Kabhi Khushi Bahut Gham

Sanjaya Baru the journalist who was also PM Man Mohan Singh’s Man Friday has published his tell-all book and it is damning in the extreme. His claims (if true) can be best illustrated by a (fictional) UPA-II theme song:

To summarize the claims: MMS was expected to just smile softly and shake a leg to the tune set by the Queen Bee while ignoring the thugs running away with the ATM in the background.

BTW this really was no surprise. The first family considers India to be a fully family owned and operated business (and so do an overwhelming number of Indian intellectuals as well as the entire foreign press and the Western diplomatic establishment). 
“The Accidental Prime Minister — The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan
Singh,” the book is by academic and journalist Sanjaya Baru, a former
media advisor to the current prime minister, who left his post in 2008.

the president of India’s ruling party is also premier. But Gandhi, who
led Congress to power in 2004 and 2009, turned down the job, fearing her
Italian birth would become an explosive political issue as Hindu
nationalists said her foreign origin made her unfit to rule India.

handpicked Singh for the job but Baru said Gandhi’s much hailed
“renunciation of power” was more a “political tactic than a response to a
higher calling”.

Baru said Singh decided early on to “surrender”
to Gandhi and quotes the premier as saying he had “to accept the party
president (Gandhi) is the centre of power”.

Critics have long
charged Gandhi held the reins of power in the Singh administration but
Baru’s book is the first by a close advisor to the prime minister to
make that claim.

In a strong criticism of the soft-spoken premier,
he said Singh “averted his eyes from corruption” to ensure his
scandal-tainted government’s “longevity”.

While Singh, 81, who
retires after this election, maintained the “highest standards of
probity in public life”, he “turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of his

Singh thought he could choose cabinet ministers but “he was defanged” as “Sonia nipped that hope in the bud”.

said Singh had little authority over his cabinet and a senior
bureaucrat would seek Gandhi’s “instructions on the important files to
be cleared by the PM”.




A rose by any other name…

Bollywood (re)naming ritual has a long history. Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay (Hemant Kumar), Abhash Kumar Gangopadhyay (Kishore Kumar), Mahjabeen Bano (Meena Kumari), Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi (Madhubala), Fatima Rashid (Nargis Dutt)….. in most cases a simple sounding Hindi (Hindu) name will have done the trick.

Then came the next generation, pre-loaded with suitable (mononymous) names: Kajol (Mukherjee), Sonam (Kapoor), Rani (Mukherji) etc. For the rare outsider like Vidya (Balan) – our favorite lady – who has succeeded in gate crashing the (nepotism) fortress, the yukt-akshar (joined letters) does not roll easily off the tongue.

So far so good. But what is needed for an (very fair) English girl to turn into an Indian girl next door? Ayesha Shroff (Mrs Jackie Shroff) explains the transformation of a Turquotte into a (Ek Tha) Tiger:

Jackie Shroff’s wife Ayesha Shroff,
who produced Katrina’s debut film Boom, in a shocking interview to
Mumbai Mirror in 2011 was quoted saying, 

“Her passport says Turquotte.
We created an identity for her. She was this pretty young English girl,
and we gave her the Kashmiri father and thought of calling her Katrina
We thought we’d give her some kind of Indian ancestry, to connect
with the audience. Those times were different, now people are more

But then we thought that Kazi sounded too… religious? We were
to introduce her to the press and at that time, Mohammad Kaif was at
the top, and so we said, Katrina Kaif sounds really great. In fact, the
brochures for the press say Katrina Kazi. We passed that off saying, ‘Oh
that’s a printing mistake.”




Iran (1979). It was the best of times for dreamy eyed revolutionaries (and the worst of times for others). There were 52 american hostages who were terrorized for 444 days by the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line (see below), the spiritual grandfather of the Taliban so to speak.

As the Friends of Iran would like to tell us, all the above misunderstanding is just so much water down the bridge. It should be possible to rise above past bitterness and do business with Iran. And who better to extend the hand of friendship than the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama?  

Except that in the Middle East (as Obama is about to discover) the past is not really a different country.

The Iranians have selected a student revolutionary as their UN envoy. The USA has been forced to retaliate by denying him a VISA. Despite the good intentions from both sides it appears that the green shoots of an US-Iran entente will shortly shrivel and dry up (Israel and Saudis will be most pleased).
The United States, in a rare diplomatic rebuke, will not
grant a visa to Tehran’s pick for envoy to the United Nations, the Obama
administration said on Friday.

The move could complicate
efforts to thaw the decades-long diplomatic freeze between the US and
Iran, as the two countries negotiate a deal to curb Tehran’s disputed
nuclear programme.

President Barack Obama’s administration had
previously said only that it opposed the nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi,
who was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the
US Embassy in Tehran as a revolution erupted in Iran.

US officials had hoped the issue could be resolved by Tehran simply withdrawing the nomination.
That did not happen, so the US made the unusual, if not unprecedented, move to not grant a visa to a UN ambassadorial nominee.

is alleged to have participated in a Muslim student group that held 52
Americans hostage for 444 days during the takeover. His nomination has
outraged members of Congress, who passed a bill barring entry to the US
to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat
to national security. Carney would not say whether Obama would sign the bill but said the president shares its sentiments.

United Nations officials had no immediate comment on the US decision.

has called US rejection of Aboutalebi “not acceptable,” with Iranian
state television quoting Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as
saying Aboutalebi is one of the country’s best diplomats and arguing
that he previously received a US visa.

Aboutalebi has insisted
his involvement in the group involved in the embassy takeover, Muslim
Students Following the Imam’s Line, was limited to translation and

Here is some details of the hostage crisis [excerpts from Wiki]

Around 6:30 a.m. on November 4, 1979, the ringleaders gathered between 300 and 500 selected students, thereafter known as Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line,
and briefed them on the battle plan. A female student was given a pair
of metal cutters to break the chains locking the embassy’s gates, and
she hid them beneath her chador.

The occupiers bound and blindfolded the embassy Marines and staff and
paraded them in front of photographers. In the first couple of days,
many of the embassy staff who had sneaked out of the compound or not
been there at the time of the takeover were rounded up by Islamists and
returned as hostages. 

Iranian propaganda stated that the hostages were “guests” treated with respect. Ibrahim Asgharzadeh
described the original hostage taking plan as a “nonviolent” and
symbolic action where the “gentle and respectful treatment” of the
hostages would dramatize to the whole world the offended sovereignty and
dignity of Iran.…..

The actual treatment of the hostages was far different from that
purported in Iranian propaganda: the hostages described beatings, theft,
the fear of bodily harm while being paraded blindfold before a large,
angry chanting crowd outside the embassy, having their hands bound “day and night” for days or even weeks, long periods of solitary confinement and months of being forbidden to speak to one another or stand, walk, and leave their space unless they were going to the bathroom. In particular they felt the threat of trial and execution, as all of the hostages “were threatened repeatedly with execution, and took it seriously”. The hostage takers played Russian roulette with their victims.

The most terrifying night for the hostages came on February 5, 1980,
when guards in black ski masks roused the 52 hostages from their sleep
and led them blindfolded to other rooms. They were searched after being
ordered to strip themselves until they were bare, and to keep their
hands up. They were then told to kneel down. “This was the greatest
moment” as one hostage said. They were still wearing the blindfolds, so
naturally, they were terrified even further. One of the hostages later
recalled ‘It was an embarrassing moment. However, we were too scared to
realize it.’ The mock execution
ended after the guards cocked their weapons and readied them to fire
but finally ejected their rounds and told the prisoners to wear their
clothes again. The hostages were later told the exercise was “just a
joke” and something the guards “had wanted to do”. However, this
affected a lot of the hostages long after.



Not yet ready for (online) purple fingers

The Supremes have decided: no online voting for NRIs 

Still, the issue merits careful attention. We depend on NRIs to keep our economy afloat, politicians are raising huge amount of money in the West, it is only fair that these poor rich people get a way to vote without incurring too much hardship.

And if NRIs are able to vote online what is the big deal in permitting residents to vote online too?

of NRIs of casting votes in the ongoing elections through the internet
were dashed on Friday with the Supreme Court saying any interim relief
at this stage may open a Pandora’s box.

 The court took into
consideration the Election Commission’s submission that grant of interim
relief at this stage would be beyond the scope and relief claimed by
the petitioners when voting has already taken place for 104 LS seats.
“Will it not open a Pandora’s box? If some consideration is given,
practical difficulty will arise,” the apex court said. 

Here is the backstory
The Election Commission (EC) informed the Supreme Court Monday that
it was exploring the means of enabling Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to
vote online but expressed its inability to facilitate voting in foreign
locations or provide any other alternative for the upcoming general

The Bench, however, asked the EC to try its best to do something in
this election. “You still have some time left” said the Bench, asking
the EC whether around 12,000 NRIs, who are registered NRI voters, could
be allowed to use their franchise through postal ballot in this

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NRI, Shamsheer VP, who contended
that the existing provision which mandates NRI voter to be physically
present in the constituency to exercise his vote was discriminatory and
violative of fundamental rights.


While the Court did not address the matter there is also the tricky question of migrants voting. It seems reasonable that they would be incentivized to vote, especially in such a crucial election. Our (controversial) suggestion is to give these folks citizenship and bring them out of the shadows (of the shadow economy).  

If the BJP feels aggrieved that there are too many muslims from Bangladesh, they should arrange for re-balancing (on the backs of Tibetans, Pak-Hindus, and Bangla-Hindus). Just like the USA first amendment debates (speech must be countered by more speech), votes should be countered by more votes!!!



Whats App wins the (700 kg) gold medal

Is there anything that Whats App cant do? It has opened glorious new vistas, especially for gold smugglers.

A public service message to prosperous BP readers (redundant, yes we know) who are also potential gold smugglers. Please think twice before landing up with 9Kg gold concealed in your belt or even (especially) 5 Kg gold hidden in your undies. It will embarrass your friends and family to the extreme (not that you really care). Please use your ingenuity if you must (drink it up). 

And yes, never ever involve minors. Why should they spend the rest of their life in pison because of your (vile) greed??

All in all one has to hand it to the Indians for their gold fetish- 700 kg smuggled in every day. Sheesh!!!
arresting a flight stewardess in the gold smuggling case for the first
time in the history of AP Customs, the air intelligence unit has
gathered vital details about the gangs operating from the city. Customs
sleuths have found out that smugglers are using mobile-based social
networking tool like ‘WhatsApp’ to exchange gold.


  On Wednesday,
customs sleuths nabbed Sadaf Khan, a flight stewardess of Emirates
airlines who arrived at the RGI Airport from Dubai with 13 kg gold
concealed in her baggage. During interrogation, Sadaf informed the
customs officials that the contraband was given to her by gold smuggler
Shujat Mohammed Ali in Dubai.

Sadaf also told customs sleuths
that Shujat had travelled with her in the Emirates flight from Dubai to
Hyderabad. After this confession, customs officials made Sadaf call
Shujat saying she was held up at the airport due to a technical problem
and asking him to come and collect the gold.

However, Shujat
grew suspicious and did not turn up at the airport. Later, customs
sleuths found that he boarded a flight back to Dubai on Wednesday night.
After coordinating with Dubai customs authorities, state officials got
Shujat deported to Hyderabad on Thursday.

During interrogation,
Shujat spilled the beans and confessed to customs officials about the
gold smuggling racket. A resident of Old City, Shujat had gone to Dubai a
decade ago and has been involved in the cell phone trade there.
However, according to the officials, the cell phone business in Dubai
was only a front and that Shujat has been actively involved in gold
smuggling for the past several years during which time he became a
frequent traveler between Dubai and Hyderabad.

In the wee
hours of Wednesday, Sadaf and Shujat boarded the same Emirates flight.
Their photos were ‘WhatsApped’ to the receivers in Hyderabad by
Dubai-based kingpins. Shujat told customs officials that they would
never know the exact receivers in advance but that the receivers would
identify them through the photos sent after which they would receive the
gold outside the airport.

While Sadaf claimed that she was
involved in smuggling for the first time, customs officials suspect that
she carried out gold smuggling at least two times before. For
transferring the gold, Sadaf was paid Rs 1 lakh per kilogram. Both
Shujat and Sadaf were produced before the court and remanded in judicial
custody. Customs officials are planning to file a petition before the
court seeking Shujat’s custody for further interrogation.




Not in our name (not quite good enough)

This letter is indeed one on which we would like to attach our name but for an important caveat. The Hindu pilgrims on the train who got burnt to death should have been mentioned (not as a justification for the riots). Leftists are so cute when they feel that others (including neutrals) will not notice their acts of omission even when they are the first people to find (micro level) fault with others.

Bottom-line murdering people is bad. Murdering people with state power backing is evil. This has been the bane of India since ever (starting from the Hindu era), but in the modern times one particular event stands out for its culpability: Direct Action Day declared by the Muslim League in 1946. Short term policies of might is right might have helped gain Pakistan (this is not to question the validity of the Pakistan movement as a flowering of muslim nationalism in SAsia) but then it went sour right away when people died for the cause of Bengali in 1952.

And now the sword (of criminals patronized by  the state) has fallen on 40 million Shias (even though the founder father of Pakistan was a Shia). Following the same logic espoused in 1940 they should be demanding partition (Indian muslim leaders have already warned about another partition- should Modi become head of Hindu-stan). Yet Shia voices in Pakistan stay silent. Why?

Without questioning the validity of India’s democratic election process, it is crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002.
The Muslim minority were overwhelmingly the victims of pillage, murder
and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and
children. Women, in particular, were subjected to brutal acts of
violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces. 

Although some members of Narendra Modi’s government are now facing
trial, Modi himself repeatedly refuses to accept any responsibility or
to render an apology. Such a failure of moral character and political
ethics on the part of Modi is incompatible with India’s secular
constitution, which, in advance of many constitutions across the world,
is founded on pluralist principles and seeks fair and full
representation for minorities. Were he to be elected prime minister, it
would bode ill for India’s future as a country that cherishes the ideals
of inclusion and protection for all its peoples and communities.

Anish Kapoor, artist
Homi K Bhabha, professor of the humanities, Harvard University
Salman Rushdie, novelist
Deepa Mehta, film director
Dayanita Singh, artist
Vivan Sundaram, artist
Dame Helena Kennedy, barrister
Imran Khan, solicitor
Mike Wood, British Member of Parliament
John McDonnell, British Member of Parliament
Fiona Mactaggart, British Member of Parliament
Jacqueline Bhabha, director of research, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University
Kumar Shahani, film director
Geeta Kapur, art historian
Pragna Patel, director of the Southall Black Sisters
Sashi Kumar, film producer
Jayati Ghosh, economist
Prabhat Patnaik, economist
MK Raina, actor/film director
Ram Rahman, artist
Saeed Mirza, screenwriter
Anuradha Kapur, National School of Drama in Delhi
Kumkum Sangari, professor of English and the humanities, University of Wisconsin
Gautam Appa, emeritus professor, London School of Economics
Chetan Bhatt, professor of sociology, London School of Economics
Suresh Grover, director, Southall Monitoring Group




An orphan for life

By Brown Pundits Archive 1 Comment
Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi was quite the orphan growing up (lost her mom when just two, lost her papa in Class X). And then she had to face adult-hood all alone (her brothers did support her). 

She is also the ideal Hindu woman -pati-brata bharatiya nari – who wishes her husband the best – “I just wish that he  progresses in whatever he does. I know
he will become PM one day”
–  even though he treated her the worst.
This is the generation which is on its way out. The youthful girls of today will no longer stand by their man in such a manner. They will demand respect…and if they dont get it…simply walk away. Regardless of the dust storm of atrocities that are blinding us right now, the sun is setting on patriarchy in India.
The man she claims is still her “husband” is the BJP’s prime
ministerial candidate and is considered the frontrunner for the top job
this year.  But Jashodaben, 62, a retired school teacher who was married
to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi when she was 17 — and separated
after about three years — is far removed from the rough and tumble of

She gets a monthly pension of Rs 14,000, lives mostly with a brother
and spends much of her time in prayer. In Ahmedabad to visit her
extended family, she agreed to be interviewed by The Indian Express but
refused to be photographed. Excerpts from her first interview since Modi
was named PM candidate:

For how long were you married and what is the status of the marriage?

We married when I was 17… I had quit studies once I went to his place
and remember him saying he wanted me to pursue my education. He would
mostly talk to me about completing my education. Initially he took
interest in talking to me and even in the affairs of the kitchen.

Do you feel burdened by the relationship, especially when the
media asks you about your strained relationship? Are you instructed to
remain low profile?

We have never been in touch and we parted on good terms as there were
never any fights between us. I will not make up things that are not
true. In three years, we may have been together for all of three months.
There has been no communication from his end to this day.

Do you track the news about Narendra Modi?

Yes, I read everything that I can get my hands on. I read all the
newspaper articles and also watch news on the television and like to
read about him.

If he becomes the next Prime Minister and moves to Delhi,
would you like to go back to him, if he calls you back? Will you try and
meet him?

I have never gone to meet him and we have never been in touch. I
don’t think he will ever call me. In whatever I say, I do not want it to
harm him. I just wish that he  progresses in whatever he does. I know
he will become PM one day!

Did he ever tell you he was leaving you or quitting the marriage?

He told me once that “I will be traveling across the country and
will go as and where I please; what will you do following me?” When I
came to Vadnagar to live with his family, he told me “why did you come
to your in-laws’ house when you are still so young, you must instead
focus on pursuing your studies”. The decision to leave was my own and
there was never any conflict between us. He never spoke to me about the
RSS or about his political leanings. 

When he told me he would be
moving around the country as he wished, I told him I would like to join
However, on many occasions when I went to my in-laws’ place, he
would not be present and he stopped coming there. He used to spend a lot
of time in RSS shakhas. So I too stopped going there after a point and I
went back to my father’s house.

Are you still legally Modi’s wife?

Every time people take his name, I am also mentioned somewhere, even
though in the background. Did you not come all the way and look all
over, to find me and come and speak to me? If I was not his wife, would
you have come to speak to me?

Do you feel slighted that your status as a wife has not been acknowledged by him in all these years?

No. I don’t feel bad, because I know that he is doing so due to
destiny and bad times. In such situations he has to say such things and
also has to lie. I don’t see my situation as being bad because I feel,
in a way, my luck has improved too.

Why have you never remarried?

After this experience, I don’t think I want to. My heart is not into it.

How did you support yourself after you moved back to your parents’ house?

My in-laws treated me well, but would never speak about the marriage.
My father paid the fees for my studies and I also got some financial
assistance from my brothers to continue my education. 

I had lost my
mother when I was two years old and I lost my father two years after I
started studying again and was in class 10. However, once I started my
studies, I started to enjoy learning and did my SSC in 1974, and went on
to complete my teachers training in 1976 and became a teacher in 1978.

How do you spend your retired days?

I enjoyed teaching and taught classes from the first to fifth grade
and taught all subjects. Nowadays, I mostly start my day by 4 am and
begin with prayers to Ambe Ma (Goddess Durga). I spend all my time in
Bhakti (prayer). I mostly live with my elder brother Ashok Modi who
lives in Unjha but I keep visiting the home of my other brother who
lives in Brahman Vada near Unjha whenever I feel like. I feel I have got
good brothers who have supported me.



The audacious (brown) Professor

Once upon a time there was a famous (black) Professor who spoke about the audacity of hope and reclaiming of the american dream. Now it is the turn of another (brown) Prof to demonstrate the audacity of grand larceny and (false) claiming of american dollars. A good man gone bad due to greed. No leniency will be shown (40 years in prison) as the authorities want to make an example out of this case (as they should).
Indian-American professor has been convicted by a federal grand jury of
defrauding the US government and students of $700,000 in research

Manoj Jha, a full-time professor at the Morgan State
University in Baltimore, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
for each of four counts of wire fraud, and for one count each of mail
fraud and falsification of records; and 10 years in prison for theft of
government property.

46, has been found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $200,000 in grant
funds from NSF’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programme to
fund a highway project, and attempting to obtain another $500,000 via
the same project.

Federal prosecutors alleged Jha converted the
funds to his personal use; Jha made payments on his mortgage and
personal credit card and authorised approximately $11,000 in salary
payments to his wife, who performed no NSF-related work.

According to Justice Department, Jha incorporated Amar Transportation
Research and Consulting Inc (ATRC), and was its president and only
director. Trial evidence showed that Jha submitted funding proposals on behalf of ATRC to the STTR.

The stated purpose of Jha’s proposed project was to enhance current
models used by highway planners to optimise horizontal and vertical
highway routes, and ultimately, to commercialise the result



The anti anti-rape backlash

The patriarchy has been badly embarrassed by the atrocities committed on Indian women. It was a question of something must be done to wake up a society deep in slumber and sick up to the neck. The anti-rape ordinance that has been passed and may be considered a harsh response to a deadly virus that was sweeping through communities. Another thing good happened, women were no longer willing to take things lying down.

The two most vile cases have been fast-tracked (along with others) and now we have a number of “boys” sentenced to death. While in the Nirbhaya case (Delhi) boys were hindus, in the Shakti Mills case (Mumbai) boys were muslims.

Now the backlash has started and the politicians are finding a way to exploit anxieties about boys getting harsh punishment because of bad behavior. With Mullah Mulayam it is another way to win the hearts of muslim families (as if muslims dont care about what happens to girls). 
Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi has said that any woman who has sex outside marriage should be hanged, including rape victims. According to a report published in Mid-Day,
Azmi said, “Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam. But here, nothing
happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty.”

Samajwadi Party leader further added, “In India, if you have sex with a
person with consent, it’s fine. But if that same person complains, it’s a
problem. Nowadays, we see a lot of such cases. Girls complain when
someone touches them, and even when someone doesn’t touch them. It
becomes a problem then, and the man’s honour is ruined in this. If rape
happens with or without consent, it should be punished as prescribed in

When asked for a solution to the problem of rapes, Azmi
had this to say: “Solution is this: any woman if, whether married or
unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be
hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman
goes by consent.” 
Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday opposed the new anti-rape
law and said that his party would change the law that entails death for

Addressing a rally in Moradabad, Mulayam said, “rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes.”

The SP chief further said he will support provision for legal action against those who misuse the rape act.

Citing the recent example of a court sentencing three men found guilty
of gang-raping two women in the abandoned Shakti Mills in Mumbai last
year, he said there was a need to change the new rape law which provides
for death sentence to repeat rape offenders.

“Efforts will be
made to change such a law, so that those misusing it are punished. Those
filing false reports will also be taken to task,” he said.

Mulayam said boys and girls fall in love but due to differences they
fall apart later on. “When their friendship ends, the girl complains she
has been raped,” he said, stressing the need for changes in the
anti-rape law. ……….