crisis at neighbour's door

When Islamic terrorism began expanding its roots in India during 90s’, I used to wonder one thing. Why don’t Hindus produce such extremists and send them to Pakistan.

The answer though was very much clear, it only endorsed my first thought today after Benazir Bhutto fell prey to fanaticism in her continuous opposition to it.
May her soul rest in peace. Also, the brave lady's sacrifice should bring more power to the war against terrorism.

Nah, its not sena's or sonia's rally. Nor even victorious Modi's.

It is the global chitpavan kokanastha brahmin sammelan held in Pune on Dec. 23.

...are deshsthas watching ?

err..I see a lady long there in UP, adjusting her binoculars on Pune.

Newspaper readers; Hypocrites?

What if readers starts going in consumer court if they find their newspaper not worth a quality they are paying for.?

Well, a reader won’t go to the consumer court because there are likely chances of him to be on losing verge if his case gets heard.

And why will reader loose?…because he is getting more than what he is paying for.

Actually readers are, to my understanding, least sensitive about the price and quality of the newspaper. They will anyway fret for the content appeared in the newspapers, but end up reading the same.

To put it into perspective…Vinod Mehta, editor-in-chief, Outlook, sum it up... (rightly or wrongly that again readers will decide)

The reader is a paradox. He frequently complains about negative news being constantly reported. But for all his clamouring for positive news, surveys show that people are more interested in negative news, sensational news, news about crime, violence and corruption. The reader, ladies and gentlemen, is not king; actually he is a nice hypocrite.

Full text of Mehta’s speech is here.

Anbumani Ramadoss

I don’t blame Anbumani Ramadoss, country’s health minister. To have a grouse against media especially after being criticized constantly is acceptable.

But to take support of ‘caste’ and to attempt to encash it is something unacceptable.

I am talking about Ramadoss’s remarks, “Delhi media is biased against me because I belongs to most backward class”.

My only question to Ramadoss is, Will he stand firm with same charges against judges and courts also, which has gone against him on various issues pertaining to AIIMS during the past few days?.

Court affair

Don’t cross the Laxmanresha. This was sort of a message given to judiciary in the country by a two-member bench of the apex court, this week. Repercussions then began to hover immediately when the very next day, various courts refused to admit or hear the PILs. Circle was finally completed after SC itself intervened and chief justice K G Balkrishnan along with other two justice clarified that “SC’s earlier remarks are not binding upon…. the decision to dismiss a PIL depends on the issues involved”.

OPENION: To ask various courts in the country to maintain self-restraint while usurping into legislative and executive’s territory is understandable. It is one way out to refrain courts from judicial activism and overreach.

But to suggest that addressing PILs on social issues amounts to judicial overreach would mean shutting down the door which remains a last hope for justice to a common man in case of democracy’s other two organs fail to perform.

The Indian Express in its editorial on Dec. 12 states in the last paragraph, that:

Former Supreme Court chief justice J.S. Verma had, in April this year, given depth to this choice with a question: “Judiciary having no machinery for implementations of the orders, what happens in the event of refusal of the executive to cooperate?” In other words, what happens in the event of a rebuff? The higher judiciary in India, as in any other democracy, is the ultimate custodian of the rule of law. It fulfils this role on the strength, above all else, of its moral position. That strength is maintained primarily by keeping the judiciary above the prospect of a rebuff. Mathur and Katju have begun a debate on how to protect the independence of the judiciary (by asking courts to maintain self restrain).

I understand, Judiciary’s job is to implement the law, not to enact it. It is a respect shown to democratic process in which highest powers lie with legislative. But to stick for only implementation of old laws would mean letting the two already overactive organs of the state to either go wild or sit idle.

As we have seen in the case of Tamil Nadu; the state overruling the judiciary had crossed the reservation cap of 50 per cent as defined by SC to take it to 69 per cent.

Finally the apex court at the beginning of this year ruled that any law placed under the Constitution's Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, providing immunity from legal challenges are subject to scrutiny of courts if they violate fundamental rights.
Court that time also rejected the government's claim that certain laws, even if they infringed the fundamental rights of citizens, cannot be subjected to judicial review, if the legislations were placed under the Ninth Schedule.

So isn’t the above case was a classic example of overreach or over-activism on the part of legislature, first, and to control that, judiciary had to intervened through its own activism.

Here some experts including Loksabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee sounded a note of caution saying judiciary’s confrontation with legislative is harmful for the country. I agree with this.

But then what is the way out of all ?.

I think its better to face judicial activism, that to me is unbiased, than the over action from legislative’ or executive, which is often politically motivated.

Between you and me.

UPDATES: The initial doubts over which way courts should go have been put to rest. SC on Friday clarified that it would lay down guidelines on entertaining PILs.

I hope this will end the confrontation between judiciary and other two branches of the government.

Playing a morality card

Mumbai’s first moral cop, senior Sena leader and a veteran journalist Pramod Navalkar died Yesterday. His death brought another controversy, interestingly, about another morality issue.

According to a story appeared in today’s Loksatta, even the Sena veteran’s death did not prevent legislatures from going to a late night party in Nagpur where assembly session is currently going on. (Well, conducting a session at Nagpur in winter is meant for partying)

And as per Loksatta reporter’s description, the Sena MLA from Akola Gulabrao Gawande was spotted sharing some old Hindi songs with his colleague in the party. Gawande was reported to have sung “sukh me sab sathi, Dukh me na koi”. Many in the government including some of the senior ministers also attended this, not clear if it was a cocktail, party.

Written on a pious note, a reporter from Loksatta (story is without byline) has given point-by-point account of the party as if he was physically present there. The story also criticized politicians saying despite the demise of senior Sena leader and ex-minister; politicians did not let party down. My Journo friend from Nagpur today told me that there were other few journos present at the party venue.

Now the issue is, this reporter (and other some reporters) did not forget to criticize the politicians but failed to remember that Navalkar was a Journalist too. So wasn’t it duty of journos present there to stay away from the party if morally it was wrong?.

Here, perhaps they played Navalkar.

According to Sujata Anandan, HT political editor, Navalkar himself was ‘rasik’ (fond of good life). His likes include Wine and Woman. And despite all this, the sena veteran always used to play morality card when it came to culture and tradition.

What say...?

Hats off to Prof. Yunus

This morning was simply incredible. In fact last evening too was good for me. It was rare to have an interaction with person like Nobel laureate from Bangladesh Muhammad Yusuf. To know his work and the results that it has borne were all fascinating. On his two-day-long tour to the city, Yunus made many his fans.

Prof. Yunus in all his humbleness described how he managed to bring down Desh’s poverty by 2 % every year. Denied of loan from Central Bank of Bangladesh, this man formed his own Grameen Bank. The motive was to help poor people or rather woman. And the help was by way of micro-finance, which includes lending money and helping that female borrower to start her business so that she would stand on her feet.

And as the work began to unfurl, Grameen bank set some standards. The poorer the person is, more deserving h/she will be for a loan. Also, there won’t be collateral, guarantor or even signing of papers to borrow money.

This was, as professor told us a bunch of reporters, right reverse to the conventional bank. Indeed conventional bank’s first task is to check the financial condition of borrower. And even if you are sound enough to repay the loan, they will make you sign hundreds of papers and ask for guarantor.

But Yunus didn’t ’t just stop here. His bank then began lending money to beggars. And soon one lakh beggars took benefit for this. Today, as Prof. Yunus went on to say, ten thousand beggars have completely abstained begging. Rest ninety thousand have taken begging as part time job with remaining time they utilize in doing small-time business. Another interesting thing in the Grameen Bank’s working system is, it has never waived off any loan. Contrary, if a person has been unable to repay money, Grameen Bank will further give him/her money so that he/she can start her business afresh.

(When I asked Prof. Yunus if loan waiver can be a measure to arrest farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha, his reply, though not India specific, was it can just be a quick fix but not a permanent solution.)

Here while Yunus was recalling his journey towards eliminating poverty, a thought came in my and I am sure everybody’s mind. What must could have been a driving force between Grameen bank, which borrow money without any legalities and poor people of Bangladesh repay it without any reluctance.

As Prof. Yunus proceed, we came to know the fundamentals on which Grameen bank and its customers do business is Trust.

And the driving force behind building that trust is a subtle fear in the mind of people who feel if they don’t repay the money it would be a breach of trust. And then, their ‘Allah’ will not forgive them for such breach of trust.

As the interaction ended, a friend of mine whispered, why doesn't this fellow take on a global task and join institution like World Bank for the welfare of the world. The answer that came was if he joins World Bank, poor would become poorer.

The punch between-the-lines is “World Bank works for rich people and reach countries”.

Not so decent

Gagged after an emergency was clamped, Pakistani media seems to have even forgot to react on the offensive and atrocious remarks used against their own President by a British Daily. The remarks that appeared against Mushrraf in Daily Telegraph’s editorial were totally against the values of journalism.

Mushrraf was twice referred "sonofabitch" (read son-of-a-bitch) or get other dictionary meanings as “scoundrel” or “bastard”. The issue led to ouster of three reporters of Daily Telegraph working in Pakistan. It was actually a result of Pakistan establishment’s strong measures after it failed to get apology from the paper. The UK newspaper, to my knowledge, hasn’t so far reacted on the issue despite Minister for Press at Pakistan High Commission in London Imran Gardezi sending strong protest note to the paper.

And one can’t expect so, so easily. In fact when Briton’s very own PM Tony Blair was referred as “Bush’s poodle” by section of international press, there was no reaction either from Blair himself or any other minister or british daily. So when Briton calls herself true democratic and talks of freedom of expression, so does its press.

Also when it was anticipated that Pak media would strongly react to it, the reactions instead came from the press of arch-rival India while the nighboring press, to the best of my knowledge, maintained mum. HT in its third edit today termed the remarks as “unparliamentary”. HT in fact masked the referrals to maintain one's dignity. Of course I can not do it here in my blog as it would mean further taxing readers to refer links.

I just want to bring out the details and force us everybody to think again that who is truly parliamentary and democratic.

A candid explanation

Statistics hides more than what it reveals…. An old saying came like a preaching for me after I came out from the cabin of additional DG rank police officer, a few days ago. Before stepping out, we discussed the recent Maharashtra crime report. The report had no major change over cases pertaining to Immoral Trafficking (prevention) Act (popularly known as PITA). It suggested slight joggling in numbers of PITA for last few years with around 100 points increase this year.

During my stay in the cabin, I opened this subject to know officer's reaction. I was trying to link those figures with the post dance bar ban scenario. As per my naïve understanding, a ban would have brought rise in the prostitution cases and subsequently in the registration of PITA cases. In absence of any other more effective law to control prostitution, police applies PITA to nab prostitutes, panders or pimps.

Exulted over discovering a very good story angle, I hastily asked the officer, “Sir, your minister would be happy to see no change in PITA cases”. While saying this I was pointing out the heavy criticism poor R R Patil had to undergo through when ban was imposed on all the dance bars in the state. Patil was criticized scathingly from certain quarters that were said to be worried about ‘a ban would invite rise in prostitution’.

The officer; folded hands, smile on face, took couple of second to came back to me. Though ostensibly reluctant, he then told me how statistics sometime butchers the ground level situation. “The action taken in cases like PITA is a preventive one”. (Of course one can’t expect cops to arrest prostitutes after they finish the game with their customers ;) )

The officer the went on to say “Look, when the dance bars were in existence, the record showed around 200-230 cases every year. Now after the ban the number isn’t changed”. He then smiled….and then kept quite.

His mum was a pointer towards an inefficient police force, lack in action curbing prostitution. Otherwise, in this state, how can there be only 200-230 cases every year when prostitution is a rampant activity.

Before leaving his cabin, I was left with nothing but to say, “statistic hides more than what it reveals”.

Its all about ads

It was getting same like Twenty-20. Misbah was full in form. 39 runs in 21 balls was Pakistan’s requirement. And then the adventurous Misbah played that same old misadventures’ shot. Though this time there wasn’t a Mallu Sreesanth to catch the ball, a flick by Misbah again proved suicidal and the ball after touching bat wrecked right through the stumps.

The following batsman played indeed well and India lost the match taking the country into mourning right before Diwali morning.

I was not moved much by the results. What actually caught me irritating throughout the match was heavy doses of advertisements that were continuously bombarded on Doordarshan while the game was on.

After almost every couple of delivery, an ad came pomping. For a moment I thought I was watching an ad-game and not cricket. As per the new system the ads bang right in the one third area of screen while a quarter space holds the game. The avaricious Doordarshan, despite being a government channel, looks like it has sold off itself to advertisers.

It was ludicrous to see a Fevicol ad being Flashed out on screen. It was last minute of the game and Pak needed 1 run in 4 balls with 4 wickets in hand. The killer Afridi hit out the delivery towards boundary and an ad pomped up “chhodana nahi India”(India, Dont leave).
Huh! There was nothing to hold and this Fevicol fellow was still saying "Chhodana nahi India"

The continuous ad-popping forced me to think how will the future matches be on DD.

I fear the unwritten code of showing ads only between the gap of two overs or a wicket falling or any break in game will thin down so much and one day there will be ads only, with games in the small break after ads flow shows slump. I am not pessimist, but I know what I have stated isnt too far to us to see.

There won’t even be tickers running down to give stats. Because there wont be a game to show.
Also read Dilip D'souza's column appeared in HT on Nov. 5 or Kadambari Murli's peice in HT on Oct. 15.

Dealing with Deal

Left don’t want it. Right want it but not through UPA. The Congress of course wants it, but not at the cost of government. And the government?. The government doesn’t know wether it wants it or not. The precious N-deal is stuck up in a rare embroglio. Rare because all the UPA constituents have a uncommon consensus on being non-unanimous. And yet they continue to proceed with their stand…

Amids all this, what common man thinks about it ?. Well, that’s the question my friend in US had asked me to know more about public openion here over N-deal. Well, I don’t claim to know various nuances of Indo-US N-deal. Yet I found it interesting recalling all that came out from various persons who talked about the deal.

A journalist friend of mine from The Hindu had read her mind loud and clear on the issue even before I asked her. She is completely in favour of the deal getting through. So much so, that she even tried to influence her “left tilted” newspapers’s policy by asking some of her keen to write letters to the editor. It was interesting that she has been able to harbour capitalist’ views while working in Leftist’ paper.

When I saw couple of journalists from vernacular print discussing the issue, one reply that came before was; “The deal is all rubbish. We should first address farmers suicide issue”. Another replied to the first one, “Nobody knows anything yet everybody talks only about Power. And suppose if elections are held on the deal issue then good for us as it will bring down dry days of news generation”.

And when I was on phone with my father discussing some of the current affair stories including the deal, my innocent mom was quick to grab the receiver to denounce the importance of the whole discussion. “Will you just keep all this stuff aside for a moment and allow us discussing some more vital things ?”, Mom’s terse one-line question came in Marathi.

Now what is more important than N-deal currently going on, aai ? I asked.

“You don’t talk to us all this, wasting your energy and our time. Rather you should let us know if we start searching a bride for you”.

My god!! mom’s that one-liner was like a N-shock to me.

It was also interesting to hear Bal Thakeray when he said “Everything is surrounded over N-deal only. Now we (While talking about himself Thakeray prefers plural) too want to know what exactly it is and its pros and cons…and hence have asked my sainiks to study the issue to make our position clear”.

Thakeray’s sainiks then studied the matter (at least it appears so). And now the tiger turned recluse has become antogonist of the deal.

COMMENT: Perhaps the sainiks have found the the 123-agreement is as easy as 1..2..3...

When Father & Son don't go hand-in-hand...

Q:How much is the value of a life in India ?
Ans: Probably not much. At least looking to these reports suggest so.

Blast inside sufi shrine Ajmer Sharif, 2 killed
New Delhi: At least two people were killed and 20 others injured when a blast ripped through the sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer on Thursday evening.
The blast took place 20 m away from the main shrine at 1820 hrs (IST) shortly after the custom of Iftaar when the evening prayers were on and at least 500 devotees were packed inside. Police have cordoned off the area.
One of the dead has been identified as 45-year-old Mohd Sohaib from Mumbai.
The injured were rushed to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College Hospital, the police said……..

‘Three dead’ in India shrine blast
At least three people have been killed and 20 more injured following an explosion at a revered islamic shrine in the northen Indian state of Rajasthan, CNN sister station CNN-IBN reported on Thursday. The blast occurred outside Durgah Sharif, a Sufi monument in the state’s pilgrimage town of Ajmer, during Iftar, the daily breaking of fast following Ramadan. At least 500 people were gathered inside, CNN-IBN reported.

May be, what farther (CNN) has picked up, son (CNN-IBN) couldn't.

Press Vs Judiciary

The ongoing confrontation between Indian media and judiciary is indirectly helping the political class.

If the media and the judiciary get into do-or-die hostilities, the only winners will be the politicians… writes Outlook editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta in his article.

Train Affair

I am not a frequent train itinerant. I prefer road traveling while going to my native place or even for an assignment. But in my most recent visit to Nagpur I rediscovered the fun of traveling in train generating penchant of opting similar mode in future. It all began when I read Shobha Narayan’s Saturday column in Mint few days before. In her piece on Indian train, Shobha wrote: Every Indian has a train story involving food and characters. So I too tried to search for any such story to which I will be a party. Although I could not find so, I realized coming to Nagpur through train itself is an experience to recount as a story.

Even though the train on which I was traveling did not have an opulence of special dining coach like Deccan Queen, but me, my cousin, sister and other friends were never short of eating stuff. Food is an integral part of train journey and we did respect that in totality. When I told others that DQ is the first train in India to have such facility where one can sit on its antique dining table, read the fresh morning news papers and sip tea and coffee with cutlets, they all mourned for having not experienced such wonderful thing till now.

Though Our's wasnt a DQ, the stinky toilets, dust ridden passages, broken mirror were least dampening for me to enjoy the ride through this lofty creature. I always wonder how railway coaches remain fit even as thousands of people board it daily creating kiosk. I was envy to see the antique pattern robust switches even as it was creating uncouthly noise. I wish I would have them at our new flat offering uninterrupted, unending, undemanding service. Within half an hour I peeked outside the window and the next thing which occupied my mind was the ready to cut sugarcane laden fields. I considered farmers of western Maharashtra fortunate enough to have all necessary resources.

After an initial adjustment and readjustment we settled down, only to see a waiter was ready to take evening meal order. We all decided to respect his service and placed an order for food at five-thirty. Then slowly we became Sindhi and went on buying spree. We tasted almost all the stuff we saw entering in our coach. Opinion may vary but it was striking for me to feel railway food is more palatable than at other traveling mode. Every Indian station has its specialty of offering particular items, I too wanted to experience it, but the odd night hours did not permit me to do so. I regret I missed famous Kachori at Shegao station. In the meanwhile at Daund station Lalu’s profit making machine did surprise many when it began to retrace already crossed route. My bewildered sister started looking at me and cousin for answers. A terse explanation of “train will soon change its track here” finally satisfied her.

Indian railway is an amazing creature which never disappoints anyone anytime anywhere. I don’t understand how it was running in losses until recently when Lalu finally took the reign of this mechanical dragon. I also fail to understand what exactly Lalu has done to turn this into profit making business. I have been seeing same railway with same track offering same service to same never-ending rush on its same filth ridden bogies, yet it has become money-spinning. These and similar such thoughts began haunting me when I went to upper berth for sleep. The next morning was pleasant. After having cup of tea twice, we then came to door waiting to be dropped at Nagpur. The journey ended after some time but the mind was taken up with reminiscences of another train trip.

Thanks to my cousin on whose insistence I showed inclination to come with him for his engagement. This gave me an opportunity to revive old memories of long train journey. It was a great experience. From boarding a train at Pune railway station to just before Nagpur near Buti Bori when everyone of us thought our destination is just five minutes away from there and it took big halt, much to escalate the already soaring mercury within my cousin who was eager to meet his fiancée.

Freedom of expression

Since past few days blog reading hasn't been pleasurable enough. Reason: one of my favorite blogger Pravin Tokekar has stopped posting his satirical ramblings and in stead seems to have navigated the url to another tranquil page.

Let us bhankas, the title under which he used to write did have some bhankasgiri. But his fitting remarks on editors of marathi daily, observations about squabbles within the media houses and a mimic commentary was big pass time and an enjoyment. Though there are many blogs to provide more or less same stuff on similar subjects, the bhankas remained altogether different and therefore enjoyed substantial readership. Not to mention the most palpable thing throughout his writing was decency.

Later, when I got to know from my sources about the reason for which his blog is not in service was Tokekar has been asked to contain from going overboard. Though I could not independently crosscheck the veracity of all such things I don’t need to mention who is the container in this case as has been implied in an obvious way.

COMMENT: The very fact which lies undigested is media professionals enjoys criticizing the whole world, at the same time they can’t tolerate of being carped. It is more conspicuous especially when their own men drag them. It is to note that Tokekar himself is a journalist and currently attached with a magazine which linked with Loksatta.

May be another side of journalism.

a welcome step

When something bad happens, good follows. Similar thing has taken place, hopefully the beginning of few good things in Indian media.

Taking a cue from the incidence of fabricated sting operation backfiring on Delhi based journalist and Television channel; Live India, the Mint, a pink paper belonging to HT has put in place its own Mint code of Journalist conduct.

This is most probably for the first time any Indian newspaper has taken such a bold step, which requires an imitation by all news papers and channels . Of course it will be an interesting to see how Mint correspondents adheres to it in the days to come. Yet I would term it as welcome step.

Not so intelligent

A gathering of selected.
Time- evening; ten past eight.
Agenda - undecided or undisclosed.
Venue - renowned club in east Pune.
Accompanying stuff at hands - Scotch and other spirits along with fruit juice followed by dinner.
Partaker – distinguished members who prefer to work from only behind the curtain and journos.

A formal introduction is made after the card exchanging while fizzle begin to blow. Some jokes on Indian politics, Pune police and media of course.

Actors behind the curtain come forward. Endeavor to give personal touch to the event.

The chief from actors takes the charge. Assured of at least two/three pegs have been gulped by everybody, his subordinate readies hmself to take position.

An interaction with each but saperately.

Supposedly carrying intention to pass on or plant so called secret info, they stumps the other information carriers. Contrary to the expectations a request for cooperation on info Sharing comes from their side. Fizz droops down. Get-to-gether comes to an abrupt end.

Keyword: Intelligence

Hey Ram...!!!

Yes, the above mentioned title of this post totally resembles with the one which appeared in today’s Saamana. I liked it very much especially when one of the BJP leader was seen on TV saying the same in the afternoon. His bite was in response to UPA’s major goof up. Sure to say, questioning the very existence of Lord Ram in its affidavit in the SC on Setu Samudran project was UPA one of the most dangerous political blunder. And for this congress party would have suffered drastically had it’s shrewd chairperson did not have pressed damage control button anon. Ofcourse rediscovering Lord Ram within 24 hours wasn't shrewdness but more of a political compulsion for her.

Unfortunately, here, leaders of BJP, starving for issues and sometime even non-issues lost the battle even before it began full fledge. Mature enough to sense an opportunity, BJP leaders saw Shahabanoo and Ayodhya like situation which it had encashed rightly and gained them run the rudder of New Delhi. I think a similar thought must have come in Sonia Gandhi’s mind on how her late husband had to pay the price for resurrecting Ayodhya and ShahBanu case issues.

Interestingly, within hours of filing an affidavit government admitted its mistake and assured that it will withdraw the controversial “Remarks” from its proclamation. The saffron leaders who were alleging it a clear case of blasphemy lost one more opportunity to gain political mileage on the issue.

Though I personally feel that what government had submitted in the SC was right in a way since the science on which Archeological Survey of India was banking to make its case for Sethu Samudran project does not support existence of god. But again, Faith is a thing which can not be challenged on any parameter. Nor it can be challenged in a court of law.
Curiously, the same BJP which is trying to rake up the issue on the basis of Faith has not touched the intricate subject of whether Lord Ram really existed. It only termed the move against the Faith of crores of Hindus. Congress too now seems to have joined the same boat. The grand old party of India now does not want to take any chances especially when snap polls are imminent in view of Left’s act of barking reaching to actually bite.

Amidst such delicate political situation, I am sure, Sonia must have told her party collegues "hey ram!!.. yeah kya kar diya tumne".

Everything is being Googled


Check out who is being benefited from whom. Read out the full report to know more.

Height of idiosyncrasy

Rahul, my friend from non-journalistic circle and a Mumbaikar yesterday asked me the reasons behind Puneites being over quirk as often being described. I did not respond for a bit. Later, I said; “its’ in their DNA”. Piqued over my terse and equally dull response, Rahul then decided not to stretch further.

In a while, after having three pegs of Tequila Casco, Rahul again touched upon the issue. I pretended to be stoical, further making Rahul infuriate.

More sagacious than me on all accounts, Rahul understood my ploy and as equally as he had started the discussion then gave up in between. Till the time I had also finished a pitcher of kingfisher. On an unusual high, I then led the halfway discussion and asked Rahul what made him think that Puneites are quirk. Contrary to what was anticipated, Rahul described me the incident about how and why he was humiliated in Janaseva hotel on Laxmi road. The reason for humiliation was, he had arrived their at 12:30 in the afternoon when hotel gets closed and did ask for three different items, which could not have been finished in a time further delaying the shop closing. The shopowner, Upadhye, bluntly refused to give anything to Rahul who was dying from hunger on fast day.

I could sense Rahul’s plight and hence recalled for him a limerick from P L Deshpande’s 'Khilli'; A book in which a section is dwelt on typical habits of people from Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. Pu La says: peshwe ani tange gelet pan punyacha puneri pan kahi sutla nahi (The Peshwa’ and buggies no longer exist, yet the old habits of poeple of Pune inculcated during Peshwa regime still continues).

Here the unending and ever-interesting subject of pulling puneites’ for their quirky nature took the centerstage. Appa’s Khee-Ka (Shree or Appa as he is known has named Khichadi and Kakadi as Khee-Ka) at Deccan Gymkhana or Bala’s style of serving wine and snacks at BBC were the begining of our discussion. The name of this Bar near Kalamadi house is actually Swagat, but the section of visitors coming here are mostly from Kothrud, Nav sahyadri, Law college, Prabhat and Bhandarkar road. And this very class of visitors earned it the sobriquet Brahmin Bar Club or BBC. The uniqueness of BBC is, it start serving booze at nine in the morning when all the oldies from above mention areas come here to emit their exhaustion after a stroll from F.C or Rupali. Debates on the work done by Marathi Sahitya Sammelan or potholes taking Pune on new high are regular ones here. The weirdness about the Bar is, Bala, a south Indian owner, is so much punctual that if you ask him finger-chips even before a minute prior to Seven in the evening, he would refuse it saying his Kitchen opens at sharp Seven. For him business comes latter. But for its customer, BBC is home away from home. I have seen boozers bringing here Tiffin full of home made snacks.

Same is true about Appa, who would not hesitate to oust the thirsty boys coming from Kalamadi’s international marathon on first Sunday of Feb. Appa reasons that these boys spoils the character of his canteen, which mostly caters again the same class coming to BBC. The next in this oddity-laden Pune is Upasane’s misal house in Kasba. The dusty benches, noise generating fans, heavy layers from half-burned candles on table and equally uncouthly voice of Upasane, owner of the hotel, are the factors least dampening the spirit of customer, who, I am told, have been visiting here uninterruptedly for years. The hotel ostensibly earn huge money but put slightest for his shop.

Well, the list to catapult peculiarity in Punekars’ is unending, so as the discussion between I and Rahul. But the deadline at ‘24-Carat’ where we were having evening session did not permit us to further go down discussing the unending subject.

P S: I have due regards to Pune and all Punekars and no intention whatsoever to hurt people from this beautiful city. The experiances described above are my own and true in nature.

Routine yet untold

I had vowed of maintaining a tempo by writing at least two posts a week when I started blogging for the first time. The procrastinator within me however did not let my mind and hands work to increase the post count here. However, last week’s developments’ concerning jailed actor Sanjay Dutt and the media coverage on the issue did not allow me to be just meek and follow the reading docile way.

I was winced and equally peeved the way one leading Marathi daily here carried on it’s page-1, the editor’s piece of note disapproving the “hyped news coverage” on Dutt’s conviction and his post incarceration developments. The note credit-lined ‘Editor’ said “The paper does not approve the ongoing hype created by some media on actor Dutt’s conviction and therefore take it’s own story inside on Page 5”.

Through its cleverly worded note, the editor had successfully steered readers on page 5 for Dutt’s story about the bollywood star shifted to Yerwada, the story otherwise would have been easy to miss by readers of Pune who lack no skill to throw tantrums early morning after reading newspapers. A profound attempt was also made, at the same time, to seek pious stand.

Same morning’s conversation with my colleague was hot with the handy issue we had with us to discuss. Abuses were hurled (mostly from my side) in exchange of words like ‘moral and ethics’ (conspicuously from his side). My point was the newspaper is unnecessarily trying to gain high moral ground when it has no business to comment on others’. Interestingly the other English daily owned by same group had similar story on page 1 with no moral note attached to it. “This is just a hypocrite attitude”, I shouted with much of vigor. The reason for me being over vocal was my own story had gone as lead on page 1.

The incident of’course not unique in nature and does not at all has power to trigger bigger debate on morality issue in media. Yet, during the next few hours the issue keeps coming to my mind putting my own views in quandary. The dichotomy within my own thoughts began haunting me. I remember, during the days of my journalism course, I always used to be aggressive when things like morality-immorality became the issues of our discussion in the class.

Being always critical of profiteering approach adopted by certain media I used to vent my ire against them pounding heavy abuses. In the course of time, I became journalist (by profession) nevertheless with more transformed views. “The readers’ choice is paramount and journalist has to provide what readers’ choice is”, the preaching came to rescue my thoughts. Finally after lot of brainstorming I decided to give up this Sisyphean task and opted for a concoction of my thoughts with chorus whenever required. A relief was cited anon. But in the process, I forgot that I too have adopted escapist route thus riding a boat of other hypocrites.

Between you and me only...

A difficult choice...

As India readies itself to complete the formality of officially endorsing the selection of first woman president (I am writing this post on the eve of the announcing results of Presidential polls) my mind is indulging into infighting with my soul. No, my dilemma is more intricate than what Bal Thakeray was undergoing through prior to making out way from catch-22 situation and announcing Shiv Sena’s support to Pratibhatai Patil. It isn’t just an issue of Marathi pride but an emotional connection we (I and her Excellency) share.

Here my regional genes also have begun riding high. She is not just from Amravati from where I too belong to, but also a native of Jalgaon district, the sleepy town from north Maharashtra where my Father spent his childhood and later did cast his vote in favour of her when she had contested assembly election. Thakeray’s predicament was just about choosing one way out of hindutva or Marathi asmita. But mine is about expressing joy over an Amravatikar by karma or Jalgaonkar by janma, occupying highest constitutional post in the country or lamenting over a person who even by the minimum common denominator isn’t eligible for heading three armed forces vis-à-vis Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, another presidential contestant.

Here, I keep aside Vidarbha issue on which I usually don’t spare a chance to vent my pent up anger against its antagonists. Well, eligibility also does not mean her educational qualification which is far far more than her rival. While the lady presidential candidate has done her MA and also completed her LLB, her rival, I am told, is just Eight standard pass out. It is more to do with her ability to act defying a silent code of ‘rubber stamp’ or political shrewdness.

I am traumatized especially after giving a thought to columnist Rajdeep Sardesai’s article in which he says… “there are two Maharashtras: one is a state of intellectual and social ferment, which produced the men and women who lived by the ideals on which modern India was built. The other Maharashtra is a far less noble entity, it is provincial, it is small minded, and it no longer produces original thought”. I don’t know which side I should take when it comes to choosing an option between supporting my soul, a carrier of emotional thoughts connected to a string of regionalism, or mind, which harbors holistic if not intellectual view. May be Patil herself will clear out the haze from my mind when she will do something great to gather an important milestone while enjoying the opulence of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Here I have become slight idealistic while relying on her…

Pawar's wine and his old bottle

WHILE writing the first ever post on this blog of mine, I have some memories back on my mind. It was little more than a year back when I had my first ever one-to-one interaction with late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. I can not recollect the actual context on which Mahajan spared few minutes with me. The leader initiated saying, following the completion of his journalism course in Ranade institute of Pune , he could hardly scribble few lines while making an application which he wanted to submit to local marathi daily.

Mahajan, whom I was accompanying for the news coverage from Pune to Solapur during last year's rath-yatra conducted by Lalkrishna Advani, then said he now see more people at the helm of various affairs coming from rural hinterland of the country. He actually was pointing at him self, but for no reason I felt like flexing my muscles. Mahajan proved himself and went into the list of "would be prime minister" of this country where there is no dearth of leaders even when there is always paucity of voters when it comes to polling.

The sudden demise of Mahajan, which will complete one year in next few days (May 3), really hurt me inside that time after I got the first take about he was shot by his brother during the morning session of last week of April. I was actually in Amravati (my native place) that time trying to recollect how in my half an hour interesting discussion with him, the late leader told me many things and I was indeed inspired as well as attracted to his personality. It actually began after I requested him to take me to Advani for one-to-one interview, when the convoy of leaders had taken a brief halt near Patas near Pune. Mahajan didn’t act immediately but slightly passed on my visiting card to Sudhendra Kulkarni, Advani's one time favourite, who later fell into controversy. Although my wish of interviewing Advani didn’t come into reality, the pleasure and satisfaction was conspicuous on my mind after having talks with Mahajan and another BJP leader Anant Kumar, who to participated in our discussion for a while.

Mahajan's reply to my query about why BJP was going ahead with this rath-yatra despite poor response, though did not satisfy me, yet I found logic in it when he told me “never pay attention to media's uncalled advice....just read the paper and build your own opinion”. According to Mahajan, the itinerary of Advani was an attempt to project party's efforts to re-establish the contact with rural India after the later felt it has thinned following BJP's campaign through "India Shining" lenses. He then gave me an example of Sharad Pawar, who never stop coming to inaugurate functions in rural parts. "It establish the faith of rural Indians on you and they starts feeling that the leader is their'. Further, it also help the leader to analyse if the Janata accepts him in his present form or he requires changes in his or his party’s character”, Mahajan said. Many a times, political leaders act in certain way or delivers certain statements having deep connotations or sometime they even plant certain statements through media for getting a feedback from the aam-janata. Their future course of action depends on that feedback, said Mahajan. Though at that point of time I did not understand what connotations could have been to the late leader’s that last comments, but now after an year when I see Mahajan’s statement and congress leader’s recent remarks about Pawar should join congress, I find lot of logic in this. The recent remarks by Vilasrao Deshmukh and his other party collegues about Pawar should merge his party after the NCP leader accepting Sonia Gandhi’s present stature, might have been charged as ‘an attempt to create bewilderment among the voters’, but I am not convinced to that. Going by the Mahan’s logic and Pawar’s past record when the later, prior to his re-entry into congress in 1980 after he parted way to form United Progressive Front led government, planted similar statement through his party colleagues, I sense that Pawar is yet again ready to wear old hat. This I am saying because few days back I came across an article written by Praveen Bardapurkar (Editor- Loksatta, Nagpur ). The article had mentioned about how Pawar had planted news through his one time favourite Datta Meghe in 80s', when later told Bardapurkar that Pawar is considering to join congress again. Though Pawar rebuffed the news as rumour, he changed his side one fine day. It later became clear that Pawar through such news planting was trying to judge the mood of the people and their reaction about whether they will accept him. It went off in favour of Maratha leader and he changed his side.Now even as the saffron leaders including Bal Thakeray and even L K Advani are trying to hobnob with Pawar carrying a wishful thinking that one day they would make it to state as well as centre, the Maratha strongman, according to many who knows him well, won't relent.The leader is now once again aiming for big. As big as he could find himself at the top of the NewDelhi's rudder. And since his present party is perhaps not enough capable to lead Pawar to take him to coveted position then in that case we may see repeat of 1980 show.The only question is "will Pawar's wine turn into an old bottle, this time" ?.

P. S. The post was actually scribbled in April and I had posted it on the other URL of same blog. But due to some technical problem, I had to change the URL and fetch the stuff here