Monthly Archives: January 2011

Are ten years enough?

Give Me Ten Years and I Will Make You Proud: Rahul Gandhi–Outlook magazine.

Another statement by AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi which was splashed across the headlines by all sections of media.

Whatever he says makes news, the Gandhi scion riding on the crest of his lineage and media obsession has created a niche.

The headline in magazine Outlook caught my eye and set me thinking, why his statements are not countered and taken verbatim.

Gandhi was in Aurangabad and reportedly shocked with the murder of Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane. Wonder how can he come up with a statement as naive as this.

Rahul for the last few years have been pleading at his public rallies asking youth to join Congress, “I need ten years of your life. Give me ten years of your life and after that you will be very proud,”said Rahul as quoted in Outlook.

But has he not been in power for six years and urging the same for close to three years? He urges youth to join politics but fails to answer the question what roles and security he has for those who join his brigade.

Most of those who are part of his core team come from political background are foreign educated MP’s.

He says look at the structure of Youth Congress, there is not a single nominated candidate. Well point well taken, but what is the scene in Congress that rules. Youth Congress hardly plays a role in frontline politics.

Having witnessed the Pradesh Congress Committee elections in Rajasthan in 2010, when it came to electing the state president the order came from AICC and the incumbent president C.P Joshi was given second tenure, with poor partymen waiting for a democratic set up.

When it came to AICC president elections Sonia Gandhi was again nominated the leader, something I fail to understand. No election process and after a mock exercise in name of democracy the lineage ruled.

Gandhi says the effects of what he is doing will be seen in five to ten years. I wonder, having seen some bit of politics up close and personal, I don’t see that happening. His grass root workers don’t feel the same. Meeting a youth congress worker in Bhilwara during election campaign one worker told me: “the difference between us and him is the surname and that will always remain. I have been slogging for last eight years and for the next ten years I don’t see even a corporators ticket coming my way.”

Wonder in this case if Rahul knows the reality of his party.

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Raj rules the mindspace

The spat over ‘Raj’ and ‘racism’ got the better of me.

Following the headline in the Independent Dalrymple caught up in spat over ‘Raj’ and ‘racism’ couple of days back just before the start of the Jaipur Literature Festival got me reading the feud of opinion between an Indian Journalist and an award-winning British author who calls India his second home.

After going through almost eight different articles and counter articles, I was confused.

There were two different things which ironically got embroiled for me and a chaotic high pitch debate followed.

In an article titled The Literary Raj political editor of Open Magazine Hartosh Singh Bal put forward his thoughts, blatantly that one of the most talked about Indian literary festival has reached where it has today much because of the involvement of British author William Dalrymple and India’s fascination with every thing British.

Reading the report twice I feel at some places emotion got the better of Bal, as he drove home his point in a typical Punjabi fashion.

Responding to it Dalrymple too got emotional in responding and termed the report ‘racist’a comment which he retracted later.

For me the basic question was Does the colonial hangover still rules Indian mindset? And the answer for me is Yes. It does and we should admit it without much hoopla.

What Bal pointed out becomes clear as we see many respondents showering praises for Dalrymple without paying any heed to the point Bal tries to drive home.

Till the time West spots and recognises our talent we Indians don’t accept them, and this goes beyond literary circuits. The immediate example that comes to my mind is actor Irfan Khan, post a BAFTA nomination for his film the Warrior and (award I am not sure) we recognised the actor, who till then was doing side characters in TV serials.

The experience of living in London shows that majority (no harm saying over 80%) of Indians become Angrez(British) the moment they step out of the immigration check at Heathrow. They start emulating British mannerism, accent, style, lifestyle and in someway way of life which is poles apart from what it was for them back home.

They are happy to let go of their identity and be a part of wannabe heard, much to the amusement of Brits. This for me in a way is extended hangover and in a way more than that.

What the Open article has pointed out is something that most of us see, feel, at times speak in closed groups but no one dares to write.

 

The spat over ‘Raj’ and ‘racism’ got the better of me.

Following the headline in the Independent Dalrymple caught up in spat over ‘Raj’ and ‘racism’ couple of days back just before the start of the Jaipur Literature Festival got me reading the feud of opinion between an Indian Journalist and an award winning British author who calls India his second home.

After going through almost eight different articles and counter articles, I was confused.

There were two different things which ironically got embroiled for me and a chaotic high pitch debate followed.

In an article titled The Literary Raj political editor of Open Magazine Hartosh Singh Bal put forward his thoughts, blatantly that one of the most talked about Indian literary festival has reached where it has today much because of the involvement of a British Author and India’s fascination with every thing British.

Reading the report twice I feel at some places emotion got the better of Bal, as he drove home his point in a typical Punjabi fashion.

Responding to it Dalrymple too got emotional in responding and termed the report ‘racist’a comment which he retracted later.

For me the basic question was Does the colonial hangover still rules Indian mindset? And the answer for me is Yes. It does and we should admit it without much hoopla.

What Bal pointed out becomes clear as we see many respondents showering praises for Dalrymple without paying any heed to the point Bal tries to drive home.

Till the time West spots and recognises our talent we Indians don’t accept them, and this goes beyond literary circuits. The immediate example that comes to my mind is actor Irfan Khan, post a BAFTA nomination and (award I am not sure) we recognised the actor, who till then was doing side characters in TV serials.

The experience of living in London shows that majority (no harm saying over 80%) of Indians become Angrez(British) the moment they step out of the immigration check at Heathrow. They start emulating British mannerism, accent, style, lifestyle and in someway way of life which is poles apart from what it was for them back home.

They are happy to let go of their identity and be a part of wannabe heard, much to the amusement of Brits. This for me in a way is extended hangover and in a way more than that.

What the Open article has pointed out is something that most of us see, feel, at times speak in closed groups but no one dares write.

 

I see no harm in accepting the colonial hangover as it exists. Till the time west recognises our talent we don’t accept them, and this goes beyond literary circuits. the immediate example that comes to my mind is actor Irfan Khan, post a BAFTA nomination and (award i am not sure) we recognised the actor, who til then was doing side characters in tv serials.

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Hu said ‘What’ and who interpreted ‘What’?

Hu Jintao visit to the USA has all the makings of a media spectacle.

With leaders of the two ‘competing and dependent’ economic giants of world who barely share anything apart from economic interests meet in the most cordial manner, lot is on offering for media houses at large not just in the US or China.

Browsing through reports in the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC, CCTV and The Times of India, it was interesting to observe how differently they all approached the visit and reported.

The host scribes set their eyes on the deals and sales on offer and how the Obama leadership has rolled out red carpet and given the best welcome to the Chinese president.

The focus was the deals worth $ 19 billion and oer 1,00,000 jobs in store for the US and development of the ties between two nations. There was mention of noble laureate Liu Xiaobo, but it was business first.

This reminded me about the over the board euphoria shown by Indian media when Obama last visited in September 2010.

The British media focused on Human Rights, and the BBC and the Guardian harped on their concerns about what Hu said about human rights.  Hu saying China still needed to do “a lot” over human rights was a sentiment that echoed across in stories at the BBC and Guardian.

The Guardian in one of the reports described how Obama administration recognised the meeting as meetings of equals unlike how Bush administration gave Hu a White house working lunch.

Chinese media did what it is perceived to do best, dish out information fed to it by the regimen.

As BBC’s Damian Grammaticas mentions : “Just hearing a Chinese president deal with direct questions on human rights is incredibly rare. In China the heavily state-controlled media doesn’t pose them”

The CCTV and others as the Guardian points out underplayed human rights remarks. A visit to their website reaffirms the same.

Amidst all this how can Indian scribes be far behind, a headline in The Times of India read  ‘Hu-pla around Chinese President’s visit centers on American debt’ pun intended it gave away what can be broadly considered as playing away on average Indian sentiment when it comes to doing anything with China. Add to this the copy highlighted human rights issue and how Hu and Dalai lama were both treated by the White house.

Amidst all this frenzy over the visit for me what is interesting to see is that how the tines of both parties are changing US recognising the rise of China and the red dragon too gets to face the world and get a reality check on how world looks at them.

That apart it showed how a same visit can be portrayed to the world in so many different ways.

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Dynasty rules democratic India

Analyse Parliament, and a disturbing fact emerges: India is going back to monarchy

Patrick French

These words on Indian political system by the British author though aren’t true literally, they signal a potentially dangerous hierarchy trend.

Across political lines the family first, people later is the thumb rule. Higher in some parties compared to their political counterparts. The fact remains that all of them follow the same dictate and stand united however to their discomfort on this lineage game.

The country of youngsters (below 30 years form the highest chunk of over 1.2 billion Indians) is ruled by people double their age.

What French dares to tell is something that the over enthusiastic media gives a miss, its dynasty that rules. Most often than not the over publicised and if I may call TRP friendly netas who drive into the parliament riding on their surnames hog all the attention and coverage.

Take a look at the figures from French’s book INDIA: A PORTRAIT—AN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY OF 1.2 BILLION People (hierarchy candidates of parties with over five members in the Lok Shabha)

  • RLD 100 per cent (5 out of 5)
  • NCP 77.8 per cent (7 out of 9)
  • BJD 42.9 per cent (6 out of 14)
  • INC 37.5 per cent (78 out of 208)
  • BSP 33.3 per cent (7 out of 21)
  • DMK 33.3 per cent (6 out of 18)
  • SP 27.3 per cent (6 out of 22)
  • CPI(M) 25 per cent (4 out of 16)
  • JD(U) 20 per cent (4 out of 20)
  • BJP 19 per cent (22 out of 116)
  • AITC 15.8 per cent (3 out of 19)
  • Shiv Sena 9.1 per cent (1 out of 11)
  • AIADMK 0 per cent (0 out of 9)
  • TDP 0 per cent (0 out of 6)

Even during the elections, the constituencies of these new kids on the blocks are covered extensively while the places that need attention are left in loom. Top editors, bureau chief rush to these constituencies to report every orchestrated word uttered while a noteworthy opponent or a ground zero politician making a real point is missed.

Having covered few districts in Rajasthan during the 2009 general elections I came across a young party worker from congress in his late 20’s. When asked where he sees himself in the next ten years and the reply came, “Struggling to get a ticket for the local corporation.”

A corporator by 40? Won’t that be a little too old for the job? “Sir, my surname is not Gandhi. My father slogged for a decade and spent a fortune in donations before he got a party ticket in 2008. I have been with him for most of these ten years and probably know more ground level reality of politics than our Yuvraj(Rahul Gandhi) but surname here makes the difference.”

The harsh reality came back haunting as I ventured to read the line from French. Well a long way to go for India to break many moulds and the dynasty one won’t be easy to crack.

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IPL auction: Time to make overnight millionaires

The IPL auction ahead of season four was a splurge show by the franchisee owners.

It was overhaul time for the franchisees and they lived up to the expectations churning out a few millionaires in matters of minutes.

Indian opener Gautam Ghambir opened the auction by being the highest paid player on day one, KKR bagged the Delhi Dare Devils last season captain for USD2.4 million, and followed this one by signing Baroda big hitter Yusuf Pathan for USD 2.1 million.

There were others too, however what was interesting was the fact that stalwarts of the gentlemen’s game were overshadowed by the minnows of the slam bam format. It was a pity to see Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman being auctioned cheaply for USD 5,00,000 and 4,00,000 respectively where as there were no takers for Sourav Ganguly who was reserved at USD 4,00,000.

This is where I feel that stalwarts of the game should have gracefully left the marketing marquee of IPL after having braved three seasons and left on a respectable note. This isn’t a place for these text-book players.

What surprises me are few things, players like Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan bagged USD 2.1 million and 1.9million respectively, both of these are not even in the probable 30 players for WC squad.

Also the international stars were in no comparison with the prices youngsters with barely few international games managed.  All of three ODI’s and 23 first class games under his belt left hander Saurabh Tiwary took home USD 1.6million, whereas England’s T20 captain Paul Collingwood could manage USD 250,000.

This is what a season of good performance can do in a game where legends spent lifetime to achieve a single feat. And two of such legends Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara could not find any takers.

One can understand Lara, for he hasn’t played any cricket for last three years but Ganguly’s omission was surprising.

What concerns me is how fans will react to a new home team? I remember while covering IPL-3, the SMS stadium, Jaipur would erupt with roars every time Yusuf Pathan would come to bat. Now how will the Rajasthan Royals fans react when Yusuf will play against Royals on his once   home turf?

I doubt if the experiment to follow football leagues will go down well with Indian fans who have an emotional connect with their teams and players.

Also how much will IPL-4 manage to capture the audience imagination remains to be seen as the tournament begins just a week after World Cup 2011.

Organisers should have given a thought that excess of everything is bad and might apply to nation’s unofficial religion as well.

While that is long way to go, what remains to be seen is that will Gambhir manage to hold the distinction on Day-2 of auction or we see a new millionaire toppling him in mere 24 hours.

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It also happens elsewhere

Northern Ireland faces water crisis in and Flu vaccine is shot in UK.

I have been transported to India as these headlines have been dominating news for last couple of days.

I understand the misery and feel for the people affected by these mishaps.

What makes me write this the fact that for someone coming from so-called developing third world country fed up on news and views that all is well with the developed west this was a shocker?

Can people here suffer water crisis. AM I reading it right that health care is not up to the mark?

The poor Interim Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies health official had to face uncomfortable question by BBC reporter who asks, “Will it be a second class vaccine?”

Just 24 hours back on BBC there was a picture of people queuing with can s of water struggling to collect their stream or drops of water.

The picture was exactly similar like what I or most in Tier II-Tier III and on outskirts of posh metro colonies have grown up seeing and at times being part of.

These two scenarios are usual third world evergreens and seeing them as a posh classic tragedy didn’t go well with me.

It just made me realise the reality come on facing calamities we are all equal, at least there is equality somewhere, somehow however one might not like it.

Hope the classic ends soon to evergreen greenery of the West and all is well.

(P.S This thought just came to mind in no way to make fun of the hard times, but it showed me that at some point every one faces the same difficult situation but some where these situation become one of kind events, while at others identity for generations)

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Bofors Kickback Scam: Silver Jubilee and still going strong

Bofors middlemen are liable to pay Income Tax to India.

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal on Monday ruled that the gun’s agent Win Chadha and Italian Businessmen Ottavio Quattrocchi owed Income Tax authorities money on the kickbacks they received during the Bofors gun deal on signed back in 1985.

The decision comes a day before a trial court dealing with the case against Quattrocchi is to take a call on CBI’s report saying it had reached a dead-end and the matter be closed.

The order has resulted in the customary high-octane verbal blows being exchanged between the opposition and the ruling party.

Politics seems to have hijacked the core issue.

What difference does this makes to the existing scenario?

Win Chadha is no more; this decision was an outcome of the petition filed by his son challenging the taxman’s claim.

Quattrocchi is miles away from the grip of Indian Legal system, he was last seen in the country in 1993.

For the Quattrocchi’s it’s a non existing issue. While dad Quattrocchi is silence personified and out of reach, son Massimo Quattrocchi reports CNN IBN that Bofors issue was a “closed chapter” for him.

“It does not concern me. It’s a closed chapter. I really don’t care. I was 14 when the case broke out. I don’t give a damn. I am not involved. I have nothing to say nothing to add,” said Massimo.

He’s in a way right, the scam celebrated its silver jubilee in 2010 and this revelation comes a day before the CBI plea to shut the case is up for hearing.

With such delay and the case still being in a trial court saying Justice delayed is justice denied won’t be apt.

Still an expensive trial

If it took 25 glorious years to reach trial court, then a century could be apt for probably guessing the time frame of the case worth Rs. 1500 crores approximately.

The collective kickback in question is roughly around Rs. 50 crores by various media estimate, and the CBI incurred expenses of Rs. 2.5 billion( approx 250 crores). Even if one accounts the entire deal the CBI has spent almost 16.6% of the amount and a generation (25 years).

petty politics

It’s not just the CBI to blame, the petty politics makes it miserable, the lack of political will to bring those involved to justice. For almost half of the tenure the Congress party which was in power during the deal was out of power, but still nothing much was done.

Hence to put the blame entirely on one party is not the best thing to do for me.

The case has dominated headlines for a generation and given the circumstances has all the potential of doing so for the same amount of time.

End please

About time we stop passing the buck and settle with a verdict once and for all, for two of the three most talked about names in the case Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Win Chadha are no more and Quattrocchi is out of bounds.

A verdict will put to rest the expenses incurred to elongate the simply complicated scandal and also give some relief to the CBI to at least investigate give results in the recent and far bit simpler yet ‘complex’ cases like the Arushi Murder case.

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Bofors middlemen are liable to pay Income Tax to India.

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal on Monday ruled that the gun’s agent Win Chadha and Italian Businessmen Ottavio Quattrocchi owed Income Tax authorities money on the kickbacks they received during the Bofors gun deal on signed back in 1985.

The decision comes a day before a trial court dealing with the case against Quattrocchi is to take a call on CBI’s report saying it had reached a dead end and the matter be closed.

The order has resulted in the customary high octane verbal blows being exchanged between the opposition and the ruling party.

Politics seems to have hijacked the core issue.

What difference does this makes to the existing scenario?

Win Chadha is no more; this decision was an outcome of the petition filed by his son challenging the taxman’s claim.

Quattrocchi is miles away from the grip of Indian Legal system, last he was seen in the country in 1993.

For the Quattrocchi’s it’s a non existing issue. While dad Quattrocchi is silence personified and out of reach, son Massimo Quattrocchi reports CNN IBN that Bofors issue was a “closed chapter” for him.

“It does not concerrn me. It’s a closed chapter. I really don’t care. I was 14 when the case broke out. I don’t give a damn. I am not involved. I have nothing to say nothing to add,” said Massimo.

He’s in a way right, the scam celebrated its silver jubilee in 2010 and this revelation comes a day before the CBI plea to shut the case is up for hearing.

With such delay and the case still being in a trial court saying Justice delayed is justice denied won’t be apt.

If it took 25 glorious years to reach trial court, then a century could be apt for probably guessing the time frame of the case worth Rs. 1500 crores approximately.

The collective kickback in question is roughly around Rs. 50 crores by various media estimate, and the CBI has incurred expenses of Rs. 2.5 billion( approx 250 croress). Even if one accounts the entire deal the CBI has spent almost 16.6% of the amount and a generation (25 years).

It’s not just the CBI to blame, the petty politics makes it miserable, the lack of political will to bring those involved to justice. For almost half of the tenure the Congress party which was in power during the deal was out of power, but still nothing much was done.

Hence to put the blame entirely on one party is not the best thing to do for me.

The case has dominated headlines for a generation and given the circumstances has all the potential of doing so for the same amount of time.

About time we stop passing the buck and settle with a verdict once and for all, for two of the three most talked about names in the case Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Win Chadha are no more and Quattrocchi is out of bounds.

A verdict will put to rest the expenses incurred to elongate the simply complicated scandal and also give some relief to the CBI to at least investigate give results in the recent and far bit simpler yet ‘complex’ cases like the Arushi Murder case.

 

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