The Sudden Demise Of Batmidar

Midway departure of Batmidar, a favourite among newsmen, seems to have hit marathi journalism world hard. More so, when Journalism itself was hit hard.

There’s an outbreak on google to trace Batmidar and its younger sibbling Kalte-Samajate whereabouts.

A friend in the know passes this information on: Both Batmidar and Kalte-Samajate have been shut down as the blogger has planned sabbatical to finish task of “writing book on serious issue”

I wonder if there’s anything more serious than exposing journalists. Well, for the time being, I buy his explanation and wish this anonymous blogger best luck for his future project.

The Brahmin-Maratha-Muslim Tangle

In a lighter vein, to a blogpost on Samarth Ramdas, I commented through Google-reader: “…Deccan inhabitants are off ending each other, Courtesy Shivaji. Shivaji united them to take on mughal takht. His disciples now are desperate to nullify that effect”

But did Shivaji’s indeed take on Mughals ?

Author of Hindu Bhalchandra Nemade looks at it with different perspective: Most people that Shivaji killed were Marathi. But later eon picture painted by bramins pointed that Shivaji pitted himself against mughals (read Islam)- From Maharashtra Times interview

Today if maratha offshoots are hell against Dadoji Konddeo, the root of the controversy lies in Brahmin-Maratha-Muslim tangle.

Late Varunraj Bhide wrote: Only 162 maratha families have been ruling Maharashtra for years.

Bhide’s version, if to be extended, mean a large section of Maratha class have been left out of the power for all through 50 years of Maharashtra. Now the section within the left-out section feels that ‘power-ful’ Marathas have always had support from Brahmins to maintain status quo.

Brahmins in turn used the banner of Hindutva. Gathered Marathas under the same banner and pitted them against Islamism – a phenomenon drawing analogy to Shivaji versus mughals. This way, Brahmins let few Marathas rule the state and in return retained their own importance.

Now, the left-out class wants political pie. To grab political space, incidents like BORI attack, Lal-mahal controversy, help as they create political space, easy to be grabbed on emotional grounds. For them Shivaji is a symbol to be used against Brahmins. And through Brahmins, they challenge "power-ful" marathas.

Curiously, the same Maratha offshoots are conspicuous with their silence on topics related to Islamic aggression. In the debates, they digress when issues like Afzal Khan tomb atop Pratapgadh - an alleged illegal construction on the site where Shivaji slained mughal warlord – comes for discussion. The offshoots refrain from entering into such debates. Reason: Assumption hovers that the issue is raked up by Sangh parivar (read Brahmins) only to digress left out section.

Such digression help brahmins maintain status quo in the power-structure that has been formed with another section of ‘power-ful’ Marathas.

From Pravin Mahajan's 'Majha Album'

Pravin Mahajan’s book – Majha Album – make us believe why Nitin Gadakari’s ‘in-law’ remarks shouldn’t be seen in isolation to BJP culture.

The book gives inside accounts of elder brother Pramod’s private life. It run through Pramod’s style of functioning that for a long has been party norm even as Pramod no longer survives.

On one occasion the book outlines Mahajan’s brother-in-law Gopinath Munde becoming target of ‘in-law’ remarks.

The book reads, Munde’s avarice to power makes Pramod quip: “Gopya la kalayla hava ki to apla jawai aahe, pakshacha navhe (Gopya should know he is our in-law, not party’s)”

Pramod’s alleged promiscuity is at the center of the book. Pravin loosely spells out brother’s private affairs but spares naming most women, except Alaknanda, who came into Pramod’s life. Alaknanda, many know, was party functionary from north Maharashtra.

Shrewdly, Pravin is silent on Sarangi’s life. Sarangi, Pravin’s wife, has previously claimed that Pramod was like ‘father figure’.

Without digging much, Majha Album outlines much chewed Munde’s Barkha affair.

The book arms Pravin with enough opportunity to target brother and change perception about late BJP leader. Equally, it brings out Pravin’s pent up prejudice against Pramod.

Overall, the book is so-so read.

Reading That No Longer Challenges Me

Among the things technology has rendered man with is amended way of satisfying voyeuristic instincts. The low-priced porn magazine – where climax is major disappointment when stimulating pictures often applied scissor, the cassettes – not moving ahead when important scene is imminent, the CDs – straight coming to bold scenes, puncturing the heightened excitement even before it builds up and the internet – free for all to fall – readers of Savitabhabhi will vouch. Those born during ’70s & ’80s will vividly remember their transformation from childhood to adulthood amidst being witness to all these changes. All through, quality over availability becomes norm.

The same age-group may recall similar changes in reading habits. For half a century, Chandoba has enthralled urban Marathi middle class kids. Parents cut down expenses on toys to prefer Chandoba, a comics. It’s also a time to connect with Hindi through Chacha Choudhari.

When mythological tales from Chandoba stop enthusing kids, Faster Fene, a marathi version of detective Tom Sawer by B R Bhagwat tucks in by parents. When Faster Fene fables, often seen a driving force for kids’ sustenance in reading, takes fantasies of adventure on newer scales, consider that time has arrived to move on.

It’s an age when kids become teens to usher into higher schools – a place to get acquainted with non-veg jokes. Thus have novels laden with romance, thrill and emotions. This is the era to read Baburao Arnalkar and get fascinated by his thrillers. Mesmerized readers typify with hero from Arnalkar's best sellers.

When desi thriller quota stop stimulating, Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Chirsti takes the charge. They are also reminiscent to Suhas Shirvalkar and Srikant Sinkar. Remember, its also the time to read Mills and Boon romance stories. The reading walks parallel with college life. Slowly reader moves on to all time bestsellers – Godfather (Mario Puzo), Papillion (Henri Charriere). For 90’s born, Chetan Bhagat becomes favorite. For others, Paulo Coelho, Ayn Rand, Dan Brown prevails upon.

In Marathi, taste shift to another level of writers – P L Deshpande, V P Kale, D M Mirasdar, Jayawant Dalvi, V S, Khandekar, Shivaji Sawant. As taste matures, reading reaches another level.

When we are ready enter into professional world and leave behind the memories of college eon, time for readers to come out of comfort zone and try reading that challenges.

Vijay Tendulkar, G A Kulkarni, Irawati Karve, Bhalchandra Nemade, Durga Bhagawat Ranganath Pathare, Vishwas Patil, Sadanand Deshmukh and similar, broadens our horizons. Indian English readers (non-aficionado) looking for anglo Indian authors rest on Amitava Ghosh, Anita Desai, Khushwant Singh, Arundhati Roy.

Here, we cross a thin line and bid adieu to popular fiction to try more and more challenging one.

I am waiting for that moment.

Chidambaram And His Crafty Capitalism Phrase

I have a friend working with tabloid. He claims to be leftist but surrenders to all methods akin to capitalists. In political discussion, he talks of welfare and holistic approach but never hesitates praising Thackeray’s pro-Marathi parochialism. Worst, when we tease him, he turns the gear and resort to Marxism. Still we love him much.

Indian political system is more like my friend. The lefts here sometimes are more than actual capitalists. To that extent, P C Chidambaram is spot on: “maoists are the most crafty capitalist.”

Maoists employ unlawful methods to control production, distribution, price regulation of firms from their stronghold. They extort money from firms and in return challenge the state. They rue state control, similar to that of urban corporate-capitalist brothers.

More organized than past, Maoists with the backing of NGOs and Roy-likes, built up philosophy in their fight against state.

Chidambaram, whom Arundhati Roy refer ‘corporate lawyer’ (more capitalist than capitalists) puts up comparative case study of two Tatas:

“I don’t think the objectives of JN Tata and the objectives of Ratan Tata are very different. They might express it in different language but their objective is the same— to build industries, create jobs, produce goods and services, create wealth and enhance the prosperity of the area. In the bargain, of course, the company makes profits. But at that time, perhaps, the villagers and tribals were certainly not so organised and perhaps in no position to offer any organised protest and I am pretty sure there were hardly any NGOs and civil rights groups to espouse their cause. So JN Tata’s people were able to build trust with people.”

Congress And Politics Of Dualism

If, to use cliché, good economics is bad politics, smart politics subvert good policies.

On Gandhi family’s opacity and politics, Sadanand Dhume writes in wsj: “In this hothouse of intrigue and sycophancy, careers can hinge on the ability to change track according to which way the Gandhis' views are seen to be blowing.”

Dhume writes:

“For the family, this opacity clearly has benefits. It keeps them above the fray of petty politics. It allows them to exercise power without responsibility. It gives them the flexibility to change political course on a dime.

“But smart politics doesn't always generate good policy. Fostering a culture of opacity and public second-guessing about sensitive policy matters is no way to lead a major economy and an aspirant for great power status.”

Smart politics doesn’t generate good policies, but allows congress to be in power, years after years. The BJP falters precisely here. The six-year-long NDA stint, despite being satisfactory, ended on their folly – India shining. Had the government and party been more diverse in reaching out to rural and urban masses with separate tunes, the picture probably would have been different.

Sonia’s silence or Rahul's populist stance on some issues allows party leaders to take dual line. Here Gandhi’s opaqueness, to me, more sounds a move that allows party to sway through politics of dualism. When Manmohan Singh government goes tough, party opt middle-approach to please masses - Digvijay Singh advocating welfare approach over Chidambaram's arms use to tackle naxal approach is one example among others.

This sort of dualism allows congress to grab opposition space.

It empowers them with pro-poor policies, never mind how economically incorrect and deviating from Manmohan Singh’s good economics such policies are.

Consequence is the original opposition sounds weak and become irrelevant. Think: who comes in our mind first on views about priority to welfare scheme over arm solution to deal with naxal menace. Its Digvijay Singh, not left.

Human, God And Fast

Fast will be the buzzword throughout the day on Ekadashi – the eleventh lunar day. Eateries from old city area will generate higher than average income. But if we go by logic behind fast, god then will have his eyes turned off the Pune skies.

Indians, or more specifically, the Hindus prostrate while communicating with the god. It’s their way to “demonstrate sincerity and humility,” says Akar Patel in his recent piece in lounge.

To attract god’s attention, we clang the bell. Invite pain through circumambulation (pradakshina). Take sufferings abstaining the food.

Patel writes: “this idea that God likes us to suffer is common to all cultures. It actually comes from our belief that God is merciful and benevolent. If He sees us suffering in one way, therefore, He will stop other bad things from happening to us. In that sense, the voluntary hardship of the pilgrim is a preventive action, a sort of insurance, and ultimately selfish”

God is benevolent but not gullible enough to be hoodwinked easily. Therefore, if Puneites have gone on fast to attract god’s attention, better they rethink. Rethink on ever exceeding food quota made especially for fast. Others who put up scientific reasoning behind fast – fast allows the body to improve digestive system – better stop thinking.

Letter To Octopus Paul

Because of ample time and nothing worth to do (all lies), I am here to seek answers of some difficult questions from Octopus Paul.

Paul, the almighty, please do tell us why are Indians so good in foodball ?

Why isn’t Sharad Pawar not attracted to soccer, Is the game cleaner than Cricket ?

Why is Mamata Bannerjee spends her entire time in Delhi, shunning Kolkata always ?

How come Nitin Gadakari speaks in such a decent language when other politicians are all foul mouthed ?

How does HT manages to score against ToI every morning ?

Why isn’t Indian journalism still not been affected by paid news ?

Why isn’t the UPA government work through Group of Ministers (GoM) to increase efficiency ?

Paul, only gospel. Didn’t Spain had 12 players when they played against Germany ?

Wasn’t Lord Ram the Bhaiyya, whom Marathis have stopped worshipping ?

Didn’t you tip off Suhel Seth, who wrote to you even before I could ?

Paul, no predictions, only correct answers

Parulekar’s Alchemistry

If alchemy, as cultural dictionary suggests, is considered to be the ancestor of modern chemistry, then Raju Parulekar, a writer penning his marathi column “alchemistry” can be referred a hubristic ‘chemist’.

Seriously, this man never ceases to amaze me.

एका सरड्याने इतके रंग बदलले...

मित्राने सरड्या वरील एक कविता मेल केली अन वाचून जी ए ची मानससरोवरावरील कावळ्यांची गोष्ट आठवली ज्यात जी ए जीवनाचं एक सूत्र सांगतात. स्वसंरक्षणाच्या संदर्भात तात्विक स्वर या पेक्षा हि व्यावहारिकता ही जास्त कामी येते हाच तो काय दोन्ही ठिकाणी संदेश.

एका सरड्याने इतके रंग बदलले...

एका सरड्याने इतके रंग बदलले
की त्याला स्वत:चा खरा रंग कळेना
त्याने खूप विचार केला तरी
तो कसा होता ते
त्याला काही केल्या आठवेना

तो म्हणाला,"मी आकाशाला निळा वाटतो
मी गवताला हिरवा वाटतो
मी सर्वांना त्यांच्यासारखाच वाटतो
मी खरा कसा ते, कोणाला कळतं
वेगळा आहे ते कोणाला कळतं"

मग त्याने एकच रंग ठेवायचं ठरवलं
एकाच रंगाला त्याचा खरा रंग मानलं

गवतावरच नाही तरमातीवर पण तो रहायला लागला हिरवा
त्याला काही खोडकर मुलांनी
मातीवर ओळखलं परवा

त्यांना या खऱ्या रंगाने
त्याचा वेगळेपणा दाखवला
आणि या खऱ्या रंगामुळे
त्या मुलांनी त्याला दगड मारून संपवला

सरडा मेला तरी
लोकांना जिवनाचा नियम कळावा
चार-चौघात गेल्यावर आपणत्यांच्याप्रमाणे रंग बदलावा
कितीही वाईट वाटलं तरीआपला खरा रंग लपवावा
कारण हे जग वेगळेपणाला घातक मानतं
आणि मग स्वत:च घातक बनून
आपल्याला आपला रंग बदलायला लावतं

पुणे आणि पुणेकर

पुण्यातल्या तऱ्हेवाईकपणा बद्दल पुणेकरांना नेमीच भरभरून बोलाव अस वाटत. नेहमीचच रुटीन जगतांना त्यांना त्यांच्या तऱ्हेवाईकपणा बद्दल बोलायचा डोस सतत हवा असतो. बऱ्याच वेळेस हा तऱ्हेवाईकपणा ते उसना आणतात. कधी कधी तर तो फारच कृत्रिम वाटतो.

जेव्हा ओरिजिनल विक्षिप्त लिखाण असलेल्या पाट्या दिसेनास्या होतात तेव्हा पुणेकर उगाच तसल्या पाट्या मेल करून उसना पुणेकरी पणा आणतात.

जगात जसे लंडनवासीय स्वतःला फारच श्रेष्ट समजतात किवा न्यूयॉर्क वासियांना सतत वाटत कि त्याचं च शहर सर्व श्रेष्ठ तसाच काहीसा प्रकार भारतात पुणेकरांबद्दल आहे.

अरुण टिकेकरांनी सांगितल्या प्रमाणे लोकांमध्ये असलेला तऱ्हेवाईकपणा हा कुठल्याही समाजाला पोषकच असतो. तऱ्हेवाईक लोक च प्रवाहाच्या विरुद्ध विचार करतात आणि ते विचार आचरणात आणतात. या तऱ्हेवाईकपण मुळे जीवनात सुद्धा एक थ्रील येत.

पुण्यात एकेकाळी असे तऱ्हेवाईक लोक खूप होऊन गेलेत आणि म्हणून च पुण्याने बऱ्याच चळवळींचे नेतृत्व केले.

पण आज हा उसना तऱ्हेवाईकपणा समाजाला, किंबहुना पुण्याला कुठे घेऊन जाईल ?

Patel's Theory Of Abuse And Mahabharata

Indian abuses are often laden with creative copulative nuances. Those against whom such abuses are hurled don’t take them as insulting as the one that has religious subtext.

Akar Patel in the latest Lounge issue put to rest some doubts on this subject. However it raises fresh few ones.

Akar Patel:

Perhaps men did not abuse one another during the Heroic age. There is not a word of sexual abuse in Iliad (though Achilles does call Agamemnon kunopa: dog-face). Presumably this is because they could settle it with swords.

All abuse attempts to dishonour. Abuse is a male weapon, because honour is a male virtue. Most words of abuse are coined to hurt men. A woman is attacked through allegations of promiscuity, not incest. A woman using sexual abuse is not convincing and her words do not sting, because she cannot penetrate.

Here, am I the only one to stuck at some contradictions. Wars from puranas are mostly fought to regain honour – the most conspicuous among them Mahabharata where Draupadi convinces Yudhistir to take on to Kauravas. Though immediate provocation to 18-days war is to reclaim lost kingdom, the real roots of Mahabharata war, we discover, are in Draupadi vastraharan act. It leaves Pandavas sulking.

Here I let myself enter into realm of fantasy to draw some interesting conjectures, though the extended ones for personal consumption.

If Duryodhana indeed wanted to dishonour Pandavas, how heroic character would have reacted during Mahabharata eon. Elsewhere, what could have been Shukracharyas reaction when he learns Yayati has entered into adultery by mating Sharmishtha. Imagine if Amit Varma belonged to same epoch, how his peppered WTF remarks would evoke reactions from Bhishma, who sermons the rajsabha on dharma post the dice game.

Ghashiram Kotwal & Jar-karma

Corroboration falls short to prove historical reference piece that Gharisham Sawaldas bartered his 16-year-old daughter with Nana Phadanavis to become Kotwal (police commissioner) of Pune city.

There are however references available on how Ghashiram was killed by Brahmins of Pune on 21 August 1791. Those Brahmins, irked by the previous night incident when 21 citizens were lost their lives due to suffocation while guarding bombshells, lynched Ghashiram. The act was committed in Hadapsar where Arm Forces Medical College is now situated.

Stories surrounding Ghashiram have often been inquisitive. Those stories tell us prostitution involving men and women was on high even during Peshwa rule.

Letter written by Peshwas to Ghashiram once he became permanent during 1782 suggest the rulers were concerned about growing “male-prostitution” in Pune. Out of that concern, Peshwa reminded Ghashiram of his task: “Striyanna Jar-karma karanyapasun paravrutt karane” (Discouraging women to involve into male-prostitution). There is another reference that suggests Peshwas had also asked Ghashiram to “not to allow married women from involving into prostitution.”

I am bit disappointed though not completely dejected to read Mandar Lawate’s latest article: Punyachi Kotawali on city’s history. It falls short on some crucial details. The article is otherwise good.

For the benefit of English readers, Here is selective reference from Lawate’s piece published in Sakal:

(After death of Ghashiram), Bajirao Peshwa II understood that Kotwal is a plum post. He therefore started auctioning the post. It was in 1800 the post of Kotwal was first auctioned to Vithoji Gaikwad at Rs. 1. 12 lakh.

Given that post was auctioned at such exorbitant rate, we can imagine how corrupt the system would have been and to what extent hafta-wasuli had gone up. By those old rate, today if we learn that Pune or Mumbai commissioner’s post was sold at 112 crores, one shouldn’t be surprised.

Facebook And Voyeurism

Reports coming from neighboring country suggests Facebook has been blocked in Pakistan.

Telegraph reports: A Pakistani court has blocked Facebook amid a growing row over a competition on the social networking website to design cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

I have always looked at social networking sites – orkut or facebook – a tool to satisfy voyeuristic instincts. Result: I stayed away from both though not from the voyeurism itself

The City Of Pune And Punyeshwar Temple

Late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan often used to remark sarcastically during rallies or when surrounded by journalists.

Mahajan would quip: "Why would anyone want proof of original Ram temple at Ayodhya. The reason that site now has mosque itself suggest there was temple earlier."

Through this, Mahajan implied that Muslim rulers invaded Hindu temples all across India and built mosque to propagate their faith.

Today Mahajan’s remarks struck while I was passing through Chhota Shaikh Sallah dargah on Mutha river. There is a thought that believes durgah site previously had Shiva and Vishnu idols in the temple known as Punyeshwar.

Later idols vanished from the site while temple continued to find mention in the history. In the course of time the city of Pune derived its name from the same temple.


In its recent judgment Bombay High Court set a side lower court’s punishment of 7 years to a man charged with 10 counts of rape.

HT reports:
The victim had alleged that between April 2004 and October 2006, Anwar Khan Iqbal Khan (26) had called her to various places and raped her 10 times, each time allegedly promising to marry her after forcible intercourse, but ultimately refusing to keep his word, according to the victim
The high court, however, refused to believe the victims' version that she had not objected to the repeated sexual assaults due to the promise of marriage made by the accused. Justice A.H. Joshi held that: “On the face of the record, nothing except unqualified and unconditional consent for sexual intercourse would emerge.

The judge also refused to believe that “the victim had no craving for what was expected during every meeting and was repeatedly happening” considering the fact that she had not offered any resistance during any of the acts.

Satyajit Joshi, my colleague alerted me to this story. I read it twice. Later I read it once again. Then both of us smiled; smiled to learn judge’s surname.
On the sidenote I would like to ask, why didn't Court charge lady of perjury since it has already upheld man's views.

(Emphasis imported)


On Maharashtra Foundation day (May 1), TOI Ahmedabad carried a report: At 50, ready to rival Mumbai
Report quoted leader of Mahagujarat movement and a former state minister Sanat Mehta as saying: “But, we were confident that Gujaratis would create more Bombays if they got a separate state”

Gujrat lost Mumbai to Maharashtra, which lost Belgaum to Karnataka. Very soon Gujaratis came to terms with reality.

But given the strong secessionist feelings among Belgaum’s marathi population, great irony is underway.

A prominent marathi builder from Pune B G Shirke has bagged the contract to construct Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (Karnataka assembly) at Belgaum, a second capital of Karnataka.

Shrinking Liberal Space In 50th Year of Maharashtra

Last month – or, more appropriately, a month before Maharashtra was to celebrate golden jubilee of its existence - Marathi literary meet held in Pune with much bang. Surrounded by controversies, the event offered nothing great except for the fact that publishers sold books worth Rs 7 crores.

One would say, it held for the sake of it.

Not quite true.

On the second day, the meet had a discussion on freedom of expression. Worth to note, chief minister Ashok Chavan attended it, albeit, after loosing his own freedom within the party. The CM was to come on third day and share dais with Amitabh Bachchan. Political compulsions forced him reshuffle his visit.

Today, if compulsions dictate most political actions, count shrinking “liberal space”, a fallout of it.

In a span of five years vandals backed by some or other offshoots affiliated to political parties have always overpowered. Be it vandalizing the internationally acclaimed Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) or attack on Kumar Ketkar or Mumbai office of Navakal, Maharashtra’s "liberal space" shrinked consistently even if the state marched ahead building highways or signing MoUs with Industrialists.

The most recent example to be in the news was controversy over a book Santsurya Tukaram, authored by renowned marathi writer Anand Yadav. Warakari sect (followers of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dyaneshwar), unhappy over references attached to Sant Tukaram, heckled Yadav, forcing him to withdraw his book and resign from the prestigious post of literary meet president.

Conspicuously, a common thing in all the incidents is: State hasn’t intervened to erase that space, which many call “liberal”. Equally, state did nothing to protect that space either. If conflict among the classes or castes is one reason, notoriety, which for many means publicity, is another reason. Not to wonder then, notoriety is gaining recognition to be an effective tool to defeat the cause.

Noticeably, most of these incidents were directed against Brahmins. The message is clear: If Brahmins have retained clouts for years with the support of pen, which they often used to paint convenient picture, others have understood it. And to end that clout, others wants to suppress that writing using notoriety.

Pune Rikshaw wallahs

If today’s city rikshaw-wallahs are all known to fleece customers, it is because they have owned up this quality from their predecessors.

Article in Sakal tell us: Historic document like “Dnyanprakash”, a journal published in 1856, reporting on incidents of passengers being cheated by cart (horse or bullock) drivers. Compliants at Faraskhana, as reported, suggest that passengers were duped not just by charging more than decided, but sometimes drivers used longer routes. Today carts have been replaced by auto rikshaw. But drivers continue to hold same old penchant.

The Perilous Side of 'Sachin For Bharat Ratna' Campaign

Uddhav Thackeray falling on the same line as Ashok Chavan, can not more than merely be a political opportunism. And when the duo speaks for Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar, the opportunism touches abysmal frivolity.

Several campaigns are running concurrent to make Tendulkar’s case for country’s highest honour. Tendulkar too, unlike others, has achieved several milestones, and deserves to be feted.

But does that mean he deserves Bharatratna, especially when there are other equally deserving people standing by?

Well I don’t really know the answer, except for the fact that such honour should not just reduced to be a result of campaign.

The perilous side of such campaign is, they run on populism; be it for or against. Indians among others are masters of campaigning. In polls, we fall pray to populist announcement. Elsewhere, pink-chaddi like movement easily carries us away.

Politicians, as a convenience, often give up to populist pressures. The danger then is that precedence set out from such pressures dictate the decision.

So when cricket being most likeable game grabs maximum attention, its obvious that Sachin becomes the most adorable. This makes his case even stronger from populist point. Likewise, other deserving becomes least favorite because the field they represent do not represent the wishes of entire country.

P.S. wikipedia entry suggest that populism defined either as an ideology (more rarely and uncommonly), a political philosophy or a type of discourse, is a type of political-social thought which juxtaposes "the people" against "the elites", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style deployed by members of political or social movements. It is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as "political ideas and activities that are intended to represent ordinary people's needs and wishes"
(So friends, opposing Sachin’s case juxtaposes me with elites :) ).

Malice Towards All

For Maharashtrians, the subject is palatable and inquisitive. Therefore even the storm in the tea cup has subsided, all round postmortem continues.

Just last week, Pratap Bhanu Mehta dwelt on rot in Maharashtra. Later, Kumar Ketkar spent time writing on Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar’s politics.

Of late, the rest of India has been in habit to put to test Maharashtrains on the insider-outsider row. Unfortunately, to me, this state has been consistent enough to explore new low in this test. And the blame is to be solely shared by us alone.

To our fault, Maharashtra always overestimated its leaders ranging from Thackeray to Pawar. Parochialism is so ingrained in us that selection of dud like Nitin Gadakari as BJP president makes us revel in stead of questioning his qualities. When Marathi Vikram Pandit, who I doubt even has visited Maharashtra in decades, took charge of Citibank, we fired crackers. The otherwise routine story: Jockey Vijay Shiker winning the derby race, gets more than deserved place just because winner is Marathi. Hah!

We always contributed Shiv sena in legitimizing its sins. We are in the habit to call Thackeray’s purr; a roar, his abuse; a quintessential Thackeray-shaily (style), and his sins; a dare, often labeled after Hitler, to whom the sena chief take pride in idolizing. There isn’t the need to spend additional space on Raj, who belongs to the same ilk.

We believed, Thackeray Sr. stood by his principals; the principals he never actually followed. To enunciate, his flip-flop on Sharad Pawar and the penchant to offer RS seats to Uttar Bhartiyas.

He always squeezed controversies to remain in focus. Thackeray took on P K Atre (by caricaturing him Worli cha dukkar – Worli’s pig), P L Deshpande (for his remarks: Hee Shivshahi nasun Thokshahi aahe – this isn’t the Shivaji-like governed rule but a mobocracy) and Sachin Tendulkar (for innocuous remarks: Mumbai belongs to India). Many saw, by taking on stalwarts, Thackeray stood by his principals. The truth was he strived to derive maximum mileage. But, in such attempts too, Thackeray failed as in 45 years of Sena, he could rule the state only once – for 5 years.

Ketkar liken Thackeray with Ayatollah Khomeini. I consider this an over-valued sobriquet. Khomeini controlled entire Iran, no mater how flawed principals he harboured. Thackeray on the other hand could not keep his own house in order, though he has credit to his side of saving Maharashtra from dividing on caste lines. But then that too was in Thackeray’s own interests, especially when different sects had loyalties to different parties.

Maharashtra’s another big leader (notionally) is Sharad Pawar. Mehta argues: “Pawar, once a politician of considerable promise, has proved to be one of the biggest spoilers in modern Indian politics.” How true.

Maharashtra always assessed Pawar too highly. His power tactics were flop, fetching him nothing concrete. All his gambles to win primeministership failed. He was reduced to regional leader, while his party left to chant Marathi. On the administrative note too, he hardly did anything to prove his mettle. He often flexed his secular credentials, but in reality, divided Maharashtra on caste lines. And all through, we kept calling Pawar the Maratha-warlord, the master of Indian politics, the Janata Raja (sobriquet earned by Shivaji).

If Maharashtra knows anything, that is to harp on regional values. Nothing wrong in being proud of such rich values. The problem is: in exaggeration, Maharashtrains can’t sell those values beyond a point.

While Blaming Maharashtra, I accept that I am party to it. More than twice because just few days back, I preached friend through her blog, not to rant.

The Great Cogeneration Scam

It’s a scam worth Rs. 5000 crores. It is also a classic case of how politicians create a situation and exploit it to their best. It also tells us why opposition parties don’t win elections even when ruling parties are impotent, busy serving own interests.

In this game, ruling parties calls the shots, to which opposition react in a customized way.
Initially, they create electricity shortfall. Then, just when we think of desperate measures to bridge power gap, these politicians come up with solution.

Solution: Politicians in power running the cooperative sugar mills are to generate some 1200 mw power by setting up cogeneration plants within their sugar factories. These politicians then allow 55 such factories, some of them controlled by ministers while few by opposition.

To set up plants, rulers make provision of subsidized fund worth Rs. 5000 crore. The capital and subsidy is to be borne by taxpayers. It is fine if the mills are to sell their power mandatory to state owned utility to meet shortfall.

But, mantris, tacitly change the original government resolution. They allow themselves to sell power in open market, which offers far higher rates and sell it in return with proportionate profits. This way, politicians indulge into profiteering.

Curiously, all through the process, opposition is conspicuously silent. No wonder they too have their share.

So while guarding the private interests, public interest sustains severely dent.

My report on this in Hindustan Times to read minister's reaction:

'Jaago Re'

Allowing plug after request through email from Pradnya Adhikari:

I am writing to you with reference to Tata Tea’s Jaago Re movement – a movement that I represent. The Jaago Re campaign was initiated in the year 2007 and the objective of this campaign was to initiate social awakening amongst Indians. The Jaago Re campaign made a great impact with the ‘One Billion Votes’ campaign and are currently targeting corruption with the ‘Khilana Band, Pilana Shuru’ drive.
Recently, Tata Tea has re-launched its flagship website The portal which was, for the last one year, an online hot spot for aspiring voters to register and obtain all information related to Voter Registration, will now stand for social awakening in a broader sense. Jaago Re as a campaign has targeted the youth of the nation, urging them to take a stand on various issues such as voting and corruption and do their bit – thereby encouraging them to 'be the change they want to see’.
What makes unique is that it facilitates the flow of information and resources between individuals / groups / organizations – by bringing together, onto a common platform, those who possess information and resources and those who need them. NGOs can list themselves on the site, thereby making their presence felt with individuals who would like to work with them. On the other hand, individuals who wish to do their bit for society can volunteer their services with an organization of their choice.

It would be great if you can help us support us by spreading the word on Jaago Re's initiative through your blog. Hopefully readers of your blog, both NGOs and individuals alike, would be inspired enough to join the initiative.
For any further details do visit or you can contact me and I would be glad to help.

Take care,
Pradnya Adhikari

Marathi Cinema Comes Alive Again

(A still from marathi film Vihir. Photo courtsey: Vihir Director Umesh Kulkarni)

In 2008 when I saw Valu, I strongly felt writing a review. Then came Girni. Similar feeling ran through, but procrastination did not let me do anything worth. Then I saw Natrang and now Vihir. All through, I just desired, but did little.

Last evening, I defied the usual code and reviewed the entire marathi cinema. The final product appeared in the Hindustan Times was:

Ten days after the recent release of Natrang, a film on tamasha artistes, its lead actor, Atul Kulkarni, met an elderly man at a cinema hall in Satara. Kulkarni, touring to promote the film, found his face familiar. Yes, they had indeed met, the man told him — this was the 13th time he was watching the film.

A few kilometres away, a lengthy queue waited outside a multiplex for a special screening of Vihir (The Well), which portrays a child’s bond with his cousin, and has been feted at international festivals.
In 2004, Sandeep Sawant’s Shwaas (Breath) became India’s official entry to the Oscars — Marathi filmmakers have not looked back since.
In the 1980s and ’90s, most Marathi films merely played catch with Hindi cinema, and moved away from local issues and themes. In the last five years, a new crop of filmmakers has been building on the foundation laid by stalwarts like Dadasaheb Phalke, V Shantaram and Bhalji Pendharkar — and, using refreshing storylines about local issues and aspirations, brought to Marathi cinema a certain technical finesse.

Umesh Kulkarni, a Film and Television Institute of India graduate, has made three films that audiences have favoured: Valu, the story of a village living in fear of a destructive bull, Girni, about the crisis in a working-class family after it starts a small enterprise using its grinding machine, and Vihir.

Harischandrachi Factory, Paresh Mokashi’s directorial debut tells the story of the making of India’s first silent film — Raja Harishchandra, by Dadasaheb Phalke — and is India’s entry to the Oscars this year. Ravi Jadhav’s Natrang, set in rural Maharashtra in the 1970s, is still pulling in the crowds, after the success of last year’s Mee Shivaji-raje Bhosale Boltoy and Rita.
Across the state, the young and old alike have lapped up this fare. “The more local we go with themes, the more global we become,” said Kulkarni.
“There is now recognition from across the world because we have better ideas and more sophisticated presentation,” said Ajay Sarpotdar, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal, an association of Marathi filmmakers.

Dr Jabbar Patel, who directed Saamna and Sinhasan, two of the biggest films in the history of Marathi cinema, says: “The recent Pune International Film Festival pulled people in large numbers, and the average age of the viewer was 21.”

Cut Every Word And Earn More Money

Machael Kinsley in the Atlantic:

On the first day of my first real job in journalism—on the copy desk at the Royal Oak Daily Tribune in Royal Oak, Michigan—the chief copy editor said, “Remember, every word you cut saves the publisher money.” At the time, saving the publisher money didn’t strike me as the world’s noblest ideal. These days, for anyone in journalism, it’s more compelling.

Journalist must cut every word. He must also get in return from Publishers the hike in salaries for every word he has cut.

Should Rape Be Treated Like Other Crimes ?

Article by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha on how incentives matter, with special reference to commuting death sentence to lifer for rapist, crop up few points in the mind. The author writes: The death penalty for rape could create perverse incentives for rapists to murder their victims.

Does punishment dictate nature and severity of crime ?. Logically, the harsher the punishment, more deterrent it is. But in rape-cum-murder cases and even about other crimes, this logic is far from reality.

Whether rapist should be served with lifer or death is an issue of importance at par with how the society treat rape as a crime.

The record suggests, in most cases rapists kill victim. Contrary, in other crimes like robbery, chain snatching or economic offences, rate of culprits killing the sufferer is extremely low.

The perpetrators, having satisfied with their sexual desire, are often led by fear of getting caught. That fear drive them kill the victims, suggests confessions made by arrested rapists. Actually, murder after rape does not reduce chances of culprits’ arrest compared to when rapist abandon her without killing.

So then why rapist still prefers killing victim even though his primary intention is to meet sexual desire. ? I guess, the fear in rapist mind is more due to the possibly outcry because society apply different parameters to rape than other crimes.

I doubt if Rapist, once through with his first act, even think of incentives pertaining to the punishment and then decides whether to kill the victim, as pointed out by Rajadhyaksha. It is possibly the other way in which rapist after rape ceases to think under impression that outcry over the incident may land him into bigger trouble. The often seen outcome is then the murder of victim.

One possible way out to reduce rate of murders in rape cases can be society and her kin start treating victim equally as normal with the changed perception that rape is not the end of the road. And of course, to change that perception, start can be sentencing rapists with lifer than death.

Era Of Hindi Film Posters

Anupama Chopra in the Crest Edition:

(Hindi film) posters were hand-painted from photographs provided by the producers and then reproduced on paper. The size of an actor’s face on the poster directly reflected his prominence and stardom. Diwakar Karkare, who dominated poster design for three decades, recalls a leading villain offering a bribe of Rs. 25,000 to make his face bigger.

The era of hand-painted Hindi film posters has gone leaving some anecdotes behind. Stories like this often stoke up nostalgia and make us laugh, recalling scenes from old movies. Those were the days when even frivolity was considered seriousness. The self-mockery, as we construe it today, was the key to success.

PS: While reading Chetan Bhagat's tweets, a sugesstion for him caught up my mind. Why don't Bhagat pay movie posters makers and get his name written on them in BOLD