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    ....Dr. Dabholkar’s greatest victory — a law against superstition and black magic — came posthumously.....One day after he was killed, the Maharashtra government cleared an ordinance, and in December 2013, a law against superstitious practices..... 
    ....
    To the untrained ear, Hamid Dhabolkar may sound a bit like Amar Akbar Anthony, an iconic Bollywood movie from 1977 (re-made as Ram Robert Rahim in Telegu and John Jaffer Janardhanan in Malayalam)- a khichdi that symbolizes all that is supposedly secular and syncretic about India.  
    In this case however, the reality outpaces fiction in depicting the truth.

    Traditionally, for Hindus it was the gotra (not surname) that was the principal identifier. We are not fully informed on Maharashtrian practices but here is an interesting factoid: If the surname has a -kar suffix, the prefix usually suggests the ancestral village or locality of origin.

    Thus for example, Revan-kar - a title from the Daivajna family with common ancestry in Goa (hence termed Gomantak, the ancient name of Goa). The ancestral village for Revankars is Rivona (probably a Portugese adaptation). Other Gomantak Daivajna titles include Karekar (from Karai), Pednekar (Pedne), Haldonkar (Haldona)....

    Looking elsewhere, we find Aurangabadkar (Aurangabad in Western Maharashtra, the capital city of Aurangzeb, then Mughal vice-roy of Deccan, in 1653) and Amalnerkar (Amalner, 200 km due north of Nashik, in the north-west corner of Maharashtra where Azim Premji of Wipro spent his childhood, his dad was the proprietor of a local dalda factory). We are a fan of the astro-physicist Jayant Vishnu Narlikar and when we looked, sure enough, there is a village named Narli in Sangli district in south-western Maharashtra.

    The family name of Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is Sakpal (father: Ramji Maloji Sakpal) but the family took the surname of Ambawadekar, after the village Ambawade (Ratnagiri district, south Maharashtra). In a brief autobiographical account, Baba-saheb tells us how a school teacher (a Brahmin, who shared food with him) got the name to be shortened to Ambedkar. Incidentally, there are allegations (see link below) that Ambedkar's followers helped erase the contributions of his wife in his life (Savita Mai, a Brahmin), we wonder why?
    ........
    .....
    Finally, we have Dr Narendra Achyut Dabholkar, who died for the cause of rationality one year ago in Pune (1 November 1945 – 20 August 2013). The Dabholkar title is from the Chitpavan family with common ancestry in the Konkan (hence termed Konkan-astha). Dabhol is a sea-side village on the Konkan sea-coast, 250 km south of Mumbai, near Chiplun, Maharashtra.
    ........
    We are not that familiar with Narendra as a first-name (Nara- man + Indra- king of Gods, thus a king amongst men), however the ones we know of are all formidable people (coincidence?). Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi is the current Prime Minister from Gujarat, while Narendra Nath Dutta was the pre-sanyasin name of Swami Vivekananda - the Bengali monk who established the monastic order named Ramakrishna Mission.

    When it came to naming his son, Dabholkar made a curious (but meaningful) choice. Hamid Dabholkar is named after Hamid Umar Dalwai who was born in a Marathi-speaking Muslim family and whose ancestral village is Mirjoli, also near Chiplun (and not far from Dabhol). Dalwai was an early follower of the socialist mass-leader (Lok Nayak) Jai Prakash (JP) Narayan and then went on to establish himself as a renowned social reformer focused (primarily) on the advancement of Muslim women. 
    ................

    [ref. Wiki] Dalwai joined the Indian Socialist Party of Jai Prakash Narayan in his early adulthood, but left it to devote himself to social reforms in the Muslim community, especially regarding women's rights. 

    Despite living in a period when most people were staunchly religious and orthodox, Hamid Dalwai was one among the few religiously secular people. He strove towards a uniform civil code rather than religion specific laws.
    ...
    To create a platform for his views and work, he established the Muslim Satya-Shodhak Mandal (Muslim Truth Seeking Society) in Pune on 22 March 1970. Through the medium of this Society, Hamid worked towards reforming bad practices in the Muslim community especially towards women. He helped many Muslim women who were victimized to get justice. 

    He campaigned for encouraging Muslims in acquiring education in the State language rather than Urdu, their mother tongue. He also tried to make adoption an acceptable practice in the Indian Muslim community.
    ....
    He also established the Muslim Secular Society. He organised many public meetings, gatherings, conventions and conferences to campaign for better social practices. He was also a great Marathi litterateur. He wrote Indhan (Fuel) - a novel, Laat (Wave) - a collection of short stories and Muslim Politics in Secular India. He used the medium of his writing for social reform.
    ...............

    At 7.20 a.m. on August 20, supporters of the courageous and gritty rationalist Narendra Dabholkar will gather near the Omkareshwar Temple in Pune, where he was gunned down while on a morning walk exactly a year ago.  

    Through street plays and songs, anti-superstition campaigners will pay tribute to one of India’s foremost critics of charlatan godmen and black magic.


    The tribute will also be an indictment of the government’s utter failure to find his killers. Dr. Dabholkar’s daylight murder was initially probed by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra and then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). So far it has yielded nothing.


    Ironically, a month ago, Outlook magazine ran an investigation claiming that the Pune police had resorted to planchet and tantriks to trace the killers of the very man who had opposed such forces all his life. The police have denied this and have even threatened a defamation case.


    However, there is widespread disillusionment with both the Centre and the State’s inability to push the probe. “It is very distressing. We are hurt and anguished. Are they trying to hide something and shield someone?” asks his son Hamid Dabholkar. “There were groups which had consistently been attacking and defaming him. They had filed many cases against him. The investigation should have focussed on that,” he emphasises.


    Dr. Dabholkar was both fearless and relentless in his single-minded drive against blind faith. He had braved vilification and death threats, even physical attacks. His programs were routinely disrupted.


    Yet, he continued to challenge godmen, often on their own turf surrounded by mobs of followers. His targets included the influential Sathya Sai Baba and his claims of producing “miracle ash” out of thin air.


    In the late 1990s, Dr. Dabholkar had taken on Ratnagiri’s Narendra Maharaj at his own ashram. The godman, who claimed miracle cures for ailments, arrived with 20,000 followers for a tense face-off with Dr. Dabholkar and his group of 15. Narendra Maharaj finally conceded defeat after a debate monitored by an anxious District Collector.


    In 2000, Dr. Dabholkar led a massive campaign demanding the entry of women into the Shani Shingnapur temple trust in Ahmednagar. The issue finally ended up in court.


    Hindu right-wing groups were among his fiercest critics, mainly the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha. Both organisations have vehemently denied any hand in his murder. However, the Sanatan Sanstha proclaimed in an editorial just a day after the murder that it was “God’s wish.” One member of the organisation was briefly questioned by the police before being let off for lack of evidence.


    Dr. Dabholkar’s greatest victory — a law against superstition and black magic — came posthumously, after a dogged 18-year struggle. One day after he was killed, the Maharashtra government cleared an ordinance, and in December 2013, a law against superstitious practices.


    The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013 is a diluted version of the ambitious draft Dr. Dabholkar had championed. It does not allow third parties to lodge complaints. Only the affected party has that right.


    However, the law has already had a massive impact with nearly 80 cases being registered across the State in less than a year. These include cases against human sacrifice, the sexual exploitation of women by local godmen and the fleecing of the gullible by promises of instant wealth. However, the cases have mostly come to the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) set up by Dr. Dabholkar and then been registered with the police.


    “In the last year, we have received nearly one such complaint daily,” says MANS working president Avinash Patil. The survival of the organisation, founded nearly three decades ago, has been critical to continuing his campaign.


    The deceptively gentle activist had built a robust movement across all the districts in the State, drawing on students and volunteers to propel the battle against superstition. Even today, MANS has nearly 250 branches and 5,000 volunteers. “Sustaining the organisation was a challenge. With his death we lost our security cover. But we have survived and passed the test,” says Mr. Patil.


    Dr. Dabholkar was well aware of the risks he faced by questioning obscurantism in a country steeped in superstition. “In this movement, even expressing a thought is sometimes a fight,” he would say. Indian rationalists have long walked a vulnerable path, even though under our “Fundamental Duties”, citizens are obliged to “develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”


    Yet it’s not only rationalists who have the odds stacked against them. Whistle-blowers who have exposed corruption, now increasingly through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, have been targeted, sometimes paying with their lives.


    Close to Pune city itself, RTI activist Satish Shetty was murdered in 2010. Last week the CBI filed a closure report in the case saying it had not found evidence against any of those accused of his murder. 

    The probe into his father’s killing, Hamid Dabholkar feels, fits into this larger pattern.

    “This is an issue which goes beyond my father. If voices which stand for social causes are silenced and no action is taken against the perpetrators, it is an attack on democracy,” he says. And on simple rational thinking itself.

    .........

    Link (1): dabholkar-dissent-and-democracy

    Link (2): dr-ambedkar-and-brahmins
    ......

    regards

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  • 08/21/14--19:40: Hussain Haqqani
  • ....Sharif could have handled the protests better...Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri....egged on by the military to clip Sharif’s wings....Pakistan similar to Thailand....urban middle class, gang up with generals and judges to undermine those elected by the people.....
    .....
    The ex-Ambassador and current Professor of International Relations, Boston University speaks his mind.
    It is difficult to say what is the truth. HH is expected to be biased against the Army which banished him from his homeland. That said, there is not much evidence that Imran Khan has made any impact with the non-stop drama-bazi.

    Indeed, just like Arvind Kejriwal in India, IK seems better suited as a protester than a ruler. Kejriwal and the Aam Admi Party should have focused on governing Delhi and gaining the confidence of the people. Large sections of Indians from al backgrounds would have loved to vote for a non-BJP, non-Congress, secular, left-liberal platform (rather than cast a vote against the Dynasty or Hindutva). Even the neo-Gandhian, Irom Sharmila was sympathetic to the cause. She would have guaranteed an AAP seat in Manipur - a 25% increase from the current tally of four.

    The key issue is if and when self-confidence (constructive) morphs into hubris (destructive). After having destroyed the seemingly invincible, four-term Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in Delhi, Kejriwal thought he could repeat the magic by defeating Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Admittedly it was a gamble not devoid of merit - the Sunni Muslim vote-share (15%) roughly equals that of the super-caste vote. But it was the Shia Muslims, the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav Dalits who contributed to a complete annihilation of the "secular" coalition in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

    Instead of insisting that people do not pay their power bills, Khan should focus on better governance and better access to power, which is the primary reason why the Pakistan economy is suffering so much. It is not power for himself but power to the people that is the need of the hour.
    ..............
    Nawaz Sharif’s 1999 tenure ended in a military coup – are the protests, led by Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, an attempted civilian coup? What will the impact on Pakistan’s democracy be?
    .......
    The elephant in the room in Pakistan is always its overbearing military and the ubiquitous intelligence service, the ISI. Sharif could have handled the protests better – but I have no doubt that Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri have been egged on by the military covertly to clip Sharif’s wings.
    Pakistani democracy remains fragile and subject to the military’s manipulation. If PM Sharif is forced out by a few thousand protesters after being elected with millions of votes, it would mean that Pakistani democracy remains subject to the whims of the military and its civilian allies.
    The winner would be Pakistan’s authoritarian tradition – the loser would be the idea of a democratic Pakistan.
    What we’re witnessing in Pakistan is similar to Thailand where losers, backed by the urban middle class, gang up with generals and judges to undermine those elected by the majority of the people.
    ....
    The protests raise allegations of corruption and rigging an election – how else could these issues be highlighted?
    First of all, protests against an allegedly rigged election should follow the election – not be orchestrated 14 months later. The excuse is flimsy at best.
    Imran Khan has even said his protest is really about four parliamentary seats where he claims the vote was rigged. There is a clear appeals process for such complaints. There is no justification for a protest campaign of this nature.
    ....
    What are the strategic repercussions for India?
    A weak civilian government is less effective as an interlocutor for India. The prospects of dialogue recede when Pakistan is in the midst of such turmoil.
    There is always the chance that jihadi extremists could embark on new dangerous missions against India while PM Sharif is preoccupied.
    ....
    Meanwhile, India has called off talks with Pakistan after Pakistan’s envoy met Kashmiri separatists in Delhi – what’s your view?
    I was never optimistic about these talks. Meaningful talks cannot take place amid posturing and regurgitation of previously stated positions.
    The Sharif government is just too weak to move forward with serious talks. That is why they had to appear to be reiterating concern over Kashmir, though India’s view on that is well known. Talks will only move ahead when both sides are ready to negotiate substantive issues – not just score points.
    ....
    America is due to exit Afghanistan soon – how will the US withdrawal impact security in the region?
    There will definitely be an attempt by the Taliban and their backers to grab power as they did in the chaos following the Soviet withdrawal – but Afgha-nistan is better prepared for the withdrawal of US troops than many people realise.
    Ideally, all countries of the region should help the Afghans maintain stability once American forces leave.
    ......

    Link: military-pushing-imran-khan-nawaz-govt-too-weak-for-talks-husain-haqqani

    .....

    regards

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  • 08/21/14--20:22: So...it was Hamas after all
  • ....Arouri told the conference that Hamas "did not have the intention at this time to ignite a large battle".....his group did not believe Israel wanted a war either"...."But Allah has chosen and willed that a large battle would be ignited"....
    ...
    One thing we never understand and never will. All revolutionaries claim that in order to achieve utopia heavy sacrifices will be called for. But why is it (to take the Israel-Gaza war as a template) that while the fighters and leaders are protected deep inside tunnels the civilians have no choice but to take it on the chin.

    So far the biggest complaint against Hamas was that they use Palestinians as human shields. The response to this is, well...they are a guerrilla army and this is how they fight. But this is a much more serious charge...they provoke the Israelis...and knowingly put their own people at risk. It is as if they consider their own flesh and blood as mere pawns (more dead children = better PR).

    Hamas is just so relaxed about the outcome- they were able to shut down Tel Aviv airport for two days...is that it? A show of force, two thousand martyrs who will help prod the memories of the next generation, and the fight goes on. From the Israeli side...same story...they call it "mowing the lawn." And of course they have their martyrs as well.

    There is a problem with such continuous, calibrated, calculated, cruelties imposed on both sides. This much is true...when you create martyrs.....you also create monsters. There may come a time in the future when all the people on all sides will be devastated....imagine a Hiroshima on the Mediterranean. An ocean of bad blood...and suddenly not a drop of blood to spare (and to share). Think about it.
    .....
    A senior Hamas leader has said the group carried out the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June — the first time anyone from the Islamic militant group has said it was behind an attack that helped spark the current war in the Gaza Strip.
    ........
    Saleh Arouri told a conference in Turkey on Wednesday that Hamas's military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, carried out what he described as a "heroic operation" with the broader goal of sparking a new Palestinian uprising.

    "It was an operation by your brothers from the al-Qassam Brigades," he said, saying Hamas hoped to exchange the youths for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

    Hamas has repeatedly praised the kidnappings, but Arouri, the group's exiled West Bank leader, is the first member to claim responsibility. Israel has accused Hamas of orchestrating the kidnappings and identified two operatives as the chief suspects. The two men remain on the loose.

    Arouri's admission shows "Hamas has no qualms whatsoever about targeting innocent civilians," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

    The kidnappings of the three teens while they were hitchhiking on June 12, along with the discovery of their bodies two weeks later, sparked a broad Israeli crackdown on Hamas members throughout the West Bank. Hamas responded with heavy rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip, leading Israel to launch an aerial and ground invasion of the territory.

    More than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials, while 67 Israelis have also been killed, all but three of them soldiers. An Egyptian effort to mediate a cease-fire collapsed this week, leading to a resumption of heavy fighting.

    Arouri told the conference that Hamas "did not have the intention at this time to ignite a large battle." He said his group did not believe Israel wanted a war either. "But Allah has chosen and willed that a large battle would be ignited," he said.

    Arouri is one of Hamas' most senior figures. He founded Hamas' military wing in the West Bank two decades ago and now commands the group's operations in the area from exile in Turkey. He was deported several years ago in a deal that freed him from Israeli prison.

    Earlier this week, Israel identified Arouri as the mastermind of an alleged plot to launch an uprising in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    ....

    Link: hamas-kidnapping-israeli-teens

    ....

    regards

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  • 08/22/14--21:04: The (tiny) knife
  • ....agree that jihadists are the villains, but remain deeply uncomfortable with the idea that Americans are the heroes.....My imagination is in thrall to the tiny knife....how difficult it would be, to sever a man's head with a little knife like that, and how painful....can't help feeling that the knife was chosen for that reason.....to provide a contrast with the air strikes of the military industrial complex.....message: "I may not have many weapons at my own disposal, but look what I'm prepared to do with whatever comes to hand".....
    ...
    Deborah Orr is a fantastic journalist and a clear-eyed leftist. She is no Arundhati Roy....no unquestioning ideology or blind America hatred for her. Yet when push comes to shove she betrays her own instincts, ignores the truth that stares her in the face, and....she is also wrong on  the facts. The Caliphate does have access to a whole armory of advanced weapons either left behind by the vanquished Iraqi army or purchased with funding from Qatar and Saudia.
    .....
    .....
    One thing people will be puzzling over while perusing the last email the Caliphate wrote to John Foley (father of James): who is this woman...."our sister"....Dr Afiya Siddiqi? What are the circumstances behind her imprisonment by the Americans? Why is she such an inspirational figure for the Caliphate??
    .......
     ........
    Deborah is clear on this point: the ambivalence that Europeans feel about condemning the Caliphate is tied to the fear that it would make heroes out of Americans. She is worried as to how the ISIS is poisoning minds which leads to islamo-phobia amongst common (white) people and blind prejudice against muslims and arabs.
    .......
    The famous Jewish-American dissident NormanFinkelstein calls the attitude of Jewish liberals (who support the right of Israel to exist as a nation state) as shooting...but crying. Well, the attitude of the West-Left towards islamists is equally instructive. It is akin to a grandmawho brings her ward to school and instructs the teacher on tantrum management:if the child makes trouble, then scold the boy next to him and he will calm down. It is as if  the chosen wards of the western left have no agency of their own...the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    We have been a consistent fan of Prof Obama and how handles his job...he is the ultimate cool dude. He has been consistent on this point that he wants America to do less outside the borders and more inside. This is how it should be.

    When has the last time the international community managed to speak in one voice, in support of the world's policeman? Perhaps following 9/11 when we were supposedly all americans (that solidarity disappeared real fast). The outrage over James Foley is just a momentary thing, it is like a water-drop on a lotus leaf (one word in Sanskrit: nalini-dala-gata-jalamati-taralam). We hear ad infinitum about Iraq, why not a bit about how Americans saved Bosnia. Deborah has nothing to say about a genocide in Europe four decades after we were assured "never again."

    Now that the Caliphate has made a personal challenge, the President has a well thought-out response: We will get you and we will never forget. If he had just blustered that would not convinces us. Obama is no peacenik, he just wants to focus on (home) economics rather than war (abroad). But now that the choice is clear, we expect difficult times ahead for Al-Bakri (we would love to see his head on a stick, no non-violence for him).
    ....

    The parents of slain journalist James Foley have released the final email sent by Islamic State (Isis) militants a week before he was beheaded and a video of the killing was uploaded onto the internet. They said they regarded the email as a hopeful sign they could negotiate with the Islamic militants.

    Speaking on NBC's Today, John and Diane Foley from Rochester, New Hampshire, said they had last heard from the captors via several emails in December.

    ...
    John Foley said he was excited to see the latest email, even though it threatened execution, because he hoped they would be willing to negotiate. "I underestimated that point," John Foley said of the threat. "I did not realize how brutal they were."
    ...
    Foley, 40, was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. In the last email, Foley's Islamic State captors demanded USD 132.5 million from his parents and political concessions from Washington. Authorities say neither obliged.
    ...

    The militants revealed Foley's death in a video released on Tuesday. The extremists said they killed him in retaliation of US air-strikes targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.
    ...

    The Foleys said they had set up a special email address and sent multiple messages to try to engage the captors. "We were just anxiously waiting," Diane Foley said.
    ...
    Global Post, a news site the American photojournalist worked for before his death, said it had chosen to publish the letter "in full in the interest of transparency and to fully tell Jim's story".

                                               Full text of the e-mail:

    HOW LONG WILL THE SHEEP FOLLOW THE BLIND SHEPPARD?
    A message to the American government and their sheep like citizens:

    We have left you alone since your disgraceful defeat in Iraq. We did not interfere in your country or attack your citizens while they were safe in their homes despite our capability to do so!

    As for the scum of your society who are held prisoner by us, THEY DARED TO ENTER THE LION’S DEN AND WHERE EATEN!

    You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted,
    We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister Dr Afia Sidiqqi, however you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in.
    You have no motivation to deal with the Muslims except with the language of force, a language you were given in “Arabic translation” when you attempted to occupy the land of Iraq!
    Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again, this time resorting to Arial attacks and “proxy armies”, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation!
    Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE! AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTILL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD.

    You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children so we will NOT spare yours!

    You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!

    The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley!

    He will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!
    .................

    Plenty of people are happy enough to agree that jihadists are the villains, but remain deeply uncomfortable with the idea that Americans are the heroes. Even some of the people who agree absolutely that Foley's death was far, far beyond excuse would argue that part of the problem with westerners is that we only listen when other westerners are telling the stories. Foley himself felt compelled to tell the story of the suffering of Syrians, because he understood that western media outlets need western translators.

    Certainly, most of us don't want to sit staring at our screens watching un-contextualised clips of atrocities. Instead, we want our news to be mediated, by people who broadly share our values, not the values of the people who are the objects of our pity or of our disgust. But even this story, which seems straightforward, is harder to judge than it might appear.

    You don't have to have seen the film to have picked up more detail about it than you might want to know. 

    My own squeamish imagination is in thrall to the tiny knife, a picture of which the media in its wisdom has decided can be published freely. I'm not so sure that it's wise to bandy pictures of that (assumed) murder weapon around. Actually, I see so much meaning in that knife that I wonder if I might have strayed beyond reason on this matter.

    First, it makes a mockery of the idea that you can protect yourself from the brutality of the attack on Foley by declining to look at the film. It invites you to think about how difficult it would be, to sever a man's head with a little knife like that, and how painful. You can't help feeling that the knife was chosen for that reason. Actually, it's reported, even the film leaves the actual butchery to the imagination, showing only its results. 

    However, I think that small knife was selected for reasons more fiendish even than that unwelcome invitation to imagine it being used. I think it was selected to provide a contrast with the air strikes of the military industrial complex, the air strikes that the murderer claimed were Foley's real killers. I think it was a message and a warning: "I may not have many weapons at my own disposal, but look what I'm prepared to do with whatever comes to hand."

    Terrorists always argue that they are forced to be brutal because brutality is their only weapon. Their only weapon, in this case, apart from a knife of familiar and domestic size, is a camera and every media outlet in the world. And that's a massive weapon.

    That tiny knife puts me in mind, very much, of the rockets of Hamas – puny weapons used symbolically, rebuke and provocation both. "It only killed one person," as Hamas would say. "Look at all the people you have killed in your disproportionate response." 

    Maybe Islamic State are deluded enough to believe that their execution of Foley will stop US air strikes. Maybe they think they will get the kind of gigantic ransoms for their remaining prisoners that they asked for in Foley's case. Maybe they're not even thinking, but merely desperate, as some optimistic-seeming observers suggest.

    But maybe they have already got what they want – to be the most notorious group on the planet simply because their propaganda has the power to unsettle the minds of humanity. Their own minds may be small and nasty. But they have still infected the minds of the world, and maybe our hearts as well. On those terms, heaven help us, they've already won

    ...........

    Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui said that former President Pervez Musharraf handed over her sister and children to USA in voracity of dollars while her sister had no links with the banned organization.

    Addressing the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) session on Friday she said that the incumbent government was not working for the repatriation of Dr Aafia.
    She appealed to the lawyer fraternity and masses to run a campaign for the release of Dr Aafia as they did against former dictator Pervez Musharraf. She further said that the PPP led government should have demanded the US government that if Dr Aafia was a culprit then her case should be pursued in Pakistan.
    ...
    Addressing the session, President LHCBA, Mian Abdul Qadus said that that former dictator had handed over the Pakistani citizens including Dr Aafia Siddiqui out of greed for money. He demanded the trial of former dictator under Article 6 of the constitution while all the responsible people who were involved in handing over of Dr Aafia Siddiqui should be dealt with iron hands.

    Pasban Lahore organised a march here on Friday to press for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui by the US. The march was held from Shuhada Mosque to Assembly hall where Altaf Shakoor president Pasban, Pakistan addressed the participants. He urged students, labourers, lawyers and journalists to intensify their efforts to free Dr Aafia.
    ....
    He said that people should not be mislead by the false stories against Aafia being churned out by anti-Muslim Jewish lobby. He demanded of the government to support the daughter of the nation and fulfill its duties.

    ....

    Link (1): Last-EMail-ISIS-Sent-To-The-Foleys-Full-Text

    Link (2): james-foley-murder-isis-infected-our-minds

    Link (3): musharraf-handed-over-dr-aafia-in-lust-for-dollars-dr-fauzia

    ....

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/22/14--22:02: "A small incident of rape"
  • ....'He calls (the gangrape of my daughter) a small incident bcos such things never happen to people like him.' ~ Asha Devi, Nirbhaya's mother....Jaitley speaks out his mindset: 1 "small incident of rape" advertised world over is enough 2 cost us billions of $ in tourism.....@arunjaitley laments about one 'small' incident of rape, @PIB_India deletes small from speech text......
     .....
    It is a fact that people have in-built expectations about how public figures will behave. We expect the (senior) Leader to be business-like (and dictatorial) in thought, speech and action. We expect the (junior) Leader to be a fire-breather: our Hindu sisters and daughters are in danger and we should take revenge. We expect Madam to stay silent on pogrom I (against Sikhs in 1984) and talk non-stop about pogrom II (against muslims, 2002). We expect Arundhati Roy to be cursing the super-castes and hero-worshiping the Maoists.

    Arun Jaitley is a more complex character. He was the person who admitted (ref. Wiki-leaks) that for  the BJP, Hindutva is not a matter of conviction....just a ploy to win elections. Yes, we believe that is indeed the case (but it does not make us feel any better about the BJP or the tactics it chooses to use).
    ......

    "Pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley argued that Hindu nationalism 'will always be a talking point' for the BJP. However, he characterized this as an opportunistic issue," Robert Blake, the Charge at the US Embassy, said to his government after a meeting with Jaitley on May 6, 2005.
    ...... 
    Jaitley is respected (and even loved) by friends and foes alike. He is that unlikely character, an under-stated and over-intellectual Punjabi Brahmin. The only negative comment we note is from William Dalrymple- he calls Jaitley a "dark genius."

    Looking beyond the ghastly faux-pas that he has made (compounded by refusing to apologize cleanly....we would recommend asking for forgiveness from the family), it provides us a worrisome glimpse into the elite mind.
      
    They are really not too bothered about the fact that a girl in the 21st century does not have freedom to enjoy an evening with her partner in the capital city of India.The loss to business...the loss of jobs...that is the true worry.  

    That also leads to a separate but important question: why do tourists come to visit India (or any other country) and what are their expectations? If a country was neat, clean, and safe, and cheap...would tourists give a second thought about human rights? Chinese tourists are visiting Sri Lanka (personal experience) while Germans have not stopped visiting Thailand.

    There is no question that tourism has been affected...but that should motivate us even more to correct the problem. For us the equation is simple: India will improve (and not just the economy) only when the condition of the women improve. Yes, boys are falling behind, alarmingly so in many areas, and we should be mindful of that. But the patriarchy must go....even if it is replaced by anarchy (we dont believe that will happen).

    At the end of the day Arun Jaitley showed that everything said and done he is just another "typical Indian man." And that is both sad and disappointing.
    ...........................

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was today at the centre of a row over his "small rape incident" remark with attack being mounted on him from various quarters even as he said he had not referred to any particular case and that he had no intention of trivialising any crime.
    ....

    "I regret that the statement has been construed or some word that I have used have been construed as insensitive. That was never my intention," he said in his clarification.
    He was referring to his remarks made yesterday at the annual state tourism ministers' conference that "one small incident" of rape in Delhi, advertised world over, was enough to cost India millions of dollars in terms of global tourism.

    ...
    Though he had not specified any incident, his remarks were seen to be a reference to the rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old paramedic girl on December 16, 2012 in the capital over which the entire country was outraged and protests were held all over.
    ...

    Jaitley said he has always been outspoken on issues relating to crimes, particularly those against women. "I am very sensitive to these issues myself and there is no question of trivialising any crime or any particular incident. I had not referred to any particular incident," he said.
    ...
    The minister said he had spoken "in general" on how crime can hurt tourism and the image of crime against women itself dissuades tourists from coming to India.
    ...

    Criticising Jaitley's remarks, victim Nirbhaya's mother said, "He has disappointed me. During elections they had used Nirbhaya's name for political gains and after coming into power they call it a small incident."
    ...

    Her father said, "We are deeply hurt by what he has said. No rape is small, each rape incident is shameful for a country and when public figures and politicians make such statements it looks so insensitive. They should remember that when they speak, not only our country but the whole world listens."
    ...

    Member of National Commission of Women (NCW) Nirmala Sawant said, "It is wrong from the part of a minister to make such remarks and compare how such crime can hurt country's economy. His remark is very unfortunate. I condemn it."
    ...
    The word "small", however, was edited out of his speech transcript released by the Press Information Bureau.
    .......

    Link: One-Small-Incident-Of-Rape-In-Delhi-Arun-Jaitley

    ......

    regards

    0 0

    ....The Congress-led United Democratic Front government, proposed to make Kerala alcohol-free in 10 years.....The cabinet has also decided to shut down 700 bars by cancelling their bar license.....from April 1, 2015, only five star hotels will be granted bar licenses....Apart from the existing dry days, which include the first day of every month, all Sundays would be dry days...
    .....
    The first question that came to our mind: will no one think of the tourists? Not all tourists stay in 5-star accommodations (which will also run dry in 10 years).

    And shock horror!!! We hear the proud denizens of Tamizh Nadu making unheard of demands: why cant we be like Mallus (and...Gujjus...more shock horror)?

    There are liberal and conservative arguments for prohibition (and liberal arguments in opposition). Then you have blood-less economists who will focus on jobs and tax revenue- bars with dancing girls generate well paying jobs and huge money for the exchequer.

    The push for a ban-on-bars is also a tale of women vs. women:  women in low-income families have long complained of husbands wasting their pay-packets on evil women (and the devil drink). This was the argument that convinced Maharashtra govt to shut down girls in bars. Many girls (primarily from Eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh) were then forced to become prostitutes.

    The bigger argument is about full-on prohibition of drinking and here there is a morality play (backed by the religious lobby) as well as a public health one (doctors are for it). It is well known that prohibition failed in the USA, we have just not learned the lessons well enough.
    .............
    We have mixed feelings about this- we are not fond of drinking but we dislike prohibition even more. A colleague is getting married in September. Her dad passed away few years back (due to excess drinking). The responsibility now falls on her Mama (uncle) to give her away. Recently Mama-ji has been diagnosed with liver cancer as well as cirrhosis (scarring). One would think that he would feel guilty and stop but that is not the case. Instead - since he has only weeks to live - he wants to drink to his heart's content. The girl is in a state of shock and all she can say is "men do not listen."

    When we asked if religious affiliation makes any difference she said no. Her paternal side (Christian) and maternal side (Hindu) are equally robust drinkers. Now women have also joined in enthusiastically. Muslims drink almost as much as anybody else.

    Prohibiting drinking is not going to make health problems go away....people will drink illicit stuff...poisonous stuff that has killed hundreds in Gujarat. Society needs to change via persuasion (and yes, men will have to start to listen) and not prohibition. 
    ......
    India’s highest consumer of alcohol, Kerala, may soon become a dry state. The Congress-led United Democratic Front government, proposed to make Kerala alcohol-free in 10 years.

    The cabinet has also decided to shut down 700 bars by cancelling their bar license.
    The decisions will be formally recommended to the Chandy Cabinet to act upon and from April 1, 2015, only five star hotels will be granted bar licenses.
    ...
    Apart from the existing dry days, which include the first day of every month, all Sundays would be dry days in the state, taking the total liquor holidays to a minimum of 52 a year.
    ...
    The state has also decided to reduce the outlets of the government-owned Beverage Corporation, the sole retail distributor of Indian made foreign liquor in Kerala, by 10 percent every year.
    ...
    The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) is the sole wholesaler of liquor and beer, which is sold through 708 hotel bars and 383 state-owned retail outlets. Sales of liquor zoomed past Rs.9000 crore in value terms last fiscal and contribution to the state exchequer by way of taxes was Rs.6,830 crore.

    Rum reigns as the No.1 choice of tipplers, accounting for more than 55 percent of the liquor sold, followed by brandy with a close to 40 percent share. Vodka sales are at four percent. Gin, whiskey and wine together account for a just one percent share.
    ...
    A study by a doctor at a leading hospital in the state said he has at least three new patients coming to him every month with alcohol-related liver diseases and pointed out that those in the 37-45 in the age group with liquor-related diseases will go up drastically in a few years' time
    .....

    PMK founder S. Ramadoss flummoxed his critics on Thursday, urging the Tamil Nadu government to emulate the Kerala model to either clamp prohibition in one stroke or usher it in phases.


    In a statement here, he said Tamil Nadu was expressing its inability to implement prohibition arguing that it was not feasible when the measure was not enforced in the neighbouring States. But, Kerala was moving towards prohibition in phases.


    Pointing out that Kerala had 383 liquor outlets and 752 bars (permit rooms), Dr. Ramadoss said that in one move, the government closed 418 bars. Then, it shut down 18 bars and 45 liquor stores. 

    Quoting Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V.M. Sudheeran, Dr. Ramadoss said the Oomen Chandy government was striving for total prohibition ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls.


    Appreciating Kerala’s steps to protect its people from the ill-effects of alcohol, Dr. Ramadoss, citing the Kerala State Crime Records Bureau statistics, said the closure of bars had brought down the rate of crimes by 15 per cent and the number of road accidents by 10 per cent. Even sexual offences and crimes against women had come down.


    Contrary to such trends, Tamil Nadu was opening more liquor, beer and Tasmac outlets, Dr. Ramadoss said. This resulted in the crime rate soaring and increasing concerns over the safety of women and children.
    .......

    Link (1): kerala-to-completely-ban-alcohol-by-2025

    Link (2): pmk-founder-s-ramadoss-tn-to-take-cue-from-kerala-in-antiliquor-drive

    .....

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/23/14--11:29: Don't cry for me Yezidi
  • Like everyone else I've pretty much been inundated with issues from the Ummah (Iraq, Pakistan etc).


    It sure seems a lot easier when we had the triumvirate of Ottomania, Safavid & the Mughals (who were at the vanguard of syncretism fwiw).

    It's pretty obvious that the world is at an inflection (or reaction) point to Western globalising tendencies. Much as English will emerge as a lingua franca, it's instructive to note that it hasn't yet murdered any other languages (apart old Celtic rivals from centuries ago) and remains a real primacy in the Old Commonwealth.

    While English in the Old Commonwealth has started to standardise to various varieties, which remain somewhat intelligible with Her Majesty's Speech (which after all seems to be the central standard for this incredibly inchoate & ever-expanding medium) in the African & Asian New Commonwealth English has begun to evolve into different varieties (in Uganda, the language elides with Luganda to form Luglish, High standard English is an upper-class / educated phenomenon).

    My point being is that analysts need a geo-historical perspective when analysing the world. I don't write nearly enough these days (even the start of BP represented the last high tide of my writing) but then I'm rather occupied with harnessing my perspectives towards a corporate-commercial end (in my ever-ending war for this Bobo between the Bourgeois & Bohemian, as an aside the Ugandans use "ever" for when they mean "never").

    For instance people may agonise over ISIS but at the end of the day when have Sunni Arabs ever gone beyond deserts and plains? When have they gone into the mountains, that domains is for Persians, Turks & shi'ites. The nice tweak of geography is that it's still salient, Israel 2000yrs later captured the wrong part of Palestine and actually is in Philistia instead of Judea.

    As a final comment I see the unity of the British Isles so clearly in Uganda. The Irish may stayed apart because of Catholicism (which is no longer as determinant an identity) but the Celtic nations have so inter-mingled with the English that the boundaries are as faint & soft without disappearing. Ironically the United Kingdom is what the European Union dreams to be.

    0 0
  • 08/23/14--11:59: Lion vs. porcupines
  • ...Ananthamurthy said he would not want to live in an India where the prime minister is Narendra Modi...."I would get phone calls asking me, 'when are you leaving'?...I would like to visit Pakistan! I have friends there who love India"....“Modi wants India to be a lion but as a Gandhian I can tell you that Gandhiji wanted India to be a porcupine”.....
    ....
    As a metaphor it feels appropriate for now....a proud porcupine is any day better than a cowardly lion. Growing up in tiger-land, we know that even big cats are wary of the prickly little creatures. But why stop there? As India grows in strength and sheds its physical (and mental) shackles, she should aim to be an elephant- social, gentle (if you do not harm them), intelligent, and loving, welcoming of orphans (refugees) and quite capable of defending against vicious beasts.

    Speaking of elephants and orphans, here is news (fairly typical) from the animal kingdom last week.
    ......
    A six-months-old male baby elephant which had got separated from its mother and was partially drowned in a river got its new mother in a captive female elephant at Rajaji National Park (RNP). The female elephant too accepted the calf by cuddling it.

    According to Nitishmani Tripathi, division forest officer of Lansdowne forest division, the calf was found struggling to float in the Rawasan river at 5pm on Tuesday. The calf was rescued and was taken to a forest camp.


    DVS Khati chief wildlife warden told TOI, "The elephants are social by nature. In an elephant herd, when a calf is separated or its mother dies then other female elephants accept and nurse the calf. In common parlance, it is known as 'auntie syndrome' where other female elephants become mother or aunts of the motherless calf. " 
    .......

    Now the lion of Gujarat has a (well deserved) reputation of crushing challengers without even bothering to shake his mane. However there are still a few porcupines who have no fear, who keep shooting thorns at the king (just like them Hamas rockets??). One example is the classical dance exponent Mallika Sarabhai, daughter of Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai (the father of  the Indian space program).  

    Another one is the celebrated Kannada author Udupi Rajagopal-Acharya (UR) Anantha-Murthy (21 December 1932 - 22 August 2014). Please note below the excellent profiles by Sudheendra Kulkarni and Ramchandra Guha as well as a very special AIR Mysore interview with URA himself.

    The reflections are mostly about Mysore - where bananas and giant pumpkins are abundant and people are generous, where oceans of knowledge are to be explored in the Maharaja's college, and the bitter-sweet memories of marrying a Christian girl - as it was half a century ago.
    .............
    It is true that over time Indian politics has become more democratic (the Leader is a Shudra while the main opposition party is led in the Parliament by a Dalit - Mallikarjuna Kharge from Karanataka). Unfortunately it has also become more shrill and people seem to be losing their sense of propriety.Prof. Ananthamurthy is a national icon, and when he passed away it is reasonable to wish for a dignified send-off. But that was not to be. Even as the Prime Minister was quick to send his condolences, Hindutva-vadis were bursting crackers and celebrating. This is not a good thing and Sudheendra Kulkarni is right to condemn it.

    Of course URA was a petty man at times, especially in the way he used to bad-mouth Santeshivara Lingannaiah (SL) Bhyrappa, the all-time popular Kannada novelist who writes from the right field. But that is just professional (and ideological) jealousy. Again in such match-ups it is the skill (and fore-sight) that counts- SLB in his recent, rousing novel Avarana has a shifty character who resembles URA!!! With time people will (may) forget the masters but not their creations. It will be a pity if future generations recognize URA only from a book composed by his rival in arts.
    ............
    Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad, Gopalakrishna Adiga are all recognized as luminaries in the Marxist-Socialist universe that drove the glorious Navya (new) movement in Kannada literature. Now they are all fading away or gone, just when the left as a whole is dying in India and the right is on the ascendant. Again it is a pity that literature has become so politicized (primarily driven by the need for getting grants in India and acceptance in the West). 

    If some one wishes to enjoy an authentic Indian view (and viewpoint), our advise is to avoid the Indians-in-English "lions" and try instead the "vernacular porcupines" (best if read in the original, however excellent translations are now available). Samskara by UV Ananthamurthy (and Parva by SL Bhyarappa) are too good to be ignored by Indians who would like to know more about their history and culture, and to comprehend what needs to be preserved, and what needs to be thrown away. 
    ..........................

    UR Ananthamurthy, the great Jnanpith laureate Kannada writer who passed away in Bangalore on August 22 at the age of 82, will long be remembered for his controversial remarks on Narendra Modi (before he became the prime minister) in the run-up to the last parliamentary elections. "I'll leave India if Narendra Modi ever became India's PM," he had said, a statement that he later withdrew.

    Nevertheless, there is far more to Ananthamurthy as a writer than the controversy over a non-literary matter that he invited upon himself. A person from literature should be judged, and remembered, primarily on the basis of his or her creative writing. 


    Literature is a product of solitude. It is also read and experienced in solitude. Best fiction illuminates human condition immensely more than either journalism or political discourse. If this is true, then there is no doubt that all those who have read Ananthamurthy's novels or short stories, both in original Kannada and in translation, will forever cherish him - and his characters such as Praneshacharya in his most acclaimed novel Samskara (1965) - in their hearts.

    I read Samskara when I was studying in the seventh or eighth standard, in my little home town Athani in Karnataka. I have re-read it several times thereafter. It left a haunting effect on me.

    Praneshacharya, its protagonist, is a pious and scholarly priest living in a Brahmin village where moral corruption and hypocrisy abound beneath the veneer of religiosity. A peculiar set of circumstances, unleashed by the outbreak of plague in the village and culminating in him getting attracted to a noble-hearted prostitute, push him into a vortex of moral dilemmas. He finds himself compelled to question Brahmin orthodoxy's many verities about untouchability, sex and bookish knowledge.

    Samskara is not an overtly political novel. However, its story of how Praneshacharya confronts his own socially inherited convictions about the meaning and purpose of life contributed in some way to the awakening of the rebel in me early in my own life. That rebellious attitude shaped my response to the Emergency Rule (1975-77) imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 


    I was a student at IIT Bombay those days and got involved in Left-wing anti-Emergency activities both on and off campus. When Snehalata Reddy, a committed Bangalore-based socialist and a close associate of Ananthamurthy died during the Emergency, a victim of torture in prison, I wrote a letter (in Kannada) to Ananthamurthy expressing my anguish over the death of democracy in India and the need to strengthen our collective voice against it. Ananthamurthy, whose own allegiance lay with non-Marxist socialism espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Rammanohar Lohia, wrote back to me with words of encouragement and solidarity.

    Incidentally, Snehalata Reddy was the heroine who played the role of Chandri, the prostitute, in the cinematic rendition of Samskara. Girish Karnad acted as Praneshacharya in this gem of a black-and-white movie, produced in 1970 by Snehalata's husband and fellow-socialist Pattabhi Rama Reddy. It became a trailblazer in Kannada cinema and went on to win many national and international awards. Ananthamurthy's short story Ghatashraddha was made into another widely acclaimed film by Girish Kasaravalli in 1977.

    Ananthamurthy's other novels Bharathipura, Avasthe and Divya did not reach the story-telling excellence of Samskara. I often felt that his literary creation was hampered by his activism. Yet, as an activist and a public intellectual, he was always very original and incisive in his thinking and in the way he responded to the world around him. 


    He stuck his neck out for the causes he believed in, as is evident from his close association with the environmental movement, his deep sympathy for the empowerment of Dalits, and his spirited struggle for the protection of mother tongues in India. He felt, rightly, that the great literary creations in Bharatiya languages were overshadowed by several mediocre, but commercially successful and globally more recognised works of Indian writers in English. He was a patron of progressive theatre, especially Neenasam, a legendary cultural institution in rural Karnataka founded by his friend KV Subbanna.

    Ananthamurthy was a strong critic of the RSS and the BJP throughout his life. Promotion of Hindu-Muslim amity was a cause very dear to him. Yet, he was a great admirer of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the admiration was mutual. When the former Prime Minister went to Bangladesh on a pathbreaking visit in 1999, he had taken Ananthamurthy (and also the late Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh) as a member of his delegation. I met him for the first time on that trip and we spent a lot of time on the flight and in Dhaka conversing in Kannada.

    Ananthamurthy was non-traditionalist and yet he had almost a reverential admiration for the good aspects of India's cultural and spiritual heritage.I remember one essay in which he posed an important question, which I am paraphrasing here:  

    "Why is it that even the best of political, governance, educational and business institutions get weakened, corroded, eroded and extinct with the passage of time, whereas several religion-inspired institutions such as maths and seminaries remain alive and vibrant for centuries? Is it because the former have their foundation in the transient material world, in contrast to the eternal certainties that the latter believe in? Is this the reason why people's allegiance to the former is always fickle, and to the latter fixed?"

    ...........

    He was always full of laughter and lived life intensely even when sick. For the last 10 years he has been critical many times. Through it all he kept going. Till his last breath he was engaged—intellectually and politically — which is so admirable.

    The biggest loss is that of a genuine public intellectual. I wrote a piece for his 80th birthday. I said at the end of it that when he dies, his death will be mourned in every district of Karnataka. When an English writer like me dies, maybe, India International Centre will have a memorial meeting. Full stop. He has such deep roots in society. I don't think any of the current writers have that kind of organic connection.

    Writer as a public intellectual, as a moral conscience of society - that's a phenomenon that was once quite common in every linguistic group in India. URA is almost the last representative of it. As society gets more commercialized, as writing itself gets commercialized, this larger than life role of the writers gets reduced. He's the last of the kind.

    Twenty years ago, 40 years ago, we had Shivaram Karanth here, PK Atre in Maharashtra, Nirmal Verma in the Hindi-speaking world, Mahashweta Devi in Bengal — novelists who took a stand on public issues; who were seen as conscience-like figures. This tradition goes back to the 19th century, to Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, later to Tagore. After print arrived in India, novels, literary journals, newspapers began to appear and from then onwards writers occupied an important position in moulding public debate. They wrote essays and fiction on social reforms, women, caste, India's place in the world.

    Today, as professions get more specialized that tradition's slowly eroding. As writers focus more on their craft, career, books, advances and contracts, the larger role is lost. I would say URA and Mahashweta Devi were the last of the those who were also prominent public figures.

    ..........

    Abdul Rasheed: Welcome to AIR and welcome back to Mysore. What memories do you carry of Mysore as you plan to return?

    U.R. Anantha Murthy: When I come to Mysore, I feel like a student and a teacher, which is what I was in this City. That trait is very important to me. And as I come here to AIR, I have very fond memories of being first recognised and identified as a writer by Mysore Akashvani.

    Rasheed: You came to Mysore in 1950-51 from Tirthahalli after taking part in a farmers’ struggle, after missing classes…

    URA: And after failing in my exams.

    Rasheed: Yes, after failing in your exams. Can you take us back more than half a century to the Mysore of the days when you arrived here?

    .....
    URA: There was a book-shop here called Progressive Book Stall, run by D.R. Krishnamurthy or DRK as we knew him. As a socialist, I had a passing acquaintance of DRK and he took me first to the house of Bharat Raj Singh. Although I had fought on behalf of Kannada medium, I had wanted to do BA honours in English.

    One of my earliest memories is of Bharath Raj Singh giving me a list of books that had Jane Austen and T.S. Eliot on them. I said I could him a different list, which had Gorkyand Shelley and others on them.

    ......
    The point I am trying to make is that I began growing in Mysore, and not just through teachers. When I went to K.V. Subbanna’s room I learnt. When I went to the Coffee House I learnt. To tell you the truth to tell, we rarely went to college. We spent a lot of time in harate.

    There was a canteen called Iyer’s Canteen where we had an account. That was the era of one-by-two in Mysore. Whatever we had, whether it was dosa or coffee, we had them in fractions of one-by-two. And we would do this several times a day. In the mid-50s, when the formation of Karnataka was underway, a joke began doing the rounds that in Mysore there was a demand for two Karnatakas because we even wanted Karnataka one-by-two!

    ......
    Rasheed: When you look at modern writing in Kannada, especially after the Navodaya movement, there is a certain shyness, a kind of digbhrame, that a young writer from a smaller town or village brings when he steps into a bigger city. As someone who came from a small village yourself, when did you gain the courage, when did you find your feet in Mysore?

    URA: Actually, there was never any adhairya in Mysore. In the Mysore of those days, there was never the kind of wealth that you see, say, now in Bangalore. If there were one or two cars on the roads, we knew whose cars they were. If there were a couple of motorcycles, we knew whose they were.

    If there was anything overwhelming, it was the knowledge and culture of the place.

    When we were at Maharaja’s College, every morning the word would go around, ‘Kuvempu barthidarante!’ (Kuvempu is coming), and sure enough he would come on a jataka gaadi. He would get down, not look at anybody, not look this side or that, and then get into the college. We would wait to see that.

    Then word would go around, ‘DLN barthidarante!’ (D.L. Narasimhaiah is coming), and sure enough DLN would come in a peta with an umbrella, holding it like a stick, never ever aware that it had a hold!

    Then there was the founder of Mysore Akashvani, M.V. Gopalaswamy. As I was coming into this interview, I found a picture of his in the director’s office looking nice and regal in a zari peta and coat. But that’s not the image I have from college where he wore a jubba-pyjama.

    ....
    There was great simplicity in the Mysore of those days but there was an even greater ocean of knowledge in Maharaja’s College. There were great speakers. If a good poet was to conduct a reading, the Junior BA Hall would be overflowing to the aisles.

    ......
    Rasheed: At Sarvajanika Hostel, you stayed with Subbanna, Kadidal Shamanna, G.H. Nayak

    URA: No. Subbanna stayed at Maharaja’s College hostel. Those who had a little more money could afford to stay there. But yes, G.H. Nayak and I stayed at Sarvajanika Hostel. For a few days, initially, I stayed at the Suttur hostel because my father couldn’t afford to send me much.

    ...
    But even so, we would manage to get good food, free food at the Sarvajanika Hostel in Chamundipuram. It was run by a Gandhian called Subbanna, who would go to the countryside each morning and bring giant pumpkins and wonderful bananas every day for us boys.

    ...
    I used to walk to College each day, and I remember jumping up in the air and plucking twigs and leaves off the avenue trees when I got a good idea or a nice thought passed through my mind!

    What I remember from those days is how much we would talk. G.H. Nayak and I would talk endlessly in our hostel room. Then we would come to Subbanna’s room in the Maharaja College hostel and talk some more. A magazine called Varsity Times had been started by Raghavanand we would contribute there…

    ......
    Rasheed: You have been all that any young Kannadiga would aspire to be. What did you want to be when you were growing up.

    URA: If I am a writer, it is because of the memories of my youth. It’s like a trust from which I can keep drawing endlessly. I was born in Melige but grew up in Kerekoppa. Ours was the only home in the whole forest, and whoever came home would tell stories of tigers. I come from a time when currency notes were still not around and the bearys (muslim merchants) passing by would sell us paddy and my mother would give them betelnuts in barter.

    My father was a shanbhoga who traveled around. A teacher came home to teach because I couldn’t go to school, and even when I did so, it was to a Kannada school. From where I came, even Tirthahalli, which was but a small village, seemed like a big town. Tirthathalli was my world.

    ......
    There was somebody called Charles “Doctor”. I would take his medications to different people, one of whom was a man called Srinivas Joshi who, even in those days, had shortened it to ‘Sinha’. He used to listen to the BBC on a dynamo he had cranked up. He used to speak with an exaggerated accent he had picked up by listening to the radio. In effect, when I was growing up, I could read a Bernard Shaw play, hear about the Bhagwad Gita at school, and discuss dvaita/advaita philosophies at the mutt. I became a writer because so many worlds commingled in little Tirthahalli.

    .....
    I told Malcolm Bradbury when we met in Europe that occidental history is like a straight line; oriental history is a curving one where centuries coexist. It was in Tirthahalli I realised that, understood that. I met all kinds of people in a small place. It is said Somerset Maugham traveled the world with a notebook to learn the essence of life and Kafka sat in a room for the same objective. Yet Kafka came out with a better world-view. Growing up in Tirthahalli was like that.

    .....
    Rasheed: You were talking about your school shirt…

    URA: Yes. I was a Brahmin boy who had been reared on strict notions of madi and all that. My grandfather was very insistent on some of these rituals. The shirt I wore to school was kept far and away from the madi clothes and I would hang it on a nail on the wall.

    It was at school, while wearing this shirt, that I would come in touch with people of all castes—Muslims, Dalits, Gowdas, everybody. I became a writer not by wearing madi clothes but by wearing my school shirt. I was telling this to M.T. Vasudevan Nair, the Malayalam writer, and he agreed. I became a writer by going to school, a common school.

    Today, unfortunately, our kids go to one kind of school and the children of poor people go to another kind of school. The shared knowledge, the shared wisdom that was available to all of us is no longer available to modern children. Our children are inhabiting different Indias. I feel very much about this.

    ......
    Rasheed: Kuvempu wanted to be an English writer. You too wrote in English. Yet, you veered back to Kannada. Just what is it about Kannada that drew you back?

    URA: Kuvempu wrote very well in English. Bendre too could write in English. In my middle-school, I had started a magazine called Taringini which had pieces in Kannda, English and Sanskrit!

    If we stayed with Kannada it’s because we grew within it. We heard it night and day, at home, school, market, everywhere we went. Those who know many languages accept the supremacy of one of them and write in it. Those who know only one language—the niraksharavadigalu—they are the one who have saved Kannada. I don’t mean to say we need more niraksharavadigalu, I mean that it is they who have kept alive our art, dance, folk.

    I went to Europe. The result was I had the influences of Kannada, folk and the West. It is not possible to be so rich in English. If I had started writing in English, I would have lost my childhood. Writing in English takes you further away from your past, your relatives, your friends, from your roots. That’s why you find such a strong streak of socialism in Kuvempu, Bendre, Masti, Karanth. It’s because they wrote in Kannada.

    .........
    Rasheed: Tell us some more on your meetings with Tejaswi.

    URA: I happened to marry a Christian girl (Esther). It was difficult to get a house on rent. It was Tejaswi who found us accommodation in Vontikoppal. It was a small house but a very beautiful house, which is where my son (Sharat) was born.

    Early in the morning, Tejaswi would come home and we talk on this, that and the other. Then we would cycle off to Coffee House, he on his cycle and me on mine, with my pregnant wife on the carrier behind. And there would talk some more.

    Then we would break off to go to Devaraja Market and buy vegetables. Ah, the market, it was so beautiful, the fruits stalls, the flower stalls, the sandige-happala stalls… There was only one shop which had Nanjangud rasabaale, and the owner was such a stern man that if we haggled over the price, he would refuse to sell us the bananas! Mysore, back then, was a very special city.

    .......

    Link (1): the-modi-controversy-did-this-great-writer-a-disservice-by-sudheendra-kulkarni

    Link (2): A-moral-voice-has-fallen-silent

    Link (3): https://churumuri.wordpress.com/what-is-churumuri/ur-anantha-murthy/

    ......

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/23/14--23:09: Mardaani
  • For a person who started out in adverts and jingles, Pradeep Sarkar is not half bad as a director (his photography is exquisite). We loved Parineeta (and we fell in love with the heavenly Vidya Balan).
    ........
     ....
    Compared to the (slow cooked) celebration of (old Kolkata) nostalgia in Parineeta, Mardaani is a rough and tough thriller which zips through the jungles of Mumbai. We are not much of a Rani Mukherjee fan (her cousin Kajol is truly wonderful). However in Mardaani she (and her support cast) is very good.

    This is a movie which show-cases strong women (Rani as Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy and Priyanka Sharma as the street girl Pyari) in memorable roles and that is always a plus point in our book. Finally (and most importantly) the villains are authentic bad-ass and arouses just the right amount of revulsion. Good show!!!
    .....
    Mardaani is a marked departure from convention. For one, the film is inspired by dire newspaper headlines and alarming United Nations reports about India’s missing girls. 
     .....
    Moreover, in deference to its solemn theme and purpose, Mardaani completely abjures the musical interludes and glitzy frills that the banner usually revels in peddling. And, last but not least, the film’s policewoman-protagonist has no romantic interest to deflect her from her mission to rescue a teenage orphan who has gone missing from an Andheri shelter home.

    Mardaani scores because it adopts an uncluttered approach to the tale of a fearless Mumbai crime branch officer who pulls out the stops to counter the wiles of a smooth-talking child sex trafficker in Delhi.

    Director Pradeep Sarkar, coming off the twin debacles of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Lafangey Parindey after the high of Parineeta, hits all the right buttons this time around.

    Senior Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy is given no grand entry scene. She is introduced even as the credits roll.

    One moment she is engaged in friendly banter with her team of cops in a police jeep over the angry wife of their stern and unrelenting boss. The very next the armed lady leads a raid on a brothel to nab a fugitive criminal.

    Sanjib Datta’s editing is suitably spiky and cinematographer Artur Zurawski captures the action without letting his camera get overly obtrusive.

    The lead actress, who despite being required to spout cuss words, does not merely deliver dialogues; she speaks her lines with emotion and directness. Rani does not take recourse to the kind of grandstanding that one usually encounters in Bollywood police action flicks.

    For the way the character of Senior Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy turns out, credit is largely due to the screenplay by Gopi Puthran, who is also the film’s associate director.

    On one hand, Mardaani invokes the spirit of the Rani of Jhansi in its title itself, as also of that mythical fount of feminine invincibility, Goddess Durga. The latter is evoked as a prelude to an anthem that plays on the soundtrack as the rousing, if somewhat over-dramatic, climax reaches its crescendo at a point that is well under two hours into the film.

    On the other, Mardaani invites inevitable comparisons with the many Bollywood superheroes in uniform that we meet every so often on the big screen. But Shivani Shivaji Roy, a Marathi mulgi wedded to a Bengali doctor (Jisshu Sengupta in a cameo), is a far saner version of Chulbul Pandey and Bajirao Singham.

    Her achievements may be just as heroic as those of the aforementioned crime-busters, but the methods that she employs are infinitely more sedate and within the realms of probability.

    Priyanka Sharma makes her presence felt in the guise of the street girl Pyari, whose abduction is the film’s principal flashpoint.

    Because Shivani Shivaji Roy is not your average action ‘hero’, she might not appeal to Dabangg junkies. But for everyone else, Mardaani could be well worth a trip to the multiplex.


    .....

    Link: mardaani-movie-review

    .....

    regards

    0 0

    Do you have to be rich (or merely middle-class) to own a 1 mil pound home in Maida Vale, West London (W9)? It is part of posh Westminster and if you are a BPeep looking for a villa in St John's Wood (just east of Maida Vale, home of Lord's Cricket Ground) it is likely to cost you upwards of 10 mil pounds!!!
    ........
    ....
    Maida Vale was founded in the 19th century and is named after Sir John Stuart, Count of Maida (1759–1815), who was a British Lieutenant-General during the Napoleonic Wars. Maidais a town in the Calabria region of southern Italy, 31 km west of the provincial capital Catanzaro. The British (under the leadership of Sir John) routed the French in the Battle of Maida in 1806 [ref. Wiki].
    .......
    ......
    Maida Vale is primarily known for Little Venice bordering Regent's Canal, but it has a new reason to be famous. It is the residence of Jihadi John, also known as Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. John is a hip-hop artist whose rap music has featured on BBC. He is also a "person of interest" in the beheading of the American photo-journalist James Foley.
    ......


     .......
    Perhaps a future Wiki entry will note that there were two famous Johns in Maida Vale, one who fought on behalf of the Anglos in the Mediterranean and one who fought against them in the Middle-East. Will this John be equally fortunate is his battles? We will shortly find out. 
    ............

    MI5 and MI6 have identified the British fighter suspected of murdering the American journalist James Foley, senior government sources confirmed last night.
    .
    The masked man with a London accent, who is said to be known to fellow fighters as “Jihadi John”, was seen in the shocking video of Foley’s death released by the Isis extremist army last week. While sources gave no details of the man they have identified, a key suspect is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.

    London rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 23, left his family’s £1million home in Maida Vale to join jihadis in Syria. His father Adel Abdul Bary is a suspected al-Qaeda mastermind extradited to the USA in 2012.

    The Islamic State fanatic, whose rap music has featured on BBC Radio 1 Extra, posted the Twitter picture of himself surrounded by bags of terrorists’ favourite bomb material PETN, reports the Sunday People. A caption underneath read: “Fireworks ;)”

    The Twitter page, which has since been taken down, also showed sick pictures of Bary apparently holding a severed human head. Underneath the horrifying image the depraved Londoner wrote: “Chillin with my other homie, or whats left of him.”

    ..........

    Link (1): thesundaytimes.co.uk

    Link (2): mirror.co.uk/pictures-british-hip-hop-artist

    .......

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/24/14--07:29: Suicide Tourism
  • ...611 people not resident in Switzerland had been helped to die between 2008 and 2012....all but four of whom had gone to Dignitas....ages ranged from 23 to 97....over half of the 'tourists' were women.....
    ....
    Unlike the Caliphate-bound, hip-hop artists lusting after head-less homies, these Switzerland-bound folks are the gentle and thoughtful type. They kill themselves, presumably because they feel guilty of being a burden on their near and dear ones.

    Indian patriots should be pleased...as of now the score reads: India: 1, China: 0. But this should be no ground for complacency, as they say, a good start is only half the game.

    Switzerland (Canton of Zurich to be precise) is the primary beneficiary of suicide tourism because of Dignitas, the NGO foundation, which performs/advocates for euthanasia of unfit people - the old, the infirm, the tired and the sick (see link below). Just as Irish women travel to the UK for terminating pregnancies, scores of British (and German) tourists are traveling to Switzerland for terminating lives.

    It is not our place to comment on public policy but we observe that tourism in India is facing some head-winds (lack of safety for women, lack of alcohol...even in God's own country). Just like surrogacy tourism, suicide tourism can be a potentially new line of business. And unlike Dignitas, in India you have an infinite ways to end your life.

    It is our understanding that this is very much in line with Indian (Hindu) culture and tradition. In Vedic times, a person's life was divided into four phases or the Chatur-Ashram: Brahmacharya (study time as a child), Garhasthya (family time as a couple), Vana-prastha (literally escape to the forest, leaving the family behind) and finally, Sanyas (live your life out in the forest). The average age of the suicide tourist today is 69, which is exactly following the Vana-prastha/Sanyas mode.

    The message (then and now) seems to be clear: do NOT trouble your family or the larger society with your old age problems. This concept of a life without value is also applicable to youth with health problems (presently as young as 23).It is surely a matter of great pride that people world-wide are appreciating (and following) age-old wisdom about old age.
    .........
    The numbers of 'suicide tourists' going to Switzerland to take their own lives have doubled within four years with citizens from Germany and UK contributing to the largest per cent. Those with neurological conditions, such as paralysis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, account for almost half of the cases.

    While 123 people undertook suicide tourism in 2008, the number rose to 172 in 2012. The data shows that nationals from 31 different countries were helped to die in Switzerland between 2008 and 2012, with German (268) and UK (126) nationals making up almost two thirds of the total. Other countries in the top 10 include France (66), Italy (44), USA (21), Austria (14), Canada (12), Spain and Israel (each with 8).

    The data base made public on Thursday morning shows one case from India as well in 2012.

    The study by Oxford University looked at whether the availability of suicide tourism in Switzerland had prompted changes in the law on assisted suicide elsewhere.

    While assisted suicide (AS) is strictly restricted in many countries including India, it is not clearly regulated by law in Switzerland. This imbalance leads to an influx of people — suicide tourists — coming to the Canton of Zurich with the sole purpose of committing suicide. Political debate regarding 'suicide tourism' is taking place in many countries. Swiss medico legal experts are confronted with these cases almost daily, which prompted our scientific investigation of the phenomenon, said the researchers.

    Researchers therefore searched the databases of the Institute of Legal Medicine in Zurich for information on investigations and post mortem examinations among non-Swiss nationals who had been helped to take their own lives between 2008 and 2012.

    The search revealed that 611 people who were not resident in Switzerland had been helped to die between 2008 and 2012, all but four of whom had gone to Dignitas.Their ages ranged from 23 to 97, with the average being 69; over half (58.5%) of the 'tourists' were women, who were 40% more likely to choose assisted suicide in Switzerland than men.



    The rises were particularly steep in certain countries, especially Italy — up from 4 in 2009 to 22 in 2012, and France, up from 7 in 2009 to 19 in 2012. Overall, the numbers of people being helped to die in Switzerland doubled between 2009 and 2012.

    The study published on Thursday in the Journal of Medical Ethics suggest that the phenomenon of suicide tourism, which is unique to Switzerland, has prompted legislative changes and/or serious debate in Germany, the UK, and France—the principal sources of this type of tourism.

    Six official voluntary right-to-die organisations are active in Switzerland and offer AS to their members, providing that they fulfil various conditions. Four of the six organisations also offer suicide assistance to people who are neither Swiss citizens nor resident in Switzerland, but who come from other European countries, for example, the UK, France and Italy, where AS is restricted by law and anyone contravening this law may be liable to several years' imprisonment.

    The paper says "our results show that AS is chosen 1.4 times more often by women. The median age of the suicide tourists in our study was 69 years, an age at high risk of malignancy or chronic disease. After a decrease between 2008 and 2009, the number of suicide tourists doubled between 2009 and 2012.

    "With respect to the underlying diseases, our results showed that neurological diseases were the reason for AS in nearly half of the study group. Neurological diseases and rheumatic diseases increased between 1990 and 2012, while cancer became less common. These results imply that non-fatal diseases or diseases that are not yet end stage are more often becoming the reason for seeking AS."

    The authors said, "The phenomenon of suicide tourism has been growing over the years and is still increasing unabated. Our results showed an increasing proportion of neurological and rheumatic diseases diagnosed among the suicide tourists. This implies that non-fatal diseases are increasing among suicide tourists and probably also among Swiss residents, although potential suicide tourists with a terminal illness might not be able to travel to a foreign country."

    "The phenomenon of suicide tourism unique to Switzerland can indeed result in amendment or supplementary guidelines to existing regulations in foreign countries, as shown by our examples of the top three countries from which suicide tourists traveled. Political debate in Switzerland and other countries is continuing, with the possibility of further amendments in the near future, in both Switzerland and elsewhere, unless Switzerland issues clear and structured regulations on suicide tourism."

    ......

    Link (1): UK-researchers-confirm-worrying-increase-in-suicide-tourism

    Link (2): dignitas.ch
    .....

    regards

    0 0

    ...Raju guarded his crate of Hercules Rum like a sentinel......clank the latch on the gate a specific number of times in a peculiar rhythm that only Raju and his regular clients knew....and this he kept changing every week....Raju would emerge from the dark, the bottle cradled in his arms.....
    ....
    As Arun Ram explains: "reading" is code for rum, "writing" for whisky.

    We have mixed feelings on this, we dislike the booze culture, but we dislike prohibition even more. The pressure has to come from society, through education and via persuasion. Yes, we admit that religion has a role to play as well. Else all you will do is drive the business under-ground and bring forward more death and suffering.

    Still there is one bright aspect of prohibition (apart from the fact that it has never worked..despite trying hard)...the escapade stories are really good...this is one more...enjoy.
    .....
    I have been away from Kerala, my homeland, for almost 20 years now. The thought of returning for good never crossed my mind — till last Thursday, when the government spelled out its plan to make Kerala alcohol-free in ten years.
    ...
    Before you get ideas of I being a teetotaller, let me make it clear that I like my whiskey only in large pegs, never small. Those who gasp at the word prohibition don’t know the fun part of it. Believe me, I have been there, done that. I landed in Hyderabad in 1995 when NT Rama Rao had just introduced prohibition. Initially it was frustrating, being denied one’s weekly quota of ‘mandu,’ as the Telugus call it.
    ...
    But soon I discovered the pleasure of finding bootleggers, and the process of procuring booze became as heady as having it. Indeed it was costly at Rs 500 a bottle of rum and Rs 750 for whiskey, given that one’s salary then would not be enough to throw a party for a handful of friends.
    ...
    As a reporter, the battle for the bottle expanded my network of sources — to watchmen, jawans and the dark underbelly of Hyderabad. There was Raju, a bank watchman at day and bootlegger at night. 

    I don’t know about the safety of the bank’s vaults near Khairatabad, but Raju guarded his crate of Hercules Rum like a sentinel. One had to clank the latch on the bank’s gate a specific number of times in a peculiar rhythm that only Raju and his regular clients knew — and this he kept changing every week — and Raju would emerge from the dark, the bottle cradled in his arms.
    ....
    Then there was John (hi John, hope you have retired and aghast in Kerala) an army man at a barrack near Nampalli station. At midnight, I would sneak into the nondescript building that was the shelter of a dozen jawans, and ask for ‘sadhanam.’ Those who didn’t know the code word and walked in to ask for rum or whiskey were driven away at gunpoint; you ask for ‘sadhanam’ and a smiling John comes with a bottle of sparkling dark XXX Rum ‘for defence services only.’
    ...
    This network endeared me to many senior journalists in Hyderabad. I was, in effect, the journalists’ bootlegger. Soon after sundown, my office telephone would start ringing. The bureau chief of another newspaper wants two bottles of whiskey, there’s a promotion party at his place; I am invited though. 

    Free drinks were the bonus of good contacts. When I wasn’t in office — those days cell phones were a rarity — my pager would beep with messages like ‘are we reading or writing tonight?’ Reading meant rum, writing whiskey. Remember, you had to dial a call centre to tell the sweet lady your message to be sent to the friend’s pagers. Code words, you see.
    ...
    The richer tipplers took to mobile bars. You hop into a car stacked with liquor, drink as much as you want as the driver takes you through the city for an hour or two, and you get dropped— happily sloshed. On weekends, there were ‘conducted tours’ of insipid places on the Andhra border where the only activity would be binge drinking on Saturdays and Sundays before you get back to work nursing a hangover.
    ...
    Prohibition as a state policy dates back to the Xia Dynasty in China more than 4,000 years ago. Several countries and a few Indian states have tried to impose the dry law, and most of them realised the stupidity of it sooner than later. In Gujarat, where the law is in force, you get the best brands of alcohol delivered at your doorstep. In Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, where the official dry law runs, you get the most indigenous of alcohol, distilled from rice, bamboo shoots and plantain.
    ....
    I can’t wait to have all these in Kerala. In Chennai, I have to grapple with my sufficiently drunk brethren at dingy Tasmac shops. Soon, in Kerala, I could put my feet up, dial the nearest bootlegger and say: “Make it a double large, Mr Chandy.”

    ....

    Link: make-it-a-double-large-mr-chandy

    ....

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/24/14--18:56: The man loved by (all) women
  • ....."I want to create new Pakistan not only for you but also for me...once Naya Pakistan becomes a reality, I will marry".....62-year-old Khan said to thunderous applause..... 
    .....
    What do women want? Do they blindly, madly fall in love with a 62 year old man, who is still described as a ...heartthrob? Your child will be 18 when your man reaches 80!!!We are not ill-wishers of anyone, but what if he does not reach 80? What then??
    ....
    We are agnostic on the WDWW question, but it is our sense that women want exactly the same things as men. They want power, money, glory (we are talking of ordinary people, not saints). In our opinion, most men want a loving family just as much as women. Once we reach true equality in society we would expect a much higher number of risk-taking, balls-busting women villains (not just the sly, manipulative ones).

    But for now, it is a man's world and the path to glory, money, and power is usually channeled through men. This is perhaps a major reason why women feel attracted to men, especially those who (as they know in their hearts) would not have much time for them,who cannot relate to them, who may like them (as we like any of our possessions) but cannot love them.

    Thus a twenty year old girl may not mind marrying a 60 year old man (even if he is married), and dream of having babies and creating a clan where SHE rules (as opposed to the old hag who is unceremoniously pushed off stage).

    As for the men...well what can we say? Your ego may tell you that a girl, young enough to be your daughter, loves you for your special qualities...well think about it. Would you marry an old lady for p-m-g (surely there are some men who will do so)? Would you honor her and respect her...and even love her? Could you??
    ..........
    Cricketer-turned-politician and a heartthrob Imran Khan, who is leading his Tehreek-e-Insaaf party in anti-government protests here, has said that he will marry once his dream 'Naya Pakistan' was fulfilled.  
    ......
    In his daily nightly address, Khan last night told this to thousands of his supporters camping in front of parliament, demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation.
    .....
    "I want to create new Pakistan not only for you but also for me because once Naya Pakistan becomes a reality, I will marry," 62-year-old Khan said to thunderous applause.
    ......
    Khan married British heiress Jemima Goldsmith in 1995 but the marriage flopped and both agreed to separate in 2004.
    ......
    They have two sons, Sulieman and Qasim, who live with the mother in Britain.
    .......
    There are reports that Khan was under family pressure to marry again to put an end to media speculation and some nasty comments in the social media about his alleged affairs.
    .......
    Khan still has kept himself fit and is considered very popular among women.

    .......


    Link: Imran-wants-to-marry-in-Naya-Pakistan

    ....

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/24/14--22:32: Chilling hypocrisy
  • ...."The moment I realised that the illustration had created a controversy and had hurt many people, I deleted the tweet for having inadvertently hurt their feelings"....
    ....
    We do not question the right of Teesta Setalvad to tweet vile pictures....freedom of speech must work (and seen to be working) for offensive speech. We are miffed because she considers all of us to have the IQ of a.....we are unable to point to a living organism that would be stupid enough to fit....who will find nothing improper or bizarre in her explanations (see detailed statement below).

    We inadvertently hurt feelings of others when we are not sufficiently aware of how they think and if we do not understand (and appreciate) their beliefs. This is how we get Ganesha Toilets to be marketed in the West. But come on...a jihadi Kali...AND a jihadi Krishna?  
    ....
    ....
    Surely ignorance is not an excuse when you are known the world over as a champion secularist (this is sincerely meant), as a symbol of peace and as a person who stands up against hatred. You want to be a flame-thrower and then plead ignorance? What next, kill your parents and seek mercy as an orphan??

    Setalvad is exposed as just another bigot, who plays the same game that she accuses Hindutva-vadis of doing...dividing people in the name of religion. Such examples of moral blindness will gravely harm the secular cause (we take no pleasure in saying so, but if she was that un-thinkingly brave she could have thrown in a photo-shop of the Prophet in the mix as well).

    Thing is, we are convinced that activists such as Setalvad mean well.The message they hope to convey is also a fair one: terrorism committed by Hindus can be every bit as vile as terrorism committed by Muslims. Also, while religion is blamed for fomenting trouble (and we have often voiced such a sentiment ourselves), the underlying cause is often elite greed, the powers that be rule, do so by dividing we the commoners. If religion was not a divisive factor, they would find something else (language, caste,..).

    There was indeed a much better way to promote the message that she wanted to convey. Muslim clerics have repeatedly denounced the actions of the Caliphate in Iraq. Why not say that the way of the jihadists is not the way of majority of muslims?

    Secularists should be focused on ways to neutralize (or at least mitigate) the harmful side-effects of religion.....this will not be achieved by setting one religion against the other. If Setalvad has not figured this out by now she should step back from the cauldron...pronto.

    Setalvad has now made a nice little rod for her own back. A number of FIRs have been launched, even otherwise her life may be in danger. We sincerely hope that she (or an associate) does not get hurt, though their credibility will be hurt...for a long, long time.
    .......

    ....
    Two FIRs were lodged in Gujarat on Saturday against social activist Teesta Setalvad for uploading objectionable images of Hindu deities on Twitter.
    ....
    The first FIR was lodged at Ghatlodia police station here by Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist Raju Patel, while the other was filed by Kirit Mistry at C Division police station in Bhavnagar.
    ....
    Further, an application seeking legal action against her was filed at Gomtipur police station in Ahmedabad by a Shiv Sena worker Jitu Solanki.
    ....
    Setalwad had yesterday tweeted a photo-shopped picture showing, among other things, ISIS terrorists with the American journalist James Foley just before his beheading.
    ...
    Inspector AG Gohil of Ghatlodia police station told PTI that Setalwad had been charged with various offences under the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code sections 153(a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) and section 295 (a) (outraging religious feelings).
    ....
    As per the FIR filed in Ahmedabad, "the photo showed a member of minority community with the Sudarshan Chakra while another photo showed a terrorist beheading a journalist. This act by Setalwad has hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus". 

    Setalvad, on the other hand, apologised on Saturday on her blog as well as on Twitter.
     "Sincere apologies for inadvertent tweet," she tweeted.
    .......

    Link: firs-against-social-activist-teesta-setalvad-in-gujarat-over-controversial-tweet

    .....

    regards

    0 0
  • 08/26/14--01:17: An all-weather friend
  • .....Pakistanis will not countenance infringement by India of their sovereignty....imposition of conditionalities....exactly the kind of whimsicality and bullying that led to the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacking Serbia a hundred years ago.....
    ...
    Pakistanis have a long running complaint about India....the Indian Press is unreasonably jingoistic. The expectation is that (just like in the West) Indian journalists should be speaking in multiple voices and be open to a broad range of viewpoints.

    Thus, for example, while Israel has formidable champions amongst neocons, the denizens of Gaza draw a lot of sympathy from the left-liberal side. There are even opinion makers who back the regimes in Iran and Syria, urging accommodation from a realist standpoint (they may not be our bastards, but we need them on our team to fight other bastards).

    Given that there is so much unfinished business from Partition I and Partition II, we feel that it is unrealistic to expect much in the way of fair and balanced journalism when it comes to coverage of South Asian politics. This can be traced back to the (massively influential) two nation theory: for every Hindu truth, there exists an equal and opposite Muslim truth. For Partition II and the events leading up to the 1971war, there is a further tweak- a Hindu truth, a Bangladeshi Muslim truth, and a Pakistani Muslim truth!!!
    .........
    Sandipan Deb (link below) makes this pertinent observation from a meeting between Indian journalists and General Musharraf in 2001:
    ......

    Thirty years later, at the breakfast meeting with Indian editors during the Agra summit, Pervez Musharraf brought up 1971.  

    He accused India of being a wanton aggressor—an utterly delusional and repulsive statement that denied the shameful rejection of national election results; an inhuman genocide (codenamed Operation Searchlight) that left three million people dead—including all doctors, engineers, teachers, intellectuals the Pakistani army could find—and hundreds of thousands of women raped (perhaps the first time in the 20th century that rape was used systematically as war strategy); and India overwhelmed with 10 million helpless refugees from what would soon be Bangladesh.
    .......

    This is the Hindu truth which (in its full form) claims that 1971 was primarily an ideological war waged by the Pakistani Army against Hindus in Bangladesh. 

    The target #1 was Hindu intellectuals: the teachers, the doctors, the professors (referred to as buddhi-jibi in Bong). Target #2 was the Bengali Hindu peasants. People used to be killed upon inspection of the male organ (circumcised or not).

    Of the ten million refugees were driven out from their land, the overwhelming majority was Hindu. They were never invited back and (shamefully) many remain as refugees scattered across India, even after 40 years have gone by.  

    The truly interesting claim is this:the genocide of Bangla Hindus was suppressed by the "secular" Mujib-Indira team.....because they wanted to portray a national struggle to the world, not another Hindu vs. Muslim fight.
    .....................................
    The Pakistani Muslim truth is what General Musharraf alludes to in part - India as a wanton aggressor - but for the full flavor one should refer to school text books of Punjab (link below):
    ..

    The Punjab Textbook Board published the following text on the causes for the separation of East Pakistan in 1993 for secondary classes —  
    ..
    “There were a large number of Hindus in East Pakistan. They had never truly accepted Pakistan. A large number of them were teachers in schools and colleges. 
     ..
    They continued creating a negative impression among students. No importance was attached to explaining the ideology of Pakistan to the younger generation.

    The Hindus sent a substantial part of their earnings to Bharat, thus adversely affecting the economy of the province. 

    Some political leaders encouraged provincialism for selfish gains. They went around depicting the central Government and (the then) West Pakistan as enemy and exploiter. Political aims were thus achieved at the cost of national unity.”
    ......

    To this one can add Sharmila Bose's thesis (which gains credibility because a Hindu Bengali is on record supporting the Pakistani Muslim Truth).

    As she tells it (and we paraphrase) Pakistani Army Officers (as well as foot-soldiers) being highly noble in disposition, extremely disciplined through training, and unimaginably chivalrous by heart, could not possibly have carried out many (any?) attacks. Some bad things may have happened in the fog of war, nothing more.

    Bose concludes that actually it was the Mukti Bahini who killed huge numbers of innocent Biharis and further suppressed the fact by inventing fictional genocides and rape-fests.
    ............................
    Finally you have the Bangladeshi Muslim Truth.To put it briefly (and simplify), we (Bangla Muslims) were under the boot of the Hindus (and the British) for centuries. We got rid of both of them in 1947. Next, we were oppressed by the Punjabis (who stole our jute money). We got rid of them in 1971.

    India was (as usual) up to some mischief but we gave a fitting reply to all that in 1975. Some Hindus may have left voluntarily for India. A few Bihari traitors got what they deserved, nothing more.

    .............................

    All that said there is that familiar observation of India being a land of contradictions- whatever you think of India as true, the opposite is also true.

    As long as Mani Shankar Aiyer - born in Lahore (10 April, 1941) and presently, Congress MP from Rajya Sabha - is around, Pakistan is assured of an all-weather friend. He has always been an Aman ki Asha type, and he has now openly accused the Modi govt of being a bully (and being whimsical).

    Not only that. MSA has issued a most dramatic (melodramatic, in our opinion) warning that just like World War I was ignited through the Austrian empire making unreasonable demands of Serbia, there is a prospect of World War III breaking out in the sub-continent unless India under Modi stops being unreasonable. What more does a friend have to say?
    .......

    Working out a viable relationship with Pakistan is in India’s vital national interest. But the wholly bogus nature of the Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif bonhomie on the occasion of Modi’s republican coronation now stands revealed in all its nakedness. 
    ....
    In a childish display of extreme petulance, the India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks have been called off. The excuse proffered is that the Pakistan envoy had met with, and was scheduled to meet again with, Kashmiri “separatist” leaders on the eve of the talks. He had been warned after Round I of his interaction with them that if Round II took place, India would spurn dialogue and revert to the two-year-long stand-off.
    ....
    The excuse is wholly misplaced. The Simla Agreement of 1972 removed Jammu and Kashmir from the international agenda and effectively placed it in the ambit of bilateral discussion and resolution: “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. The trade-off was simple. India recognised that there were issues relating to J&K that needed to be resolved and Pakistan agreed to secure the resolution of these issues bilaterally instead of in an international forum. 
    ....
    In actual fact, India, much more than Pakistan, especially in recent decades, has shied away from bilateral dialogue, while Pakistan has attempted from time to time, but without success, to revert to the UN. But the basic position today continues as it was four decades ago at Simla — India accepts that there is an external dimension to J&K, and Pakistan that dealing with these issues is strictly remitted to the bilateral, not multilateral, sphere of diplomatic interaction.
    ....
    On the domestic front in India, the principle of “the sky is the limit” has long been instituted for determining the parameters of “autonomy” for J&K; autonomy that must, however, fall short of challenging the integrity of India or the finality of J&K’s accession to India. All else is negotiable. 
    ....
    On the external front, it is recognised as legitimate for Pakistan to raise issues relating to “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. It was in pursuance of this legitimacy granted to Pakistan by the Simla Agreement of 1972 that, just under two decades ago, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government recognised the legitimacy of Pakistani envoys and political leaders including Kashmiri “separatists” (under the umbrella of the Hurriyat) in their consultations in preparation for successive phases of the ongoing dialogue process. 
    .....
    There has thus been a bipartisan, indeed, multipartisan understanding within India (at least till now) that such interaction falls in a class by itself and so does not constitute a casus belli or even a casus diplomati to break off the bilateral dialogue to which both are pledged.
    ....
    Had Modi any new objection to this, he was duty-bound to make it clear to Nawaz Sharif when he met him in New Delhi and they discussed the resumption of the dialogue. The Pakistan desk of the ministry of external affairs knows full well that Nawaz Sharif was attacked on his return to Pakistan from New Delhi for his failure to meet with the Hurriyat, as his predecessors had done. 
    .....
    This became such a big issue that when I was in Pakistan days later (in the august company of Ved Pratap Vaidik), both formally and informally, this was stressed. Thus, the consequences of warning High Commissioner Abdul Basit against maintaining his scheduled meeting with the “separatists” should have been clear to the meanest intelligence in the MEA. If the meeting with the Hurriyat leaders were called off, the howls of protest in Pakistan would have drowned all attempts at dialogue. There was nothing to be gained from making an issue of such a trivial matter.
    ....
    I say “trivial” because nothing earth-shattering, either for us or the Pakistanis, has resulted from earlier meetings of the Hurriyat with the Pakistanis, including visits of Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan that we ourselves had permitted. From a Pakistani point of view, meeting the Hurriyat is an excellent way of selling to the Pakistani public the explanation that “Kashmiri” wishes are not being ignored or bypassed in the dialogue process. 
    ....
    From the Indian point of view, the “separatists”, who are Indian citizens, whatever their view, are of such significance as to have warranted our “interlocutors” talking to them. What harm, then, can come of Geelani et al letting off steam in Pakistan House — the same steam they let off on a daily basis in the Valley?
    ....
    Then there is the question of sovereignty. Pakistan may be weaker than India in every respect but there is at least one in which Pakistan is our equal and will remain so, and that is in the dimension of sovereignty. If India as a sovereign country refuses to buckle under Pakistani pressure, it is only natural that Pakistanis will not countenance infringement by India of their sovereignty. That is why the imposition of new conditionalities, flying in the face of precedents, will be seen as infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty. 
    ......
    The parallel being drawn in some quarters with India snubbing Pakistan by talking to Baloch separatists is as misbegotten as it is misplaced, for Balochistan is not an issue between India and Pakistan. We have neither had nor sustain any claims on Balochistan. On Kashmir, the Pakistanis do — and that has been acknowledged by India, even if India is (rightly) adamant that there can be no compromise on its sovereignty over the whole of J&K, as a result of the Instrument of Accession and Article I of the J&K constitution.
    ....
    Such are the subtleties of diplomacy. They go ill with foreign policy strutting on a 56-inch chest. I am sure the MEA as an institution knows all this but is helpless because all power is being increasingly concentrated in one authoritarian. 
    ....
    We stand warned that whimsicality and bullying are going to characterise our relations with Pakistan over the next five years; exactly the kind of whimsicality and bullying that led to the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacking Serbia a hundred years ago, leading to the devastation of the two world wars.

    .......

    Link (1): indianexpress.com/being-a-bully

    Link (2):  livemint.com/hard-truths-about-Pakistan

    Link (3): dawn.com/pakistan-textbooks
    ......

    regards

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  • 08/26/14--03:57: Moshe and his (new) Imma
  • ....candles mark the spot where Rabbi Holtzberg was shot dead....pictures adorn the stairwells......Rabbi Kotlarsky helped rebuild the centre....."You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific of challenges.....You can and must rebuild....hope that evil will not prevail"....
    ....
     ...
    Six years have gone by, in the blink of an eye. Today (August 26) is the grand re-opening of the Chabad House, in Colaba, downtown Mumbai (same location where the 26/11 attacks took place). It all looks quite gorgeous and we do not doubt the sincerity of the folks involved. Having said that, it does seem that these people have some sort of a death wish.
    .....

    ...
    Given the hostile relationship between Indian and Pakistan (only 960 years of warfare left) it will be a brave man who can guarantee that 26/11 will never repeat. From what is known about the current state of (safety) preparations, we have grave doubts.
    ....
    ....
    The little orphan boy (Moshe Holtzberg) is now 8 years of age (he looks to be a complete cutie pie) and his nanny (Sandra Samuel of Mumbai) is with him. For a person who is so unfortunate as to lose his mother (and father) as a baby, it is sure nice that he has a mother-figure to love him and make him feel loved. A thousand cheers for the Imma (mother in Hebrew) and her boy.

    ..........
    Moshe Holtzberg, the Jewish toddler who survived the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, is "doing well", growing up in a "complicated situation" with his grandparents, and Tel Aviv thanks Indians for saving him, the Israeli envoy here has said.

    "He is going to school. He is a very healthy, happy and a strong kid, growing up under a very complicated situation," ambassador Alon Ushpiz said during an hour-long meeting with editors at the IANS office here.

    "He is growing up without his parents. This obviously isn't easy. He's staying with his grandparents," the envoy said. "Also, in this case, an Israeli was saved by an Indian citizen. His nanny took him out."

    When IANS spoke on phone to Moshe's grandparents in November, he was with them in Afula, a city in north Israel, 140 km from Jerusalem. They said he was growing into a self-assured lad and was like any other seven-year-old boy.

    Moshe escaped thanks to his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel. She risked her life to rescue the toddler who was sitting beside the blood-soaked bodies of his parents, crying. Since then she hasn't left him and was given Israeli citizenship.

    .............
    ....
    On Tuesday, Aug. 26, surrounded by guests and more than 25 Chabad emissaries in Asia who will be there for a regional conference, Chabad of Mumbai’s headquarters—also known as Nariman House—will open its doors once again.
    ....
    “This will definitely be very emotional for many people,” affirms Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky, who now co-directs Chabad of Mumbai together with his wife, Chaya
    “This six-story building was continuously operating until the attack. We’re not moving into a new building; we are returning to our original building, and we will be continuing all of the activities that took place here, and hopefully, grow even more.“We remember what happened, but we are working for the future.”
    ....

    Kozlovsky explains that after a year-and-a-half of living and working together with his wife in Mumbai, he more fully understands why Gabi rushed to purchase a large building for his operation.
    ...
    “There are so many possible complications here, bureaucratic and otherwise, that it becomes very difficult to work without a permanent base,” he says. “Now we will have security rooms, a synagogue, offices, guest rooms, a restaurant and a commercial kitchen. 

    It will be very different than running things out of a 1,200-square-foot apartment, but it will, G‑d willing, allow us to grow. And it is, of course, fitting that we do this in the same place as Gabi and Rivky.”
    .....
    He adds that the official opening will also serve as the starting point for the next phase of reconstruction: a $2.5 million museum to be built in the apartment where the Holtzbergs lived and on the floor where most of the murders occurred.
    ....
    “I think this is really a message for the whole world,” adds Kotlarsky. “You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific of challenges. You can and must rebuild, and this project serves as a beacon of light and hope that evil will not prevail.”

    .......
    By all accounts, Jewish life in Mumbai has benefited a great deal since the Kozlovskys arrived. And the size of the community itself has grown, including the new addition six weeks ago. Chaya Kozlovsky gave birth to their second child, a baby boy, whose brit milah was celebrated at the Knesses Eliyahu Synagogue in the city.
    ....
    “I think it’s the first Indian Menachem Mendel,” jokingly observes the new father.
    While continuing ongoing Chabad projects, many of which were initiated by the Holtzbergs, the Kozlovskys have worked diligently on increasing their activities. 

    A Jewish kindergarten will open in time for this school year, and with the recent opening of Mumbai’s new diamond district in a different part of the city, they have established a satellite Chabad center in that area to serve business travelers.
    ......

    Link (1): 6-years-after-the-horrific-26/11-attacks-Mumbais-Chabad-House-reopens


    Link (2): Jewish-toddler-survivor-of-26/11-attack-doing-well

    .....

    regards

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  • 08/26/14--06:13: It all comes crashing down

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  • 08/26/14--06:30: Pakistan as a spoil of war
  • So the PTI, an urban Punjab party, marched from the heart of the Punjab, Lahore, to the north of the Punjab, Islamabad, to demand power from PML-N, a rural-industrial Punjab party while the Punjabi dominated Army looks on. Where does Pakistan actually come into this highly entertaining Punjabi spectacle?


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