Archive for the ‘Point of View’ Category

The loot of Colonization

“An estimated 1.64 million Chinese relics are owned by foreign museums. Even more than that are owned by private collectors. A great number were looted, stolen and smuggled out of China between the 1860s and 1949 when the country was subjected to colonial invasion and civil wars.
Because of the difficulties on the way to recovery of the stolen/ looted artifacts through diplomatic channels, or purchase them at a reasonable price is still the most practical way, however with the latest auctioned prices being rocket high, it is rapidly turning to be unpractical if not impossible…
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article5829613.ece
Put Vijay Mallya’s purchase of Gandhiji’s personal artefacts in that context

Who do Blogs really belong to ?

When I first started to blog, I saw it as a way to express myself. I enjoyed putting thoughts down first thing in the morning. And then as the blog caught on, it was like relating to a whole universe of people with diverse thoughts. I then discovered that people like to express themselves back through this medium, not only to themselves, but also with each other. And then as our community got larger, I was approached by many people to sponsor the blog with advertising. I resisted that, and continue to resist it. After all their is a difference between a Newspaper and a Blog. One is a forum of discussion of diverse points of view of which I am merely the convener. The other a commercial enterprise for the benefit of the owners.
Anyway, for the moment no advertising. I will consider it if I need to spend money on the blog eg if and when we need a search engine, or I need to begin to pay people to manage it. In the meantime I wanted to tell you all that Himanshu is now back in India and working with me. He has left his beloved city of NY and decided to plunge into the world of film making. I wish him luck and all of those of you that are looking to do the same. Including Kedar and Sanjay and other that have actually completed their films within the years that they have been members of our community.
Good luck to you all and the only advice I have is : It’s not a career, it a passion. and ‘kal kisne dekha ?”

Did Karl Marx predict this ecomomic meltdown ?

“Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism” Karl Marx, Das Kapital
Did Karl Marx really write this on Das kapital ? I have not read it – and picked this quote up on one of our blog community’s own blogs. Because if he did, the only prediction that has not come true YET is “.. the state will have to take the road that will eventually lead to communism”.
US a communist country ? Seems highly unlikely, but certainly not impossible.
A government controlled market definitely is the first step to socialism But just as the US has learned that unfettered capitalism works only in theory, China learned (as did the USSR) that total uncorrupt communism is also just as theoretical.
To find the right balance, and to be constantly at vigil. That fine balancing act will be Obama’s biggest test, for there are dangers on both sides of the fence.

Davos World Economic Forum – the fixers ?

I cant help laughing. I see TV coverage of all the world’s bussiness, economic and political leaders gathering together to network and party over a weekend. And the world press says “they are discussing how to save the world from the current financial mess”
Hang on, are these not just the people that caused the mess in the first place ? Striving as they were towards more and more wealth in the name of entrepreneurship and progress ? How are they going save the world ? Assuming as they do, that the greater their own or their company’s market value, the better off the world was.
What is needed is a complete rethinking of the way wealth is distributed in this world. The people in Davos are too self centered to think that way. Maybe they should all buy little cottages in Davos and stay there for a year or so, while the world re-aligns itself economically.

Ganga, The Girl Child

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NImi is a partition baby in the truest sense. She was born in a train carrying refugees from Pakistan to India. Many did not make it. Nimi almost did not. Not because of the savagery of those times. But because of a savagery that exists even now. In abundance. Because Nimi was bundled up in a cloth by her aunt (mother’s sister in law) and thrown out in a Nallah as the train stopped. For her Aunt knew the plight of her Nimi’s mother. With partition, and her husband away looking for a new life and work, , Nimi’s aunt did not want her brother and sister-in-law burdened with a girl child. She told Nimi’s mother that the child was still born. But the mother insisted on seeing the dead child. And found the little baby still alive and breathing. Today Nimi is married with two children, has a flourishing career as a designer, and a beautiful family of her own. She has forgiven her aunt, because both she and her mother understood why. But now NImi wants to tell the world that the girl child is not a burden if you do not consider her one. So she has started a movement called Ganga. It is the name she has given the doll she designed you see above, representing the girl child and her dreams, ambitions and future. Through this doll she hopes to create a movement for the rights of the girl child to live and survive with dignity and hope.
Read further for Nimi’s own narrative titles STILL BORN, some of which was posted earlier on our blog.

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Happy Republic Day, but what are we celebrating ?

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Used to be such fun. Getting ready early in the morning, putting on your woollies with my mom trying to get us going as early as possible. To see the parade in Delhi from as vantage a point as possible. It was such a event. As a boy of course my favourite were the armed forces ! The march past, the tanks that rumbled by, pointing their gun turrets to the saluting Prime Minister. I would always wait for the jets to do their final flypast spewing out the Indian colours. Just the sounds of those jets would get my heart pumping. I loved the white uniforms of the Navy and for a long time had the ambition to join the Navy. To a 10 year old it felt like the coolest thing to do. I just liked the way they saluted. It was not like the open palm of the Army or the Air Force. It was so smart. Imagine, that I may have gone into the Navy just because I loved the way they saluted. I guess we will never know what motivates us to take directions in life.
Then we did not think about what we were celebrating. It just was such a celebration. Even my school would participate in one of the floats ( I never made it – I was too quite and shy to express creative urges then). We just celebrated a holiday, a day out and the pageantry. And India was such a young country then. The cynicism had not set in.
What are we celebrating now, other than a long weekend ?
We are celebrating the birth and survival of an impossible Idea. An Idea that is India. An idea that brought a sub continent of different cultures, of different religions, of different races, and of different languages together. That Idea was freedom. And out of that idea, an India that never really existed before, was born as a democracy.
India is still an Idea. A hope. A dream. That it has survived and we still exist as a whole despite all the divisive forces, the complete political failure, the corruption, the poverty, the inequality, the lack of a working justice system, a corrupt police force, the greed of the corporate system, is in itself an absolute miracle. But then, more than anything else, an Idea leads to a miracle
That is what we should be celebrating. That the idea has survived. The Dream still beats in our hearts. And hope still drives us.
And that hope is kept alive not by the politicians who are probably the most treacherous people on this planet, nor the elite or the corporate sector, who will plunder middle class investors and transfer India’s wealth overseas without blinking an eyelid. Nor by us film makers, that find exhilaration in box office results international awards. But it is kept alive by the farmer, who season after season will wait for the monsoons and the crops to feed his family. And still hope. It is kept alive by the working and middle classes that travel in from Virar to Churchgate everyday and have done so all their lives, and still hope and survive and celebrate. For they’re the ones that buy the cell phones that turn our cell phone operators into billionaires.
India’s beating heart, India’s hope, lies in the people for whom life is a daily struggle. This year I celebrate those people.

What is the identity that is India ?

Sitting in a coffee shop at Vienna airport waiting for my flight to Innsbruck. , using fast free internet (why cant we have that all over India ?). The airport is full of Indians. Going to Milan and Frankfurt mostly. This is the time of the textile fairs, so its wonderful to meet all the young entrepreneurs from all over India.
The question that plagues many of us is, what is the force that binds India ? Before independence it was always empires that fought and brought this sprawling diverse continent under one leadership. But there was so many divisive factions, cultures, languages, political and social systems that the umpires ultimately broke apart not only through foreign conquests, but mostly because the internal divisions always helped the new conqueror. We say that the British were great at the ‘divide and rule’ policy – but in saying that we actually hide truth. We Indians are so divisive that it is easy to divide and rule us. Not the other way round. Is internal divisiveness our fundamental nature, and Indian nature ? I don’t think so. I believe it is that we are such a disparate people that divisions are easy to come by. India is always threatening to break at the seams, politically, or through religion, or through cast or race, or even language. Should India hold together (as I think it should), then what would/could hold it together ? Remember taht divisions in India can never just be resolved through geographical separation into states. For example the rise of the political power of the lower caste through Mayawati is not a geographical, issue. Caste politics are spread through our nation, or we would have to divide our nation once again through the upheavals that happened in partition.
So what is the idea that is India ?

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Humility, simplicity

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he sat here
in all humility
in extreme simplicity
and changed the world
his empty ‘chair’
a symbol now
of the lack of
leadership
Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi’s room at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. Visited today by my daughter Kaveri and myself. To pay our respects and homage.

Forgotten how to write a letter ? Guest column from Neelesh Misra

“Quick! Help me! I have forgotten to write a letter!”
My wife, who generally does not think much of my slow moving brain until she needs its help, shook me this weekend as she broke a long silence as we watched the TV together.
“Huh?” I said.
“Do you write the date on the left or the right?” she said.
I took several seconds to soak in the deep meaning of what she had just said. I turned around slowly. There she was, cross-legged on the bed under the Rajasthani quilt, a pink letter pad on her knees and a pen in her hands.
I realised that this was some sort of an event which was in the works for half a day. When we had gone out in the evening to New Delhi’s suburb of Noida, she had avoided walking into her favourite stores dragging behind her reluctant husband (as she is prone to), and instead looked for a stationery shop. Stationery? When was the last time we bought stationery or went into a stationery shop? We have so long ago catapulted from stationery to Blackberry. But she wanted to buy stationery. She said she wanted to write a letter. My wife is a television reporter and one of India’s more prominent news anchors. She had received a handwritten letter of appreciation from an 80-year-old gentleman and she wanted to reply with a letter.
As she spent the next thirty minutes trying to write out her six lines, my mind leaped into a beautiful Bermuda Triangle of memory. When was it that I wrote my last handwritten letter? I rummaged through it and found a lot of stuff in the letterbox of my past
Ever since I was in school, letters were everything….

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We must be responsible bloggers

We are exploring very sensitive issues on our blog and I do not put any form of editorial control except for obscenity, or very personal and direct insulting behavior towards another member of our community. However we live in very sensitive times and I do not see why this blog should become the same mind set of the politicians media or extreme fundamentalists that we are against. This is a blog for intelligent discussion and exploration where all points of view are welcome and encouraged. We can be as passionate as we want about what we feel, as long as we respect the passion and arguments of other bloggers. But we must refrain from insulting each directly. I thank all of you for being so respectful of this new medium of discourse – but we must remember that the future of blogging, if it is to be a tool of social change, then we, the initiators bear the responsibility to nurture and shephard this new movement,
Shekhar