India's left right and center

Meet Kasab’s attorney, A R Antulay

Is there any need to search lawyer for Kasab when we have Antulay. I am sure A R Antulay will fight Kasab’s case with full honesty.

I see saffrons sitting at the corner and laughing.


An additional mark to Sitaram Yechury for his comments: "The Prime Minister had told Bush that all the people in India love him. It is because of this statement, the shoes have been hurled at the people of India too".

So next time if we have to 'beat' China, we should rather "BEAT" Indian left, because both love each other.

Attack, Aftermath and Admission

It’s all over now.

As an aftermath, Shivraj Patil has resigned. Many things are to follow.

I am here to admit rather bluntly that I am unmoved by all.

Yes, none of my kin died or injured in the attack. I was not even involved in the reporting of entire incident.

The initial eagerness turned into fatigue. Television watching became intermittent thereafter. I cared to know, but little and not from the heart.

Actually when rescue operation was on, I had started imagining the political fallout of entire episode.

Karkare & Kampte’s death did initially shock me. But that shock did not last much.

I missed the usual “spirit of Mumbai” & “Mumbai Meri Jaan” rhetoric. Perhaps that ‘spirit’ wasn’t alive this time.

I also missed much of the political action. They shouldn’t been so inarticulate this time.

Journalists’ action was interesting. I discovered many Maureen Dowd wannabe who updated the country bullet-by-bullet from warfront.

Bachchan and his licensed .32 revolver under his pillow should have been played rather prominently, I felt. I also felt bloggers’ anguish was unjust.

But I enjoyed Ramu and Ritesh Deshmukh accompanying Vilasrao Deshmukh at Taj during his first visit as a part of stock-taking.

I saw frames of kin of deceased. Often short of words, the struggle while searching for words to express was anticipated. But nothing came out.

Later I discovered, I have lost sensitivities.

Grappled further to know how this happened ?. Answer came without many efforts.

I realized that people losing their life has become routine here.

And letting them lose their life is also a part of that bigger routineness which we see among our rulers.

So I thank our rulers for taking my sensitivities out.

Shivraj Patil

Dear Mr. Shivraj Patil, Thank you very much.

You have indeed done a great favour to this nation.

V P Singh

Vishwanath Pratap Singh, the champion of ‘mandalising’ Indian politics died on Nov 27. Singh died due to blood cancer.

Singh is no more now, but what still exist is the cancer; the cancer of quota that has gripped our nation.

Hindu Terrorism, Marathi Chauvinism and Financial Carnage: A Perfect Storm

Ever since the Mumbai ATS have arrested Hindu fundamentalists in connection with the Malegaon and Modasa blasts, my friend has been teasing me. And to shield myself, I launch counter attack with a point that some of those Hindu fundamentalists arrested are Brahmins. Well, not just Brahmins, but one among them is ‘Kulkarni’, a surname my ‘teaser friend’ shares.

Kidding apart, the day since anti-terrorist squad have arrested Sameer Kulkarni and Ramesh Upadhyay in Pune and Bhopal, the often-so-vocal (irrespective of the subject) Modi baug Swayamsevaks have been quite tightlipped. I hear same is the situation at Reshim baug, Nagpur. I don’t want to get involved in the moral part of the issue.

The only point I see here is, like my friend, BJP and its ilk won’t ever be as aggressive as they have been on terror. Good for Congress?.

In the office, my Bengali colleague lashes me out on parochial mindset that few Marathis harbour. He resists from straightaway taking on me, but makes it sure that every arguments, irrespective of the topic, ends with a side note on ‘chauvinism’. Well, what can be my reply other than saying, Raj’s beating Biharis and Bhayyas, not Bengalis.

Actually we all know what Raj has been doing is repeat of history already created by his uncle Bal Thackeray. The only difference is: its no more uthao lungi bajao pungi. It’s in stead bajao bhayyas.

Pick up an emotive issue. Distorts the facts. Take on to stalwarts and exhorts the army of workers to play the evil under the name of god. The byte hungry media is there is to help you out. Result: emergence of a new political star.

And by chance if you counter Raj, much like his uncle, the MNS chief starts barking, showing disgust for being challenged and questioned. “Don’t be their advocate”, defiant Raj told me over phone from Ratnagiri, prior to his arrest when I countered him on his lie: “Railways don’t give ads in local dailies”. When I actually presented facts, Raj, lull for a moment, stormed with yet another argument: “As you claim, if the ad has indeed appeared in some local news papers, then Marathi candidates must have applied for it. But we did not see Marathi candidates getting call letters for exam from Railway Recruitment Board. This shows how the railways have been neglecting Marathi youths”. Realizing that he can be exposed, He once again called me up on my cell to advise (with no less than a threatening tone) to “report entire thing properly”.

Ethically we all know he is wrong. Politically, I would say, Raj is correct. Bad for Sena ?.

The meltdown heat is warming up the pan beneath us, thanks to libertians, whose mess up is by and large restricted to US. A stage has yet to come here wherein government would talk about bail-out plans and tax-payers will cry.

Today with each post on this blog, I realize that my penchant for liberalism is growing.
Contradictions everywhere ?. Or is it cognitive dissonance?.

'Forget what you've heard about Gandhi and nonviolence in India. This is a nation of militias now'

"I'm in search of Gandhi in the land of Gandhi…. I've failed to find him."

The above quote comes from no one very intellectual. It was actually delivered by Yasin Malik, a separatist leader from J & K.

The quote found place in Anand Giridharadas' nicely written article “Want to be heard in India? You'd better form a militia” in International Herald Tribune.

Good that many have understood this. The bad part is, those who have understood what Giridharadas says are mostly politicos.

Way towards sound journalism

Recently I had an opportunity to share Reuter’s guidelines on sourcing with my journalism professor Kiran Thakur. He put those guidelines along with a small comment of mine on his blog.

That post later led to a small debate with participation from senior journalist Mahesh Vijapurkar. Vijapurkar insisted on clarity and responsibility while writing news. I pointed out some good practices being adopted by newspapers, especially mint.

Now, this latest post by mint editor Raju Narisetti tells us how ET too has decided to stick to “fundamentals of sound journalism”.

I have a mix reaction though, and a couple of questions:

1. Whether it is possible for mainstream media to hold on to such practices (formal or written reply from concerned parties before releasing the story), especially when everybody in India do not have access to email and fax ?.

2. As we see ET editor Rahul Joshi emphasizing on: “give at least 24 hours to a company to respond”, another question pops up: If mainstream newspapers too follow this, arn't they denying readers their right to know and to know at the earliest ?.

I am not really sure which way to go.

Khushwant Singh and chavanni

Reading great people makes one great.

Reading Khushwant Singh, especially his endless and erotic celebration of love, passion and sex, has always been an unforgotten experience.

Few years back when I finished his autobiography: Truth Love and a Little Malice, I developed fresh affection for this writer.

Today, I was rather amused to read former HT editor N C Menon’s piece: Khushwant remembers only what suits him.

Menon tried to tear off claims made by Singh in his weekly column: Pride of a nation.
Singh: ...I was curious to know what a Birla would offer to the God of auspicious beginnings. He put a silver chavanni — a four-anna piece. I understood why Birlas were the wealthiest family in the country.

Menon:... How, pray, does such a generous man visit Singh’s home and take out his wallet to make a ‘chavanni’ offering to the Ganesh idol at his door? I doubt if such an incident ever took place. I know for a fact that Birla never carried money, least of all small change.

Reading both the writers was quite entertaining. Claims, counter claims, and both of them were putting only that was convenient to them.

Both knew, their claims can not be contradicted as Birla is no longer alive.

So, does it really matter it if was chavanni or athanni ?.

Well, good writers do know how to make use of even chavannis.

Disclosure: Khushwant Singh’s The Company of women, Burial at Sea and Truth Love and a Little Malice are all time favourite of mine.

My love for Raj

Raj, I am with you dear. Go on. Take the battle ahead against Bachchans. Count my support.

I too have an issue with Bachachan. He made me waste 100 bucks for his 'Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag'.

But, I can not express this in Marathi. This blog is English even if I can put devnagari. Will you still allow me to be with you ?.

Forgive me, if you can’t.


I have a quick comment on the latest development in this issue.
I read Amitabh's blog just now and obsereved his apologetic voice for wife's behaviour. Thats all fine. But what was the need for Mr Bachchan to recount all that he and Jaya have done for Maharashtra and Mumbai. Doesn't it sound Amitabh's penchant to be political ??

It rather smell of his desperate attempt to get Bal Thackeray on their side, once again.

Amravati vs Latur vs Pune

A race has begun, finally. Amravati, represented by her excellency: Pratibha Patil, has locked in motion with Vilasrao’s Latur.

An airport followed by a special train to Mumbai with super duper railway station, is all what Amravati has received. Having put this in kitty, Pratibhatai had even staked womens’-only-IIT in her karmabhumi.

Arjun Singh led HRD ministry however ducked the proposal. But I understand that efforts are Patil is trying something less but equally important. This will help her restore her image.

Our beloved (since he has given me exclusive interview, Vilasrao is my favourite) CM is betting for couple of SEZs in his hometown. Plus, he is betting for IIM too. “If not Latur, IIM must come to Aurangabad”, CM roared last week.

Interestingly, CM’s attempt to get IIM has come three years after the then education minister Suresh Jain announced the elite business school in Pune. Puneites then never heard about this. And if they come to know Vilasrao's plan, god saves him.

This man was also keen to get nano project at Latur. But taking the Singur project elsewhere doesn’t look reality. He’s already bagged airport and work has started at sleepy town in Marathwada.

And when these two leaders are promoting their regions rigorously, what Sharad Pawar is doing for Pune ?.

Man, he has got Rs 4600 crores Metro rail project for you. And the good news is Pawar is keen for project’s speedy implementation (I wouldn’t have cared had it been done by Kalamadi or any other politician).

Pawar’s seriousness comes from his emphasis to look for another land in stead of prime plot belonging to Agriculture college. The land is being considered for Metro rail’s main station.

The plot is lush green, at the center of city and has history of 100 years. So how can Pawar be wrong when he say, “Puneites wont allow us build this project. They (puneites) are intelligent, knows the law very well and have loads of time too. So, can we afford to fight with them for next 15-20 years”, Pawar told to a bunch of reporters.

Lets be selfish

The two columns that appeared last Sunday in HT and TOI have finally started evoking reactions. Allowing Kashmir to secede was the base of articles that came from Vir Sanghvi and Swaminathan Aiyar.

Many have attempted to put counter arguments on the thoughts. I find none of these counter argument as convincing as opinions by Sanghvi and Aiyar.

Yet I don’t want to support idea of separate Kashmir.

Liberal Aiyar, a prime contender for this year’s Bastiat for contributing towards free society through his writings, doesn’t like “ruling people against their will”. Sanghvi, a prominent journalist known for picking right pulse at right place, asks "why are we still hanging on to Kashmir if the Kashmiris don’t want to have anything to do with us?".

Well, to me, Kashmir is crucial as part of India’s geopolitical maneuvering. Agreed that Kashmiries want to secede, but aren’t these emotions politically driven ?.

If Hindus get carried away by opportunist BJP and demand ram mandir in Ayodhya, shouldn’t the government respect majority view ?. After all democracy is made up of majority view.

Kashmir affair has third party angle (read Pakistan), hence the issue turn international. In international relations, might and interests always overtake democratic views.

So, let me be selfish for my country and play the same card that India is playing.

Here I recall Americal thinker Bernard Baruch’s quote:
“The greatest blessing of our democracy is freedom. But in the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves”.


For the last few days I have been unfailingly reading Niraj Seth’s blog linked to Wall Street Journal: ON THE ROAD IN INDIA.

The blog, to me, looks dull and superficial. What inspire me to read it is the comments that land on Niraj’s blog.

It gives third man perspective.

Just to give an example, writes a commentator:

Indians here are a defensive bunch(stemming from low self-esteem). If somebody external doesn’t write a one-sided glowing review of *India Shining*, they don’t get their daily dosage of validation. The incredible growth was due to an extreme pent-up potential that was suppressed for more than 50 years due to socialistic policies. But other than that, India is still a corrupt nation with a few bright people (In a population of 1 Billion, you are bound to get 50 Million extremely smart people). But, a cross sectional average Indian still lacks the basic drive & skill-set to take India to the next level. As far as White people getting better treatment, It is not the caste system, but Indians seeking external validation due to their low self-esteem, just like the losers who are extra nice to only hot chicks. I would bet on China and other South East Asian countries than India....

Buffet is right when he say, “Indians need their daily dose of validation from someone external”.

Otherwise why would we Indians always get stuck to randomly published Forbes’ billionaires list having Indian names.

A new star is born

This is what I like most about internet and blogs. The news strikes here as Abhinav Bindra win gold, creates history. Next moment see an avalanche of comments on his blog.

People no longer need to wait for media to come to their steps. A small googling and you have everything that will help you reach to a person you desire to.

Well, can anybody guess how Abhinav made it ?

Writes Abhinav Bindra in his blog:

Today is my day off and so i am going to spend some time soaking in the village and actually getting my mind to do something it has never done before.... NOT THINK ABOUT SHOOTING!!!So instead of thinking about shooting perfect bulls eyes... today i am going to think of the pretty women in the village, the weather, the great city of beijing and whatever else pops into my mind will be allowed to stay as long it doesn't involve the words "rifle", "shooting" in it.... hey all it is a great time to be an athlete and this event is what we all live for.....

The answer is here. Abhinav thought of pretty women in the village. So in stead of thinking about rifle, he had in his mind: THE TARGET.

Hearty Congratulations Abhinav.


Many get kick by alcohol. Most among that ‘many’ smoke to achieve high. A major chunk resort to chatting and orkutting. Few prefer coffee to catch up that stage. Some opt writing, mostly through blogs. A lot of youngsters hang out (in case of Pune, its F C/M G road) while some friends visits Katta.

I have tried most of the options and realised the effect of desired kick is shrinking.

Is it good ?. Should I abstain all ?.

Certainly not, shout my colleague from neighbouring workstation.

Heck. What am I doing.

Its drizzle outside, we are at weekend. An sms has just pinged into my cell. He’s asked me to reach Poonam (deccan).


Rs 2800 crores

Rs 2800 crores.

That’s the figure Pune draws yearly from students coming to the city from outside Maharashtra and country.

No wonder. Pawar spoke for 45 minutes on the issue of agitation against educational institution by MNS.

The man, who doesn’t even entertain sound-bytes to e-media talked to us for 45 minutes on this subjects. Good part is, it was Pawar only who disclosed this figure and stressed for recognition of education sector as an industry.

Raj, are you listening ?…Oh I forgot, you listen to Raj(u) only.


Yes. He says it all.

Whatever will happen, will happen with narrow margin: Pawar

My guess is UPA will loose the trust motion by one or two votes.

But, whatever, it will be win-win situation for UPA. If it wins the trust vote, it gets N-deal. strong issue to fight next polls.

If it looses by narrow margin, it gets sympathy. The sympathy on which party will bank and try to clinch another term.

Remember NDA that had lost by one vote just to re-emerge triumph ?.

“congress lost on principals”, common man will say and will consider his vote in the following election for the same party.

But then there will again be some deal.
Heck. I am sick of word ‘deal’.
Whatever has to happen should happen immediately.

Not that I am for deal, but my prayer is they should get it, only then we will escape from it.

Johann Bach, you made my day

Being sluggish, tardy, sometimes pays.
Thank god.
For a moment even I was tempted to follow that Pen Pricks floated press release.
The procrastination within me however did not let me go forward.
Today, I have realised the importance of dilatoriness.

Elaborating further on what exactly has happened, writes Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu
pick up From Reuters blog:

The Pen Pricks, who run a blog skewering the Goan press, promised readers on Sunday they were about to break a “big, Big, BIg, BIG” story. It looks like they succeeded. Still, it should not take pranksters to remind us that gullibility is a dangerous flaw in journalism.

Indian law

Sometimes, I find Indian laws utterly incapable.

This week, I was working on the story dealing with voyeurism. I found Information Technology Act very stringent but half-prepared.

The IT Act 67 says, Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished.

But on the use of obscene material for self-gratification, the law is silent.

So imagine that there is a peeping tom in the mall, clicks images of a woman’s private moments from trial room and keep it for self use.

Can this voyeurist be charged ? I don’t think so.

Taking pictures without knowledge in private places is infringement of privacy, hence, can be charged. In this case however, he is in mall, a public place, although the trial room isn’t. Second, he is using the images for self-gratification.

IPC 509 that deals with outraging modesty of woman can put him in jail. But then the punishment under IPC 509 isn’t as severe as IT act.

Under such circumstances, an intelligent officer will implicate the accused different way. The officer will make sure that those images on computer.

Well, transmission has been done, so as the crime.
Another case: A person having sex with woman below 16 even with her free consent is rape. The age of consent for sex, as per IPC 376, is 16 years while her official age for marriage is 18.

Interestingly, Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen but is below 16, is not rape.

Pawar, Blast and arrests

Okay. Now since Sharad Pawar has finally reacted on Ketkar controversy, it is my moral duty to react on his reaction, especially after previous post. As a guest editor of Maharashtra Times, Pawar through his edit thrashed Mete. Just for a day, the man of political breed put his foot in journalist’s shoes, and surprisingly enough, change was there in his tune too.

Having said this, I still stand firm on my theory. The time now is to see how R R headed home department acts against Mete.

Moving on to Hindu radicals arrested in Thane and Navi Mumbai blasts cases. Bal Thackeray’s today’s edit is quite hilarious, only if we picks up first five lines. It turns dangerous thereafter.

Yes, I too thought it was a job of some Hindu organization and not the Islamists’. And I have enough reasons to think so.

First, the bomb didn’t wreak much damage.

Second, it was crude and not the sophisticated bomb.

Third, police took much more time to make arrests- normally after any deadly blasts, police ‘swiftly’ act and arrest few people from specific community. And even before the thorough probe, police slap MCOCA on them. Many in the crime reporting feels, most such arrests are police's attempts to cover up their failure.

These things didn’t happen in Navi Mumbai and Thane blasts cases for which Hindu radicals have been accused.

post-mortem of attack and action

Vinayak Mete, the alleged mastermind of attack on Kumar Ketkar’s house has been sacked from the post of NCP vice president. The delayed action against him, conspicuous silence from NCP upper echelons and the criticism of attack from few non-Maratha leaders have different theories taking rounds. The action against Mete in itself is a faƧade.

A popular theory first drawn immediately after attack was Mete was unhappy in the party following denial of MLC post to him. This was followed by another presumption: It was just to get publicity and shot into fame overnight. Analyzing the attack, some stated that confusion prevailing among leaders and workers because of party’s flip-flop on various issues. And now after action, a new theory has come up. It states that to attack was to contain Ketkar, who was being over critical against government’s failure in the recent past.

Well, I think, the attack has its roots in the caste-politics that rules the game. There are few things one need to look into. First, although Mete is very well a leader of the party, the attack was carried out by his little known organization called Shiv Sangram. A resemblance that was to be drawn out from the attack on Bhandarkar Institute. Sambhaji brigade, which enjoys silent and not so silent support of NCP, was responsible for the four-year-old attack. The common thread in both attacks is: Chattrapati Shivaji. This time however, there was no single word against Shivaji in Ketkar's editorial, and Mete knew it well.

Second, post attack on Ketkar, only few NCP leaders including Gurunath Kulkarni, D P Tripathi openly criticized the action. The most coveted reaction from Sharad Pawar never came. Why didn’t Pawar in clear terms criticized Mete or why not strict action has been taken against him (Mete) by party ?. Pawar, whose family is set to launch newly launched english daily, in Delhi by mid-August, won't. He will neither invite wrath from maratha communiy nor let the his family owned daily to be isolated.

R R Patil, spoke, but as a Batmidar says, it was ‘government language’.

Many remember, immediately after attack on BORI, Pawar’s first reaction was critical. However the very next day in an election rally in Pune, Pawar in unambiguous terms criticized the controversial book on Shivaji. The equations changed thereafter and party got enough ammo for general elections.

To put it into perspective, we need to couple both the incidents, plus, few recent developments. The elections are drawing closer; both NCP and Congress anticipate heavy anti-incumbency wave. The Shiv sena and recently born MNS have taken up issue of Marathi while congress enjoys non-Marathi and non-maratha vote-bank.

For the inclusion in OBC category, a demand has been made by dominant caste in the state, to which government has not said NO. The state government, possibly influenced by Gujjar effect, has also begun preliminary preparations for this. Chhagan Bhujbal’s samata parishad too is gaining momentum.

Amidst such situation NCP has one safe card to play. The same card they played in last general elections. It hopes to play the card and win over elections this time too.


Finally its all over. Obama has won the nomination. I am bit nervous. Throughout the primaries, I pitched for Mrs. Clinton.

Here, I take a recourse. My favourite henceforth will be McCain.

I know, Obama is better choice, for US. But then Hillary was best, for India. McCain is good for Indo-US, I believe.

History tells, democrats have been good to India. This time, a new history has been written. Obama while capping a rapid rise from political obscurity, made a history.

ammmmmm ?.......hmmmmmm

Hmm. No post since long.

In fact there are too many subjects to write. But then there is too little to scribble here.

Writing something about the work would invite wrath from the company. Constructing poem is like clearing mathematics question paper, which I have never done. Reviewing books are okay. But then for that I need to read.

Few things are sacred to me and too personal. So no mentioning.

Scribbling inside stories from profession is the thing I am bored of doing. This job is best being done by best of bhankas, formerly, Let us Bhankas.

Narrating few embarrassing, but equally interesting, moments that my friends had to recover from is not in the interest of mine. They are after all my readers.

A friend has already advised me to shut down this blog. People like us (he too is a journalist) already harass people by forcing them read our stories. So it is in the larger interest of society that we abstain from writing further, friend sermon.

Any option left ?

from Karnataka

9:30 pm. I am on beach, near Karwar. The muggy air has taken me into its grip. My last night in Karnataka. It has never happened in the past. Probably for the first time, I am getting pangs. Pangs of homesickness.

It’s been hectic. 200 kilometers daily traveling, churning out stories, understanding ( pretending to have understood) caste equations, putting them into perspective.

The data card isn’t working. I gather there are some issues over the bill payement. So roaming service has been blocked.

Keying the stories on laptop and sending it from cyber cafes. Most of the hotels in cities are preoccupied by leaders and their partymen. Difficulties in finding shelter.

Different experience. But I don’t regret covering this election. In fact I have learnt not to mind.

Between the lines

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: “Growing Indian and Chinese appetite is contributing to the global food crisis".

What she meant: It is in the interest of United States if India retains its poverty and hunger tag intact.

What she didn’t: More and more poor people getting food, poverty diminishing and we are happy over it.

SITARAM YECHURY: "Rice’s remarks are atrocious…. It appears that the US would be more comfortable with higher level of hunger in developing countries”.

What he meant: Hunger and poverty are the issues of our monopoly. We have not just been talking on it, but helping people to retain that status.

What he didn’t: Bengalis have stopped eating fish. In stead they are switching over to chapattis.

MONTEK SINGH ALHUWALIA: "I don't agree there is a global food crisis because of India and China. There is an increase in food production too in both the countries."

What he meant: After 50 years of congress and five years of NDA regime, poor in India have finally got a chance to taste food. But it’s internal matter of our country and whether of not we feed Indians, it’s not US’s business.

What he didn’t: After sixty years of freedom, we have been getting food. Please don’t spoil our meal.

Are you also a victim of this ?

It’s annoying. My morning gets screwed up when I see the above ad in local newspapers.

There is nothing wrong with the advertise per se. It's certain contents that are thoroughly objectionable. It talks about levonorgestrel pills.

The strap in the ad read, “Kaal ratri Hyanchya kadun chuk ghadali…Pan mala pregnant vhayachi ichha nahi (last night, he made a mistake…But I am not willing to go for pregnancy).”

What...? “he made a mistake”.?...and what were you doing that time ?
It seems the lusty babe in the ad have enjoyed the act - her eyes shows it- yet she is outright putting the blame on her husband.
My colleague is right when he say, "everybody want pleasure, but nobody takes the suffering".

Indian Premier League

The success of Indian Premier League (IPL) is locked in bigger debate. Some old cricket lovers say, the game is loosing its shine while the new breed says it’s the new form of game meant for new generation.

I believe, the game is heading towards its true democratization. After we had a very successful 20-20 world cup, the ICL and now IPL has opened gates for younger players. Many of the young talents who have not been able to play any A-class game are proving their mettle in matches being played by top international players.

And as the BCCI selectors have already put it; may not be at initial stage but definitely at later stage, they will have to consider young guns for international cricket.

For rural Indians, who were till now by and large restricted to playing the game in their farms, it’s a new ray of hope. A hope that will turn their dream of playing for country into a reality as the game reaches to roots.

Britishers first gave us the game. Then they rendered democracy. The Indians blended both with our own style and made a new product that will now rule the world.

Its up...up...up

Inflation has surged to over three-year high of 7.41 % mark.

Surging prices has never been a cause of worry for me, till recently. At home, either mother or sister-in-law take care of food. But now I have started taking it seriously.

No, not because prices of pulses and edible oil have touched its record high. It's because few bars in Mumbai have stopped serving snacks on complementary basis along with liquor. A colleague of mine has reported this story (I’m not able to get the link) this week in HT. The increased prices, the story read, have forced the bar owners to stop serving snacks free of cost. It has never happened in the past.

I fear the wave of 'chakana on paid basis' would soon hit the restaurants in Pune too.

money lenders

I’m reacting little late, but then, I thought experts would have their opinion first on this potentially important and a never-ending issue.

When broadly no one, not a single edit barring the superb quick-edit in mint and a report by Reuters (again, that appeared in mint only) put his mouth in this issue, I thought its time to set the ball rolling at my own way. My apologies in advance if I have missed out any more article on the issue.

The issue is about moneylenders. After the Rs 60,000 crore farm loan waiver announcement, state politicians including Sharad Pawar, R R Patil and Uddhav Thakeray realized that the it's not going to help Vidarbha farmers much. So they began barking against the moneylenders. These politicians then threatened private money-lenders of possible attacks from their party cadre. They also appealed farmers to stop re-paying their dues without worrying the consequences.

Minutes back in another post I tried to recount a grouse expressed by a senior government official while I was doing a story on farmers suicide crop reaching to prosperous western maharashtra. The officer told me that loan taken from the bank by farmer is not even half than the one come from private money lender.

Of course anyone who wants money for his personal needs will find money lender a viable option than bank. Because latter require all the documents and formalities which farmers often can't fulfill while former only see collateral. Villagers do offer either gold or land as collateral to borrow money.

Another thing is in rural parts people require more money to meet their personal expenses like managing houses, marriages and maintaining their addictions, than taking out crop. And to pamper all such needs only money lender can come to the rescue. Farmers and villagers too don’t mind it.

So, I think in any rural village of India, people must be finding money lenders more close to them than bank official who go by rules.

Doesn’t it indicate that money lenders are an integral part of Indian rural economy and can't be separated till government improves the whole system?. The system where rural Indian doesn’t find need to go out demanding money. The system where he can meet all his expenses on his own and rely little on financial institution.

I think one can even try and think option like grameen bank .

So far as politicians like Pawar, Vilasrao or Thakeray goes, I don’t think they have guts to beat money lenders. Because their party in rural parts are mostly run on the money coming from these private finance providers. Also many a times politicians themselves play money lender.

In such case who will beat whom ?.

farmers suicides

I'm currently touring Vidarbha region and at the moment in Amravati, keying this post.

Much to my surprise, newspapers here have stopped playing farmers suicide stories on page-1, which earlier used to be flooded with such things. The centre in its unprecedented move has announced a farm package of Rs 60,000 crore, but the (farmers) suicides haven’t stopped. They won’t. Farmers from this region of dry land are least to gain from the present state of package since its provisions prove adverse for them from getting benefit.

I think it was all well thought. First to announce the package. The package, that will go in favour of certain people only. Then let the non-beneficiaries lament. Then people like Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul would reassure those who are left out. And finally Mr. P Chidambaram will come up with the altered package.

It’s just a usual ploy. First to create a situation wherein people will be forced to die. Then offer them little and ensure that issue doesn’t get resolved. And when finally the people will actually start dying, offer them little more. Common man will finally come under the influence and say, wow, this government is really great !.

Anyway, I'm writing this post to make a different point altogether.

What I was saying was suicides stories in the local media have been replaced by the small protests over load shedding. Ofcourse load shedding is big issue in rural Maharashtra, but then is it even bigger than human casualty ?.
So, have we as common man lost our sensitivity or media here no longer find the issue news worthy?.

I asked couple of my journalist friends from Nagpur. Their reply was shocking. Initially I thought its the comman man of Vidarbha, who has stopped paying much attention to such issues. I can understand. People do get bored after some time - the same we have witnessed about terrorist daily taking toll of kasmiries.
Of late I doubt besides security agencies, does anyone really read those news carefully.

But no, in suicide issue, I was wrong. If the government data is to be believed, of late, the money going out from government treasury as an instant compensation for suicide-hit family has thinned despite the fact that cases keep coming more or less with the same rate.

Then I had my friends telling me that it has become a trend to commit suicide and demand compensation. When I did a story on the same issue in western maharashtra some two months back, government official there too told me the same thing. "Why should government compensate if he - doesn't matter even if he is a farmer - commit suicide for reasons like addiction of wine and woman or gambling"?, an IAS officer incharge of one of the district in western maharashtra, asked.

And today it's mohammed wajihuddin, who in his
article appeared in Sunday TOI has pointed out the same thing.

So, few minutes back when a friend of mine based in US asked me that how much is the level of substance in TOI story, I have two answers.

Either the people reporting or reading the issue have lost their sensitivity or perhaps those who are in crisis, themselves have lost sensitivity to the real problem and trying to take the advantage of the situation forced upon them.

Never befriend politicos

Ha! This is quite a hilarious.

Normally what comes is the reversal of this when politicians or bureaucrats often get hooked for their off-the-record comments with journalists. In this case it was ulta.

Part of the story:

Barely six months after well-known TV journalist Punya Prasoon Bajpai was brought in with much fanfare to head Sahara News’ national Hindi news channel Samay, Bajpai and his entire editorial team made a controversial exit on March 1, 2008.

…The trouble for Bajpai and company began soon after the controversial programme on the Railway Budget, which was telecast on the night of February 27, 2008. The programme was conducted at the Railway Museum in Delhi with the Railway Minister and an invited audience. According to Bajpai, after the programme was over and the Minister was leaving, he casually asked him (Bajpai) “Tum Sahara mein kahe aa gaye? (Why did you come to Sahara)”. Bajpai replied, “Channel sudharne ke liye. (To improve the channel)”, to which Yadav retorted, “Yeh kabhi sudharne wala hai kya? (Will it ever improve)”.

What really bugged the Sahara management was that this unpalatable bit of conversation went on air even if the programme was not aired live. Not just that, it was carried the next day in a repeat telecast. Obviously someone forgot to edit out that conversation

Emergence of a new political star ?

An SMS sent by a friend pinged into my cell last evening. It read, “Media needed to be thanked for the exaggerations about a campaign against Raj Thackeray. This will surely help Marathi manoos to enhance his image and check migration of north-Indians”.

Well I don’t quite agree with the latter part of the message, nevertheless it has amused me despite that I have no bias against Raj or his opponents. Just a game of a week and the big time media hype full of hate campaign has boosted small time Raj’s image into a political stardom- a similar stature that was previously enjoyed by Bal Thackeray and now by Narendra Modi- to gain political space.

Indeed, Raj’s rhetoric against ‘outsiders’ may have blacklisted him among intelligentsia and non-marathis, it has surely helped him get sympathy from Maharashtrian. For Raj, this sympathy wave may not be easy to turn into votes; but, a mass recognition, which he has got, isn’t less to be reckoned. This is especially true when the leader was struggling hard for issues to hit the headlines and find his own space. It is a different matter that marathis will be least benefited out of the whole.

An ideal WTF!!!

Isnt this picture a real What the F***!!! ?

Pic. was taken from the television set where a flash about Amitabh Bachhan's health was going on last week when the actor fell sick during his Jaipur visit.
I prey to god for Bachhan's heath. This would, hopefully, escape us from such ludicrous coverage, we have just coped with.

Marathi Sammelan and politics

Today, western Maharashtra had two major events. Both were related to language, literarute, culture and its growth. Both however ended up on controversial note. While first one- Marathi Sahitya Sammelan- in Sangli, was rocked by a controversy about politicians overshadowing literary members, another- Marathi Natya Sammelan- in Solapur, was touched by an untoward incident like lathi-charge.

President (Jai Maharashtra) Pratibha Patil’s presence at both places was also a bone of contention for many. At natya sammelan, Sushilkumar Shinde turned the event into a show of strength. Never before in the sammelan’s history, the venue saw almost fifty thousand people, mostly congress workers. And while bringing discipline to the crowd at the venue, police resorted to mild lathi-charge.

At other place Arun Sadhu, outgoing sahitya sammelan president, vent his pent up ire against politicians and their growing presence at such events. He even refrained from attending the sammelan, breaking 80 years’ tradition. Sadhu is very shrewd (after all he is originally a journalist). A thought of boycotting the event did not even touch his mind last year despite politicians’ presence on dais. Little wonder, Sadhu himself was president of the sammelan last time.

Another interesting development: S M Krisha was absent at both places despite the protocol’s clear demand that state governor should accompany president of India. I think Krishna had something different in mind.

The sammelan, as expected, discussed the border row over Belguam and Maharashtras role. Krishna, a lawyer turned politician from Karnataka probably must have seen himself in an uncomfortable situation had he been present at the venue. The poor fellow might have to hear all against his state while sitting on the dais.