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.