The middle east in 2011 – a season of discontent:

Most years roll over from one to the other without too much of an upheaval most of the times. Yes, we have had a fair share of bad year roll over and not the least was the roll over into the new century when the Indian polity was wracked with an utmost severe crisis of the Kandhar hijacking of an IA flight from Nepal. This year however the Middle East has erupted in a manner that can at best be called unprecedented and the most can I think should be called momentous and extremely significant. The manner of regime change or at least regime threat that the popular uprisings have caused has never seen any equal ever prior to this and the pundits and policy wags are at a perpetual scramble trying to outguess what the next step would be. Digital pundits have gone to town with the success of the social network and Facebook and Twitter and even Google perhaps as tools of the trade to foment revolution, nay harness it and support it in manners never been thought of before. Every one has an opinion of course if they have not quite hijacked it at evening soirees and other such places where the chatterati gather to ruminate.

He may have named his child after a social network!

When history would be writ or rather compiled in hindsight as these things usually are – they will start off with the act of self immolation in desperate helplessness of a street vendor in Tunisia which was like a lightning rod for a lot of the rest that were disaffected in that tiny North African country that had otherwise maintained cordial relationships with the west. Before you knew it the matter had gone ballistic and the ruler – not a king but some kind of a president, abdicated and without a second thought. Just as people were trying to figure out what happened and the American state department and all that president’s men were really not sure what was happening and what might come next. After that it was like was a contagion and before you knew it Egypt was on the boil and live images from Tahrir square showed what can happen if people set their mind to it. The liberal media in the west conjectured on who or what had set this off – it sure as hell was not Al Qaeda who it was opined would have a lot to lose with people being free and democratic and with more opportunities to succeed otherwise except as holy warriors. An interesting article it was in the New York Times wondering about where the protestors at Egypt would go to the loo as another article commented on how the lot of Egyptian women who if they dared step out of home would usually end up being molested fared much better in this revolution. The end result of all these analyses seemed to point that yes this was indeed a grass roots unprecedented, unplanned, mobilization of the people for the people by the people. It was a damn flash mob and well if the policy wonks had known what a flash mob is?!! A knowledgeable and influential thought leader and staff writer at the New Yorker, who had earlier opined that the revolution would not be tweeted still hung on to his dystopian ideals of how Facebook and Twitter made no difference.

Probably getting ready to make a last stand - the mad dog!

Egypt played out in real-time, partly due to technology and the rest due to the tenacity of news crews, the tireless and obviously well connected like no one else Christiana Amanpour at ABC and Al Jazeera at the other end streamed it into houses and desktops and blogs and the rest in a pretty uncensored and accurate manner. A few like the people from CNN and others got a taste of what it takes to be in the middle of a war zone. The impact of the visuals can be gauged by the fact that the Chinese government rushed to black out all stories of these velvet revolutions in whatever media into the mainland.  The fact that it may be working and that the Chinese have the best in content filtering technology in the world can perhaps be estimated by the fact that there has been no contagion there. It I realize was not surprise that it was referred to in the past as the hidden kingdom. It may have missed China but the next-door neighbor in Arab North Africa and the land of oil and the notorious Ghaddafi could not survive. Known in the past as the mad dog the often derided mentally unstable leader tried shooting down protestors, saw mass scale diplomatic desertion on an international level and even had two of his pilots desert with their fighter plane when ordered to shoot down innocent civilians who had been protesting. He is still hanging in there as the month of March begins and it has been the craziest of all scenarios that has been getting played out there. His Ukrainian nurse whom Wikileaks had recently last year made famous was noted escaping back to her home country. The government lost control of parts of the country where local militia and deserter soldiers came together to take over running the cities and managing the oil flow, most critical to the world at large than perhaps freedom and the rest were or are for the North African polity. This is one North African long time leader that will go down fighting in some sort of a last stand with his women bodyguards and the tribal faithful after all he has been here 42 years now.

Oil on the Boil - where are the electric cars?

One of the main things was always and will be oil in that region. Many American politicians have commented in public and in private of the unfairness of god putting all the oil in places, which are not democratic in nature. It was also probably oil that kept the people safe in Egypt with the army realizing quickly I think that the Suez Canal had to be secured if the world was not to collapse.  There is some discussion that the fact that the American government and military had spent so much money and built relationships with the Egyptian Military had helped open backroom channels for discussion and the Mubarak was pushed out gently. Libya is awash in oil and the latest continuing uncertainty has already pushed oil into the $100 and plus bracket (NYMEX Crude futures is at $97.28 and Brent Spot is at $111.93 a barrel today as March begins in 2011) and Americans – the world’s largest consumers are already worried about the future of $4 a gallon of gas. That is something that is going to make a lot of people worried, not in the least the party that is incumbent in the American senate – there is an election coming up after all. But the Americans are doing everything o be not caught unawares in this fast changing political reality that is playing out. The state department realizes that monarchy’s weathered this storm better that the presidents did. Bahrain is still boiling but the only thing that is yet lost is the F1 there $290 – I am pretty sure the Bahraini population may have liked that one – assuming of course that most could afford it. This may mean that in the longer term – the royals at Riyadh could be safe and oil is possibly pointing lower on the futures than at the spot rate?

King Justinian 1 - 547 AD, represented on a mosaic in a church in Italy

I wonder at times like these whether perhaps the Somalian pirates do not feel a bit bad deep in their hearts as they prowl the wild open seas that they wish they had a government back home that they could go back to overthrow like the rest? I am certain that such a thing could actually happen if they just took to taxing at a nice 30 – 40% rate the traffic that flows through the gulf of Aden and use that money to secure the passage and also ensure no further trouble happens as it would build supporting ancillary industries and services around that coast and become a coastal, maritime based state like say a Singapore does, a sort of a Suez Canal perhaps but larger? This is not so strange to think when one appreciates that one of the earliest movements towards civilization was perhaps the act in the sixth century of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian who oversaw the consolidation of Roman civil law between 529 and 534 AD. The resulting collection is called the Corpus Juris Civilis. In the 11th century, professors at the University of Bologna, Western Europe’s first university, rediscovered Corpus Juris Civilis, and its influence began to be felt across Western Europe. In 1388, the word civil appeared in English meaning “of or related to citizens. We need civil law if we are to be civilized.

Advertisements

Barack is the new black!

Mr. Obama was a man I had my heart set on quite early in this rat race, I even blogged my affection for him here. To see him win the election was off course a very strong vindication of my beliefs and I knew that he’d beat Hilary even before it was accepted common knowledge. I am a little bit like Ms. Marple of Agatha Christie – I see similarities and common prejudice; America I felt would not have a woman president before they had a black one especially not a woman whose husband was Bill Clinton. Who am I to say – I am not an American just made a guess. However to watch the huge super positive reaction to having Mr. Obama win from the press and I do believe around the world – made me think – so why is every one else so happy. Perhaps because he truly represents change; perhaps because for us at India and a lot like a whole lot of other American things – we will probably never see a leader such as he; our leaders have had feet of clay and a lot has been writ about it. Let us face facts;  the best we can expect is Rahul Gandhi and other dynastic formats; Deora, Pilot, Abdullah et al. A Harvard educated; Mc Kinsey trained black man with a family like an United Nations; I don’t see that happening in a long long time.

The New Yorker – blessed be that publication has an article on how Obama won and it is an essay on righteousness if I may call it that; here’s a man who was right – a little bit like Jesus Christ – and my apologies for making that comparison – but a of religious faiths do not allow it by their own laws to make comparisons like that. I know Christ would not mind and Obama evokes that kind of faith and belief. I know he is going to be different from everything we have seen before and if anyone has really seenimage G.W. Bush at the length that America has  would know and accept that anything would be better. I mean the GOP actually put in Mc Cain & Palin essentially because they knew they would have to lose. What are the odds that a 70 year old Vietnam veteran and a daft ex beauty queen (and mind you governor of Alaska also) had any chance against a degree of articulation that had never been seen before and a clarity of thought that was rapier like and incisive.  This was Obama – they competition might as well as have rolled over and played dead for all the difference they could have hoped to make. In India psephologists would have called it anti incumbency and that would well have been one end of it – but a person with no real backing making it to the most powerful position in the world with a middle name that is middle eastern and an education at a madrassa – no one would have bet on that.

Anybody that followed the 2000 elections that made Dubya the president would know that if the machinery had to get down and dirty – the GOP could well do what it took to ensure that voters are systematically routed out. There were people like Katherine Harris, Secretary of State at Florida then and Congresswoman later now routed finally who used all means dubious to get Dubya in. Hollywood makes good movies out of themes like this and Watergate for example inspired ‘All the President’s Men’. In 2008, they made a movie to recount the election of 2000  and off course it is called Recount produced and starred in by Kevin Spacey and a very convincing account of what went on behind the scenes. Some of the jokes coming about Obama are like how will Carla Bruni react to Michelle and i think that makes him sound like the messiah that he has the chance to become. But he has to do a lot and he has aimed for the stars. American industry is broke and their financial system seems like a joke and everyone needs a bailout and lets us not even get started on the R word here and to say Mr. Obama has his work cut out for him would be an understatement. We all look forward to what change he can wrought.

Poverty & terrorism

Hello world, ever wondered why terrorists now target the common people, the people on the roads and frankly the terribly defenseless? Who was that one person that was killed in the Bangalore blasts of the last few days? A poor garment factory worker who was sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus, no highly paid tech warrior, not really a clip_image002beneficiary of the global success story that is Bangalore. But definitely a victim of the city’s success, which has attracted the kind of attention that this once peaceful town could live without.

It isn’t tough to guess why the poor & defenseless are now the targets, on an average there are 50 policemen guarding the high & mighty, there just aren’t any cops to guard over the rest of us billion people out there. Terrorists aren’t really known for their bravado after all & the one that no one looks out for are the best targets after all! There is often a question raised about yesterday’s freedom fighters and today’s terrorists. It is a wrong comparison, Khudiram Bose and Bagha Jatin tried to do harm to the obvious manifestations of all that was wrong. Not poor people that had no choice?

Our leaders have turned cowards now, why will not the terrorists, after all what really is expected of them but death and destruction? They say that there are not laws enough or strong perhaps to curb this destructive strain. There are laws today that are often used to disenfranchise common citizens why then cannot the real culprits be caught?h It is never the law – just the desire to implement it and the desire to get out of the system’s corrupt stupor to understand that the world out there now wants to bring a violent end to all this.

Smoking!

 
Barack Obama is a junior senator from Illinois and has put his hat in the ring as it were of the great American Presidential Elections of 2008. If you aspire to be the most powerful man in the world  a lot of people will hold you up to scrutiny. Not the least of them would be the wife of a former President herself with her own ambition to be the first woman to be an American President thus also  Mr. Obama’s opponent in the same sweepstakes. The point is a lot of scurillious lies and innuendos have been spread in the media blitzkriegs that the American Presidential run offs are. With a limited appreciation of the issues at stake here however I cannot say I do not like Mr. Obama. If I could vote in this particular popularity contest and if mine matterred for anything I’d vote Barack. I kind a like the name and the irony that it rhymes with that bearded bad guy.
 
Why else ? Besides the facile ones I gave earlier; I feel  Mr. Obama is for real. What I have read about the man and what I have  heard from the rumours it is thought that the lawyer lady from Whitewater has let out in a bid to be back in the Oval Office (perhaps with her own cigars and Interns?)  Mr. Obama is a real deal with his imperfections sitting squarely beside those portruding ears on a strong shoulder! And he smokes! In America – you may do anything else; you may use cigars inopportunely as a President once did; you may be in a Vietnam War and you may cause far worse – but you may not smoke. To smoke in God’s own America from what I have heard and I imagine thus is  far worse than even being a communist pig! It has something to do with tax payer’s money that was swiped by a lot of lawyers in what they call out there – a ‘class action suit’. Since Americans cannot give up lawyers – they gave up smoking!
 
This is a little bit about this multiracial Harvard  law school graduate as much as it is about making decisons about other human beings on elements of their character as peripheral as perhaps smoking. Why does the fact that in February 1990, he gained national recognition for becoming the first ever African American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review not be more importants than the fact that his middle name is Hussein? He obtained his Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 – why is that not more important that he smokes and did worse when he was younger? The truth is that out ther in that quagmire that is the main street media in the west; realities often get blurred and everyone is out there for a ride.
 
The driving agenda is always the lowest common denominator –  people who ‘vote with their feet’. I often wonder if it is the immaturity of a civilisation that cannot make its right choices? In ancient Rome they left governance to the guys that knew it and could orate well about it. In India we have a simpler equation – throw out who ever is in power and get the new guys in every time there is an election. Change is up every 5 years and no one guy can ever think he has the country as his personal fiefdom past the 5 years that he can cobble together a ‘working majority’. And we could not care two hoots if the gentlemen in the fray smoke drank or fornicated. As a matter of fact – quite a few of our governance types – the politicos have rap sheets embarrassing enough to make Al Capone blush!

That jingoistic feeling again – this time about mileage!

Off late something has happened to me – I am suddenly taken up and appreciative, nay proud of my nation and her heritage and the culture and everything else. To  my cynical eye that is hardly surprising – everyone in the world today is fascinated by India and I heard a rather verifiable rumor that at some of the best B schools in the US – venture capitalist funds give you upto $200 million if you even so much as have an Indian girlfriend!

 Hmm… our time has come so said I and once long back a gentleman by the name Dr. Ravi Batra ( from his website: Dr. Ravi Batra, a professor of economics at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, is the author of five international bestsellers. He was the chairman of his department from 1977 to 1980. In October 1978, Batra was ranked third in a group of 46 "superstar economists" selected from all the American and Canadian universities by the learned journal Economic Inquiry. In 1990, the Italian prime minister awarded him a Medal of the Italian Senate for correctly predicting the downfall of Soviet communism.) had sort of prophesized it.  How nice that some prophesies come true – especially the Indian stories!

 Often economists have surmised that the developed countries do per person consume more of the world’s resources than their poorer developing nation brethren. I personally know this for true – in Scandinavia for example – people never ever switch of the lights – rather expensive and spendthrift of them one may remark considering the amounts of work and pollution that go in producing electricity. This is in my mind especially scandalous when you think that the Scandinavian nations enjoy (sort of) total sunlight for at least 4 months a year. In India if you recall some of the rather impoverished folk live at less than one american dollar a day (which is forty five to forty six Indian  rupees to the dollar as I type this) which kind of puts things in what I like to term a mixed metaphor kind of a perspective!

 Indians have given the world a lot of stuff like among things they have at America – the ‘desi’ – an Indian word which translates perhaps best into ‘from the country’! At the US it is a term used sometimes in derision which utra chic Indian Americans use to often look down upon the new comer pretenders but often representing also all that is pure and from the country (India). Indians however at the US are anything but country bumpkins (though they are often as Peter Sellers once did  in a film, portrayed thus) many of who though with what may be characterized as beginnings less than fortunate have often left a mark for all to see. There was once a list drawn up of people who matter the least in the world in spite of their holding positions of strength –  an Indian was there at no. 3 or 2, I believe!

 So yeah there are many success stories as there are failures of the Indian experience and a good way to find out or to be able to perhaps appreciate them is to read the travel advisories that other (developed) nations have out on their web sites. Most scare you with threats of every nature and I am not sure if anyone at England or Germany or Japan knows what Dengue but yeah some of the stuff that could happen here is scary and particularly offensive. Well as I said I am the one that is into trying to put a positive spin to it and often I wonder why? I think the reasons are many as are the many contradictions; hues; metaphors; imageries that is India. I don’t know if there can ever be any one picture or image that represents the humanity and culture that is Indian and many have though tried before. At Air India our national carrier the Maharajah was a symbol and a brand identity – a pity however that the airline was never perceived well otherwise and has its name etched in history with a horrendous air crash by sabotage

If I were to suggest a symbol I might even say the auto rickshaw – the tuk tuk as some of our other asian brethren call it. There is a reason why I say so and it is because any A list celebrity that ever visits our country (and my mind is immediately on this hollywood power couple that is camping out in a town near fair Mumbai  shooting a movie about a murdered journalist) wants to and does take a ride in this affable though possibly risky three wheeled automobile. I don not know if it is uniquely Indian as there is an Italian company also that does make these – sold more or less only into India – but there is something about the auto that does capture the mind of the itinerant westerner. Some have even purchased and shipped them back home and there is at least one professional ‘tuk tuk’ service at the UK. The english usually being people who are tickled pink about the idea of spending 20 quid (approximately four thousand rupees) on a joy ride

I recall recently in beautiful France people with concerns for their environment burnt parked SUVs around town. This was an occasion different from the other one where they burnt Paris to decry joblessness and racism. But burning an SUV sounds so mean – I mean if global warming be your thing – burning the damn thing is not really the best thing to do now, is it? Actually the SUVs fell foul of the greens due to their low mileage – some of their finest being 13 miles per gallon – or 5.44 kilometers to the liter. Come to think of it – at that kind of mileage even Indians would have burnt them – but more democratically by ensuring that the product never sells! An Indian built 3 ton 3 litre SUV for example helps you be green and mean at the same time spewing out approximately 27 mpg.

 

What it is to be Indian?

This Independence day – my heart grew kind of fond for my nation. It was I think our 60th
birthday and the country has – even though there may perhaps be a lot wrong with it –
proven to be a very strong and respected nation around the world. I spent that day – the
15th of August like a sabath – a holiday; didn’t do much – just thought about my nation; my
country; our identity; what we have done; what we have achieved. Many thoughts and many an
emotion ran amok in my mind and my heart was aroused with passion of some times disgust at
what our people and governance are capable of and more often than not – pride at what we do
and where we  have reached and what we have done. This is what they say love is – I felt it
for my nation.
 
 
In the next few days an Indian woman became the chief of an American cola company and
conspiracy theorist that I am – I see in it connection with the fact that colas had been
banned a few days back in my nation. But I cannot argue that ladies achievements down and
her Indian ness was perhaps a coincidence or a mere chance of fate as is often what great
nations attract?! I think my country is amongst the great – it is a pity that economists
insist  us as developing – 3rd world countries. I know – it is true also that there are
parts of our nation that are sub saharan in their poverty at Orissa for example. Our laws
and legal systems leave a lot to be desired and does not often come up to mark – but then
there is sheer large ness of the numbers involved – the population size is after all a
billion – there are after all a billion issues and tangles to be solved! And we have
freedom – we can do what we feel – more or less and there is really not a lot any one will
do to stop us if we keep within the limits of decency and rowdiness – but even  that is not
too mandatory!
 
 
For every little poverty stricken crib about our nation I hear from the world’s thinking
classes – the more I wonder – don’t they ever add up teh fact that for 60 years – except
for a very small period of emergency – ever had any curtailment on fundamental rights of
expression. And we have had enemies the world’s largest non democracy is our neighbour as
also another beloved nation which was once a part of our heritage – but is today an
university  of global jehad – some of it aimed at my country too. We have had bombs go off
with the frequency of diwali festival fireworks so many times that I think a certain amount
of acceptance has perhaps come in of bad things happenning and the Indian way of life will
prevail. Often religion is bought into the description of analysis of what Indian ness is
causing widespred consternation. But then it is only to be accepted I argue; this was after
all a civilisation that was born some where in the Indus valley – quite some time back – it
was a way of life – and yes religion was a large part of it!
 
 
To be Indian is an unique synthesis – as much Mughal – e – Azam; as much emperor Jalaluddin
Akbar as today it is to be Sharukh Khan. There is magic in this synthesis and I think the
high point of our civilisation was when Europe was in the mediveal period. Often we are
snided for  our caste system among the world’s intelligentsia; but not many will accept
that there is a system here – where even  the presidency of the nation cannot be on caste
lines be drawn. We have a country where a person from a ‘backwards’ state with less than
equal previliges can today be a business school hero for what he has wrought with another
ever green Indian institution – the Indian rail system. The fact that he did in spite of
corruption taints & scams – I think speaks something about democracy and our way of life.
Yeah; I’d rather though he hadn’t the corruption taints. I’d rather that we stopped being
rated so high by Transparency Internationa Index on corruption and so low by Amnesty
International on civil rights.
 
 
I rationalise – we have the burden of history on our backs – and we have impoverished poor
whom we have started to feed now barely and we have many of them – much much more. And we
let everyone have a point of view – a vote of equity in the system. This often gets in the
way and that is a burden many a nation does not and probaby will never ever. For in that
multitude and in that number is the answer. I remember when I was a kid – I read somewhere
that if every ‘chinaman’ (those days that was sort of a derogatory reference to the Chinese
and we were off course much less politically correct) were to get on to a stool; a chair
two feet tall and jumped off – the Earth would fall out of orbit. Man that is the kind of
an impact a civilisation should be able to make and today and today those same chinamen;
our neighbours with the chop sticks are doing it . And we are too in our own  slightly
glacial way after all often isn’t it that our nation has been compared to an elephant and
rarely ever to the Tiger?

A nation in an economic boom and the loss of innocence.

Ours is a country that has been chronically poverty stricken – the poor here are more in number than any other specific group of people. It has always been thus and whoever says we were a rich country in the days of yore – is right to the extent that there were rich people then as there are now – but it  is the poor that made up the multitude. We were never rich and the our history is loaded with tales of when the rich kings and subedars and jagrirdars and other such feudal types robbed and pillaged the downtrodden with taxes that kept them poor.

 

And today we are in the midst of a boom – we are on the way to get rich – poverty isn’t the image any longer.  That is what the Americans call ‘drinkin’ your own koolaid’ – believing your own baloney; actually thinking that the lobbyist and the PR images are what it is all about. Sure there are a lot of people out there in the work force – there is a growth in the services sector driving the economy – yet the fact remains the majority are still poor – and poverty means a bit more than just the world bank definition of less than 1 US dollar a day. I believe it means the depredation and destitution and the desperation of existence when you have not even access to some basic rights of existence. Poverty is that feeling of not having anything – kind of like those images from Darfur, Sudan – site of a mass genocide and other such African images of Ethiopia like we saw during Live Aid.

 

Africa is rich in poverty at least the images and the landscapes and the desperation but then our country – has not really any less to offer. The distances between the haves and the have nots – a subject for much discussion among the political classes in the 1970s (when we were really poor as opposed to now – when we seem to be only fashionably so) is really not come down. Looking at indices like the world human development report from the UN actually puts a number to that destitution and off course it is not fun. We still have less doctors per person than does Cuba and of course they are much smaller and then size is our problem – but then why is not size our opportunity – whey don’t we just make so many doctors?

 

But there is an economic boom going out there at growth at 8% and above, yet when poverty ingrained at levels so deep hits an economic boom and  the luxuries of existence are all over the place there are bound to be interesting things happening – as have had happened in India. The growth of the ‘maoist revolution’ and their meaningless and agenda less nihilism (reminds one of the anarchists of yore in continental Europe) is today redrawing our country in distinct lines of the urban and the hinterland. The hinterlands are the badlands – where the law of nature, jungle; gun; Maoists and what have you s rule. If true development has to be made – the rebels out there – the badlands; the OBCs; the people under various names who are marginalized in every game must also be the ones getting some of the benefits of this economic boom that our country is so proud of.

 

And it is not a lot that they need – remember they are poor and just simple sustenance level things are enough. A little bit of fair governance; a little electricity; some telephone connectivity; land rights, micro finance at the lowest interest rates,  a government that cares and maybe a little bit of a computer and internet connectivity at the block and tehsil offices so that people could access the government extranet for land records; laws; etc. Funny thing is most of the infrastructure exists; sachets of shampoo made by a Anglo Dutch multinational and even the ubiquitous cola reach our interiors. Why then cannot good governance and a better life? The need to find the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid is now no longer just for the MNCs but also for the governments to build if our nation has to build on its greatness and harness its new found opportunities without disrupting our existences.

Death of a legend & the fall of a city

With 206 films under his belt and performances that enthralled generations of people in Kannada cinema – Annavaru has left a great legacy behind. On his death – his eyes were donated  and were removed immediately on the announcement of his passing away. He was a simple man on whom circumstances had thrust greatness and he let that mantle lay lightly on his shoulders. To the end he was a simple man who prided himself on where he came from.
 
Yet he was a legend and as legends pass – I guess we Indians need to make a point of it. And so the city that a great man died in was on siege – by a fan club gone berserk. I live here and was in the middle of the biggest market in this city on JC Road (those initials belong to  the last king of the princely state of Mysore on whom the road is named). I was at a shop buying something – and then suddenly the guy I was talking with at the shop says ‘ sir, get out of here fast; things are gonna get out of control soon!’ Having spent many of my formative years in Indian cities which had been at those points flashpoints of communal rioting bought in by differences on religious issues (and no I just got kinda lucky – I did not really look to live in those cities!), my mind immediately thought this was another ‘communal riot’ coming on.
 
I asked in a bit of a contrived calmness of demeanor – ‘ so what happenned, wass up?’ – when he answered was when I realised that the actor had died. In this silicon valley wannabe city that I live in – there are rarely issues more emotive than the greatest actor ever that Kannada cinema had produced. I grabbed my change and ran to my car desperately calling up my near & dear ones out in the city to drop everything and get home! Off course the phones would not work – panic had taken over and everyone was jamming the phone lines madly. I had been here before in 2000 I think  – that was when Annavaru had been kidnapped by that damned brigand – V for Vendetta!
 
Having been there before and having done that – as I usually have – I hit the drill; tank up on gas for the wheels; get food; get booze; get cigarettes and hunker down in your bunker. I guessed it would be two days before this blew over. I managed the gas and some of the food but missed the smokes and the drinks – actually I was kind of trying to get off the drink and the cancer sticks or I know I would have!
 
And so we passed the last two days and today – it was like nothing evenr happenned and if you wanted to know what did happen – well at least 4 national level and 3 local news channels have at least 48 hrs of live video feed of rioting and arsonry and off course the news papers have had pictures of a city on fire in grief over an actors death. To think that the french thought they had gotten ahead of themselves with a simple ‘first jobs’ bill or some such pecadillo!!
 
What is the point of it all – well me thinks the point is – out here on the perimeter there are no stars out here  we damned well do what we feel like! Anarchy is probably king?!?

animal rights and us

Today was the begining of a new day in the Indian wildlife conservation. A fairly popular filmstar with a wide fan following was put to jail for killing an Indian Chinkara gazelle (an antelope). No two ways about it the guy deserved it and he has had an history of behaving badly and may be a disturbed person. However the sniggering classes must mention that a few days back a guy got off scot free after killing and Indian human being – a woman and ex model. Too bad animals are more important as anyone who has heard of Maneka Gandhi will tell you and in a country like India where we do have many people to begin with and there are any way many minorities and all need to be attended to – I guess it is only fair that some one be put to jail for killing a deer.
 
Off course we must also keep in mind that deer hunting and otherwise killing defence less animals with guns and pellets and shots – where the odds that they can defend themselves are fairly shortened – is indeed a manly sport of much popularity in the developed world. The vice president of the US some time back shot his hunting partner in the derriere (the exact position of the shot  may not be true!) with quite some widespread consternation. In our country shooting defence less animals is suitably and in my mind quite rightly frowned upon and if this film star becomes an example – well more power to the people who put him in jail.
 
But then is a black buck more sacred than a woman moonlighting as a bartender; it probably seems like it – or rather what we see is a very good example of how lobby and pressure groups can actually mount an attack and win the day. The deer is not it – people with a stake in its death (and the people/community that  fought the film star have an history of having gone against the powers that be for over 500 years now and all that in the name of animal and plat rights!) made it the issue and made sure their version of justice is done.

some contemplation…..

Dubya – the most powerful man in the world was in India this week and we learnt a lot of interesting details in  the press; for example the daughter of the prime minister of India works for the Human rights people at the (Civil Liberties) US and is suing the president of the world (sorry US and Mr. GWBush at the moment)  over human rights abuse at Guantanamo Bay.
 
Really made me wonder – did she go there to do the civil liberties/human rights things because she had less challenges here; we do not have much of human rights here now do we? I mean the finance minister of India has just recently decided to tax us (citizens of India) should we god forbid ask our credit card companies for an account statement. This activity is apparently a service? This is while most people turning in billions on rose or mushroom farming do not pay taxes as agcriculture in India is exempt from tax. If that is not a deprivation of human rights to a section of society – I do not know one. And we are not even starting on the rest where people have had to face worse.
 
When the Indian economy is as at a boom as it is now – I guess it is only right that serious comment and dissension is limited to just the communists – who no one ever took seriously anyway. Most people are too busy counting the cash that they made the honest way or the dishonest way like say the people on that drunken murder case at the national capital.