Saturday, December 29, 2012

What about these victims?

On the day, when another rape victim died, in a blaze of 24-hour media coverage, I cannot help but remember some other victims who have suffered even longer...

Men in Blue - They were the No. 1 ranked team in Tests. Next, they won the limited overs World Cup on home soil. Then they got screwed (to put it mildly) by everyone. 

Parliament - This is the august house that has been witness to towering personalities & great speakers. It now longs not only for meaningful & productive parliamentary debates, but also sane, sensible & civilised members. It draws solace from the fact that its occupants have still not stooped to the level of their brethren in Karnataka legislature (or, have they still not been caught?).

Bengali aspirations - Having lived in the red lane for decades, the denizens of West Bengal gave Didi a chance. Apart from their state being renamed Poschim Bonga, their aspirations dived to play catch up with their conditions. Who cares for her tantrums in Delhi, the poor chaps in Kolkata have been subjected to Didi's shenanigans ever since she occupied Writer's Building. And forced to import their Tata Nano's from Gujarat.
Ramlila Maidan - This was the venue where Ram killed Ravan year after year as a symbolic victory of good over evil. But the holiness of the place was trashed the instant one of his footsoldiers, and yoga exponent, fled disguised as a woman! Though Ram will return next Dusshera, so will Ramdev when an opportunity presents.
Hunger(strike) - A curse of the have-nots, polished as a political tool by Gandhi. But a gandhian from the hinterland of Maharashtra overexploited it to a extent that his health deteriorated & he had to withdraw to Ralegan Siddhi, abandoned by his comrades.

Bhadralok - They have always occupied the intellectual highground, the font of original thought. Over the passage of years the stature of the debaters also reduced to the extent that the last remaining ones are found in the studios of news channels. Even those voices would now be silenced by the dented & painted opinions of those left behind.

Expose - The word no longer titillates. What was once associated with the likes of Mamta Kulkarni, Mallika Sherawat & Poonam Pandey, brings the image of Arvind Kejriwal waving some photocopies at press conferences. Even this image has been so over exposed to really interest anyone. While the bollywood starlets are facing stiff competition from the IPL cheergirls.

Investigative Journalism - Arun Shourie, N. Ram & Chitra Subramaniam have long retired. Today, the investigation is done by Kejriwal & the journalists are victims of sting operations by the likes of Navin Jindal. Who needs Tahelka today?

Youth - They witnessed not the emergency or political assassinations, but the Y2K jackpot, dotcom bubble & BPO/telecom boom. Not for them the 15-year wait for a scooter but instant gratification, where they change their mobiles every 6 months. But the fire of youth rekindled by the unending scams & gory crimes in the capital is being doused by water cannons & suppressed by policemen's lathis.

Society - Its suffering started the day Manu documented his philosophy, whose legacy is today carried forward by the Khap Panchayats & executed by our elders. But for a brief respite when the Dayanand Saraswati's & Vivekanand's pushed for positive change, its always been a small coterie that demarcated the boundaries of social acceptance, from who can one marry (and when) to what should one wear (and how). Sadly, even today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

King of Kings

3 of us, all engineering students, were riding on a scooter. All of a sudden, a cyclist appeared from a side lane & both vehicles braked in time to avert a collision. Now, this cyclist was a very young boy, who was not even in a position to put his leg over the crossbar of the bicycle! One of us instinctively said something like "dekh kar chala", to which the kid replied "jyada bolne ka nahin, Shiv Sena mein hu" (or something to that effect).

Source: happened in the early nineties, but not in Mumbai (or Bombay, as it was then called). The place was Baroda, location - Kirti Stambh, just outside our college. Our response? We simply rode off. There were 3 of us, with a whole lot of friends just across the boundary, against a young child. But it made no sense to get entangled with a school kid who claimed to be a member of the Shiv Sena! 

You can guess why it has never been a surprise to me when the biggies of corporate India & Bollywood regularly paid their obeisance to the grand patriarch of the Shiv Sena & the uncrowned King of Mumbai (not Bhiku Mhatre of Satya, stupid). 

Around 20 years later, it is heartening to hear my good friend, Suresh Iyer, telling me that "the militant shiv sainik is a thing of the past". But definitely not heartening were the obits to the departed Shiv Sena founder on facebook by my connections. A congress member on one of the english news channels put these obits in proper perspective - in Indian culture, one doesn't speak ill of the departed. Those who agree with his ideology, have every right to express their fondness for the person. But the ones trying to be culturally correct are only legitimatizing his legacy.  What is it that Bal Thackeray leaves behind?

Bal Thackeray (simply called BT over the rest of the post) did not pioneer the linguistic politics in India, though he did personify it. He simply gave it an aggressive & violent dimension. And he ensured his longevity (or should it be relevance?) by consistently identifying a new set of targets, thus extending the shelf life of his political formation. It began with the Gujaratis & South Indians, continued with the Muslims & Pakistani cricketers (for a short duration, the Sikhs too) & is currently in formation against the Biharis & North Indians. All were, inadvertantly, migrants & filled a gap in the economic capital of India.

Source: these battles were fought on behalf of the marathi manoos, the nation be damned. He ran out Sachin Tendulkar on the marathi pitch for this very reason. BT was upset that Sachin had hurt the feelings of the marathi manoos, for stating that he was an Indian first despite professing to be proud of being a Maharashtrian. The only time the nationalistic streak was in evidence was when they prevented an India-Pakistan match by digging up the pitch at Ferozeshah Kotla, thus helping the Indian team avoid a loss to the arch rivals on home turf!

It is ironical that Shiv Sena's base has been Mumbai, the most (if not the only) cosmopolitan of Indian cities. If politics was one aspect of Sena's activities, there were other dimensions too that have scarred the city's recent history. Like, the moral & cultural policing, the involvement in unlawful activities, the strong arm tactics to bully opponents into falling in line. It goes to Mumbai's (and Mumbaikar's) credit, that the city has not shed much of this character, despite umpteen Sena victories at the hustings.

Of course, he was a man of his own views. Like when he supported Indira Gandhi during the emergency or went against the NDA to get Pratibha Patil elected as the President. While the support for emergency was in line with his known beliefs, the support to Pratibha Patil had a wholly sectarian motive.

Source: was also consistent in making & breaking alliances. He has allied with the entire spectrum of the polity - Socialists (PSP), Dalits (RPI), Muslims (Muslim League). This photograph shows BT with his later bitter opponents - Sharad Pawar & George Fernandes. It is only the alliance with BJP that has stood intact for a long period. This may be because this was the only alliance that handed him the keys to Sachivalaya. Of course, he never occupied any official position in the government. But, he always had the Remote Control with him all the time. (The  Government accorded BT a state funeral, which he deserved. I request BT supporters to pls remember this if a congress government at the centre decides to honour Sonia Gandhi too with a state funeral. After all, she also holds only the Remote Control.)

He had the wit (and the vitriol) in his writings, that perhaps came from his days as a cartoonist. Some of today's politicians have tried to emulate him. One of the most prominent acknowledged him as a role model, while paying homage to the departed leader. It is another matter that he has been unable to match BT's wit in his words, though he has surpassed BT in actions.

Source: defied the conventional image of a politician. Smoking pipe (later cigars) or drinking beer in public. Robed in saffron (earlier white), laden with rudraksha's, seated on a huge throne, he created a brand for himself. A brand, which was deified by his followers. What also endeared him to the masses was his abhorrence of dynastic politics. This was best exemplified by the appointment of party loyalist, Manohar Joshi, as the Chief Minister of the 1st Sena-BJP government. However, the sentiments got the better of him, when he annointed his son, Uddhav, as his heir, thus forcing the nephew to break-off & form his own political front. 

Suresh, the violent shiv sainiks may have all migrated to the MNS.

Coming back to the legacy of Bal Thackeray, I am reminded of the poem "Ozymandias" by PB Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Ultimate Khiladi

Guess who is Mukesh Ambani's biggest fan? Surprise, surprise... it is Arvind Kejriwal (I will call him Aykay for the remaining of this post). If I believe him (Aykay, that is & not Mukesh Ambani), he (Mukesh Ambani, this time) is a superhuman being. He (Mukesh Ambani) not only manages behemoth of a business empire, but also manages to find time to manage an obese government of a large, overpopulated country that is India! 

All that was in jest... 

The whole world may doubt Aykay's judgement, but pls count me out. Isn't it a fact that the government started going down the dump at the same time that the production from RIL's flagship asset (KG-D6 gas fields) began its downward slump? And both have reached their nadir at the same time, which is Now! Wow!! Do you see the connect here, and the hidden hand?

Moses found his tablet at Mt. Sinai. Aykay, where did you find yours? In fact, in these times of multiple tablet models floating around the market, not counting the phablets, the ipads & the ipad minis, your task to collect the correct tablet was even more difficult that Hanuman's quest for the sanjivani. While Hanuman failed in his task & carried back the whole mountain, you did not, the result being the mango people have been able to buy a tablet / phablet / ipad / ipad mini very easily (I mean easy in terms of accessibility & not affordability). 

Aykay, had you been less competent than you are but as ingenious as Hanuman, vast nos. of people would have still been lugging a laptop around. But this is just the culmination of his focused efforts.

First, he sidelined the first family by exposing the first son-in-law. When the principal opposing party stood out by his side, he exposed its murkier side. To be honest, I was disgusted by his attack on Gadkari. This was nothing short of treason, if you ask me. You attack someone who is backing you for something that is a common practice all over the country. The maze behind the Purti group is nothing compared to the ones around most of the large business houses. If nothing else, this only proved that Gadkari was not a good businessman (to be found out & exposed by a former bureaucrat). 

But this was not Aykay's real target. With this shot, he silenced the business class. So that, when he took over the biggest & most powerful of them all, who was left fending for himself all alone. The fellow businessman are in no condition to come out in his support on account of being exposed by Aykay. The political chums are too busy defending themselves & their leaders to even bother about the big M.

What does all indicate? For one, Aykay is the bravest of them all? He has tied all the politicians in knots, while M is cornered with no one by his side. Aykay is the alternative we, the mango people, have been seeking all these years. Of course, there is another M (shall we call him the little M?) who has the same dream but is too busy now a days studying the love life of a central minister.

The original AK (now rechristened Rowdy) was not only a Khiladi, but also sabse bada Khiladi. The 21st century Aykay could very well be the Ultimate Khiladi...

Where am I amidst all this? 

Well, the original M is coming to town tomorrow along with her super-competent agent (hasn't he always been The Khiladi?). Heavens may fall, but its Skyfall for me!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Inviting suggestions for Team Anna (party symbol/name)

Team Anna is deliberating on giving an overt political dimension to its movement. Most desirable option is forming a political party & contesting the elections. This would prove the identification of the masses with their beliefs & ideology.

Invite your suggestions for a suitable symbol, and name, for Anna Hazare's political party.

To help you get started, I have put together the symbols of some prominent (and not so prominent) political parties in India & what the symbols stand for.

AIADMK: Just as the leaves grow on the stem they grow on, we shall also derive our sustenance from the people who vote for us. 

Akali Dal: An empty scale is the most balanced. We shall also balance our electoral scale with empty promises & no performance.

Biju Janta Dal: Forget utility, we mean to have our voice heard. Actions be damned.

BJP: Just like the lotus, the seat of power is found in in the muck of electoral politics and we shall defy age & ethics in our quest for power & position.

BSP: Those in the legislature or parliament may bark themselves hoarse, we shall do whatever we like. That's what a thick skin is meant for. (If you have any doubts, pls note that the symbol pre-dates ascendancy of the current chief of BSP.)

Communist Party of India: As the original & true representative of the proletariat, we shall turn the entire country into a rural utopia.

Communist Party of India (Marxist)
: Hammer & sickle from no conditions rise, w
ave the red flag, there the revolution lies.

Congress: The hand that robs the nation, rules its coffers. 

DMK: As the sun rises to dispel the darkness, our sons (and daughters too) shall rise to take up our positions when we are physically no longer up to the task. 

Indian National Lok Dal: As we seek power, we may become short-sighted. The glasses would help us see the goal clearly.

Shared by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha & Shiv Sena: Ready for battle, anytime, anywhere, any reason.

MDMK (Marumalarchi DMK): We shall maintain our balance & try to stay in power in the midst of changing alliances & electoral verdicts. Like a spinning top.

Muslim League Kerela State Committee
: Given support, we shall find our own way up.

Nationalist Congress Party: My time will come.

PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi): The fruits of power are sweet & nothing is sweeter than the king of fruits. Whatever be the duration of our rule, we shall maximise our earnings during that period.

Rashtriya Janta Dal: Who needs electricity? With a lantern in hand, we shall lead you from darkness to light.

Revolutionary Socialist Party: If every one is armed with a spade & shovel, who needs excavators & dumpers? We will dig the grave of industrialisation & mechanisation.

Samajwadi Party: We strive to make the lives of common man more comfortable. We shall promote the use of bicycles as a favoured means of transport for reasons of health & environment. The funds allocated for the road sector shall be used to fill the potholes on the roads (and our own bank accounts).

Trinamool Congress: Those who call this flower "fool" are all either naxalites, maoists or communists.

Uttarakhand Kranti Dal
: Its all about the Kursi, stupid! (This is one is my favourite for being so blatantly honest, sincere & truthful!) 

For an international flavour, here are the logos of the major parties in the most advanced democracy (USA):


Democratic Party: I am an ass

Republican Party: I have a bigger ass

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