Guess who suddenly learnt that creating hysteria and mouthing hyperbole is not the right way to go about correcting wrongs.
Arundhati Roy in the latest interview here to the BBC clearly has grown a lot mentally since the Tejpal phenomenon. I have never heard her say anything so very calm and composed.
Q: What was your reaction when you first heard about the accusations against Tarun Tejpal, as someone who knows him and is familiar with Tehelka?
A: Heartbreak. I think all of us are already braced for what we know is going to be mass hysteria in the media in which everybody is just not given time or place to think.
The fact is that what has been alleged against him is a pretty serious crime and you do have to admire the fact that a young colleague did have the courage to stand up and say what happened to her which isn’t normally the case.
Yet, because of what happened in the [Delhi] gang rape last December, there is a lynch mob that is howling in a maximalist way. I think what we miss is a real addressing of the problem. On the one hand we are talking about sexual harassment, molestation and rape being a phenomenon which very many women go through. Is this media hysteria going to address the problem?
Women have fought for the expansion of the legal definition of rape and I think that is a work in progress.
It is an un-nuanced law – some parts are good and some are draconian.
By expanding the law and cranking up the punishment what you are getting is a lynch mob after a few high-profile cases – but the phenomenon is not being addressed.
Q: Are you suggesting that this is an issue that the law cannot completely address?
A: I’m partly suggesting that. There has to be an institutionalised way of addressing this which cannot just be crude. Everyone cannot be sentenced to death or life in prison or hounded in the public eye. We need to calibrate our responses, calm down and think about it a bit.
It seems as if she has also developed a new found respect for the Indian legal system.
Q: How do you think you can do this while also delivering justice to a victim?
A: If we could put these systems in place then victims can also make their own decisions to a great extent of whether they want to go to a court of law or address it in a different way. The building blocks are in place but need to be more civilised.
I am a huge aviation and space technology fan, so Chuck Yeager was always kind of a hero for me. He was the first person to have broken the sound barrier in a piloted aircraft which he did in 1947 in a Bell X-1 experimental rocket plane. At that time being a test pilot really required guts and seriously sharp reflexes. The planes were not and could not be tested exhaustively using computers as they are now and as many as 1 in 4 test pilots in those early years died. As an example of the ad-hocism prevalent in those early years, Bell X-1′s shape was inspired from a bullet which was known to be stable in supersonic flight. A couple of stubby wings and rocket engines were slapped on and the plane was dropped from a bomber with the test pilot in it.
Years later in the 1980s, a book and a movie called “The Right Stuff” made him into an even bigger hero by highlighting his achievements along with the other US test pilots many of whom later joined the NASA’s Mercury space program. Yeager however, even though he was widely respected as the best test pilot and went on to become a Brigadier General in the airforce could not apply to the space program since he was not a college graduate.
However, during the 1971 war, Yeager was in Pakistan, teaching the army to properly use the American equipment they had been receiving. As is usual with testosterone high military men, he was not the one to take a nuanced approach and divide his loyalties and he whole heartedly supported Pakistan during the war much to the consternation of his own compatriots in the USA embassy. It is claimed that he actually moved into a Pakistan airforce base and directed their war efforts. Being the kind who always want to be in the thick of the action, he may have piloted a few sorties himself. Here is a hilarious account of his stay by a certain US embassy official of those times. Continue reading →
This is hilarious at so many levels. Azam Khan is a Muslim leader and strongman frrom western Uttar Pradesh who is allied with Mulayam Singh Yadav. Here he is accusing Modi of making fun and not keeping faith in a local Hindu seer, Shobhan Sarkar, which caused the buried gold to vanish from Unnao. Earlier this seer had claimed that buried gold existed in Unnao on the basis of a dream he had had. The Archaeological Survey of India was dragged into this sleepy town to excavate, though they tried to save their faces by claiming they were looking for weapons used in the mutiny of 1857. The moffusil town of Unnao was one of the minor centres of the mutiny and a local Rajput leader was later hanged by the British for his troubles.
Had Narendra Modi not ridiculed monk Shobhan Sarkar, the gold would not have vanished. This was the comment of urban development minister, Azam Khan, while taking a pot shot at BJP’ prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Azam said that Modi should not ridicule ‘religious persons’.
On economic issues, I have always found him a voice of sanity and reason among the numerous analysts who either are completely gung-ho or put on their doomsday masks and start digging bomb-raid shelters.
Here is an old article before he became RBI’s governor, where he makes a case for the Indian economy.
This article by Saadat Hasan Manto captures the early history of Bollywood in juicy detail as well as being honest about Ashok Kumar as only a good friend could. Too bad Manto left for Pakistan in 1947. It was Bollywood’s loss as well as his own.
When Najmul Hasan ran off with Devika Rani, all of Bombay Talkies was in turmoil. The film they were making had gone on the floor and some scenes had already been shot. However, Najmul Hasan had decided to pull the leading lady out of the celluloid world into the real one. The worst affected and the most worried man at Bombay Talkies was Himanshu Rai, Devika Rani’s husband and the heart and soul of the company……
Till the time I left Bombay in 1948, he was totally unfamiliar with love. I am unaware of what changes occurred in him in later years. Hundreds of beautiful women came into his life but he treated them all with the greatest indifference. Temperamentally, he was a rustic. His living style and his food habits also had a touch of rusticity…..
Ashok was well versed in astrology, which he had learnt from his father. He had read many books on the subject and when he had time he used to tell the fortunes of his friends. One day he asked me my birth date and after working out something on a paper asked if I was married. “You know that I am,” I replied. He was quiet for a while, then said, “I know, but Manto, tell me something. You have no children so far, have you?” “Why do you ask?” I wanted to know. He hesitated before saying, “Well, the first child of those with your combination of stars is a male, but he does not survive.” Ashok did not know that I had lost my son when he was a year old…..
Also here is Manto’s critique on Bollywood where he spent much time writing scripts.
In Piprahwa, on the border of India and Nepal, an English landowner William Claxton Peppe noticed a few mounds covered with scrub forest on his estate. In 1897, he cleared away the vegetation and ran a deep trench through what was obviously a Buddhist Stupa. He found a stone coffer containing several vases which were full of ashes and jewels.
One of the stone vases had an Ashokan Brahmi inscription on it which translated meant:
“This relic deposit of the Lord Buddha is the share of his renowned Sakya brethren, his own sister’s children and his own son;”
Exhilarating stuff!! Imagine finding the bones of Jesus or Mohammad who lived centuries after Buddha.
However, for a long time a lot of people had doubts about the authenticity of the inscription on the vase because a certain Dr Alois Anton Fuhrer, an archaeologist who became notorious for forging Buddhist relics, was called on to the site by Peppe to examine his finds soon after he dug them up. Recently however, the authenticity of the inscription has been validated as shown in this documentary.
As this documentary mentions, the Stupa which Peppe dug up was built during the Ashokan times when writing in the Brahmi script became prevalent in India. Buddha lived around 200 years before Ashoka so there should have been another original Stupa built by the Shakyans below the one showing up above ground.
In the 1970s, the original interment site of the Buddha’s ashes at Piprahwa was claimed to have been discovered by the Indian archaeologist S.M. Srivastava several feet deeper than the coffer containing the relics that W.C. Peppe had excavated. This find was dated by Srivastava to the period in which Buddha lived. He also found brick structure large enough to be monasteries (Viharas) and palaces around the Stupa. Some seals bearing the Brahmi legend for ‘Kapilvastu’ were also found in the Viharas.
Piprahwa should then in all probability the site of ancient Shakyan capital of Kapilvastu. Its location is logical and it is a few miles from the Lumbini grove with the Ashoka pillar where Budhha was born.
An article from Dawn well illustrates the current situation Pakistan finds itself in. Strategic depth sure doesn’t come cheap.
With my deepest regret, I confess that I wish Virat Kohli was a Pakistani and Shoaib Malik was an Indian. I would exchange Imran Farhat with Shikar Dhawan and swap Kamran Akmal with MS Dhoni, I would even throw in Mohammad Sami and Wahab Riaz for free, just for good measure and to fill the shortage of genuine fast bowlers that my neighbour has. It is a hard pill to swallow but I am an admirer of the current Indian cricket team and I prefer Ravindra Jadeja over my ‘brother’ Irfan Khan Pathan.
The film Lacho Drom by French filmmaker Tony Gatlif (himself of Romani heritage) documents the Gypsy music and dance heritage from North West India to Spain. The following clips are from the documentary.
Kalbelia dancer from Rajasthan:
Flamenco dancer from Spain:
It may be the beautiful choreography but these two clips do make one see the striking similarities between Romani populations spread thinly across a vast land area.
Here’s the new article by Praveen Swami of the Hindu is which he argues that despite announcements made for public consumption Pakistan army still considers India to be its ‘real enemy’ and the Jihadists currently attacking Pakistan its allies in the ‘real fight’ against India.
And here is an earlier article by Swami on the same subject.
These two articles explain why the likes of Tahir Qadri and Imran Khan pop up without any political base and why the Pakistani army refuses to do anything inspite of the havoc created by violent Jihadists in Pakistan. Seems like self delusion has no limits. With the US now considering a withdrawal from Afghanistan after some window dressed victory, the Pakistan army must be thinking that they are on the brink of ‘victory’. However, the genie has already escaped from the bottle and it should be impossible to control the Jihadis to limit their violence against India.
As someone once said ‘there is a lot of ruin in a nation’. The Pakistani army is conducting an experiment for posterity to find out just how much.
(Posts from Baba and his ilk in the blogosphere have prompted this blog)
As with all problems in Pakistan this one too began with Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Its very obvious from this recollection by Margaret Bourke White, that Jinnah and company sought the wholesale assistance of the United States on the pretext of fighting communism to make Pakistan a viable country. In turn they were ready to surrender all their foreign policy and interests.
“Surely America will build up our army,”
“Surely America will give us loans to keep Russia from walking in.”
Pakistan’s foreign policy since independence has been to identify the biggest bully around and then seek to align themselves with it. It used to be the USA but for all sorts of reasons since the 1990s the Chinese emerged as their new lords and masters. However, profit motive and a certain discretion to their bravado allowed them to serve old masters as well. After September, 2001, Musharraf famously ditched Taliban and Jihad and aligned with the US (duplicitously, as it turned out but he did keep up appearances for some time). Indeed the world might have respected Pakistan more if it defied the US and kept on supporting the Taliban openly. It might have been a pariah state like Iran but better a pariah than an eternal (deceptive) lackey.
I cannot understand why Pakistan doesn’t ever seek to stand on their own feet. India has many problems but it has always had its own mind when it came to foreign policy. Now that India has outstripped Pakistan in many ways (not wholly yet), certain Pakistanis like ‘Baba’ find comparing India to China as a way to salve their egos. This, without realizing how ridiculous they make themselves look.