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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Politics Of Corruption: The Elliptical Embrace!

While with his crusader mentor he was a dedicated and committed worker-activist trying to root out corruption from the face of India. His principles were then in the right place as he was fondly called the right hand of his mentor. However, he had another quality—ambition, and that too was very principled. He perhaps thought that eradicating corruption was a huge task as long as one had to fight a formidable system set in place over the years by corrupt governments. Therefore he thought that the only way to fight corruption effectively had to be from within. He had to have a political entity to enter the system and fight it. And from that moment his ambition took over command keeping principles in abeyance. He left his mentor high and dry and formed a new political party. Rest is history.

Quick-fix developments and growing evidence over the last three years tend to show that Dehli Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could be the first ever political party in the country to be able to learn the secrets of politics in the shortest possible period of time. AAP has tasted, experimented and executed all forms of politics during this period and showed an exemplary acumen in handling-manipulating-exploiting conditions, even converting non-political conditions into rampant politics. In this light, Kejriwal’s latest antic of embracing Bihar’s Lalu Prasad Yadav in the swearing-in ceremony of the new government led by Nitish Kumar is just one more example of practical politics. In fact, AAP has already clarified that the embrace was only a courteous gesture and that AAP is for Nitish only and never for Lalu.

Maybe for the common people it still stinks. The common people enthusiastically lapped up the idea of a corruption-free society and joined the movement by Anna Hazare en masse. They did not mind when Kejriwal took up the fight politically deserting Anna. They brought him into power allowing his even to compromise to form a ‘common people’ government. They brought him again into power with an unprecedented mandate, forgiving him his ‘compulsion’ to run away from governance in his first chance. And then all his ‘antics’ continued to be on display with his own ‘fighters’ deserting his party or being thrown out unceremoniously. And now, embracing a symbol of corruption and non-performance in full public view, and raising their hands in victory seems maybe little too much for the forgiving public. Furthermore, this is the same personality whom he criticized earlier for being corrupt. Experts say there are no absolutes in politics, but saner politicians or parties need to think twice before being part of an unholy alliance where ‘development’ is absent and only ‘ambition’ is present overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, this is what is happening at the moment with the ‘holy’ aim of thwarting a so-called communal party or alliance.

What is Bihar’s gain from its super-hyped assembly elections? Well, they only gained Nitish who has been a performer for the state. However, facts reveal that Nitish performed better when being part of an alliance with the BJP. Now, with a non-performing but very powerful ally it is bound to be uphill for Nitish to even govern. Lalu Prasad Yadav has the most potent controls in his hands in the forms of his son as Deputy Chief Minister, his other comrades as ministers and a caste-laden government to boot. Plus of course, the Congress—a party totally bankrupt of ideas and just trying to survive on ‘excuses’ provided unawares by some anti-social elements. Even then, the Bihar example is encouraging everyone in opposition to the present government across India to come up with grand alliances of corrupt, non-performing, opportunistic, rejected, degenerate and divisive political entities just to keep the BJP led NDA out. They protest against alleged ‘polarization’ of the country and encourage caste politics even getting close to supporting terrorists just to score points against the present government.

If keeping the BJP out is their idea of having a 'united India'  God help us all. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Freedom Series Cricket: India Pitch In To Win Mohali Test Against South Africa!

As is considered only natural in this country the first Test between India and South Africa at Mohali ended within three days. India beat South Africa by 108 runs today to take 1-0 lead in the four-match Freedom Trophy Test Series. This result must have made Team India, the team management, the cricket Board and all cricket mandarins extremely happy and all must be praising the curator at Mohali no holds barred for creating such a wonder of a cricket pitch. Yes, for India at home the ‘pitch’ along with the add-ons of other ‘conditions’ matter most rather than the competitive quality of the game or the application of the Indian batsmen or the ‘strike’ capability of the Indian bowlers. This has been the case for decades now. In the seventies or even eighties we still remember the commentators saying Sunil Gavaskar coming up to open the bowling  with fielders hitting the ball very hard to the ground at every opportunity. This was to make the ball softer as quickly as possible so that the ‘deadly’ spinners could start at the earliest. Such an approach made the Indian fast bowlers redundant and Indian Cricket is suffering.  

At the start of this auspicious Gandhi-Mandela Series or the Freedom Series India lost the three-match T20 Series 2-0 before they could finish their ‘experimentation’. The specialist short-format Captain MS Dhoni was hauled up out of his domestic bliss to lead the team and he, as usual, played his whims and fancies to the fullest—selecting or dropping players at will without considering the amount of cricket played or current ‘form’, changing the batting order at will and continuing to take his usual suspect on-field decisions. India keeping up with the losing spirit through to the Freedom ODI Series lost the first one day international match as the mindless ‘experimentation’ continued.

Order seemed to have been restored by the time the second ODI that India won thanks to an individual effort by Dhoni. This made him feel himself indispensable as he promoted himself up the batting order in third ODI and lost again. The fourth ODI was the best of the series and was won by India putting the series level at 2-2. But then, India cricketers, conditioned by ‘conditions’, were hardly ready for the superlative cricket displayed by South Africa throughout. The Indian bowlers gave away more than 400 runs in the last ODI in Mumbai and lost the match and the series miserably. The frustration was apparent as Team India director lashed out at the Mumbai curator for creating such a pitch. But what was wrong in that pitch? It has been BCCI’s policy to make lifelessly dry and slow pitches for the short format, particularly the IPL, so that heavy fireworks from batsmen could attract more crowds and so more money. What actually went wrong was that the Indian captain could not win the toss and that Team India was caught in its own trap. Then of course, the short-format specialist went back to domestic bliss making way for the Test captain.

Team India could have been trapped at Mohali too had they failed to win the toss or if top order batsmen Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara failed to put up consistent scores in both innings. That the spinners feasted on the wickets is nothing to write home about. The curator only deserves praise for presenting such an especially ‘under-prepared’ pitch that ushered in collapse after collapse from the two batting sides. Creating such ‘conditions’ at home Team India could win the Test series going up in the rankings, but how would they face the fast-paced pitches abroad.. The ‘redundant’ Indian fast bowlers could get some help abroad, but how the batsmen would muster the art of tackling outside-the-off-stump fast stuff. They no longer have the masters-blasters of yore who could fit in anywhere for the team and many of whom lost out thanks to the obsession of a ‘young’ team As long as cricket continues to be played here for money Indian cricket will continue to suffer and heap more humiliations on the country.

Friday, November 6, 2015

India: What Is This Intolerance Noise All About?

It has been there all the time—maybe sporadic in the past, but consistent in the last few years. We encounter intolerance at every step of our existence. At home, the random husband does not tolerate certain aspects of his wife’s personality while the random wife does not tolerate certain ways of her husband—this is excluding the serious concerns of infidelity or disloyalty. In-laws are hardly tolerated by many particularly in matters relating to money. Children do not tolerate parental ‘advice’. Step out of home and it is worse. Everybody out there is just obsessed of surging ahead of others—does not matter even if it involves pushing or thrashing. Vehicle drivers grimace bitterly at pedestrians for their supposed ‘indulgence’ on the road while the pedestrians lash out at the drivers for their supposed ‘monopoly’ over the roads. Why road rage cases are increasing all the time? Root cause of this is only intolerance. If you only brush against a car in a genuine case of accident without causing any damage you still run the risk of getting even killed. With easy access to weapons some youths shoot at the slightest pretext. And rising crimes against women? Root cause is again intolerance. A male dominated society cannot tolerate the sight of the empowered women. In workplaces many bosses never tolerate subordinates getting credit.

Such pent-up intolerance levels get channelized and organized along caste, linguistic, sociopolitical, religious and regional lines. Any such community then becomes the master to decide what hurts them or what is objectionable which leads to assaults on creative arts—books, movies, paintings or anything. For such communities the political parties come more as ‘ideologies’, and for them any political party coming to power means coming into power of an ideology rather than a provider of governance. In a society bitten into by corruption and nepotism intolerant groups have their way to a large extent for any government any time. History records how effectively a government has handled this menace at any given period.

And what about some of the intelligentsia who are giving up their public awards in protest against intolerance? Why have they noticed this phenomenon only now? It has been a fashion with many of the intellectuals to show off their anti-establishment stance while openly vying for all kinds of favors like cheap flats under special housing quotas, nominations, appointments and even awards. Some of them understand that getting an award allows them hog the limelight only for a short time and therefore perhaps they find it convenient to return the awards for even more attention and limelight. Some ‘experts’ feel that the present government has polarized the society, but intolerance has already done that. And, even the intelligentsia is getting polarized hopelessly into two distinct sections—one for returning and the other for not returning. Intellectuals—authors, artistes, filmmakers and all—have the power of the pen or the glamour to influence the hapless masses. So, why have they not considered making  even a belated campaign against intolerance trying to find out the root causes of the evil. For them, the ‘wing’ culture is so very important. Having a ‘left-wing’ leaning or being a downright ‘leftist’ is the heavenly thing inspiring them to look at all other ‘wings’ as dirty bourgeois entities, and this has a very important bearing on what they have demonstrated at the present juncture.

Mention has also to be made of the ‘commentators’ featured on news channels on raging debates on intolerance for being so intolerant of the others opinion—talking over each other, fingering, gesticulating and plain shouting. This is the inevitable result of a polarized society not due to government but to intolerance.

One theory is also gaining ground all the time behind this facade of ‘protesting intolerance’. That is, visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emerging as the greatest challenge for the future prospects of all national or regional political parties. His inclusive developmental schemes, Digital India initiative, his innovative direct talk with the people and his spectacularly palpable impact on foreign soil are all set to take India to a never-before level, and this is bound to secure the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in power for many more years to come. Therefore, all opposition political parties are trying to come together by hook or by crook and to continue with an obstructionist strategy from the floors of Parliament to the streets. At this moment this theory cannot be dismissed easily. Perhaps Narendra Modi could not have happened to India at a better and more crucial juncture than this.

If we are not tolerant we cannot blame the government for that, we have only ourselves to blame. However, with a strong Prime Minister at the helm of a strong nation we can definitely hope for the best.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Humor: The Lifting Experience!

He could never imagine that the mere everyday affairs like giving a lift or being given a lift would involve such intricate psychological angles. The basic problem, he reasoned so often, was that of how the other party would interpret the offers made. If the interpretation was right it would work perfectly for mutual benefit. However, if it was misinterpreted which was normally feared it would rub on both the parties the wrong way. Such an ultra-sensitive and generous person that he was his experiences in this regard were not conclusive enough to show him whether he should laugh it off or should be more careful about it.

Quite a few years back one of his office colleagues used to give him lift in his car after office hours. They normally agreed upon the nearest common point where he could alight and his colleague could also proceed homewards without any diversion. Although this worked perfectly for both of them he while taking a lift often had the urge to make a suggestion to his colleague. 'Why don't you stop at my place and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee. Enjoy my hospitality on the way!', he wanted to say. Once he made such an offer. However, his colleague politely refused saying that if they took the alternative route it would delay his reaching home due to more traffic that side. This made him restive and guessing. Was his genuinely felt offer being misinterpreted?

He thought his colleague must have thought, "Well, this fellow wants to be dropped right next to his doorstep! Why should people take advantage of generous offers?" However, he was not sure. His colleague might have thought like that or might have not in refusing his hospitality. All the same, he learnt his lesson. From that time he decided not to make such offers unless something common was agreed upon mutually. Interestingly afterwards, he found out that the same psychic mechanism worked the other way round too.

After fulfilling his dream of owning a personal car he began giving lifts to office people, not in a planned or regular manner though, but at random. However, over the months one office lady proved to be the most frequent beneficiary. He used to drop her at a common point nearest to her residence that did not cause inconvenience to him either. That such a kind-hearted and generous person he was here too he often had the urge to drop her right at her doorstep. And he had an occasion soon to make such an offer.

That day was very tiring. He worked very hard all day clearing some crucial files and got late. Same thing happened for the lady too and she also leaving at the same time he got into his car. Naturally lift was offered and taken. Sensing the lady was burnt out after a very hard day's work he with genuine feelings made his offer of dropping her right at home taking the alternative route. The lady politely said it was not necessary to take that extra trouble, but he insisted. Finally the lady agreed and said, "Okay Sir, as you please. But let me get you a steaming cup of coffee with some delicious cakes at my residence."

He was completely taken aback. My God! Was she thinking what he thought likely that, "Sir is tired too and wants to get refreshed on the way? But he can tell me frankly, why to take the indirect measure to the same end?" "Believe me! I don't want to be refreshed! I felt for you and genuinely made the offer", he thought aloud. Maybe she did not think like that and was genuine in her offer too! Maybe she never offered him a cup of coffee in the previous months thinking the same way he thought while she was taking the lift. 'The goddamned psychic mechanism is a stumbling block both ways!' The real problem was that he could not be sure of anything.

Therefore he started making excuses. To his horror the lady insisted. However, at the end he managed to shake it off saying, "Please, not today. I'll definitely accept the next time!"

After dropping her right in front of her residence he had another urge. He laughed all the way home.

(Article Earlier Published Here

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Humor: Turbulence In The Indian Kitchen!

“Hey pal, what is your menu tonight?”
“Menu is quite luring! But, you see, it has gone to the authorities for approval. Finally we’ll have what they want us to eat!”

This is the popular refrain doing the rounds in the mammoth aftermath of the Ban Culture initiated in several states of the largest democracy called India. So much heat is generated over the matter that it threatens to replace the still rampant Bandh or Closure Culture. The ban is mostly on meat—ranging from chicken to all kinds of red meat. Somehow fish is spared with some authoritative people saying that fish is not slaughtered. Well, if fish is not slaughtered then it is definitely left to die taken out of water. Now, which is crueler to animals? The debate is very interesting, but not at all appetizing.

Turbulence is not entirely a new phenomenon for the Indian kitchen. It has been there since time immemorial thanks to the eternal politics concerning the full right or jurisdiction over the kitchen area. Let it be the traditional village kitchen or the most modern one, the lady of the house normally exerts her full authority. The male members are easily handled out because of their presumed susceptibility to supposedly messing up the act of cooking rather than being a help. Real trouble brews when the daughter-in-law moves in. Politicking is rampant in any household still persisting with the joint family tradition.

Interestingly, the joint family system is very symbolic of the basic conflicts that are equally true for the country. Eating or not eating preferences of certain members lead to creating power centres. One centre prevails upon the other to impose those preferences. Surprisingly, no power centre ever tries to mutually settle the issues asking all disputing parties to respect each other’s choices.

Some smart ones, of course, play down the whole matter. They just stockpile the ‘food’ in their freezers to feast even on ban days. However, they are not aware of the fact that their preferred ‘aroma’ could very well be a ‘stench’ to some and those could very well report the ‘stench’ matter to the appropriate authority. Nosing around others kitchen matters has been a celebrated trait of the Indians. Then, there is the more troublesome eventuality of being found violating official orders.

If one is capable of doing a simultaneous survey of all the kitchens across the country from north to south and from west to the north east at one point of time they would be overwhelmed with the mind-boggling variety of cuisines and aromas. This immense diversity of tastes should indeed be a matter of great pride for our countrymen and a huge challenge for the hotel industry. If gourmet is okay for us why not then you be a connoisseur too.  

Kitchen is a vital place that makes our gastronomical dreams become realities. In all decency one should stop smelling around a lot and withdraw from asking constantly ‘what’s cooking’ to unsuspecting citizens of the country. Maybe this change of ‘food’ mindset would make the authorities to see reason too. Not eating has been a major weapon of politicking in India. In technical parlance this is called fasting. As far as eating is concerned this should best be left to the eaters alone.
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Satte Pe Satta--Evergreen Comedy!