Kerala Needs Relief, Not Aid Politics


Kerala Relioef
Relief supplies being sorted.The floods in Kerala have touched the hearts of everyone in India. Do we need to introduce politics of party and communalism in it? 

KERALA, THE MOST LITERATE state in India has experienced its worst calamity in over 100 years. And India responded with full sympathy in rushing aid to the state. Heavy rains and floods have killed hundreds of people and displaced lakhs of them.

Rehabilitating the affected people is a herculean task. The entire nation and even Indians living abroad – Kerala has a very large number of them – are contributing generously to the relief and rehabilitation work in Kerala.

But then came relief politics.  Rescue, relief and rehabilitation — the three Rs of disaster management– were pushed into the background in the state that was always first in India in the  “3Rs” of education – reading writing and arithmetic (popular as ‘3 Rs’ though only one of them starts with an R).

It started with someone posting on WhatsApp and other social media pictures of workers of  Seva Bharati, the RSS  disaster management wing, engaged in rescue and relief  work in the troubled state, with a request to forward the posts to others as “the paid-news presstitutes” of mainstream media would not let the world know of their contribution. The posts vent viral.

This has obviously irked the Congress and its  “comrades” of the Communist Party of India and the CPI Marxist who rule the state. They countered it with posts denigrating the RSS group’s work. Very few know that Seva Bharati has been doing commendable relief work in every disaster-struck area in the country without any publicity. In my forays into social work I was involved in disaster management after the  earthquake in Latur and have seen the quiet, self-less service of Seva Bharati volunteers.

This time someone wanted to publicise it and the anti-BJP parties thought  politics was more important than relief and that this was a good stick to beat the BJP-led coalition in power at the Centre.

The Central government announced an advance assistance of Rs 600 crores while the state demanded several times that amount. The state also announced that the United Arab Emirates announced an aid of Rs 700 crores.  Media persons searching for some reason to criticise the Centre took it up as a big issue.

A news channel host, always at the forefront of this brigade,  made it a big issue, saying the Centre was giving less that the aid offered by UAE which was not being accepted by the BJP rulers.

To the embarrassment of that loudmouthed anchor, the UAE ambassador in India made an announcement that officially no amount of aid was decided on and that the Centre had  thanked UAE for its offer to help. It was  the earlier Congress regime that decided that as a policy, no relief from abroad should be accepted. Had the NDA coalition government accepted the aid the same Congress would have attacked it for lowering the country’s selfrespect.

An anchor more loudmouthed than the critic of BJP got a chance to out-shout him to point out that the UAE government did NOT announce more than the Central aid and also that what the Centre announced was just the first instalment or advance. The state’s ability to spend thousands of crores at once  was also questioned

“Can Kerala government spend thousands of crores on a single day? Or will it put the money in FDs?” a Facebook post taunted. Another concluded that the Centre was anti-Kerala as it was ruled by the Communists.  A  Congress leader pointed out the earlier decision (not to accept foreign aid) referred only to relief and not rehabilitation.

He was obviously unaware that rehabilitation comes much after rescue and relief. He also did not object to a  Sikh group from Chicago, Khalsa Aid, sending relief supplies and setting up langars in Kerala – all parts of rescue and relief which, according to his party, should not be accepted. “Khalsa Aid CEO Ravi Singh told BBC that the humanitarian aid group will expand its operations in Kerala to help the distressed people,” Sikh Siyasat News reported.  

Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid, Chicago, helping in Kerala rescue work                                                                                                                                                          (Courtesy Sikh Siayasat News

There was a post about a pro-RSS teacher, whose legs were cut off by the Marxists years ago, who was doing rescue work in the floods,m  when he was again  attacked by the Marxists  and his artificial legs broken. There were also reports of the CPI-collected relief supplies being carted away by force by the  Marxists to its own relief centres.

When it came to relief politics the Marxists had no allies –Congress or CPI.

The Chief Minister’s Office in Kerala joined the fray in attacking the Centre for rejecting the UAE aid. It also issued a statement that the controversial Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP, who was spending time in Geneva when the state that elected him to Parliament was in distress, was not the authorised spokesman of the Kerala Government when he made statements about the disaster in foreign forums and the Press.

The flood disaster has not only taken up political colour but also a communal one. One tweet said Shah Rukh Khan gave away Rs. 5 crores for relief. Another said Salman Khan gave Rs 12 crores unannounced and without publicity for the Kerala flood victims. A third questioned if Amitabh Bachchan  donated to flood relief at all. The tweets came from members of one community. The man who tweeted that the BJP government was anti-Kerala was asked, “Do you think only the Vatican and UAE are concerned about Kerala?”

The man’s community is obvious – as was his bias.  Kerala has very large number of Muslims and Christians and both the communities play a major role in the politics of that state – one reason why the BJP has not been able to make any headway there.

It turned out that SRK gave only Rs.21 lakhs and that too from Meer Trust he controlled. What Salman Khan gave is still not known, but his track record is of high donations. Amitabh Bachchan gave not only Rs 51 lakhs from his own money but also sent six cartons containing closed, 40 pairs of shoes and other material.

The film industry joined the rest of the country is coming to Kerala’s aid. A report said Kunal Kapoor and Randeep Hooda have  been actively helping the Kerala flood victims through various crowdfunding projects. Sunny Leone donated 1200 kilograms of rice and dal for the victims.   Kangana Ranaut  donned Rs. 10 Lakh towards Kerala CM’s Relief Fund.  Sushant Singh Rajput   has been “extremely agile in supporting the victims and has gone the extra mile and donated Rs. 1 crore to the state”. Singer-songwriter A.R. Rahman  paid a special tribute to the Kerala flood victims. In his  recent concert in California he replaced .Mustafa‘ with Kerala in the lyrics of his famous song and also sang ‘Don’t Worry Kerala‘.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the flood damage would be much more than the primary estimate of Rs 20,000 crore,..”Rehabilitation process of the displaced is progressing in the right direction,” he said.  The chief minister rejected the Congress-led UDF opposition’s criticism of the relief and rehabilitation work.

Having worked in the field of disaster relief and reduction I recollect that every time there was a major disaster in any state in the country, the Centre allotted only a fraction of what the state demanded – whichever party was in power in the two places. In fact, I had spoken at some forums on why the Press exaggerated the seriousness of the disaster and why the loss figures are always much higher than the real ones.

The scaling-up is done to ensure that more  come to the rescue of the affected and that the aid is stepped up. After Latur I had also warned against the affected people becoming dole-dependent and being reduced to being beggars. Kerala is one state that would never face these problems as its people have high self-respect and would never become dole-dependent. There is, perhaps, no region in India which does not have some Karaites as they are prepared to go anywhere and work hard.

But the tendency of members of a community praising contribution of celebrities of their own community and political parties  trying to distract attention by politicizing relief work is, to say the least,  unfortunate. Politicians only reaped a rich harvest of corruption from floods and drought as pointed out by the book  ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought’ by P. Sainath

Kerala has enough of politics and religious rifts. What it needs is relief.





Veteran Journalist Kuldeep Nayar, RIP


Veteran and most respected journalist of India, Kuldeep Nayar, RIP

VETERAN JOURNALIST KULDEEP NAYAR passed away today, at the age of 95, perhaps bringing to close with him an era of honest reporting in this age of fake and paid news.

Thousands of journalists, political leaders and  people in public life condoled his death — some of them not even knowing the names of his 15 books or his name itself. Former Shiv Sena leader and now Maharashtra Congress president Sanjay Nirupam tweeted “Veteran journalist Shri Kuldeep Nayer’s demise is a big loss to Indian journalism. He was a peace activist &  a great nationalist. Have fond memories of working with him in Rajya Sabha. Beyond The Line & India after Nehru were his most popular books. My condolences to his wife Bharti.”

Nirupam does not know that Kuldeep spelt his name as Nayar, unlike most Punjabi Nayyars and  one Punjabi who adopted the Malayalam version, Hollywood film-maker Meera Nair.

And his most famous book on (the then) current affairs was ‘Between The Lines’ not ‘Beyond The Line’ as mentioned by Nirupam, who perhaps did not read Kuldeep’s bylined column of the same name. The condoelnce served only to remind readers that he, Sanjay, was a member of Rajya Sabha.

A Pakistani daily, The Express Tribune,  distorted RIP (Requisit in Pace or Rest In Peace as commonly understood) to  ‘Rest in Power’.  Had he hankered after power, he would have cashed his job as IO  in Press Information Bureau,  later, or as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Anyone who is 80 and waiting near the exit gate of life,  for it to open, is likely to read most obituaries and write on them. Sticking to my practice of writing only personal recollections when eminent people die – and not what is already in public domain or on Internet – I recall meeting him several times.

As the Editor-in-Chief  he visited  The Indian Express daily (then undivided) at an edition which I had launched as the first chief sub-editor.   Talking to him I mentioned his student days in the USA.

A close friend, the late Dr Singammal Iyengar,  told me that when she went to the USA for the second time for her doctoral studies at the Northwestern University at Evanston near Chicago, he was in the prestigious Medeil School of journalism at that university.  As a ‘senior’ she bossed over all the Indian students, helping them overcome the culture shock and teaching them expected basic behaviour.

Her contact with journalism was minimal: she thought the United News of India (UNI) news agency which he headed when she ttold me about “that boy Kuldeep”, was a part of the  United Nations!

A look at Kuldip Nayar even in his later days shows he must have been a very handsome, tall, Punjabi youth. Many girls wanted to be noticed by him and  told Dr Iyengar that he never socialised (that is, dated) and vanished after classes.

So Singammal summoned him to the canteen and asked why. He told her that as soon as “school” ended, he went to work for his pocket money. Educational loans were unheard of in India and most Indian students worked, some even in restaurents and motels. This led to a joke by Dr Laxmanswami Mudaliar (or his twin brother Dr Ramaswami), who as Vice-Chancellor at a convocation where Chester Bowles, the then famous US Ambassador in India, said in his welcome speech, “I am told in America, you give degrees for dishwashing.”

The intended pun was to say that American universities had degrees even in subjects like dishwashing, with a dig at students getting degrees after washing dishes in a restaurent.

Kuldeep was very quick on the uptake. He guessed that I was referring to the incident narrated by Dr Iyengar. He laughed it away, saying, “Oh, in those days, I had no money and had to work.” Having started his journalistic career in Urdu newspapers, he never wrote to show off his knowledge of English and even admitted wirting was not his  forte.

But humility certainly was. At least twice I took  students of the journalism departrment, as a teacher in charge of their Delhi ‘study tour’, to his house and he spent quality time with them. I remember him chiding the Head of Department for bringing the students late. “You must teach them to keep time,” he had said.

I regret that in my book on Indian journalism I wrote (as a joke, mentioning that he was a hihgly respected journbalist in India)  about Kuldeep Nayar’s  arrest by  Indira Gandhi during the Emergency.  I said someone described him as “Journalist-in-law”. He was the son-in-law of Bhimsen Sachar, the first Chief Minister of Bombay Presidency (before states were reorganised) and brother-in-law of  the late Justice Rajendra Sachar.

But then who would remember such trivia. I hope journalism students would remember at least Kuldeep Nayar



The Tragicomedy of Contrived Humour

Pu. La.
Pu La Deshpande

HUMOUR, THEY SAY 😊,  is a serious business.  Or, has this too become a cliche and so not funny any more?

A sense of humour is a prized possession every man wants to be known for. Women find it more attractive than appearance or affluence. In a mixed company, a sense of humour gets more appreciation than any other attribute.

Never does the difficulty of writing humour become so obvious than when you are trying to be humorous on purpose, without the humour


coming from your inner self, when you are not being natural and when it is contrived or “made to order”. Very few have the ability to write humour when their own thoughts are bordering on pathos, like the poet Thomas Hood (‘Bridge of  Sighs‘,  ‘On Her Deathbed‘ and several other poems born of despair and tragedy) who, it is said,  wrote ‘lighter stuff’ and humorous lyrics for a living.


P.G. Wodehouse

I always held that the greatest pleasure of knowing the English language was being able to read and understand P. G. Wodehouse. For those who want legal humour, there is Henry Cecil (No  Bail for The Judge, Brothers in Law)  and Richard Gordon (‘Doctor in Love, Doctor at Sea) for medical humour.


But then, humour and pathos are believed to be closely related. Natya Shastra (the ancient Indian treatise on the science of drama, dance or make-believe) holds that humour is born out of pathos,  Pu. La. Deshpande, the great Marathi humourist, told me in an interview around 1961. He explained it at great length.


Humour is a safety spring of life that absorbs the knocks and bruises life causes. Life is a tragedy you can survive only by enjoying its humour, I recall him saying decades ago. The humour of PuLa and of Sharad Joshi, the Hindi humourist who read prose at every important gathering of humorous poets  (Hasya Kavi Sammelan) and was applauded for it, was of a more enduring, impacting brand. It had depth and subtlety which many others, who believed in slap-stick or banana-peel humour, lacked. PuLa has no equal in India.

In Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus, Mera Naam Joker, the circus

Charlie Chaplin

joker, making everyone laugh, was a melancholy character. It was too subtle for the Indian audience of last century, as proved by its failure at the box-office — a  big blow to the master showman. Another great showman, Charlie Champlin with whom he was often compared, tried to bring out the tragedy of contemporary life through comedy in films like Modern Times, King in New York, The Kid, The Great Dictator, Limelight and The Tramp.

Chaplin is said to be the only comedian who could make you cry when he laughed and laugh when he cried. That reminds me of the role of Johnny Walker in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s classic  Anand. Known only for slapstick, brainless, not-so-subtle humour, Johnny plays a drama actor who humours Anand (Rajesh Khanna) on his deathbed and realising that Anand was aware all along that he was dying, keeps up the pretence. He then runs out crying that he would not let the curtain fall. Even recollecting the scene brings tears.

Many great writers have used humour to take up social issues, like T.P Kailasam (1884-1946) and BeeChi (Rayasam Bheemasena Rao, 1913-1980)  in Kannada as did in Telugu, Gurajada Apparao (‘Kanyashulkam’-1892) Mokkapati Narasimha Sastry (‘Barrister Parvateesham’-1924).  ‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy (1899-1954) lives in the Tamil magazine that shares his pen name today.

Gujarat,’s Tarak Mehta, who died last year, had cult following in Hindi TV with his “Oolta Chashma” comedy serial, while some like Vinod Dave and Narsinh Mehta had combined journalism with humour. Hindi had a great shortage of humour writers but by the time I met Harishankar Parsai at Jabalpur in 1966, he was already a known Communist sympathiser working for his ideology.

Every language literature in India has eminent humourists and every generation has its own prominent writers. The tenor and insight of each generation’s humour varies. Some of olden days may cease to be funny now. Some jokes of today could not be imagined yesterday. We laugh WITH  some writers and laugh AT others who are out of tune.

In every language, humour has been used to draw people’s attention to social issues and motivate change for good. Humour has played a great rule in the success of many films but in most Indian-language mainstream films,  like ‘Ganget Ghoda Nhala‘ (Marathi) of  Raja Paranjape (1910-1979), it remains very crude and often vulgar.

Hindi TV comedian Kapil Sharma’s life has been turning into a tragedy and cricketer-turned-comedian-turned-minister Navjot Singh Siddhu is resorting to buffoonery in Pakistan in his third role – as a politician.

Comedians becoming mere jokers will turn humour into tragedy.


Not Just Blind, Also Silent On The Voiceless

Related image
After Gulzar’s ‘Koshish’, a laudable ‘koshish’ by the government

A WORD THAT WAS used too frequently in recent political debates in different contexts – so frequently that it has almost lost it’s meaning – is empowering’.

Just 2 days ago I wrote on this blog how empowering the white cane, audio books or the enhanced ability of touch are to the blind. Most of the blind use not only touch but also sound and smell to great advantage.

They have these faculties far more developed than ‘normal’ people. Most ‘sighted’ people can hear without listening, see without noticing and touch without feeling. And they take these facilities for granted, not even thankful for having them and doing little for those denied them.

Elsewhere, I mentioned Sateesh Sehgal. a Delhi friend who was retained in Mumbai by filmmaker Gulzar for the entire duration of the filming of his classic film  ‘Koshish’ starring Sanjiv Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri, as he did not want a single scene in it which would not go with the deaf and dumb. A perfectionist like him would never compromise.

Sateesh, an expert in sign language, used to tell me how British and Indian sign languages differed. In English showing a ring on a finger meant ‘married’; showing a nose-stud or a Mangala sutra did it in India. He tried to compile an Indian dictionary of sign language. I could give only moral support.

So it was gratifying to receive a mail from a young relative working as a ‘special teacher’ for the dumb, a Press Information Bureau release that the government has brought out ‘The First Indian Sign Language Dictionary’ of 3000 words. It was launched by Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

The dictionary has been developed by Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLR&TC) under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The basic aim of the ISL Dictionary is to improve communication between the deaf and hearing communities. It provides much information in Indian sign language to the deaf, bringing them into the social mainstream. New words will be added to the dictionary later.

As per 2011 census, there are 50, 71,007 deaf people and 19, 98,535 with speech disability in India. So it was decided by the new government to develop the dictionary to provide them with legal, medical, technical and academic terms along with daily use words. The ISLD has videos with subtitles in English and Hindi terms to help deaf children learn English.

It has everyday terms, 237 legal terms like “Affidavit”, “Acquittal”, over 200 academic terms explaining words like “Nervous System”, “Rotation” and “Revolution”, etc. from subjects like physics, geography, biology, maths, etc. 200 sign videos for medical terms, 206 videos of signs for 204 technical terms used in vocational training or in computer courses.

My friend Sateesh Sehgal’s dream is coming true after almost half a century.

On My Blindness, With Apologies to Milton

white cane
Are we blind towards the blind?

ONE OF THE FAMOUS POEMS by John Milton (Don’t know? Ask Google) is ‘On His Blindness‘. That set me thinking —  of MY future blindness.

One of my parents went blind due to glaucoma (eye pressure) months before death. I was told that it was genetic and so I must get checked. Expectedly, when I did, it was glaucoma. Anyone whose parents (or one  one them) had glaucoma MUST have an eye-check, I was told, After expensive field vision tests thrice, I was just told to take care. No surgery was advised. Perhaps it was too late.

So, resigned to turning blind (again, I hope, just for months before death) I downloaded seveImage result for John Miltonral  of Librivox audio books. After hearing 19 books of  P. G. Wodehouse,  it occurred to the old cerebrum: Without sight, how can I know which book to hear and how to start it on the device?


So that set me thinking about blindness and trying to find my way around with eyes closed. I recalled a delightful essay by E. V. Lucas, (who? Google again) which I read decades ago, about a small puppy he named ‘Lord of Life’ for its liveliness. Just to know how  the puppy looked at the world,  Lucas went around on all-fours looking up at people and things.


That gave him a new view of the world.  But how about people who had no vision, or sight, at all? After my social work  group organized a vintage car rally with blind navigators carrying route directions in braille, it occurred to me that the whole society/community/country is blind – to the plight of the blind.

So I planned (but could not put through) a public awareness drive with several persons marching blindfolded, running into people, bumping into things,  carrying placards on how to treat the blind and respect the white cane – the worldwide symbol of the blind.

It was again  in my social work days that I learnt about white cane, mobility training and serving blind people (“The curry is at 9  0’clock and Dal at 3”  would make it clear to them when an Indian food plate is kept before the blind).  In those days a blind Ph.D.  student told me how she could match the colours of her saree and blouse. She associated a colour with each texture she knew by touch – like rayon, linen, cotton, silk, poplin or Georgette.

Editing reports for a consultancy firm, Erin, I found there a blind telephone operator who remembered people by voice, could dial numbers and give extensions. He was also the captain of the state’s blind cricket team.

I recalled interviewing as a cub reporter some 60 years ago, an Indian professor of  New School of Social Research, New York, who went around that bustling city with the help of just a  white cane.

In India he would have fallen into road potholes or on uneven footpaths, abused, pushed around, bumped into and shouted at by many: “Are you blind?”

He WAS blind.

Or was it the sighted people around, blind to his white cane and black goggles, who were really blind?


Indian Media In a muddle

Image result for newspaper
Without creibility, just a pile of waste paper (Raddi)?

A ‘NATIONAL’ INDIAN DAILY (no, I don’t mean notional, though  a 80-year-old typing on phone can make such mistakes) has shed copious tear, both in print and digital versions, over a ‘dancer’, known for vulgar record dances, not being allowed to dance in the plane on an international flight.

The same newspapers makes it a point to report every time Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi’s diaper is changed or he cried. The flirtations of film stars and idiotic speeches of morons passing off as leaders of political parties get most space in the print media or time on TV channels. We heard of Malala, the Pakistani girl shot by Taliban for seeking education  for girls or the man who shared the Noel Prize with her, Kailash Satyarthi only after she was shot or he got the prize.

All that they did earlier was pushed out of news space by frivolities which do not “inform, educate or entertain” – the primary purpose of journalism .- Titillation or pandering to baser human cravings are things that boost up newspaper circulations or TV viewership ‘ratings’.

Unfortunately people at large are interested in glamour and reel heroes in place of real ones.  And that is the main argument advanced by media for the new trend of sensationalization they indulge in. It is disgusting!

Recently I heard a discourse in which, departing from his usual religious issues, the speaker spoke of the respect that should be paid to the national flag, as Independence Day of India (August 15) was around the corner. He narrated the story of an Army officer who got a telegram that a son was born to him and was granted leave to visit home by his commanding officer. Just then a report of terrorist activity near the borders came. The CO told him to select some efficient and committed soldiers to be rushed to the spot.

The officer told his CO, “I can see my wife and son some other time, but I cannot see the national flag falling now.” He cancelled his leave, rushed to the troubled area, bravely fought the terrorists and shot them down. Just when he rose from his bunker, thinking all of them were down, one dying terrorist showered bullets on him. The officer died fighting for the country, without seeing his newborn son or  the wife he married just the previous year.

“No Indian news channel or newspaper thought the news worth splashing. Not a word was heard or read about the brave act. The world came to know about it from a BBC bulletin,” the  immensely popular speaker said.

This seems to be a world trend. Recently, an extremely popular American talk-show, EllenTube, had the host Ellen telling the audience that she would begin the day with good news. She picked up a daily newspaper, searched for good news in most pages and threw the daily down in disgust. All news items were about some evil even or the other.

Newspapers everywhere are facing existential crisis. Many are facing closure. Great ones like The Gaurdian have gone online and are appealing for public donations. Journalism in all media has lost its credibility. Social media news id quicker and more effective, but being un-regulated, gives scope to fake news.

In India newspapers like those run by Lokmanya Tilak, Agarkar, Prakasam or Motilal Nehru were a part of the freedom struggle. They were run with a purpose. I remember Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Harijan‘ had a column titled “Weekly War News”, on Satyagraha in different part of the country.

The media’s argument “that is what the people want” to justify  sensationalization and running after TRP (ratings) is the same as that used by bad film makers. It has been proved beyond doubt that if good films are made, people do see them. Only when some indulge in titillation and a few are creative does people’s taste degenerate. The fall in tastes and morality is a reflection of the failure of leadership in all fields.

Real leaders lead, not just follow popular trends.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, RIP

Vajpayee, journalist, politician but essentially a poet at heart

He was born on Christmas Day celebrated all over the world – even by thousands of non-Christians. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was kept alive artificially on Inida’s Independence Day, August 15 and the life support was switched off only the next day, August 16 evening (as the I-Day for Indians living in the USA was still on India’s Aug.16 morning).

He could not have wanted to spoil the festivities on India’s Independence Day. That was typically Vajpayee, almost 94 years old.

This blog reported several deaths, but not repeating what was already available on the Internet or other sources but with personal glimpses. So let us continue that tradition.

Taking a group of 52 students of the Department of Mass Communication, Nagpur Universithy as one of the teachers accompanying them on a Delhi ‘study tour’ I was keen that it should not end up another pleasure trip of shopping event, which it usually did. So I prepared them for each visit, be it to a news channel, media house,embassy, politiciasn, Rashtrapatyi Bhavan or news agency office.

Then I remembered that one of my ex-students was working on the personal staff of the ex-Prime Minister and then Leader of the Opposition, A. B. Vajjpayee. We did not have an appointment. I asked the ex-student to find out if Atalji would meet us if we drop in unscheduled.

Vajpayee not only agreed and spent time with the boys and girls, some of them later journalists, but treated them to tea, asnwered their questions and made them proud to have wanted to become journalists – the profession he belonged to.

At the end, responding to a student who remembered him as a poet, he even recited one of his poems. A journalist by calling and a politician with a purpose, he was a poet at heart. And he distinguished himself in all these fields.

In sharp contrast to the present day politics of hatred, when Congress leaders vie with each other in abusing an belittling (neech aadmi, chairwala, hahhaha) Prime Minister Narendra Modi — one of Vajyapee’s discoveries — the late leader praised Indira Gandhi, when she liberated Bangladesh, as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.

That was Atalji. At a time when the Indian media, bereft of credibility, ethcs and social commitment, are seen at their lowest-ever level, he makes me (and many journbalists of yester-years) proud that thety belong to the profession of the former editor of Rashtra Dharma, Swaraj (Gwalior) and Panchajanya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Money Pours in for Temples, Not Schools

If Iskcon can do it, why not Tirupati, other temples?

OUTRAGE, IN INDIA, is not followed by action.

Scores of readers criticised the Patel community (Patidars) for raising ₹150 crores in just three hours, to erect one more community temple in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city. And Patels, who own most of the motels in the USA, have huge properties abroad and are a dominant community, are fighting for reservations and a backward tag.

The Congress is backing the agitation just to embarrass Narendra Modi as he is from Gujarat.

It prompted my blog calling for a moratorium on building of new temples, churches and mosques till the country has a society where no one goes hungry, there are no more homeless people and no one dies for lack of medical aid.

Iskcon (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) popularly known as Hare Krishna movement, has built Krishna temples all over India and abroad costing millions of rupees each. Every one of them is a tourist attraction and has thousands visiting them every day.

Having a large number of foreigners as devotees, Iscon has also started an organisation, Akshaya Patra, which has huge facilities with machines to cook hygeienically food for lakhs of school children.

A recent post (picture above) said the government has asked the Hare Krishna movement to feed the poor at centres run by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

Bangalore Iskcon Akshaya Patra has been such a resounding success that the government almost handed over the school mid-day meal scheme to it.

Akshaya Patra has scores of vehicles transporting the meals to the schools with departures so timed as to ensure hot food reaches the children in time, irrespective of their religion or caste. Watching the scheme run smoothly is a great experience.

There are temples in India which get cores of rupees as offerings. Why not make it compulsory for them to spend most of it for providing shelter for the homeless, free meals for the hungry and world-class medical facilities? Or build rural schools or toilets?

Tirupati is reputed to have crossed the Vatican in its wealth. Puttaparthi Satya Sai Baba Prshantinilayam too has huge resources. True Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) and the Satya Sai Ashram have some welfare schemes, especially the latter which runs some excellent hospitals and educational institutions. But a major part of the wealth of TTD and other temples gies to rituals and spreading religion.

Money pours into temples, but little comes in for building schools or poor homes.

Churches receive huge funding from prosperous Western countries and mosques from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia – but only for converting more people to their religions. To suit their ends they have also back politics in states like Kerala.

Proselitising may be their compulsion and their present methods are better than than crusades and inquisition of Christianity and Islam’s Jehad against kaafirs, but at least Hinduism, with no such goals, should live up to its slogan that Manava seva (service of humans) is the same as Madhava seva (service of God).

On the other hand, Hindu godmen have amassed more wealth and got involved in more criminal cases than any corrupt politician,businessman or official.

It is unfortunate that the present BJP-led coalition has to depend on fringe elements in Hinduism which believe in Santana Dharma and ritualism. The groups will oppose a government bid to make temples spend for the poor as other religions are not subjected to such restrictions.

They should learn from Sikhs whose Gurudwaras run langars which feed all. And they should remember that it was C. Rajagopalacari (CR as he was known) heading Madras presidency, which included all southern states, and not a BJP government, which brought all big Hindu temples under the government’s endowments department in South India.

What is needed is political will

New Turn to Politics of Hatred, Caste Feuds

Sudarshan Patnaik’s tribute in sand to a rocky leader. Will the legacy of rock crumble like sand?

THE DEATH AND SUBSEQUENT final rites of DMK patriarch M.Karunanidhi (MK) at the age of 94, may herald a new turn in the Dravidian brand of politics that prevailed in Tamil Nadu state of India for the last five decades.

An ugly drama was touched off by the rival ADMK-controlled government declining permission to bury him on Chennai’s Marina beach.

The High Court reversing that order put the focus again on a topic I dealt with many times: political differences should not mean personal enmity.

You may differ with MK or Narendra Modi, but it should not lead to hatred or enmity. Unfortunately that is the direction Indian politics are taking

MK’s body was laid to rest today, Aug. 8, near the tomb of C. Annadurai, the first Dravidian CM and leader of DK Dravida Kazagam, which MK split to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazagam. It too was split by MG Ramachandran to form Anna DMK.

It is significant almost all the leaders of the three Dravidian parties belong to the tinsel world of films, as actors or writers. It seems more amoebic divisions of Dravidian parties may also be led by film superstars, with Kamalahasan and Rajanikant vying to fill the vaccume left by the death of MK and of ‘Amma’ — Jayalalithaa who died just months earlier.

The epitaph written for himself by MK in Tamil — “Oivu edukamal uzhaithavan, idho oivu eduthu kondu irukiran” (translated as “One who toiled without rest takes eternal rest here” — finally found its place on his grave.

Will the departure of the two rivals of the Dravidian parties mark the end of politics of hatred for the Aryan North India and for the allegedly-oppressive Brahmin caste?

The Dravidian movement was an off-shoot of Justice Party, based mainly on anti-brahminism, before freedom. It two main planks were atheism and hatred for Brahmins and both were forgotten when almost all leaders turned devotees of some temple or the other and an Iyengar Brahmin, J. Jayalalithaa became the chief minister

Dravidianism’s other main plank has been Tamil sub-nationalism, which too fell by the way with MK’s Telugu MGR’s Malayalee and Jaya’s Kannada origins and the fact that Rajanikant, the main contender, is a Maratha from Bangalore.

The movement, which aroused blind and frenzied following with lives lost every time a leader died — be it Anna, Amma or now MK — has only hatred for Hindi and North left as main goal This will not last long as many South Indians – once clubbed by North as ‘Madrasi’ – speak excellent Hindi and southern youth are lured by jobs to other states.

And when a ‘foreign’ English can be adopted as our own, why not Hindi?

Stop All New Temples, Mosques, Churches

Ganesh, Jesus, Saibaba together, but men fight. –photo Sai Prakash

A NEWS ITEM headlined “Patidars pledge Rs 150 crore in 3 hours for temple in Ahmedabad” drew scores of comments opposing such lavish spend when there was so much poverty and suffering in the world, especially by a community agitating to get labelled as poor and backward.

True, temples, mosques and churches did contribute to the growth of art, architecture and craftsmanship. But, it appears that their contribution to the growth of higher human values and spiritually is, unfortunately, not proportionate. Building them may contribute to employment, but in the past they were the products more of slavery, exploitation or forced labour.

Human race still faces the problems of wars, killing, extreme cruelty and deliberate deprivation, which would have been eliminated had spiritual and mental growth of human race kept pace with that of science and technology.

Instead, technology led to making of deadlier weapons of mass destruction and greater human suffering. Many terrorists of today have high technical skills and so called ‘education’.

And this when ALL religions preach compassion, benevolence, kindness and other acclaimed virtues so sadly absent now. Only religions believing in proseletisation through crusades or Jehad dominate the world.

Fringe elements of even a religion that sought Vasudhaiva kutumbajam (world as one family) preach violence.

It is time an embargo is imposed on building more temples, mosques and churches. Man should focus more on urgent issues like disarmament, climate change or disease eradication.

As far back as the 1950s, Socialus leader Dr Ram Manohar Lohia wrote (‘Intervel in Politics’) that what Benaras (now Vanarasi) needed was not one more temple (as was being planned then) but a drive to clean the sacred Ganga.

Over 50 years later, that has not been done yet. And more temples, churches and mosques are coming up.

It is a question of priorities.