Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas, Cribs

Kareena Kapoor: One mouth, many things
It was a great year, wasn’t it? Your career-graph was looking up. Those who were comparing your looks to that of a four-footed animal had their animal instincts rebelling as you turned your feline grace full on.

You turned the traditional six-yard wrap into something sexier than the Levi’s latest range of "dangerously low-rising" jeans. Social butterflies in Delhi were setting up Chameli nights. Then at the fag end of the year, photos of you kissing your beau were splashed in newspapers.

And you went berserk. Hey, millions of us have seen you kissing men on screen, that us public enough. You created so much hungama that now some stupid, hazy cellphone camera video is a bigger hit than your films. You already had his tongue in your mouth, what was the need to put your foot in?

Mahima Choudhry: Avenging Angel
OK so he dumped you. Everybody gets dumped as life and love catch up with each other in this fast-Paes-ed world. And you dumped life for love. You dumped your career. You accumulated fat. You were always there beside him.

You were the ultimate woman; making sacrifices for the little boy you had found love in. And the little boy was growing impatient like all little boys. He had seen it all, even done it all.

He wasn’t looking for that ultimate woman. So he went looking for a woman. He has reportedly found one.

And you? You began suffering from loose emotions (an affliction that beats loose motions pants… err... hands down). Loose motions cost a lot of tissue paper. Loose emotions cost a lot of newspaper.

Be happy because he is Rheally happy!

Uma Bharti: Vexy Sanyasin
Even alliteration-addicted hacks have been rightly avoiding that prefix before your sanyasin description. You parked the Bharatiya Janata Party’s creaking pollmobile right into the heart of Bhopal.

You, who was supposed to renounce all that is worldly and material, announced lofty ideals from the seat of power. But the wanderer in you sat uneasy. So off you hopped on to the seat of the familiar rath and romped into Karnataka and then a guesthouse jail.

You were back to your basic saffron-clad sanyasin self and then you flipped. And then flopped and now you have flipped again. You hit the party hard and flapped away to the Himalayas, the abode of true sanyasins. Can you decide, once and for all, what you want to be?

John Kerry: Flip Art
Where have you gone after fascinating the world for nearly six months? You were the only hope for rich, fashionable, and celebrity, Americans. You were the last straw for people being swept away in this neo-con deluge. You were the promised saviour who would salvage America’s pride and the place in the hearts of the people of the world.

You were right there, saying everything right, doing everything right. You were saying what the world wanted to hear. You were saying what the Americans wanted to hear. You heard the war was bad, so you said the war was indeed bad. You heard that many Americans wanted same sex marriage, so you backed it.

Americans kept saying things they like. And you kept saying yes. You began following the people of America. And then a majority discovered they were voting for a leader, not a follower. They chose a leader. And you disappeared.

That’s what ails the great American democracy. A man fights the President once in four years. We have Manmohan Singh in the hot seat, and we have Advanis, Surjeets, Georges and Laloos to make sure the seat remains hot.

Why not be after Bush for full four years? Come back. Speak out. The world will forgive your flip-flops.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Laloo o Laloo!

"Thank god, I have been shown giving money by the electronic media and not taking money."

So said Laloo Prasad Yadav, Union Railway Minister, after he was shown distributing currency notes in a village near Patna in Bihar, the state his wife rules as chief minister.

And that he did after the Election Commission's notification of elections in Bihar. The Election Commission has ordered an FIR be filed against Yadav for violating election code.

Laloo is unperturbed: "I am used to giving money to poor dalits, not only during election time, for receiving blessings from the aged dalit women."

Well those who have seen the video can clearly see that he is the one who is sitting on a high pedestal while women supplicate before him after taking the money. Mr Yadav has mastered the art of garnering votes. If not by muscle, then by money.

The sharp politician may well deserve the unofficial title "Messiah of the downtrodden in Bihar". It works for him. The lack of development in the state has kept the masses within the definition of downtrodden.

It's easy to buy a downtrodden because she gets to see a 100-rupee note once in a couple of years. And Rs 100 will be a blessing they wouldn't forget in a couple of months. Cheap votes, anyone?

Kiski Baazee kiske haath

“New Delhi: Police in the Indian capital have arrested India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and charged him with aiding a porn racket.
Mr Singh’s arrest followed that of one Mr Billu Arora from whom a police team seized 3,000 pornographic video discs. Mr Arora ran a small shop in the underground Palika Bazaar, part of the New Delhi Municipal Council.

The council directly functions under the Union Ministry for Urban Development of the Central government. According to the police, the Prime Minister, head of the government, had failed to do his job as pornographic videos were freely sold at one of his ministry’s ventures.

Since the Municipal Council earned a profit from the rentals paid by the porn trader, the government indirectly benefited from the sale and hence the charge brought against him may not allow him bail.”

Thank God, the above news item is not true. But the way the Delhi Police arrested the chief operating officer of a e-commerce portal, even the Prime Minister can't be sure about the future.

In a brazen act of sensationalism, Delhi Police decided to put CEO Avnish Bajaj behind bars. He had flown to Delhi to help the police in fixing those who sold an explicit video featuring a schoolgirl, shot by her class boy, on the ecommerce portal.

The police also betrayed its lack of knowledge about the Internet and the loopholes in the Information Technology Act, which if left to the police may be grossly misinterpreted. Legal eagles question Baazee CEO's arrest- The Times of India.

This man, Avnish Bajaj, happens to be one of the stars of the dotcom business in India. He runs a portal that allows people to set up online shops. It was recently bought over by the world’s largest auction house ebay.

His site,, spawned an entirely new set of entrepreneurs in India as it allowed people to set up online shops. Thousands of young entrepreneurs have set up shops on baazee and have become small and medium size businesses. I know some people who have turned this website into a wealth-creation tool.

And like all societies, this large society of sellers and buyers too has some bad eggs. Some people selling substandard products, some selling pornographic videos. But the bad eggs are too small in number and significance to burn down the whole hatchery.

The Delhi police, in a frighteningly stupid demand, sought permission to close the site. What next? Close Palika Bazaar, Nehru Place, the whole damn city, because some greedy moron is found selling porn in a shop or two. Should we abandon Delhi and shift our capital to Chandausi just because we have 10 black traffic spots where accidents take place regularly?

Police and our law need to walk with the times, if not ahead. Technology is changing the face of the world and we Indians too are very ambitious when it comes to developing and adapting to new technologies.

So let us first accept the fact that user licence agreements signed over the Internet are not physical files with actual signatures. Hang him if he deserves it. But at the moment, Avnish Bajaj deserves some respect.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Natwar Singh's both left feet in Seoul mouth

There are so many things to worry these days that we don’t get time to worry about foreign things like foreign affairs. We leave that job to the government to ponder and wonder about.

And the government has competent people like our much-experienced Minister for External Affairs Natwar Singh. He’s been a seasoned diplomat before he became a seasoned politician and has served the nation in various capacities.

But this time around he’s been in the severe grip of a foreign disease, which is largely incurable: the foot-in-mouth disease.

Soon after he became the foreign minister of India, this column had warned about the general dangers of living in the past with special reference to Mr Singh. But most former kings would give their right arm to live in those glorious days; the Maharaja of Bharatpur is comfortably ensconced in the plush diplomatic sofa made in Soviet Union. It’s so comfortable that one tends to doze off, increasing chances of the foot landing in the mouth.

So he went around resurrecting the hardly-breathing Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in a totally new world order. He is increasingly getting used to making statements contrary to India's official position. But the latest one beats putting his two left feet in the sole mouth, which in bureaucratese shall be hitherto known as the The Seoul Mouth.

In an interview to a Korean newspaper, he said the two Koreas should not follow India’s example of becoming a nuclear nation. According to a newspaper report, he went on to indirectly blame the previous Vajpayee government for India’s nuclear programme. His selective memory helped. He forgot that he used to be a high-ranking official when India's nuclear programme really flourished.

By saying “please don’t emulate us” he nearly put his own country in the rogue’s gallery.

A day later, an embarrassed (we hope he was enraged too) Prime Minister clarified the government position saying India’s foreign and nuclear policies were based on continuity and consensus. The Prime Minister’s word is final and should reassure the country.

The Prime Minister also said that what Natwar said in Seoul was not “a statement of foreign policy”. We must be one of the few countries in the world where the foreign minister’s statement is not a statement of foreign policy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Waiter, there's a scandal in my Kofi!

Kofi Annan Declares Self-Defense Illegal; France Agrees, Germany Begins Plans. Jokes apart, Mr Kofi Annan, as this blog has earlier ranted, is a joke and not only because his name can be used for coffee jokes. This man has failed to do the primary duties of strengthening peace in the world.

His son reportedly received illegal money from the Oil for Food Programme in Iraq and now the question is whether Mr Annan knew about that. It also puts a question mark on his famous opposition to any forced change of regime in Iraq. Whatever be the answer to those questions, least Mr Annan could do is resign from the post. He has weakened that institution called the United Nations and he has lost the trust of the world.

Saddam Hussain could continue his torture regime in Iraq because Mr Annan could not enforce the Security Council resolutions. And when America unilaterally decided to end that monster's control of Iraq, Mr Annan cried hoarse. He had countries like France with him. Everyone knows why France didn't want Saddam to go. Some say George W. Bush went to war because of economic reasons. The same can be said about France (and Annan?) opposing it.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

In Delhi cholbe, In Bengal cholbe na!

"For 27 years CPI-M cadres have been terrorising our activists in Bengal. But they must know that we will not sit idle," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a public meeting in West Bengal's Baharampur. "Congress will not tolerate CPM's terror tactics."

Attention countrymen, Pranabda will tolerate those terror tactics only in Delhi. In Bengal, cholbe na!

Go Pappu Go

According to a PTI report, controversial RJD MP from Madhepura, Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, continued his indefinite fast inside Beur jail here for the second day today.

Good for him. He needs to be hungry for 30 days, else he will be crushed under his own weight.

Ebert kisses Indian Ash

In a New York Times story on Bollywood, America's favourite movie critic Roger Ebert wrote: Aishwarya Rai is the world's second most beautiful woman. A New Yorker Matt asked him who was no. 1 then. "Aishwarya Rai is also the world's first most beautiful woman," Ebert answered. Roger that!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Cry, my beloved language!

Laloo Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan are Bihar’s biggest leaders today. They were allies in the last election and are Cabinet ministers in the Central government. And they are fighting for the spoils in Bihar.

Big deal? Politicians are expected to be hypocrites, more so those from Bihar. A popular saying in eastern Bihar (I studied there, thankfully in a college time has failed to snatch the prefix prestigious from) that goes: “Gaay-bhains ki ladai mein ghaas-paat ka ninaan (When bulls fight, the shrubs around get crushed.)”

To snatch the Muslim votebank from Yadav, Paswan is promising them a separate education system. Paswan promises to complete the process of alienation (clad in the figleaf called protection/promotion) that Yadav began.

An Urdu university, to our politicians, means a Muslim university. Politicians across party lines presume Urdu is a religious language, though none of the Islamic scriptures are in Urdu. These are the people who have alienated Urdu from the mainstream, alongwith the Muslims.

Neither Paswan or Laloo or Amar Singh (who's fighting for another Urdu university in UP) for that matter can read or write the language. What they know of Urdu are the popular couplets they read in Devnagari script. I studied Urdu and I still occasionally get to read books in the language. I did it for the love of the language and explore the rich literary heritage not accessible to me at that time. All Hindi speakers know Urdu, because Urdu is what we speak. Outside the few Arabic- and Persian- origin words, it’s like Hindi when spoken.

But the separate religious identity, perpetuated by the parochial, has alienated the language so much that I have been asked by an otherwise educated new colleague whether I was a Muslim. Just because I was carrying a book in Urdu I had just bought at Moti Masjid, Connaught Place.

You get the drift? Most Urdu books are sold in Muslim areas or institutions because only Muslims read Urdu.

You get the drift again. Muslims live in Muslim areas. I do not see a Christian ghetto, but Muslims, Indians all, have been segregated by design or default and we have a country where people fear going into each other’s areas.

A colleague next to me expressed that in those many words when we went to Jama Masjid to get some music. Why? Because that kind of music is not available anywhere else.

We say we are united but we live in our own little ghettos, physical and psychological. We hardly know each other and we are afraid of everything that we don’t know much about. Human instinct.

Politicians recognise that instinct. They know how to exploit them. And to perpetuate them. They have an excuse: Unity in diversity. Diversity of faith is not something we can decide because most religions are based on birth. But, sadly, we are divided in more ways than one: vote banks, language, education and so on. Who’s responsible? We are.

The saddest truth in all this is that our future generations will not be able to bridge the gap we will leave them with separate universities and institutions (non-religious ones, at least). They will grow in ghettos (majority or minority).

And by the way, Urdu originated in India. It’s an Indian language and it’s not a language of one sect or religion. The script may be Arabic but it’s not Islamic. Language does not have a religion. People before Prophet Muhammad (PUBH) read and wrote in Arabic.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Finally, one man says seer didn’t threaten his life, police investigating mutt link with marauding cows on Kanchi roads

KANCHEEPURAM: The police here said they have found a man whose life had never been threatened by the Shankaracharya of Kamakotipeeth here. The man, identified as Ranga Thangaswami, is a resident of this small town recently in news for the sheer number of people who have been murdered or were supposed to be murdered on the orders of the mutt.

Kancheepuram police chief Quickgun Murugan said: “We have not found any evidence suggesting the Shankaracharya had got him murdered. He is alive. Besides he has said on record that he never faced any threat to his life from anyone except the cows on the road that have regularly tried to crash into his scooter.”

Mr Murugan added that the police were looking for any link between the cows and the mutt.

Tamil Nadu state chief minister has however hinted at a link but did not elaborate. She was referring to the reports that said cows were often worshipped inside the temple complex and priests had been whispering something in the bovine ears.

“The cows used to nod after the priests used to say some words in their coded Sanskrit,” a police officer investigating the link said. “Though we have not seen any evidence of transfer of money to the cows or their bank accounts, but many witnesses have said they saw the cows being generously fed.”

Meanwhile the district administration was bracing for the deluge of women claiming to be sexually harassed by the Shankaracharya. A Tamil writer has gone on record and on TV claiming the Shankaracharya proposed to her. Another woman, Usha, who is being referred to as close confidante of the seer, may also claim harassment, which might bring about a series of such victims.

“We have seen the how soon after the Sankararaman murder case, every Pelu, Velu and Selvam has come out,” said an officer bringing a truck load of empty first information report forms. "We should have enough FIR forms so that almost all the population of Tamil Nadu can register their cases against the mutt," he said.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

For weddings and a numeral

Delhi will host 14,000 weddings on November 28, newspapers and television news say.

Wonder where this figure came from? I suspect the first news item about this day of marriages that appeared in a leading daily newspaper is the culprit. It said 28,000 people are getting married on November 28.

I did not wonder where that figure came from. Any reporter worth his Class 10 math certificate could do that. November 28 and thousands of marriages, so just put 28 and thousands together and, bingo, 28,000 people. Accuracy can go get married, he got to put a figure that gets the story on Page 1.

Now the other papers and TV channels were not happy about missing such big breaking news, so they tried to come up with something new. Some value addition. It takes two to make one wedding. So they divided 28,000 by two and arrived at a new figure: 14,000. Oh yeah! There are 14,000 marriages in Delhi on one day, November 28.

Then they went to the traffic police looking for a quote on how would they manage the traffic on road. The traffic cop, eager to be quoted, said "we have made adequate arrangements". Then the TV news reporter went to a pandit, who said he is handling two marriages on one day.

Then they went to the ghodiwala, bandwala, ladduwala, mehndiwala, sabjiwala and now we have a full-blown news programmes on marriages in Delhi. And every programme starts with a figure. Twenty-eight thousand people will tie the knot tonight in 14,000 marriages in Delhi. Another came up with a value addition: Twenty-eight thousand people, including 14,000 women, will tie the knot tonight...

"An average Rs 10 lakh was being spent on each wedding taking the grand total to more than Rs 1,400 crore," PTI went ahead and put these words into an anonymous wedding planner's mouth.

Everyone wants some value addition. After all the first newspaper did a value addition this year. Last year, the same newspaper was the first to give a figure: 12,000 marriages on one day (November 27). This year they raised it to 14,000 and everyone else is adding value.

If you are good at maths, you can easily predict the next year's figure.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Half at night, half day

Hindustan Times writer Archis Mohan had me in splits on Sunday morning though the story I was reading talked about was serious stuff. Writing about the Jumping Jacks (traffic signal-violators) at night, he gave an interesting statistics: “Driving in Delhi at night is just not advisable. Half of the 1,100 fatal accidents that have taken place till mid-November were a night.” Oh wow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Pay or die

Since Laloo Prasad became the Union Railway Minister, he is trying to expand his profile in Delhi as his wife lords over Patna.

While the motormouth with views on everything goes around abusing the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Sangh Parivar, George Fernandes, Ram Vilas Paswan and George Bush in Delhi, the state that has made him what he is today sinks to the depths of anarchy.

This piece of outrage has been triggered by the near total breakdown of whatever was left of the public health system in Bihar. Doctors, those who are alive and haven’t fled to Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore, are on a strike after another doctor was murdered a couple of days ago.

It’s not unusual to see doctors going in strike. They are regularly killed in the state notorious for a parallel ransom industry. In fact those who live have at some point paid ransom or continue to pay to stay alive. Many have migrated to place where they can stay alive.

That the kidnap-ransom-killing industry flourishes with the support of big-time politicians and agents in the state set-up is no secret. Ask engineers, doctors, teachers and other professionals. Ask traders. One was killed yesterday morning. A professor was killed the previous night.

Pay or die is the rule in the state Laloo’s wife rules, while he rules over the railway ministry.

Pray for Darfur

One of the biggest victims of the US action in Iraq has been poor black people of Sudan’s Darfur region. The Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed (devils on horseback) militia has either slaughtered thousands of blacks or drove them away to neighbouring countries like Chad.

These blacks — Muslims and Christians — are not of Arab origin and the fundamentalist Sudanese regime has supported this ethnic cleansing. Check out the latest from Darfur here.

The great spectator called the United Nations has been pleading with the Sudanese government for a year. The regime in Khartoum has promised many times to rein in the militia but on the ground the situation has worsened with young children being burnt to death, women raped and shot.

Those who escaped the Janjaweed are struggling to survive in the refugee camps with no roof above their heads, no food in their stomach, no water, no medicine.

So what’s the US’ fault? Nothing except being a strong country it could force the Sudanese to implement what the world wishes at the moment.

But since the US is busy fighting insurgents in Iraq, the Sudanese government has taken advantage of the situation. Rest of the world including the powerful European Union have strongly condemned the genocide and threatened Sudan with sanctions but the option to use force has not been even thought about.

The US could and has thought about that but attacking another Muslim country is not an easy option right now, especially when Iraq is still burning.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Is it Shinde time already?

Ram Babu Sharma is the new president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Comgress Committee. Who on earth is Ram Babu Sharma and why on earth should he figure in this blog?

Well, till a couple of days ago, Sharma was a municipality-level Congress leader. Today he is the symbol of a long Congress tradition: No leader shall be strong enough to challenge the party’s central leadership or the Family. And Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was apparently getting bigger than the party, in Delhi that is.

Guess what Ram Babu Sharma did on the day he was elected? He said the state government has to be accountable to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, that is: him. He wants to know what the government has done, is doing and will do. And he thanked Jagdish Tytler, someone who has publicly expressed his respect or the lack of it for Sheila.

An adversary as party chief is not new for Sheila Dikshit. She has seen Subhash Chopra, Chaudhry Prem Singh et al.

But Ram Babu Sharma is different in that he comes at a very inauspicious time for Dikshit. And we are not talking about her fractured foot.

Difficult times lie ahead for the Sheila factor. Her beta political Ajay Maken has turned into her bete noir; sworn enemy Tytler has long been sworn in as a Union Cabinet minister and purana Madan Lal Khurana is the new man in the good old Opposition BJP.

Is Congress’ central leadership cutting Sheila to size? Is she no longer on Sonia’s favourites list? Is Sheila the next addition to the long list of charismatic politicians sacrificed at the altar of party interest?

Sheila Dikshit easily connects with the new Delhiite who in turn relates with her more than anyone else. She deserves credit for the Congress' success in beating anti-incumbency, twice.

Popularity is about perceptions. She is perceived as a caring and honest-hearted leader. Truth may be debatable. But her being a woman and a sophisticated one at that does help her and in turn the party.

So why would the party downsize her? because old habits die hard. But if you need a recent example, you can look at Sushil Kumar Shinde. The dalit leader revived the party in Maharashtra after taking over as chief minister. His predecessor, Vilasrao Deshmukh, was tainted by the Telgi scam and the party's image had taken a dive.

Shinde worked hard often racing against time to turn the tide in favour of the Congress and its partners. They got absolute majority in the Assembly. He was the natural choice for chief minister. But politics abhors nature. And guess who was chosen: the same Vilasrao Deshmukh. Shinde was made the Andhra Pradesh governor. In other words, "good job done. Now retire."

Extremely popular and progressive, S.M. Krishna did not win a clear majority but won enough seats to install a Congress chief minister in Karnataka. The Congress' leadership chose Dharam Singh. Krishna was becoming an icon. And in the Congress they need just one icon.

Sharad Pawar was being termed the Maratha satrap, and he began believing he was an icon. The Congress had no place for him. There’s no dearth of examples. Sheila was becoming this leading lady, a small satrap.

Ram Babu Sharma enjoys support in his East Delhi Assembly segment called Rohtas Nagar. Sheila’s son is an MP from East Delhi and whenever the next Lok Sabha election takes place, Sharma can prove to be more harmful than an average neighbourhood halwai. Sharma is a sweetmeat trader. Sweets tempt the tastebuds, but aren’t good for health.

Sheila Dikshit has entered what one can call "Danger" zone. She has to tread carefully. Very carefully. Because Shinde time may be around the corner.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Kofi right 2004: Shut your mouth

Iraqi minister berates Annan Thank you Mr Hazem Sha'alan. Somebody needed to.

I was just browing through fcuk T-shirts today, just to check out their latest slogans, I found an old one: "If you don't like oral sex, keep your mouth shut." Mr Kofi Annan needs to follow this to the T.

From being a bright and effective guy, the United Nations Secretary-General Annan has turned into a wimp with a limp agenda. Mr Annan has time and again crossed the limits. But asking the Iraqi government to not launch an assault on Fallujah is just too much to digest. The new Iraqi government's sovereignty is recognised by the UN Security Council, Mr Annan knows that.

We know that it's a puppet regime, but a puppet regime is better than no regime. Mr Annan did not do to anything effective to make Saddam accept the dozen or so Security Council resolutions. The US launched an illegal war on Iraq, Mr Annan did not do much to stop the US.

We all agree that Fallujah is a hotbed of terrorism and one huge impediment in restoring normalcy in Iraq. Then why let the country bleed. The sooner the occupying Americans leave the country the better. And since they can't leave when it is still bleeding, it is necessary to catch the terror network now active in the Baghdad-Samarra,-Fallujah traingle.

The Mahdi army in Karbala and Sadr City surrendered only after the use of force. So will the desperados in Fallujah.

And by the way the monsters of Fallujah can't hide behind the facade of being a force resisting American presence.

Resistance forces and freedom fighters DO NOT behead innocent people on camera. I can understand armed resistance, but executing a dozen Nepalis while they lie face down is not armed resistance. It's a massacre.

It's time the thugs of Fallujah and Samarra see some action since they are dying to see some action. And this operation, though it will result in bloodshed (including that of civilians, there are some 50,000 civilians still inside) is necessary and the sooner it is over, the better.

Mr Annan can take a walk. These terrorists attacked even the United Nations in Baghdad and we have not forgotten Mr Annan's reaction then. He hightailed it out of the place. Apart from a skeleton staff, the UN was out, leaving the US to do what it wants.

Iraq needs United Nations' support. It needs the world. If the world wants to resist the US' convoluted neo-con agenda, it needs to get involved at the ground level, and not just whine from a distance.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Fickle Finger of a Sickle-wielding Surjeet

It's an irony. The Left or the Communist Parties of India have about 60 seats in the Lok Sabha, just one ninth of its strength.

And just because it supports the coalition in power, it wants to dictate what direction India takes. It even wants to control which world leader the government should host, and where our leader go.

Foreign policy is one of the areas where the country has stood together, brainstormed together and decided together. We have a tradition of ruling parties consulting even the Opposition on international issues. Vajpayee used to involve bitter foe Sonia, her foriegn origin notwithstanding, in foreign matters. So does Manmohan.

The Left are party to the government, if not in, for god's sake. We always feared the Left would like to have its say in how the economy is run, but Surjeet wants his sticky fingers in every pie.

And the country's foreign policy is getting fingered.

Kitne Aadmi Hain?
, Sardar Manmohan Singh!

Sushil Kumar Shinde has just been unceremoniously transferred to a ceremonial post. The former chief minister of Maharashtra is the new governor of Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Shivraj Patil, who is India’s home minister and a former Maharashtra chief minister a la Shinde, is a fitter candidate for the gubernatorial job.

He has proved, in just about five months, that he’s incapable of handling the home affairs. And if Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is to be believed, he is nastier than he is stupid.

Reports suggest Jaya has taped a conversation with Mr Patil where he says he is sacking the state’s governor because he did not host a tea party for MLAs on Independence Day. Mr Patil should be sacked just for not maintaining the basics of decorum in Centre-State talks.

As I write this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is holding a meeting with his ministers to assess the work they have done in the past six months. He should take to task Mr Patil and other senior leaders like him, who function independently of the Prime Minister and common sense.

We present the Top Three.

1. Shivraj V. Patil: Veteran politician. Elder statesman look. Sophisticated in attire and language. Minister of Home Affairs.

He was welcomed by eruption of violence and separatism in the Northeast. He fiddled as Manipur burnt. The talks with Kashmiri separatists came to a halt.

He allowed Andhra Pradesh to lift a ban on the People’s War, the mass-murder-maniacs, who are now freely brandishing their guns and terrorising people.

Can you imagine West Bengal allowing ULFA to operate from their territory? PW spells horror in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and parts of Maharashtra. And Andhra is letting them operate freely.

PW believes in “Power Flows from The Barrel of a Gun.” And the state Congress leaders believe they can talk into that barrel and Mr Patil believes that.

2. K. NATWAR SINGH: Former diplomat and former external affairs minister. Now External Affairs Minister.

He barred the Chief Election Commissioner Krishnamurthy from going to the United States. The CEC was invited as an election observer.

Natwar Singh did not even consult the Prime Minister before doing this. The Prime Minister later intervened and cut the external affairs ministry to size.

Natwar is also in a time warp. The last time he was in the hot seat, the Cold War was not a distant past. So when he came back, he still hears ghosts of Cold War in the corridors of South Block. He is still in an anti-US propagandist mode.

He is also senior to the Prime Minister in politics, so presumes he can take his decision on his own. All our past governments, the Prime Minister’s Office has had the driving force in foreign policy matters, but this time the cart is wheeling on its own.

3. S. JAIPAL REDDY: Minister of Information and Broadcasting. The less said the better. Informed people call him the no. 2 in the Information and Broadcasting ministry. Guess the no. 1? Navin Chawla, I&B Secretary. Reddy is clueless about his job. At a time when any other minister would have had his hands full, he spends his time doing nothing. Well if he did something, we would know: Prasar Bharti is still in a bad shape, cable TV industry is a mess, censorship is bad case, foreign investment in media is hanging fire.

If you are in a generous mood, dear Prime Minister give the country a bonus this Diwali.

SHARAD PAWAR: He quit the Congress because he could not see Sonia Gandhi become the Prime Minister of India. But he is with her because she made Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister of India. And now that he is a minister in Singh’s Cabinet, he should better know who is the boss.

It has been unfortunate for the agriculture ministry that soon after Pawar took over, Maharashtra elections were announced. He got busy.

As if that was not enough, he fought the cricket elections. Though his party won, he lost his party’s claim to chief ministership, Jagmohan Dalmiya snatched the cricket bat from his hand.

And the agriculture ministry lost a lot of time in the year, it needed urgent attention. Last year was very bad for farmers across the country. The coming years looks worse. Mr Pawar looks ill.

Who the X is Laloo?

Americans are suddenly excited about the presidential elections, 2004. After learning that the whole world is excited about the Bush-Kerry match, the Average American Citizen said, “This is an American election, it’s I who should be excited. To heck with Bush and Kerry, I wanna know who on earth is Laloo Prasad Yadav.”

And now all of America is chanting the Smokie song Living Next Door to Laloo’s Gompie version.

The “Who the X is Laloo?” frenzy was apparently triggered by Republican candidate President George Bush, who asked the American voters to not vote for John Kerry and Laloo Prasad Yadav.

And the audience broke into an impromptu “Who the X is Laloo?” before they realised it was the Gompie version of the Smokie song.

President Bush said, “Laloo is Kerry and Kerry is Laloo. And you should all reject their policies and elect me.”

After jamming Internet lines for hours and breaking Google’s bandwidth bones, the audience returned to ask President Bush: “What’s Laloo got to do with Kerry?”

President Bush said: “Nothing. I am just taking revenge. When Laloo was fighting the Vajpayee’s NDA, he used to tell his electorate to oust Bush and Vajpayee. If he can drag me into Indian elections, so can I.”

Monday, October 25, 2004

Khurana has insomnia, would fight for pollution

Rajasthan Governor Madan Lal Khurana has resigned from his post saying he wants to come back to Delhi because he has spent sleepless nights in Jaipur's Raj Bhavan and his restlessness had been increasing alarmingly. "I have been taking sleeping pills," he said on Monday.

Medical experts call this condition insomnia. Apparently both his body and his mind had refused to adapt to Jaipur's atmospheric conditions.

Mr Khurana is addicted to the industrial fumes of Delhi, where most residential areas have turned into industrial ones. In Delhi, Mr Khurana lived in a locality where factories and bedrooms exist in perfect-cheek-by-jowl-harmony.

That harmonious existence is threatened by a government action, ordered by the courts. Officers have begun relocating industries to industrial areas. The reports that industries may actually be shifted out of residential areas worsened Mr Khurana's condition.

"How can I sleep peacefully in Raj Bhavan? In this situation, it is my humble and pious duty that I should return to Delhi," he told reporters in Delhi.

Being a non-smoker, he was subjected to almost pure air to breathe in Jaipur. He was not allowed to worship either. Being a religious man, he had no other option but to return to his temple, Delhi, notorious for its heavy air around the world.

According to him, Delhi is his temple, its citizens his gods and goddesses and he is its head priest. Our sources say chimneys in residential areas function as incense sticks in his maha aarti.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Khurana said he had spent "sleepless nights" during the entire tenure in Rajasthan and after noticing problems appearing for Delhiites recently, his "restiveness" increased.

According to the comparative data on ambient air quality collated by the Central Pollution Control Board, all parameters except Nitrogen Dioxide have registered a downward trend. The level of Carbon Monoxide, Suspended Particulate Matter and Respirable Particulate Matter may also be on the decrease.

He said: "I cannot enjoy the comforts of Raj Bhavan while people in Delhi are facing problems. It is not in my blood." Being a leader, to lead is in his blood. Lead levels in an average Delhi citizen's blood is another cause of concern.

A study conducted by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, some time ago had reported the higher-than-normal blood lead level among children. If lead levels come down, Khurana's leadership levels will also be threatened.

Khurana said he had taken the decision (to come back) in view of the "problems" being faced by Delhiites, particularly due to the move to relocate industries in the capital. The relocation of industries would mean a sudden drop in industrial pollution in residential areas, which might trigger insomnia in his followers too.

Welcoming the former Delhi BJP president, hundreds of his followers burst crackers to prevent pollution levels around him from suddenly dropping.

*All the quotes attributed to Mr Khurana and the studies mentioned are true. Rest is purely suspended particulate matter of satirisis.

Bush pre-empts results

President George W. Bush has declared himself the next President of the United States and has called upon American citizens to vote for him in the November 4 elections to strengthen American democracy.

“Uncertainty is no good. America has to elect a President. The President takes the decision on behalf of the nation, so I have decided who the next President would be: me,” Mr Bush told Americans in a public broadcast last night.

He said the decision was a pre-emptive strike to save America from terrorists and the French. “Kerry looks French. That preening, pompous man also smells like Jaques Chirac. You know how Chirac been against America in all the wars it has either launched or planned,” the President said in an announcement from his Texas ranch.

Explaining why he was taking up the responsibility for the second time, he said America was under attack and needed strong leadership. “The war on terror needs resolve and if I lose, the terrorists win. John Kerry as President would boost the morale of the Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Being the President of the United States, I decided to stay President for the next four years,” he said.

When told his experiment is very similar to that of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, he laughed at the joke. But soon denied subverting democracy. “America stands for democracy. America stands for freedom. Free and fair elections are vital to democracy. So we will have elections as normal. And Americans are free to choose me since I am their next president,” he said.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

This school should be shut

This is stupid. Veerappan's daughter to be thrown out of school. What kind of a school is this? Schools shoulder the sacred duty of making humans out of demons. But this one seems hellbent on doing the opposite. Poor girl, she didn't choose her father.

Bush to target Manoj Kumar

My neighbourhood grocer walla Manoj Kumar doesn’t even know he’s become a direct threat to America. He doesn’t know another scarier fact: Manoj Kumar faces elimination if President Bush is re-elected. And all this is according to President Bush.

The debates have happened, in some slow states like Florida people have even begun voting to choose the next President of America and the Station House Officer of this huge police station called the world. So Manoj Kumar better pray for John Kerry to win. So why is President Bush now targeting Manoj Kumar.

For a simple reason: Manoj Kumar has on many times overtly expressed his desire to attack America. “Yeh America ko koi maja chakha de to majaa aa jaaye,” he has told me many times.

He was very disappointed in Saddam Hussein after the Lion of Baghdad dogtailed it to a rat hole. Now Manoj Kumar’s hopes are pinned on North Korea. “Korea-China ko attack kar ke dikhaye, tab jaane,” he has told me this much, though he always appends China to Korea.

He doesn’t know just the desire to harm America is enough to invite an attack. The American-appointed Iraq Study Group, which looked for weapons of mass destruction in the nearly-destroyed country for two years, said in its report that Saddam did not have any weapons of mass destruction but certainly had the desire to build one.

Before the Democrats could exploit “Look Bush No WMDs”, the Republicans spun the report saying “Look He Had The Desire”. And that desire to possess a weapon is no less threat to America than actually possessing a weapon.

Manoj Kumar needs to control his desires. Last time I saw fresh stock of Heinz tomato-chilli sauce at his shop. Now that’s rubbing salt on Bush’s wounds.

Kher keeps his word

Anupam Kher has kept his word. He has filed a criminal case against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet. The CPI(M) leader had called Anupam Kher an RSS man.

Kher, an acting veteran, was removed as the Censor Board chief soon after Surjeet’s article appeared in the party magazine People’s Democracy. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is not a compliment in the Indian Communist’s language.

Kher is angry at his unceremonious sacking. At a press conference in Delhi, he had said he would sue the pants off the geriatric Leftist leader who spewed so much venom against him just because he was appointed by the previous government at the centre led by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since this government led by the Congress is supported by the Communists from outside, leaders like Surjeet have a lot of say in how things run. His article, in which he mentioned Kher, apparently triggered obedience in Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy, who was quick to send Kher a letter of removal.

So Kher has finally gone to court, though not against Reddy, whose power to remove Kher would not stand challenge in the court of law. So Kher has directed his anger at Surjeet.

The Mumbai court has adjourned the matter to November 17 for verification of the complaint. Kher said that in his article, Surjeet had held him responsible for saffronising the Central Board of Film Certification to suit Sangh’s ideology.

Kher has charged Surjeet with Sections 499 and 500 of Indian Penal Code, which deal with defamation and publishing defamatory matter respectively.

Kher had earlier sent a legal notice to Surjeet asking him to publicly deny the statement within 48 hours or face legal action. Surjeet did not respond. And we have someone finally suing him.

Monday, October 18, 2004

No for Natwar, N for NAM

Soon after the new government took over, this newspaper had predicted Natwar Singh would not breathe easy till he resurrects Non-Aligned Movement or NAM.

This movement was launched in 1955 by the countries who did not openly side with either of the two blocs of the Cold War era -- one led by Soviet Union and the other by the United States. It never actually took off because most members were affiliated with, though covertly, with either of the two. India, one of the founding members, was tilted in favour Russia.

The Cold War ended long time ago. The NAM is not being allowed to. Not many even know what it stands for. Except Mr Natwar Singh, who often remembers not only what it stands for but also that he stands for it.

He just needs a reminder. For example, what's your name? Oh NAM, yes... it has to be rejuvenated. Or a visit to Vietnam. "Welcome to Vietnam!" Oh NAM... yes it has to be resurrected.

Yes, Singh is in Hanoi doing his bit for NAM. Non-aligned to what? "The international agenda has changed. Earlier there were issues like apartheid, decolonisation. But today the issues are terrorism, drugs, and environment. The NAM has to be reinvented to face these issues, to address the problems of the first decade of the 21st century," our external affairs minister told journalists there.

Singh is on a three-day official visit to Hanoi to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the historic meeting between Nehru and Ho Chi Minh.

His Vietnamese counterpart came forward in his support: "After the Cold War many people thought NAM won't have a role to play anymore, but we later realised that non-alignment can play an important role," he said.

NAM continues to meet every three years. This year in August we saw a big-time meeting in South Africa. The next will happen in Cuba. NAM has an interesting name. Three leaders were at the forefront of the formation: (Jawahar Lal) Nehru of India, (Gamal) Abdel-Nasser of Egypt and Marshall (Josip) Tito. Their initials shared those of the movement.

In the reinvented NAM, we already have N for Natwar. We need two with names
starting with A and M. And then NAM will become relevant all over again!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Winter is here and Delhi looks cool. But it's time to go to Manali. Nardeep tells me Rohtang saw a 1.5 metre snowfall. Or maybe 1.5 foot.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

EverReady's Letter to Honourable Madam

Honourable madamji

How are you? Please tell me how I am doing fine. I am hoping that you are happy with my functioning in the Misnformation and Narrowcasting ministry. Madam, I do not get much to do but whenever I find some work, I make sure that it's informed and is broadcast.

I would like you to look at some decisions that I have taken in the recent times.

  • Anupam Kher is no longer the Censor Board chief. Sharmila Tagore, from our party, has been adjusted in his place. Kher, madam, was appointed by the BJP government. He may not be a politician but keeping in the tradition of sacking governors, I sacked him.

  • Madam, Prakash Jha's film Lok Nayak will not be passed by the censor board. Words like Emergency and excesses were found in the film, so we decided to not let him show. Anyway the film was commissioned during the BJP government time. Dear madam, I have already offered my apologies for being a Jaiprakash Narayan prodigy. Madam, if you want I can apologise for my own self. But madam, I will not let anyone show Indira Gandhi as dictator. Could you please control Rahul Baba from accepting that excesses did happen during Emergency. Madam I have another solution. Should we remove references to Indiraji and let those against Sanjay Gandhi be shown. If Varun baba is joining us then we should snip the whole picture only.

  • Madam, Doordarshan has already invested more than Rs 160 crore on its DTH (direct to home) project. This was also cleared by the BJP government, so I am not allowing it. How can Doordarshan reach direct to people's homes? I also prevented that other DTH system from showing Doordarshan cricket matches. Madam if you want I will allow it.

Madam taking decisions is a smart thing, but not taking decisions is smarter. And you know I am not only smart, but also smarter. But you are the smartest. Anyway, I would love if you look at just a couple of decisions I have not taken.

  • Radio guys want to share profit, because they say licence fee is too much money. But I have decided to not take a decision. And I will not allow radio stations of foreign origin from foreign countries to operate from this country. BBC can broadcast from Bangladesh. Who wants their licence fee? But our people, you know how they are, are still listening to BBC radio on short wave and medium wave. They also watch BBC TV. What goes my father?

  • Madam I am also ensuring that no decision is taken on CAS. This CAS was introduced during the BJP government, madam. People are watching TV and having a good time. The cablewalla is extorting money from them. What goes my father?

Best of my regards and Reddy to dispose anything you propose, madam.

Yours obediently

Jayphal EverReady

PS: I have been really worried about two things madam. The two remaining people installed during the BJP regime. The President and the vice-president. What should we do about them? No need to say we will go ahead and do whatever we think would please you, before you even say it.

This is to test whether I can blog from my mobile. If I can, Cheers!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Chaste nut cracks in haste

Aishwarya Rai is nuts about her chastity. In a recent interview to Hello!
magazine she said she needs to be comfortbale before she agrees to do relax
her approach to secuality. And what she said is absoknockinglutely
hilarious. Here's the the Q and A.

Compared to Indian films, Hollywood demands a more relaxed approach to
sexuality. Have you considered the effect that nudity in an international
film could have on your audiences back home?

"I have to be convinced about how imperative the sex is to a particular
film, and relate that to my comfort levels. A recent Indian film I did
required the women to be wearing saris without underwear. There were major
discussions about it and although I might not have done so in another
instance, this time I went along with the director's decision. To tell you
the truth, I did wear underwear, but we constructed it in such a way that
cinematographically the director got what he wanted and I achieved what I
needed to within my comfort zone! Now I am toying with the idea of a body

Constructed it in such a way? What? The underwear? Does she mean underwear
underwear or undergarments? Because if she meant undies we would like to
know about the director who wants his women to wear sari without underwear.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Sourav's bat retires from active cricket!

In what has been described as a shocker for the cricket-crazy millions of India, the country's cricket captain Sourav Ganguly's bat has announced its retirement from active cricket. Following the captain's companion, his colleague Virender Sehwag's bat also decided to call it a day.

Sourav and Sehwag have not yet made an official statement about this unilateral decision taken by their bats. Speaking at Bangalore's Chinnaswami Stadium, Sourav's bat corrected this correspondent with a curt "know-your-facts-mister" and reiterated the decision was irreversible.

"It is not unilateral. Both have repeatedly told reporters: 'I am not worried about critics. My bat will do the talking.' Since they have authorised us to talk, we feel it is perfectly fine to do some talking," Sourav's bat told reporters.

"Do Indians even care about us? I got stickers all over my body and who gets paid? Sehwag. I am always there for him but you never see me around when he is prancing around Mahima Chaudhry. Now he's got a wife too. I get no attention. If he can hurt my feelings, I can also give him my outside edge or inside edge for that matter," Sehwag's bat told reporters with tears flowing down its eyes.
In bat language giving inside/outside edge means not giving two hoots.

Later in a signed press release, the two complained the cricketers don't spend as much time with them as they used to when they were trying to be successful.

"Once these guys become successful, we just become a thing that they wave at TV cameras after that half-century. Outside international matches, we gather dust while they shoot for commercials. We almost get suffocated to death in those cramped bags," they said in the release.

Asked if they would reconsider their decision to cooperate with the players who actually want to score some runs against Australia, they said, "on one condition: due respect".

The two bats said: "We want partnership. We can't be treated like pieces of wood to hit those balls."

When Sourav learnt of this willow revolt, he was furious. Though he is officially unavailable, sources say he's thinking of turning into a classical dancer.

"My wife is a career dancer, maybe we can partner. That bloody bat can willow (this guy puns) in self-pity but I know who's ditched who. And let this be known it was the bat, which failed me," he is understood to have told a friend we cannot name.

Sehwag did not respond to our requests for a quote. Sehwag ki maa's CDMA does not seem to work.

*This story is pure fiction until the day pices of wood actually start talking. Till then, squeeze the message. Take it without the pinch of salt.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Oh my god, there's a rocket in my backyard!

Is there a rocket waiting to explode in your backyard? Please look for one. I checked my backyard only to discover I don’t have one. Yes, I do not have a backyard, all I have are two balconies. And I am pleased to report that I found nothing close to being labelled ammunition or ammo, as newspapers headline it.

Seems my balcony is the only place they haven’t found a rocket or two. As you read this, government officers would have finished unearthing more rockets in Akola, Belgaum, Chinchpokhli, Jhumritilaiya and your neighbourhood paan-shop. It’s a festival out there.

After some rockets exploded in a Ghaziabad steel factory killing some 10 workers, there has been a series of findings (not explosions, thank goodness!) of rockets that enter the country as metal scrap imports.

Yesterday I saw a newspaper carry a map of north India with dots all over the map pointing out the places we have found rockets.

Today the number of dots increase manifold. And every factory worth its chimney has been working as a dump for unused explosives of the world. And a lot of questions have been exploding inside my mind. Some of them are still looking for answers. And the top 5 are—

1. Are scrap rockets living beings that procreate, sometimes really quickly, to save their race from being totally removed from the face of earth? Because the moment experts discover and seize one set of rockets, many others surface in another factory, another town?

2. Did they enter this country in a pact to explode in factories together? Because we never found these many ammo things before the Ghaziabad blasts.

3. If Ghaziabad ones weren’t the first ones to arrive, how did they conceal themselves? Why didn’t they explode in such numbers before this? Were they not being broken into these scrap factories or just passed on to those who have some use of rockets? That brings us to the question no.

4. Is this the way terrorist/subversive elements import rockets into our country?

5. Are we sure we haven’t imported nuclear waste, chemical warfare, serene gas, anthrax strands and scarier things?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

DD tera boss diwana

As it the CAS mess wasn't proof enough, our broadcasting bosses keep taking decisions to prove their stupidity. Prasar Bharti (the government-controlled broadcaster) asked Dish TV, a DTH company, to take its signals off the platform during the India-Australia cricket Test series. Zee de-links DD cricket channels from Dish TV. Why? It was not as if Zee was showing the match on their channel. It was on DD like it is on DD outside DTH. Does DD not want everyone to see their programme? Does more viewers harm the network? Can anybody answer that, please? It's ironical because according to the Cable TV Act, all cable operators must show the three DD chanels even if no one wants to show them or see them. Am I looking for a word here, 'coz ridiulous is too mild.

Monday, October 04, 2004

To Pakistan, With Thanks

Pakistan's biggest arms show, IDEAS 2004, is on at Karachi. Joshua Kucera, a Jane's Defence Weekly reporter, was there. His report from Karachi is a must read. It's hilarious and disturbing at the same time. Excerpts.

"Despite all the heavy weapons on display, the host city, Karachi, seems markedly insecure. Exhibitors and attendees drive from the Sheraton to the expo center in armed convoys. Police with machine guns are stationed every 50 yards along the 30-minute drive. Snipers peek from the rooftops surrounding the expo center. Delegates are advised not to leave the hotel, which is where 11 French submarine engineers were killed two years ago on their way to work on subs that France and Pakistan are assembling here. Karachi is also where Daniel Pearl was kidnapped.

"As delegations from a veritable Who's Who of pariah states—North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan—make the rounds, a Pakistani company shows off its new cluster bombs (which, the company press release notes, "can be used against soft targets"). A Bangladeshi delegation looks approvingly at a display of Pakistani tanks.

"Pakistan's missiles, including the nuclear-capable Shaheen II, are displayed outside, behind a sign reading "Technological Demonstration—Not for Sale." It seems to be an oblique reference to the most notorious past IDEAS exhibitor—A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program and now the apparent mastermind of a global nuclear smuggling network.

"This is the first time that American companies have exhibited at IDEAS, and they have turned out in force. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, United Defense, and several smaller companies are here.

"Over the next five years, Pakistan will get at least $1.5 billion in defense aid from the United States.

"The chief of the Pakistan Air Force told me Washington wants to provide the F-16s, in part, to help Pakistan fight Islamist extremists in the tribal areas in the northwestern part of the country.

"But the Pakistanis gave a clue as to what they really want with the planes: They are requesting that the F-16s be armed with top-of-the-line air-to-air missiles that would be of little use against targets like the Islamists it's fighting on the ground. Other equipment Pakistan is getting from the United States—navy surveillance planes, for example—is similarly useless against a guerrilla insurgency. They would, of course, be useful in a war against India.

"The majority of questions Pakistani journalists asked in the show's press conferences were centered around one theme: "Can this help us beat India?"

"The Indian air force is formidable—earlier this year they beat U.S. pilots in a war game. Meanwhile, Pakistan's air force has stagnated as a result of U.S. sanctions, about which the Pakistanis are still resentful."

You can access the full article at Slate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

We can do business

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is back after his United Nations General Assembly session trip. And he’s pleased.
Soon after landing he described his meeting with Pakistani President Parvez Musharraf: “It was a good meeting.”
The economist-turned-premier has realised Musharraf is not the enemy. He said: “India can do business with him.”
With friends like his, Singh doesn’t need enemies. And Musharraf is the only guy he would be allowed to do business with.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Dev Saab, are you sure?

The evergreen actor has spoken against the evergreen politician of the East. Laloo can't inspire a movie, said Dev Anand. Are you sure Dev Saab? This man seems to have inspired not just a film (Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav), but also books, music albums, even a Laloo Chalisa (a la Hanuman Chalisa) and many railway halts, non-stations where trains stop for a moment. And development stops for ever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Welcome to the circus

Delhi is talking about why it is talking about what it is talking about.

Gudiya is not a Delhi girl. She is Arif's wife. She is Taufeeq's wife too. And Arif and Taufeeq are not Delhi boys. But they are in our boardrooms and bedrooms, courtesy the midwife called TV, labouring 24X7 to deliver premature babies right into your living room. In a country where a substantial percentage of women die at childbirth, Gudiya is dying a thousand deaths, byte by TV byte.

Cast of characters
Gudiya was married to Arif, an Army jawan. Years ago, Arif disappeared in the Valley of Kashmir. The Army termed him a deserter. Family presumed he was dead. Gudiya was married off to Taufeeq last year. She was happily married and pregnant.

Then the news came that Arif was in a Pakistani jail, arrested after he strayed across the border. Gudiya was happy that Arif was alive, but he was also past. She said in no unclear words that she was Taufeeq's wife and there was no question of going back to Arif. She's happily married and pregnant.

Then everything changes
Arif is released by the Pakistanis. He comes home as a hero. Generally the Army doesn't give back jobs to PoWs. Arif gets his. Then Arif wants his wife back, minus the child in her womb.

The panchayat says Arif has the first right over Gudiya. Imams say Shariyat says so. Shariyat says Gudiya is Arif's wife till he divorces her, so her marriage to Taufeeq stands null. Maulvis say Gudiya should have requested a qazi to annul the marriage when Arif was not found.

And in so many people saying it all, Gudiya has no say in her future. The child in her womb has no voice. Gudiya has found a new man. Arif can find a new woman. The child can't find a new mother or a father for that matter.

Hijack drama
Arif was released by Pakistanis, but he won't release the technically-his wife. He has dragged his trophy woman to Delhi. The girl has obscene-looking boom mikes in her face as pretty women ask her questions that include what if the society brands her yet-to-be-born child a bastard.

Arif who spent five years as a PoW in Pakistan is again a PoW, prisoner of channel wars. Zee TV is not letting him and Gudiya out of its studios fearing other channels will get him. Other channels have got Taufeeq, Taufeeq's cousin, Gudiya's mamu, Arif's chacha, Arif's grandfather's son-in-law's distant relative.

It's an entertainment show, and Gudiya doesn't even know.

Your are driving in Delhi when...

For those of us who are occasionally disoriented.

Here's how you know you are still driving around in Delhi when...

1. Your car always feels like an old and outdated model.
2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
3. You drive to your neighborhood Mother Dairy booth.
4. Someone asks you how far away something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many kilometres away it is.
5. You have seen Red Fort only from your car.
6. You've worn out a car horn.
7. Cars in front of you are often driven by headless or almost deceased people.
8. Road construction never ends anywhere in the city.
9. The only time you listen to music is in your car.
10. When 10 cars are waiting for a cow to pass.

And finally...
When 10 cars are waiting for a tractor to pass, you have reached Gurgaon.

*Not at all original*

Monday, September 20, 2004

Al-qaeda behind Florida tornadoes

Recent successive deadly hurricanes that hit Florida have given momentum to speculation that God is trying to punish the state for the 'goddamned' chads that brought George W. Bush to White House.

The world may never be able to forget those chads, or perforated voting cards, whose bad behaviour led President Bush to lose and then win again by defeating Democrat Al Gore.

"Newton's third law says to every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. A calamity for a calamity. Tornado Ivan was a terrible natural calamity in reaction to the political calamity we have imposed on the world," Priest Kerry Tarcomed told reporters in Tampa, Florida. "Seems God hates us," he added.

White House was quick to reject such notions reiterating that God was on America's side in the war on terror.

"This is a totally preposterous claim, a canard spread by the Democrats," Republican Party spokesman Danny Coyle told a news conference. "As far as Newton's third law is concerned, we think the law department would be able to comment."

President George Bush has said that these hurricanes were caused by butterflies released by Al-Qaeda in the jungles of Indonesia.

"American will not give in to butterflies. We will take them on. We'll eliminate 'em one by one," he told a Republican Party fund-raising meet in Tampa, Florida.

"I was just reading this book by James Gleick. He's a proud American. He has done a lot of work on tornadoes and found out that butterflies cause tornadoes. When a bufferfly flaps its wing in Texas, it produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time this change develops into a tornado that devastates the Philippines. But what we see here is a tornado in Florida and not Texas. Texas is close to Florida and Indonesia is close to the Philippines. We know about Al-Qaeda's presence there. We are gonna ensure terrorism is defeated wherever it exists in whatever form," the President said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said Britain will stand by the US in its war on Al-Qaeda butterflies. "We condemn terrorism in every form totally and absolutely and that includes larvae. "

*The Butterfly Effect or Chaos Theory and Newton's Third Law do exist. The rest is the author's figments of imagination with pigments of truth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bollywood finally recognises the actor

Lalu's next halt is Bollywood. Finally, people have recognised the acting talent of the antic hero, the great Lalooji. He has successfully acted his way into power and stays on top thanks to his talent. I can see the state of Bihar nodding in agreement as I write this. He keeps babus on toes, demolishes his foes and doesn't care about the state's woes as long as millions of Biharis roll on the floor laughing at his jokes, holding their stomachs that rarely see a filling meal. On the day Lalooji, alongwith his chief minister wife Rabri, was posing with stars of the film Padamshree Laloo Prasad Yadav, a woman in a town barely 50 km away had sold her infant child because she couldn't feed him. Mahesh Manjrekar-directed Padamshree Laloo Prasad Yadav promises to be a comedy and hopes to cash in on Lalooji's name. Bihar is a tragicomedy.

Monday, September 13, 2004

What's Laloo Prasad

Lalu promotes Padamshree Laloo Prasad Yadav . And he is quite kicked about embassies and universities asking for his bio-data. Over to Laloo: "The world is asking what is Laloo Prasad." We know the answer, but let it be.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Complain Boys, Complain Girl

I am in the mood for complaining. I can't help the urge, you know. We are a nation of complainists, though there is no such word. But complainers is too mild a word. Anyway, to complain is our right, especially when facing a TV news camera.

You saved my life, now you give me a job

The three Indian hostages in Iraq are home now. And a week after the Indian government saved them from the thugs of Fallujah, at least two of them are complaining about their unemployment. Not long ago they were getting ready for their tryst with the butchers who have beheaded people from around the world. They were finally released after the terrorists' demands were met. No one knows how much money exchanged hands but quite a few millions were spent to buy their lives. They had gone to Iraq out of their own will. So did the about a dozen Nepalis, one of them was beheaded and the other 11 were shot dead. The Nepali government couldn't manage their release. The Indian government did.

While they were in captivity their relatives complained the government was not doing enough to bring them back alive. Now that they are released they are complaining that the government is not giving them employment. Dear Mr Sukhdev and Mr Tilakraj, thank your stars and the Indian government, you are living to complain.

Post my baby

Nancy is four years, eight months, 13 days, and whatever-your-watch-shows hours and minutes old at the moment. It's easy to get her age to the day because she is our Millennium baby. She was born in Bhopal on the night the world said goodbye to the past millennium. Today, she is too young and too busy with juggling her playtime to complain but her mother isn't going to let it go easily. I saw Mrs Ayesha Patel on TV engaged in our national pastime: complaining. "They have not even released a postage stamp on Nancy till date," I quote the mother. Though Nancy's parents are well off, the mother was expressing her annoyance with the government, which in her view has not offered any support to Nancy's education. Dear Mrs Patel, cool down and let Nancy grow normally, without a sense of your perceived injustice.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Michael Moore's Oscar gambit

We haven't seen Moore's last sigh yet. It's good he is not submitting Fahrenheit 9/11 in the Documentary Category. I watched it twice. And I am convinced it doesn't belong to the documentary category. It is a mockudrama. Though created using real footage, it's twisted truth at its best.

George Bush doesn't have much brains, but this guy has got a lot of mess up there. Bush may have a screw or two loose, but this guy is all screwed. It's fine to make a film and want as many people as possible to see it. But wanting as many people as possible to see it before the presidential election says a lot about his bias.

A documentary is supposed to be more a document than an exercise in unexplained biased opinion. By turning his film into a campaign commercial for the Democrats, Moore has sullied his own images as a brilliant documentary maker. Bowling for Columbine was proof of his talent.

Even accepting an election campaign material for an Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would end up sullying its own image. If they do then what's wrong with the Pepsi commercials?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Osama in Pakistan, says expert

Do we need an expert to say that?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Break Down Fest

Is there a virus out there that spreads from car engine to car engine crippling them in the middle of the road? Had you been on the Nizamuddin Bridge today around 11 am, you would have said or rather screamed in road rage: "Yes. How else can you explain all this mess." How else, indeed? The moment I entered the breezy 3-km stretch, I and almost 1,000 were in for a shocker. Well, we were in an unexplainable jam. Unexplainable because it wasn't the so-called peak hour, which is over by 10.30. As we crawled our way past the mess, I saw at least five broken down cars. Then sixth soon after it. The seventh about a kilometre later and an eighth on Bhairon Road. Was this some kind of breakdown fest or is there really a disease?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Lalooji's U-Turn

That Railway Minister Lalu Prasad is a funny man is no news. But he can be funnier than hell. Today the baapji of Bihar criticised the Karnataka government for dropping charges against former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti.

"It is absolutely wrong and against the law. I will complain to Sonia Gandhi. I tried to contact Sonia Gandhi this morning but in vain. I will once again try to contact her," Prasad said.

His wife's government in Bihar has proposed to drop charges against dreaded criminal-turned-politician and Lalu's colleague in the government, Taslimuddin. Uma resigned because she was facing a warrant. Taslimuddin hasn't and to ensure he doesn't have to, Lalu is doing everything he can.

Please drop this facade, with the charges against Taslimuddin, Laluji.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Thumbs up in arms, strike from Thursday

Twiddling with anger, thumbs on Tuesday threatened to go on a strike if they don't get their due recognition and respect, and of course the diamond ring.

"Start respecting thumb, that's the thumb rule," said Mr Mota Angootha, the president of Thumbs for Justice in Human Anatomy (TJHA), an organisation set up by thumbs. "Don't treat us like thumbshit, we are thumb-body special," Mr Antootha said, read out the organisation's banner.

The threat of strike sent panic waves among thousands of SMS-addicted youth across Asia and Europe. Government offices in countries like India (illiteracy: 35 per cent) were worried because most of the work happens thanks to the thumb-impression.

Economy experts warned of a drop in revenue from short messaging for mobile telephony companies. Experts have also warned of virtual crisis in the mobile gaming world if thumbs go on strike as planned.

Some people had already complained of something numb in the thumb. "My thumb has been bit funny since morning. Is it a partial strike or something?" Ms Asha Sachdeva said, soon after the announcement of the strike.

TJHA, however, denied reports that some thumbs had already begun the strike, but added that the strike beginning Thursday would not stop till people started showing some respect.

"When it comes to text we are made to perform, when it comes to sex we get no attention, especially in Asia. When a man is wooing a woman, he gives her rings that never come to us," Mr Angootha said.

"The wedding ring (angoothi), which rightly and etymologically belongs to us, goes to the ring finger. The small finger gets all the love and care, because it's small. The middle finger feels it's the centre of the universe. Our studies show that 98 per cent of the population would wear rings and other jewels on all fingers but thumbs," a TJHA release said, citing "gross discrimination".

Anatomy specialists have supported the thumbs movement. "They have been tolerating a lot of fingering. Do people realise that to lift even the smallest thing, one needs the thumb and one of the fingers. Remember thumbs are crucial, while any finger would do. They have the right to demand preference when it comes to ring."

"It's impossible to send an SMS without a thumb, just forget about gaming. I need to see a shrink," said 22-year-old Maria Sharma of Modernist School in Delhi. Maria and her friends are addicted to gaming and SMS to the extent they order their Coke by SMS as they are too busy playing to fetch it from the grocery shop.

The strike however would not affect children's thumbs. According to TJHA, children love the thumb. It's when they grow up that parents brainwash them into believing thumbs are bad.

"All children suck thumb. And they love it. But parents pressure them out of it. We are with the children who get penalised for their love for the thumb," Mota Angootha said clarifying why the strike would spare children.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cricket Laao, Desh Ki Izzat Bachao

In what made Indians break into balle balle, the Indian Olympic Association has demanded that cricket be played at the 2004 Olympics.

The decision to demand a medal came soon after Holland humiliated India 3-1 in its first hockey match. IOC (not to be confused with Indian Oil Corporation) president Kuresh Salmadi said all India needed was a level-playing field, and the only thing Indians play in field is cricket. Rest of our athletes have finished anywhere between fourth and the last position.

“We are the world’s largest democracy and we want the world’s biggest event to imbibe some democratic principles like equality. Unless we are allowed to play cricket, we will not win a single medal. In cricket Australia will take the gold, Sri Lanka the silver and we are confident we can take the bronze,” Mr Salmadi told a crowded press conference in Athens.

He added that India wanted kabaddi’s inclusion but now countries like Korea were playing kabaddi and “we are not sure of being on a strong wicket there.”

Hockey, India’s national game, is played in corners not used to play for cricket. These corners are called penalty corners because playing hockey is a penalty in a country where cricket’s 12th player is treated like god and the hockey captain Dilip is treated like someone from Turkey.

The announcement triggered panic waves among all but 14 cricket-playing nations. “The Games are for humans, why does India want insects in all this,” asked a flabbergasted Finland fan.

Looking at the Sachin Tendulkar poster on the wall behind Mr Kalmadi, an American Olympic delegate wondered why Indians have such awkward-shaped baseball bats. To this the Finnish fan's flabber was even more gasted. "Bats, why bats? To eat the crickets?

In India, people began bursting crackers and some danced holding Olympic flame replicas saying India may finally win a medal.

“We are a country that believes in unity in diversity. We do not believe in individualism like the West. We believe in team work and in cricket, it comes out so well,” an Indian commentator said on TV.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

MEA culpa: Dealing with hostage crisis is no silly matter

In an exclusive interview ('A hostage crisis is not a silly matter')
to Rediff Deputy Managing Editor George Iype, India's Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed, who heads the Crisis Management Group, explains how the government is handling the Iraq hostage crisis. In the not-so-exclusive red ink, I am butting in.

It is more than three weeks since the hostage crisis began. Where is it going?

I have been spending all my days handling the hostage crisis. We have been meeting every day for more than 15 hours, trying to deal with the situation and to ensure the release of the hostages. But frankly speaking, we do not know now when they will be released.

You are so cool Mr Ahmed. Frankly speaking, what do you do in those 15 hours every day.

Why? What has gone wrong in handling the situation?

Nothing has gone wrong from our part. We are always in touch with the Kuwait Gulf Link transport company, which is negotiating for the release of the hostages. We are still hopeful of positive developments. A hostage crisis is never a silly matter. We have to remain patient. It may take days for negotiations to succeed.

Exactly. What do you do in those 15 hours besides being hopeful and patient?

Last week you said the negotiations had reached a sensitive stage and the hostages would be released.

Yes, we have been always hopeful of their release. Last week the tribal leader, Hishan Al-Dulaimi, whom the Kuwaiti company had engaged to negotiate with the abductors, nearly clinched a deal. But the deal broke down soon.

Sir, how in the name of Saddam Hussein, will Al-Dulaimi negotiate with al-terrorists. What do you know about al-Dulaimi, al minister?

Why is the Indian government not directly negotiating with the abductors?

Why should the Indian government talk directly to the abductors? We feel it will create a bad trend. If the Indian government talks directly to the abductors and releases the hostages, it could lead to similar abductions there.

There is nothing like an indirect negotiation, Mr Ahmed. Most negotiations are indirect. You have already created a bad trend by meeting for 15 hours a day and turning it into a national crisis by involving the Crisis Management Group. Terrorists may kidnap more Indians for this is where they will get world's attention when India's crisis management group meets for 15 hours a day.

You said India has limitations or constraints in dealing with the situation. What are the limitations?

What I said was that India cannot directly negotiate with the abductors. It is not an easy task for us. It is a strategic decision. I have been personally spending close to 15 hours every day only on the hostage crisis these days. We are not sitting idle.

Oh no, not again. What do you do in those 15 hours every day? And being the one of the two external affairs ministers that we have, you seem to be doing pretty much nothing else.

The abductors have also demanded ransom money. Will India pay ransom?

We have very clearly said that India will not pay any ransom for the release of the hostages.

Thank you so much. Why would India pay a ransom when some thugs in Baghdad can hold the country to ransom.

Some reports say some of the hostages may have been killed.

Our information says that no one has been killed.

You must be knowing better. You spend 15 hours a day every day trying to know. But what do you do in those 15 hours apart from trying to know things?

Who do think are the abductors?

Our information is that the Holders of the Black Banners are sympathisers of the resistance movement in Iraq.

Thank you for disclosing such confidential things.

Do you think they have any links with Al Qaeda?

They may have. We are not sure.

You sure seem to be spending 15 hours a day every day.

Have you sought the help of the Iraqi government, particularly Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, to resolve the crisis?

Yes, we are in touch with the new Iraqi government. We are using all our diplomatic channels for an immediate end to this crisis.

Don't forget 15 hours, Mr Ahmed. Every Day.

Have you sought American help?

No, we have not. Why should we? The hostage crisis is something we are handling effectively, and diplomatically. We are sure we will succeed in our efforts.

America is a dirty word. Come what may Mr Ahmed would not be in touch with America for even a minute, forget 15 hours a day every day. This is a Left-supported government. When you are with the Left, touching America even with a bargepole isn't right.

When do you expect that the hostage crisis would blow over?

We expect some positive developments soon.

Dear India, be patient. He is working on it 15 hours a day, every day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Rabri to stop monsoon*

Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi has criticised the monsoon for bringing floods and disaster in her state. She said the monsoon was being unfair to the state in an election year and accused it of playing into Opposition hands.

"All the roads are swept away, train tracks have disappeared. I have to build all these roads before the Assembly election. My husband has to work on the rail lines. Monsoon has targeted my family," she told a press conference.

Her husband, Lalu Prasad, is the railway minister of India. Three months ago, her husband used to be Laloo Yadav.

Ms Devi, who is known for her soft-spokenness and mild manners, threatened to ban the monsoon from the state if she is returned to power.

"Met Department says Monsoon has to cross Bihar to rain in rest of the country, including Delhi. But just because Delhi, Punjab and Haryana need water, I will not let Bihar suffer. We do not need water and the Bihar Assembly will pass a bill to stop monsoon from crossing the state next year."

When asked how will she be able to stop monsoon, a natural phenomenon, she said it is 'possible'.

"No one is above the law. If Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh can stop water in his state's interest, why can't I. What is monsoon if not water?"

She said if Delhi wanted monsoon, the Central government should find an alternative route.

When told that monsoon cannot be controlled by any law, she said she would ask Lalooji and the railway ministry to help out. "He is building road bridges from railway funds for me. He has allocated new train routes in Bihar, I am sure he would find an alternative route for monsoon too."

She ended the press conference abruptly when reporters once again asked how. "You all look educated but none of you got any brains. You ask the same how again and again," she said as she left for her TV room to see if the press conference was being shown live.

World is cruel, even to Amar Singh!

Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh is hurt. He says the Congress is not following coalition "dharma" by making "unilateral" decisions on investment, reducing interest rates on provident fund and hiking prices of petroleum products.

Over to Shri Singh: "We want to ask whether it is coalition dharma to not consult supporting parties before making unilateral announcement..."

Tch... tch... this Congress party! It just doen't consult. It didn't consult Samajwadi Party when forming the government. In fact SP leaders like Thakur Amar Singh don't know whether they are part of the coalition.

Why? Because the Congress wouldn't tell him so. The Congress, when it invited random small-time leaders to a dinner, didn't offer the same invitation to Amar Singh's party. And every day since then, it has refused to recognise him as part of the government or the coalition.

Amar Singh is hurt for over 100 days, but still the Congress doesn't consult him, even to tell him that it doesn't need to tell him.

Everybody loves Amar Singh from Amitabh to Ambani to Mallya to Mulayam. He's in everybody's party except Soniaji's Congress party. Life sucks. Sometimes, even Amar Singh's.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Main Hoon Na!

The seven Indian truck drivers held hostage in Iraq are still captive. The day before yesterday there were hopes that they would be released but then we heard that the kidnappers wanted more money and also appeals from Asha Parekh and Amitabh Bachchan.

There are some Bollywood fans among the captors. Bollywood fans seem to be invading every nook and corner of the world. So how could our External Affairs Ministry be unaffected. Bollywood has no place for subtlety so the ministry men threw diplomatic caution out the South Block windows, and went for the gut.

They are vocal, when not equivocal. And whoever said Natwar Singh has asked his men to shut their mouths is wrong. The ministry men open their mouth whenever they want to change feet.

By now the whole country knows that we have a minister of state for external affairs who has taken charge to deal with the situation while the senior minister Natwar tries to find Non-Aligned Movement to revive it. So the burden of solving the crisis in Iraq landed on E. Ahmed's shoulders.

Since the kidnappings in Iraq, Ahmed has become a household face. Who needs a spokesman when the minister himself can speak on affairs foreign.

And when Ahmed speaks, he does it in typical Bollywood style. He is aggressive and muted at the same time. So he went ahead and called the US the “occupation” force in Iraq. The official spokesperson couldn’t have managed that because that’s not the official Indian position.

That brings me to a recent National Interest piece written by Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta. He has ripped apart the external affairs ministry’s handling of the Iraq hostage situation and E. Ahmed’s Main Hoon Na mentality. Must read. Click here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Failure of Imagination

The 9/11 Commission Report has said what the world already knew. It was a failure of intelligence and a bigger failure of imagination. We in India have been spared the catastrophe but the twin failures refused to spare us.

The Trust goes down: No one talked about it till the Reserve Bank of India started talking. Global Trust Bank, one of the major private bankers, was about to collapse but there was no apparent run-up to the collapse. It came all of a sudden and the Indian media was caught napping. Are a bank's liquidity and transaction such secret things that no one smells the smoke until the place is up in flames? So much for transparency.

Bill ki baatein: One chief minister of the Indian state drafts a bill, that threatens India's federal structure, and presents it in the Assembly and the nation knows when it's passed and becomes an Act. We have a massive intelligence apparatus working under home ministry and the ministry is clueless about a proposed law that has the potential to disturb the order in large parts of the country. Is Intelligence Bureau really an oxymoron?

Never Soren-der: A Union Cabinet minister is not your average anonymous criminal that he can hide under the Old Yamuna Bridge for 10 days and surface after his plea comes through. Mr Shibu Soren is a known and recognised figure. He goes missing and no one has a clue where he is. Is he alive? Has he been kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents and held hostage in Fallujah? Pick your question. We still don't know where that man is. The Prime Minister writes letters to him without knowing his address. He does not come out to say the least: I'm innocent. Is it the end of innocence?

Rain, Rain, Say again! The rain gods must be crazy. When it rains it pours in Assam and Bihar. The Meteorological Department has satellites up there tracking monsoon and its behaviour. And their guess was a normal monsoon once again. Now it's been normal in just about one fourth of the land. Elsewhere, it's calamity. Is it failure of intelligence? Is it failure of imagination? Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal says it's the failure of equipment. Take your pick.

Laloo ka Prasad: Shri Laloo Prasad, oh sorry, Lalu Prasad is the president of the party that rules Bihar. His wife is the chief minister of a state most of which has been under water for a fortnight. So where is the intelligence failure in this? Well, nobody expects intelligence from Mr Prasad, much less from his wife. But people continue asking him questions about floods knowing that he's the funny man of Indian politics. He has got a sense of humour and he is the king of nonsense. The unfortunate dying for relief get a fatherly rebuke and reporters get their byte. This is not flood. Mother Ganga has visited your house, worship her, and don't crib. These floods are good. Now even the backward caste and minority community people can have rare fish, a rare delicacy. More floods, more fish. Excellent. Sheer intelligence on Laloo's oh sorry Lalu's part and a failure of imagination on our part.