Mumbai in mourning

Yet again. And as the day dawns in Mumbai the city will wake to count its dead and injured, and inevitably, as it always does, the count will rise painfully. And yet again the government of India and its members, whether on the national or state level, will make the right noises. And yet again the government will soon forget and go back to blaming each other and make political capital out of the tragedy of the ordinary citizens of India. And then back to electioneering it is. Back to political machinations and negotiating it is, with only the next elections and political power in mind.
Or maybe not this time. For this time the very bastions of the elite were attacked. The Taj and the Oberoi Hotels. Where some of the rich and powerful were caught in the cross fire. Even a delegation from the EU parliament. Maybe this time the political bosses of India will accept that a cancer of communal disharmony and terrorism is destroying the fabric of our society and we stand at the brink of the end of a society and civilization that the fathers of our Constitution dreamed of. Destroyed by the politics and politicians of our nation.
But all that does not help those who’s loved ones were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those that have lost their lives or injured. Those that were just ordinary citizens going about their daily lives expecting that the least the elected government would do is protect their lives. The war is not at our borders any more. It here at home against the forces that are trying to destroy our society from the inside.
Why are we spending all our resources fighting for an inhabitable piece of moving ice called the Siachin Glacier when our major cities are under threat ?
Yes, the people of Mumbai will once again show courage. As they have done before through floods and bombs and terrorist attacks. I just hope that the Hindu fundamentalist forces do not come out in the streets, provoked as they usually are by political powers. That is exactly what the terrorists want – a disruption of our society and fighting, killing and carnage on our streets. We need to mourn and we need to be compassionate – and when the period of mourning is over, we need to re evaluate what is happening to our society.

Paani- Coca Cola and Water tables in Rajasthan

I often wonder why the Indian press does not take up this issue – nor does the Indian government. The huge calamity looming over India right now, that will potentially make economic growth grind to a halt is not the US subprime crisis, but the shortage of ground water that is gradually eating away at agriculture. This is not about a bad monsoon or drought. It is about accelarating erosion of ground water levels in India. 60 % of Indian agriculture depends upon ground water. I remember as a kid in Delhi playing in the small vegetable patch kept by my grandfather in Nizamuddin. There was a hand pump that would bring water up at the first stroke – and then in a few years the hand pump went completely dry. As did the vegetable garden.
As part of the sustaining an ‘agriculture revotion’ in India, the ‘tube well’ as it came to be known was encouraged and promoted as the mantra for the agricultural revolution. It was successful at that time – but we are now getting to grips with the ecological consequences of that ground water becoming more and more scarce. It needs to be managed, and better ways must be found to replenish it through management techniques like water harvesting. With our glaciers retreating and rivers becoming more unreliable, its our only hope.
However it does not help that companies like Coca Cola are allowed to freely suck up ground water in areas that are already water stressed. First in Kerala – where the Coca Cola factory sucked up so much of the ground water that paddy fields in surrounding areas went dry ruining the farmers, and now the same in Rajasthan. It is not an equitable competition for a scarce resource between the farmers and Coca Cola, who has the capital to build deeper and more powerful bore wells. And get electricity (through the government as they are classed industrial or by their own generators) 24 hours a day – while the farmers are only able to operate their bore wells based on a very interrupted and non reliable power supply. Lets not blame Coca Cola – they are a multinational committed to a return on shareholders value. Lets blame ourselves and our government policies. Here is a link to PBS interview with farmers and Coca Cola – click on the streaming video link within the site.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec08/waterwars_11-17.html
Actually if we put an ‘environmental’ cost to a can of coke, or branded bottled water – both should cost at least 4 times what they are available at now. So we consumers also carry a large part of the blame for what has become an effective privatization of water resources in India. We consume carelessly….

Read the rest of this entry »

The NY ‘Indie’ approach to film and Deepak Chopra. NYC musings

Whenever I come to NYC the first couple of days are a little strange. I do not feel like being alone and constantly ask my assistants or others to come and have breakfast or to just hang out. But in a couple of days I become quite independent and begin to get used to the streets and cafe’s of NY. I rediscover myself as fundamentally a street person again.
Of course NY to me is hugely associated with one of my best friend Deepak Chopra, who unfortunately is away promoting his new book on Jesus. I miss the hours of walking around drinking coffee exploring ideas on consciousness – and whether we truly exist and who we really are. All on the streets of NY as all of life (and many beautiful women) pass us by. And of course he invites me to his radio show where I become his co host ! Imagine speaking about consciousness to the world with Deepak Chopra. Life can be such fun sometimes.
Deepak is also the most productive man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. he just does not stop doing things. he makes me feel completely useless as he writes book after book, does lectures all over the world, runs his Alliance for New Humanity, teaches, trains and beyond all that he still retains time to be compassionate, kind and loving to strangers. Still makes time for his family. Ask him and he will tell you that it is because he has seen life as play and he does things without looking for any reward. I truly love this man.
I am here to edit and do the post on the short film I shot called 3 Graces in Beunos Aires. My editor is Jacob Craycroft who also cut the short I did for the series called ‘New York I love you” Jacob has a different approach to film which I could best describe as the ‘NY Indie approach’ to film. It is quite distinct than the ‘Hollywood’ approach and I must say that this being my second film based out of NY, I prefer the Indie approach as it is far more edgy and exploratory cinema than the ‘Hollywood’ approach. And it permeates through all skills like scripting, producing, production design and photography. I think I am going to enjoy this process very much even though we work with much lower budgets here. maybe that is why we can be more exploratory and edgy.
Will write more about NYC and how the edit is going. Right now we are still finding the film. There are so many stages of making a film and at each stage you are finding new meanings and and new point of view. But nothing is more exciting a process as editing in finding new meanings in your film, provided the editor and you are willing to evolve together. For film is the one art that is so collaborative that compassion, love and the art of communicating with other human beings is a gift that one tries to acquire.

Nutrition vs the Karma of the food you eat. Is food cooked with love better for you ?

Sitting in the airplane on my way to New York, trying to decide what to eat, my mind wanders. I am not a vegetarian, though I would like to be. Not because it is healthy or because being vegetarian is environment friendly, but because I believe that the food I eat effects us far beyond its nutritional value. The food I eat carries the karma of the violence of the slaughter house. It carries the karma of the pain of the animal slaughtered. And I am not separate from the karma of that animal, and all the karmas of each process/person involved in getting the food to my table. Add to that Karma of my own self, the attitude and thoughts I have as I eat that food. Phew ! that is a is a lot to think about as I am chewing my food !
Perhaps the extreme yogic philosophy of eating only the fruit that has fallen off the tree, encompasses other loftier ideas of humility and harmony with nature. But why is food cooked with mother’s love always tastier and better for you ? Is there something we still have to discover about food that goes beyond the analysis of its nutritional spectrum and the daily doses of supplements we consume so massively ?
Does a prayer before eating actually make food better for us ? – I think so.

India as the world leading ‘Influence economy” ?

I was asked by the Hindustan Times to write about my perspective on the 21st century ambitions of India. Here is a transcript of the article.
“How can you define the ambitions of a collective, especially when the collective is over I billion people ? Driving towards 1.5 billion or maybe even 2 Billion if the planet can support that. For far too long India’s ambitions have been defined by the aspirations of the privileged few, almost as if at it’s center lay the ambitions of it’s feudal masters that demanded to be supported by the rest of the underclass at the cost of their own aspirations.
That is changing. And the change is going to accelerate so fast that those that have been used to privilege will be caught napping, as will the rest of the world. For this is India’s century and it will happen in-spite of the politics of India and the politicians of India. Because they will become completely irrelevant. And their irrelevance will be caused by the spread of New Media.
As fast and cheap broadband becomes available, and access to the internet reaches every home, every mobile handset in India, over a billion people no longer trapped in the cage of misinformation and ignorance will suddenly flower and explode into a fervent desire to express themselves, to educate themselves, and to take part in global culture. shaking off a century of repression and ignorance. Nation state boundaries in this century will in any case become irrelevant and will be redefined by cultural boundaries as the internet and social networking sites start to erode the very idea of emotional commitment to ‘set in stone’ physical/geographical boundaries.
So the India I am talking about is the spirit of it’s culture. Not it’s geography. It is the culture of India that will influence the rest of the world, and since culture defines how and what we consume and the way we consume and behave, it provides the very fundamentals of economic behavior and growth. This is not something that economists like to agree with because it takes away their ability to make economic projections based on simplistic equations of ‘8% growth and 12 % inflation, therefore an ‘x’ percent rate cut’ without taking into an account all of human behavior. Economics is not a compassionate science and therefore can never be quite accurate a predictor of the future. Never has.
Consider this…..

Read the rest of this entry »

Was heath ledger an ‘angel’ that came to visit us ?

The incredible reaction world wide to Heath’s death continues to amaze me. I knew that Heath carried in himself an ancient soul that had seen many lifetimes, a soul that Heath himself was uncomfortable with, and I wanted to share the following from Catherine :
Dear Mr. Kapur and the many people that obviously share an interest in your work –
I feel odd to be writing this because it feels like an intrusion into the world of family and friends that actually knew Heath Ledger and had reason to so profoundly feel the loss of his life in such an intimate way. I have to admit that Heath Ledger’s death has affected me in a very uncharacteristic and admittedly unnerving way.
I have never understood the whole “groupy” element that follows the life of a public figure as if they actually know that person. I love escaping into other lives through movies, and I have noticed how a truly gifted actor can leave you feeling as if you have known them. Nonetheless, I have always been able to separate real life from fiction, and I have consistently felt that fans and the press have no right at all to intrude in the actual personal lives of these public figures, no matter how charismatic they are.
Given that, I was and still am unsettled to discover how upset I was to learn of Heath Ledger’s death. It was as if my heart truly stopped for a time, taking my breath with it. I feel as though I’ve been grieving ever since.
In checking the CNN website now and then to see what comforting news I might somehow find, I discovered the kind words that you wrote about your friend Heath, and I subsequently discovered your website. I have to admit that it was a comfort to see how other total strangers to Heath Ledger have been affected by him.
Since his death, I have tried to understand the impact he had on me……

Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl Child : A personal journey by Nimi Khanna

“STILL BORN”.My aunt announces loudly. But she had already kept the gunny bag ready. She hurriedly throws me into it. It’s dark inside. I am suffocating. The bag is tightened.
I struggle to breathe. I am thrown. Into a drain.
My tiny hands cannot move.
My little legs are numb.
The small world I momentarily knew becomes silent.
I am getting wet.I am cold.
I am tired and hungry.
I am now losing the energy to move…..

Read the rest of this entry »

President Obama and the coming end of global geographical boundaries

Many more people world wide followed and celebrated President Obama’s victory on global media world wide than any US election before, almost feeling part of the event. People all over the world will follow President Obama’s path with an intensity that has no bearing on their immediate environment or lives. Or does it ? I do not think the world Governments have accepted the full impact of Globalization, despite the obvious effects of it on the downturn in the global economy. And President Obama will do well to face this head on….

Read the rest of this entry »

President Obama: After the euphoria wait for the backlash

The problem with euphoria is that people expect immediate results. The people that elected Barrack Obama in a huge emotional outburst will no longer accept their houses being foreclosed only because they are unable to pay their mortgage. Mothers with sons and daughters fighting in Iraq will be quietly celebrating as they expect them to be safe and come home soon. Pensioners will expect to hear that the value of the pensions have not eroded, and want to be able to spend money based on what they feel they should be worth – not what they are. And the world over people will expect a President that will bring the US back to the negotiating table and stop being a bully.
That is just not going to happen overnight…..

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome President Obama, and congratulations on winning the Presidency of the United States

Let me be the first to congratulate you, President Obama on becoming the most significant man of our troubled times. Significant not only because you are the first Afro- American President of the USA, but also because you carry with you the hopes and aspirations of billions of people on this planet who have grown to admire and love you in the past few months. Not just in the United States. But with those hopes and aspirations you also carry a greater burden than perhaps any president of the United States has carried. For you have promised a changed world. A world that is more equitable, a world that is fairer, a world that has compassion, a world that cares,
I know that is a lot of responsibility for one man to carry on his shoulders. But with that responsibility comes the energy and strength of the people that are willing to support you in completing and achieving all that you have promised. And you have promised a lot. You have promised change. And while we, the inhabitants of this planet look at change in many many different ways, we all agree that change must be, and will be for the better,
We don’t expect you to be the miracle man. We do not expect you to solve all the world’s problems. But we do look forward to a world leader that energizes the rest of the world to move in a far more compassionate direction. We see in you a heart that will not easily become cynical. We see in you a soul that understands pain, understands poverty, understands the longings of the dispossesed of this world.
We hope you will never forget your own pain, your own longings, your own search for compassion and understanding for yourself. If you do not, then you stand on the threshold of being the most significant leader of our times.
Please do not let us down.