The end of Democracy in India ?

If only 40% of the eligible voting population in a country bothers to vote, then is the country truly democratic ? Whatever government comes to power, it has a mandate from less than half the people. It’s truly a government by default.
First the politicians and media have absolutely no right to blame the electorate. I do not believe in the statement that ” it’s the apathy of the people that gives them a government they deserve”.
Second the arrogant attitude of some of our media stars that expressed ‘outrage’ at the low voting turn out , after “all they did to pursude them to do so” in Mumbai, should learn that while they can drive people to the cinemas, the people have little faith in their intellectual or political understanding beyond entertainment. Not everyone gets their picture o page 3 when they vote.
Third, how many times do the people of India need to come out and say ” WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE POLITICIANS OR POLITICS ANYMORE”. The Mumbaikers did not vote not because they went away for a long weekend, nor because of the sweltering heat, but because none of the candidates made a substantial stand that aroused their passions, their desire to better the political system. I remember how the people of India came out in droves to vote to end the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, or who came out in droves again to re instate her when they were unhappy. Or when they came out in droves to vote for Rajiv Gandhi after Indira’s assassination.
We are a passionate feeling people that respond to our emotion, to our community. We need a leader to arouse those passions in us, someone to believe in, someone that we can trust that has the power, the integrity and the vision to lead us in this new century.
Give us, the people of India such a leader and watch us come out in droves to vote. And if not, then accept that democracy in India will be an excercise in futility and the forces of change will be ultimately thrust upon us by non democratic forces like the fundamentalists, like the the naxalitites that are threatening to invade our cities soon,

True lasting love : is it devotion ?

This came in from Cinda and I found it very beautiful :
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived to have his stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On examining it I saw it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while as she suffers with Alzheimer’s disease.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised and asked him, “And do you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”
He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me anymore but I still know who she is.” I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm and thought,
“That is the kind of love I want in my life. True love is neither physical nor romantic.”
True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be……

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Are these the ‘great false elections’ in India ?

With a complete lack of real and definite agenda to pull the country out the innumerable problems it faces, the Indian political parties seem to be subverting the Indian democratic process to create a false election. By accepting that there will be a coalition ‘government in waiting’, that has absolutely no chance of providing a stable and strong government in Delhi,
Why ‘Government in waiting’ ? Because it is obvious that the Congress is just laying the grounds for Rahul Gandhi to be the next Prime MInister, and the BJP is laying the grounds for Narendra Modi to be the next Prime Minister.
It’s sad for the people of India. India’s security is threatened by the Talibanization of Pakistan in the West, by the insurrection and separatist movements in our eastern sectors, by the Maoist revolution in Nepal in the North, and we have to keep a watchful eye on a potential Tamil separatist movement s a fall out of the Sri Lankan war in the south. Within India, large parts of our interiors are falling under the armed influence of the Naxal movement.
India’s once booming economy is sputtering. Corruption (including in our corportate sector) is at it’s worst, terrorism is rampant and unchecked – leading to the loss of innocent lives all over India. Our environment record is one of the worst in the world and our fresh water resources are running out at an alarming rate. Our cities have become unmanageable. And the gap between the rich and poor is widening at an unsustainable rate.
We are a country adrift, lost in sea of selfish, self serving, destructive and corrupt politics. Never before has India needed strong leadership more, and the last thing the people of India need is a ‘false election;. A government in waiting.

Confusing Indian elections

I find these elections confusing. I completely support all the NGO’s that are making great efforts to et everyone to vote, and striving to provide details of the candidates at a click of an sms request on your cell phone.
But what do the parties stand for ? The platform for everyone seems to be why the other party was not the right candidate. The electioneering seems to be completely negative. Putting down the opposing candidate. Why I should not vote for the other Candidate, not why I should vote for you ?
Why should I vote for you ?

The second IPL, a non success because of lively pitches ?

From all accounts the 2nd IPL is not as roaring a success as the first one. The reason is not just that it is not held in India. It also has to do with the pitches in South Africa. In India the pitches are slower and favour the batsmen. Consequently the IPL last year had huge individual scores and a multitude of sixes and ‘over the top’ stroke play that had the audiences loving the cricket ‘Tamasha”.
South African pitches are more evenly matched between the batsmen and the bowlers. Consequently, the matches are lower scoring, even though the psychological war between the bat and the ball is more ferocious. But 20/20 is just not long enough to play out this battle. This is a game of street cricket rules : “Hit out or get out”. Imran Khan would have loved to bowl in this 20/20. He was one of the most difficult fast bowlers to hit. Gavaskar said that Imran at his best was unplayable. His swing completely unpredictable.
Even though Imran said the 20/20 was not cricket. It was Tamaasha.

Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka

Whatever the outcome of the battle in Sri Lanka, the world cannot stand by and see over 500,000 innocent men women and children be the victims in this war. We in India have a special duty to go in and add to the rescue efforts of the innocent on a much larger scale than we have. Not just as a humanitarian gesture, but as a neighbour we are most suited for the rescue mission. And if we do not, the Tamils of Sri Lanka will never forgive us, nor will our Tamil people forget this.
I am not taking sides in the War. I just do not know enough. Except that we all know that India has meddled in Sri Lankan affairs in the past, has been responsible for the formation of the Tamil Tigers, and then tried to rein them in, leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
Whatever the past, we cannot just be bystanders. Even the political fallout is extremely dangerous for us. If the battle for a separate Tamil State fails in Sri Lanka, those ambitions could easily be transferred to Tamil Nadu.

Rubina from slumdog millionaire for sale ? what if the amount offerred was 10 million pounds ? Would the western world react differently ?

anotherkiranfromnyc made a very good point :”…..Even under very normal circumstances, would you condone and turn a blind eye to child selling under any circumstances? Would you really? Being poor does not excuse her family for human trafficing…”
But the father DID NOT search for a buyer for his child. He did not try and sell her. A man masquerading as an Arab Sheikh came to the family and offered to adopt Rubina, to look after her education, give her a decent home rather than a slum, AND give the family £ 200,000. The father fell into the trap and negotiated for more, without committing to give away his child.
I would bet that if someone masqueraded as Bill Gates, went to a homeless family (or what is called trailer trash) in the US, who were living on food stamps, and said the he would take care of their child (that the family could not take care of themselves) as if the child were his own, AND give the family $ 10 million, the family would seriously consider the offer. And the press all over the world would not call it ‘selling their child’. They do that to Rubina’s father because they like to feel that people in the rest of the world have a different morality than their own. It gives them a greater feeling of self worth.
I am not taking a moral position on this issue, nor on human trafficking. I am just saying that it was a completely disgusting thing for the British tabloid to do. £ 200,000 might as well be £ 2 billion for Rubina’s father, someone that has found it difficult to find the next meal for himself and his family, and an Arab Sheikh might as well be Bill Gates,
The News of the World created a trap for the father, who walked right into it because of the poverty trap he has lived n all his life, and sensationalized it all over the world. In the process all that happened was a little girl was completely traumatized. Shame on them !

Rubina from slumdog millionaire for sale ? The British Tablioid needs to be condemmed for the ‘sting’ operation.

I just worked with Rubina, the little girl from Slumdog millionaire -and what a joy she was to work with. Happy and full of laughter, her smile would light up smiles for the whole crew, as she no doubt did for the whole world in Slumdog millionaire.(Of course she had a reflex response too. The moment I would say action, her first instinct was a broad charming smile and that slightly infectious laugh. It too me a little while to gently tell her that she did not have to do that all the time!)
I had been reading about what was going on with her father’s alleged attempts to ‘sell’ her. I was aghast though at the sting operation done by that British Tabloid, which instead of being condemned world wide is being heralded as a great piece of journalism !
Not a single thought was given to the trauma that the little girl would go through with world wide publicity that her own father was trying to sell her. And what was the tabloid trying to do ? Trying to push a father to name a price for his daughter’s adoption ? To go to a poor man in a slum who has spent his life not knowing where the next meal is going to come from, and then dangle a few hundred thousand pounds in front of him to entice and entangle him into a negotiation for the adoption of his daughter ? By enticing him to say those words that would make headlines all over the world ? How dare they judge and manipulate other people and their moral predicaments from their comfortable colonial point of view. I would rather have them arrested for obscene suggestions and offers than the father for coming to the negotiating table.
Hey ! what kind of beasts are we dealing with here ? And all done in the name of journalism ? Please look at the picture from the Indian Express (link given below), of little Rubina and her father surrounded by the police. Is this the picture of a sensational little girl that lit up the smiles of millions people all over the world ? She looks like a little girl frightened out of her life by what is happening !
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/father-of-slumdog-star-rubina-ali-arrested/449467/

Sankalp, the Smithsonian and the magic jigsaw puzzle

The installation that we are creating at the museum is called “Sankalp”. There are many interpretations of the word, and my interpretation, the one that I am using on the brochure is :
“Sankalp is the seed of Intention. Subtle but firm, it is a resolve deep in consciousness.
Artistic expression lies beyond thought. Beyond the Ego. It lies in calling upon creative forces of the universe through deep seated intention. And then letting go of intention. For expression is not permanent. It cannot be enclosed in time/space. Like a Crystal it is ever changing with continuing possibilities and potential. Each moment brings different possibilities and potential.
There are no beginnings and no ends. Expression is fluid and eternal.”
The installation is possible only because of the co authorship of my brilliant architect friend David Adjaye, who has just won the contract for one of the most prestigious architectural design of today : the new Smithsonian Museum for the African American Arts………

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Durga Puja and Singapore’s red light district Geylang.

singapore's red light district.jpg
That is not my picture of Geylang. I picked it up from google images (and hope the author does not mind). But passed the place with my friend, Pratik Bose, on our way to the Ramakrishna Mission Temple in Singapore. Pratik is an ardent follower and I love to visit places of worship of all faiths all over the world. Something about the energy and vibrations that people of ardent faith leave behind that I find energizing. Funny thing about Singapore. this city of malls, order and discipline, turned into something that felt like a suburb of Buenos Aires. Chaotic, streetwise and interesting. And Singapore’s most interesting recent films at Cannes was a docudrama based in Geylang. Street life makes the most interesting films. Pratik, who is Bengali told me this :
“The clay for the image of Mother Durga which is made for the Durga Puja festival is often mixed with clay from various sources to prepare it for worship. One custom is to collect soil from a prostitute’s house in the red light district and add it to the mix.. The idea is that the divine mother is present in each woman on earth and each woman is potentially the divine mother, with this theme in mind, even the prostitute’s soil constitutes the mother’s image which is worshipped during Puja for sake of completion of the earthly image we create for the worship”.