Portuguese’ Konkani connection

Bother, returned from Portuguese dominated region of Brazil, recounted innumerable stories that explains Portuguese’s distinctly similar behavior with Konkanis. These stories have confirmed my long held belief that Portuguese are in all possibility genetically closer to konkanis.

One such oft-repeated experience: For the party, socialites Brazilians call everyone, but with the condition that each one should bring food and drink from home. In canteen, they will pay for the only stuff they have consumed. And in the food, Portuguese-Brazilians prefer everything sans chilly, with sweet-sour dal (amti).

Exclusionist Raj Thackeray's All-inclusive Growth

Raj’s success is appealing. Avalanche of reactions have followed congratulating Thackeray ever since his men heckled Azami. Contrary to anticipation, media websites and talk shows are flooded with comments patting Raj while criticizing Azami.

By now, we have seen Raj’s chauvinism is becoming acute every day and so is the rancor among maharashtrians for outsiders. The initial feeling among marathis of being economically subalterns drove them closer to MNS. But as the party flexed its performance in the polls, beat up few bhaiyyas, that feeling was subsided and eventually replaced with a sense of dominance that of late has marathis gloating.

Two years ago when Raj first raked up son-of-the-soil issue, pundits downplayed it saying, he won’t get any support in the form of votes. A pet argument put forward that time was Maharashtra and Mumbai has changed drastically ever since fellow Marathis benefited maximum after liberalism to which migration was an indispensable part. Two years down the line, Raj has proved the pundits wrong. He is no more just an entity made out of media frenzy.

Raj’s success has come at a time when on national scene, politics of exclusion has become ineffective. For the MNS itself, its agenda although may have been exclusionist, but it more seem all-inclusive for marathis and their growth. This is much on the lines of sena, that brought smaller marathi factions and castes under one roof to become one strong force.

In his recently circulated three-page letter to all newly elected 288 MLAs of Maharashtra too, Raj shrewdly wove some details with his message and presented him as sole guardian of Marathi. His exhort was impressive and effective to marathis having loyalties to various parties.

Besides his charisma, contributing in Raj’s success is vernacular press, which provided him enough space to cash on the readership and Congress that tacitly supported his activities for political gains. Shiv Sena, the biggest looser, is still counting decibels of reverberation that generated from the slap in the face of Azami.

Raj’s appeal proves more effective because to counter Raj, national media plays nationalist card and often rakes up contribution of non-marathis in building Mumbai. The more such stories are played, the more it hurt marathis. Raj exploits that insecurity and reaches masses through vernacular press, which in return provides the leader better display for readership gains. This has a straight resemblance with Narendra Modi’s emergence in Gujrat. Post-Godhra riots, national media attacked Modi scathingly. The leader however turned that criticism as an attack against Gujrati pride to which regional media came to rescue.

So, when we saw Modi could not be clicked outside Gujrat, there is stronger possibility that Raj will be irrelevant elsewhere even if he opts all-inclusive agenda.

"Because they can’t afford your rates"

Arundhari Roy through this article is back in her original form.

She has done wonderful homework to drive point home.

For me, the punch in the article lies when she write:

“Where do the hundreds of millions of rupees that political parties and politicians pay the media for the ‘high-end’, ‘low-end’ and ‘live’ pre-election ‘coverage packages’ that P. Sainath recently wrote about come from? (The next time you see a TV anchor haranguing a numb studio guest, shouting, “Why don’t the Maoists stand for elections? Why don’t they come in to the mainstream?”, do SMS the channel saying, “Because they can’t afford your rates.”)"

But, further down till bottom, her readers seems have trounced the author, as they have done equally thorough homework about their favourite writer.

Nonetheless, the article is a great treat.

On the side note, two of my friends would like to ask Roy, when will they see her writing 6036-wrods article for extremists hindus fighting against Christians “attempting mass conversions” and the grudge marathis harbour against Uttar bharatiyas for “usurping most of the jobs”.

Case against endorsing the endorsement

During the Lok Sabha campaign, I had a debate with friend on why Indian media do not endorse prime ministerial contestants. The debate ended without any conclusion.

The latest US move of protectionism against Chinese tyre is no less than an answer to that debate.

A protectionist move that is bad politics, bad economics, bad diplomacy and hurts America, says Economist.

The magazine had endorsed Obama during presidential elections. Today it criticizes the president for his wrong policy – his latest move to impose 35 % tariff on Chinese tyres per se.

Endorsing the candidate isn’t wrong. But in India, will newspapers be able to keep pace criticizing government with the courage of admitting its wrong judgment, given the way government falters time to time ?

In any case, what’s the need of formal endorsement when Indian media have been into it for years without actually being into it formally.

Here is an interesting debate on endorsement started by former mint editor Raju Narisetti, who is now at washington Post.

Also Check this

Swine Flu -III

Seven people have died in the city during past 48 hours. All were H1N1 positive. We do not know as yet whether those succumbed had other health complications also. Considering the weightage attached to “seven”, tomorrow’s front pages will be bombarded with related stories.

The gravity of the issue of deaths has not glued me much on the story than reactions from readers that have followed. Considering the public pressure ahead of polls in Maharashtra, the government may even think of imposing partial shut down, to which some call Level-6.

Gruesome ! The panic out of swine flu is turning more killer than the disease itself. Meanwhile, Pune's swines are behaving as usual, as if there is nothing happened. So "insensitive", almost like minister.

Tale Of A Scam

Here’s a tale of how multi-million scams takes place at government level.

A government department wants to procure notes-counting machine. Actually, it requires two machines and each is worth Rs 40,000. What will the department do ?

Of course as a procedure, the department invites tenders. To invite tender, it issues ads in four national dailies. The ads cost around Rs 2 lakh.

The government babus do not stop here. They later issue corrigendum by spending Rs 15,000 more.

So for two machines worth Rs 80,000, government spends Rs. 2.15 lakh. For the babus, kickbacks are ready for spending more and more sum on ads.

Boston Brahmins

Caste hierarchy is passé (at least the lower crust wants it to be so) at some places. Yet the Boston Brahmin term continues to rule in US.

Interestingly, the video clip provides déjà vu effect, especially to those who are well acquainted with Sadashiv Pethis of Pune.

The panic, that's good this time

Panic is not all that bad after all if it is about swine flu.

In Pune, kids are holidaying. Vegetable rates are down as mandis wear deserted look. People have suddenly become hygiene cautious. They wear masks, wash hands in eateries and yes they even demand soap while washing hands.

Hassle free driving on deserted roads, numerous entertaining stories of officers like Dr. Katti, longer sessions without any notice to vacate chair from hotelier at otherwise crowded Rupali. No public display of affection at parks with doctor's advice to keep distance.

Panic is indeed not that bad.

Swine flu & Pune -II

Okay. As the health authorities suggest, I take back my words and urge the readers of this blog to take swine flu seriously and ignore previous entry. Rida’s death has shocked the nation. But more it has shocked us because she could have been saved had Jahangir not been “negligent”.


Swine flu and Pune

Pune’s swine flu cases, by now, stand at 86, out of which 66 are the students from seven schools situated in Kothrud-Erandwane area.

Me and Satyajit done some analysis of swine flu in the city and came out with the inference:

- Residents – be it students or adults - from Kothrud-Erandwane area are prone to swine flu.
- This area is a ghetto represented by one particular community; the reflection also can be seen among swine flu cases.
- They belongs to the same genes as their Konkani counterparts, who in turn finds root across the ocean, which is the worst swine flu affected region.

So if you are not from Kothrud, nor from the said community, worry not. The swine flu isn’t for you.

Liberalism and India

Eighteen years ago, or to be more precise, on July 24, 1991, India was ushered into new era of economic liberalism. Circumstances forced us opt free market over Fabian socialism.

Many of us fretted the decision. It drove us believe that decision was fatal to nation’s economy. Newspapers those days were full of reports pounding words like ‘Gatt’, ‘WTO’, ‘Swadeshi’.

I still remember: We had a debate organised at school. Whether or not conscious about the facts, participating in debates was my birth-right. I cajoled that right and entered into debate.

All participants opposed the so called liberalization. Everyone with more or less tone said, signing Gatt would push India into east India like company’s hands. The teachers applauded our understanding. And since there was no one to oppose our views, the debate, as a “debate” didn’t actually take place. With no clear winner, the prize then was distributed among all participants.

At playground, cricket followed discussions on why India should oppose “ghost of liberalization”. We did not either know what nationalism was but made us believe so by opposing liberalization.

Gradually liberalization brought in privatization, globalization and deregularization. The changes across the fields became discernible among certain class. Phrases like ‘License raj’ and ‘hindu rate of growth’ stopped cropping up in the discussions while trade unions – like the one I am associated with – partially reduced to cultural organizations. We embraced all latest technology.

As the economic liberalism made us prosper, libertian values quickly became sellable. We preferred calling ourselves libertians. Cultural block in the mindspace opened up. A new elite class was created Proponents of sex gathered momentum when they talked about open society. 'Pink Chaddi’ became sign of liberalism. Stories full of moralizing started getting secondary treatment.

On July 24, Manmohan Singh’s tiny? step completed 18 years. The man at the helm in the meantime has gathered more power. Clamor of opposition has reduced to zero. The left have already exited from the government. The right-wing RSS too is all “Jai ho” about open market – RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently said “Whatever is good in this world, is all swadeshi for us”. And while all this was happening, the Wall street bubble burst.

Some problems have been sorted out, some persist. We have prospered in liberalism yet we reserve our right to embrace it in its full form. We probably know it give us fruits, but with the bitter taste if eaten even before they are ripe. Not bitten yet shy, the India today is.

From reel to real life

Days after, I truly enjoyed writing a story. A colleague on desk made it further enjoyable while reading.

Whose Goa is it, by the way ?

The Portuguese invaded Goa first. Tiny land now faces another influx, if not invasion. From bhel-puri wallahs to construction labour, workers at ship building yard and farm labourers, bhaiyyas rule everywhere. And if there is any place where bhaiyyas have not made their mark, count it with Karnatakis or the previous intruders - Maharashtrians.

The Portuguese, the converted Christians, kolis, Saraswats and Karhades - all till now were scattered and lived peacefully - now ghettoizing. Perhaps the insecurity has driven them.

During my weekend Goa jaunt I experianced it all. While me and two friends enjoyed every bit of serene beaches, tranquil forts, the development on mainland Goa was bustling. July is off-season, but liquor was flowing like cola. We heard bambaiyya hindi too in Panjim market.

Many fear influx will soon change Goa’s demography and the land will lose its identity. I accept the market principle - free market economy has its mix baggage.

Interesting is while neighboring Maharashtra has given birth to political parties, who claim to protect rights of son-of-the-soils, why is Goa lagging behind ? . They may not be politically sensetive, but original Goans are concerned enough to return all the imminent SEZs.

But then, does Goa has its own son-of-the-soil ?

Covering the issues, Chinese way

While ethnic strife in China has given fresh breath to talks about country’s oppressive tendencies, I am little amused to see a subtle change.

Chinese media has always been state controlled, as we know it for a long. But ground reports this time do indicate that media has somehow defied state diktat to expose country’s underbelly.

My personal experience with the Chinese media stunned and forced me to exult for the situation I am working in.

Last December, on tour to Belgaum to covere Indo-China joint military exercise, I had a bitter taste of it. The incident acquainted me with the situation in which neighboring country’s media operates.

Reporters from state owned Xinhua agency and other organizations were at the place to cover the event.

The exercise began well in the morning. We saw Chinese personnel giving Indian army a lesson on combat operations, some airdropping events and exchange of fire.

Post military exercise, the press from both countries gathered for conference.

To our surprise, the conference wasn’t a conference where press asks questions – sometimes impromptu, sometimes informed by reporters in advance.

Not just the questions were chalked in advance by their military (of course in consultations with their Indian counterparts) and fed us but their answers too were ready.

What then left was a mechanical exercise. Three questions were asked by Indian reporters while other three by Chinese. Who will ask what and to whom was all fixed. The conference was reduced to another event.

Most of us protested. But they seemed quite normal.

Prior to the conference, my friend Prasad and Nadeem did try and get introduced with Chinese reporters. Much to their surprise, a lady Chinese reporter and her male colleague accepted business cards but refused to exchange theirs’ citing state policy.

I was shocked. But Very quickly that shock turned into gloating.

How free I am in my country, a thought surfaced. The subsequent thought was: Do I not sometimes exploit that freedom ?

Whatchoo talkin 'bout...

Arnod, the lovable character from Diff’rent Strokes will never be same from tonight when I will watch the show once again on Zee café.

Through Gaurav, just got to know, Arnod (Gary Coleman) suffers from congenital kidney disease, that has halted his growth and he now requires daily dialysis for survival.

I take pains to ask Arnold, Whatchoo talkin.


Gay rights and minors

Non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors is illegal. But the same with consent by adults is legal, says Delhi HC.

The HC further observes, “Discrimination is antithesis of equality” and cites article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits any discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, caste or place of birth.

Er, now minors are crying. After all judiciary has kept them out of equality ambit.

Iran elections and twitter

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei to his countrymen, “I am following you all on Twitter.”

Had L K Advani followed Ayatollah on twitter, elections results would have been different.

Me on twitter

--Last month, the NYT appointed Jennifer Preston as social media editor to grab space in the expanding social media network.

--For some days HT has been reporting expressions on social networking sites as if it’s a regular beat.

--Today I joined twitter.

One should not see all the above developments in isolation.

The Bhaiyya Factor

This week, the state government came out with the finding on economic survey specifying how growing outsiders’ population in Maharashtra is taking toll on the infrastructure here.

Now the HSC results are out. Big cities including Mumbai, Thane and Pune saw sharp dip in the overall pass percentage.

Mahanagar, a local daily from Mumbai came out with the analysis of result and claimed that slip in HSC results was mainly because of more Bhaiyyas appearing for HSC exam.

Since Raj’s MNS has fetched impressive number of votes, the Bhaiyya factor reverberates everywhere.


Batmidar, my favourite blog achieved an unusual feat. It attracted fifty thousand hits in a year. A Marathi blog getting such number of visits is no less than a remarkably great job.

As Batmidar successfully carved out some of the best satirical posts and pieces, we the readers also learned differentiating good and non-so-good reading.

I pray you to keep the good work going, albeit with the side note – the axe should never fall on this side.

Nos. matter...really ?

The results are out. Anxiety is over.

Interestingly, for many in Gujrat, where currently I am, there is a success in defeat and defeat in the success.

As the ballot machines began giving out results yesterday, it became evident that country is once again going into the congress party’s hands.

Facing cropper at national level, Gujrat was the one state for BJP to be a face-saver.

Yet at Party’s headquarter in Khanpur area of Ahmedabad, the mood was completely sombre. Party workers came, sat, watched TV and went without much noise. No celebrations, nothing.

The BJP improved the tally by one and put its stamp on the state once again. But prime ministerial ambitions of Advani and Modi received a major jolt. Modi stayed at home, in instead of coming out and flexing muscles while talking to media.

On the other hand, mood was jubilant at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan, the congress headquarter. Even before the trends were not yet out out, the GPCC president Siddharth Patel in a self-congratulatory mood said, “I am satisfied with the results”.

In fact congress was down by one seat from its previous tally. Yet, every leader wanted to talk to media. Chai, coffee nashta came frequently, giving out the message that when you have no expectations at all, even a single seat is precious.

From Gujrat

Precisely a year after, I am once again out of my house, striving hard while churning out the post-verdict stories.

Some 600 km away from the home, in Ahmedabad, the only difference I see from last year’s Karnataka experience is the comfort level is quite high. The hotel room is cozy, traveling has been cool and the food is palatable.

But then, there is irritation at different level. Blogging and television watching is what currently I am involved in. There is fatigue. Inclination to work exists very little.

The counting is few hours away while results may take a day to be out. The actually government may take a week or two to come to the power. But to me, as a common man, the government has already been formed.

The news channels have made the entire post-poll pre-verdict debates highly trivial. Cartel is formed to shape up opinion. Hypothesis is being build without any substance. Theories are running. And finally, few people are discussing and in the process deciding, who will support whom.

HAving seen this, there is little doubt left in my mind. As they say that this election was fought in the media, the next will be in the TV studio only.

Good night

Cellphone, thy name is Individuality

The NYT columnist Anand Giridharadas writes -

In cellphone, India reveals an essence :

Cellphone appeals deeply to the Indian psychology, to the spreading desire for personal space and voice, not in defiance of the family and tribe but in the chaotic midst of it.

Imagine what it was like, back in the Pre-cellular Age, to be young in a traditional household. People are everywhere. Doors are open. Judgments fly. Bedrooms are shared. Phones are centrally located.

The cellphone serves, then, as a technology of individuation. On the cellphone, you are your own person. No one answers your calls or reads your messages. Your number is just yours.

Imagine the future: A young woman sits on her sofa. With a few taps, she checks that her tax return has been cleared. With a few more, she learns that her local legislator is a criminal, and she switches to the other candidate. She wires a campaign contribution by text. And then she notices on television a debate on her favorite topic, and listens to the arguments and taps hurriedly into her phone words that will soon scroll across the screen.

It is not Athens, but it would be a start: in the world’s largest democracy, government not by passive consent, but by something like a conversation.


I think days of imagination have passed. Indians are already living in the new eon.

I know few farmers from Pune and Satara who operate the water pump at farm through cellphone. The technology called ‘nano-ganesh’, invented by a Puneite enable those farmers sit at home, start the pump in the night, and switch it off in the morning by way of just a call. The same farmers sell their produce through cellphone. The text message informs them about prices for produce. The same message also has next day’s weather.

These farmers, who never handled landlines, sends text to ensure only their favourite singers win in the reality show.

Dirty old yet most envied man

Khushwant Singh: "Indians have it (sex) on their brains more than they have in the right place but as it happens, when you age, it automatically shifts from the middle to the head, and you are obsessed with it. It never leaves. It is something, which is elemental, vital and far more important than other emotions like love or anger. This is elemental and it expresses itself in weird forms. You cannot suppress it, that's why things like celibacy do not work. Desire to have multiple relationships is also human. I wrote about the so-called happily married couple many times. Whether they do it or not, adultery is always at the back of the mind of both".

Singh is 94 and sex is very much on his brain even today. I love reading (only reading) him.

Here is an interesting full chat Singh had with another (sex on his brain) editor Vinod Mehta.

Season's First Post

Some quick observations about this Lok Sabha elections-

1. No secular-non secular difference on party-lines

2. Ideologies have very fewer role to play

3. Lines between regional and national parties blurred like never before

4. BJP has realized, its no longer an institution but a party like any other

5. Political punditry will be at its best

6. EC is unnecessarily? acting tough

7. Sharad Pawar has managed to obfuscate Marathi voters on regional asmita and credit goes to Shiv sena, which in turn emerges a loser, at least at this hour.

8. If Supriya Sule manages to win by record margin, she will consolidate her base in the party. And that’s what her dad wants

9. At the end, as a political analyst suggest, there is little room for drastic change in democracy. We will remember this while being decent with our leaders.

Through the eyes of beholder

I must be in 8th standard then, when I read Yayati, the first Dnyanpeeth award-winning novel in Marathi.

Stupid me then read and enjoyed the novel like anything.

I admired writer V S Khandekar for his illustrious fictional work; the way he narrated story of a king from Mahabharat eon- Yayati, who in his insatiable lust for carnal pleasure begs his son Puru to swap youth with infirmity.

It was Yayati, which brought me closer to Marathi literature. I then read other fictional work including Radhyey.

The creativity and freedom enabled these writers to produce some remarkably classic literature in Marathi. Great was the absence of any opposition to such novels, terming it ‘slanderous’. The charge of course would have been dismissed saying the “obscenity lies in the eyes of beholder”.

But now…

A controversy surrounds another great author Anand Yadav for his book SantSurya Tukaram.

Warakari sect leaders, unhappy over the alleged “casting aspersions on the character of Saint Tukaram” by author in his novel, heckled Yadav and demanded his resignation as president of Marathi literary meet.

Yadav withdrew his novel and tendered apology. But warakaris refused to budge. A threat to spoil the literary meet now lingers.

They have also issued a decree - whosoever wants to write on Saints should get their permission first.

Listening to the controversy annoyed me initially. Soon, the annoyance turned into amusement. Now it seeks to rebuild perception.

For the sake of opposing, Yayati is contemptuous since it portrays certain characters negative. But readers did not mind it. In fact the portrayal of certain persona woven with events in such way that character actually conquer at the end despite loosing everything. That makes the novel great.

In SantSurya Tukaram case the focus is excessively on those few paragraphs allegedly depict Tukaram in negative. This way a lager picture of Tukaram's character is completely being ignored. Also is the fact is its not the reference book but a novel where writer does enjoy some freedom.

Tukaram, the 17th century author throughout his life faced wrath from orthodox Brahmins for taking pen into hand.

That way Tukaram stood modern in thought.

Shall we too ?

UPDATES- Sadly, minutes before Yadav has tendered his resignation. The decision on his resignation will be taken by March 19.

Politics And Bollywood

Bollywood’s tryst with politics is never ending. We have many bollywood personalities in politics and politics as a theme in movies.

The bollywood replicate social changes in its movies, while politics actually mean transformation.

Yet, looking their rise since 70s, a realization comes through that our film industry has grown up but politics hasn’t.

The masala movies of 70s and 80s, their unforgettable dialogues, the acting - often seen as self-mocking – we have gone through it. Many holdover stars from the last two decades of last century play parental roles now. These stars along with the new breed exemplify that they are with the time.

Mere pass maa hai aur tumhare pass… the famous dialogue and many such are a grim reminder of those times.

And perhaps for the same reasons, we in 2009 can’t sit three hours watching those movies again. Except for the ever-melodious songs, watching movies from 70s and 80 is actually a pain.

Contrary in Politics, the triviality is yet to be bottomed out. We are currently through elections and what better time than this to check this.

Two weeks back I was at Uddhav’s (mind you, I consider Uddhav the only sane personality among Thackerays) rally. “Congress mhanaje hiarave daat, te kadhihi jawal gheu naka” (congress means the green teeth, never allow them near you), Uaddhav made this horrible comment, forcing me wink at my colleague. The worst- it drew huge clap in the crowd.

These politicians speak same language as they act in. Their success lies in their frivolousness. And this triviality disallows them from moving ahead.

In the case of movies, people accept only contemporary ones.

And that is why we have films changing with the time while politics continue to hold same masala as it did in 70s and 80s.

Symposium on Blogging

Conceived at Ramesh’ canteen, this idea was initially like a dream for us to come together and discuss it over numerous cups of tea. Later, it turned into a reality. Attended by journalism students, enthu-bloggers and techno savvies, the much-debated Symposium on blogging held in Pune this evening amidst a cheering response.

Event on blogging isn’t new anywhere anymore. But then today’s was arguably the first of its kind because of its unique nature- not just it was organised by University’s department but the participation of non-bloggers with equal fervor made it a unique.

Honestly at the beginning I had reservations about its success. But then, Madhyamites, a group comprising myself, Nitin, Prasann and Ganesh along with journalism department head Dr Ujjwala Barve organised each thing so well that the event finally turned a grand success.

Initial concerns about audience, panelists and other issues vanished soon when two guests- Pradyuman Maheshwari and Debashish Chakrabarti reached before time while listeners followed them anon to fill the Garaware college audio-visual hall.

Maheshwari, a seasoned journalist, discussed various nuances of this new medium. Debashish, a known name in the blogoshere, covered various aspects leaving no issue on blogging untouched. A big thank to both of them.

These sessions were followed by the other equally interesting sessions. There was however a quick tea break in between to help us remain non-sleepy.

After break Symposium resumed. Ravi Amale, a friend and blogger, talked about simple precautions to be taken while blogging. He delivered some quick tips on how blogging in Marathi will help us break barriers to set new standards. Till evening I used to take pride of being privy about some secrets that I and Ravi shared. I sounded fool when Amrita- Prasann’s friend- discussed that secret with an ease. It appear tobe a well-known thing to many in the field. A moment to realize that I am no longer privileged.

Fourth session was my favorite. Blogging isn’t new for me, but recent developments including Kunte-Barkha Dutt saga and a landmark judgment by apex court on commentary on blogs through comments was all we were looking to discuss with adv. Vaishali Bhagwat, who counsels police on cyber laws. It was a recollection of old memories when adv Bhagwat taught us copyright and defamation. Only difference this time was I remained more cautious and eager to listen to her since the issues she discussed were directly pertinent to my professional and extra-professional activities.

The bloggers and others who participated in the last session actually came as icing on the cake. Their eagerness to converse with each helped us re-ensconced our belief that future event will be even bigger and sure to say a grand success. And yes, how can I forget twits- Amit Paranjpe and Navin Kabra- their participation made the event even more exciting.

Here, I specially thank Prasann, Nitin, Ganesh, Dr Barve and many other participants who helped this event an exciting affair.

Oscar turns Entertainer

Either I don’t understand movies or there is terribly wrong with the movie per se.

Since morning I have been referring various news reports and yet I am not able to digest the fact that Slumdog has grabbed 8 Oscars.

A month back, I watched this low budget British movie shot in Mumbai’s slum. Two friends, whom I had accompanied, left the cinema hall in between, as they had to rush for news coverage. Sulking in the thought that I have to now pick up PMT bus to reach home, I paid little attention to the last part of the movie.

Days later we had a Slumdog DVD at home. Brother, me and sister-in-law started watching it. But hardly it could move ahead, both of them, yawned, resorted to sleep, leaving the movie half finished.

This time I watched it carefully, only to reach to the conclusion that I have wasted few bucks.

I liked the movie, but not as much as to spend time and money watching it twice. I liked the non-escapists story, but thought it would have been better, had it been little lighter- this would have made the story more realistic. Rehman has delivered his best. But he often does it- and sometime he has done better than best. Overall I didn’t find it remarkably great that will last for many years on my memory disk.

The film critics say, “The film’s freshness lies not just in how the West sees India but how Indian see themselves”. This is just far from reality.

So how far the 8 academy awards to SM are justified.

I think Economist gets it right:

“Within Hollywood, of course, the Academy Awards still matter a great deal. Prestige and acclaim are hard currency in the film business, in many ways more valuable than money. The danger is that Hollywood’s taste in its own products is becoming as removed from public opinion as its political views are outside the American mainstream. What viewers will see on Sunday night is an industry talking to itself”.

Perhaps I didn't understand the film well, but I have realised that Oscars are not supposed to reward popularity, nor does it any longer reward quality.

Advani In Forward Gear

Not really sure but I suspect, if not L K Advani, his team must have been reading my blog.

Otherwise why has Advani decided not to recount flashbacks – his famous predisposition during the public speeches? In my post I had stated: … the blog has given Advani a forum to go nostalgic. This is especially when many of his colleagues (and journalists who keep whining when he is at his best) don’t like him always recounting past on public forums.

Now HT story says: “Party colleagues believe flashbacks to 50s and 60s are lost on youngsters, they find it alienating. Advani has paid heed. There are fewer bouts of nostalgia in his speeches now”.

Great. Advaniji you will learn more such things provided you follow my blog.

Arun Shourie's Indignation

Has Arun Shourie become Arundhati Roy of the right, as sans serif put it ?

After this from Shourie, who says,

“India is still a passive country when it comes to taking a stand against terrorism. It should, in fact, take an extremist stance and must prove that it can also create a Kashmir-like situation in Pakistan”

…I have begun to believe that Shourie has replaced Bal Thackeray.

One wonder, if this is the time to create instability in Pakistan or bring the neighboring country out of the instability.

The answer is if we want to save India, we need to save Pakistan.

A less serious post

Few hours from now Sene chief Pramod Muthalik will start receiving pink innerwears. And when he actually gets one, one thing, I guess, that would top his mind is how to deal with it.

I have done few stories and a profile on Muthalik. I got to know that besides being a freak, a rabble-rouser Muthalik adores two persons most Vinayak Savarkar and Nathuram Godse.

A Brahmin by birth, Muthalik too believes in Godse’s one-nation theory and to keep Gandhi assassin’s views alive, he never misses to attend Godse’s remembrance function in Pune on every November 15. Last year, he stunned everyone when he actually printed a pocket calendar bearing Godse’s picture, an image of which is displayed in this post. Similarly he claims to be a Savarkarwadi.

So, will Muthalik play Savarkar, who had organised bonfire of foreign clothes on Pune’s Karve road in 1905 to fight British raj. The only difference this time around is the clothes are desi while those who wear them, according to Sene brigade, are of western mindset. I am sure, politically, he will score many brownie points against his rivals.

Er, I have actually provided Muthalik a great idea to fight back pink-Chaddiwallah’s onslaught. He now owes me another good story through doing or publishing something more stunning.

But before that he should also read Savarkar’s essay:

English Women and Hindusthani men

Savarkar writes, “If a nation has political freedom, it leads to progress in many other areas. And one thing leads to another. A good example is found in the present agitation of English women.

England was ruled by Romans for some 500 years and after they left came various monarchs. Later, since the days of Magna Carta in 1215, the King’s powers were curtailed by the Barons. Centuries later, the rich businessmen got representation in Parliament. Now women are demanding a say in the running of their country. We have to learn quite a lot from their movement. I therefore give the details of the movement…”.

Image is one front side of pocket calender, that bear picture of Nathuram Godse (left) and Vinayak Savarkar (right). Source: A nonymous worker of Muthalik.

Safeguaring Indian ethos

Much has been said already and little is left now to add value to it.

But one point, I see, is missing everywhere. And therefore here is my take on the great Manglore pub saga.

A group of 30/40 youngsters bashing boys and girls in pub at Manglore. As I saw this on my TV set, I promptly recalled an year old instance of women from Satara district blackening the faces of desi-liquor daddies, thrashing the customers and converging in huge number to shut the wine shops.

I found many similarities between the two instances except for the way these incidences were received.

By and large both the cases were about ‘safeguarding Indian ethos' and 'establishing supremacy'. In the first case, it was men who heckled girls while the second case saw women beating their village-men.

But the response to both the events was conspicuously different. For avant-gardes, the first instance was a topic to lash out country’s moral police. For media and its commentators, the incident was a ready-made weapon to lash political parties and their offshoot wings full of hoodlums. For the various chief ministers, the incident came in handy as to give their reaction and put their side before voters.

For the main perpetrator Sriram sena and its chief Pramod Muthalik, the relentless coverage of the incident through media could not have been at a better time especially when the outfit is fighting for reckoning.

In the second case however, the incidence was reported only in the region, barring few examples like my stories in HT Mumbai. And since media was lackluster in their coverage no single voice could be heard from the forward-thinking class of Pune-Mumbai or any chief minister.

Whatever I saw, read and reported myself was all about appreciating Satara’s firebrand women fearlessly fighting to correct the local politics. Their fight against powerful liquor-daddies were termed as 'movement'.

Why is so discriminatory response to two events which were more or less dealing with same issue?

A typical case of class allegiance, that often leads the media to reach hyperbole during their coverage.

And when media goes berserk, reaction are bound to follow.

Here elitist will accuse me of being socialist or conveniently choosing to ignore the facts to drive the point home.

But I for one is neither a socialist nor see any other “facts” to ignore. I am not even a saffronist to defend Sriram sena or carrying purpose to malign the Satara's firebrand women.

What I am trying is to bring out the contradictions.

(Photocaption: A file photo of a group of women pelting stones at a shop in Karad taluka of Satara district)

middle-class millionaire

The Slumdog Millionaire Jamal Malik is on the award-winning spree. But has anyone thought what Harshavardhan Nawathe, the first Kaun Banega Crorepati winner is doing nowadays ?

Nawathe isn’t a slumdog, but in Mumbai, “slumdogs and middle-class Maharashtrian boys do become crorepatis”.

Here is a great reading from mint on India’s first not so slumdog yet a slumdog-like fan of Bachchan.

brahmin convention and purist

Attending All India Brahmin convention for coverage and putting a post on blog wasn’t on my program list two days before. But given that my earlier post on Chitpavan convention drew maximum hits, I thought its better to write once again.

I have always believed Brahmins are second most castiest after Marathas. And within the community, sub-caste identified as Konkanasthas lead the chart. Opinion may vary person to person.

But when around two lakh Brahmins from across the country converged for the community convention, what happened was not so anticipated. Most of the Puneites Brahmins stayed away from the convention. Those very few who joined from the city were mostly Deshasthas.

So what forced Konkanasthas not to participate in the All India Multi Lingual Brahmin Convention, which according to my friend saw participation of around three lakh Brahmins in two days?

“Konkanasthas do not like to be part of herd”, said another friend.

But if that was the case then how come more than one lakh people from the community gathered at one place, December last, I pointed out.

So what forced them stay aloof ?

One reason could be the heterorganic nature of gathering. Konkanasthas are widely considered to be purist and often prefer homogeneity (this is general perception and there are always some exceptions). Another is ruckus and chaos, which is an integral part of such big gathering.

No wonder that some unsavoury moments were witnessed when a lady participant commented that Brahmin do not necessarily has to perform sandhya (daily ritual) and wear Janave (sacred thread). The comments followed ruckus and the session eventually ended without further discussion, a scene akin to two year old convention when Kumar Ketkar’s speech drew similar response. This once again displayed the non-tolerant and criticism-wary tendencies among Brahmins.

But that was it. The convention saw some surprising proceeding. Says my news report appeared in HT:

“It was 'social engineering' message of sorts that came out of a two-day Brahmin community convention near Pune on Saturday. Making for such an impression on the opening day of two-day meet were socio-political resolutions in an effort to build bridges with other castes.

Among the resolutions passed was one condemning US researcher James Laine for his controversial writings on Chhatrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha empire. If that could be read as reaching out to politically powerful Maratha caste, there was also a resolution vote, irrespective of political ideology.

It was a move akin to Brahmins working with the pro-dalit Bahujan Samaj Party before the last year Uttar Pradesh Polls, a successful experiment that came to be called social engineering”.

Overall, the convention wasn’t worth to attend for the purpose with which I had gone there. But it provided me a good story and a post to increase my blog-count.


The change has come through. Expectations are now running high. People of US of A now want every hole to be fixed- immediately, impeccably. The world wants new administration convenient to them. India wants support to check terrorism. Osama and ilk wants favour to flourish. I want rise in my salary.

Am I talking too much ?

Things Journalists Like

Messy desk
Drinking Press releases
Throwing shoes
Breaking news
Writing standing up
Free food
Free passes
Readers feedback
Dating other journalists
Professional organizations
Barack Obama
Writing a book

Source- stuffjournalistslike.com

Here’s list of other things journalists like but have not been covered above-

Discussing others’ affairs
Press clubs
Hate PRs’
“I know it…I told you so”
Circulating copies
Going late to Press conferences
Never switch off mobiles

Narisetti at The Washington Post

Today I am envy of Post readers. The Washington Post has got a man no other than Raju Narisetti. It was Narisetti, who served at mint as founder editor and introduced Indian readers with an idea of what the classic newspaper is. But more than the product what I liked most was some superb insights this ‘romantic realist’ offered through his blog linked to livemint. I hope Narisetti soon takes up another assignment of writing blog besides the brief the Post has offered him.

Advani and Blogging


It’s now L K Advani’s turn to switch on to blogging (http://blog.lkadvani.in)

It’s better late than never (for Advani) and sooner than anticipated (for party) as it prepares for defeat.

Defeat ? Why so ?

For BJP and its leaders, the more they are quiet the better. Because the more BJP people talk the more they reveal and the more they reveal the more they get entrapped.

But, surely so, the blog has given Advani a forum to go nostalgic. This is especially when many of his colleagues (and journalists who keep whining when he is at his best) don’t like him always recounting past on public forums.

My best wishes to Advani for successful stint in blogging.

When capitalists exploit proletariat

I don't normally entertain forwarded stuff on email. But the following one did stop me for a while. Its quite hilarious and I thought I should share it here. The english script that follows Marathi is mine.

दररोजचा शीस्तीचा भाग म्हणून पेपर वाचणार्या बंड्याने त्याच्या बाबांना वीचारलं, "बाबा, शासन व्यवस्था म्हणजे काय हो?" "त्याचं असं आहे".... बाबा वीचार करत म्हणाले..."हे बघ, मी घरात पैसे कमावून आणतो. म्हणजे मी भांडवलदार; तुझी आई हा पैसा कुठे-कसा खर्च करायचा हे ठरवते म्हणजे ती सरकार; आपल्या घरातली मोलकरीण काम करते म्हणजे ती झाली कामगार; तू सामन्य नागरीक आणी तुझा लहान भाऊ म्हणजे भावी पीढी. समजलं?" बंडया वीचार करत झोपी गेला. रात्री त्याचा लहान भाऊ रडायला लागल्यावर त्याला जाग आली. अंथरूण ओलं केल्यामुळे तो रडत होता. बंडया आईला उठवायला गेला. ती गाढ झोपलेली असल्याने तो मोलकरणीला उठवायला गेला तर तीच्या खोलीत बंडयाचे बाबा झोपलेले होते. सकाळी बाबांनी बंडयाला वीचारलं..."काय बंडोपंत?...कळली का लोकशाही?" बंडया म्हणाला..."कळलं बाबा. जेव्हा भांडवलदार कामगारांचं शोषण करत असतात तेव्हा सरकार गाढ झोपेत असतं. देशाची भावी पीढी मूलभूत सोयींसाठी रडत असते आणी या सर्वांचा त्रास फक्त सामन्य नागरीकाला सहन करावा लागतो".

To convince his son that the present system ain't that bad, Bundya's father further goes on elaborating "look, capitalists see profits because they bring money, workers do get exploited sometime. But its win-win for them even".

Bundya, appear convinced, adds, "Understood baba. the other day aai was also uttering similar as she entered into house after visiting neighboring Sontakke kaka's house".


Hours before Amit Varma posted on his blogBuy Elections

Hours later we are told IU has been nominated in the 2008 Weblog Awards and, ironically so, Amit write on his blog:

“The category I have great hopes of is Best Asian Blog, so do vote there wholeheartedly. I’m most unlikely to win Best Political Coverage, where giants like Daily Kos, Townhall and Politico have also been nominated, but hell, we’re the world’s largest democracy, we know how to vote, so do vote there as well”.

Amit, we know how to vote, after all you only have taught us this here.

“Well, every election is really an exercise in buying voters. Either you can buy them with promises of good governance, better infrastructure, law & order and so on; or you can buy them with money and material goods. If the promises have no value, and both voters and politicians know that every promise is an empty one, then what’s a pragmatic voter to do? Take the money, of course. A self-perpetuating cycle duly begins, and there you have it, democracy at the grassroots”, says Amit.

Well what can you promise us if we cast our vote in your favour.

I think clarity on some issues.

The most important and imperative among them is: Your take on J & K and secession, especially after your previously stated position and the subsequent elections which saw participation of 62 % Kashmiries.

I hope you are listening..

Disclosure: In one of my post on allowing Kashmir to secede, i too had admitted that argument made by liberals look rather convincing than that of others. But then at the same time I had advocated to be selfish to keep Kashmir. Now I am glad to say that Kashmiries doesn't want us to be selfish. But they want us to be objective; objective enough to judge their aspirations, their problems and their emotions.