it does not belong to any of its numerous caste-factions which consider defeating each other more important than being democratic as against dynastic.
TWITTER NEEDS JUST any excuse to break into a public debate on any issue, with the users of this social media platform ‘tweeting’ views both far and against the issue.
A Twitter tweet on the American singer-dancer Beyonce dancing at the wedding, in Jodhpur, of Isha, daughter of India’s richest man, Mukhesh Dheerubhai Ambani touched off one such debate. Thousand tweeted – some expressing resentment at Ambani spending 100 million dollars (Rs.7.2 crore), others supporting Ambani and still others admiring the dresses worn by Beyoncé or Isha or saying how cute they looked.
In the good old days when there were no social media like Twitter. such expressions of
opinion was done by those who gossiped. And the rulers (yes, dynastic kings) kept track of what was being said and acted to satisfy the majority (yes, they were democratic).
Thus it was that Lord Rama of Indian mythology, told that a washerman expressed doubts about Sita’s chastity after she was kidnapped and held hostage by Ravana, asked her to prove it in an agnipareeksha (trial by fire) though he himself had no doubts.
Some tweets on the Isha Ambani marriage were outraged at such extravagant spending in a country where several hundred thousand still lived under the poverty line, where millions were homeless, many villages had dilapidated schools or none at all and where a campaign had to be launched to build toilets in rural homes.
Still others said the show-off of wealth by the Ambanis (whose house in Mumbai cost several million dollars) meant the money went to thousands who provided the services for the occasion and was, therefore, better than being hoarded.
Many calculated how many rural or slum houses for the homeless or rural schools or toilets could have been built with that money. Those used to mentally converting all dollar figures into rupees pointed out that the $100 million meant Rs.726,3300,000 at today’s exchange rate. Some felt it was nothing compare to India’s needs, but others saw it as a huge amount given per capita income in India is Rs.120979.78 per year (average Indian family is of 5 persons, that is almost Rs. 603986 a year per family).
This average included families which earn in millions per month, which means others earn below subsistence income. There can be much said on both sides. For a country of India’s proportions 726.33 million rupees is a paltry sub; for those earning as little as Rs. 10081 it is a huge amount.
It is obvious that ostentatious lifestyles are not for a developing country and that money should be spent productively. Extravagant spending on weddings in India, especially by people who cannot afford it, is a social problem.
The virtues of voluntary poverty or giving away things not really needed (though wanted) as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi are being realised all over the world, including the rich countries.
After all, you come into the world with nothing and take nothing with you when going.
Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh – deliberately suppressed
A NEWS ITEM about an Indian being killed in Canada, made a young relative comment that it must be the work of a ‘nigga gang’
Perhaps you have never heard of Rt.Hon. Srinivasa Sastry (always addressed as Rt. Hon. and never just Mr or Sri) History in India is written and taught for generations to suit one dynasty.
Valangaiman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri, CH PC, was an Indian politician, administrator, educator, orator and an activist in the Indian freedom struggle, acclaimed for his oratory and command over the English language.
Srinivasa Sastri was born to a poor temple priest in the village of Valangaiman near Kumbakonam, India. — says Wikipedia. Today he would have been condemned by the ‘liberals’ as a Brahmin.
Born on September 22, 1869, he died on April 17, 1946 at Mylapore in Chennai.
It is said there was a dispute about the pronunciation of a word in the British House of Commons. An MP said his was correct: he had heard Rt.Hon. Srinivasa Satry pronounce it that way!
Gandhiji took him to the London Round Table Conference on India’s freedom struggle to draft the English resolutions. The shirt story NEVER fails to bring tears to my eyes, even if I tell it 100 times. But we know nothing about him but know all about third-rate White leaders and writers.
Many, born in Telangana, never heard of the,20-year-old Urdu newspaper editor Shoebullah Khan of Imroze, brutally killed by Razahars (now MIM) for opposing the accession of Nizam’s state of Hyderabad to Pakistan.
All because Congress wanted to deny that Sardar Patel and many others, like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maghfoor Ahmed Ajazi, Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, Veer Savarkar, Rajguru, Chandrasekhar Azad, Prafulla Chandra Roy, Rasbehari Bose, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Alluri Seetarama Raju and thousands more, played any role in freedom struggle.
Alluding to all of them as dogs, the party’s Lok Sabha leader Kharge said “not a dog barked” for freedom when only the Nehru family and Congress were fighting for it. He, obviously, does not know that Congress then was not a political party but and umbrella organisation – a movement – under which all, including socialists and Hindu groups, functioned. Then one family appropriated it by naming its party Congress and falsely calling themselves Gandhi.
British called M. K. Gandhi a “half-naked fakir.” Congress wanted to do even better.
Lt. Col. Sandeep Ahlawat (courtesy: SOLDIERING)
HAVING BEEN A journalist since 1956 (though first newspaper appointment letter only in 1958) I am dismayed at today’s journalism of Fake News, paid news and sensationalism for TRPs.
It was therefore heartening to see the rejoinder of Lt. Col. Sandeep to a cartoon published by The Economic Times equating the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to a housing society guard.
‘Liberals’ who were silent when thousands of Kashmiri pandits were uprooted and thrown out of J&K are now shedding copious tears for Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar as India refused to admit them.
A political party which lives on vote bank politics may have inspired their sorrow. As it is a Times of India group publication, I presume it may not be a case of paid news.
I take the liberty to publish the entire rejoinder here:
Dear Economic Times/Mr R Prasad,
Your Cartoon on (my Chief of Army Staff and) the Chief of the Army Staff of the second largest Army in the world is hopelessly distasteful, and downright repugnant and flawed on the following counts.
1. A guard at the housing society is not responsible for the territorial integrity of the housing society but CAOS is responsible for the territorial integrity of the Republic of India!!
2. A guard at the housing society does not put his life in the line of fire when situations like 26/11 happen but COAS and his men will not let a Kasab and Co inflict death and mayhem on our countrymen, come what may!! Remember the heart warming sight of soldiers slithering down the chopper, yes… the then COAS had ordered them??
3. A guard at housing society will not land a chopper at rooftop to save a pregnant lady and her unborn child but COAS and his men will stand between nature’s fury and our countrymen like a rock of Gibraltar!!
4. Guard at the housing society does not receive body bags of his men at technical area of Palam airport every alternate day, but COAS does this with a heavy heart and a bleeding soul and he and only he understands the pain of saluting the mortal remains of our fallen comrade !!
5. Last but not the least the guard at the housing society has not taken an oath to serve the Union of India, observe and obey all commands of the President of India even to the peril of his live. COAS and his men will save both the constitution and the Editorial staff of Economic time even at the cost of certain death so that you live in free India and exercise their FoE with Impunity!!
A hurt serving officer of Indian Army.
Lt Col. Sandeep Ahlawat
PS. Mr R Prasad, please don’t take advantage of the fact that ….. you as a cartoonist enjoy full complement of constitutional rights along with fruits of freedom which the COAS has provided you at the cost of his and his men’s life. Please show some character and don’t brutalise the hon
our of the only organisation that not only keeps the nation together but keeps it “First” always and every time!! And yes illegal migrants must be deported forthwith because you and your ilk do not understand National Security and business of war fighting just as I and my tribe does not understand the business of making cartoons!!
About Sandeep Ahlawat
Lt. Col. Sandeep Ahlawat is a serving officer in Indian Army. Previously, He had sent a legal notice to Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar when they wanted to auction the “Original Naval Officers Uniform” that Akshey Kumar had worn in movies Rustom. The star couple had to withdraw the auction after Col Ahlawat’s objection
Years ago, it was about hippies coming there in large numbers and sunbathing, often nude, on the beaches – to the chagrin of the locals. Protests over the nudism were frequently in news.
WHAT ARE YOU thankful for? A grandchild asked in the USA where Thanksgiving Day (last Thursday) is a big occasion.
I could not think of anything. That’s perhaps the reason why the day is not celebrated in India.
My ‘nothing’ shocked everyone. Are you not thañkful for being alive? No. I always wanted to end a meaningless and futile existence.
For your family? It only gives me pain – when I realise I am only a burden.
For all the good things you have had in life? I realise that they were all because of others. I did nothing to deserve them. My (late) wife and children tolerated my shortcomings and their good deeds were rewarded with my not causing them any more problems than I already created.
I could have come for just a few days – not months just to justify the big cost of flying here. But I realised it too late.
These are facts I cannot do anything about now.
Yes. There is much to be thankful for… that at almost 80 the end (hopefully) is not far away.
SPOOFS ABOUT Yama Doots (Angels of Death), their Lord, Yamraj, and his accountant, Chitragupta, who keeps records of everyone’s sins (Pap) and good deeds (Punya) must be a part of the memories of most who grew up in India, whatever his/her language. They must have come across these in books, films and dramas.
But to hear a Western version of this in an audiobook, Have A Nice Day by Billy Crystal and his team, an original from Amazon’s Audible the audiobook site, is an exhilarating experience. We have heard of ‘Indian versions’ of many Hollywood films, some very bad and some good like Pach Adams (Munnabhai MBBS in Hindi) and Mrs Doubtfire (which Kamal Hasan copied) both starring Billy Crystal’s friend Robbin Williams, but an Indian concept borrowed by Hollywood is rare.
William Edward (Billy) Crystal the American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, and television host is famous for his ‘The Tonight Show’. Made famous for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap in the 1970s he became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the critical and box office successes When Harry Met Sally…, City Slickers, and Analyze This. He also provided the voice of Mike Wazowski in the Monsters, Inc. franchise.
The United States of America has many actors and hosts who are equally famous – but is almost unique in one aspect. He has been married to one woman, Janice, for 48 years! It must be astounding – for an American, that too in the entertainment industry.
Billy has been critical of President Donald Trump in the his talk show and it is, therefore, all the more significant that Have A Nice Day (which is more of a play-reading by Billy and his colleagues) is about a Yama Doot (‘Man Without Name’, voiced by Billy himself) trying to take to the nether world, a POTUS (President of the United States), D. Murray who could be on the verge of separation from his wife.
The Agent of Death who agrees to wait till a minute before midnight (as the has to take the south on that date and the day ends only at midnight), invisibly follows Murray as he tries to make amends for his lapses and realises that they person destined to die was the daughter of the POTUS who was Dalila, though called Laila.
When the POTUS tries to prevent her death in a car accident by sacrificing his own life, the Yama Doot realising the greatness of such a sacrifice makes Death’s Front Office (Chitragupta) agree to take his (Yam Doot’s) soul in place of that of D. Murray – a touching end to a hilarious play.
A small book of only 1 hour 24 minutes’ reading, with a big message.
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THE SOCRATIC concept of true knowledge is the ability to know how little one knows. The world’s greatest scientist, Newton compared all known knowledge to one grain of sand on a beach. These equally apply to books: Those who are regarded as well-read or voracious readers know that they had read a microscopic fraction of all the good books written – even in one genre. And some great books are forgotten and remain almost unknown.
One lifetime is not enough to read all the works (including the critical analyses and interpretations) of the books of only Shakespeare in English or of Kalidasa in Sanskrit.
That was, perhaps, how the sarcastic adage that “Classics are books everyone knows about, but no one reads” came into being. But, though unread, classics are known.
Millions of people go through their entire lives without reading a single book (except class books mugged up to pass exams) and talk derisively of ‘bookish knowledge’ or proud of learning from life as ‘graduates of the school of knocks.’ A few authors are known for one or two of their books but many of their works are lost in history,
Will Durant, the American author and philosopher, is famous for his classic ‘ The Story of Civilisation’. How many know of his ‘The Case for India’? The book moved me so much that I felt the government should have bought millions of its copies to distribute them free to anyone who can read English. Another of his books, Our Oriental Heritage also would have made India proud.
I once toyed with the idea of pirating ‘The Case for India’ and distributing it free to thousands or making it a free e-book.
Some very good books are forgotten and stay unknown, hidden under the dust of history. I (and perhaps most readers) had not heard of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, a contemporary of the great Charles Dickens in the mid-1800s.I would never have known about her if I was not listening to an audiobook of D.H. Lawrence, found it boring and moved on to readers’ comments. One of them said Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’ was much more interesting. I had not even heard of her and downloaded that audio book.
Besides ‘Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life” she also wrote A Dark Night’s Work, The Grey Woman, The Life of Charlotte Bronte. My Lady Ludlow, Round the Sofa, North and South, Mr Harrison’s Confession, Wives and Daughters, Ruth, Cousin Phillis, Cranford and the Cage at Cranford, The Moorland Cottage, Sylvia’s Lover and The Pastor’s Wife.
All these books are available on the free audiobook site, Librivox. I would not have known about the book had I not discovered, due to the fear of impending blindness, audiobook sites (I subscribe to several such sites) and Librivox, a site which has most books whose copyright had expired, enabling them to be put ‘in public domain’ with the help of volunteers who read them. Librivox also has an e-book version GuteBooks for those who can read on screen.
ALL the books by Gaskell have received 4, 4.5 or 5-star (out of 5) ratings from the listeners. Some books are available in more than one version, read by a different person.
Here is a writer-up on the book by Martin Geeson, on the Librivox site:
Mary Barton was Elizabeth Gaskell’s first full-length novel. It was published anonymously in that tumultuous year of political change, 1848 – only a few months after the Communist Manifesto co-authored by her fellow Manchester-resident, Friedrich Engels. Engels’s experience as agent in his father’s cotton-spinning factory motivated him to write “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, a classic account of the sufferings of the poor under the factory-system.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s own personal contact with the plight of the poor cotton workers of Lancashire also compelled her to a compassionate examination of their lives; but as a middle-class woman, married to an Unitarian minister, her approach to her subject took on a more emotionally complex significance; influenced by religious faith but also by more personal considerations. In the brief preface to the novel, Mrs Gaskell hints at her initial impulse. The loss of a beloved child in infancy led her to seek a therapeutic outlet, but one which left her uncertain of her capacity to contextualize her public, writerly response to the tragedies occurring in the surrounding society of Manchester’s poorest classes:
“I know nothing of Political Economy, or the theories of trade…” She was, however, determined to portray, in novelistic form, the intimate connection between the private experience of her characters and the social forces of her time. The success of the novel led her to proclaim her authorship and move on to further works of fiction, which have secured her in our times a mounting reputation as one of the leading novelists of the mid-Victorian period.
Certainly, the novel features numerous death-scenes, all conveyed with a depth of sympathy that contrasts with the queasy iambics with which Dickens orchestrated the notorious demise of Little Nell. Mrs Gaskell was not, like Dickens, a London-based novelist observing the sufferings of the provincial poor with a journalistic detachment – as evidenced in his own admirable, Lancashire-based novel “Hard Times”. Gaskell lived among the people whose attenuated lives she chronicled – and however hesitantly, as a début novelist, she rendered their experience in literary terms, her writing presents us with a true insight into the sufferings of individuals at a point in history when the mass of human beings fell casualty to the forms of economic progress following upon the Industrial Revolution. Most impressively she called into question the political and social cost of creating a resentful proletariat despairing of survival in (to quote Karl Marx) a “heartless world”.
Our reader Tony Foster is a resident of Manchester and a near-neighbour of Mrs Gaskell (allowing for their separation in time). His superb narration renders the native speech of her characters with an authenticity which ideally conveys the spirit of this book. A truly moving experience awaits everyone who gives ear to this ‘Tale of Manchester Life’.
Much has been written about India’s poverty and books or films (like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali) which portray it have a big market (and win awards) in the West where the common man still thinks Indians live on trees. But the picture of utter poverty of the working class in 19th century England is startling.
Most of the readers must have read Mulk Raj Anand’s classic ‘The Untouchable’, at least as a prescribed reading for examinations if not out of concern for an oppressed class of the country and a reflection of India’s greatest evil, the caste system.
However, in my reading for 70 years, I had not come across any mention of the Cagots of western France. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote of them in a story ‘An Accursed Race’ included in book of stories ‘Round the Sofa’. Her portrayal of the inhuman way the Cagot tribe was treated all over Europe and even by the Church is not just appalling; it shows the Indian ‘Dalits’ were not treated half as badly. The other stories expose how the aristocracy discriminated against the ‘commoners’ and even denied them education.
And yet the world knows of only the Indian untouchables and caste. The same Church used that oppression and deprivation to convert millions, adding only to its numbers without improving their social status in any way. Other religions followed the same technique besides coercion. All that came of the conversions was creation of vote banks and politics of hatred.
It is significant that fiction and literature took up the social issues of discrimination, poverty and inequality, strengthening the efforts to set right the system. Very little of such use of literature and fiction is seen in India. True some films and books did come out against economic inequality, corruption and caste system, but they were very few or executed badly. I am not aware of any literary works that exposed the crimes against Kashmiri pandits or victims of caste reservations, sexual harassment or other evils.
With smart phone usage going up day by day in India, it is time a free audio and electronic book site of Indian books comes into being. On one of the audiobook sites I borrow books from the Toronto Public Library in Canada.
Is there a single public library in India which has such a facility?
ON OCTOBER 31 Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 182 metre (597.113 feet) high statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, India’s first Home Minister, overlooking the Sardar Sarovar dam on river Narmada in Gujarat.
Many hate Modi for various reasons like being a Gujarati or a Hindu or an RSS pracharak and above all for breaking the monopoly of one dynasty over the top post in India. So a spate of criticism over the construction of the statue was expected. The main objection was (from Congress) that there was no such statue for Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister and originator of the ruling dynasty, or for Mahatma Gandhi called the Father of the Nation or Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar the new god of neo-Buddhists and Dalits.
Some, who consider all politicians despicable, argued that the amount of nearly Rs. 3000 crore spent for the statue could have been used to build over one lakh schools or 2.8 lakh rural toilets, both sadly lacking in the country.
The Statue of Unity, as the Patel statue has been named by Modi, is almost twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty near New York in the USA which is 93 metres or 305.11 feet). It is taller that the Buddha statues at Spring Temple in China (120 m or 393.t ft.) and at Ushika Daibutsu in Japan (120 m or 393.7 ft.) regarded as the third tallest in the world.
However, according to the website ‘The Mysterious World’ which lists’ the ‘Top 10’ in many fields, the third tallest statue in the world, situated in Monywa, Myanmar has a height of 116 meters. It is again of the Buddha. The construction of Laykyun Setkyar started in 1996 and completed in 2008. The statue actually stands on a 13.5 m throne.
This is not the end. The sculptor 93 year old Ram Vanji Sutar, who designed and built the Statue of Unity for Larsen and Tourbo company of Bangalore, India, is also building in Mumbai the 121.92 m (400 ft.) tall statue of Chatrapati Shivaji and Dr. Amebkar statue of 76.2 m (250 ft.) height.
Significantly the three statues next-tallest to the Statue of Unity are of Gautama Buddha, also of Indian origin. The Gujarat government is also building a 108 m tall statue of Buddha – which would be world’s tallest of him in the sitting posture.
Congressmen and Dalit politicians and the Shiv Sena (which would predictably attack Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party for making Patel’s statue taller than that of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj), oppose the statue for political reasons and not because of the cost.
Others against Statue of Unity would oppose it only as they are against all statues but have destroyed or disfigured only those of Hindus, but not because “a poor country like India” could not afford to spend such huge amounts on non-developmental items.
True the statues would not feed the poor or provide education or toilets in rural areas. The same argument was used when my friend Vasaant Sathe, Minister for Information and Broadcasting at the Centre, favoured Indian television switching over to colour. Was colour TV needed for ‘poor’ India?
Had Indian TV remained black and white, would it not have strengthened the belief of most Europeans and Americans that ‘Injuns’ live on trees or that India is a nation of snake charmers?
The same argument would have prevented India building so many new modern airports and many other projects. Those who argue this way are ‘determinists’ holding that after Independence the country should have concentrated ONLY on education or ONLY on roads or ONLY on removing casteism. There can be many arguments on such single aims
But determinism (like the Congress Party’s belief in dynasty rule) has been proved wrong. We do need development in different fields, as one can promote the others.
True, most statues serve no purpose except emotional. Many old status are badly maintained and are nothing but repositories of bird droppings. Some cannot even be identified by most people; their identities and relevance lost in history.
But some, like that of Sardar Patel who had united India and made it one country, certainly have a major role to play.
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