The Case of Two States

From tomorrow there won't be any pre-paid mobile connections allowed in Kashmir. That region was given cellphones after years and now this.

Just in case the Home Minister is not aware, photo IDs are mandatory for both pre- and post-paid connections. Surely, limited vendors can be given distribution rights. Besides, since satellite technology is used, the authorities can keep tabs quite easily. But that's not the point.

Who suffers? The citizen and the Kashmiri is a citizen of India. The country is denying them basic rights using the security against terrorism tactic. Terrorists can manage to get connections as well as have them. They have other means of communication. And in areas where signals are weak would they depend on some cellphone provider?

- - -

Meanwhile, foreign tourists are being given visas on arrival in Goa against all immigration laws. This is being done with the help of the authorities. Reportedly eight such tourists arrive every day, mostly Russians.

As always there is concern about the 'drug cartel'. The Taliban have more drugs but that would be a different issue, wouldn't it?

As we have seen, Goa has experienced blasts. So how has this been permitted to go on? Will they stop cellphones in Goa so they can protect the citizens? Was this special privilege granted only to lure more tourists?

In that case, Kashmir was a tourist haven. Why was it cut off from access to what are now basic facilities?

- - -

End Quote:

"Madrassas encouraging militancy in the country." - RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

A warm welcome to Sadhvi Pragya and her chelas.


Manna Dey gets an award or a token?

Why does everyone feel so humble? Is this a sign of true greatness always? If I were Manna Dey, I’d either sit quietly with a glass of honeyed water and keep doing my riyaz, as he indeed does, or tell those blokes who decide on giving national awards to go stuff it.

A man has sung over 3000 songs, is over 90 years old and some politicians and bureaucrats decide they need to give him something he can die peacefully with? What nonsense. This has been happening for years and these awards have become just a plaything for some people. Who knows? Some babu must have been sitting with his cheap rum at a sidey club and heard the strains of some Mannada song, maybe “Ai meri zohra jabeen” and his wife blushed thinking he looked so happy and hummed along for her, this tubby hubby of hers who spends time pushing files away from his desk and looking for every opportunity to show his power.

So, she is smiling and saying, “O ji, such a lhuuvly song. Reminds me of old days…” even if those old days were as exciting as parathas on the tawaa. Husband realises in his slightly tipsy state that there is this singer and he should propose his name for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. And they all gather and say, “Haan ji…

These are mostly such haan ji moments.

To say that Manna De deserved it would be reducing him.

I cannot say I like everything he sang and I find that number from Zanjeer, "Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi" execrable. I also do not like his rendition of "Pyaar hua, iqraar hua, pyaar se phir kyon darta hai dil”. This is an out and out Shanker-Jaikishen triumph.

His range was in the songs, not the voice (the exception being "Eik chatur naar" from Padosan). And I say was because of his old songs. "Poochcho na kaise maine raen bitayee" and "Sur na saje kya gaaoon main" have very strong memories. They were sung at our house since I was a child, a state so pure that it recognises purity and ensures it retains.

I personally like this one because it is so quiet…like a pin in the haystack. It can still hurt. And make you ache…

Ye kooche ye neelaamghar - Manna Dey

Ask the vexpert - 20

Question: I am a 24-year-old man and I will be getting married soon. I have the following questions: a) When does a man wear a condom — before or after getting an erection? b) Of what use are flavoured and dotted condoms? c) Are there female condoms? If so, how are they worn? d) If one masturbates everyday, can he still experience night fall?

Sexpert: a) A man wears a condom after getting an erection. Buy a packet and read the instructions on the pack. b) Flavoured condoms are used for oral sex. There is no need of using them with a trusted partner. Other kinds of condoms help heighten pleasure. c) Female condoms have been recently made available in India. They are inserted in the vagina and cover the vulva area d) Why the compulsive habit? I suggest you undergo premarital counselling along with your partner.

  • a) A man must wear a condom before an erection so he knows how much area to fill up. It is an exercise in upward mobility.
  • b) Flavoured condoms are like fragrances and give the penis a distinct identity so that it becomes identifiable. It will tell the woman whether you are a fruity person or a spicy one; the dotted ones just add an extra dimension as garments do. All this talk about giving extra pleasure to a woman is mere talk. Why would any woman get excited seeing little pimples?
  • c) The female condom is not meant to be worn. It is kept aside to send a message to the man that she is not interested in his babies.
  • d) You can see all the sunrises you want – will that stop you from looking at the moon?


Who do I tell?

Burn, burn in love and such wait it is that you cannot tell anyone about it. Sublime. Ashes.

Jaloon tere pyaar mein karoon intezar tera
kisi se kahaa jaaye na

Saanwre tore bina joya jaaye na - Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan


RDX? Catch a Kashmiri...

A cricketer from Kashmir was arrested at the T20 Tournament in Bangalore. Why?

The drama started early in the morning when the private agency tasked with security at the stadium reported that a detector was beeping, indicating explosives within 300 metres. Alerted, the Karnataka anti-terrorism squad moved in at 6.30 am and narrowed their search to the rooms in the Karnataka State Cricket Association Club House on the eastern side of the stadium. The J&K under-22 team had checked in on Friday night for a match in the C K Nayudu tournament from October 21.

The cops were led by sniffer dogs to room 105, occupied by Pervez Rasool and Mehrajuddin. The detectors went off in the room and the cops zeroed in on Rasool’s kit bag, which they suspected had traces of explosives. Immediately Rasool was taken in for questioning. Mehrajuddin was asked to accompany him.

Some questions:

  • Do the security agencies run a check of the grounds everyday? These matches are to begin on the 21st.
  • What else was within the 300 metre radius?
  • What does ‘suspected the kit of containing traces of RDX’ mean?
  • Later, it is reported, the stadium was sanitised. Why was the stadium sanitised if the RDX traces were only in the kit?

This was deemed a terror scare, and these things are not unlikely anywhere. But here is what happened later:

M R Pujar, additional commissioner in charge of law & order and security in Bangalore, said: “A young man was taken for questioning by police but he has subsequently been released without charge. Police and security experts have checked the stadium twice, as well as the suspicious bag, but nothing of concern has been found.’’

So, is one to assume that traces of RDX are not of any concern anymore? Why was the player released? What is the idea behind sending the kit to the forensic lab if you have let him off and the cops say there is no evidence? Isn’t there a possibility that someone will tamper with that kit now that they have been proved wrong and all their terror dreams have come to naught?

What? It is rare to see a J&K team, and it is important that they are playing.

We have had instances of match fixing and other dubious deals in the past even as betting for high stakes continues. That seems to have become legitimate. You need some terror threat at any given time to make things interesting. And what better than a Kashmiri.


Gubernatorially Yours

It really seemed as much of a big deal as any sort of feedback. Or as small as any pesky spam.

So, when one fine day I got an email from the ambassador of a certain country my first reaction was 'troll'. He had talked about an exchange of ideas, had given his personal email address and phone number.

I did what protocol demands and wrote back to say thank you and blah. But, remember, ideas had to be exchanged? I waited it out. What was the worst that could happen if I called? Someone would have a good laugh? I'd like that. For anyone to go to such trouble just for a little laughter would tell me a lot about the state of that mind. But I digress.

I dialled the number and it was a foreign accent. I relaxed a bit. Caution did not leave, though.

"Who am I speaking to?" I asked uncharacteristically and impolitely.

"Er...who would you like to speak to?"

"Ok. It's like this. I got a letter from someone saying he wants an exchange of ideas. "

"Oh..." (How was he to remember that?)

"So, do you?"

"One moment. Who do you wish to speak to?"

"My name is FV. Are you...hmm...excellen..." Damn. I was supposed to say "Your" but the PA who had sent the attached note had said "His". So, my tongue was in this conflict zone between His and Yours and how can he be your?

"Yes," he said simply. "My name is X. Now I recall."

"Yes. But you know how it is. I thought you were some crank," I said with a straight face he could not see.

"I perfectly understand. Even in our profession we have to be careful. "

"I was not worried, just wanted to be sure. What ideas do you want to exchange?"

"I read you but want to understand the mind. We must open all channels. I have worked in Y country and know it is important."

"Let me be honest. I write only what I want to. But I can exchange ideas. "

"Exactly. You tell me when."

"Yes. Your Excel..."


(The initials used here are fictitious and any resemblance to characters with similar initials is purely fictitious.)

Sunday ka Funda

This is supposed to be a sign whose message has gone askew, one of those blubbering idiot things that makes us smile.

Yet, from the point of view of the sign, the arrow is pointing in the right direction. For us it may be wrong. So, how do we decide what is right? Where we are or where we are going or where we are directed to?


Venky’s Chicken

He is obviously doing more than going through his emails. In today’s Times of India he has reacted to the reactions to his reaction about the woes of his inbox. He has apologised for “inadvertently” hurting people.

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was quite candid as I mentioned in the earlier post. He talked about people bothering him. So, what is this?

I want to make it clear that I was delighted to hear from scientific colleagues and students whom I had met personally in India and elsewhere, as well as close friends with whom I had lost touch. Unlike real celebrities like movie stars, we scientists generally lead a quiet life, and are not psychologically equipped to handle publicity. So I found the barrage of emails from people whom I didn’t know or whom I only knew slightly almost 40 years ago (nearly all from India) difficult to deal with.

And he was psychologically savvy enough to hit out? Did he know the Nobel Committee? And did he not say he congratulated the person who called to inform him about the prize for his Swedish accent, assuming it was a crank call? So, if he can answer phone calls from strangers, he is going to get emails from strangers.

People have also taken offence at my comment about nationality being an accident of birth. However, they don’t seem to notice the first part of the sentence: We are all human beings.

I noticed the whole comment and reproduced it. Being human beings is an obvious fact and even those who go into space don’t cease being human beings. I wish he had the courage of his convictions and stood up for what he had said instead of this rubbish:

Accident or not, I remain grateful to all the dedicated teachers I had. Others have said I have disowned my roots. Since 2002, I have come almost every year to India. In these visits, I have spent time on institute campuses giving lectures or talking to colleagues and students, and stayed in the campus guest house. I have not spent my time staying in fancy hotels and going sightseeing.

Roots are not about giving lectures and staying at campuses. By going sightseeing you do not become less of an Indian. He is coming here on work in his professional capacity and has the audacity to talk about it as maintaining connections with his roots. He could have been going on lecture tours to Jalalabad, for all we care.

Finally, at a personal level, although I am westernized, many aspects of culture like a love for classical Indian music or South Indian or Gujarati food are simply a part of me.

So? I know westerners who love our cuisine and music and culture. What is he trying to prove? He has even given an interview about riding bicycles and all those wonderful memories. Why did he not think about them before shooting off his mouth about some professor making tall claims? Did these memories not seem important then?

Some of us had taken what he said in the right spirit, respecting his privacy and right to be not an Indian. He has, unfortunately, decided to do a 360 degree turn and come across as extremely patronising:

I am personally not that important. If I hadn’t existed, this work would still have been done. It is the work that is important, and that should be what excites people. Finally, there are many excellent scientists in India and elsewhere who will never win a Nobel. But their work is no less interesting and people should find out about what they do. My visits to India confirm that it has great potential and bright young students. A little less nationalistic hero worship will go a long way to fulfil that potential.

We know there is potential. While there are a few of us who do not believe in blind nationalistic worship, there are others who do so. That is why we have Gandhi and Nehru cults. How will less hero worship tap potential? He says he was excited about Gellman’s work and it did not matter what his nationality was. True. So, Indians also worship Michael Jackson and Angelina Jolie. What potential will they be fulfilling? And will anyone take him on about the “less nationalistic” advice? No. Because we are idiots. We will throw stones at our own when they point out certain hard facts, but not at this man.

Is it only about his inbox? If all this was unimportant, he would not be writing this defensive little piece. He would have gone on with his work instead of telling us about how we must look for potential and learn from his work, his roots notwithstanding. Fine. As I said, people will move on. He should too. And I hope he has the good sense now to let go and get into his quiet life and further tap his potential. The Nobel is not the end of the world, as he has so self-deprecatingly implied. Now all he has to do is stop holding forth on India, although the adulation will certainly be hugely appealing.

We are happy for him in his heavenly abode – the West.


Hey, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, you've NOT got mail

I am so glad our Nobel laureate has said what he has.

“All sorts of people from India have been writing to me, clogging up my email box. It takes me an hour or two to just remove their mails. Do these people have no consideration? It is OK to take pride in the event, but why bother me? There are also people who have never bothered to be in touch with me for decades who suddenly feel the urge to connect. I find this strange.”

There are two levels on which I adore this comment.

1. He is not upto silly public relations and seeking of roots. I guess in his field it won’t matter much; an atom and molecule here or there won’t really pull at heart strings, unlike, say, a Salman Rushdie who can really get us all worked up because he is working on us. So, good going.

2. This business of thinking every Indian is really Indian makes no sense. I know the expats get irritated when I say it but here is one of you saying it in so many words, words that are far from polite, whether it would be in the gentle temple town of Chidambaram or the robust Punjab.

You won’t find him returning to be garlanded and have tilak put on his forehead and talk about how rich our culture is and how much he would like to dig into the rasam rice. He does not give a damn, and I am glad. We have enough of these Johnnies in New Jersey trying to claim heritage and crap. This man knows that some teacher at Annamalai University is faking it when he says that Venkatraman was his student. He must qualify as a true child prodigy for he left India when he was only three. He has called it “all sorts of lies”.

Ramakrishnan said it was good if his winning the Nobel Prize encouraged people to take interest in science.

“But I, personally, am not important. The fact that I am of Indian origin is even less important. We are all human beings, and our nationality is simply an accident of birth.”

Great. I almost said ‘saar’ and then realised he would not know what that meant. I’d have to say jolly good, now that he is not even in the US.

However, I would like to know if he will indulge in such plain talking when the heads of countries congratulate him. If being Indian is of no value, and it ought not to be given that he was so little when he left, then he should be able to tell them to just chill. I mean, no one sends congratulatory notes to an accident of birth. He could have been born in Jhumri Tallaiyya and no one would have cared. Now Tamil Nadu and Surat and all of India think their dharti putra (son of the soil) has won. Some may even be planning to invite him. Fuhgetit. He is not playing ball. He might like to tell his father not to go around giving interviews about the Indianness, though.

As for the belief that people will take more interest in science because of his victory, this is temporary. It happens when someone goes to space or cracks a code. No one is mastering spelling after a girl of Indian origin won the Spelling Bee contest.

Given the number of Indian restaurants doing brisk business in the West, we have not had a surfeit of people getting interested in food. We just like to celebrate anything.

So, here is a short note to him:

Sorry about all those emails telling you nice-nice things about things no one knows or understands. Or, someone asking you about how is life and all that, as though you are interested in such small things. You are now big man and I am not flooding your inbox because I am fully understanding how inbox is suffering because of overweight. We Indians are like that only, eating and eating and getting fat. Not working out. But obesity is American problem also. You not knowing because you are busy with test tubes.

But, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, one day when the Western press asks you about anything on India, and they just might – about its foreign policy, its poverty, its global leap - please do not give your opinion. Even though you may be well-read, speak as a foreigner, not as one who knows. Coz, although you might remember the ground as you learned to crawl here, you don’t know the ground realities.

India does not count to you, and we respect that. For some of us, the chemistry prize could have gone to some Maori tribal. We don’t give a tosh. Oh, that reminds me to start deleting all those emails that are choking my inbox. You have to pay the price for fame; I have to pay the price for just being an Indian trying hard to be seen as one.

Rib-o-some, eh?

Rahul's Pakistan and Arnie's Sikhs

In recent times, Rahul Gandhi has made a few small strides in appealing to public sentiment for things other than the cuteness factor.

Now the cute boy is acting all grown up:

“India is giving too much time to its neighbour. It is not even half as important as we are making it. India cannot be compared to Pakistan in world affairs... India has a larger role and status internationally... Pakistan shall occupy a small piece of our diplomatic policy. I do not wish to talk even for five minutes about Pakistan,’’ he said, refuting the charge that Delhi faced embarrassment after the joint declaration at Sharm el-Sheikh.

He is right about us being obsessed with Pakistan. But why has he woken up now? How does pitting ourselves against that country, as he is in fact doing, make it less important? If you don’t think something is worth it then do not say that we are better. You can be better than something that occupies the same space – in real terms or in your mind.

To get to the more crucial aspect of diplomatic policy, this is a rather juvenile statement. The small part is enough to cause us untold agony. And this small part is more crucial than attending some G-string summit, because it has to do with a stretch of land more than anything else. Pakistan is not interested in how much we are shining and our GDP. Pakistan is interested in Kashmir; we are interested in Kashmir. And, guess what? Kashmiris are interested in Kashmir. So, we will have to spend more than five minutes on anything to do with Pakistan. I know it is a heck of a long time for someone who is busy tasting different kinds of Dalit cuisine, but tough luck.

- - -

How many Sikhs do you know in your regular life who go around carrying kirpans?

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a Bill seeking to educate law enforcement officers about the religious significance of kirpans, one of the five Ks that Sikh religion expects its followers to adhere to.

“This loss for the Sikh community is a reminder of our serious lack of political clout in this state. After months of hard work and 100 per cent support from our lawmakers, the Sikh voice was still not strong enough to overcome the whim of one man,” said Prabhjot Singh, chairman of the advocacy group Sikh Coalition.

Over the last few years, there has been a sudden rise in the arrests of Sikhs nationwide for carrying kirpans. In most cases, the Sikh Coalition said, the police take kirpans to be concealed weapons.

Like religious resurgence and identifiable marks in many societies, it is happening among the Sikhs too. This is not about clothes or beliefs. A weapon is a weapon. How would teaching the cops about its religious significance make it less worrisome? Would Sikhs in the US expect to board flights with their kirpans when people are not allowed to carry tweezers? I would be curious to know how many of them wear kachhas, the boxer shorts sort of undergarment. Is it feasible to wear it beneath tight jeans? These are supposed to be visible symbols to display faith, and the kirpan is to be used only as protection and self-defence.

When the Sikhs had to distance themselves after 9/11 from terrorists, they used their different faith. Now, it is their different faith that is being asked to follow what everyone considers mainstream norms of the United States of America, and it does have to do with security issues. American lobbies are pretty strong against the gun culture too.

So, does anyone have anything to say about Arnie and his move?


When Jews won't take a lift...

I have entered lifts with too many people breathing one another’s breaths. It is probably unhygienic and a security risk. I have pressed buttons, real ones, without knowing that some people in the world think that doing so after sunset on Friday until Saturday’s sunset is a “desecration of the Sabbath”.

That this has become an issue that Jews are concerned about in New York City and not some remote Taliban-like rugged turf should get our liberals to raise eyebrows. But, will they? I doubt it.

The report in the NYT has a deadpan tone. Almost as though it is perfectly acceptable:

But last week, newly added to the tenant issues facing building managers like Harold M Jacob, who runs a co-op where Orthodox Jews inhabit a substantial portion of the 2,500 apartments, was this almost ontological question: Does that elevator “know” how many people are on it?

Ontological? Is this anywhere close to the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence?

Ever since elevators became the norm with the construction of high-rise buildings, concessions were made for the 39 activities prohibited during the Sabbath. Use of electrical devices is one of them. Pressing buttons constitutes such activity.This had got the Knesset involved and made it mandatory in Israel to designate one lift in a building as ‘Shabbos’, the good one that automatically stopped on every floor so that Orthodox Jews did not have to press any buttons and could spend their Sabbath within the accepted religious realm.

After a meeting with technicians, it was recently discovered that even Shabbos elevators have devices that automatically measure the weight of the lift car and adjust the power. It has resulted in seeking to ban them.

In a world that is sitting in judgement about other faiths and their strict adherence to them and making it out to be as though they are backward and not moving with the times, this sort of observance will not be questioned with much harshness.

Why? Because these people are educated? They have made money and can live in the heart of New York? They have a strong lobby within America? An apartment block that has 2500 residents and several other issues now being forced to think about pressing buttons in lifts is ridiculous.

How many of you have heard about Jews being made fun of because of their obsession with the kosher? They don’t eat pork. They are circumcised. The orthodox among them wear clothes as per the Talmudic laws wherever they are or go. Does it not strike anyone as unusual that rabbis are having meetings about this and how the community follows the belief?

Oh, so you will turn around and say, they don’t have suicide bombers. They don’t do this and they don’t do that. Kindly visit Gaza. If you can get there. An educated community that stops essential provisions from reaching people who belong to the land is hardly educated.

Incidentally, Palestinians are among the most educated people in the world. But a boy in Gaza has to ride a donkey painted with stripes to mimic a zebra because he has never seen a zebra in his life. His world, though, is black and white. And if he grows up, unless he gets killed, he will see the world as a monochrome reality.

The Jews in the world outside can continue to think of important issues about where the lift stops. The buck will never stop at their door.

Sunday ka Funda


Muslims, the love jihad and Advani’s dreams

This fellow is quite a hoot.

Alleging that ‘love jihad’ was the latest tool being used by miscreants to promote anti-national activities, Shri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik said his organisation would launch a nation-wide agitation against it.

Aww…so every Muslim male is a suspect? Every college girl is pliable? What survey? You talk to a couple of girls going out with Muslim men and you have results?

What about those who marry Hindus? Should we assume that those women and men are not anti-national only because they are not Muslims? Who is this Rama Sene to decide on patriotism? Will its chief have the courage to target celebrities who are married to Hindus? Is the issue only of conversion?

On a recent flight, the young woman sitting next to me got chatting. After covering one quarter of the world’s nationalities and half the states of India, she still did not get an answer to “Where are you actually from?” I love that actually. Mumbai is not actual in anyone’s book and these days after the crash-landing saying 'moon' won’t work besides it being too cheesy. I was left with no option but to accept my fate. Muslim, I said, feeling a lump in my throat and everywhere lumps are possible. I mean, it was an emotional moment.

Her eyes widened, and I know it for a fact for she had small eyes. “Oh?”

“Well, yes,” I shrugged, imagining she would now hold herself away, look at my rather nice handbag suspiciously or even the ring she liked. It might hold something damaging. I put on the best jihadi face I could manage, you know narrowing of eyes and wicked grin.

She turned enthusiastically, “Tell me, why don’t you Muslims allow people to marry outside?”

“They do. But there is not a policy decision. Why do you ask?”

“I am seeing this Muslim guy for four years and now his parents say they won’t let him marry a Hindu.”

“As long as he stands by you…and I hope they are not expecting you to convert.”

“I don’t mind that.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. What is there to convert? You just say some prayers, no?”

“Well…So, what is their problem?”

“I don’t know. His mother will go to spa and all but she should understand that a Hindu girl is also a human being.”

“The spa won’t teach her that. And if both of you are sure, it should not be a problem.”

“I know it will, so we will continue like that for as long as we can and then go our separate ways.”

“Is it so easy?”

“That is the practical decision.”

She did not think of him as anti-national. She was willing to convert. And the stole she had wrapped round her neck was because her mother wanted it that way.

I had no intention of getting into a discussion on Islam and she was most certainly not up to anything beyond chit-chat. She shared something because she felt that she could get a point of view from a Muslim who looked like she went to the spa. I guess it’s time for me to.

- - -

On what grounds are Bihar schools being forced to teach Urdu? That the initiative comes from the JD (U)-BJP government is surprising, but as the report clearly implies it has to do with getting Muslim votes. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said:

“We will be appointing Urdu teachers in every state-run school to enable the students learn the language.”

This is fascism. What is the percentage of Urdu-speaking people in the state? On what grounds do we assume that all Muslims are conversant with Urdu? A Muslim in Kerala or Gujarat will fumble with the basics of the language. And even in Uttar Pradesh it will be the elite that will speak it with some fluency. In most states, even if people speak Urdu, there will be a regional flavour to it.

There is no doubt that it is a lovely language and must get exposure, but there ought not to be any compulsion. If Bihar wants to expose its youngsters to a wider variety, then why not include Marathi or Malayalam?

The state language is Maithili and Bhojpuri and most Bihari ministers cannot even speak Hindi well. So, let’s cut out the nonsense. It might help if Urdu teachers refused to become a part of this political game.

- - -

L.K.Advani was in Vashi for an election meeting and after all the baloney about water, electricity and roads – yeah, these don’t matter – he came to the crux:

“It is my cherished dream to have a ‘bhavya’ (beautiful) Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.”

Why would the Vashi voter be interested in what happens in Ayodhya? Why would the Vashi voter care about Advani’s dream? How would the Vashi voter know how beautiful it will be? Is Advani an architect? Why is the temple’s beauty of importance? Where will the money come from? Of course, the Vashiwallas will have to continue with water shortage, bad roads and power cuts. So that a man can realise his dream.

The crowd cheered. It does not mean they are thrilled. It is because the candidate had managed to get a few people to hold banners. People are not stupid, but politicians are.

That’s not the end:

Advani also spoke of his other dream, of having American style debates for political candidates, like the presidential debates in the US.

What will they debate? The colour of the sanctum? How much gold to cover Lord Rama with? Will it be a cradle or a throne? Oh, this is an issue – are we going to display the deity as an innocent child or a mature adult? What will better help us market India as a global phenomenon?

Advaniji is like Kumbhakaran*. He must sleep so much for how else would he dream so much?

Kumbhakaran was Ravana’s brother in the epic Mahabharata who was cursed to sleep for months on end. I am implying this aspect of his personality and not the other one in which he ate everything, including humans, upon waking up. Nah. Advaniji comes across as someone who’d be picky about his meals.


Partition's Nanny

How a person suddenly catapults himself as a 'liberal' is a lesson one can learn from Jaswant Singh. Even if that liberalism will be riding on the back of history, history that has caused more fissures that still haunt.

Is there a reason for him to deliver a keynote address on ‘The Main Culprits of Partition of India’? Isn’t there a limit to this? Had he not been thrown out of the BJP would he be singing this song? What is there to expose about the Congress and the BJP? Is he doing so only because the leaders he will be sharing the dais with are from neither party, including RJD chief Lalu Prasad, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and CPM leader Brinda Karat. The function has been organised by the United Muslim Morcha (UMM).

The organisation’s head is JD (U) MP Dr Ezaj Ali, who claims the meet has nothing to do with politics:

“For me the nation comes first. As, Jaswant has raised an issue about which people of this country were kept in the dark for years, I chose to invite all those leaders who had no association with the Congress or the BJP.”

If it is not about politics, then why leave out specific political parties? How many people from other fields have been invited? Why is Jaswant Singh planning an expose and blaming culprits? Was the Partition not a political event?

And what has a Muslim organisation got to do with this? Indian Muslims who stayed back have precious little to do with Partition.

I don’t know how many editions that book has gone into but I don’t understand how and why other political leaders are going along with this charade.

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Updated on October 7, IST 7 PM:

Jaswant Singh had his book launch in Mumbai:

For Singh, though, the most astonishing fact is the number of people who come up to him and say, ‘sahab apne bahut himmat dikhayi’. “Initially I wondered why,” said Singh to the packed audience. “It was then that I realised that all this while we have saddled the Indian Muslim with the guilt of Partition, when it’s clear that they alone aren’t responsible.”

What a cheesecake comment. What has his himmat (fearlessness) got to do with saddling the Indian Muslims with guilt? Were all those approaching him IMs? No Indian Muslim has felt guilty about the Partition simply because we are Indian Muslims. Does his so-called scholarship not make him understand this basic fact? And will he and the likes of him stop this patronising nonsense about ‘we think they are like that but they are not really like that’? What does he mean by “they alone aren’t responsible”? Does he not know that there is another country called Pakistan where the former Indian Muslims (and some Sikhs, Hindus and Christians) are?


Hot cross buns

BJP chief Rajnath Singh attended the RSS Vijay Dashami function dressed the part.

Wonder where the moral police is. Besides being an ungainly sight - he was not attending a soccer or baseball match - he ought to learn some basics about etiquette.

Obviously, he was accorded respect and given the front row seat. What was he trying to prove?

There is nothing 'Rashtriya' about it. Is it 'Swayamsevak'? Where does that leave the Sangh?

Just wondering...

Updated on October 5, 6 PM IST

I am amazed at the reactions to the above picture.

It isn’t a 'joke' and we are not talking about John Abraham and the exposure of the male body in films or modelling. It is also not a casual picture taken at the beach. This was at a political event. The khaki bermudas are the RSS uniform. But there is a matter of etiquette, and etiquette means knowing how to sit when you wear certain kinds of clothes, and where. Most people do follow these rules of social behaviour, especially if they happen to be in positions of power and expect public respect.

It might be no big deal for some – and the usual rant of this blogger being against the RSS/BJP ideology creeps in, quite forgetting that I do not need a man’s bare legs to express disapproval of the party. Then there is this bit about being critical of ‘fellow Indians’. I cannot fathom such a comment because it makes absolutely no sense.

As for being below the belt, the picture was not taken by me and the man chose to sit the way he did. There are studies on body language…but I won’t waste my breath over it for this particular example.

There are men who do know how to sit, even with full trousers and legs crossed: