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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Earthy Rumours Quake Assam!

Countrywide Bandh today with one more Assam Bandh within the larger Bandh for the cause of protesting petrol price hike. But yesterday in Assam was no less than a Bandh thanks to strong widespread rumours of an impending earthquake! The magnitude and time of disaster very well rumour-graphed too!

Who started the  rumour was an important question, but more important how it was propagated across the state. An earthquake of 5.6 magnitude hit Assam on May 11,2012 and Assam being a quake-prone zone maybe some 'concerned' astrology-oriented soul decided to warn his people (customers?) in advance. He was so philanthropically magnanimous that he gave all technical info--the earthquake would be of 9.2 magnitude in Richter scale and it would hit Assam between 4 to 6pm on May 30! Doomsday just stalked Assam yesterday!

The prominent news channels, most of which were run by 'responsible' state ministers, sensationalised the d-day story and terrorized the hapless citizens most of whom never ventured out preferring to stay indoors with doors open. The intelligent or philosophically-inclined ones derived maximum amusement out of endless discussions and deliberations. Someone was seen checking his mobile phone bills frantically, and, one practical soul brimming wisdom advised him not to bother as no service providers would ever exist to bother him if 'it' happened!

Natural disasters never arrive giving prior intimation to their prospective victims and that is why disaster preparedness or disaster management happens to be such a priority for all modern governments. And, all ought to know that earthquake prediction is still in an uncertain stage. Therefore, predicting 9.2 and all that cannot even match the grading system adopted by some secondary school education Boards in India, because a student getting 9.2 would still fall in a range of actual but invisible marks!

Considering the fact that even parts of the 'responsible' sectors decide to do business out of possible natural disasters rumour-management seems to be the top priority at the moment.

Meanwhile a spell of heat most humid continues to oppress people here. You may not take a temperature of around 36 degree celsius seriously as in some other parts of India it reaches 48, but when you combine 36 with 95% humidity, an absolutely still air with not a leaf moving and a constant non-raining cloud cover you do feel the oppression. Besides, frequent power cuts make you feel like being roasted alive irrespective of whether you are inside your home or outside.

In fact, the dull and seething weather contributed towards making the rumours seem realistic, because major earthquakes here are associated with such weather conditions.

Love Nature and say no to rumours.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shahrukh Khan Had The Last Big Laugh!

Shahrukh Khan, the Bollywood superstar, who was recently banned for five years from entering Mumbai's Wankhede stadium during an IPL match then enjoyed the support of Mamata Bannerji, the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Because, Mamata considered KKR, co-owned by Shahrukh, as a matter of pride for her state. And today, Mamata 'right'fully sought to overpower what is left of the 'left' by dancing with the stars and, of course, with Shahrukh amidst pomp and plenty.

KKR became the deserving Champions of IPL-5 preventing CSK from running with the title for the third time in succession. The nail biting IPL-5 final was played in Chennai and King Khan was very much there tense most of the time. Finally, when the great moment of victory came he was so overwhelmed with joy that he apologised for his 'misbehaviour' in Mumbai! His 'stakes' with the Indian cricket Board now combined with his 'apology' would virtually force Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to take back its ban verdict. To make matters best the Bollywood-star son of the MCA President was part of the Shahrukh-KKR celebrations!

Raising a fever pitch for 'Kolkata' patriotism Shahrukh and party held a huge celebration at the Eden Gardens today. And, Mamata Bannerji and her entire government joined the party! She danced, sang and propagated 'pride of West Bengal' and 'national cricket spirit'!

Indian Premiere League (IPL) represents huge business and money interests. Significantly, Mamata recently met Hillary Clinton, the visiting US Secretary of State, for strictly 'business and investment'. Therefore, Mamata means business at the moment and her full state machiery including even the governor joining KKR party must indeed be taken seriously! It hardly matters if nobody speaking her language figured in the Shahrukh team that 'won' for her state. But the great lady is dead 'right' as always and nothing is just right for the 'left'.

King Khan should worry about only one thing though! Mamata was heard saying today that KKR must win for her next year around too! Her 'merciless' ways are very well known and felt all around nowadays!

Thousands thronged Kolkata streets and Eden Gardens today. Whom are they shouting for? Mamata or Shahrukh or KKR or patriotism or nationalism or IPL or...Cricket? Guessing allowed!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Assam: The Bandh Culture A Way Of Life!

The people of Assam and also of the North East have practically decided that Bandhs (signifies a protest strike that forcibly closes down offices & services, shops & markets and communication--mainly road & rail) are the only solution to their endless problems--standing or long-standing or outstanding or whatever. Duration of Bandhs range from minimum 12 hours to a recorded maximum of 1000 hours!

The Bandh culture got boosted tremendously during the successful Assam Agitation against foreigners (1979-1985) and the culture only spread further since then. Groups, organisations, associations and even the extremists appeal for or impose Bandhs on the common people of the region. Though most major cities remain unaffected largely a few known strife-prone and crucial areas or pockets prevent people coming out of their homes or their cities. Disturbing logistics of consequent economic loss and huge livelihood issues for daily wage earners and retailers never seem to disturb the Bandh mongers.

If you live in this region Bandh is a long established as a way of life. Your routine and schedules are always subject to this. If you visit this region you must have a series of contingency plans ready and in place! The inevitability of this phenomena ought to be an integral part of your tour and travel package!

At the moment we are canceling, debating, restructuring and reorganizing our time-specific precious plans thanks to two back-to-back Bandhs! Besides, there is going to be a Bharat Bandh, covering the whole of India, later against the recent unprecedented petrol price hike!

The Bandh culture adds to the rich diversity of Assam or India's North East, you can very well say!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Rods Of Optimism!

On my annual home trip to Guwahati in Assam--a north eastern state of India, the humid heat was almost unbearable in the first 2-3 days, but today the skies have opened up with a heavy shower. So, while cooling off contentedly I thought of sharing an intresting observation made by a visiting friend.

Our home is in a suburb of the city where vacant plots of land are still available and therefore, construction activities continue to be hectic. As you look around you see many half-constructed private houses apart from newly completed ones.

The friend taking in the scenario one more time made this observation. If iron rods or bars keep jutting out of the completed cemented roof of a concrete block (we call it RCC block), this means the owner is positively optimistic! S/he is sure of adding at least one more floor. If the rods continue to jut out even after the completion of 2-3 floors the owner can be considered as highly optimistic, because in our earthquake-prone zone s/he cannot anyway go beyond 4 or 5 floors unless for an adequately safeguarded society building!

On the other hand, if no rods are seen only after the completed ground floor the owner can be termed as pessimistic or resigned or financially compelled or fully satiated simple soul!

Not exactly a pessimistic thought!

Friday, May 18, 2012

IPL-5 Mega-Show: Co-owner Shahrukh Khan Banned! RCB Player Arrested!


The murky affairs of the Indian Premiere League-Season Five (IPL-5) Cricket T20 continue abated. Today the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) held a managing committee meeting in Mumbai and unanimously adopted the proposal of banning Bollywood megastar and Co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) IPL franchise, Shahrukh Khan (SRK or King Khan), for five years from entering the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai where the movie-star allegedly misbehaved with MCA officials and security personnel. The meeting was chaired by the president of MCA, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is also a cabinet minister in the Government of India. 
The MCA maintained that theirs is an independent body and is empowered to take binding decisions on matters directly relating to them. But as the apex body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is also empowered to take the final decision in this matter and the expected tussle within the cricket bodies is awaited with tremendous anticipation. Apart from being an IPL co-owner Shahrukh Khan  contributes a lot to the IPL glamor and business and therefore the BCCI is most likely to find the going very tough indeed. 
The King Khan controversy has attained a hilarious political angle with Mamata Bannerji, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, coming out strongly in support of SRK and demanding 'MCA must withdraw the ban'. The ebullient and unpredictable lady must have found a regional angle in that issue since SRK happens to own Kolkata (Knight Riders), the capital from where she operates, and that the superstar has been a familiar cheering presence in the famous Eden Gardens there since the birth of IPL in 2008. Shahrukh Khan who hit back yesterday on the Wankhede brawl was yet to react to the latest development. 
Meantime Luke Pomersbach, an Australian playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), was arrested last night in a Delhi five-star hotel for molesting an American woman of Indian origin and for injuring her fiance. Reports say that Pomersbach invited himself to a party in the lady's hotel room and later misbehaved with her. When her fiance tried to intervene Pomersbach attacked him violently and he had to be admitted into a hospital. While RCB regretted the incident and expelled the player from the team the IPL authorities dissociated themselves from the incident calling it a case of individuals and that there were no official IPL parties for the franchises and players. As per latest reports Luke Pomersbach got an interim bail and cried out his innocence. 
Apart from Mamata's 'regionalism' more political reactions are surfacing against the mess in IPL. Former cricketer and opposition Member of Parliament, Kirti Azad, had threatened to sit on a  fast in a Delhi stadium from May 20, 2012 if the police failed to act against the IPL. 
That the IPL-5 has come to score high on the 'cricket' aspect ultimately proves to be an aberration. Essentially, as we have maintained since its inception, it is an intoxicating cocktail of dirty money, greed, immorality, glamor, liquor and women. BCCI or IPL authorities cannot dissociate themselves from any ugly happening because only they have provided the murky environment. Players from all around the globe come to participate just for the money and fun. With the matters as of now the IPL degeneration looks set to deteriorate further in near future. 
Long live cricket! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cricket T20: Now The King Khan Controversy Dogs IPL-5!


As the heat and humidity increase the cricket T20 Indian Premiere League-Season Five (IPL-5) is increasingly getting most of the heat from reasons other than nature. It has already earned the distinction of having the most number of nail-biting matches of all IPLs including a record ten last-ball finishes so far. On the flip side there is the spot fixing menace unearthed by a television channel sting operation recently. Now, Hindi movie mega star Shahrukh King Khan adds to it by one more display of alleged rowdy behavior.

It was a crucial match between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians (MI) at the latter’s ‘home’ ground, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai—the venue of the World Cup-2011 final. Shahrukh Khan, the co-owner of KKR, had been very much visible in the crowd waving to the galleries with television cameras catching him every now and then in between the ‘cricket’ action. King Khan, known for his exemplary ‘love’ for cricket, always made it a point to attend matches where KKR figured. In Kolkata, the ‘home’ ground for KKR, a few days back KKR did everything right to win the match and just about sealed it with the rivals Chennai Super Kings (CSK) needing 5 runs of the last ball. But alas! To the utterly-bitterly disappointment of King Khan the CSK batsman Bravo sent the last ball towering over the ropes for a huge six and CSK won by 5 wickets. Mercifully, the cameras could not find a possibly devastated Shahrukh then!

At the Mumbai match on May 16, 2012 KKR posted only a moderate total of 140 runs and nobody gave them a real chance including, maybe, a pensive Shahrukh considering MI’s formidable batting strength. But led by an intense skipper Gautam Gambhir KKR bowled out MI winning convincingly by 32 runs. Understandably, the celebrity star must have been in the highest of spirits for the incredible win and also for the fact that KKR had now almost ensured its place in the last four.

Reports say that an excited Khan, possibly in an inebriated state, went to the dressing room with his posse of bodyguards and congratulated his team players. Then he supposedly tried to walk into the ground perhaps to celebrate with the crowds with his invincible star appeal that  could have cheered up the depressed MI ‘supporters’.

At this point the stadium security personnel and the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials objected and an ugly scuffle followed. The reports further say that an angry Khan abused all the MCA officials including their president and even supposedly manhandled them. Furious MCA officials held an emergency meeting and decided to ban the superstar from entering the Wankhede Stadium for life. A complaint against the movie star was also lodged at the nearby Marine Drive police station. The officials maintained that the IPL authorities witnessed the incident and that they would also represent the case with the Indian cricket Board (BCCI).

The problem here is that if King Khan really gets banned a huge percentage of IPL glamor is bound to be rudely curtailed. The point seemed to be very well understood by the IPL Chairman who told reporters that all the sides and all the versions of the story would be taken up and discussed before endorsing the MCA decision or arriving at a new verdict. 

Perhaps the energetic and the sentimental mega star could not strike the right or desired balance between agony and ecstasy! 

Meanwhile, King Khan had hit back making the same allegations of abuse against MCA officials and security personnel. He charged them with alleged ‘abuse’ and ‘manhandling’ of his children at the end of the match when he went to the stadium only to pick them up. He further said he was not under the influence of alcohol and he refused to apologize demanding apology from MCA people instead. Mumbai Police had also registered a non-cognizable offence against Shahrukh. The confusing scenario is expected to clear up when the police examines the CCTV footage.

At the moment the SRK mystery thickens! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Air India: Annual May-Strike Fest-2012 Still On!


The pilots of Air India have only problems and more problems. They don't get their salaries for months or not quite regularly, they don't get their promotions in time, they suffer from career regression and they don't get the benefits they are right royally entitled to. Domestic Indian Airlines and international Air India got merged indeed in 2007, but the communal divide between the two erstwhile sets of pilots only accentuated over time. The two communities compete still for the perks and opportunities like for example flying the forthcoming Dreamliner Boeing 787 which figured in the list of strike demands too and baby-cry on missing any. The pilots have been suffering so badly that they are forced to put personal issues first and company or national interests later. How sad!

So they did not approach the Air India management for representing or deliberating on their problems, because they hold the management as the culprit for all their ills. They felt they were the best bets for managing their own problems. 

So they did not approach the Government of India for negotiating their demands either, because they proudly hold the view that any talks with the government is an extremely routine procedure and thus they get no pulling force to get their demands through. 

So they looked towards their most loyal passengers to get going bang-on. Their May Strike-Fest of 2011 was a huge turbulence and so they decided to make it an annual event. After all those years of experience they know the importance of the month of May only too well. In this month, known as the period of summer rush, their passengers visit native places and make holiday plans for both domestic and international sectors. The passengers book well in advance as they know that come May all  flights, trains and even buses get full and getting a ticket at the last minute becomes almost impossible. The pilots understand this and so they ensure that all passengers of their cancelled flights due to their Fest get helplessly stranded and remain stranded. They think they can never expect get a better platform than this to bargain for their righteous personal interests and aspirations. 

The Air India Pilots' May-Strike Fest-2012 has already completed a magnificent week and has entered the ninth day today. There seems to be no end to the continuing revelries yet. 

How long would Air India continue to be a 'national pride' at the cost of the nation, at the cost of all the hapless passengers, at the cost of all Government of India staff whose travel destiny remains hostage to Air India and, to the benefit of the influential and the powerful whose majestic travel on Air India translates into more costs for the nation? Does democracy give the right-to-blackmail to any interested party or individuals? Why democracy fails to prevent a strike by an interested party even after a High Court order declares it illegal? 

By the way, what is a democracy? Sorry...you see...people tend to get confused in this great democratic atmosphere of all the toon-toona-toons by all the aflatoons in the melee of all the cartoons


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cricket T20: Spot Fixing Shadow Over IPL-5!


When we witness brazen display of dirty money, glamor, sleaze and greed of IPL-5 it seems to be inevitable sometime or the other or maybe it had been happening all the time not exactly coming to light. A sting operation by a television news channel yesterday exposed the evil of spot fixing in Indian domestic cricket, Twenty-20 cricket and the IPL. More specifically, in the T20 format which has been promoted just for commercialism and for making money.

Making money is the basic instinctive characteristic in any modern human being. Some make it the hard way honestly, some make it discreetly and some make it by hook or by crook. In IPL temptations are limitless. The top cricketers who get astronomical amounts to play in a particular franchise concentrate mainly on maintaining their ‘marketability’ or ‘saleability’ for next IPL seasons and therefore they are a bit protected from fixing games unless tremendous greed overpowers them. But the fringe cricketers, who do command a price albeit with huge disparities compared to the ‘pricey’ one, are never sure of making it to the next season and therefore they are the most vulnerable parties for fixing temptations. The sting operation confirms this trend fully.

Other television channels have been devouring the story with utmost enthusiasm, because as the IPL sells anything concerning the spectacle sells too. Though they have been taking opinions from all cricket experts and the Indian cricket Board there is a basic problem here. Who, pray, could be expected to give an objective opinion on this most putrid phenomenon? The IPL money has been benefiting, gagging and influencing a whole lot of ‘paid to comment’ people and of course, the very news channels have been flush with IPL commercials and promos. How on earth could they speak anything against the grand spectacle?

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) had come out very strongly on this and said that corruption in any form of cricket would not be tolerated at all. The Board had an emergency meeting today and suspended five cricketers who were actually seen in the television sting. An enquiry committee had also been instituted to look into the matter. But, pray, are they authorized to speak about curbing corruption leave alone actually doing it? We need not speak about what Lalit Modi did right from the beginning of IPL, but even in IPL-5 there had been widespread reports that ‘bought’ cricketers were paid undisclosed sums that did not at all match the official figures shown. Surprisingly, this practice included everyone—from top to the bottom levels. Now, these supposed under-the-table deals could be termed as corrupt practices, if we are not wrong. Then, what about the movie stars, film directors and even film technicians who have been visiting the IPL studios and stadiums with unending regularity? Are they just friendly and ‘cricket-loving’ visits or how many ‘deals’ have been fixed all the time every time? If leads eventually found by the enquiry committee lead directly or indirectly to the IPL authorities or franchises can we really expect some tough action? Unlikely, naturally!

Finally, how does it matter anyway! Fixing or not, corruption or not the ‘cricket lovers’ of this great country would always throng the IPL matches, because they only want loads of fun, throat-fulls of screaming, most necessary outings and with loyalties just like one-night-stands . And, they do it with their own money! The cynics cannot even give the excuse of a waste of taxpayers’ money!

Only nincompoops like me keep on complaining! How irritating! 



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Disaster At Lunch!


Now and then we talk about an eccentric editor in action at the newsroom. Apart from feeling extremely superior and unaccountably staring at others he was also an expert in robbing others of their food in broad daylight and with utter indifference. In the last incident reported here he was magnanimous at least in acknowledging that the robbed food was excellent. As it had been a long while ago another incident needs to be reported urgently.

One day a reporter went down to the restaurant most frequented by the newsroom crowd. He was ravenously hungry and wanted to have a full meal. So he ordered a dish of Dal Khichdi (pulses and rice cooked together deliciously).
As he was waiting impatiently for the food the editor joined him all of a sudden. The reporter politely asked if he wanted some food. The editor only stared back expressionlessly with the hint of a smile. The reporter thought the dish was likely to be shared and his stomach pangs became threatening.
The appetizingly filled dish arrived and one empty plate was requested for sharing. The editor did not betray anything that could be deciphered as far as the food was concerned.
As the waiter placed the empty plate on the table the editor immediately took up the Dal Khichdi dish and poured the full content into the empty plate. And, he started devouring in a hurry and with great relish.
The hapless reporter just looked on. He was now desperately hungry and yet, could not decide on his next course of action. He was sure if he ordered another dish the bill for both the dishes would be on him. If he just vanished from the spot for which he felt a great urge the editor could create more problems when settling the bill.
For the time being the reporter decided just to enjoy ‘his’ eating! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Indian Politics: More Cartoons Out Of The Cupboard!

Article first published as Indian Politics: More Cartoons Out Of The Cupboard! on Technorati.

The cartoon was first published in 1949. It was esthetically done and genuinely humorous. Therefore, it was included in Indian textbooks meant for eleventh standard school students in 2006 to make education informative as well as enjoyable. After 63 years from first publication and 6 years from inclusion in textbooks the ‘issue’ of the cartoon rocked and disrupted the Indian Parliament on May 11, 2012. The reason or motivation seemed to be obvious—to embarrass the tottering ruling coalition further in light of impending General Elections of 2014.

The cartoon involved two all-time greats in Indian history. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, donned the role of a real father of the Indian Constitution and fought tirelessly for the Dalits or the Untouchables or the oppressed all his life. Belonging to a backward caste of Maharashtra he struggled at every stage of his life to rise to eminence as a sociopolitical reformer, scholar-philosopher, writer-editor and a leader-politician. His immense contribution to the liberation of the Dalit communities from social discrimination made him almost a God or an Avatar (incarnation of God) for them particularly after his demise. His birth anniversary on April 14 and death anniversary on December 6 are huge events in Mumbai and other places of Maharashtra with millions offering prayers and respects. Dr. Ambedkar has also been posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990—the highest civilian honor in India. 

The second personality involved in the cartoon was Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru—the first Prime Minister of India and one of the path-breakers for the emergence of India as a modern developing nation. 




And not the least, the cartoonist Shankar Pillai has also been recognized as the father of political cartooning in India and he was the recipient of the second highest civilian honor of India. 

Now, the said cartoon draws a picture of Dr. Ambedkar—the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution-- sitting on a lump named ‘Constitution’ kept on the back of a snail brandishing a whip. Behind him stands Jawaharlal Nehru—the then Prime Minister—in action with a whip too. Apparently, both are trying to speed up the process of drafting that for a country like India was the most challenging job, because it had to satisfy all ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse states and people of independent India.  The humor was pulsating as the helplessness was vivid. Both Ambedkar and Nehru must have enjoyed it a lot at that time. 

But at the present time all interpretations had to go political. ‘Nehru whipping Ambedkar!’, ‘Insult to Babasaheb!’, ‘Babasaheb cannot sit in front of a whipping Nehru!’, ‘Insult to all Dalits of India!’ and so on cutting across all opposition political parties of India. The panicky government had to announce the immediate withdrawal of the concerned textbooks from markets and removal of the cartoon next.

Basic questions never got answered. Why opposition now and not in 1949 or after 2006? What were the ‘affected’ or ‘insulted’ parties doing all the while? Was it a reaction to the ouster of Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh? A dress rehearsal for General Elections 2014?  Or taking on a cue from the merciless Mamata’s tirade against creative intellectuals and cartoonists?  As for the larger Dalit masses political leadership and influence had been the mainstay of their existence in recent years and basically, maybe, they could never accept the spectacle of their God sitting in front of a whipping ‘master’.

The oft repeated zero tolerance for terror or corruption has been increasingly infiltrating creative fields in India which is ominous!

Taking intolerance to a shocking level one breakaway group of the Republican Party of India today attacked and vandalized the office of Suhas Palshikar in Pune, Maharashtra. Palshikar was one of the two advisers to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) who resigned yesterday over the controversy. NCERT is the apex body of school education in India and these two advisers were in the Textbook Developing Committee. Palshikar and his colleague maintained that the controversy was totally unnecessary and that there was no insult to Babasaheb Ambedkar. There should have been a nationwide debate on this issue concerning a legendary personality for whom they themselves had the highest respect, they added.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Uttar Pradesh Top Cop Advice!

Article first published as India: The Honor Syndrome! on Technorati.

It had to be Uttar Pradesh again. The largest state of India—in northern India, politically strategic and notorious for a continuing feudal mindset. The ruler or the political party in power or the existing state machinery or the society at large hardly matter. In the last Assembly Elections a young and educated politician ousted Mayawati from power and great expectations were perceived across the country. But the feudal values persist, as always.

Most Indian families consider their female members as liabilities, because in a male-dominated repressive society women are always vulnerable and easy targets. The male members are licensed to do any acrobatics ranging from extramarital relationships to kidnappings and even murders. But within their families they strive to ‘protect’ their women from all such possible vagaries as they know that their counterparts in other families are out in the same atrocity mission. This is ‘honor’ for a family. If a female within a family suffers from such ignominies or tries to liberate herself from exploitation and assert her choice for her life she gets condemned for violating the ‘honor’ and the ‘lords’ of the family restores ‘honor’ by eliminating her and possibly her associates. ‘Honor Killings’ has been the most horrendous fact of the Indian society over the decades or even centuries.

One top cop from Uttar Pradesh vouched for this in the strongest manner possible. Cops are supposed to be ‘protectors’ in any state—feudal or liberal. Therefore, one family asked this top cop for investigation and help in the case of a teenage daughter of the family allegedly kidnapped by a local goon over two months back. A missing report was lodged much earlier in the local police station, but no action had been taken. The ‘honorable’ top police officer, instead of giving assurance for speeding up the investigation, advised the family to shoot her as he would have done the same if it happened to his own family. The new young Chief Minister decided only to transfer the officer as a means of ‘punishment’, but that was an extremely routine procedure like feudal way of life in the state. A reciprocity between ‘lords’?

Baby Falaks and Baby Afreens had only been the cruel manifestations of a basic feudal malady. At a deeper level lies the problem of female foeticide where concerned families, doctors and the socio-political system are all partners in crime. In the first episode of Satyameva Jayate Aamir Khan took up this huge societal problem and instantly struck an emotional chord all across India.

But coming from a superstar loved by the masses the situation was more of euphoria rather than a movement. While one ought not to deny an impact of Aamir Khan’s reality show that made some politicians agree to take action in some particular cases a lasting long-term impact was what one must look for.  Celebrities could only ignite a movement with their adorable presence and the movement had to be carried on by the people ultimately.

As long as the feudalistic mindset remains a force no solutions can ever emerge. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Canine Night Out In Mumbai!



“Oh…at long last! Such obsessive shoppers…from morning to night…insatiable…persistent! Never care a penny for us! Now they are gone! We can  fill in the atmosphere now and take a nap, possibly!” 
 
                                              “Wish us sweet dreams, guys!”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cricket Getting The Better Of IPL-5!


Whatever it is, finally it’s genuine cricket that interests genuine cricket lovers. Let the cheerleaders of all hues and colors with dress or the lack of it dance on! Let the non-cricketing crowd gesticulate to their hearts content just to see themselves in those huge screens on the field! Let the glam-slam-bang lady commentators be a little too careless about their costumes! Let the noise as deafening as it can get! Let the ‘strategic’ breaks break the rhythm! From the comfort of your homes you can just mute it all and enjoy some cricket if any!

Hot and humid conditions at the start of the Indian summer are making the pitches a lot slower with the ball doing things. Therefore, despite all those debilitating restrictions on the bowlers run-making in this IPL-5 is getting very difficult, desperate at times. This version of the IPL has earned the distinction of having the largest number of low-scoring thrillers. With mere targets of just above 100 runs the chases have not been easy at all and most teams are failing to achieve taking the match to the last over or the very last ball. That’s cricket speaking—loud and clear.

And, you can see absolutely clearly who have all been performing well. They are all the correct and copybook cricket Test players like you name it. Rahul Dravid—who was dropped from the Indian one-day team on numerous occasions and was almost forced to retire from Test cricket—has been playing tremendous cricket with his younger teammates not able to capitalize on most of the times for Rajasthan Royals. Sachin Tendulkar, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullam, AB de Villiers, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag who became the first ever IPL player to score five consecutive half centuries, Ajikya Rahane, Saurav Ganguly to some extent as he has been losing steam of late and so on. You can point out maybe only one glorious exception in the form of Francois du Plessis who have made a dream IPL debut and still going strong. About the most successful bowlers you can find out yourselves.

This afternoon in Mumbai we watched a tremendous match of incredible cricket between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK). CSK made a very good total of 173 runs and chasing a target of 174 runs in 20 overs MI gave us all a real cricketing treat. Sachin Tendulkar, like the living cricketing legend that he is, excelled in his home ground with precise, power-packed and genuine cricketing shots all around the ground given able support by Rohit Sharma who is immensely elegant once settled in his rare batting form. The pair almost ensured victory with a century partnership when Tendulkar at 74 off 44 balls (11 fours and 1 six) fell to an incredible catch by de Plessis in the 16th over. Though the asking rate was still around 10 an over MI had 8 wickets left to notch up victory. But it was not to be.

Wickets kept on falling with some inspired bowling by Ravindra Jadeja. Finally at 158/7 MI needed 16 runs off the last over and most of MI supporters gave up hope at this stage. Next three balls—two runs and one wicket. 14 runs needed off the last three balls. Dwayne Smith playing first time for MI scored a six in the fourth ball, still 8 needed off two. Next ball—four! A classic situation of 4 runs needed off the very last ball. And, it was a screaming four and win! Smith was rightfully declared the player of the match. Australian pacer Hilfenhaus was at the receiving end with CSK and Team India skipper looking helpless. We heard, for the first time this IPL season, a chorus of huge cheers from our neighborhood. Those cheers were not that of mere MI supporters, but for some great cricket. Scorecard:

Cheers for just cricket!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Night Neon And Nap!


It was little late in the night. The lane was quiet though lit up well and stuffed with unauthorized parking. There were the odd strollers used to late suppers. A kind of tranquility was there in the night air that seemed to be infectious!

 
This fellow was deeply inspired indeed! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The North East India Resonates!


Neglect, backwardness, colonial exploitation, discrimination etc are the words we grew up with. As we grew older we began to understand the pathos underlined by these words and began to wonder aloud why and how.
The North Eastern Region of India has always been ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from India. With a spectacular diversity in ethnicity, culture and languages this region witnessed the formation of new and newer states, districts and communities over the decades. Geographically this region is connected to mainland India only through a narrow corridor known as the chicken’s neck or the Siliguri Corridor with Nepal and Bangladesh lying on either side. This region is also a natural paradise on earth and a treasure house of natural and mineral resources. 
A kind of self-sufficiency and almost geographic isolation created the problems related to the ‘words’. Neglect—because we never got adequate attention for making an effective appearance in mainstream India. Backwardness—because of lack of infrastructure and development projects. Colonial exploitation—because precious resources are mostly taken out for refining and thus creating revenues or employment outside the region. Discrimination—because the naturally slowish and nervous people from the region are never taken seriously outside, let it be with students coming out to study or any professional leaving the region for work.
And, how we struggled to realize our aspirations to study outside! There was an utter lack of information or networking or facilities. Then, there were the inevitable domestic pressures and economic compulsions. After somehow crossing all the hurdles we rejoice at the opportunity to study outside, but soon we get devastated when we find us being ignored and made fun of, our linguistic abilities in Hindi laughed at and in English ridiculed. The plain or hill tribal students, with their distinct ethnic look, find things worse than this.
In our study years in Delhi the apathy about our region was shocking. I was asked so many times ‘Is Assam in Darjeeling?’ My brother got more infuriating queries, like ‘Hey you! You dress like us yaar! But do you wear anything at all out there in your native land?’ Angry and exasperated my brother used to reply ‘You see, we keep on wearing it till our trains reach Guwahati. Then we jump out of the train, tear off our clothing and run into the jungles!’ Surprisingly, things did not change much since then. Even now in my professional capacity I get questions ‘Where is Assam?’ ‘How do you go to Assam and the North East?’ and so on. This is really agonizing since the eternally backward students that we are or were we still knew about the map of India and always remembered where Jammu and Kashmir was or where Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu was. Besides, as the easternmost extension the North East is the most recognizable portion of the map. The syndrome of isolation combined with the compulsions having to fight for everything ranging from mere existence to languages contributed as one of the most important factors to the growth of extremism in the region.
Recently there were two deaths of north eastern students—Dana Sangma from Meghlaya who committed suicide in around Delhi and Richard Loitam from Manipur who was killed under mysterious circumstances in Bangalore. Students of the region in different parts of the country did not accept it passively this time and rose in protest marches. Yesterday in the national capital Delhi there was a candlelight protest where hundreds of students from the seven states of the region took part spontaneously. High time all the intimidating ‘words’ get eliminated from the mainstream dictionary. 

Belonging to the beautiful North East we extend our support and we appeal to all northeastern communities to unite and launch a righteous movement all over India for justice and equality. Allow us to feel like proud Indians too! 

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Aamir Khan Set To Create History In Indian Television!

Article first published as Aamir Khan Set To Create History In Indian Television! on Technorati.

Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan’s television production Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails!) is going to be telecast across India from May 6, 2012. With this hugely promoted project Aamir Khan is set to create history in Indian Television on three major counts.

First, Aamir Khan, the perfectionist-idealist among the three famous Khans of Hindi Cinema, is going to make his debut on the small screen. This mega show marks the first ever television serial to have the superstar as the performer-anchor-producer.

Second, SatyamevaJayate will be first Indian television show to be telecast simultaneously by a private entertainment television channel and Doordarshan—the national broadcaster. This concept of simulcast emerged out of Aamir Khan’s insistence on getting the largest possible audience. With its countrywide terrestrial network Doordarshan has a formidable presence including the vast rural belt. The simulcast is not even restricted to Star Plus—the private channel and Doordarshan as a few other television channels too are joining in due to the serial’s dubbing in several Indian languages including the four major South Indian ones.

Third, this project has launched reportedly the most expensive ever promotional campaign for any Indian television show in history. All possible advertising avenues including the movie houses of India have been tapped and booked for the promo. Its high-value theme song is being shown across 300 movie houses of India for a week just after the compulsory screening of the national anthem. Here too this is the first time a TV show is being promoted in cinema halls. With the huge star around big sponsors had already lapped up the project eagerly.

In the first lot 16 episodes of Satyameva Jayate will be telecast shooting for which had been done extensively across the whole of India. Each episode will be of one and half hours duration. Aamir Khan had reportedly asked for the Sunday morning slot as this chunk is regarded as the ‘family prime time’ and Doordarshan has a history of achieving unprecedented rating points in this slot for the telecast of the greatest Indian epics—Ramayana and Mahabharata—about three decades back. Sunday, 6th of May, 2012, 11am is the date the Indian audiences have with their most favorite movie star in the comfort of their homes.

Aamir Khan has great expectations from the larger Indian audiences for his first ever television show and also trepidations. He has succeeded in not revealing the content of the serial and has kept everyone guessing. Reports say that the content has a lot to do with the common man and the common problems faced in this country. Like the idealist-activist that he is, Aamir Khan could never shy away from the common man with whom he would want to identify himself, always. The small screen is definitely the ideal place to do so.

Interestingly, in 2011 Aamir Khan’s offbeat Delhi Belly did surprise and horrify quite a few in the conservative chunk of the Indian population, but the movie got wide critical acclaim. 





The perfectionist understands the pulse of India only too well!





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