Archive for the ‘Point of View’ Category

Aren’t nuclear tests outdated ?

In the giant Hadron Collider scientists are currently trying to replicate the Big Bang. New molecules are being designed and tested for the latest biodrugs on computers. Computer simulation models can predict almost any known sub atomic behaviiou now. And since an atomic explosion (for peaceful purposes) is way of containing a sub atomic implosion and then being able to redirect the energy from that implosion in a controlled way, why would we need to explode a nuclear device to create the technology ? Give a computer enough data and it will be able to predict the probabilities far more accurately than a crude activity like live nuclear blast, where the conditions can never be completely controlled. So why all this posturing on prohibiting Nuclear testing – the weapons of the future will in any case be developed as complex computer models.

Garbage recycling in Mumbai : an appeal

Sanjeevani Bhelandi sent this in. It’s a really important issue in Mumbai, which is fast turning into an untenable city falling apart at the seams. Pleas support FORCE if you can. Sanjeevani is a beautiful singer famous in her own right and you can visit her website at
“Garbage is another grave urban issue strangely not being taken seriously. Mumbai garbage dumps are full. I know a remarkable lady Ms Poonam Huddar who runs an NGO called FORCE (forum for re-clycling communities and environment). She lives adjacent to the Deonar garbage dump and started this movement fed up of the daily stink. Garbage segregation is the only solution to this monsterous issue. Convert wet waste into manure through vermiculture and recycle dry one. FORCE encourages buildings to compost their wet garbage and gives employment to ragpickers. Garbage segregation at source also gives dignity to the lives of our rag pickers who otherwise have to rummage thru garbage for their livelihood. I personally put my kitchen waste like cucumber peels,methi,coriander stems etc into my pots and find my plants growing with so much vigour as they get fresh,free manure.there are no mosquitoes,no stink unlike what many people doubt. There is such poor awareness about this issue it is apalling. The open garbage bins on every corner of our roads are health hazards breeding infections,rats,mosquitoes.and in the rains clog drains. I admire the work of this simple middle class frail woman who works tirelessly to give us a cleaner Mumbai. Please lets all segregate garbage,put our kitchen veggies in our pots.we can grow our own tulsi,pudinah,kadhipatta,mirch(I do). Garbage is gold if seperated. Selling the dry waste generates income. Also rich manure is created thru composting. Dumping is not the correct way to disposing garbage. Burning causes pollution. Right way is to recycle thru segregation. Shekharji,your picture prompted me to spread word about this issue.

India heading towards Civil War ?

Just as we were getting used to a rising stock market, Shopping Malls on every corner in our consumeristic cities, billions of dollars coming in from FRI’s, all on the basis that we have such a young population – just as everyone (but the poor farmers) were celebrating and the headlines were screaming about India’s economic development – came the news that the a third of the world’s poorest people live in India ! And this is just when we were getting used to the idea that a third of worlds teenagers were living in India – so they are amongst the poorest in the world. What is the truth of India ? Are we really becoming two nations – and how long before there is intense conflict, ? Civil war ? Between the new lifestyles of billionaires and millionaires observed by those who live on the streets holding the little hands of their children that have not eaten for two days.

Are free and fair elections possible in a combined Kashmir, or anywhere in India ?

I am tired of the voices that talk about collective self determination of the people of the both the Indian side and the Pakistani side of Kashmr, without even once looking at the consequences of such an election. As usual we are addicted to key words that stop us form thinking beyond. As if democracy is the sweet mantra for all ills of society. Democracy in all of India is a corrupted, uncomfortable form, and we know that. And it is no different in Kashmir and worse in Pakistan.
If you announce an election today in a combined Kashmir, it is the surest way to a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan as opposing forces in Pakistan, in India and within Kashmir jockey , threaten, kill and burn to ensure that the power structures comes to them.
Why are the liberal voices so bright, analytical and yet so naive ??? Or do they just choose to be impractical because they actually will never take responsibility for consequences ? Consider this …


Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics: Could India have done it ?

I am sure that is a question in all our minds. Let aside India – could any other country have pulled this off? Hopefully India could achieve something of this kind of a show if required – the talent is there – but perhaps just the sheer ability to go that last mile is missing and I have always wondered why – why is it that ‘good enough is enough’ is the philosophy we have here in India. We do have some of the greatest works of art down the centuries that could not have been created without complete passion and commitment – but not sure as a nation and society we are at that place now.
I am not sure that we could build a Taj Mahal now, at a time when it is not possible to press gang workers into an enterprise, not caring about the death toll. But it occurs to me then that neither is China. Also perhaps Indian artistic expression is too individualistic ? It’s all about the personal journey, not ony in art but also in our way of life. And maybe we just do not have that sense of national pride the Chinese seem to be exhibiting currently ?
Or maybe it just takes one individual like Yang Zhimou to fire the passions of thousands of people into such commitment to excellence – like one Mahatma Gandhi that fired the passions of millions of Indians to rise against the British.

The illusory force of Gravity :Newton and the apple

When Newton perceived the apple fall to the ground and proposed the principles of Gravity, why did he assume that the apple fell to the ground and not that the earth and everything else was pulled towards the apple ? It is perfectly plausible the other way round too as the earth is not a solid structure but a mass of particles that ‘seemingly’ bind together to give the illusion of a solid mass. Similarly we keep thinking about light and other particles being pulled into ‘Black Holes” – why do we not see that as the smallest particles also pulling the black holes towards them ? Why do we imagine such ‘movements’ towards ‘objects’ that we imagine to have a greater mass and therefore greater gravity ? Partly because the concept of ‘distance’ is perhaps an imagined and perceived illusion. Effectively in modern particle physics and in what my uneducated mind understands from the string theory, there is no distance between anything as all is effectively part of an all encompassing ecosystem. Even the theory of Dark Matter seems to be saying the same thing. So how can the idea of gravity be proved at all if there is no ‘distance’. Any physicists out there ?

The Nuke Deal : Does India’s democratic system not allow great leadership ?

Leadership =Courage =The ability of an individual to get out there and stake everything on what he/she truly believes in. The fundamental idea of democracy has a flaw though. It assumes all decisions are of the collective, that nothing major will get decided unless there is a majority in the parliament. And those of us that have watched how the parliament works (on TV), it is a wonder that any decision takes place ! If I were to direct a film based in the principle of consensus, I would not be able to take a single shot in the whole day. So when we say we lack a great leader, are we not then burdening that leader with the collective principles of democracy ?
That has long been the argument of the Armed Forces and the Bureaucracy in India. “Those bickering fools in the parliament are just a bunch of dithering monkeys, and we are the ones that really running/defending the country inspite of them”. It is an argument that is difficult to refute if you have spent two confrontational days in the parliament. Remember the swell of public sentiment that once wanted Sam Manickshaw to take over the reigns of the country ?
The current political crisis in India leaves me in no doubt that as we have no strong leader, the collective is bringing the decision making process down. Not in ‘the best interests of our nation’, (the mantra they keep repeating everyday), but completely in their own selfish interest.
A leader needs to be bold, passionate. Needs to carry the the parliament with his/her beliefs. Needs the respect of even the opposition. And needs to place the needs of the country above both, the self and the party interests. We have not had one like that since Nehru. That’s just one in almost 60 years. No wonder we are a mess. Can India afford democracy as we know it in a modern and Global world ? Are we going to go on dithering like this or change the system.
To a system where minister’s are NOT elected politicians (who trusts that process in any case ?), but appoint the best proffesionals in the field to lead. So why not have head of Infosys as the minister of IT ? Or our best Military tacticians as the Defence Minister. Allow such highly skilled professional to lead the executive decisions, and to leave the Parliament to discuss, argue, fight over issues of over-all policy.
I for one applaud Manmohan Singh’s decision to go ahead with the Nuclear Treaty and stake everything on it. It’s what he believes in.

Sri Lanka… aaahh !

Like when the God’s created Sri Lanka they must have been so jealous of their own abundance that they created a war over it’s ownership, and that is the war that is being reflected in Sri Lanka and tearing the country apart. But it is impossible to go there, as I did last week, without just letting out a deep breath at the sheer beauty of the place and become one with nature. How often do we feel that urgent need to let go of the individual self ? Sri Lanka will do that you.
Most people bemoaned the lack of development. The lack of tourists. And though I completely understood, I thought of what we have done to our environment in India ( has anyone been to Goa recently ?) and the question that streaks to my mind is ‘what price development ?’. Is development something that lives as a deep desire within ourselves, or do we become slaves to development because someone has created a false aspiration for us, to profit from it themselves ? Just look at the city of Mumbai and ask whether it is worth putting your life’s savings into a matchbox that you call a house, surrounded by the greatest filth and pollution that a city can generate. Why ? because you are told that ultimately someone else will be willing to similarly sacrifice their life at a higher cost. We have become slaves to the God of ‘capital growth’ to whom we sacrifice the quality of our lives. We have become slaves to ‘ownership’.
Despite a war that has lasted 25 years, despite very little industrial growth and stagnation, Sri Lanka still has one of the highest per capita incomes in our region. Is there a lesson here that we are not learning ?

Has Indian Media become pulp fiction ?

One day I was switched on the TV and watched Aaj Tak, a channel I have respected in the past and given serious exploratory interviews. To my horror the reportage on the Arushi murder case felt like the most C grade exploitative Hindi Movie, or worse a cheap TV Soap. Replete with brutally inter-cut shots of the poor girl and her parents with a song from Tare Zameen Par called “Tujhe Sab kuch Pata hai Maa”. I wrote off Aaj Tak as a serious news channel. Last night i saw Star News do something just as bad on the same issue, so do I write off Star News too ?
Here is my issue then. When I direct a film and if there is criticism I take a direct hit personally. An editor of a newspaper (in better times) would take personal responsibility for the content of the paper and it’s views. But who is responsible for the quality on a news channel ? I personally know the owners and promoters, and have known them to be intelligent and in-depth thinkers. They were the ones that used to eloquently talk of the bad taste in Hindi Cinema and denigrate it when I first came to be part of it. And this is not just the news channels, some of our best loved and revered morning newspapers have turned into gossip broadsheets.
Question is, does becoming a corporate body put a barrier between you and questions of personal taste ? Does being a corporate body suddenly switch your personal responsibility from value in quality to valuation on the stock market ? I completely understand the idea of economic growth, and market capitalization. Hey ! you put enough sex on the third page, enough skimpily clad sexy girls on TV and you will make money in any case – but turning a murder (and perhaps attempted rape) of a 14 year old girl into pulp fiction is so much worse.
Incidentally anyone remember or anyone in the media interested anymore in the Nithari murders, when over 20 bodies of children were found with their heads cut off. That also happened in NOIDA, not far from where little Arushi was murdered.

Cops commiting suicide

As the Times of India reported that a cop blew his brains out in front of the Mantralay in Mumbai today, there came with it a full blown report on depression amongst the lower rungs of the police force leading often to suicide. Please look at my blog of a few days ago ‘The Depressed Mumbai Constable’, where I describe some of my conversations with young constables and their immediate officers.