Monday, December 22, 2008

Sacred Cows

One man's sacred cow is another man's, er, beef.. And what could classify as downright cheapness, can also, by a small smart calculated shift and a little lipstick, become shining & exemplary behaviour.

So, a Congress minister can cater to his political base (which need not extend to India, but is probably limited to his Religion). So while Indians can fret and and frown, by playing to his target constituency, it sees him as a hero (He claims to have started recieving big hugs now, each time he goes to pray!).

So when the Indian cricket team say they are playing for the country and for Bombay, it sounds hollow. Because, unlike the England team that gave away 50% of their personal match fees earning, all the Indian cricketers contributed is 'dedicating' their win to the Bombay victims (and Sachin's raising his bat after, oh-thank-God achieving his 41st century to keep his neck ahead of Ponting). So once you put those black arm bands, you can continue and mint money; and hopefully the IPL cash coffers will also open up soon.

So, when Star Plus shows the Voice of India song-and-dance program last evening with all gloss and glitter, without a care about the propriety of it, happening less than a month of the Bombay terror attacks - they are smart enough to take precautionary action. Throw in a few tricolour-clad dancers and put in stupid patriotic Bollywood songs (suno gaur se duniya waalon buri nazar naa hampe daalo) - and presto, they are actually doing it for the country. Not money or TRPs, of course not.

Like sex, jingoism sells too. So, put in the tricolours, or don't, depending on the constituency you wish to appeal to. And exploit the masses.

Sacred cows are meant to be slaughtered, yes, but you do need to make the right noises.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Statehood for Bombay!

My last post on Bombay, had a few thoughts and views.

But this article by Meghnad Desai in the Indian express, is probably what I wanted to convey and could not. For ease of reading, here is the article.

And, as it says, we need Statehood for Bombay so that atleast at the grassroots, we can have decent (and human) leaders who determine and drive our destiny. Not some jokers sitting in Delhi.

Statehood for Bombay

by Meghnad Desai

I grew up in Bombay, not Mumbai. In the 1950s, it was cosmopolitan and vibrant and a lot of fun. Just looking at the Taj from the Gateway of India—Palva Bunder as we called it—was enough to give me a thrill. I could not afford even a cup of tea in the Taj then. Years later in 1993, when I came to give the Exim Bank lecture, I was able to stay there, in the old Taj, on one of those higher floors. I have stayed again several times. It was the haven of perfection, a pure joy.

Seeing the Taj burn was bad enough. The people of Bombay, who gathered angrily, had me with them every inch. My anger during those 60 hours made me believe that perhaps India itself will see how much was lost in that attack on its sovereignty. Perhaps, Indian politicians would mend their ways and unite. I could see that many people holding candles were looking up to their leaders to deliver.

Fat chance. The response of the political classes has been muffled and cynical and smug. The one shining exception is P. Chidambaram, the new Home Minister. He has been the only politician to say sorry to people of Bombay. Otherwise, the country was asked to get back to its foetal position and start blaming Pakistan. Police and politicians went on air repeating the story that the one surviving terrorist was telling them, as if the man is telling the truth. The BBC sent a reporter to where he is supposed to be from and found no one who had heard of him. He is as likely an Indian as he is an Arab, for all anyone knows. Of course, what he told them was what he was instructed to say, since the enemy knows how gullible Indian authorities are. The familiar names of Dawood Ibrahim and ISI and LeT were fed to the interrogators.

So we send off the old laundry list of names to Islamabad and ask in menacing tones for Pakistan to surrender them immediately. Is anyone serious? It is one thing for the TV newscasters to shout at Pakistanis onscreen about what they must do. They have soap to sell and TRPs to watch. But I can say with confidence that the UK Government would not entertain such a request, even from an ally, even for known convicted terrorists. There is a human rights framework, which does not permit extradition of people, who are unlikely to get justice at the other end. The arrested terrorist, Ajmal Ameer Kasab, may not even get a lawyer to defend him. Condoleezza Rice must have had to suppress her laughter when confronted with such amateurish performance. Indians can do complicated nuclear negotiations, since that is like an exercise in Vedantic hairsplitting. But when it comes to real world terror, all we get is clich├ęs.

But what are Bombayites to do? First, let us stop calling it Mumbai. Then I suggest, why not start a movement for statehood for Bombay? Why don’t Bombayites field candidates at the forthcoming elections, who would demand a separate state for Bombay, as was Nehru’s wish? That way they need not vote for any of the political parties, whose leaders abused Karkare till the day he died, and equipped him with a bullet-proof vest which was useless and a pistol to face an AK-47. Bombayites would not have to suffer the humiliation of their CM selected after several days’ delay, not on grounds of competence but of caste. A Bombayite may even qualify to be CM of Bombay! No one else in Indian politics gives a toss for Bombay and its millions.

Of course it won’t happen all at once. But if at the next election a few MLAs or an MP or two can be unseated by Bombayites, then the demand would be taken seriously. Delhi has a state for itself, so why not Bombay?

Monday, December 1, 2008


I dislike & hate all that the name Mumbai stands for:

- the politics of hate
- the politics of language
- the politics of region
- the politics that focusses on the trivia
- the politics that does not require its leaders to deliver on promises
- the politics that allows its leaders to divide and rule

And No, I will not leave it if I do not like the name. I refuse to accept anyone telling me what my city will be called.

But what I can do (all I can do?) is to tell these politicians & leaders, that I refuse to accept your nomenclature, and by inference, your politics.

So, in my mind, Peddar Road, Warden Road, Cuffe Parade, Napean Sea Road and French Bridge remain exactly that - whatever you wish to call them for your politics of convenience and hate.

And Bombay resumes being, Bombay.

So, I hereby re-christen my City BOMBAY:

The city of hope
The city that unifies
The city that will survive the corrupt and inefficient
The city where the corrupt and inefficient will not survive
The city that aspires and deserves to be a City-State.
The city that needs to break free from the regional leaders and politicians.
The city that will be much bigger than all of them, if only we & they let it be.

Where only Indians stay.
Without fear or favour.
Which will get its due from the Centre.
And which will not have to depend on a State's charity.

So, from today on, my City (State?) is Bombay again.

Oh, and Mr T., if you do not like it, you may go retire & settle down in Vidarbha or Nagpur or Pune or wherever. And next time, remember to change your own surname before you preach to the world.

This is our city, not yours. Because we contribute a lot more to it than you and your likes ever have or will.

Why BOMBAY, You wonder? Because, historically, Bombay was not just a city, it was a state. And it was the ONLY state then in India that did NOT have its basis in linguistic origins.

And that is exactly what Bombay needs to revert to, today. And, it needs to become an independent state as well. And for its past legacy of being inclusive than divisive.

Spelled as B-O-M-B-A-Y.

Let the word roll over your tongue and you'll realise how much sweeter it sounds.


Things are not so bad in Bombay

If you asked Raosaheb Ramchandra Patil, better known as R.R.Patil - the Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister of Maharashtra. As he pointed out, only a couple of hundreds died when the terrorists had come with a plan to kill 5000 people (though I am very keen to understand who gave him this figure).

As you might have heard, 'Bade Bade Shehro mein aisi Chhoti Chhoti Cheezein to hoti rehti hain, Senorita' (such small incidents happen in large cities). No, that is not Shah Rukh Khan serenading Kajol, that is RR Patil explaining why he does not see any reason to resign.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, our dynamic Chief Minister, on the other hand, is upset that RR Patil took away the lovely movie dialogue, so he takes along his film actor-son Riteish Deshmukh along with film-maker Ram Gopal Varma to the site of the Taj - what was the deal, I give you access for 'inspiration' and you give my son the lead actor role? But Vilasrao has a valid explanation - he keeps attending all the film functions of Bollywood, is he not morally bound to return the invitation once in a while? And, see, since he is so considerate, he did not even throw a full party - just RGV and his Riteish-Baba. What harm can 2 more people going on a terror-tourism jaunt do?

Shivraj Patil calls it a day, it is anyway tough doing this job when a man is not allowed to change his dapper suits even 3 times a day in peace.

Man Mohan Singh also breathes easy, since the media and public have decided the Mouse in the country is Raj Thakre, hiding in Shivaji Park, when the very communities he derided and targetted, liberated Bombay. But Man Mohan need not worry, he does have a 'Man'- in his name atleast - if not in action.

Narendra Modi wonders what he needs to do right - when all the money he is offering is being rejected by the slain ATS Chief's family? And wonders whether it had anything to do with the vitriolic criticism of Karkare when he was pursuing the Malegaon blasts.

Bal & Uddhav-baba Thakre are glad that Raj has been put in his place, and Raj wonders how many Marathis died in the blasts, and could he make an issue out of it? If not now, maybe a little later?

L.K. Advani wonders what new to say - or should I become like Vajpayee and act like I am thinking, with those deep pauses? I anyway have nothing new to say, might as well look like I have (finally) started thinking.

Sonia Gandhi is ofcourse wondering if RR Patil was referring to her when he said 'Senorita' (or didn't he?), and does that imply he might come over to the Congress, so she can teach a lesson to Sharad Pawar? But wait, with elections in Maharashtra next year, does it not make sense to get Raj Thakre revived again - Mama Mia, these blasts did happen at a completely wrong time!

So RR wonders if any more dance bars are open, Raj wonders if there are any more North Indians coming to Bombay, Ramadoss wonders if anyone is smoking in Bombay anymore, Bal & Uddhav-baba wonder if anyone dislikes Wada-pavs in Bombay, Modi-Advani wonder if they can milk the Bombay blasts to capture India, and Vilasrao wonders if Ritesh-baba will ever succeed in Bollywood.

As I said, things are kinda back to what they were before the blasts. In fact, nothing has changed. They have been this way, they will remain this way.

Because, we get the leaders we deserve. Because we do not demand accountability. We do not demand action. We do not deserve governance.

But there is, just that little bit of hope:

- Major Unnikrishnan's father refusing to meet any 'mad dog' politicians
- ATS Chief's family refusing compensation from Modi
- The public outcry against the corrupt and inefficient politicians

And maybe, just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope still?

*Note: The thoughts of politicians described in the passage above are sheer imagination (or are they?)



Rahul in party mood soon after Mumbai crisis

'The Prince partied hard, till 5 in the morning, on Sunday at the ‘sangeet’ for the forthcoming wedding of Samir Sharma, his childhood friend. They were at a sprawling farmhouse at Radhey Mohan Chowk, the haven of people who lead charmed lives beyond Chhatarpur.'