One-leg Standing: Beyond Parodying Jolie

Angelina Jolie would have been an enigma, except that she chose to take the road to everywhere. Her leg flash is only the latest ‘phenomenon’.

Jolie’s sorties into being different are really sharp tactics, for after a while one can only do so much with goldfish lips or pillow mouth or whatever they call those. She has in the past worn her former partner’s blood in a locket, a ‘pure’ exchange that ended the way most such relationships do – in a mess. She has spoken in a rather incestuous manner about her brother. She has mentioned her lesbian outings, her promiscuity, her fidelity, and just as passionately in what might be seen as a different attitude about her ‘rainbow family’. The world of the underdeveloped became her haunt from where she got her motherhood. Her idea of of it is often questioned as is the modus operandi she uses to go about procuring kids.

Jolie does not need attention. She parks herself in the central square and puckers her lips to speak or to be silent. So, why has that Oscar red carpet moment captured the imagination of so many who have seen her legs, and many legs, and more?

She was playing to the gallery as much as to herself. This is typical behaviour of someone who has to prove she still has it. It can arise from boredom, from insecurity, from sensuality that has been suppressed willfully or has not had the opportunity to be unleashed. This might sound surprising. There is so much of public display of lust, romance and even family bonding. Why is she then behaving like a bored housewife at Chippendale’s, seemingly whistling at the boys but really at herself?

She has caught on to the fact that people don’t live for posterity moments. Her leg is as much or less as Pippa Middleton’s butt was. The latter has capitalised on it; Angelina does not need to. Her trip is to “gather ye rose buds while ye may”. The flash is like a card for flash memory span. That pose was a pose in more ways than one.

Its digitalised imprints have found place everywhere. Unlike a diva one might expect to be deified, she is being caricatured. Some may think that the spinoffs are a tribute. Indeed, much as Hitler’s moustache is, which symbolised so many things, Jolie’s leg does not. It is an appendage, especially since the pair has been reduced to one.

However, some of the reworked pictures can be analysed, whether or not they were meant to. Here are a few thoughts:

Used in well-known art works, it is pop culture superimposed on classicism. In Michelangelo's famous ‘Adam and the Finger of God’ could it be Eve’s intrusion, a leg-up to the spare rib? A feministic statement?

On political figures, it can mean different things – Angela Merkel has already exposed a good deal of cleavage and been part of an advertising campaign, so it is probably to only sex her up; Hitler in a trench coat with a leg showing comes across as part humour, part an expression of a softer inside or an openness of a streamlined approach to ‘whiteness’.

Barack Obama getting a kick in the behind is less an insult and more an almost gratifying gesture; I am quite sure that this is the work of a Democrat who clearly believes that the President is a fun guy in the sack, even as his bending down conveys humility. The black stiletto is just what the doctor ordered after a hard day’s night morning after.

On symbols like Christ, the Pope, or even the Queen of England, the leg appears to humanise them. Some of those photoshopping would probably not have thought about it – it is likely that for them it is an “everything goes” attitude. It does not, and that is the reason there is an element of sobriety in the ‘leg’.

The Statue of Liberty has been so often imagined – much like Monalisa – that to give it any spin is difficult. Perhaps, it is America liberated from itself?

All the images eventually turn out to be about us. How we perceive monuments, people, totems – of the past or the present. Angelina Jolie is merely an asset to bank on. There is a clause here, though. Her time out might well be recalled occasionally, as do wardrobe malfunctions and drunken brawls. More than all that is the fact that now even the famous hanker after fifteen minutes of fame.

End note:

Professor Stephen Hawking visits sex clubs in California. It’s become news. Of how he is accompanied by his nurses and assistants and they have even watched as he lay fully clothed in the ‘play area’ as girls danced naked over him. Fine. Nothing unusual. Is it his fame or his physical debility that has drawn more than its share of attention?

His commercial agent Robin Morgan put out a statement: “Stephen has a wicked sense of humour!”

Frankly, is this the way he enjoys a good joke? An honest response would have been, so what? Or, yes, he likes what we all do. But, no. The girls are for laughs. Of course, because of his huge intelligence and the fact that the women are ‘performers’ no will call him sexist.

May I then, in jest, refer to his great work as the Brief's History of Time?


The house that Bin Laden Built?

The 'mansion' has been razed. But ghosts need no houses.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

"Pakistan authorities demolished the three-story house in Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden lived for years and died last May during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in an apparent bid to stop it becoming a tourist site or shrine for al Qaeda supporters..."

We are told this is a decision taken by Pakistani security agencies. The US has not been informed. One has to be naive to believe this. True Pak-US relations are at a low after the November killings of 24 Pakistani soldiers, but this is a ruse.

Osama was the most wanted man. The US hunt for him took them on a warpath, resulting in thousands of deaths. If he lived here for five years, and in that quick operation they managed to take away "boxes of materials", does it mean the safe house has no value for them anymore?

They say that the proximity to the military academy is an embarrassment to Pakistan. Pakistan says it did not know about it. As for America:

"Until now, however, the U.S. has stated it has found no evidence that Pakistan's military or government helped shelter the former al Qaeda leader."

So the soured relationship theory just does not work. The whole tourist attraction-shrine idea is lame, too.

The romanticisation of Osama relied on his hiding in caves, not in a badly-structured house, hunched over a television television watching porn DVDs, and using Viagra.

The US killed the image of Osama.

Pakistan is helping it to demolish every trace. It is a mutual understanding. For a country that revels in symbols, it is hard to imagine the US did not want to keep a watch over the site and just move on after the burial by the sea.

Something more than a building is destroyed, and America jolly well knows what that is.


Sunday ka Funda

“Don’t be offended if someone says ‘sexy’, rather take it positively.”

- National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma

Expectedly, there will be a pro and anti stand on this regarding feminism. The problem is that the word has lost its true calling due to rampant usage. Food is sexy, ideas are sexy, politics is sexy, sanyas is sexy.

I’d say women cannot be advised on this. They could feel offended depending on who makes the remark and in what context. Besides, different women see sexiness differently.

Here are a few quotes I identify with:

  • “From the moment I was six I felt sexy. And let me tell you it was hell, sheer hell, waiting to do something about it.” – Bette Davis
  • “I find it very difficult to draw a line between what's sex and what isn't. It can be very, very sexy to drive a car, and completely unsexy to flirt with someone at a bar.” – Bjork
  • “I dress sexily - but not in an obvious way. Sexy in a virginal way.” – Victoria Beckham
  • “I like someone who is a little crazy but coming from a good place. I think scars are sexy because it means you made a mistake that led to a mess.” – Angelina Jolie
And, yes, I find the word uttered in a low hoarse voice sexy.


There's a Mughal in your drink

How many of you give your children the health drink Complan? If you are Hindu then you are an insult to your religion. You are glorifying Mughals. The ad for the product is under fire by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) for this depiction:

In a class-room, a (Hindu) teacher asks a boy the name of father of King Jehangir. The student shows as if he is unable to recollect the name and the teacher asks the same question to another student when he answers the question immediately telling the name of Jehangir’s father. The credit of the boy answering the question correctly is given to ‘Complan’.

The organisation wants the company to withdraw the ad and all TV channels to stop airing it. I was surprised by the Hindutva droppings in my inbox were so darned serious. I took a look at the whole letter. Here's one bit:

“Why do you remember only the history of Mughals who oppressed Indians? We are living in Bharat; therefore, we should teach glorifying history of Indians. Teach children history of great kings like Vikramaditya, Harshavardhan, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj etc. else an agitation would be staged in protest. Devout Hindus and Indians will boycott your products. Advertisements of companies like Cadbury and Amul which made mockery of history have been earlier stopped.”

I think all Hindu actors and models should be boycotted too if they wear clothes that are remotely reminiscent of the Mughal era. Why was the film Jodha Akbar not banned? What about Hritik Roshan and Aishwariya Rai? Designers creating Anarkali kurtas and angarkhas should be punished. No cuisine that has any connection with the Mughals should be cooked; those restaurants should be shut down.

Come to think of it, shut down all of Delhi; it has too many monuments. Rashtrapati Bhavan has the Mughal Gardens. The President of India should vacate that little house and apologise to Hindus for walking on those lawns and smelling the outsized flowers.

That leaves the Taj Mahal. All Hindu lovers posing before the monument on that ubiquitous bench are insulting their faith. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger who could not take a look inside since he visited on a Friday should be allowed to take over. He’ll manage it as well as he managed his housekeeper. Given that Complan is manufactured by a multinational it is only fitting that we hand over all things that remind us of the Mughals to the west. I really look forward to a ranch in Humayun’s tomb and Taco Bell at the Taj.

We are living in an age of the ridiculous. Someone really believes that because ‘Complan’ denotes brainpower in the ad and a Mughal king was mentioned, it would immediately suggest that only such knowledge is considered important. There is an ad for Taj Mahal tea where just a sip of it makes the Eiffel Tower disappear, such is the impact. Why not withdraw that as well? Or the soap ad where the mother teaches her child during a bath with a song that goes, “Babar ka beta Humayun, Humayun ka Akbar”?

I know she could have said, “Shahaji Rao ka beta Shivaji, aur Shivaji ka Sambhaji”? Look at it this way. The Mughals were obsessed with the good life – baths, scents, food, milk. The Hindu kings were spartan in their habits, and this is the message of what is unstated. The Mughals were good only for soap suds.

Anyhow, there are many ayurvedic products with rishi-munis telling us what to do with different parts of the body, and Baba Ramdev makes up for it by huffing and puffing. Our children are quite safe. Unless, of course, there comes an ad for male deodorant that would talk about the “Aurangzeb effect” or a hair salon that calls itself Babar’s Barber.


The Dolphin Person

I have nothing against dolphins. In fact, I find them delightful. However, the scientific understanding of them as individuals, raises a few questions.

The Centre for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles has come up with a ten-point charter for “life, liberty and wellbeing”, among others.

A group of scientists and ethicists argues there is sufficient evidence of the marine mammals' intelligence, self-awareness and complex behaviour to enshrine their rights in legislation. Under the declaration of rights for cetaceans, a term that includes dolphins, whales and porpoises, the animals would be protected as "non-human persons" and have a legally enforceable right to life.

Is intelligence the only yardstick to project an ethical perception of rights? This would put to test many humans – the physically handicapped, the mentally challenged, those who behave differently from what is the norm, and those who might not quite fathom the complex nature of abstract thought. There are parts of the world where people still live on basic necessities and follow rudimentary rules of social intercourse.

"Dolphins are non-human persons. A person needs to be an individual. And if individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being. The captivity of beings of this sort, particularly in conditions that would not allow for a decent life, is ethically unacceptable, and commercial whaling is ethically unacceptable.”

The scientists quoted examples of how dolphins know to work on the reward principle. Early experiments conducted on rats have shown similar behaviour. Dogs, as in the Pavlov experiment, expressed their reaction through salivation. There is an understanding where survival makes animals and humans behave in a certain manner.

So, is such ethical treatment based on a human paradigm the right and only one? Protecting a species is fine. But is it really necessary to ‘dignify’ it on the basis of being a ‘person’. This, strangely enough, contradicts the effort to not treat human beings as superior. Then, why elevate only some species to that level?

Animal rights activists might want all animals to be protected. The movement against zoos, cages, slaughter, meat-eating has been active and often vocal. They too use the human in a trapped situation to emphasise the point about rights. It does not quite work because there is a tendency to glamorise and bring out the beast in the person behind the cage or dressed in fur. It sexes up the message.

The dolphin lobby is using a parallel argument by saying that they are ‘non-human persons’ and therefore as good as individuals.

I can see that there is a pecking order here, and wonder just how a species will seek to gain the sanctified position of being human. It really isn’t the best thing to be when the record of human rights is abysmal and the ethics of how certain being are treated as opposed to others affords it less ethical validity than an elephant squashing an ant unknowingly.

RSS votes for British Rule...

...and the rest of India wants to be foreign

It is shameful that the chief of a ‘nationalist’ group, the RSS, feels that India was better off during British rule. Isn’t the RSS always crying itself hoarse to protect our heritage even if it means asserting it through violence?

Mohan Bhagwat’s reasoning is flawed, anyway:

"After Independence, the dominance of rich and powerful people in politics and rising inflation have worsened the country's situation, which is worse than what it was during the British rule. All political parties were in power some or the other time during the last 64 years since Independence, but the situation has not improved. Hence, citizens must introspect over what went wrong."

There were rich and powerful princes and even business houses during British rule; they were protected depending on how loyal they were. In that, nothing has changed. How is it worse? Development strategies are now the burden of the Indians in power; during British rule, the wealthy did not have to worry about these issues. They lived in their principalities and worked in what may be charitably called an obsequious federal structure.

The situation of the poor was as bad, if not worse. At least on paper today one can question concepts of slavery and bonded labour. The colonisers, in order to avail of chattels, permitted the brown sahibs their indulgences as reward for fidelity.

It is a bit strange that the RSS that was formed to protest against British rule is now singing its praises. Stranger still is the confusion. Mr. Bhagwat states:

"Today, there is an insistence on education in a foreign language (English), instead of education in the mother tongue. As a result, the importance of the foreign language has increased to a large extent in the country.”

So, what language were the British promoting? How foreign is a language that is constitutional and, more important, just how many people know that language? This is hitting out at straws. Most people learn their local language, and education has to be broad-based. The concept of the ‘mother tongue’ is limiting, and inherited. Listening to lullabies in it is fine, but what beyond that?

Mr. Bhagwat does come to the nitty-gritty:

"Even 64 years after Independence, India is being threatened by China and Pakistan. With rising concerns over internal security, we should give top priority to military education to students to make India strong.”

Obviously, during British rule we had no threat from Pakistan and China. The colonisers were the internal threat. Did Indians have military training then? Except for some of the rebel armies and the revolutionaries, the battles were fought with passion and little else. What we are faced with now are security issues that have to deal with diplomatic ones as well. While there are border disputes, the governments are also talking about other things. There is insurgency, but neither of these two countries will ever colonise us.

Military education would entail the power of procuring licensed weapons. How many such students will make India strong? Why not encourage them to join the army or other legitimate combat forces? Do we want a militarily equipped country without any other form of education? What has the RSS done for India with all the training it gives its members in the camps?

It is pertinent, though not surprising at all, that Mr. Bhagwat makes no mention of the terror within and the several states and groups at war for space and identity.

- - -

I’d like to digress here about this attitude towards what is foreign. It has to do with our utter contempt for what is indigenous. Even parties that talk about our culture and fight petty battles against westernisation want to be like others. UP Chief Minister, through a leap of faith and imagination, thinks Lucknow is like Paris. With those granite pedestals and statues in different materials, this would not even qualify as kitsch. That aside, does Lucknow not have a fine culture of its own? What about those nukkads, the food, the weaves, the ambience?

The whole of India is in rapt attention over the elections in that state and we have to listen to this tripe about a local Paris. Imagine what would happen if Sonia Gandhi were to say that Amethi is like Sicily, or Delhi like Rome, or Mumbai like Milan? Her foreign origin would be skewered yet again.

Obviously, it does not make sense. But, from the lakes in Nainital to the backwaters of Allepey, we are Venice. Mumbai’s leaders want it to be like Singapore or Shanghai, depending on what noodles they prefer.

Can’t we have some pride in what we are and what we can be? Weirdly, when it comes to marketing our filth for filthy lucre, we are quite ready.

End note:

“A judge should live like a hermit but should work like a horse” 

– Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia

The law is an ass, and it is donkeys that work. Perhaps the CJI should have considered the fact that the best horses run races, and hermits live by ‘absenting’ themselves. It might have made more sense if he flipped his statement. Let them work like hermits – sparse with no strings attached, and live like horses – always in a ‘stable’ position wearing blinkers occasionally.

- - -

Images Times, cartoons by Raj Thackeray (courtesy my inbox)


Sunday ka Funda

"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there"

- Will Rogers

- - -

Life is a highway - Rascal Flatt


Ask the vexpert - 30

Question: My wife and I have been married for almost a year now.She has a very peculiar fetish she tells me to oil my pubic hair and create a parting so she can play with my penis properly. She also keeps talking to my penis.I however just dont get an erection and feel like a loser.I am very demotivated.Can you please talk to my wife about this?

Sexpert: I am surprised;most men would be turned on by her actions.Why not listen to her and feel proud about all the nice things she must be telling your member;unless she is telling him how lousy she feels that all her praise is getting wasted.Talk to her and convince her to do things that will arouse you to action on some occasions;that will be the middle path to happiness for both of you. 

Me: Your penis is an individual in his own right, as you would have discovered several times. The scenario could be:

  1. This is your wife’s version of oral sex.
  2. She is more comfortable talking with him in her search for emotional quotient that you seem to not possess.
  3. Her demanding that you oil the hair and stuff indicates that she treats you as an errand boy, which you can take to another level.

The good thing is you do not have to listen to her constant refrain of “Talk to me” and you don’t have to listen to her. Instead of feeling low, think about how you can spend the time reading, watching TV, getting some shut eye. Of course, you will be undressed and may surf certain sites that could cause excitement. The other male may respond and then it depends on your wife – whether she is ready for a conversation and some hard talk or prefers her monologue.

If it is the latter, you will have to, when she is not around, talk to your buddy. Tell him that you are the provider and if he persists in this sort of adulterous relationship you will cut off blood supply to the vessels. Your mind has to be assertive.

The other alternative is to start oiling the hair on your head and parting it. Maybe your wife will transfer her affections on top and ease your task. You might enjoy being called a dickhead, after all.

Update: The Israeli Attacks and Indian Investigations

An eyewitness account and CCTV footage go for a toss. Tal Yehoshua Koren, the injured wife of the Israeli diplomat – why does the media insist on referring to her as a diplomat? Did she hold some office? – has given her statement:

“I saw a biker close to my car when I was going to the American embassy. There was a push on the car from behind and I saw the biker. I thought the biker had touched the car. I even lowered the windowpanes to say something to him but he escaped by then. As I remember, the biker was wearing a black helmet and black clothes. I think the bike he was riding was also a black one.”

The initial reports had mentioned that she was going to fetch her kids from school. The latest report says:

The investigators reportedly gave her the version of events as reported by eyewitness Gopal Krishnan. What she revealed after that took the cops by surprise. She said, “The bomb exploded almost 30 to 40 seconds after there was a sudden push on the car.”

Officials said if the bomb took that long to explode, its make would be different from what was being presumed and it would have a timer or remote device as well. “We have to take a relook at all our theories,” an official said. Asked if she had noticed any biker following her, Koren said no. Investigators say Koren’s statements will change the probe approach. “CCTV footages would be rechecked now for tracking black bikes,” said a source.

Have the cops spoken to the other two who were in the car, including the driver? A car being pushed would alert the driver, and surely he would look into the rear-view mirror. The 'sticky bomb’ can be used on a stationary vehicle. Reports mentioned that this was done at the traffic intersection.

Our investigative agencies come out looking foolish based on the version of someone who was inside the car. Sure, look for black bikes, but why discount red bikes and brown jackets? This combination is far more distinctive. Or perhaps an all-purpose black will make it difficult and keep theories floating around? Our officials had assumed it was a low-intensity device that explodes within three to five seconds. Now that the time-frame has changed, they are looking at the possibility of it being remote controlled, which they had earlier too but are making it sound like a new angle. 

What would this entail? That the cops do not have to restrict their search to the radius of a few metres. It could be from anywhere, even a passing vehicle, which may not be a bike. The lady has left for Israel in an air ambulance. Her one statement has changed everything. Should she not be here and allowed to recuperate? Will she be called upon as witness should the culprit be caught? If not, then her statement cannot be taken as the absolute truth for investigative purposes, for an identification is not possible as the face was behind a helmet.

Since Home Minister P Chidambaram had already declared, "We think the target was the Israeli diplomat's wife and therefore we have to assume this was a terror attack", the victim has to be around.
Indian agencies will be pulled up regularly. And who is overseeing this? Mossad. Yes, I told you so.

Let’s get one thing clear. If you dish out conspiracy theories, then learn to take them too.


Israeli Embassies Attacked: Whose Vengeance and Unholy Wars are These?

With the top leaders accusing Iran, Israel is not only holding India to ransom but also trying to play its victim-aggressor game here.

Whose Vengeance and Unholy Wars are These?
Israeli Embassies Attacked
by Farzana Versey
Counterpunch, February 14 & Countercurrents Feb 16)

Monday. February 13. 3.54 pm. A bomb explodes in the car of an Israeli diplomat. Three people, including the defence attaché’s wife Tal Yehoshua, are grievously injured.

30 minutes later, embassy officials are examining the remains of the vehicle in an area that has been cordoned off by the police.

Within three hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Hizbullah and Iran:

“Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the largest exporter of terror in the world. The Israeli government and its security forces will continue to work together with local security services against these terrorist actions.”

He is pre-empting the inquiry, and the media is already talking about “Hizbullah in Delhi” and “Israel targeted in India”. We are calling ourselves a soft state when our own hardliners and security forces have been killing citizens inside the country.

The question is not whether global terror is being fought on Indian soil but how much of it is being arranged here. If it is legitimate to ask about the role of local handlers, then why has there been no concern about the incident of a planned vengeance by Israelis?

Cut to a report a few days ago when there was palpable revenge. The couple, Shneor Zalman and Yaffa Shenoi, arrived in India on a multiple-entry visa in March 2010. After the visa expired, they went back and returned within a month. What was their purpose that they paid a “disproportionately high rent” of Rs. 50,000 a month for a house in Fort Kochi, Kerala? A senior official was quoted in a report saying:

“Central intelligence got an alert about a covert operation being carried out by suspected Israeli agents after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike in which south Mumbai’s Chabad House came under attack and six Jews, including a Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. We have traced the couple’s financial transactions. They will be questioned before they are deported. Preliminary investigations suggest some Israelis are camping in various parts of the country.”

This comes from official sources and all that they think of is deporting the couple. There has been complete silence from the usually active dispensers of opinion, too.

Let us return to the scene of Monday’s crime. The Indian and international media have gone ballistic about it without a shred of evidence. If the argument is that the Indian prime minister's house is in the vicinity and reveals lapses in our security, then why is no one apprehensive about our situation? It raises questions beyond safety measures. Why are we falling in line with Israeli rules? What is the American effort in this proxy war? It is not Hizbullah that is fighting in India, but Israel.

With the top leaders’ comments, Israel is not only holding India to ransom but also trying to play its victim-aggressor game here. A bomb that went off simultaneously in Georgia was defused, for it does not resonate well with the anti-Arab/Iran narrative. One is not condoning any such attacks, but this most certainly does not look like a war against Israel, a state that has got its armour in place. Mossad is as pervasive as the CIA.


Sunday ka Funda

It's the same story. Struggle. Fame. Coping. Despondency. Falling. Rising. Falling. Slowly. Fast. Living. Fast. Slowing. Dying. Dead. Whitney Houston. No More.

Can't understand why, why, must a woman be so many things? Why must she sing "I'm Everywoman"?

I can cast a spell
Of secrets you can tell
Mix a special brew
Put fire inside of you
Anytime you feel danger or fear
Instantly I will appear,cause

I´m every woman...


Kingmaker Robert Vadra?

Should Robert Vadra join politics? It is the sort of question one asks at the dinner table if you are awfully fond of your relatives. However, it has become news. This is not the first time that Priyanka Gandhi’s husband has campaigned for the Congress.

There are two factors here:
  • The Congress Party wants to act obsequious, so anything remotely connected with the family will be wooed.
  • The Opposition sees this as an opportunity to bait.

Let us get a few fundamentals out of the way. Spouses, siblings and even special friends campaign during elections. There is always a trusted group. Atal Behari Vajpayee had his adopted family; L.K.Advani has his daughter; and almost all the ‘maharajahs’ have family members involved. Elections are about immediate and extended families.

Robert Vadra had to make a sacrifice when he married. He broke ties with his own family. Is he looking for some returns? This is what he said:

“I am here for my brother-in-law. For me politics will come if I think I can make a difference for the people, only when I can feel I can focus and I can give my best and full attention for the development of the people. I am totally enjoying what I am doing right now. The family I married into is in politics. It's something I cannot run away from. When the time is right, if it is what is required at that time may be yes but my focus is on my work right now.”

Priyanka said he was misquoted and he is happy with his “vyaapar” (business). The news clip immediately cut to the portion where he did mention that if people wanted he would join politics. Is it unusual? Not quite. He knows that Indians like package deals. We do not consider nepotism bad; it is our birthright. We assume that experience rubs off on those in one family. He used the words “cannot run away from” where he was trying to convey a sense of responsibility. He is also seen as a son of the Gandhis, for he is there on every occasion, especially on death anniversaries, seated in white kurta pyjama to share the moment.

There will be sniggers over this comment:

“Right now it is Rahul's time, Priyanka's time will also come.” 

It is a smart one. That Priyanka has chosen to play homemaker earns him brownie points. It means that while supportive of her aspirations, he is also in control. Her “time will also come” sends out a nice patriarchal promise to a patriarchal society that the lady they think should play an active role might do so in the future, so support her brother now.

Whether as asset or as baggage Robert Vadra will work in favour of Rahul Gandhi. In one scenario, he will be the strong backdrop; in the other, the guy who makes Rahul look so good and correct that he just cannot fail.

- - -

End note:

Rahul Gandhi says that unlike others he has no ambition of being Prime Minister. It is time the Congress initiated him in a real role with some other portfolio. The grassroots stuff is good, but he cannot be walking around all the time. He should put himself to test, if it is the language of politics he wants to talk.


Sunday ka Funda

It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is, better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.

- Prophet Mohammed

Eid-e-Milad, I must confess, was never a date on my calendar. It did not have the preamble of Ramzan Eid or Bakri Eid. It was quiet. I thought those who were deeply religious were introspecting about the Prophet's life. It was one way to celebrate a birthday.

I was surprised to read that it has become a huge commercial enterprise. Business thrives in the gullies selling badges, buntings, flags, tassels. And Muslims talk about how idolatory is against the faith. What is this, then?

Most Arabs do not celebrate their own birthdays. It is a way of not deifying one's existence. But, then, all prayers also deify. And, again, I confess that some of the naats are beautiful. For, it goes beyond obeisance. It is suffusing of oneself in a larger Self.

I do not understand the language of this one. It is probably not even great. But I like the slow rhythm, the lack of self-conscioues rendition one has become accustomed to.


Mani and Hafiz: Truth or Bare?

I understand that when a politician is on a private visit to a country, he does not speak on behalf of the country. Mani Shankar Aiyar, by virtue of being a former diplomat based in Pakistan, is knowledgeable about the country. It seems that he has lost touch with it, and even his home country.

Sitting on a panel discussion in a studio in Islamabad, he was confronted by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed through a phone link:

"Giving India MFN-status is not correct in any manner because there are already big problems that haven't been resolved, including the Kashmir issue. At this moment, the dams being made by India will create a crisis in Pakistan."

This is the man considered the mastermind behind the Mumbai 2008 attacks. His position would not be much different.

It is Aiyar's comment that is typically on a limb:

"There are some persons like Hafiz Saeed in our country who do not want things to move forward but thankfully the ordinary people want our ties to improve. We can improve our relations irrespective of what his (Saeed's) opinion is. We want him to be caught and taken to a terrorism court."

By getting into this same-same maze, he is in effect implying that the Hafiz prototypes in India are against any ties with Pakistan.

We do have a consolidated saffron terror in place, but it is essentially and rather tragically targetting people within the country.

It is pertinent that a couple of days prior to this studio peace, a piece of news which has much to do with Hafiz Saeed went largely unnoticed. The amicus curiae, advocate Raju Ramachandran, told the Supreme Court that Ajmal Kasab was not part of a larger conspiracy for waging war against the nation.

As reported:

'Maintaining that the prosecution has failed to prove the case against him beyond doubts, he told he bench that his right against self-incrimination as well as his right to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case have been violated during the trial.'

Kasab said he was brainwashed like a "robot".   

What would Mr. Aiyer's position be? Does he believe that brainwashing takes place only in the area of terror? This is where we need to look at the scenario holistically.

Saeed's opinion is not an isolated one and neither is it restricted in both countries to fringe elements.

There are two crucial segments.

1. The overtly nationalist middle class that believes that an enemy gives credence to identity.

2. Those who take what appears to be a cynical view that

a) the terror industry is over-rated
b) peace through confidence building measures does not do away with insecurity. These placebos cannot and are not meant to address diplomatic issues.

Almost all politicians have spoken about such initiatives and gestures. Does anything tangible come out of it?

In the Islamabad studio, it was Hafiz Saeed who spoke honestly. Mani Shankar Aiyar is being hailed for his brave move in confronting him, when he was just aiming aimless darts.

Perhaps he might like to see the large queues outside the High Commissions in India and Pakistan to understand how difficult such 'private' visits are for those he is claiming to speak on behalf of.