long adjournments and indolence in India's judiciary and this prompts people to pay to speed up the process.

    The ratio of judges is abysmally low at 12-13 per one million persons compared to 107 in the United States, 75 in Canada and 51 in the United Kingdom.

    The degree of delays and corruption has led to cynicism about the justice system. This erosion of confidence has deleterious consequences that neutralise the deterrent impact of law. People seek shortcuts through bribery, favours, hospitality or gifts, leading to further unlawful behaviour, says the report.

    The Lawyers of Chennai or the Shiva Sena; Or a Jaswant,Mulayam or Stalin "helping the poor".

    Or the editorial class itself, crassly dissing a sathyagrahi.

    They all know the system of checks and balances in India is just so much mush. They have that "faith" in the system.

    And they take their chances.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Re: IPL. You Gotta Be A Boy Scout, Before You Can Be A Policeman

    It is a fundamental principle of a self respecting society that government exists to serve its citizens and not the other way round.

    So if the judges of the supreme court appear bashful about making a full disclosure of their assets,they will be firmly told to grow up and obey the Law.

    If a minister holds up a flight or throws his weight around,that will be news.

    If mantriji's cavalcade holds up the traffic,citizens will make a note of it in their little black diaries and send her a message come election day.

    It is also a principle of civility, that people must be governed through reason, persuasion and example. Not through threats or inducements.

    That is why it was disappointing that our suave,like so-not- Mamta Bannerji, with a blue chip reputation for "business friendliness" Home Minister, let the letters "IPL" escape his lips.

    The ruling elite wanted a Big, Bad, Law and they got it. They wanted another Big,Bloated Bureaucracy and they got that too.

    Now the Home Minister wanted the IPL.

    That was so not cool. That was desperation.

    Desperation either because election time is also beat the bushes and wring out the last drop of juice time.

    Or because, despite the fact that India has been a victim of terror through all her tender independent years,"the sponge that protects us all" in Ashley Tellis' poignant description,we have yet to get our act together.

    If our policemen had the opportunity to be boy scouts, they would have learned the motto,"Be Prepared".

    Unfortunately some policemen and their bosses would rather be heroes, than be prepared.

    After all who needs a hero,when there's no crisis.

    Elections are as natural and routine as breathing and need not be such a big deal .

    And it is ridiculous to let normal life be disrupted because of elections.

    Today IPL. Tomorrow the Kumbha Mela? Or the Rath Yatra?

    Terrorism too need not be such a big deal.

    Just be prepared,that's all.

    As the Home Minister himself has said, "Fighting terror is a mind game."

    Creating visions of apocalypse and denigrating commerce as mere money grubbing, all to the chorus of a sycophantic media is also a mind game.

    But the target is none other surprise! surprise ! than the hapless Indian citizen.

    I'm a hopeless romantic.

    I'm still hoping Hon'ble HM will flap his lips and make our police personnel get the latest, lightweight, bulletproof armour.

    Call 'em Hemant Karkare suits, if you want.

    That will surely play on the mind of any wannabe terrorist.

    And it won't hurt with the wise folks back home in Sivagangai either.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Koi Sunvai Nahin Hothi Hai Babujee

    In the US, the men said it:

    And the women said it:

    They cuddled it on their teddy bears,

    dressed their pets with it,

    they wore it on their bags,

    stuck it on their cars,

    and just so you would never miss it, they printed it on their clocks:

    And put it on the coasters with your drinks.

    When they were really mad, they even carried banners:

    As an Indian for whom even the memory of the morning sounds and bustle carried within the magnificent modulation of the Suprabhatam

    or the azaan,

    was a tonic,as fragrant and bracing as the tumbler of decoction coffee, many of us started our day with, this cry of utter despair and resignation was something that I could never get used to.

    For all the swagger and the colors and cleverness of commerce this seemed like "a sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions." Karl Marx on Religion.

    "SSDD" was the sad credo of the America behind the hype. The angry wail of the many who had been left behind in the cavernous cracks of a "developed" society.

    The unshaven old man carrying a lathi who had somehow been allowed into the Marxist Home Minister's peshi expelled that same tired sigh when he put his hand on my shoulder for support and said, "Koi Sunvayee Nahin Hothi Babuji"

    I had suffered nearly a decade of repression, from the corrupt bureaucracy and the press, and I could only agree with him.

    Indeed, we all know, if the Hon'ble Marxist Home Minister had heard this man, he too would have been able to do precious little than appreciate the pithy local wisdom of his petitioner.

    When Neelam Krishnamurthy witnessed the Delhi High Court actually reducing the sentences of the Ansals in the Uphaar tragedy, she expressed the same horror of betrayal.

    Sangeetha Sharma, advocate of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and mother of two, was overwhelmed. Hounded and betrayed,by an environment conspicuously lacking in honour, she did the honourable thing. This mother took her own life.

    No black guard of the law rioted for Sangeetha Sharma. They just forgot her.

    Nobody heard Aman Kachroo when he cried for help.

    Nobody heard the girl from Guntur.

    Parliament did not hear the Supreme Court either.

    Ask Somnath Da and he will tell you nobody heard him either.

    Our Chief Election Commissioner thought he had earned the right to exercise his fundamental human right to complain and obtain redressal.

    He, like the rest of us, had to come back with his intentions questioned and ears ringing.

    The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court imagined he would be heard by the striking lawyers in Chennai. What happened?

    Those unfortunate souls are still striking. Even doing some typically delayed PR. Soli Sorabji's "delay syndrome".

    Who is going to listen to the lawyers now ?

    We have our parliaments and our legislatures. Our courts and our thanas. Our Press and our zillion news channels.

    And they all sing the same mournful dirge in this noisily derelict "democracy" that the stupid foreign press has somehow labeled "vibrant":

    "Yahaan Koyi Kisi Ka Suntha Nahin Hain. Koyi Sunvayee Nahin Hothi Babuji".