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 ?

Is India’s economic miracle’ over ? Why your voice is so important.

First how much of the Indian economic miracle was a hype ? Can there be an economic miracle when 60 % of the population does not partake on it ? Does making a few billionaires and a multitude of millionaires on the stock market make for an economic miracle for over a billion people ? How much of the peak of the sensex index of 21,000 points was a media generated buying frenzy coupled with insider trading ? And conversely how much of the slide to 13,000 points a media created panic. Such dramatic rise and fall within six months of each other does not make for a mature capital market. International oil prices are not showing any signs of abating. We must get used to higher prices, that is for sure. A weak coalition government that is getting ready for electioneering and not being decisive. No leaders stand in opposition that are capable of shouldering the responsibility of powering a modern and competitive India into the next decade by keeping the entrepreneurial spirit going AND being inclusive of the less privileged sections of the economy, we are heading back 20 years … does anyone remember those years ? Here’s what could happen …

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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.

Trainspotting and Elizabeth

Here is the text of an sticle that appeared today in the Daily Telegraph in London.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/06/28/bftrainspotting128.xml
Shekhar Kapur, director of Badit Queen, Elizabeth and Four Feathers, explains to Marc Lee why he could never have made Elizabeth had it not been for Trainspotting Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth are two of the most memorable British films of the Nineties, both shot with eye-catching verve, both featuring a riveting central performance. Yet, as cinematic experiences, they could hardly be more different: one drags us through the sordid lives of a bunch of drug-addled losers, the other sweeps us into the court of the Virgin Queen. Nevertheless, Kapur insists he could never have made his film had it not been for Trainspotting…….

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From Himanshu : Itís 7pm Ė The world of Imagination Ė Can we be at multiple places?

Itís 7pm on a beautiful autumn evening on the banks of the Ganges river in the holy town of Hardwar in North India. The melodious bells, the priests, the fire, the chants, and the devotion of the people give the ceremony a feel of divinity, as if it were something dictated by God for human bliss. The atmosphere is full of devotion and the huge masses look upto the river to bless them and wash away their sins. Itís 7pm, and the same river has become an extremely huge mass of water flowing slowly through the Sundarban deltas. Itís raining heavily in the monsoons and the millions of drops of water create uncountable ripples throughout the huge river at twilight. It is impossible to see one shore from the other, and the thunder and lightning create a rather shocking scene of the power of nature. Far away from the mesmerized crowd, a lonely soul in the middle of the massive river slowly steers his small round wooden boat towards the shore. He can hardly see anything and he keeps trying to move a little bit at a time, lingering on to hope. He cries and his few drops are lost amongst the zillions. He just hopes there was no rain. Itís 4:30pm in the middle of the desert, not a drop of water in sight, the scorching heat enough to make anyone dizzy. Dubai is being made into a miracle city in the middle of the desert…..

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Daddy, we are all God’s dream

So as usual my 7 (almost 8, but try telling her that) year old daughter came up with this simple answer to complex questions.

Sonya’s Picks: The Booker Prize 2008 Ė Six books you shouldn’t miss

It is unfashionable, I know, to be so swayed by the hype of western literary prizes. (Haven’t we been colonial captives long enough ? And we still let a crusty committee in the UK , dictate to us, their system of aesthetics?).
Still, how can one resist the lure of a good Lit shortlist ? So here I am , guilty as charged, caught up , in the excitement of not just the Man Booker Prize, coming in July this year, but also of , the special contest that goes with it.
The Booker is after all, the world’s biggest literary prize, after the Nobel , and the most commercially rewarding. Bizarrely, it doesn’t allow any American writers, but that doesn’t prevent the lit world, each year , from getting into a tizzy about winners and losers. This year, we’re all invited to join the jury too. We get to vote, on the Best book of all Ė from 40 years of Bookers prizewiners.
All we need to do ( besides reading these 6 great books ) is to go online (http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/vote) by midnight of 8th July, to register our vote. And the 6 books are Ö.

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Message from the Administrator

Shekhar Kapur is travelling in Kerala and he might not be able to access the internet as often as he would like to. He says that Kerala is wonderful in monsoons and he is thoroughly enjoying with his daughter. He would be back in 4-5 days.

meaning to life ?

you are the problem
and the solution too
and everything that lies between
is also you
and so goes on
the endless struggle
to give meaning to life