Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

The Hungry Hearts Festival

Ok, so we tend to get a little patronizing about our own family members, especially when that person happens to be your younger sister. You kind of tend to pat them on their back and treat them like a child and then look back at your life and realize how utterly stupid that attitude was. It was a typical attitude of a Punjabi elder brother completely confused about his responsibilities towards her.
So now my younger sister Sohaila is doing things that make me sit up and take notice. Things in my own field. Things that are quite awesome. She has started the Hungry Hearts Festival in Delhi. They need support and I will let Sohaila’s own words take over. I am supporting them and if there is anyone else out there that would like to do so in any way , please write to Sohaila who has sent the following message :
I write on behalf of Hungry Heart Festival which is a society dedicated to bringing sensitive issues touching our lives, in the form of theatre and other performing arts in its various forms, to the Delhi audience.


Slum Dog kids to campaign for Congress, Jai Ho !!

Azhar and Rubina, both about 10 years old apparently have been asked to campaign for the congress party in the forthcoming elections. Plans are being worked out now. From everyone complaining about Slumdog Millionaire because it show cases poverty in slums, to our Parliament congratulating the film makers and the Media circus taking off on the new found celebrities, our attitude to the film has been entirely schizophrenic.
Of course the kid’s lives can never be the same, and provided their eduction does not suffer, why not ? Why should anyone’s life not be bettered if it can.
But to use them at this age for electioneering ?? Congress has bought the rights to the song Jai Ho for the current elections too. So watch for Azhar and Rubina on trucks with loudspeakers blaring Jai Ho !!

Is the current economic reccesion caused by a more equitable re alignment of wealth ?

Thsi is from Horst :
When we have such pangs of bad conscience ( on my post on water) where do we go from there? The slum that you saw from the hotel window, as close as it appears to be, may as well be on the moon. That is the felt distance between the two realities we are dealing with in our daily lives. One reality has to do with the existence of the haves and the other with the have nots. I have belabored that very subject on your blog many times and have increasingly realized that our societies are terribly flawed in their concept to distribute wealth.
Over the last century the large experiments in establishing an equitable social system by introducing communism have failed, albeit some countries are still in a state of denial. As we can now safely say capitalism, the widely heralded alternative, has not kept its early promise and has rather turned into a sordid tool to promote elitism and to exploit the vast masses of humanity. All the learned and celebrated theorists of the past have failed to include one important calculus in their sophisticated treatises: human greed and the inherent unwillingness to truly share good fortunes with others. The current worldwide economic crisis is considerably more than just a down phase in the endless chain of cyclical undulations. I think it is a worldwide awakening to a reality that can no longer be sustained. There will be an increasing number of Shekhars who are exceedingly unwilling to act as though all is well and to view the misery of billions of people as something so abstract as to be virtually non-existent. The dynasties of wealth will eventually tumble and in the sobering aftermath there will be profound changes to prevent a recurrence of the excesses that have incurred our collective wrath. Conspicuous consumption are becoming dirty words, fabulous riches are no longer viewed with benign envy but rather as a growing irritant. People are increasingly stacking up their own limited lives against the charmed realities of the ones who cannot even fathom the concept of daily survival and who know of no existential fear that too many of us have to live with.
All great upheavals in human history have been fed by the dissatisfaction of the masses and their inability to improve their lives. We may very well be in the early throes of such a moment. I think there is now an incredible opportunity for introspection, for the exchange of thought processes to try to establish a new, more equitable world order in which 80 % of humanity is not just simply ignored but is given a chance to live with dignity rather than in shame that abject poverty engenders. We must afford them the same respect we all expect from each other.

Moral Police ? No, just hooliganism

Why is the Media giving so much weight to what really are young hooligans taking out their frustrations on vulnerable people. They are doing it simply because they can, taking safety in numbers. Acts of cowardice really. But one of the so called ‘vulnerable people’ will turn out not to be vulnerable, and some one is going to killed if this does not stop. And then the riots will really start. There are too many other things in India that need attention. Like hunger. Like unemployment. Like terrorism.
The Media must stop giving these people lofty names. This is not the talibanization of India, this is the hooliganization of India>

End of Face book

If you have not seen this already, its’ worth a read :
By Steve Tuttle | Newsweek
I was a late convert to Facebook, the social-networking site that
turned five years old Wednesday. I joined about a year ago at age 47,
swept up in the massive wave of people turning the corner to the back
nine of life, and pitifully trying to do what comes so naturally to
our sons and daughters. My own 16-year-old, Grace, literally cried
from embarrassment when I told her I was signing up, and she begged me
through her tears not to do it. When it was clear that I was serious,
she made me promise never to “friend” her. Since I didn’t know what
that meant at the time, I agreed. Last week I redeemed myself in her
eyes, because I signed off of Facebook foreveróor at least until
I had one of those Hallmark movie moments. I was sitting here at work
thinking up my next pithy “status update,” which is where you
broadcast to all your online buddies in a few words what you’re up to
at that very momentóand finally came to my senses. “What the hell have
I become?” I cried.
So goodbye 157 Facebook friends, 75 of whom I wouldn’t recognize if I
saw you on the street……


Girls beaten up in a Mangalore restaurant

It is well known that men who become the moral police for women are sexually immature and insecure about themselves. It is a condition that arises mostly from the environment they are brought up in, dominated by or taught to disrespect the other sex. It is a condition that if not checked, can lead to rape. And in societies where a woman’s sexuality is considered immoral, rape almost becomes an accepted form of humiliation and punishment. But it arises not from a moral perspective, but a far deeper, darker insecurity of their own ‘maleness’ and a need to dominate and humiliate the other sex in order to give themselves feelings of self worth.
The young men that beat up the girls in Mangalore are a slur on their religion and completely screwed up inside. They represent a danger to society, and should be locked up. As do the young men that raped the girls in Noida, the most horrendous part of which was the way the village elders blamed the girls for the act.
It was ultimately what I explored in Bandit Queen, where Phoolan Devi was gang raped for the audacity to become a leader of a gang and trying to stand up to men. Both as a woman and low caste.

The Idiot box is so much more idiotic now

With the levels of soaps degrading everyday, news being turned into soap opera, and the complete inability to tell the difference between one reality soap and another, many people are nostalgic of the Doordarshan days when series such as Hum log, Udaan, Shyam Bebegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj, Malgudi Days and Govind Nihilani’s terrific adaptation of Bhisham Sahni’s novel on the partition of India ‘Tamas”.
Yes there were those boring state dominated news broadcasts that became just the state propaganda, and many programmes were merely there because of who bribed who. Not all was good, but there were some terrific things on TV that we don’t get now. Neelesh Mishra has written a wonderful piece that I enclose here about ‘growing up with Doordarshan called :
“inside the idiot box of memory”
Let me take you to several minutes before 6 p.m. on crisp winter evenings in the 1980s. In a cobweb of narrow Lucknow lanes, my four young uncles would be about to return home on their Bajaj scooters, my tough cookie grandfather would be about to have his evening tea and on the first floor, my grandmother would be cutting guavas and bringing them to my twin brother Shailesh and me.
That was the moment when I would get up for the highlight of our winter vacation days, in the neighbourhood someone had so stupidly named Ghasiyari Mandi.
A massive click. I would switch on the thick cylindrical silver knob of the Uptron Urvashi TV set, encased in a wooden cabinet. Vertical vibgyor colour bands would show up, and then, suddenly, the rotating Doordarshan logo that seemed to us like two huge kajus hugging a rasgulla in the centre. Sublime, pre-24X7 moment. The moment my brother and I would have waited for the whole day, killing time to prepare ourselves to open the rolling wooden shutter on the TV cabinet.
Doordarshan was the anchor of my growing up years in Lucknow and Nainital……


It’s Slumdog Millionaire’s Summer of Cool !

With film makers in India regretting they did not pick up Vikas Swaroop’s Q&A ( on which Slumdog Millionaire is based), guess which is the next book getting all the hype ? Its Suchitra’s “Summer of Cool. There is a little bidding war going on for it… I should know, everyone is calling me to see if I can help them get the rights ..
‘Summer’ is exactly what it says it is. It is ‘cool’, with the the colors of summer – yellow and orange -with the warmth of the characters who’s hearts almost glow pink !
” A tall glass of lime juice on a warm summer’s day” The Hindu critic called it aptly. And this is just the first of series. This summer is going to be pretty cool for book lovers.. and yes, the book has it’s dark side, but then so does Harry Potter –

Plastic bags banned in Delhi ! Well done again Sheila Dixit

The state government in Mumbai had announced after the terrible floods caused mainly by the clogging of the drains by plastic bags, that they would ban plastic bags. But they had neither the will nor the guts to go through with the order. Now Sheila Dixit, the Chief Minister of Delhi has announced the same, and my bet it that despite all the court cases that will be thrown against her, the political pressures and the business lobbying – Sheila Dixit wil stand firm. She did the same when she turned all buses and other means of public transport to CNG gas. She stood firm through the strikes by bus operators, nd cases right upto supreme court. And today you can actually breathe in Delhi. There are lesser cases of asthama amongst children, and the levels of harmful pollutants in the air has come down,
I have seen the effects of not only plastic bags, but also plastic wrappers and empty plastic bottles on our environment in the hills. On a recent trip to Nainital and the surrounding hills, I saw streams, lakes, irrigation ditches all clogged with plastic – killing not only the environment but also causing flooding and killing off river fish.
Traveling in trains in India in my youth, hot milk and tea has very special taste. They were served in fragile earthenware pots. The tea and the milk took on the taste of the earth, and for me they have never tasted the same. Now even in the smallest towns tea is served in plastic cups that are not biodegradable and just go on to pollute our land.
Just one thing more m/s Dikshit – what about plastic wrapping that sell commercial products like Lays (terrible for the health of kids in any case) and pan masaala ? They represent almost 70% of the litter that pollutes our countryside

Israel declares cease fire in Gaza

After killing 1200 (or more) mostly civilian Palestinians, injuring seriously another 900, Israel has declared that its objectives have been achieved. I doubt it. If the idea was to destroy the Hamas leadership, then perhaps temporarily yes. But armed strength and invasion can kill people, not an idea. The idea is more freedom and less oppression for the Palestinian people. After the invasion, the idea will be far far stronger, with more converts to it. Perhaps Israel wanted to crush the Hamas leadership before President Obama took charge. They knew that Bush would support them, so they declared a cease fire on the day that Obama Presidency is being inaugurated !
This was a mistake that in the long term will create even more problems for the survival of the state of Israel. Those pictures of fathers and mothers in anguish over the bodies of their dead children, killed by the Israeli bombs, will stay etched in the minds of the people for years to come.