Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Home Minister is so intelligent, he puts George Bush to shame

After 9/11, George Bush vowed that there would be no terrorist attack on the American soil, that terrorists would not be allowed to come and kill American citizens. So he sent thousands of American citizens to die elsewhere. In Iraq and Afghanistan. That's how intelligent he is. No single attack on American soil.

India’s sophisticated, suave and intelligent home minister Shivraj Patil has time and again proved that he possesses a great mind, almost twice the size of that of the President of United States, which by the way is the greatest democracy in the world. According to Patil, India, too is a democracy and not saamantshahi, which means feudalism. He said this in reference to Vasundhara Raje’s remarks that Patil had not helped the state in stopping the influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Patil believes in the rule of the people, where they come from does not matter.
But his greatness does not lie in that truth. The truth of his greatness lies in his equal love for people from the other side of the border. Pakistanis are now sitting across the table with Indians in Islamabad to discuss Kashmir, militancy and Sarabjit Sngh. Singh has been on the death row there and India has been requesting Pakistan to not hang him because his is a case of mistaken identity.

Another man is on death row in India, convicted in the Parliament attack case. His hanging has been hanging in balance for many years now as Patil and his government battle imaginary ghosts of Muslim backlash. The presumption that Indian Muslims sympathise with a terrorist is an insult to the common Indian Muslim, but then Patil wouldn’t know that.

What Patil knows is gifting an ace to Islamabad after Indians thought all cards are open on the negotiation table. But now Patil’s faster-than-Intel processor brain has had a wave: If you insist on Afzal hanging, Sarabjit would die. Now no Indian wants Sarabjit to die. So he has killed three birds with one stone? Put India’s foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee in a spot in Islamabad, silenced those Indians who have been hankering for Afzal’s head and gave Pakistan a handle it was looking for in Sarabjit case.

“In Pakistan, we say don't hang Sarabjit and here we say hang Afzal?” thus spake the minister in bespoke bandhgala. If Sarabjit has to live, Afzal must not die.
Now people jealous of his ridiculously sharp mind are criticising the home minister’s linking of Sarabjit-Afzal hanging cases, saying he’s mad to compare apples with oranges.

How can they criticise the home minister here but not criticise the home minister of Pakistan? It’s such a simple thing they do not know, these BJP people and some newspapers including this newspaper.

So next time Indians demand the removal of Home Minister Shivraj Patil, they will also have to demand the removal of Pakistani home minister, who is also the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani. Else, our eloquent and extremely sharp Home Minister Shivraj Patil will rebuke them with: “People are saying that remove the home minister here, and then they are saying why remove the home minister there... this is not fair,”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thackeray's surname stinks of hypocrisy. It should be spelt as Thakre, the Marathi way

Numbed by Raj Thackeray’s rise, Shiv Sena is as clueless as those bimbos in blonde jokes. Only that these bimbos are not funny because they form a zombie army ready to rise and whine within seconds of a signal from Dadar.

Since Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has appropriated the plank of Marathi pride and every kind of assholism that Shiv Sena treated as its intellectual property, Sainiks are back scavenging for ideas in the detritus of dirty tricks dumped by Balasaaheb when he rode rough through Mumbai’s conscience for nearly three decades. Last week, Sainiks found an old, over-used trick called “Bombay To Mumbai In 10 minutes Flat.” Since Bombay turned Mumbai a long time ago, it was time to remove the word Bombay from our dictionary.

They splattered a publicity sign of textile brand Bombay Dyeing, which for God’s sake, is a brand name which does not belong to the city. It takes a lot to build a brand and cannot be changed because a political party hopes this change could change its electoral fortune. Next, they would want customs department to replace the label of Bombay Sapphire gin with that of Mumbai Sapphire. Sainiks vandalised the school Bombay Scottish and painted Mumbai Scottish on its walls. They betrayed their hidden hatred for one of their own. Raj Thackeray’s son went to Bombay Scottish, so did children of many other politicians who want Marathi kids to study in Marathi-medium schools. But that’s another story.

Then they went on to demand Bombay Stock Exchange be renamed Mumbai Stock Exchange, ombay High Court Mumbai High Court.

Sainiks also burned copies of Bombay Times, Times of India’s Mumbai city supplement. Their ire and fire was misplaced as even Bombay Times is datelined Mumbai and, like Bombay Dyeing, is a brand name; a masthead that came into being much before Mumbai came into circulation. But then Sainiks have never understood or believed in reason.

We have seen Bangalore, modern India’s brightest brand (one that went on to become a verb in the English language) turning into Bengaluru, Madras into Chennai and Calcutta into Kolkata. Most of these changes have been smooth, even if some people were not comfortable with this superfluous, mostly politically motivated idea of change. But no one ever forced New Calcutta Tailors to change to New Kolkata Tailor, or Madras Café to Chennai Café, or Bangalore Software Systems to Bengaluru Software Systems. Mostly because few cities in India have ochlocratic sick Sainiks.
That last name change: Orissa has become Odisha, thanks to Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, who could hardly pronounce Odisha or any other Oriya word till just a couple of years ago.

Charity begins at home. Amid this foofaraw of Mumbai getting messed up in this battle between two Senas, may I suggest a change beginning from the Thackeray home? Why not change the anglicised Thackeray to Thakre. After all, the main argument for changing Bombay to Mumbai has been a revitalised reassertion of Marathi pride and removal of the relics of Anglicisation of our culture. Thackeray is to Thakre what Bombay is to Mumbai. So dear Thackerays, become Thakres or sod off.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Anbu gets the Supreme Slap. Good!

On Thursday morning, newspapers carried a report about how India fell behind strife-torn countries like Ghana and Eritrea in providing healthcare to children. It was a tight slap on our long-held claim to being an emerging superpower. Consecutive governments have allotted meagre amounts to healthcare, especially rural healthcare, and watched as even that was palmed off by middlemen, corrupt officials and politicians. In urban areas, healthcare is dominated by private hospitals and is increasingly becoming out of reach of even the middle classes.

It is in such delicate times that a man called Anbumani Ramadoss took over as Health Minister and his publicity gimmicks scared the nation. Instead of ensuring spread of affordable healthcare to every individual, he went after individuals like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan because they smoked or drank or ate potato chips on screen. These were rubbished by all as antics of a desperate publicity seeker. But his one act of rank assholism shall remain etched in history as the man almost caused a conflict between Parliament and the Supreme Court. Thank the Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, India thanked God for the Supreme Court as its judgment on Dr P. Venugopal, the sacked director of AIIMS, signified more than just his reinstatement in the director’s chair. It showed that if one wayward, parochial, prejudiced and anal-retentive politician can force the ruling coalition to bring in a law to remove a doctor from his chair, then the courts, and our Constitution, can stand by a man who might seem too weak to take on a government. It signified that one pillar of democracy cannot behave like it owns the building.

It is not necessary to love P. Venugopal and side with him in this case. It’s not necessary to hate Ramadoss either. But the sad facts of this sordid drama show that the egotist minister wanted Venugopal out at any cost. He did not even wait till the courts gave their verdict. Fearing the judicial verdict may go in Venugopal’s favour, he brought in a bill in Parliament. The bill was passed because the ruling coalition did not want to embarrass itself by not voting for it. The President signed it late in the evening and in two hours, he removed Venugopal from his chair. Barely months before the cardiac surgeon was to retire, the minister defenestrated him.

Complaining about brain drain is all fine, but if this is the way we treat icons, and professionally Dr Venugopal is certainly an icon, we should just forget about doctors staying on in public hospitals. Dr Venugopal’s hostility towards Ramadoss is understandable because Ramadoss had brought the Tamil Nadu caste war to the heart of India’s premier medical institutions. Dr Venugopal’s overt and covert support to the anti-quota resident doctors widened the rift. What was plain shameful was the distance Ramadoss was ready to go in this battle. Thursday’s judgment shows he went a little too far.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rama don't preach

The health minister wants you to be healthy, wealthy and wise. According to the latest Alcohol Atlas he released on Tuesday, urban Indians spend as much as 32 per cent of their income on boozing. The figure for rural India is about 24 per cent. Alcohol is anyway related to so many diseases, so a life minus alcohol will be healthy. Alcohol also affects your brain and affects the parts of brain which act as memory cards. So if you don’t drink, you may end up wiser. So Ramadoss wants to save your wealth, health and wisdom.

What he won’t save you from is the man himself. The doctor from Tamil Nadu is on a mission to drive us crazy. When large parts of rural India do not have access to a basic health centre, he has been fighting imaginary evils like smoking in films, an IPL team named after a whisky brand, junk food and the administrators of AIIMS.
At this point in time, half of India cannot afford dal-rice thanks to prices hitting the roof. But guess what occupies the minister’s mind? A minuscule number of rich Indian kids having a burger or two after school. We have had unhygienic junk food like samosas and kachoris at roadside stalls where house flies are often part of the filling. All deep fried in same adulterated oil in the same kadhai for days on end. The chef and the servers all dressed in white ganjis untouched by detergent powder till they melt into their skin. But that’s the junk food that the poor in India have and Ramadoss doesn’t bother about it. It doesn’t get him the kind of publicity that attacking a Shah Rukh Khan does.

What gets his goat is filmi protagonists drinking on screen. He gave another self-righteous lecture to Bollywood on Tuesday while sipping water from a mineral water bottle. He also lectured people about the ill-effects of liquor. It’s a different matter that the likes of the Righteous Ramadoss have failed to provide clean drinking water to majority of people in the last 60 years.

Gandhiji lectured us about ill-effects of alcohol but Ramadoss is no Gandhi. Gandhi lived by what he preached. Gandhi did not play one caste against another. Gandhi did not lead the five-star life Ramadoss lives. Gandhi did not have double-standards like the joke called excise department.

If alcohol is bad, why not ban it? Why should the government make money out of selling alcohol and then its ministers lecture us about the ill-effects of drinking. Babus make profit from selling booze and then also get cuts in producing films and other propaganda denouncing alcohol as the root of all evil.

Ramadoss wants all surrogate advertising banned. What about the surrogate prostitution of policies, dear health minister? Since you have the messianic zeal to fight the evil spirit, stand up in the next Cabinet meeting and demand a complete ban on spirits, cigarettes, smoking and drinking in films, filmstars eating junk food etc etc. And just watch the reaction of your Cabinet colleagues. If you can’t do that, don’t play a joker. Please.