Sunday, March 28, 2010


Life is a beautiful existential puzzle and a very complex one at that. However the innate capability of the human mind to experience every occurrence in several different ways is what makes it worth living.

I go to the beach every morning for a walk. And everyday is different from the next, no two sunrises are the same and never does the beach look the same everyday. One day the shimmering waves are a breathtaking golden yellow reflecting the bright sunlight and the sunny sky, the next day it is a deep brooding blue tantalising you in its mysterious depths and calm serenity. One could spend an eternity viewing that sunrise and not a minute would have passed. That tingling sensation of the early morning sun rays on you is a truly remarkable feeling which can only be experienced by the body, words can say only so much. Such is its beauty.

That one hour of my life every morning is what makes everyday of my life so special and unique and so different. Because no two sunrises are the same and no two days are the same, we are all different people everyday of our life.

Another is the pure unadulterated joy of getting soaked on a rainy day, splashing into puddles and getting wet to the bone. Chennai rains have this quality of warming you while refreshing you simultaneously. They seldom make you feel cold. Come to think of it, it is these small pleasures of life that makes life worth living... Life is indeed a miracle...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Movie review - Kanden Kadhalai

This is a tamil remake of the popular Hindi movie Jab We Met with actors Bharath and Tamannah (did I get the spelling right?) in the lead. I haven't watched the original version but my friend who accompanied me had and she was quite sure the Hindi flick was better. Anyway, its been a year since I had gone to the theatre, I quite enjoyed it inspite of its cliched storyline and having got stuck in corner seats with couples all around us who had not exactly come there to watch the movie. We were the ones who were not a couple and after squirming uncomfortably for sometime (whoever said tickets for two meant only couples) decided to chuck it and watch the movie, who cares what other were doing...

I guess everyone knows the story by now. Boy meets girl, girl is sweet as saccharine plus suffers from ADHD, histrionic personality disorder and a host of other mental disorders whose names I've forgotten (I mean, she's bubbly and all, I can quite understand that she's a happy person full of joy but this was simply too much). Boy gets ditched by previous gf , goes into deep depression and tries to commit suicide and Anjali (Tamannah) helps him come out of it, shows him the 'brighter' side of life and plans to elope with her boyfriend. But she gets ditched too and is 'rescued' by Bharath from a school (Anjali becomes an English teacher) and they live happily ever after. Its the story of two ditched people finding love in each other. Sweet ain't it?

Inspite of it being so predictable I liked it because for a change we had very less of those fight sequences and unnecessary heroism (though I still feel the songs were like jarring notes in the movie, they could have done away with the songs altogther, the narration would have been taut).
The best part of the movie was the comedy track by Santhanam. The guy is really funny and the last half of the movie was watchable entirely because of him, the movie as such did not have much of unpredictability or suspense.

Anyway what's with this whole boy saves girl from a bunch of baddies who mistake her for a prostitute? It just seemed so filmy and made the movie look unrealistic if not to say stupid. Directors should give up the urge to show the men saving women in all their movies, it not only is unrealistic but only reinforces stereotypes. Well, its a commercial flick alright, so I guess the director's got to play to the gallery. Another thing, Tamannah looks suave and urban, hardly like someone from an interior district of TamilNadu (Theni). That seemed too incongruous even for a commercial flick. And oh yeah, the fair and lovely beauty seemed so out of place in rustic Theni surroundings, whoever said directors had common sense...

Both the actors did their roles well and if Tamannah appeared hyperactive all the time it was entirely the director's fault for having taken it too far. I think this is her best film so far. Bharat for a change appears restrained and its a pleasant surprise considering that most of his previous roles had been about the angry young man and his arivalu.

Worth a hundered bucks and can be watched once.Watch it if you don't have anything better to do on a lazy afternoon and if you're a couple do get those corner seats. ;-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008


A couple of days ago I read a newspaper article about the state of higher education in India and how the Indian government had sanctioned more funds to improve the sorry state of affairs in higher education. The writer dwelt at length on the obstacles in implementing these proposals and went off on a predictable tangent blaming the bureaucracy for all the ills plaguing higher education. He went on and on about how the corrupt and inept officials were destroying meritocracy and stifling the ‘efficiency’ of our ‘brilliant’ colleges. This isn’t the first time that someone blamed the government machinery for the problems in the system, for long the civil services have remained everyone’s favorite punching bag. Going by newspapers (and blogs too) all problems in India is caused by an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy.

If one goes by these views it would seem like traffic policemen, RTO officials, tehsildars, police officers, IAS officers (and everyone else working for the government) are not like the rest of us Indians, but are a different species who have been magically transported into India from some foreign country and are bent on destroying this noble country from within. That everything else is perfect in India and if not for the red tape this great country of ours can reach super power status (forget the starving millions, they don’t count here). If only we didn’t have corrupt, vile and wicked people working in the government!
I’d love to know who bribes these officials? Martians?

We need to reserve a healthy dose of cynicism not for the government but for ourselves. I have strongly believed that the people get the government (and the bureaucracy) they deserve. The bureaucracy is nothing but a reflection of our own value system. If the bureaucracy is corrupt, inefficient and slow it means those are the kind of values that we as a society possess. Corruption is an endemic problem in all poor, developing countries and I believe things are becoming better with the RTI Act.

A couple of magazines even idiotically questioned the need for an increase in pay scales of government servants calling it an extra burden during times of inflation, the same ones who would have chided Manmohan Singh for asking top executives to have pay cuts. Besides there is too much emphasis on how ‘efficient’ the private sector is, and how India could greatly benefit by applying corporate practices for efficient functioning of the government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Private companies work for their own profits and there is no way one can expect a government functioning under great financial constraints to replicate the success of private companies.

Yes, there are several problems plaguing the government and bureaucracy, but some of them like corruption reflects more on the attitude of the society than anything else. If people really want a change they should be prepared to enter the civil services and bring about a change rather than stay safely in other lucrative professions and keep blaming the government for all the problems of the society. If we are not ready to clean the muck we are in we have no option but to put up with the stink.

Monday, September 1, 2008


The Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 6th May 2008 by the Law Minister Bharadwaj. The whole procedure was like a drama where the the Law minster had to be physically protected from the SP and RJD goons who threatened to tear up the bill before it could be introduced in the Parliament. This scenario aptly demonstrated the level of opposition to the women’s reservation bill by the caste based parties esp. the SP, RJD and the JD(U) who have been very vocal about their opposition to and criticism of the bill. The Bill has been introduced in the Parliament after a struggle of twelve years (it was first proposed by the Deva Gowda government way back in 1996, the Vajpayee government introduced it in 1998 and was dissolved leading to the termination of the Bill in Parliament.)

Provisions of the Bill:
The Bill provides for 33% reservation for women in the State Legislatures as well as the Lok Sabha.. The seats will be reserved in rotation, each seat can be reserved only once in three consecutive elections.

Do women need reservation in Parliament?
Definitely. At present out of the 543 seats in Lok Sabha only 33 seats are occupied by women. That is a measly 8%. In the Rajya Sabha, the figure is slightly higher at around 10%. For a group which represents 50% of the population the above figures are depressing and shatters the myth about women’s liberation and empowerment. As in all other fields women face discrimination here too, but overcoming the discrimination here is not as easy as in other fields because of the very nature of political parties. Also the society frowns upon women entering politics due to its feudal outlook. Yes, we have Jayalalithaa ,Mayawati and Sonia, but they are an exception rather than the rule.

Panchyati Raj institutions

From 1993 onwards one third of the seats in the Panchayati Raj Institutions have been reserved for women. This has led to greater representation of women at the level of villages and districts. It has been observed from the PRIs that female representatives lay greater emphasis on literacy and development programmes and have contributed to a better literacy rate. But I’m not going to stress on these factors because I believe efficiency is gender neutral. I believe women need to be given reservation not because they might be better than men, but because I see the reservation itself as an act of empowerment, a way to a more inclusive democracy which carries with it the aspirations of 500 million women. I do not believe that female leaders are going to be more corruption free or more efficient than our male politicians. But I am sure they will not make the situation worse than what it is right now!

Opposition to the Bill

The main opponents of the Bill are the SP, RJD and JD (U). Their main reasons for opposing the bill are as follows:
i) They want Provision of a sub-quota within the present system of women’s reservation for OBCs and Muslims as they feel that in the present system the upper caste women will corner all the seats.
ii) They fear the loss of constituency of the present male members.

Provision of sub-quota within the bill is constitutionally illegal as the constitution prohibits reservation on religious and caste grounds in the Parliament except for the SCs and STs for which it has made an exception. Hence conceding to the above demand will require an amendment of the constitution. But I feel the concerns of the caste based parties are dubious because these parties have never really encouraged female participation in their activities. That is the reason they fear the seats will be usurped by upper caste women, these parties have never actively encouraged women in their parties, they do not have any strong female leaders as the BJP, Left or the Cong., hence the fear that if seats are reserved for women they will automatically lose because they have not nurtured female leaders like the other parties. A sub-quota is actually unwarranted because the Parliament is already dominated by the OBC castes, there is no reason to demand separate quota for them within the women’s reservation bill. If these parties want to win the reserved seats, then they should work towards encouraging and nurturing women leaders within their own parties instead of demanding a free ride in the name of OBC reservation. Reservations for SC and ST candidates is already there and there is no need to club it along with the Women’s Reservation Bill. SC and ST women can be elected within the quota provided for SC and ST candidates as well as the general category within women's reservation.

The second concern is real. If seats are reserved for women on a rotation basis it means a certain percentage of men will be deprived of their posts as the number of seats is constant at 543. This means that a certain percentage of politicians will lose their seats and that is unacceptable to all the parties (that is the reason why the women’s bill has remained stagnant for so many years inspite of the support offered to it by the Cong., B.J.P and the Left. All of them are reluctant to give up power, but they don’t want to be seen as anti-women either. Hence they allow the disruptions by the RJD and the S.P. hoping that the stalemate will continue forever, without their active support). Several women’s organizations and the Parliament’s Joint Committee have proposed amendements to the Bill to overcome this problem.
They are:
Increasing the number of seats by adding 181 extra seats so that the total no. of seats goes up to 724. ( This addition is done as per the census of 2000, keeping in mind the increase in population from 1971 when the original figure of 543 was arrived at. This increase in seats will also be representative of the increase in population in the last 30 years).

These 181 seats will not remain constant but will be rotated after every election and these seats will also be dual member constituencies (these are single constituencies with two representatives, a man and a woman so that men are not deprived of their share of seats while simultaneously providing opportunity for greater representation of women ). However there are many opponents to the Dual member system as they feel that it will dilute women’s power in their respective constituency. Whatever the merits and demerits, this proposal needs to be debated and a suitable solution arrived at.

Women’s reservation Bill needs to be taken up and debated and amended if necessary in the Parliament. The caste based parties are doing a great disservice to women all over India by not even allowing the discussion of the Bill and blindly opposing it giving idiotic excuses such as OBC and Muslim reservations. Come to think if it, women are the only discriminated group in India who are not considered a vote bank!
Women’s reservation Bill will give a great impetus to female empowerment and ensure a more representative and inclusive democracy. It may not directly contribute to the welfare of women but it will go a long way in altering the mindset of the people about a women’s role in society. Female representatives will be more sympathetic to matters involving women’s rights and we might see more women friendly legislations and laws. Even if all this doesn’t happen we can be proud that our political system has not closed its doors on half the population.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


A week earlier I had watched the no confidence motion moved in the Parliament. I have previously watched budget sessions of the Parliament but was never greatly interested in their proceedings. This experience was quite different. It actually started in a very tame manner by the Prime Minister ManMohan Singh reading out a prepared speech and starting the motion. What was striking was his absolute lack of speaking skills. The Prime Minister may be a technocrat, he may not have actively campaigned anywhere but that is not a good excuse for a Prime Minister of a billion people. No wonder he doesn’t inspire many. But of course Mr.Singh’s inadequacies are nothing compared to the phenomenal mediocrity of thought and action that I witnessed the next two days.

Mr.Advani as leader of opposition was the next speaker. He was flamboyant as usual talking passionately about how his Left friends had been cheated by the Congress by violating the sacred Common Minimum Programme. However his speech had nothing new to it, was repetitive (what he spoke in the Parliament was exactly similar to the interview he had given to The Hindu a few weeks ago, even the words did not change) and was factually wrong in many places. But he did put his points strongly and was much more convincing than Mr.Singh.
The speakers who followed were not able to speak as the opposition decided that they would not let anyone be heard. There was absolute pandemonium and the Left managed to produce the highest decibel levels. There was this particular M.P. from the Left (I think his name was Ahmed) who occupied maximum floor time (I guess atleast four hours) more than his stipulated 40 minutes by interrupting every speaker on some issue or the other. The Speaker Mr.Chatterjee was greatly annoyed and had to adjourn the House several times.
It was obvious that these people had gathered there not to discuss issues (most of them had already decided who they’d vote for) but to disrupt the Parliament as much as possible and make their voices heard. There was absolutely no respect for the Parliament nor for the Speaker. The Speaker looked like a helpless sheep among a pack of wolves.
Our honourable M.P.s lacked listening skills, basic decency, and where high on rhetoric and low on facts. They had decided right from the beginning to disagree with each other. They were more interested in personal attacks and settling scores rather than have a discussion on the issue. A handful like P.Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee did justice to their posts.
It is a great shame that these are the guys who are representing us on a national and international scale. The Parliament appeared to be a product of anarchy rather than democracy. The icing on the cake was as everyone knows the display of cash in the well of the House by three B.J.P. M.Ps. Along with those who have given bribes these three M.P.s should also be punished for contempt of the Parliament.
This inability to reach a consensus is a problem that has been plaguing India throughout its history. Indians had meekly submitted to the rule of the Mughals and the British exactly because of this problem. We were so busy quarreling with each other and settling petty scores against one another that we missed the big picture and were ultimately subjected to slavery and foreign rule. Our selfish instincts seems to be more stronger than the ability to work together for the greater common good. Our inability to see beyond short term selfish goals has severely handicapped our ability to make long term plans. No wonder we are not only the world’s largest democracy but also the most non-functional.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Unilever has done it again. In its quest for greater profits it has successfully exploited the inferiority complex of many Indians who think their dark skin is somehow degrading. More than settle for a “fairer” skin it seems the company is trying to push for what many Indians consider the highest ideal of beauty – a white skin. In this particular ad (which is more like a drama) Priyanka Chopra who gets dumped by Saif, slathers her face with Pond’s white beauty and lo and behold… Saif realizes he is actually in love with her(due to her “radiant white beauty”) and goes back to Priyanka. The whole idea is so shallow, I wonder which kind of woman will be appealed by it. It is truly an insult to the intelligence of Indian women. If this is what is required to attract a suitable husband then I’d rather remain a spinster all my life. ;)

Unilever has been involved with such racist ads for a long time with its ubiquitous and highly lucrative brand “Fair and Lovely” where a fair skin can guarantee you anything from a high paying job to a hubby. In these ads they usually show a woman who is not only dark but also doesn’t have a fashion sense, is timid and scared to approach people. Once she uses fairness creams everything about her changes (not only her face), she dresses more fashionably, approaches people more confidently and manages to attract suitable grooms.

As pointed out by many in the blogosphere, the same Unilever company markets Dove products in the Western countries which asks woman to love themselves the way they are. Apparently Western people can be confident about the way they look, but Indians should cover their faces with creams to reach the “ideal” look. Our idiotic society plays a huge part in reaffirming these prejudices. You only have to look at the matrimonial section of newspapers to know this.
I call all self respecting women (and men) to boycott Unilever products. It is time we Indians got rid of this slavish mentality.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Nadi jothidam is something that has fascinated me for a long time. The whole concept is mind blowing : reading the past present and future of a person through the writings on palm leaves written thousands of years ago by ancient sages who had the ability to reach beyond the boring reality of their everyday lives and have a peek into the workings of the Universe.

I was around tenth standard when I came to know about nadi jothidam. Those were the times when I was fascinated and awed by both Indian and Western astrology. However with growing years the skeptic inside me grew and I realized that most of astrology was done through either intelligent guessing, random choices or generalizations. There was certainly no method to it and certainly no way of proving or disproving anything.

However I’ve got many friends and acquaintances who will vouch for the authenticity of nadi jothidam. They are not uneducated illiterate people, most of them are doctors and engineers and some are academicians. I’ve never had the time to visit Chidambaram and check this out for myself. A few days ago an article appeared in The Indian Express about a journalist’s experience with Nadi jothidam in Chidambaram and like many of my friends she was shocked to realize that the astrologer was predicting several incidents which were happening in her life with unnerving accuracy only by having her thumb impression and sifting through hundred of olai chuvadis to find her correct match.
My question is if nadi jothidam was as accurate as people say it is, why is this claim not being rigorously researched by scientists? If this were to be proved true after rigorous testing just imagine what a sea change it will produce in the world. I for one will quit being an atheist and people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens will be rendered jobless. If rebirths are proved to be true ,then surely the presence of a superpower to set your destiny in motion is unquestionable, therefore God’s existence will always be unquestionable.
But we as a people are always satisfied with half truths and miracles. The spirit of enquiry is dead in our country. We don’t want to question our astrologers and godmen lest they be proved fake. It is the duty of our government to set up a commission to investigate such claims so that the few of us who are actually interested in knowing the truth should know it. Freedom does not only mean we are free to rule ourselves, it also means freedom of the mind to explore all things, question everything and come to our own conclusions. How long can we remain ambiguous in our beliefs and close our eyes to logical and rational thinking?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It is a national pastime of gargantuan proportions. Only the other national pastime- cricket rivals it in its popularity and reach. Most Indian citizens are acquainted with this very Indian sport and many of them are jubilant participants competing in it gleefully without expecting any prizes for their hard work. In one way these people are the true followers of Bhagavad Gita.

“Swaraj is my birth right” thundered Bal Gangadhar Tilak. “Spitting is my birthright” says the average Indian. No Indian citizen would forfeit his birthright to spit for anything in the world. We Indians just can’t have it any other way. However we should not discredit our spitters by putting them in a single homogenous group. That would be criminal as they are of different hybrid varieties and they warrant a classfication accordingly.

Red Dragon:

These are the eternal pan, gutkha , betel nut chewers. They were the pioneers of the chewing gum industry. The Yankees and Brits just copied it from us and replaced the pan with rubber.

Anyways, if not for these guys how will the aisles of cinema theatres, government hospitals and subways be decorated with such myriad shapes and designs, such art yet unrivaled by any abstract artist. These will be the future Ajantas and Elloras of our country bearing testimony to this hands free art devoid of paints and brushes. These artists work at a considerable cost to their life with the risk of oral cancer looming large, but these brave souls plough on knowing that the future generation will be eternally thankful for their sacrifices.

Casual Spitter: These people usually belong to the labour class – the coolies, rickshawallas, vegetable vendors etc.They have absolutely no qualms about spitting on the ground, it is as vital to them as breathing. They will not bother about the people standing around them, they are extremely focused on their mission – to spit and no amount of staring can stop these people. They’ll probably think you are mad if you tell them that people actually get fined in some places for doing the same.

Careful Spitter: These guys are the most dangerous as most of them are unrecognizable from the non-spitters. These are the mall going city bred types. However their eyes are always watchful and when they’ve made sure that no one is watching them out of nowhere an ugly blotch of fluid will appear on the ground. They’ll keep walking as though nothing happened.

Chronic Spitter: These guys usually suffer from some chronic lung disorder and feel the urge to displace the microorganisms colonizing their body to another human habitat free of cost, no strings attached. Research is going on to use these guys as potential weapons of mass destruction in biological warfare.

The “I am disgusted” Spitter: These guys do not actually transfer their oral fluid to the ground, they only mimic the action to show that they are particularly displeased or disgusted about something. They are present mainly in movies and mega serials.

The virtual spitter: These are the people who spit on India through their words and writing. A good example is Sir Vidia Naipaul who has taken it upon himself to make the Western world understand why India is such a hopeless and sick country. He has accomplished what a generation of Indian spitters haven’t.

The Spit India Movement would have accomplished twenty years earlier what the Quit India movement did, only if we had had a dedicated spitter for a leader. The brits would have fled the country if we had drowned them in a deluge of spit, tail between their legs.

Considering that we Indians are so good at this particular sport, we should press the Olympics Committee to include it as a sporting event. I mean if you can have a sport to assess how far a guy can throw something, you can also have a sport to calibrate the spitting potential of a person. Both require skills don’t they? Let us hope for the best. I am keeping my fingers crossed. If we succeed in convincing them, then nothing can stop us from getting that coveted Olympic gold!

Saturday, May 31, 2008


A strange disease seems to be afflicting Tamil cinema. I don't know if the other Indian movies are affected similarly, due to my obvious lack of knowledge. However I've seen this unhealthy trend for a long period of time and here are my two cents about it. Tamilnadu is the land which has supposedly welcomed the dark hero
Rajnikanth and made him world famous. Rajnikanth is a cult figure here.

In every other movie of his, Rajnikanth harps on his dark skin and says what a great gift it has been , thanking his mother, his country and thanking the Tamil people for accepting him. However all his heroines, and I say all (dispute me if you can) are fair skinned and most likely brought down from Mumbai. They do not know Tamil (obviously) and are pretty bad at lip sync. This is not only restricted to Rajnikanth. Almost all other tamil heroes are dark, but they prance around with fair heroines brought down from the south of Vindhyas. It seems the idea of a dark skinned heroine is anathema to them though most of them encounter dark skinned women all their life. They probably think that their mothers and sisters are ugly too. I don't know. They are dark skinned, they talk at length about the superiority of dark skin and all that crap, but they will act only with fair skinned heroines. This obvious hypocrisy is baffling.

This can be seen particularly in that big blockbuster joke of a movie called Shivaji with Rajni at the lead. In the movie Rajni tries a lot to become fair by dabbing fairness creams, but ultimately his lady love (the fair skinned Shriya) tells him that she likes him just the way he is. It seems this reflects the mentality of Tamil youth (atleast the B and C class moviegoers). They need the constant reaffirmation from fair skinned ladies that they are good looking however dark they maybe. This reflects a deep seated insecurity and self hate seen in Tamil men.
They obviously are not proud of their color whatever dialogues they might mouth in movies targetting the same insecure Tamil youth. And sadly people like Rajnikanth are proprogating this insecurity and self hate unconsciously. Or maybe they have been in the field for so long that they have internalized these values and don't see the obvious hypocrisy involved. I really don't know. This guy is no superstar. He is just super insecure. Pretty pathetic that there are no dark skinned Tamil heroines though 80% of the population here is dark skinned. What message are we sending our girls through these movies? That somehow being fair is superior and beautiful?

These kind of movies are also partly the reason why fairness creams are the highest selling beauty products in our country. These companies tell people (especially girls) that their natural skin color is somehow degrading and ugly and not good enough to be deemed beautiful, and earn millions in the process!! Shame on us Tamilians!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


One more revelation which will help in the transition of this country from a superstitious, irrational one to a sane rational one. The Makara vilaku which appears every year on the first of the Makaram month is a man made one! The Minister of Temple Affairs G.Sudhakaran has just confirmed this.. I personally know many people who actually believe that the makara vilakku is a supernatural phenomenon in this day and age. Too bad for them the list of miracles just keep dwindling day by day. And the temple authorities should be punished for fooling people consistently for so many years.
It is time we busted the other big miracle maker of our age : Sai baba. This guy can apparently produce lingams, sacred ash and what not out of thin air. Millions of devotees throng him every year in the hope of recieving blessings and good luck. He should be tested under controlled conditions and his fraud should be exposed. He should spend the rest of his days in jail where he can entertain his other prison mates with magic tricks. Many prominent personalities (including prime ministers) take blessings from this guy and for long he has roamed this country in the guise of a god man "blessing" people with his "powers".
Worshipping statues and stones is one thing. You could probably call it "projecting" your faith onto something which can be seen and felt.( I dont support this either but doesn't seem to be too harmful to me.) But worshipping another human being is quite another thing altogether. It smacks of slavery and servility. Indians seem to excel in this form of slavery particularly.
We seem to be clinging to the slave mentality that we acquired during the British period. Bending over backward to please our gora masters has morphed now into this strange Indian obsession of deifying human beings. Lack of courage to face the present gets translated as "faith" and "bhakti". These guys make use of the weaknesses in the human psyche and manipulate people and their feelings by making them feel powerless.
Also people who were normal human beings become Gods after they die. There is this one person I know who doesn't believe in the present Sai baba saying he is a trickster out to fool people. However she has tremendous faith and belief in Shirdi Sai baba who according to her is the "original" sai baba. What rubbish!! Orginal or duplicate, both are human beings. There is nothing divine or special about any one of them. They are all living , breathing humans like us, with all the human weaknesses.
The same goes for the controversy surrounding Ram sethu. Rama may have been a powerful king during his time or he might have just been part of a mythical folktale. Either way Rama was no God and there is enough evidence to prove that Ram sethu was not man made. However archaeologists who stated this obvious fact were fired and the Congress had to give an apology to assuage the feelings of "ram bhakhts".
Harry Potter is a pretty popular book now, the way the Ramayan tale was during its time. In another thousand years (by that time the tale might get twisted to give harry "godlike" characteristics), there is every chance that Harry might become God and the Harry Potter books might just become one of the sacred books of the Potterians ( a new religion based on the Harry potter books). And Hagrid might just become someone like Hanuman. Provided we don't nuke ourselves before that :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I am no economist and do not claim to be one(being a doctor by profession). These are some of my views on the budget as I understand it from various newspaper articles and magazines especially the Frontline.
This budget is dubbed as a populist one targeting the common man especially those in the agricultural sector. The loan waiver announced by the Finance Minister Chidambaram is viewed by many(especially in the print media) as one that will bring a huge relief to the debt ridden farmers

However there are two clauses to the loan waiver: one is that only farmers who have borrowed from the banks could avail of the loan waiver and the other is that only farmers who have a land holding of two hectares or less could avail the loan waiver. So essentially the relief is going to reach only 25% of the farmers. It is especially not going to give relief to farmers from the suicide prone Vidharba district as most of the farmers there own more than two hectares though they are the most hit by the drought and the agrarian crisis. (This paradox is because most of these farmers have arid lands with little access to irrigation and hence the produce from each land is limited and meagre. Therefore inspite of having more than two hectares their agriculture produce is pretty less when compared to farmers who have access to irrigation and who can make a huge produce with one or two hectares.

Most of these farmers have also acquired loans from private moneylenders who charge exorbitant interest rates which have added to the farmers misery. Hence the debt relief package will not reach farmers such as those in Vidharba who are the ones in a quagmire.

Also it is touted that the debt relief package will cost the exchequer. This is not true as the banks have to write off the loans and receive bonds from the government in return and receive a steady interest rate which will cost the government only 4000 crores.

The government should have instead settled the loans borrowed from private money lenders by providing loans through co-operative banks in this regard. This proposal was mooted but was not taken up by the government.

The farmer’s predicament is truly miserable. Imagine that you have a part-time job with a company. Instead of the steady salary you receive every month the company decides to hold up your salary every time it goes through a bad patch even tough you work regularly. This comparison may sound dubious but this is somewhat the state of the Indian farmer. This is where insurance schemes can help the farmer but the government has failed to implement it properly.

The cost of input for agriculture has increased because of subsidies for fertilizers have largely decreased over the past decade. Add to this the compounding problem of drought and the increasing price of seeds.

The farmers borrows from a private moneylender and invests into his land. If a drought season comes he is left with little or no output and no money left to pay his loans which drives him to penury and suicide. Even if the rains come on time and the farmers produces a bounty of harvest he is given a minimum procurement price by the government. Though the cost of input has increased exponentially over the past few years the government keeps the support price of procurement to a minimum level. The prices are kept low so that the prices of foodgrains do not increase and contribute to further inflation. The farmers have been made the scapegoats and shock absorbers here. And the government proudly proclaims that that most of its policies are pro-poor and pro-agrarian.

Have we strangulated our farmers in our quest for liberalization? Liberalisation brought with it the upward moblility of the middle class and an increased access to consumer goods and durables such as computers and mobile phones. India was touted as the perfect destination for MNCs by the government and sops and subsidies were extended several IT companies to set shop here. However with the era of liberalization the farmer has been marginalized more and more and pushed to the background. Farmers income have declined over the past decade thanks to the policies of the government.

Many people say that Nehru made a big mistake by pursuing socialist policies in the post independence era. However they do not realize that it was his socialist policies which gave a firm support base for the economic growth of the country. If we had followed capitalist policy we would have ended up like one of the present African countries.

It is shameful that India has four billionaires in the Forbes list while simultaneously having a human development Index (HDI) of 128. I do not blame them for India’s record. However no other country from which the top ten were listed had such a dismal record except us. We are much behind Srilanka, China and even Namibia. HDI is based on gross domestic product(GDP), literacy levels and human life expectancy at birth.
India has one of the highest rate of malnutrition and underweight children at birth. Over the past few years inspite of a G.D.P of 9% we have fallen in the HDI from 126 to 128. This is because of our dismal literacy levels and life expectancy. G.D.P per capita is basically a non indicator in this regard.

By pursuing such policies India is going to put itself in deeper inextricable problems and the disparity between the rich and poor is going to increase alarmingly. We cannot be happy that a few people have reached the super-rich category while million others are struggling for three meals per day. This kind of unsustainable policies are going to wreck the country in the long run. The government can pursue liberalization policies if it simultaneously decides to protect the interests of the poor , but I don’t see this happening at all. The way we are going we will end up as brain deficient, retarded free market fundamentalists.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


In this post I'm not going to start singing paens to those few women who have made it big in their life. I'm going to talk about the vast majority who haven't. I am warning beforehand that this post is loaded with pessimistic thoughts and sweeping generalizations.
The other day I was reading Forbes list of the ten most richest people in the world. Most of those listed were industrialists. Obviously there was not a single woman on the list. This was hardly surprising. Women have never been in the upper echelons of business and industry.
Constituting roughly 50% of the world's population women are hardly represented in the top ranks of any field. In fact when you go through the list of Nobel prize laureates the results are even more enbarassing. Women contribute to just a handful of recepients. Is this due to the 'glass ceiling' or is the problem more deeper?
Is it that women are just not motivated or passionate enough to make it big in the world? (I know I am sounding remarkably juvenile when I say this but I don't know how else to put it). Or are their priorities just different from guys? Do they value raising children annd starting families more than they value their independence, career and profession?
When a system (ex: religion) oppresses women and puts them on a lower social status than men why aren't the oppressed raising their voices against it. Clearly it seems women just aren't interested in coming out of their 'comfort zones'. It takes a great deal of persevearence and courage to fight the system and women just aren't upto the task. They are contented in being second class to men as long as they remain in their comfort zones. They don't even support other women who have the guts to speak out. (How many Muslim women are ready to support Taslima Nasreen?) Women constitute half the population and I don't think it is impossible for them to break the shackles of a system if only they want to.
However most women (atleast in India) are contented in being a docile wife and mother as long as thier positions are not jeopardized. Surely the housewives are the bane of women's liberation.
They also blame men for their woes while it was they who played a major part in legitmizing and condoning the system in the first place. If women are not adequately represented in every field they have no one to blame but themselves. They are just inheriting their ancestor's complacency in not fighting for their rights all these years which has contributed to the sad state of affairs today. How long can one blame a society which was formed and legitimized by women? The society simply would't exist without them.
Depiction of women as sex symbols in commercial movies and advertisements doesn't help either. It only reinforces stereotypes about women and their (lack of) intellectual capacities.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


It has been a wonderful, mindboggling journey. One filled with happiness,sadness, joy ecstasy, hope and sorrow. I am talking about my journey with Harry Potter.
Now you might say ‘She is one of those delusional Potter maniacs who are crazy about all things Harry”.And I say “Yes!” A resounding yes. Our love for Potter extends beyond liking a well written book with an excellent plot. It has been an emotional and thrilling experience too.
How can a book, a mere book make you feel happy and sad at the same time? This one can. You’ve got to be reading Potter for a while for the experience to sink in.
I am going to confine myself to describing certain parts of the book for obvious reasons.

I first read Potter when I was in my eleventh standard. I enjoyed the first book but thought it was way too childish for my taste. However I loved the plot and Rowling’s way of bringing of the magical world of Hogwarts right in front of your eyes.This lady has tremendous imagination and creativity! Most of us Potter fans had imagined the Hogwarts castle complete with its revolving staircases and talking portraits even before the movies got released, thanks to Rowling’s beautiful descriptions.

The books started more like a beautiful fairytale and became more engaging, macabre and dark by each installment. Her last book “the Deathly Hallows” is hardly a children’s book, more to be read by teens and adults.

The best part of these books are the well fleshed out characters. Each character in the book have a three dimensional personality, a story of their own and black and white and shades of grey. This is one of the most important reason for the immense popularity of the books. There is such a variety of characters that everyone reading the book can identify with atleast one of them. Rowling highlights the positives and negatives of each character in a beautiful manner. Be it the motherly Mrs.weasley, the ever sarcastic Severus Snape or the benevolent Dumbledore each character has been brought out in its entirety. Mrs.Weasley is not only motherly but courageous, defiant and proud, Snape can also be caring and loving and Dumbledore of all people a powerhungry and cunning man.

The next best thing about the books are its plots and subplots. Rowling masterfully weaves a web of stories and and branches them out into delightful subplots with each character having a central space in the individual subplots. Her books contain heavy doses of foreshadowing and glib oneliners which become the predictions for the future books. She is also an expert at planting red herrings all the way to fool the unsuspecting readers to reach wrong conclusions which they realize only in the next book.
Her books also contain delightful little intricate details like the origin of the names of the different characters. There is also an entire family tree who have been named after stars and constellations!

A master storyteller Rowling has thrilled us like no other.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I've been wanting to write about this for a long time (ever since I read the book) and here I go. This book was recommended to me by a friend who said it depicted the realities of the world.
The fountainhead is regarded as an excellent fictional book the world over with heavy doses of philisoophy, ethics, morality and her unique philosophy "Objectivism".
However I failed to understand why the book is appreciated so much the world over. It is not a very engaging book and is extremely pessimistic and disillusional.
The protagonist Howard Roark is an extremely unrealistic character who if he had existed in the real world would probably have had a nervous breakdown because of his isolation from the social world of humans. But jokes apart I read in a website that Rand had modelled Howard Roark on what she considered the 'ideal man', free of prejudices and free of common human failings like jealousy. To ensure that she introduces him as an orphan who is free of the 'corrupting ' influence of his parents.
As the book progresses we see that Howard wants to be an architect in his own right and wants to build bulidings in his own unique way. Pretty idealistic and perfectly alright. We are then introduced to his friend Peter who is a pretty pathetic creature always requiring the approval of others for everything he does and says- a perfectly insecure young man who will go to any depth to get things his way.
Then she introduces us to a beast of a human called Dominique Francon who like I said if had existed in the real world would have been locked up in an asylum for her sadistic cruelty. This lady will go to any length to ridicule and and belittle others in the knowledge that she is more purer and nobler than others. It is at this point that I start having doubts.

Someone who knows the faillings of others will most likely understand the reason for those human incocnsistencies and sympathize with them or at the most will consider themselves superior. But this lady in her attempts to depict the shallowness of those around others stoops to a level worse than them in her cruelty and highhandedness.

But as she is pretty and the daughter of a rich architect she is tolerated at best by most and despised by a few. This lady falls in love with Howard for according to her he is the embodiment of all that is pure in mankind. But she realises that this 'shallow' and 'ugly' world will not let him survive.

So she decides that she will accelerate his downfall because she does not want him to be 'tainted' by the 'ugly world'.
She goes about spreading wrong things about Howard and hitching every possible assignment he gets to destroy him totally. And every day that she successfully ruins his projects she sleeps with him.
At this particular point I have become totally convinced that this is an absolutely psychotic book but I continue reading it to see what I have missed that the others can see. The book continues on with Howard's heroic struggle with the world and his ultimate triumph in the end. As the book unfolds Domonique keeps moving from one successful guy to antoher and ditching him in his moment of despair. Needless to say she unites with Howard in the end.
This book is supposed to champion the celebrated concept of individuality and it expresses the idea that taking care of your self interests will benefit the society in the long run.
She portrays Horward as a dynamic individual who charts his own course and succeeds in life. But what of the female protagonist?
Howard loves his job and wants to work the way he wants to. He is an admirable perrson in the book. The author portrays Dominique as a woman of pure and noble nature above human failings(I dunno how to express this but that is how she is percieved in the book). But she does not have an ambition of her own, she does not seem to love her work , however she loves to point out other people's faults.
This degrading mentality disgusted me and being a bit of a feminist myself wondered why Rand being a woman had opted for such a disgusting portrayal of a woman. (She is not required to, but well I always pin my hopes on female writers to tell the female side of the story.) The female protagonist does nothing more than sleep with different guys and bring them down at the best possible opportunities. The merits of the book are how it successfully showcases the superficiality of the world and its failings.
Rand is an advocate of "laissez fair" capitalism and free market fundamentalism both of which can be disastrous to a country. Concepts like welfare are anathema to her and she believes in exclusive capitalism. Socialism is a strict no-no, and the concept of equality for all a completely devious plan bent on 'punishing' the truly 'meritorious'.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sonia and her Order of Leopold

Sonia Gandhi is to be conferred the Order of Leopold by Belgium. This award is given to those who have served Belgium outstandingly through the military, or through the society and state. However this could mean her allegiance and adherence to Belgium.
Hence the huge debate on whether she should be allowed to recieve the Order in the first place. So the Election Comission has served a notice on her on a disqualification complaint filed against her by a lawyer in Kerala. The election Comission has been divided on the whole issue what with the voting going 2 to 1.
However I wonder why Sonia is being given the award in the fiirst place? What did she do to earn the gratitude of the Belgian government to select her for the highest award in Belgium? In what way could she have served Belgium? Is the honour purely decorative?. Is there something I can't see?

Friday, February 8, 2008


A walk on the beach may not guarantee fresh air but it sure does guarantee a good dose of stench. That was my experience today morning when I went for a walk on the Marina beach. Considered to be one of the longest beaches of the world it is in a pretty sick state right now. A main factor is the proximity of slum areas or "kuppam" in local parlance, to the beach. These people consider the beach their private property and openly defecate on it in the early morinngs. An entire compund wall has been converted into a smelly urinal. It would be better if our ridiculous chief minister, instead of providing free television sets to poor people could construct toilets for them instead of letting them live in subhuman conditions.