Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Advice to Live By

Some of them are common, so you have the right to skip them and appreciate the rest. Forwarded by Nardeep Singh Dahiya.

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors, and miss.

Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

Eat a live toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.

If life gives you lemons, squeeze the juice into a water gun and shoot other people in the eyes.

If you're not part of the solution, be part of the problem!

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you can't beat your computer at chess, try kick boxing.

If you try and don't succeed, cheat. Repeat until caught. Then lie.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Never buy a car you can't push.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don't have a leg to stand on.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.

There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a Suitable application of high explosives.

When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

A day without sunshine is like, night.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

Honk if you love peace and quiet.

Remember half the people you know are below average.

Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?

Nothing is fool-proof to a talented fool.

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

He who laughs last thinks slowest.

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.

I intend to live forever - so far so good.

Borrow money from a pessimist - they don't expect it back.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

My mind is like a steel trap - rusty and illegal in 37 states.

Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of.

The only substitute for good manners is fast reflexes.

Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.

When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane and going the wrong way.

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.

The colder the x-ray table the more of your body is required on it.

The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.

The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.

Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

Two wrongs are only the beginning.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

The sooner you fall behind the more time you'll have to catch up.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Change is inevitable except from vending machines.

Plan to be spontaneous - tomorrow.

Always try to be modest and be proud of it!

If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand...

Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving isn't for you.

Laloo Yadav, Prime Minister?

These are interesting times, friends. Whenever elections are round the corner, political bogies take the centrestage. Anyway aren't we sick of "Will-Rahul-Priyanka-join-politics" bogie?

Mama Sonia hasn't said anything yet. Priyanka Vadra nee Gandhi hasn't said anything yet. Rahul Gandhi hasn't said anything yet. Ekdum mummy par gaye hain. So who's talking? Youth Congress leaders. Youth find youth leaders attractive. They are nearly sure Sonia and Ambika Soni do not have the sex appeal that a Priyanka or a Rahul guarantees.

So can Rahul or Priyanka change the Congress' fortunes? On the face of it, yes. Anyone can give hope to a party, which still can't figure out how to fight Good Old Vajpayee's shining new charisma. Even if you forget the foreign origin for a moment, Sonia Gandhi still isn't anywhere near Vajpayee when it comes to leadership.

Her coalition is getting in place but who'll lead the colaition is still not decided. The Congress vows to her leadership. TV byte experts from her own party and her allies repeat that the Prime Ministerial candidate will be decided by the coalition after the elections. Some of them say any leader from the alliance can become Prime Minister, once the coalition wins a majority.

That's exactly the problem. The voter needs to know who that anyone is. He or she would feel secure about the country's future while voting for the coalition. Democracy is not a betting game. At a crucial juncture like today when India is poised to really shine, the voter would not like to take chances. And when it comes to chances, Laloo Prasad Yadav, a founding member of Sonia's coalition, could also become Prime Minister. There is a danger, right? I call it danger because we have seen where Bihar has gone during his rule.

P.S. If Rahul becomes Congress' leader and god forbid something happens to him, the Congress will have another foreign origin issue to deal with. His girlfriend is Colombian.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Too Fat to Fly: Court allows Indian Airlines to drop hostess

Indian Airlines has been rid off Airhostess Nipa Dhar. The IA had been hauling an additional 10 kg in the flights she used to welcome passengers. She did nothing about the non-radial tyres accumulating around her waist.

In September last year, the airline decided to not allow that extra baggage in the cabin and terminated her service. She was 37 and airhostesses retire at 54, so she went to court against the premature termination.

Justice Girish Chandra Gupta of the Calcutta High Court agreed with the airline’s contention that the condition of the appointment made it clear an airhostess was to maintain the specified dress, health and weight code.

Besides Nipa Dhar was warned by the airline in 2001, when she was overweight by 10 kg. She was offered a ground job, but she wanted to be an airhostess knowing that if she continued growing in the profession she block the aisle.

Dhar should have woken up early and tried smelling the coffee. Trim ’em is the new business mantra. Parliament passed a bill recently, which limits the number of minister in a council of minister, in the states. So many ministers in many states are losing jobs in the next few months.

Government departments and companies have offered attractive Voluntary Retirement Schemes (VRS) to its employees. Most private corporations have decided to keep it slim.

Government-owned Indian Airlines and Air-India are also in the same process of getting rid of the flab. They have been in the red for ages because they have just too many employees. And too many have little work to do but accumulate fat.

I don't blame her. Less physical work and no exercise makes one a fat boy. If Nipa saw me in my bay here, she would say: "You are fat too." Well, I am not an air hostess.

Chandigarh Ke Sholay

I grew up with Sholay playing on the tape recorder of the village pan shop. Years before I actually saw the film. Sholay is an unprecedented film in Indian film’s history in the sense that its complete soundtrack, not just songs, was playing in the remotest corners of the country. All of us in my school knew the dialogues. It was a magic films of later years have not been able to recreate.

One of the 'dialogues' I was particularly fascinated with was “Jail Mein Surang (Tunnel in my jail)” uttered by a funny jailer who was proud to be a jailer from the time of the Raj. “Hum Angrez Ke Jamaane Ke Jailer Hain!

Two criminals are planning to escape and they do, even without digging the tunnel the jailer suspects they are digging. The jailer is not only funny but also stupid. We have all grown up with that Jail Mein Surang story, but we haven’t learnt anything.

Yesterday, three men, standing trial in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and another inmate made, escaped by digging a nearly 100 feet-long tunnel in the high security Burail Jail in Chandigarh.
High security jail, huh?

The jail police discovered it today morning when the staff did not find the three accused and their helper in their barracks.

A report said the three — Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh — and their helper Ved Singh had to break through a multi-tier security cordon sometime after the check last night.

Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hopes that the four would soon be back in the jail. Well, Good Luck Mr Singh, but till the time they are catch the Sholay DVD and watch it again. It's fun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Which party were you born in?

Whoever said ignorance is bliss was blissfully ignorant of the age-old itch to know. We all have been blessed with that itch and when it itches you forget the world till you get the answer to the question itching in the back of your mind.

My latest itch is to know what party I was born into. And it’s killing me.

Learned legal eagle and honourable Congress Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi has said that Rahul Gandhi and
Priyanka Vadra were in the party by birth. “Though they have not formally joined it,” he told reporters in Delhi today.

And all this while I thought I knew about who I am. Mr Singhvi’s statement made me completely itchy and itchingly incomplete, as I don’t know even the basics about my own self. I know I’m an Indian by birth, the horoscope says I am of Vatsa gotra, born in Sanatan Dharma (popularly known as Hindu), but I don’t know which political party I am in by birth.

I called up and asked my dad. He said he didn’t know. My mom too has no idea what party would I be in by birth. They pretty much didn’t know about themselves and their parents, my grandparents.

One of my uncles is a Congressman but uncles apparently don’t matter. Arun Nehru, one of Rahul’s uncles, was in the Janata Dal, but Rahul as Singhvi says was born in the Congress. One of his aunts has given birth to a political party and her son, Rahul's cousin, was born in that. Aunts too don’t matter.

Feeling disgusted, I called up my friend Veeru and asked him whether he knew what party he was in by birth. He had no idea as he was born into an Army family. “Army, I suppose,” he said.

One by one I called up all my friends and barring two, none of them knew what party he/she belonged to by birth. Are we all bastards of the political system? Do we have no roots in the country’s political field?

The feeling that I may be one of the ‘political bastards’, with no trace of my political gene pool. Simply being an Indian may not be enough. It’s a democracy and democracy is the rule of the people through political parties. And voting for a party is not enough; you have to be born in one. And my god, I have no idea.

What if Singhvi becomes the law minister and Sonia Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister and decides to enact a law where we might be asked our janam patri for our janam party. I am no Rahul Gandhi for whom the question doesn’t arise.

“I don’t think this question arises for persons who are born in the party... Persons who have lived in the party and whose parents and grandparents have been in the party... They are in the party from their birth,” Singhvi has already told the media, and assured Rahul and Priyanka that they need not worry.

My friend Veeru said I too should not worry. “At least eighty per cent of India has no idea. So don’t worry,” he told me.

Is it true that eighty per cent of us have no claim to be part of the political system where people like Singhvi are? The system where people are born in a political party? They need not join a party. Are most of us ignorant assholes who believe in our democracy that doesn't guarantee you a position before you prove you are worth it? Are we a nation of political bastards with no idea which party we are born to be in?

But I am still confused about Singhvi? He is in the BJP by birth but is a Congress spokesman. What does that make him? Well, I seem to have no idea about anything at all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Kaun Sachcha Kaun Jhoota?

Popstar Daler Mehndi will appear before court on January 31. Aah!

Michael Jackson has been accused of paedophilia. His fans don't believe that a great singer-songwriter like him can indulge in criminal activity.

Fans, we know, are not known for believing anything but the one they are fans of. The fan at home believes in only me.
Try switching it on, it doesn't move. It trusts me to give it a twirl with a pencil. It responds. The pencil has never been used to do what it's been made to do. It's made to do what it does. But this is not about the pencil. This is not about the fan either. This is about a singer I am not a fan of. This is not about Michael Jackson.

This is about Daler Mehndi, who gave us catchy phrases like Dardi Rab Rab Kardi (I'm scared, God!) and Bolo Tara Ra Ra Ra (Say Tara, Ra Ra). This is about the man who helped us learn a new word: kabootarbaazi which doesn't mean flying pigeons, but sending people abroad illegally.

He was accused of helping people migrate illegally. People filed FIRs against him for not honouring the deals — taking lakhs of rupees but not taking them abroad as part of his dance troupe. Police said many had gone with him as members of his bhangra party and never came back.

We believed the police. When he came to appear before the Patiala police, protesters threw eggs at him. Daler said police stripped and beat him. Police said he was lying. We believed the police. Daler jumped bail. He was absconding with the Punjab police after his life, wife and family.

Newspapers and News channels revealed more and more victims of Daler Mehndi's immigration racket. The kabootars (pigeons) were singing on TV channels. We believed the kabootars.

Daler Mehndi, from his hideouts, cried the police was framing him. He said senior Patiala cops were trying to extort money from him. We did not believe him. He was a bloody kabootarbaz (immigration racketeer). As a singer, he was past. A singer, who was definitely past his prime, was pleading innocence. Big Deal. We wanted the police to bring him to book. Law must take its own course.

A month and a half later, police says he is innocent. That there was no evidence. Newspapers say the crowds that protested against him were sponsored by Patiala police. The eggs they threw at Daler were not the only thing the police had given them. The crowds were given omelettes to eat.

The kabootars are not visible. Punjab Police is now investigating the police officers who "framed" Daler. Should we believe the police? Or should we believe Daler.

Was Daler charged for he didn't pay the bribe? Or was he declared innocent because he paid up? Do we believe in God? Should we believe in the government?

Monday, January 19, 2004

To The Moon, To The Moon

I got worried after hearing the news about how India was racing.towards the moon I hadn't even packed.

"India is going to the moon and I'm going to office. How stupid!" I chided myself.

The newscaster on FM was excited about all this and I was scared I might be left behind.

"Calm down. No need to pack. The whole country is going so your stuff will come along," I told myself. I got my nerves back. And the smile too as I could see in the rear-view mirror.

"Thank you Vajpayeeji, you are the first Prime Minister who thought of India going to the moon," I told Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was smiling at me from the hoarding across the red light. Did he notice my smile? I am sure he did.

"Are we taking Pakistan along?" I asked Veeru, my friend, over the phone.

"Where?" he asked.

"Where we are going." I said.

"Where are we going?" Veeru said, with a hiss of irritation.

"You don't know? I thought you would know. I thought everybody would know since everybody is going," I explained it to him.

"Where is everybody? Where are they going?" he continued, the hiss a bit louder.

"To moon. To moon," I was proud to give him the answer.

"Which moon? Who all?" Veeru screamed, without telling me he was losing patience.

"Moon. India is going to the moon. Are we taking Pakistan along?"

"What nonsense?"

"Aren't you coming along? Lets go together. I might get bored."

"What nonsense? You are lunatic."

"Not before we go to the moon. Then we all will be lunatic. I was anyway getting tired of being an earthling, ha ha!" I told him before telling myself how I loved my sense of humour.

"You are a lunatic. Where were you last night? Are you okay? Call me when you reach home. Ok?"

"But I am going to office."

"Then why are you talking like that?"

"Talking like what?"

"Like going to the moon, man."

"Aren't we going?"

"Who says we are going?"

"The radio. The News on the radio. The man reading the news on the radio."

"Which radio?"

"All India Radio."

"What did they say?"

"They said India is racing towards the moon."

"That's old news."

"Then why aren't you coming?"



"Uff... cut it. Indians aren't going to the moon. We'll send a probe. That too will happen much later. I can't believe you are talking about going there."

"Going where?"

"To moon."

"But you said you aren't coming," I told him before he hung up and I heard a knock on the sidescreen.

"Baahar aao," a cop ordered as we were already on the moon.

"Ek Hazaar (one thousand rupees). For obstructing traffic and talking on phone," he informed me.

I was back on earth. In Delhi. The traffic light had turned green. Fellow drivers were honking my brains out. I was escorted by the officer to the side where the No Waiting, No Stopping sign stood. I was told to stop. I stopped. Refused to bribe. Took the challan. And started off for my office.

On the next redlight, I found Vajpayeeji smiling at me from another hoarding. He didn't wink but the smile was a telling one: I fooled you!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

IITinker, therefore IIM: Joshi does it again

Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are two Indian brands that the world respects.

Graduate from any of these institutes are considered the best brains, across the globe. These graduates in fact go on to lead big multinational companies and are pioneers in their own fields. All of India minus one man is proud of them.

That one man is Murli Manohar Joshi, the HR Manager of India Inc. The Human Resources Development Minister canes the two institutions at every opportunity he gets.

Joshi, a not-so-distinguished professor of physics and a distinguished politician, wants to control IITs and IIMs. In spite of being Indian government enterprises, these institutions have remained somewhat autonomous.

He has met with fierce reactions from the institutes and their illustrious alumni. But the man is unstoppable. The latest is that he wants the IIMs to forget copying Western Marketing Mantras and follow the ancient Indian marketing style that made India sone ki chiriya.

Joshi is also predictable. Here are the suggestions he would put forward for IITs and IIMs at the functions he attends next.

IITs aren't moving
IITs are wasting crores of rupees on automobile research while our ancient texts have detailed simple, pollution-free ways of transport: bullock carts.

The bullocks eat grass and turn it into fertiliser, which helps grass to grow back to be eaten by the bullock again. If you leave their occasion wind-breaking aside, no form of gaseous pollution has been recorded. I have seen one car being revamped and relaunched six times in a year.

But the last technological advancement the bullock cart has gone through was in the last century. This is callous. If the IITs cannot take leverage from the inventions by our forefathers, they will end up working on machines developed by the West and the Far East.

IIMs are moving fast
IIMs need to revamp their Western management-inspired syllabus and do something that benefits India. The government had set up the IIMs with a view to develop tools and managers who can manage the country.

What they have ended up doing is producing managers for Western companies. To avoid brain drain, we have to train managers in Indian management only, people who have no use in say America.

We in India manage things. We manage government officers, we manage a place in the cricket team, we manage Common Admission Test papers, we manage everything. But these IIM graduates have no idea of our Indian managing techniques.

They need training from professors like Abdul Karim Telgi, who managed hundreds of police officers, and his company showed profits of Rs 30,000 crore in the last audit.

How to be bigger, better and richer in 5 minutes

I wondered what is that in Information Technology that makes S.M. Krishna, Chandrababu Naidu and everyone else I know go gaga about. I have found that wonder: email. The inbox to be precise. In my inbox, I get personalised advices on how I can change my life.

In the larger interest of the society I would like to share some of them with you.

Dr Conrad Hobbes of California has decided to prescribe me no pill, no capsule, no lotion, no crème, no pump, no exercise and no prescription. Just a patch called Miracle Plaster that I have to stick on my body and my spud will grow into a stud.

I have no idea how they came to know about the length but a “top team of British scientists and medical doctors worked for over 10 years to develop the state-of-the-art Magna-RX Patch delivery system” especially for me which will automatically add four full inches. With absolutely no side-effects.

For effects on the sides Dr Norma Thatcher, MD, suggests her Get Fuller diet. Her email said it was just the right tool I needed.

Dr Velma Johnson, Juanita Talley (no idea whether she is a doctor), Jeremy Dickerson and Machelle Forrest have all emailed me saying how their drugs are better than Viagra and how that’ll make my wife love me more.

Well, I do not have a wife, but I am worried about whether I need it since three doctors and a suspected doctor have suggested I need Cialis.

I am so thankful to Marjorie Yvonne, again from the United States of America, who has promised to solve my Cable TV problems. She has just invented the perfect way to fool the Cable operator — a small pipe-looking thing I need to attach to my TV and hey no cable bills ever, CAS or DTH. Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, I am ready to unleash the power of my digital cable!

There’s more. I would also get my US University Diploma, which will ensure me “a prosperous future, increased earning power, more money and the respect of all.” Good thing is that there are no required tests, classes, books, or interviews!

I can get a Bachelors, Masters, MBA, and Doctorate (Ph.D.) diploma and receive the benefits and admiration that comes with it! Impossible, did you say?

I am sure I’ll get it because “No one is turned down!” This is where we Indians lag behind. We waste so many years mugging textbooks. In the US of A they just call: 1-646-304-8134 (24 hours).

I am soon going to eliminate my “credit card debt without bankruptcy!”
I don’t know how Armand Engle got to know about I being tired of making minimum payments and barely getting by but he has promised in his email that he can terminate my credit card debt without losing my home or any other assets! God bless you, Armand.

And dear friends, family and bank managers, I will soon have enough money to be called a rich man. In fact by the time you finish reading this, I might be richer by $7,520. That’s more than Rs 3,60,000. Wow! But how?

I will quote Jerry’s just-arrived email: “Dear KAMLESH, I will SHOW you in person how it’s done. With TV cameras rolling, my friend HUMILIATED the ‘Experts’ and left 26 sceptical students SPEECHLESS when, LIVE right before their doubting eyes, he slaughtered the Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up Challenge and made $7,520.00 in less than 90 minutes flat.”

I will work for six hours a day and I can make about Rs 4.32 crore a month, which is okay money for a single man.

After being rich, I just need to turn a little younger and my friend Kelly Haynes from Canada has offered to help me. She has sent me at least 10 mails since yesterday promising to make me younger in just 10 days as seen on NBC, CBS, CNN, and even Op Rah (her spelling).

Haynes’ health discovery actually reverses aging while burning fat, without dieting or exercise. This proven discovery has even been reported on by the New England Journal of Medicine. And it’s guaranteed, she says.

And one always thought email was about writing letters to friends. It’s about changing lives. For the better.

I can forget stress and order Prozac from John Big, and the scent that will be friends’ envy courtesy Melissa and lose more weight while I sleep (Thanks George).
If you want to change your life, my friend, just open your inbox, which by the way is exceeding the limit.

Overkill? Kill the thought

Overkill, did we hear? It may sound like that, for underwear is the only thing Mr Bachchan isn’t endorsing at the moment. From pens to polio drops, from cars to colas, real estate to retail banking, TV commercials beam a beaming Bachchan all the time.

The surfeit of Bachchan spots has turned off not only Bachchan-baiters, but also many Bachchan fans. Is the Big B stooping too low for money? Will overexposure kill his career? Are we getting sick of him? Questions, questions and questions.

The answer, my friend, is a Big No. Amitabh Bachchan is getting endorsement deals because he is Amitabh Bachchan. Products love him because people, you and me, love him. Amitabh loves doing these because it means big money.

Money means a lot, and big money means a hell of a lot. And Amitabh Bachchan knows that for he has gone through a hell of a hell because he ran out of money and creditors were running after him. Many crumble under such circumstances. The Man did not.
Superstars have destroyed their lives in times of crises because in their stardom, they forget the spelling of adversity. It spells doom. Failure is bigger for the one whose success has been big.

One step at a time, he has been able to come out of the morass. He has paid his debts back. He’s trying to pump life into his sick, nearly dead, corporation. And it all costs money. His son’s career is in the doldrums.

He’s doing bit roles in films, ads, endorsements, shows, appearances everything that it takes to build a legacy. Apart from being the God that many perceive him to be, he’s also a man with a family. And he’s 62. He doesn’t have many youthful years ahead. He knows he has to retire.

He isn’t retiring like his predecessors Rajesh Khanna and Dilip Kumar did. He is not slipping into oblivion. He’s hot property years after being written off.

Hrithik Roshan decided to do a few ads fearing overexposure would affect his career adversely. Out of sight, he was soon out of mind. Sachin Tendulkar let those fears go for a six, he remains the biggest cricketer in the world.

Amitabh is a survivor; he’s beaten death and bankruptcy. The Amitabh Factor can beat minor factors like too much exposure.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

What about Bihar, Mrs Gandhi?

Congress President Sonia Gandhi met has met Mayawati on her birthday. Both said nothing political was discussed. So what do we believe?

Sonia: "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Maya, happy birthday to you!"
Mayawati: "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Srimati Sonia Gandhiji."

Meeting over. Ha!

Sonia Gandhi is fishing for allies as next Parliamentary elections seem imminent. She has not had much luck in the state that sends 84 members to Parliament. Because Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, that rules Uttar Pradesh, does not want to support her. He cannot support the BJP either. So he's going it alone.

Mayawati, now facing massive corruption charges, is a dalit leader leading a dalit party. If Sonia comes close to her, any chances of getting Mulayam into the fold would fold up.

She has another state in the neighbouring state of Bihar. Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, whose wife proxy-rules the state as chief minister. He's Sonia's long-time ally for nearly a decade, the decade when Mr Yadav has lorded over a state slipping into a chaos.

The state is in pits. There's nothing called law and order. Kidnapping for ransom is the only industry left. Healthcare doesn't exist. Outside Patna, the capital, electricity is news. Roads have disappeared. Education is in tatters. Mr Yadav has achieved this in coalition with Srimati Sonia Gandhi, who aspires to be the Prime Minister of India.

After every loss, her party talks about introspection. Well, Srimati Sonia Gandhiji, it's time. Look at Bihar and you would know you have been a partner in a crime that India mustn't forgive you for. You have supported a government that we Indians know has been let a state and its people slip into dark ages. The Day of Judgment is nigh!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Judeo suspects he is innocent

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union Environment Minister Dilip Singh Judeo suspects that he did not take the money that caused his ouster from the Union Cabinet. The bribery allegations had come in his way to the chief ministership of Chhattisgarh, a tribal state dominated by Judeos.

Three months after a VideoCD showed Mr Judeo accepting wads of cash in a New Delhi hotel room, he told Breaking News yesterday that he saw Ajit Jogi in his dream.

"He was telling me that I did not take money. 'Those were notes I got from Telgi to pass off as real rupees. I fooled you'. Mujhko badnaam karke tera naam nahin hoga, naqli noton se kaam nahin hoga. He lost the election because he was not honest in even bribing. Imagine I am being framed with worthless pieces of paper," said Judeo.

When asked for reaction, former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi said Judeo was seeing things. "How can a dream be true? In fact dreams are false all the time. Look at my dream. I did not just lose my chief ministership but also the Congress membership. I have been kicked out of the door where 100 crore people of India get justice. Now I am worse than an orphan. How can dreams be true?"

But Mr Judeo said Jogi has been lying because he has a strong suspicion even the whiskey he was offered before the money was offered was substandard.

"He thinks I don't know what Chivas Regal tastes like? The bottle said Chivas Regal but inside, I am telling you, it was some spurious liquor. Ya khuda mere is sawaal ka jawaab to de. Note naqli de par asli sharaab to de." He added that had the booze been "of some standard" he would have at least found out whether the currency was fake.

"Will I never let someone videotape me taking fake notes. Yeh Dilip Singh Judeo hai, Telgi nahin. Monchhon ka sawaal hai."

He also sent a warning to all Congressmen that if next time anyone tried giving him fake currency notes, he will refuse to be videotape. "Main camera off kara doonga," he repeated.

However, in Delhi, central BJP leaders said that they felt vindicated. "We did not expel him from the party. From Day One, we have doubts about the authenticity of the VCD. We knew there was something wrong," Party President Venkaiah Naidu told Breaking News.

Party spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the pseudo-secularists have nothing to offer. "Even the notes were pseudo. What do you expect from the Caangace (Congress) party."

Party workers in Chhattisgarh brought out a rally to felicitate Mr Judeo and garlanded him with currency notes, and as real as they can be.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

SONIA and so enough!

You don’t need a political pundit to predict Lok Sabha elections are being preponed. How much I hate the word preponed! But now major dictionaries have adopted it as a valid word after Indians insisted on using it.

Our excuse: if things can be postponed, why can’t they be preponed? The day is not far when we see prehumous (from posthumous) and pre-erior (of posterior) being used and recognised.

Anyway, Lok Sabha elections, euphemistically called the world’s largest democratic festival, are being advanced. And in India festivals are celebrated with traditional pomp and religious fervour. Anyway it must be in the air, because the air gets festive, you must have read.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has hinted at it. Sonia Gandhi is pulling her socks and socking her lieutenants. Mulayam is not doing anything, Laloo is back in Bihar and Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi are swapping partners. These are the signs, my friend that elections will happen in April-May.

So how are you feeling? The ads on TV and in newspapers suggest India is shining and headlines in newspapers regularly blame it on the Feel-Good factor. One political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the leader of the ruling alliance National Democratic Alliance, is particularly feeling much better after it won three of the four states that went to polls late last year.

Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s oldest political party, has not been feeling better. And that is giving me feel Anxious.

I am not a Sonia-supporter; neither do I have any ill feelings for her. All I have is a vested interest in Sonia sweeping it or being swept away.

I do not want her to win enough seats to stake a claim to form a government but not enough to form one. And there’s lies my vested interest. I do not want to be subjected to another headline: SONIA, YET SO FAR. I have had so enough of it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Operator, there's a minister on my Idiot box

NEW DELHI: Now it's the turn of cable TV operators to demand resignation of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Prasad, who was promoted for the good work he had done in earlier ministries, has turned out to be one of the lousiest ministers in the Vajpayee government. And Conditional Access System or CAS is what has him confused and clueless.

He will complete a year in the ministry and not even God knows what he has on his mind, since all he has done is the job of a Misinformation Minister Narrowcasting his ministry's responsibilities according to political temperature.

His latest victims are TV viewers in South Delhi. They have no idea whether to buy the set-top box necessary in CAS regime or wait till Prasad figures its future.

Cable operators, who may be his next victim, are threatening to knock at the court's door if Prasad uses an ordinance to scrap the system. He needs an ordinance because CAS was implemented in South Delhi only after the Delhi High Court ordered so.

Cable operators who have spent about Rs 500 crore on buying set-top boxes say they can't bear the brunt of V.K. Malhotra's grunts. Malhotra, a member of Prasad party BJP, is the member of Parliament from South Delhi. Next elections are well not very far, as Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has indicated. He is twisting Prasad's little arms to scrap, lest it should fail and dent his vote bank.

Cable operators say if CAS is withdrawn, the cable bill in South Delhi is going to cross the dreadful Rs 600 mark. They blame both the government (for inaction) and the broadcasters (for hiking rates all the time).

Hathway, Siticable and other independent cable operators' unions say Ravi Shankar Prasad's utterings about scrapping CAS is a scam, a "reverse scam".

Roop Sharma, president of a cable group, said the government was favouring broadcasters, by not setting up a regulator (Interim broadcast regulator soon
), who can determine individual and bouquet prices for pay channels and check advertising.

That the I&B ministry has no clue in hell was clear from their "dissatisfaction" with the field report submitted by the Delhi government. The ministry had asked the state government to file a report on how CAS was being implemented in South Delhi. It hoped that a negative report would provide enough excuse for an ordinance to override the court order.

Cable operator Vikki Chaudhary is pissed about the government's inaction towards broadcasters. He said the government was doing nothing about what he termed as "predatory pricing" by pay channels. This forces consumers to buy the entire bouquet, which is just a tad costlier than one channel.

Chaudhary advised against buying a set-top box. Not yet. "Let broadcasters realise their fault and soon several pay channels will become free to air, like it happened in Chennai," he said. But who'll tell that to Prasad? But who'll tell that to Malhotra?

Mr Bond, Kiss my Ash: Rai says she won't have sex on screen

Ash sets terms for Bond flick : HindustanTimes.com. The latest development as filed by our Nevada bureau chief.

By James Donb

Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, who plays James Bond in the 007 series, is rejoiced after Indian screen goddess Aishwarya Rai suggested producers find a body double for the inevitable steamy sex scene.

He said he was happy just acting against Ms Rai, as the latter, a really serious actress, is known to live her character and get serious. Mr Brosnan is married and has children from Kelly Shaye-Smith.

Miss Rai, in an interview to an Indian news agency, had said she was ready to act in the next Bond film if she was not made to do the sex scene, where James Bond always uses a third object, ice cube being the most regular accessory. No going all the way on screen.

Miss Rai is vulnerable to common cold, her publicist told a newspaper. But a source in the Mumbai film industry said Ms Rai did not want to show too much skin. Last time she did was at the Cannes film festival and people could see beyond her skin, the accumulation of fat had her dress gasping for breath.

Anyway, Mr Brosnan expressed relief at the news. He uses a satellite phone, and his service provider charges some really big amount (he did not want to disclose) for every minute, incoming or outgoing. It would be relevant here to note that Salman Khan, a Bollywood actor, calls up Aishwarya’s co-stars over 40 times in one night, if the actress gets “close” to the said co-star.

But our Hollywood sources have confirmed that Mr Brosnan would have felt ticklish doing a steamy scene with Ms Rai, especially after Halle Berry who’s nearly skinny.

The recent controversy has however freshly reminded people in India about the existence of Ms Rai. Public memory is said to have a short span in India where one Saarc summit wipes the bloodstains of 100 massacres off the mindsapce.

Her refusal to do a sex scene with Pierce Brosnan has brought her back into news, though just a couple of newspapers agreed to waste two columns.

One question has never been answered: Eon Productions, the producers of the Bond movies based on Ian Fleming’s detective, has never accepted that they are even talking to Ms Rai.

“Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is said to be keen to cast a Bollywood actress to increase Bond's appeal in Asia,” reports say. And the reports add that two other beauty queens Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta were also being considered. The other two have not rejected the possibility of sex scenes with Brosnan, which is a good news for the two beauty queen-turned-actresses.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Nuke pinch: Pak programme leaks so much, it stinks

A New York Times report"From Rogue Nuclear Programs, Web of Trails Leads to Pakistan" — now nearly confirms that Pakistan is the current fountainhead of nuclear proliferation in the world. Nothing new for those keeping a track of the nuke tech leakage from Kahuta, but it is interesting to see the mainstream American media seeing truth in what has not been a secret.

We remember last time NYT did a story on how nuclear technology was transferred to North Korea at the peak of American assault on Afghan Taliban.

But this time it's serious because the report suggests the technology and equipment have had midway stops like Dubai. As in the case of Libya, the deadly nuke knowledge and material changed many hands to reach Tripoli. The report says all this was happening behind the Pakistani government's back.

What's the guarantee that the middlemen haven't kept a copy? What's the guarantee that it has not reached the al-Qaida? For now, the world has its fingers crossed.

The focus is on the father of Pakistani nuclear programme, A.Q. Khan, who might have illegitimately fathered a few dirty bombs being nurtured in terrorist cells in the area. The danger is not clear but it's present. The Pakistani government, even though not democratically elected, has been a responsible government but has had no control over the irresponsible elements within and outside the government.

Now that the threat is taking nuclear proportions, Pakistan and its allies, that includes the United States, would have to answer to the world how would the contain the threat if it's not in the hands of a rogue regime they can overthrow or replace. What if it has fallen in the hands of rogues who have kept the world on its toes since September the 11th two years ago.

Time and again, we have heard Osama on TV announcing that the next attack would be beyond America's imagination. What is it?

Minister, there's a idiot in my box

All is well that bends well for Ravi Shankar Prasad, the information and broadcasting minister of India.

Year 2003 began with promises of Conditional Access System (CAS) implemented in four Metros — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Prasad began his stint as I&B Minister in February last year with promises to keep up the good work on CAS his predecessor had done.

He talked like a man with a vision. Year 2004 has begun with Prasad going back on his words. He is talking like a man who never had a vision, nor shame. In the process, people bought expensive set-top boxes in Chennai and now South Delhi, they don't know what do with.

Last time he deferred CAS in Delhi for months, because he wanted his party, the BJP, to not suffer in the Assembly Elections lest the experiment should fail. This time he's scrapping it again for sake of Lok Sabha elections. Last time he couldn't stand up against Madan Lal Khurana. This time he forgot he has a spine as a much smaller V.K. Malhotra threw some tantrums.

He's left a mess on the Indian TV scene. A bigger problem is he'll remain I&B Minister for some time. God know what other lousy stunt he has up his lousy sleeve.

MSOs and large cable operators have acquired over 200,000 set top boxes and invested over Rs 400 crore on CAS infrastructure. Some 20,000 homes in South Delhi have bought those boxes, nearly 100,000 in Chennai.

Prasad says the experiment has not succeeded. Who's he bullshitting? The government had set up a task force a year ago to look into the process of implementing the system.

Last time broadcasters, MSOs, Cable Operators all had series of meetings among themselves and with Mr Prasad's ministry and agreed to implement the system. They fought and fixed rates and responsibility. Everything was going just right.

Until Mr Prasad began bending backwards. CAS was implemented in Chennai, only Chennai. They didn't take to it initially because they could see the fraud. Or rather a practical joke played on them.

Bal Thackeray told him not to implement in Mumbai, so he said okay. The West Bengal government said no not in Kolkata. He said okay.

An Act by Parliament of India was being kicked around like a football in big political field. Any Tom, Dick and Khurana could score a goal. The lawyer from Patna wouldn't even argue.

We are at the mercy of the cablewallas, we have no control over. One area has one cable operator. We watch whatever he offers, pay whatever he demands, we survive the lousy picture and sound quality (monoaural, not even stereo) on our latest digital TV sets.

He hikes his rates whenever he likes. And most of what we pay for pay channels doesn't reach the broadcasters. Most of the entertainment tax we pay doesn't reach the government. It adds to the guy's muscle. He rules. So much so that in case of competition, we see bloodshed. Just the other day, a cable operator was shot dead for challenging someone else's monopoly in an area in Hyderabad.

We have no choice. We'll never have, till we learn to adopt new technology and kick lousy leaders in their ass.